Niki VanAller, Assistant Director
I graduated in May 2017 from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, PA, with a dual Bachelor's degree in English and Political Science. While at St. Joe's, I was very involved in my role on the Executive Board of their Women's Leadership Initiative, and I founded several activism-based clubs for students to get involved with.
In my studies, I gained an in-depth understanding of how domestic and global politics function to impact power relationships interpersonally and internationally. I focused in on how social movements can effectively impact change.
As a leader and organizer, I brought together students to demonstrate in solidarity with immigrants and refugees, to call their representatives against the January 2017 travel ban, to stand up against gender-based violence, to sign pledges in support of transgender students, to voice their opinions via political journalism, and more.
My political science studies and my leadership in student organizing fueled my passion for grassroots activism. Every single person is needed in the fight to make a difference. I became the Assistant Director at CFPA in January 2018, and I am looking forward to mobilizing as many people as possible in the name of peace.
Edward A. Aguilar, J.D.,
Ed Aguilar is Director of the Coalition for Peace Action in Pennsylvania. After successful collaboration with CFPA on promoting the New START Treaty (2010), in 2012, Ed was appointed to open the Philadelphia CFPA office. That year, we organized a Voting Rights campaign, to allow 50,000 college students to vote, who were being denied access to the ballot by the “PA Voter ID Law”, later reversed as unconstitutional. Ed has worked on rallies and conferences at Friends Center; Temple, St. Joseph’s, Arcadia, Penn, and Drexel Universities; and the Philadelphia Ethical Society, on abolishing nuclear weapons, the climate crisis, mass incarceration, and diplomacy not war in Korea and Iran. He has led CFPA lobbying with Pennsylvania Senators and Members of Congress. Recently, he accompanied a delegation of South Korean pro-peace legislators and activists to Congress, which gained support from Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA) and others for inter-Parliamentary dialogue for diplomacy and peace.
Ed is a lawyer by profession, with a J.D. from Temple University Law School. At the Philadelphia Court System, he was a Special Master for a three-judge panel on issues of civil and constitutional rights for 22 years, 1979- 2000. As an adjunct professor, Ed has taught Criminal Justice and Constitutional Law, and most recently Arms Control and Nuclear Disarmament at St. Joseph’s University. He has served on the Board of the Envision Peace Museum; National Advisory Council, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy (since 2012); and the Board of Resolution Media Fund (2013-present), which produced Groundswell Rising-- Protecting Our Children's Air and Water, from the award-winning director Renard Cohen, and producer Mark Lichty. With LAWS, Ed served on the team that helped draft the first Nuclear Weapons Ban Convention; this became a model for the Nuclear Ban Treaty, adopted in 2017 at the U.N.
Cathy Leary, Bucks and Eastern Montgomery Counties
(BuxMont), PA, Director
In 1999 I became a member of United Christian Church in Levittown where I met the Reverend Alfred Krass. Al was the coordinator for BuxMont CFPA at the time. I became interested in peace and justice work as a direct result of Al and the church’s influence. I then became a volunteer for CFPA.
When Al retired I became very active with CFPA and helped organize many events, including our weekly vigil against the Iraq war in Fairless Hills that we sustained for over three years. In 2008 a new Army recruitment center opened across from the video arcade in the Franklin Mills Mall called the Army Experience Center. This was a turning point in my activism as we worked relentlessly to get the Army to close this center that was giving the impression to children that war was just like a video game. The Center had simulated Humvees and other video games the children would play while the staff (recruiters) would walk around and talk with them. This center was the site of many rallies and was finally shut down, earlier than planned by the Army, in 2010.
I helped organize a very successful rally around Mother’s Day in 2011 on the subject of Universal Background Checks. I became the coordinator of the BuxMont chapters a few years ago and we have had many successful vigil, rallies, and meetings surrounding this subject as well as other peace and social justice campaigns. We maintain a monthly protest at the Drone Command Center in Horsham PA.
We plan to continue to have events in PA that we hope have a positive impact on our community. I want to thank everyone for their continued support of BuxMont CFPA.