A nationally-recognized expert on the relationship between authoritarian movements, hate violence, and preserving inclusive democracy, Eric brings over 30 years of leadership in community organizing and philanthropy to his roles as Western States Center’s Executive Director and Senior Fellow with Southern Poverty Law Center and Race Forward. Since Eric took the helm in 2017, Western States Center has become a national hub for innovative responses to white nationalism, antisemitism, and structural inequality, towards a world where everyone can live, love, work, and worship free from bigotry and fear.
Sharon Gary-Smith is an Oregonian by birth, a second-generation racial and social justice activist and agitator. She became one of the youngest executive directors and few Black female leaders in the country at the age of 30. After her election in November 2020, in January 2021, she was installed as the president, NAACP Portland 1120-B branch, the largest in Oregon, and heads a Black-women led leadership team that won on a platform of accountability, integrity and transparency to achieve the NAACP’s continuing commitment to “the advancement of colored people,” with a special focus on achieving education, health, housing, economic and racial and social justice for African-American/Blacks that is long overdue.
Randy Blazak’s scholarship on hate crimes and hate groups has made him a regular commentator in media outlets from NPR and CNN to BBC and Al Jazeera. Blazak earned his PhD at Emory University in 1995 after completing an extensive field study of racist skinheads that included undercover observations and interviews across the world. He became a tenured sociology professor at Portland State University and taught criminology classes at the University of Oregon. Since 2002, he has been the chair of the Coalition Against Hate Crimes. He has worked with the National Institute of Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center on hate crime research issues. He is currently the vice-chair of the steering committee in charge of implementing Oregon’s new bias crime law.