Samir Rohlin Hazboun

Samir joined Highlander’s staff as the Education Team Administrative and Communications support in August 2015. He helps in supporting all of the programmatic work with a particular role in supporting the Southern Grassroots Economies Project and the Econ and Governance curriculum. He strongly believes in moving power and resources into communities that need them most. Samir was born in Washington, D.C.; raised in Takoma Park, MD; raised up by his chosen family in Greensboro, NC; loves his life-long friends at Catoctin Quaker Camp; and never forgets his ancestral roots in Palestine.

Tony Denton

Tony Denton serves as Highlander’s Buildings & Grounds Assistant. Alongside Johnny, he tends the land and maintains Highlander’s facilities. Tony has also led work camp teams at Highlander’s Wacky Workshop Work Week, where participants learned real life skills from his gentle teaching style.

André Canty

André is a native of Knoxville and a graduate of South Doyle High School. He began his undergraduate work at Middle Tennessee State University and later transferred to the University of Tennessee and graduated with degree in English Literature. He was the instructor for the Odd Fellows Scholars Program in Knoxville, where he taught students in grades 7-12 to illustrate Black history in the East Knoxville area through written material and digital storytelling. He’s the former President the 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville. He is a writer with publications in the Knoxville News Sentinel, Knoxville Writers’ Guild, Huffington Post,  and various other sources. His interest in social justice started as a junior at Middle Tennessee State University. Canty also serves on the board for KnowHow Knoxville and the Save Our Sons initiative with the City of Knoxville.

Esmeralda Baltazar

Esmeralda brings a wealth of experience to the Education Team. At 19, while studying art education in Chicago, she co-founded The Crib Collective, a youth-led non-profit. The organization became a center for artistic expression, cross-cultural alliances, and youth organizing that addressed a number of issues, including: gentrification, toxic waste, and the public education system. Since then, she has worked with the Rural Development Leadership Network in New York, Do, and other community based groups.

Most recently, Esmeralda worked with Fuerza Unida, a Latina-led organization in her hometown of San Antonio, TX, that empowers women workers and their families to organize for justice. It’s through that work that she came to Highlander, first through the Southern Grassroots Economies Project. Highlander is an anchoring organization of SGEP, which promotes and supports the launch of sustainable cooperative economies across the South. Esmeralda’s connection to Highlander deepened when, as a youth ally, she brought two young people from Fuerta Unida’s youth leadership program to our Seeds of Fire Camp.

An accomplished visual artist, Esmeralda also holds an MA in Educational Leadership, Politics and Advocacy from New York University. We are thrilled that she’ll be bringing her unique and powerful combination of art, education, and organizing to Highlander.

Johnny Bailey

Johnny Bailey serves as Highlander’s Buildings and Grounds Manager. He is from Tennessee and did odd jobs at Highlander in the 1980s and early 90s. Johnny oversees Highlander’s 180 acres of land and all of its facilities.

Brandi Augustus

She was born in  Plainfield, NJ in 1985 and was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her mother was office manager for the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority where she was exposed to speakers addressing social injustice in her and how to try combat prejudice that was ever prevalent in her community. This was her first taste of activism. She attended Aiken Senior High School, Cincinnati, Oh where she was involved in both Teen Institute and Leadership Team Programs; which taught her how to not only care for her community, but who to lead it as well. Her “Call to Action” moment came in 2001 when she was a sophomore in high school and 19 year old Timothy Thomas was unjustly shot and killed by officer Stephen Roach. The city erupted in protest in response. This led to the biggest case of civil disobedience since the 1992 LA riots. The city government put the city on an 8 p.m. curfew. Residents decided to counter with their own entertainment ban that called for the protest of all entertainment revenue coming into the city as well as a boycott of all of downtown businesses. The boycott ended up costing the city over $10 million dollars over time. City residents also called for police retraining and reform. This was when she realized what could happen when people unified and believed they could change the world.

Meanwhile, she began working for 5-star hotels as front desk agent/night auditor where she worked hard to make each guest that know that they were family. She felt that her decade-plus experience in the field of customer service and hospitality, and her passion to create a better world combine to make her the ideal person to be the welcoming face at Highlander…and the staff agreed!

"You Got to Move" showing on Jan. 16 at 8PM on Turner Classic Movies

Turner Classic Movies will be showing “You Got to Move” next Monday 1/16/17 during MLK, Jr. Day at 8pm EST. The 1985 documentary followed several dynamic people from the South in their quest for social justice featuring the Highlander Center.


For more info about the film to go

Go to for more info on Turner Classic Movies <Interview with filmakder Lucy Massie Phenix

Economic and Governance Curriculum Training of Trainers in St. Helena's, SC Dec. 1-4


Click here to apply

We are looking for teams of people who are interested in participating in and learning to facilitate a new version of Highlander’s Economic and Governance Curriculum.    We will be leading this training of trainers to help prepare people to run the sessions in communities. Participants will help facilitate our way through the curriculum, provide feedback along the way, and then take some time to practice facilitation.

Intro to Econ and Gov Curriculum


This Economics and Governance Training of Trainers will take place at the historic and beautiful Penn Center on Saint Helena’s Island, near Beaufort, S.C., from December 1-4.  The training will start with lunch on Thursday the 1st and end with lunch on Sunday, the 4th. 


We are delighted to be holding this training at the Penn Center.  For more than 150 years, Penn Center National Historic Landmark District, located on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, has been at the epicenter of African American education, historic preservation, and social justice for tens of thousands of descendants of formerly enslaved West Africans living in the Sea Islands, known as the Gullah Geechee people. (From their website).   You can read more about this amazing institution at



We are asking that teams of 2-3 from your community/organization/network attend the pilot training of trainers.  To participate each person would need to be able to attend all of the session.  We are looking for teams interested in learning to facilitate this curriculum with their organizations or in their community.   We hope to get a good cross-section from across the South and Appalachia.  We also hope to having a few teams from outside this region. We will provide room and board for the training and we have some scholarships for travel for groups from our priority regions and will also work to help people to carpool to Penn Center.

