Strategic Design Group

Lawrence Barriner II (Chair)

Lawrence is a communications strategist, connector, and systems thinker. He loves quotes, facilitating groups and processes, baking bread, feeding his worms, and cooking/eating good food with good friends. His current work includes communications and narrative strategy at the Community Innovators Lab at MIT and running a productivity coaching practice. His previous work includes food systems & food justice research and consulting, web design, and graphic design. He plays a lot of volleyball, keeps busy with a million side projects, writes daily, and has a weekly newsletter. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree, both in City Planning, from MIT.

James Burch

James Burch is the policy coordinator for the Anti Police-Terror Project, an organization that works to eradicate police terror in communities of color.  He began his work against state-sanctioned violence by challenging the prison-industrial complex in 2007 at the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) - for two years, James investigated human rights conditions in Georgia and Alabama prisons, jails, and court systems.

James left the SCHR in 2009 to study civil rights law at the Georgetown University Law Center. Upon graduating in 2012, James clerked briefly at the ACLU of Los Angeles before moving to the Bay Area to work as a policy strategist for a medical marijuana firm.

Shortly after, James became involved with the Frisco 500 and other local organizing outfits in the Bay Area. After working with and alongside the Anti Police-Terror Project for several months, James joined the Black Leadership Committee and assumed the role of Policy Coordinator last spring.

James focuses on curtailing state violence in all of its many forms on the pathway to liberation. He believes that none of us are free until we are all free.


Lisa Owens

Lisa Owens is the Executive Director at City Life Vida Urbana. City Life's principal work is to defend against forced displacement and to work toward community control of land and housing.

A long time Boston resident, Lisa has been active in movement building groups for 25 years and has helped to start and/or nurture a number of local grassroots groups and projects led by people of color. As an activist and an educator, Lisa participates in projects that study the roots of economic inequality in the US and that offer alternative visions for true economic democracy. She has taught courses on structural racism and US social welfare policy, participatory action research, community organizing, designing community projects, and nonprofit management at Boston University and Springfield College. Lisa is currently a board member of the Coalition of Occupied Homes in Foreclosure (COHIF), where she is working to build the Boston Neighborhood Community Land Trust, an anti-displacement land trust linked to local tenant organizing struggles.



Maanav Thakore

Maanav Thakore has dedicated his life to facilitating the evolution of social justice work and culture with a keen focus on racial justice efforts. He is a self-described “transformative systems nerd” and has spent more than a decade leading change processes in support of countless individuals, organizations, networks and municipalities.

Maanav has lived, learned, worked and organized in Louisiana, New Mexico, Connecticut, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts. In every part of the country he has lived, learned loved and been shaped by the deep lifelong relationships he’s forged in the social justice and arts communities. His primary focus has been on developing thousands of intersectional racial justice leaders across many sectors and consulting with over one hundred organizations to live their values and integrate them to day to day programs and operations. He is an expert facilitator with an organizer’s heart and has extensive experience leading winning campaigns, applying network theory to movement building and developing cultural change strategies. Most recently as Senior Associate at Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC), with their collaborative change lens of “Power/Networks/Love” he helped build the capacity of organizations, networks, cities and foundations across the country through large-scale racial equity initiatives.

He is currently launching a co-op consulting firm focused on advancing racial equity and gender justice in nonprofits, tech, media and sports leagues. In addition to being a profoundly impactful change agent, Maanav is a deejay, multi-instrumentalist, holistic-foods chef, and father to two beautiful children.

Aly Thomas

Aly is a queer Black woman who attends Brandeis University, where she is working towards a BA in Women, Gender & Sexuality studies and African & Afro-American studies with minors in Art History and English. She is in the process of working on multiple projects, which include a senior thesis on "Black Feminist Theories of Flesh: Biopolitics and Visual Culture," in addition to a sociological project on Black women and barriers to reporting sexual violence and archival research on constructions of race and beauty in colonial Ghanaian newspapers. Aly spends much of her time working in a variety of roles at the Rose Art Museum such as exhibition installation, curatorial research, and childhood arts education. Her organizing experience includes work with #BlackLivesMatter and Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. She loves hip-hop, Thai food, and fat positivity.