Fighting, Healing and Building: A Forward-looking Vision for Civil Rights and Criminal Justice in San Francisco

Wed, December 04, 2019 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
San Francisco

Fighting, Healing and Building: A forward-looking vision for civil rights and criminal justice in San Francisco

Featuring Public Defender Manohar Raju and Monika Varma of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights in the SF Bay Area

With every passing day, it seems like the Trump Administration chips away further at our civil rights. But even as San Franciscans repel the onslaught of daily attacks, many are also looking ahead, and building a new vision for what justice and equity looks like in San Francisco. Join Manohar Raju and Monika Varma for a conversation on how civil rights advocates are imagining and building a more fair and compassionate city. Jamie Allison, Executive Director of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, will moderate the discussion. The event is free and open to the public.


3092 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
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Doors open at 5:00pm

Sponsored by the Lacuna Giving Circle and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy

Speaker bios:

Manohar Raju is the San Francisco Public Defender and a founding member of Public Defenders for Racial Justice. A son of immigrants from India, his pursuit of justice is rooted in his acute awareness of the ramifications of social inequalities. He worked as a Deputy Public Defender in Contra Costa County for seven years before he was recruited by Jeff Adachi to join the SF Public Defender’s felony unit in 2008. Due to his impressive practice as a felony line attorney, he was promoted to be the Director of Training and then Manager of the Felony Unit. He is deeply committed to a client-centered approach to defense work. “Our impact is not measured in numbers, but in the people we represent,” he said. “It’s by the mother who can return home to her family. The son who can continue to work to support his family. And to the children of those we defend, who benefit from having an equal opportunity to survive and who might one day use that opportunity to lead.”

Monika Kalra Varma is the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Monika has dedicated her career to human rights and social justice work. As Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR), she is leading the organization to a number of victories, including the repeal of an unconstitutional loitering ordinance in Oakland and a federal court ruling protecting immigrant youth in California. From working to end the criminalization of poverty to building more racially and economically inclusive communities, LCCR is setting precedents that are being used by advocates across the country. Monika has served as a prosecutor at the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, led the Center for Human Rights at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights and served as Executive Director of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center. She has partnered with social movement leaders to address entrenched human rights problems, including working to ensure a right to health in Haiti, end untouchability in India, rebuild the Gulf Coast after Katrina, and increase access to justice in Chad. At home and abroad her work has been grounded in rights-based and community-based approaches to achieve long lasting social change. Monika is a graduate of U.C. Davis School of Law. She is married to attorney Anurag Varma. They have a eleven-year-old daughter and seven-year-old twin boys. Monika enjoys writing children’s books to inspire the next generation of social movement leaders and change agents.

Moderator bio:

Jamie Allison is devoted to building a healthy, just, and vibrant society, one in which we work creatively and collaboratively to bring the benefits of inclusive community to all. Before joining the Walter & Elise Haas Fund as its Executive Director in 2018, Jamie helped lead the S. H. Cowell Foundation. She started there as Program Officer in charge of Youth Development in 2006. Her portfolio at Cowell steadily grew to encompass affordable housing and program-related investment management as she took the role of Senior Program Officer in 2012, then as Vice President Programs in 2016.