At The Greenlining Institute, we don’t just talk about diversity, we practice it every day. Our talented staff and Academy participants come from a wide variety of backgrounds and bring a diverse range of life experiences to the work of advancing justice and equity for all of America’s communities.
Orson Aguilar is the President of the Greenlining Institute, one of the nation’s largest and most successful multi-ethnic, advocacy and leadership development nonprofits. Greenlining envisions a nation where race is never a barrier to economic opportunity and communities of color thrive. Because people of color will be the majority of our nation’s population by 2040, Greenlining believes that America will prosper only if communities of color prosper.
Under Orson’s leadership, Greenlining has become a leading voice in the movement to fight redlining by advocating for greenlining policies, particularly in the areas of the economy, the environment, health, energy, voting, and telecommunications.
Orson’s leadership has been featured in major media such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Univision, La Opinion, NPR, Politico, The Huffington Post and many others news outlets. He meets regularly with major Fortune 100 CEOs and with many of our nation’s economic leaders. His op-eds on diverse topics impacting communities are regularly featured in small and large newspapers throughout the country.
Orson’s work has been recognized by the New Leaders Council, Latino Leaders Magazine, La Opinion, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and several other prominent organizations. He is a board member at the California Women’s Foundation and also sits on Bank of America’s Community Advisory Committee. He is also a past member of important local boards and committees, including the Mission Economic Development Agency and the City of Oakland’s Budget Advisory Committee.
Orson received a BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an MPA from The University of Texas at Austin. Orson is a product of Greenlining’s leadership academy. He was also a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellow.
Orson’s passion is fueled on his experiences growing up in the working class neighborhood of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles. Orson lives in Oakland, CA with his wife Claudia, and their three children, Emilio, Nayeli, and Danilo.
As Vice President of Operations, Janine is responsible for enhancing the organization’s internal processes and infrastructure. She works closely with the organization’s development, communications, and administrative teams, and leads organizational development, evaluation, and budgeting. Prior to this role, Janine fundraised for Greenlining for over six years, serving as Development Director for three. In this capacity, she built Greenlining’s fundraising infrastructure, streamlined internal development processes, and engaged philanthropic partners. In her tenure, Janine worked closely with the Executive Director and policy teams to double the organization’s philanthropic foundation revenue.
Janine has worked for racial justice nonprofit organizations, including the Applied Research Center (now Race Forward), ColorLines Magazine, and Children’s Book Press, since 2002. In her off hours, she writes and illustrates children’s books, and runs Blood Orange Press & First Voice Publishing Project, endeavors that correct the invisibility of people of color in children’s literature. As mama to two boys, her experiences as the lone femme in a house of men (well, one man and two mancubs) was the inspiration for her first children’s book – Oh, Oh, Baby Boy!
Find her on twitter: @j9macbeth @BloodOrangePres
Rosa María Martinez is The Greenlining Institute’s Office Director, overseeing the management of our office and building. Previously, she worked with the Bridges to Health Team managing Greenlining’s Diversity in the Health Workforce initiative, looking at current representation of people of color at all levels within the health field. She also worked on ensuring that information about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was reaching limited-English communities throughout California, conducting presentations across the state. Rosa María co-authored an issue brief designed to help ethnic small businesses understand key elements of the ACA affecting them.
Rosa María served on the Advisory Council to the San Francisco Mexican Consulate (2012-2014) and was the secretary for the Council’s Committee on Health and Sports. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature with a minor in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley.
Originally from Zacatecas, México, Rosa grew up the Bay Area where she currently lives with her husband and daughter. In her spare time she loves to go horseback riding.
As the Administrative Assistant at The Greenlining Institute, Ana assists Office Director Rosa María Martinez with overseeing the management of the office and building. Previously, she worked at Mayer’s Laboratories, Inc. and Briones International, LLC as an Administrative Assistant and Bookkeeper.
Since 2010, Ana has volunteered at SEIU Local 1877, advocating for human rights. Ana supports the union by translating, participating in protests and helping write letters of support for workers. Additionally, Ana has volunteered with various organizations that support foreign students learn English and achieve a higher education.
Ana will be earning her Human Development/Early Childhood Development degree from Cal State East Bay oi Spring 2016. After graduating, her biggest goal is to give back to her community by working/volunteering for non-profit organizations. Ana is excited to continue growing and expanding her professional knowledge at Greenlining.
Ana was born in Michoacán, Mexico but raised in the Bay Area and currently lives in Oakland with her family. In her free time, Ana loves to go shopping, dancing, watch movies and spend quality time with her family.
