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Rena became an activist during her years in Florida. She started with the Nuclear Freeze campaign, seeking to prevent the spread and use of these most destructive and inhumane weapons, and then got hooked – becoming an organizer to combat sexism, poverty, racism, homophobia, AIDS, homelessness, war, corporatism and more, always seeking to bring a unified vision of peace, justice and community between the issues that were being addressed. Two of her major accomplishments during these years was co-founding the Tampa Bay Gay and Lesbian Pride March, and saving from demolition the Williams Park Bandshell, a historic structure that had long been a gathering point for progressive events in St. Petersburg.
Rena moved to Oklahoma early in 2003 and it didn’t take long for her to get involved. She helped create and develop the Oklahoma Committee for Conscientious Objectors, which later became The Center for Conscience in Action, serving as its executive director for many years as she led its work on GI Rights, counter-recruitment, resistance to war and militarism and promotion of peace and justice. Through CCA’s membership in the Chelsea Manning Support Network, she worked tirelessly to show and build support for Oklahoma native Chelsea Manning, organizing marches, protests, forums, and an annual birthday party on Dec. 17 for the whistleblower and government transparency advocate.
Rena has been a fixture at antiwar rallies in Central Oklahoma, many of which she helped organize, but she also supported many other progressive causes, attending events and help to promote them. She helped co-found the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice.
She currently serves as chair of Amnesty OKC, and the state death penalty abolition coordinator for Amnesty USA.
Her photographs of the many events she attended in Oklahoma since 2003 provide a visual record of the area’s growing progressive movement. More recently she has been involved in podcasting as a way to advance awareness and activism for positive change.
Her knowledge and skills at websites and social media has been a boon to local activists and organizations for many years. She has maintained a progressive community calendar for central Oklahoma for over a decade, where events from hundreds of peace and social justice organizations are freely shared and promoted.
She is now focused on a mission long dear to her, building connections between the many organizations and campaigns operating in our state to advance peace, social justice and human rights, usually on a shoestring, to increase their effectiveness and collective power.