Meet Put People First! PA’s 2019 Mother Jones Leadership Program Leaders

MJLP launches with six Healthcare Rights Committee (HRC) Leaders from across the state

On June 2nd and 3rd, the 4th annual Mother Jones Leadership Program launched with a retreat at beautiful Camp Sequanota in western PA. The Mother Jones Leadership Program (MJLP) is a leadership development program for Put People First! PA (PPF-PA) members of varied backgrounds, religions, genders, ages and abilities across the state who are living near the poverty line. The MJLP runs from the Leadership Institute at the end of April through the Membership Assembly in early October. During that time, Mother Jones Leaders are paired with an experienced organizing mentor inside of PPF-PA, and are provided with a stipend to help remove barriers to participation and invest in their skill development and political education. Meet this year’s leaders:

Jacob Butterly – Montgomery County HRC

Hi everyone. I’m one of the coordinators for the fledgling Montco HRC in Southeastern PA and the theomusicologist for the PA Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. I’ve been in PPF-PA since the first week of January 2017, having stumbled into a meeting on the recommendation of a friend. I was feeling lost, angry and bitter towards the world, politics, and myself because my sister had died from cancer, very suddenly and unfairly, the spring prior. I know my sister didn’t need to die needlessly, in hospice, taken from her kids and her loving husband, her brother and mom. The same millions of others don’t need to be taken from us, every day, by the systems of injustice and cruelty and waste we live under. I am honored to be one of the 2019 Mother Jones leaders, because I know that the vision and the folks in PPF-PA, and the work we’re doing, is the way to dismantle these evils, fighting for the unity of our class, the poor and dispossessed.

Theresa Phipps – Pittsburgh HRC

My name is Theresa Phipps and I am a member of Pittsburgh HRC. My son Daniel Ethridge is in Somerset Prison. He is doing life without parole. Hopefully one day he will get out. I got involved with Put People First! PA to fight for healthcare. Everyone has a right to have healthcare.  I am excited to become a strong leader. I would like to become more clear and able to explain what we do. I am amazed by everything that is going on with Put People First! PA. I am excited to be chosen to be a part of the Mother Jones Leadership Program.

Madeline Burrows – Johnstown HRC

Madeline Burrows is a Member of the Johnstown HRC. She is a member of the Political Education and Leadership Development team and the Community Care team. She got involved with Put People First! PA because of her drive to be a part of a movement that would be building up the power of poor and working-class people. She is an almost 20-year-old college student and for the past 5 years she, her mom, and sometimes brother have been struggling with having heating and hot water on and off. During the winter of 2017-2018 the lack of heating in their house caused their pipes to freeze over and bust open, leaving the kitchen ceiling completely caved in, the kitchen and bathroom flooding and freezing over. Living in different places for 8 months lead to Put People First! PA members Ben and Laycee to knock on the door of one of the areas they were staying at the time. Her goal for the Mother Jones Leadership Program is to develop into a leadership role.

Denyne Pollard – Pittsburgh HRC

Hello, I’m Denyne Pollard, a Pittsburgh native. I belong to the Pittsburgh HRC and I have the pleasure of finding people, just like myself, who want to see positive change in healthcare and our human rights as a people. I consider myself a pretty inquisitive person, always picking up info and pamphlets to read. I happened up on Put People First! PA info at the library and again on Facebook. I ended up calling the number because it spoke to me in regards to uniting to combat issues near to my own struggles. I met Ben, who was very patient with me from the start. The HRC group meeting was a very kind and welcoming group. I am happy to say, May of 2019, marks my one year anniversary with PPF-PA. One of my immediate goals is to work on public facilitation and speaking in front of groups. We have high hopes of getting something started in the Mon Valley region. I am just very honored to get all I can from the Mother Jones Leadership Program.

Matthew Rosing – Lancaster HRC

Hello my name is Matthew Rosing. I am a member of the Lancaster HRC, and Community Care team. I am honored this year to be involved in the Mother Jones Leadership Program. This work is so important to me.  We must stand together to fight against this evil system of oppression we find ourselves in. I am looking forward to growing through the MJLP into a confident leader in my community. I hope to learn the skills I need to continue the work of many great leaders of the past. I hope to grow the Lancaster HRC into a strong voice for change in this world. Through the mentors and advisors I know this goal will be achieved.


Jennina Rose Gorman – Altoona HRC 

I am Jennina Rose Gorman and the  HRC coordinator for Altoona PA. I am an active member of the Media and Communications team, Steering Committee, and HRC coordinators group. Right before joining PPF-PA, my fiancee at the time, Tim, became violently ill. He had Medicaid through the state, and though he was vomiting, and in constant pain – he was met with demeaning language and given opioid pain meds, and sent home – rather than diagnostic tests. For 6 months, this cycle continued. Until finally, I became angry. I went to the ER and threatened a lawsuit before he was able to get the life saving surgery and treatment he needed.I remember thinking that nobody should have to fight so hard just to survive and receive medical treatment, and respect. It was then I really became active in PPF-PA, because I really saw and understood the need for healthcare for all, and that it was a human right. My goal is to grow in personal development and my leadership development and facilitation roles. To gain a better understanding of Leadership Across Differences and Political Education. 

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