As the Diversity and Inclusion Director, Danielle advocates for the greater inclusion of people of color across Greenlining’s five major policy areas. For Danielle, every issue is an economic issue; decisionmakers must utilize the lived experiences of communities to ensure economic recovery and prosperity for the entire nation. To this effect, she regularly advises corporations and their regulators on metrics to best measure workforce and supplier diversity. This includes leading Greenlining’s work with the federal Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion and serving on the California Department of Insurance’s Diversity Task Force. She received her B.A. from Stanford University in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity with Honors
When not elbows-deep in policy memos, Danielle enjoys bad reality TV and spending time with her dog Otis.
Sasha Werblin is a proud Oakland native who brings extensive nonprofit, public sector and campaign experience to the Economic Equity team. As Economic Equity Director, she works to build wealth, assets, and financial sustainability in communities of color. Her policy experience began as Greenlining’s Sustainable Development Fellow in 2007-2008. Between completion of her Academy fellowship and returning to Greenlining, Sasha ran Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s successful 2008 reelection campaign. She has also worked in Mombasa, Kenya to ensure that underserved communities were at the vanguard of local development initiatives and to build fundraising capacity for local community-based organizations. In addition, she was assistant director at a progressive campaign consulting firm mobilizing activists, building membership and fundraising for organizations like Amnesty International, Equality California and Save the Children.
In her spare time, Sasha mentors two young women of color through the Berkeley Community Fund and the East Bay College Fund. Sasha serves on the Board of the East Bay AIDS Advocacy Foundation, Homeownership SF, and is a 2016 New Leaders Council Fellow in the Oakland Chapter.
Sasha graduated from Smith College in 2007 with a B.A. in Sociology and Psychology.
As the Economic Equity Program Manager, Vedika works to build wealth and improve financial services in communities of color. Prior to joining The Greenlining Institute, Vedika spent two years at an economic consulting firm analyzing the impact of antitrust actions and anticompetitive practices on consumers. She graduated with a B.A. in Economics from UC Berkeley. While at Berkeley, Vedika conducted economic development research about the long term impacts of health and education interventions on Kenyan youth.
Vedika has been in the Bay for almost 10 years, and now calls it home. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, and has made it her mission to find the best tacos in the Bay.
Sharon Velasquez is an advocate for economic equity currently exploring the nexus between racial justice, nonprofits, and policy. As the Economic Equity Coordinator, in addition to providing logistical support to the Economic Equity Team, Sharon works to leverage the voice and clout of The Greenlining Coalition to successfully advocate for wealthier and healthier communities of color. Sharon believes every decision is political and she works towards the day in which race and zip code will not determine one’s life opportunities. In the past, Sharon has worked with nonprofits to measure and track their social and political impact on low to moderate income communities, in the labor movement to elevate the stories of workers of color, and with policy advocacy and community organizing campaigns in Los Angeles and Riverside County.
A UCLA alumna, Sharon graduated with a B.A. in English Literature and Public Affairs. She is a native of southern California and currently lives in San Francisco. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, exploring, and attempting to cook.
Hibba Meraay recent graduated from Boston University, where she double majored in Economics and International Relations. Her passion for economic equity and social justice stems from her experience as the daughter of immigrants. As an undergraduate, she pursued her passion for public policy outside of the classroom through internships with the Massachusetts State Legislature and the U.S. Department of State. Hibba is excited to join The Greenlining Institute in empowering communities of color.
In her free time, she enjoys cooking for friends. After spending most of her life in New England, she looks forward to living in the Bay Area, away from the snow.
Stephanie Chen directs Greenlining’s advocacy in energy and telecommunications policy. She oversees Greenlining’s legal counsel at the California Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, who advocate on a wide range of issues impacting underserved consumers and small businesses. Stephanie has litigated several high-profile cases impacting billions of dollars in utility rates, winning broad statewide protections for communities of color, low income ratepayers and small business owners.
Outside of Greenlining, Stephanie is a member of the Conference of California Public Utility Counsel, the specialty bar association of attorneys and regulatory personnel who practice before the CPUC. Additionally, Stephanie serves on the Advisory Board for the California Consumer Protection Foundation, and for Skyline College’s Paralegal Studies Program. Stephanie has a B.A. in Government from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law. She loves eating, cooking, gardening, eating, cheering loudly for the Oakland A’s, eating, and sporadically blogging about food.
Paul Goodman’s work is grounded in the belief that all telecommunications policy has racial equity impacts. He serves as Greenlining’s legal counsel at the California Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, advocating for underserved communities’ access to affordable and reliable telephone, video, and Internet services. While at Greenlining, Paul has successfully opposed the highly anti-consumer proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, fought to preserve critical consumer protections for telephone service, and helped shape the evolution of state and federal Universal Service Programs. Paul currently represents the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) as a member of the Federal Communication Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee, ensuring that communities of color have a voice in proceedings before the Commission.
