Who We Are


nweare (at) equalrightsnow (dot) com

Neil_Weare.jpgNeil Weare is a civil rights attorney and advocate committed to achieving equal rights for Americans living in U.S. territories.  Raised in the U.S. territory of Guam, Neil worked for Guam’s non-voting Delegate Madeleine Bordallo prior to attending Yale Law School.  In February 2015, Neil argued Tuaua v. United States before the D.C. Circuit, making the case for equal citizenship in U.S. territories.  Prior to founding We the People Project, Neil was Litigation Counsel and Supreme Court Fellow at Constitutional Accountability Center. Neil clerked on the Alaska Supreme Court for Justice Morgan Christen, now a Judge on the Ninth Circuit.  He was also a Thomas Emerson Fellow at David Rosen & Associates in New Haven, Connecticut.  As a law student, Neil successfully argued CCJEF v. Rell, a landmark case before the Connecticut Supreme Court recognizing a right to adequate education for Connecticut schoolchildren.  His commentary has appeared in the Washington Post, CNN.com, the Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and other media outlets.  Neil also competed in the 2004 Athens Olympics.  He is an associate at Trister, Ross, Schadler & Gold, PLLC, a boutique firm that specializes in political law for non-profit organizations. (Weare, high resolution image)



Richard Figueroa is a retired diplomat with over 20 years experience in the U.S. Department of State.  In December 2008, he was appointed by Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño as Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA).  At the helm of PRFAA, Richard advised the Governor and served as his chief representative before federal, state, and local governments throughout the nation.  Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Richard attended primary and secondary schools in Puerto Rico, and earned a B.A. from Yale University and a Juris Doctorate (JD) from Columbia University School of Law.  He most recently worked as a government relations advisor in the Washington office of a Puerto Rico-based law firm. 


Zen_Hunter_Ishikawa.jpgZen Hunter-Ishikawa is Vice President of Operations and Development for the El-Hibri Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in Washington, DC, focusing on peace education and social justice for youth in the U.S. and the Middle East. He has also served as Vice President for Business Development at East West Resources Corporation, a private, international investment and business development company in Washington, DC.  Zen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and a Master’s Degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from the School of International Service at American University. 


Susan-Atkins.jpgSusan Atkins founded one of the most successful agencies in the United States providing investor and public relations exclusively to life science companies and organizations, selling her firm to Porter Novelli in 2005.  She is past-Chair of the Victory Fund, a political action committee dedicated to training and electing openly LGBT people to all levels of government.  She received her MBA from Pepperdine University, and MA and BA degrees in Mass Communications and Journalism from the University of Oklahoma.  She resides in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, where she is unable to vote for the President of the United States.


EHS_Head_Shot.jpgEdward “Smitty” Smith is a third generation Washingtonian and the oldest of five children.  From a young age, his parents, one of whom is a former D.C. public school teacher and the other a long-time Federal civil servant, taught Smitty and his siblings the importance of education, service, and commitment to his community. Read more here.



MZB_lowres_2.jpgMadeleine Z. Bordallo is a life-long public servant who has represented the people of Guam in Congress since 2003.  In her 2013 Congressional Address, Congresswoman Bordallo identified political status as Guam’s “single most important long-term priority.”  Her work in Congress builds on the legacy of her late husband, Ricardo J. “Ricky” Bordallo, who as Governor of Guam worked to bring national attention to the denial of voting rights in Guam.  Prior to serving in Congress, Bordallo was Lt. Governor of Guam for eight years.  She also served ten years in the Guam Legislature.  Throughout her life, Bordallo has helped pave the way for women in leadership as Guam’s first woman elected to Congress and the first woman elected as Lt. Governor of Guam. 


Carl_Gutierrez_square.jpgCarl Gutierrez served as the Governor of Guam from 1995-2003.  As Governor, one of his top priorities was working with Washington to address Guam’s political status through a process of self-determination.  In 1998, Gutierrez hosted President Clinton’s historic visit to Guam as part of the centennial celebration of Guam’s relationship with the United States.  Born in 1941, Gutierrez spent the first years of his life enduring the brutal Japanese occupation of Guam—he is a survivor of the Manenngon concentration camp.  As a young man, he served five years in the U.S. Air Force before beginning a long and successful career in government and politics.  First elected to the Guam Legislature in 1972 at the young age of 31, Gutierrez was elected by the people of Guam to serve a total of nine terms, including two as Speaker.      


turnbull_square.jpgCharles Turnbull served as the Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands from 1999-2007.  Born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands in 1935, Turnbull has served as a member on four Virgin Islands Constitutional Conventions.  He has received numerous awards and citations for his outstanding contributions to public service, education, and cultural affairs.  A lifelong educator, Turnbull is currently a professor emeritus of history at the University of the Virgin Islands.  Turnbull earned a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Minnesota, and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Hampton University.


DCC_Board_Pic1.jpgDonna M. Christensen has represented the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands in Congress since 1997.  A medical doctor by training, she was the first female physician elected to Congress.  She chairs the Congressional Black Caucus’ Health Braintrust, which oversees and advocates minority health issues nationally and internationally.  She is the daughter of the late Judge Almeric Leander Christian, the first Virgin Islander to be appointed to the federal District Court of the Virgin Islands.  Christensen earned her medical degree at George Washington University and is a graduate of St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.


KaleoMoylan2.jpgKaleo Moylan served as the Lt. Governor of Guam from 2003-2007 – his father, Kurt Moylan, had previously served as Guam’s first elected Lt. Governor (1971-1975).  He is a leader in the business community as a Director at Moylan’s Insurance Underwriters, Inc., serving as the Chair of the Guam Chamber of Commerce in 2011. A two-term Senator in the Guam Legislature, he also served as a Delegate to the 2000 Republican National Convention.  He is a graduate of Puget Sound Law School and received his undergraduate degree at University of Colorado at Boulder.


Tony_Babauta.jpegTony Babauta served as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas at the US Department of Interior from 2009-2013.  As the highest ranking Pacific Islander in the Obama Administration, he oversaw federal relations dealing with Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the freely associated states of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau.  Before this, he served as Majority Staff Director for the House Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife and was a Legislative Assistant to Guam Delegate Robert Underwood.  Born in Agat, Guam, Babauta graduated from Father Duenas Memorial High School and Gonzaga University.  He currently works at Crane & Crane Consulting, based in Washington, D.C.


rhernandezmayoral.jpgRafael Hernandez Mayoral is Of Counsel at Morrison Foerster LLP, an international law firm, where he focuses on Latin America cross-border transactions and domestic and infrastructure projects.  He holds a B.A. and M.A. from Johns Hopkins University and is a graduate of Yale Law School, where he was Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal.  He is a member of the Board of Directors of Fundación Bibloteca Rafael Hernández Colón, which serves as depositary of the records and documents of the three-term former Puerto Rico Governor, Rafael Hernandez Colon.


BenBlaz.jpgBen Blaz was elected by the people of Guam to serve four terms in Congress as Guam’s Delegate, beginning in 1985.  Upon entering office, he was selected by his colleagues as President of the incoming Republican class.  His service in Congress followed a distinguished 30-year career in the United States Marine Corps, retiring with the rank of Brigadier General.  Born in Guam in 1928, Blaz was thirteen years old when the Japanese invaded and occupied the island on the same day Pearl Harbor was attacked.  Following the Liberation of Guam, he received a scholarship to attend the University of Notre Dame, and later received his MA from George Washington University.  Blaz was an accomplished writer and orator, and was the author of several books including Bisita Guam: Let Us Remember (Nihi Ta Hasso): Remembrances of the Occupation Years in World War II.  

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