Our Board

Our Advisory Committee and Board of Directors Members

Board of Directors

Photo of Common Defense Board of Directors - Chair, Judith LeBlanc

Judith LeBlanc

Board of Directors - Chair

Judith LeBlanc is a member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma and Director of the Native Organizers Alliance, a national Native training and organizing network. From 2002 to 2015, Judith was a leader in the U.S. peace movement organizing numerous campaigns and mobilizations as a National Co-Chair of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and as National Field Director of Peace Action. She is the mother of one daughter and a recent grandmother. She lives in New York City.

Photo of Common Defense Board of Directors - Treasurer, Bennie Williams

Bennie Williams

Board of Directors - Treasurer

Bennie Williams is the owner and operator of Boom Bap Recording Studio producing music for emerging and some established hip-hop artists. He is a native of St. Louis, and is one of a few African-American real estate investors renovating homes and investing in urban communities. Bennie is the former Director of Audience Innovation, Research and Strategy at Fox Broadcasting Company where he developed pilot programming, conducted viewer testing and analyzed consumer behavior to inform stakeholder decision-making. He lives in Los Angeles.

Photo of Common Defense Board of Directors - Secretary, Jonathan Smucker

Jonathan Smucker

Board of Directors - Secretary

Jonathan Smucker is Political Director and Co-Founder of Pennsylvania Stands Up. He is the author of Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals (2017) and America Is for All of Us (2020). Jonathan has worked for more than two decades as an organizer, trainer, and strategist in grassroots social movements. As a doctoral student in sociology at UC Berkeley, he researches collective action, collective identity, and politicization processes in the U.S. He lives in Lancaster, PA.

Photo of Common Defense Board of Directors - Member at large, Shailly Gupta Barnes

Shailly Gupta Barnes

Board of Directors - Member at large

Shailly Gupta Barnes is the Policy Director of the Poor People’s Campaign. She is also the Policy Director of the Kairos Center. Shailly has used her background in law, economics and human rights to work with and for dispossessed communities for more than 15 years. In 2020, she coordinated a groundbreaking study on the impact of poor and low-income voters, Unleashing the Power of Poor and Low-income Americans: Changing the Political Landscape. Through the Kairos Center, she also produced a compilation of resources on militarism, Stop the War on our Poor: Combatting US Militarism and the War Economy (2020), and writes regularly on key issues around the inter-related crises of poverty, systemic racism, militarism, ecological devastation and the false moral narrative of Christian nationalism.

Advisory Committee

  • Jeff BlumLongtime community organizer. Former Executive Director of USAction and Founder of Pennsylvania Citizen Action. Jeff has served on the board of several progressive organizations advocating for health care, and peace and justice issues.
  • Dani Brzozowski Activist, organizer, and community leader. First woman and first queer person to serve as Chair of the LaSalle County Democratic Central Committee. Former candidate for U.S. Congress.
  • Michael Fried Former Professor of Mathematics at the State University of New York Stony Brook, community advocate, and Professor Emeritus at University of California Irvine.
  • Susan Goldhor Biologist and advocate for climate justice and for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
  • Craig Livingston Army Vietnam Veteran and Law Attorney specializing in labor law and workers compensation. Founder of the New Jersey Advisory Council on Health and Safety, a coalition of Labor Unions.
  • Bethany Menzies Founder of The Ready Foundation and currently serving in board governance and strategic advisory roles with the non-profits The Door, StreetWise Partners and Gibney. She serves as a career coach with post 9/11 Veterans graduates from The Posse Foundation.
  • Julie Oliver Healthcare finance expert, Executive Director of Register2Vote and former candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Texas.
  • Qasim Rashid – Human rights lawyer, author, and former candidate for U.S. Congress.
  • Billy Ray Screenwriter and film director. He has written numerous films including Captain Phillips, He also wrote, directed, and executive-produced Showtime’s “The Comey Rule.” He serves in the AMPAS Board of Governors.
  • Nikita Richards U.S. Navy veteran, crisis and political communication professional. Currently she is the Community Relations Manager for the City of Bloomington, IL and serves on U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth’s Service Academy Board.
  • Andrea CatoneOrganizer, sociologist, strategist, and writer. Andrea is currently co-founder and principal at Keyframe Illumination Collaborative.

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