Paul received his Juris Doctor degree from John F. Kennedy University School of Law, and his Legum Magister degree in Intellectual Property from Santa Clara University School of Law. While at Santa Clara University, Paul worked as a Research Fellow at the Broadband Institute of California, working on issues including net neutrality, deceptive Internet service provider terms and conditions, and the regulation of broadcast television and radio. Paul’s previous experience includes work on criminal defense and Constitutional law issues as a private attorney.
In his spare time, Paul enjoys cooking and creating welded, forged, and cast metal sculpture and kinetic art. He lives in Oakland with his wife, who is a registered nurse and published author of urban fantasy novels.
Carmelita Miller was born in the Philippines and grew up in South San Francisco, California. She graduated from Sacramento State University where she became a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and earned a B.A. in History with a minor in Greek studies. After a graduating from UC Hastings College of the Law, she became a Greenlining Legal Fellow in 2013-14, focusing on telecommunications policy.
While at UC Hastings, she served as the President of the Pilipino American Law Society and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal. Inspired by her personal experiences living in low-income, immigrant, and working class communities, she dedicated her free time in law school to providing legal assistance to the low-income population by interning and volunteering at various pro bono organizations such as Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, UC Hastings Civil Justice Clinic, Legal Aid of San Francisco’s Workers Rights Clinic, the Veterans Equity Center, and the Filipino Community Center.
When she is not studying or fighting for justice, Carmelita enjoys lounging, hiking, and playing with her two black labrador retrievers named Maximus and Athena.
Vinhcent Le grew up in California and graduated from UC San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in political science before receiving his Juris Doctor from the UC Irvine School of Law. As a law student, Vinhcent advocated for disadvantaged communities on a variety of fronts, including criminal defense, appellate litigation and immigration law. Vinhcent brings a diverse set of experiences to Greenlining. He advocated for clients as a law clerk at both the Orange County and Federal Public Defender’s offices. He later clerked with the Office of Medicare Hearing and Appeals as well as the Small Business Administration. Vinhcent also co-authored an award-winning paper for the Oxford Journal of International Law analyzing the effectiveness of informal legal policies in reducing overconsumption of fossil fuels and overfishing of the world’s oceans.
As a volunteer, Vinhcent mentored and encouraged at-risk high school students to attend college and law school as part of UC Irvine’s “Street Law” program. Other experiences include helping Orange County immigrants obtain a pathway to citizenship and assisting the overlooked Vietnamese and African American communities in Mississippi in obtaining government assistance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Outside of the office, Vinhcent enjoys wilderness backpacking, fantasy football and cooking.
Alvaro S. Sanchez is an urban planner with extensive experience crafting, implementing, and evaluating strategies that leverage private and public investments to deliver community benefits to impacted communities. Alvaro leads our work on SB 535 (de León) which directs at least one quarter of California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to disadvantaged communities. He also leads our neighborhood-scale sustainability initiative, a comprehensive and scalable approach to greenhouse gas reduction that leverages private and public investment while improving underserved communities throughout California.
Prior to joining Greenlining, Alvaro led Green For All’s stormwater infrastructure strategy. As a member of the State and Local Initiatives team, he led the organization’s strategies for connecting impacted communities to economic opportunity related to national stormwater infrastructure investments. He wrote several reports detailing the untapped opportunity of using green infrastructure as a cost-effective stormwater management tool that creates job and business opportunities for underserved communities. Several leading water and stormwater utilities throughout the country have used the framework he presented to deliver triple-bottom-line benefits.
Alvaro has over nine years of experience working on economic development and land use issues throughout California and nationally. In 2011 he received a Master of Planning degree from the University of Southern California, where he focused on affordable housing and economic development. He is the President of the Board of Directors at Dolores Street Community Services, an immigration and community development organization in San Francisco. He also created the Triple Bottom Line Hub, a social media platform that celebrates projects that deliver triple-bottom-line benefits. Alvaro, who believes you can never be too wonky, lives in North Oakland, grew up in Los Angeles, and was born in Mexico City.
Joel works to solve poverty and pollution by advocating for clean transportation choices and green economic opportunities for California’s underserved communities. He co-leads Greenlining’s clean transportation work implementing the Charge Ahead California Initiative, a law aiming to put a million electric cars and trucks on California roads by 2023 by making them more affordable and accessible to low- and moderate-income Californians. Joel is the lead author of “Electric Carsharing in Underserved Communities: Considerations for Program Success” and is always thinking of ways to make new shared mobility services more equitable. Prior to joining Greenlining, Joel was in law school where he worked on consumer protection issues with the Federal Trade Commission, civil rights cases for the Office of Staff Attorneys at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and death penalty cases for the California Appellate Project.
