Rafael Shimunov (he/his) is a creative and political activist in Queens, NYC.
Having entered the US from JFK himself as a child, his live coverage and narration of the JFK protests garnered over 16 million viewers and helped spark the national airport movement against the Muslim Ban. On CNN, Rafael outlined the strategy of ResistHere: Moving everyday people into the resistance and pushing our representatives to follow or be replaced by those everyday people (video, article). As a child refugee from Uzbekistan, Rafael has also recently participated in the #CityofRefuge encampment, a #ResistTrumpTuesdays event by African Communities Together sparking the national movement for the protection of refugees along with a separate action where he and 5 others were arrested pushing NYC to truly become a sanctuary city by reforming law enforcement (article, video).
Rafael Shimunov has directed creative and digital at Working Families Party, which organized its 12 state organizations to primary corporate Democrats with progressives in hundreds of local elections. Deeply involved in immigration justice, his live, personal narrative growing up as a refugee from Uzbekistan during the JFK Airport protests of the Muslim Ban reached over 16 million viewers, landing him on CNN to help undo the media’s harmful analysis on the national airport movement that grew out of the event.
At Center For Constitutional Rights, Rafael led digital and creative on cases such as Stop & Frisk (Floyd v. City of New York), on behalf of Sexual Minorities in Uganda (SMUG v. Lively), for survivors of sexual violence taking on the Vatican at International Criminal Court and the UN, work towards challenging Guantanamo Bay and combating drone warfare.
As Associate Director for Communications at PolicyLink, a national think tank, Rafael helped lead digital campaigns and policymaking communities that pushed legislation to adopt economic and social equity research impacting low income communities and communities of color. He has contributed to IfNotNow’s early growth in digital and creative, launched #JewsForLinda Sarsour, was part of a small team that successfully destabilized GOP support of white nationalist Congressman Steve King, and was a small part of the successful No Amazon NYC coalition.
As a board member, Rafael has helped take nearly 30 years of JFREJ’s Jewish organizing into electoral power by co-founding The Jewish Vote, a sister org that campaigns for progressive candidates in NY by mobilizing Jewish voters and is currently helping Color of Change hold Facebook support of White Nationalism accountable in the boardroom.
Prior to joining the fight, he helped win a Cannes award for advertising with the very same corporations he works to fight against today.
Watch his short film about Jewish Women of Color at the Women’s March, his reverse Thomas Crown affair at the Whitney Museum, wacky red socialist trucks, exposé of Mike Pence’s fake rabbi, response to people cutting out Nike logos to protest Colin Kaepernick, and the White House’s fake video sourced from white supremacists.
Rafael Shimunov has appeared in Rolling Stone, CNN, Newsweek, Hyperallergic, Washington Post, New York Post, San Francisco Gate, Sky News, Telemundo, ReWire News, Fader, Nonprofit Quarterly, The Forward, Mondoweiss, Buzzfeed News, NowThis News, Artnet, Colorlines, Good Magazine, Huffington Post, Haaretz, Complex Magazine, Wired, and ThinkProgress.