We have attached a team application that you can fill out and send back by mail or email, and we will be making an on-line application.   We are including a brief schedule for our training, and a two pager that shares more about this curriculum.  Mail to Samir at Highlander Center, 1959 Highlander Way, New Market TN 37820 or email [email protected]

The Penn Center is located near Beaufort, S.C.   It is about an hour from both the Charleston and Savannah airports so we can help people coordinate travel if you are flying..

If you have any questions – feel free to contact us!  Contact Samir or Susan, contact info is below.



Samir Rohlin Hazboun  [email protected]

Susan Williams [email protected]

Elandria Williams, and the Highlander Research and Education Center Team



Draft Schedule for Highlander Economics & Governance Training of Trainers


Thursday, December 1st

 Morning – arrivals, registrations, visit Penn Center Museum

 12:00pm Lunch

 1:00pm Welcome, Introduction to the Penn Center


Module 1 of Curriculum

Introductions and Altar (35 mins)

Norms and Agreements (15 mins)

Highlander intro and methodology skits (50 mins)

Family Tree (25 mins)

Mocktail (25 mins)


Facilitation and Leadership

6:00pm Dinner

7:00pm Divide into teams; each team will be give a module to facilitate for the rest of the group.


Friday, December 2nd

8:00am Breakfast

During the day Friday – teams will run Modules 2-4, with time to debrief each session in-between.


Module 2:  (120 minutes)

Machines and Life Forms (60 mins)

Community Mapping (60 mins)


Module 3: (105 minutes)

What do I want to see in the world (20 mins)

Capitalism & Governance Timeline (35 mins)

Levels of governance + personalized issue (20 mins)

Add discovered knowledge to maps (15 mins)

Debrief the day (20 mins)


Module 4: (100 mins)

Opening and Reflections (20 mins)

10 chairs (20 mins)

Circle of Capitalism and solidarity interventions (60 mins)


6:00pm Dinner

 7:00pm Debrief and evaluate the first 4 modules, challenges of facilitation, suggestions for changes.


Saturday, December 3rd

 8:00am Breakfast

 9:00am Teams will run modules 5-7 through Saturday, with time to give feedback between each module.

 Module 5:  (80 mins)

Labor and Time: Bad Job Art  (30 mins)

Experience with ownership (15 mins)

Mapping Ownership (20 minutes)

Debriefing (15 minutes)


Module 6: (90 mins)

The Story of Chocolate – labor, trade, globalization, value chains (45 mins)

Democracy and Law in Everyday Life (45 mins)


Module 7: Beautiful Solutions – (90 minutes)

Stepping Stones (45 mins)

Innovation for Social Good (45 mins)


6:00pm Dinner

 7:00pm Debrief the day and have a party!


Sunday, December 4th

 8:00 Breakfast

 9am-12pm: Debrief overall process, evaluate curriculum, develop plan for next steps

 12:00pm Lunch and goodbyes!

Highlander's Statement on DACA/DAPA

On Thursday, June 23, the Supreme Court announced a deadlocked decision that affected President Obama’s administrative program commonly referred to as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and its companion program that would have expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In the 4-4 disappointing tie, the deadlocked decision blocks a plan that would affect an estimate of five million undocumented immigrants.

“The Supreme Court has dealt, yet another blow to immigrants, cutting off relief for millions”- Carl Luscombe of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)

“We’re deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court sided with states and opportunistic politicians who continue to dehumanize undocumented communities. These programs would have protected close to 5 million people from deportation. While this ruling is not what we wanted, we are not deterred and will continue to organize and mobilize our communities against the deportation machine because our lives and those of our loved ones depend on it. To our undocumented sisters and brothers we say, ‘Never give up. We will continue to fight alongside you and will not rest until every single one of our undocumented communities is safe and able to live without fear”- Nayely Perez-Huerta, Co-Director of the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network.


There are resources and actions from groups who have been and will continue to organize for the rights of immigrant families across our region and the nation. <Petition for No Dapa, No Deportations. <Statement from Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition Statement from Black Alliance for Just Immigration on how the decision affects Black Immigrants <Register for a national call  July 7th, 2016 for A Kinship Action Call – Beyond DACA/DAPA- Taking Action for Black Immigrants – 2pm Pacific/ 5pm Eastern <Statement from Southeast Immigrant Rights Network. <Statement from Allies of Knoxville Immigrant Neighbors.

We stand united against the racist and white supremacist policies and actions. If there are ways that Highlander staff, board, and family can support please contact us.

Children's Camp “I Can Help Make a Change”-July 10-16

Also part of Seeds of Fire, our Children’s Justice Camp is a week-long summer camp for young people 6-12 years of age whose families are interested in social democracy, justice, and environmental awareness. At the camp, children from diverse racial, ethnic, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds join together for a week of sharing, fun, learning, and growing.

This year’s camp will be July 10-16, 2016. 

Our theme this year is “I Can Help Make a Change.”  We will be focusing on how people individually and collectively can make changes happen.  We will help the campers figure out some causes or issues that are important to them.  We will show how individuals can come together to make their opinions known and to influence others. Below is the application and family letter.

Mail in the application at
Highlander Center
Children’s Camp
1959 Highlander Way
New Market, TN 37820

For more info, contact Samir Hazboun: [email protected] or 865-335-2443

Childrens-Camp-2016-Application<Online form

Campers family letter – 2016