Joel was born in Gallup, New Mexico and split time growing up between Gallup and Phoenix, Arizona, where his family lives now. He graduated magna cum laude from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Philosophy, a minor in Justice Studies, and a certificate in Ethics. Joel earned his J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law where he served as the Academic Chair of the La Raza Law Students Association and Acquisitions Editor of the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal.
After work hours, Joel likes to spend time hanging with friends and family, eating, and dropping dimes on the basketball court. He is a Phoenix Suns and LeBron James fan and also enjoys the Dubs.
Sekita is part of our Environmental Equity team, where she works to make energy and climate policies in California equitable and beneficial to communities of color. She comes to Greenlining from Business for Social Responsibility, a California nonprofit where she worked as a climate and energy sustainability consultant to large corporations. Prior to that, Sekita worked as a policy advisor at the California Energy Commission in Sacramento. There she served as lead advisor to the chair on climate, transportation, and legal matters. Sekita has an LL.M. in Environmental and Land Use Law from the University of Florida and a J.D. from the University of Southern California. Sekita grew up in the Bay Area and is an avid traveler, Pictionary guru, and hot chocolate fanatic. When she’s not exploring the globe, indoctrinating new Pictionary enthusiasts, or brewing up a cup of hot chocolate, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and dog Bennie.
Sekita has an LL.M. in Environmental and Land Use Law from the University of Florida and a J.D. from the University of Southern California. Sekita grew up in the Bay Area and is an avid traveler, Pictionary guru, and hot chocolate fanatic. When she’s not exploring the globe, indoctrinating new Pictionary enthusiasts, or brewing up a cup of hot chocolate, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and dog Bennie.
Emi helps lead the Environmental Equity team’s work tracking state implementation of SB 535, which directs at least one quarter of California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund investments to disadvantaged communities. Emi works to engage stakeholders and advocates around opportunities to access climate investments in communities of color and low-income communities, where the impacts of climate change and pollution hit the hardest. Prior to joining Greenlining, Emi supported grassroots community improvement initiatives, primarily in low-income neighborhoods across New York City. She oversaw over 60 micro-grants yearly, facilitated capacity-building workshops focused on community organizing skills, and engaged in outreach efforts. Emi has also worked as an ESL teacher in northeastern Thailand, living amidst lush rice fields in a small village community, and fell in love with the mountains while living on the South Island of New Zealand.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Emi moved to the Bay Area to pursue her commitments to social and racial justice, as well as to soak up the sunny skies of California. She graduated from Vassar College in 2011 with a B.A. in History, focusing on modern American social and political history, and a minor in Japanese. When not diving deep into justice work, she enjoys slow travel, hiking, and scouring out the cheapest eats.
Sona comes to us from New Orleans, and recently moved to the Bay Area to work on environmental equity issues. She became interested in environmental equity after witnessing the disproportionate environmental burdens that communities of color face in New Orleans, especially after Hurricane Katrina and the B.P. oil spill. Sona interned at several environmental nonprofits throughout law school and realized that she wanted to pursue a career in public interest environmental law. Excited to begin her legal career as an Environmental Equity Fellow with Greenlining, she looks forward to advocating for environmental equity and learning how to effectively empower communities of color.
In her spare time, Sona enjoys running, cooking delicious vegan food and listening to probably too much 90’s music.
Yesi Lagunas was born in Mexico and raised in Laguna Beach, California. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of California Los Angeles and obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. While at Hastings, she served as the Academic Chair of Hastings La Raza Law Students Association, the External Vice President of Hastings Students for Immigrants’ Right Organization, and a Senior Notes Editor of Hastings Business Law Journal. Prior to joining The Greenlining Institute, Yesi interned at the Orange County Public Defender’s Office and in 2014, was awarded the prestigious Peggy Browning Fellowship, making it possible for her to intern at Galdstein, Reif & MeGinniss, LLP in New York City. She is a former certified law clerk for the San Francisco City Attorney’s office, Workers’ Compensation department and an English-Spanish translator for Hastings Refugee and Human Rights Clinic.
Yesi brings to Greenlining her experience as an immigrant and beneficiary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. As a Greenlining Fellow, she intends to absorb as much information as she can regarding the intersectionality of environmental law and social justice, and apply her legal skills to advocate for marginalized communities.
Now that law school is over, Yesi will take the opportunity to explore the Bay area to find new coffee shops, happy hour specials, and running trails. Otherwise, she can be found rearranging the furniture in her apartment or catching a last minute flight to Orange County to visit her family.
Anthony’s passion for advocacy lies at the nexus of public policy, health equity, and racial justice. As the child of Filipino immigrants, his desire to advocate for underserved communities was shaped by his exposure to the struggles his family and other immigrants faced while coming to the United States. His background in health includes direct health care services, health education, and local advocacy. Anthony leads Greenlining’s health advocacy efforts to ensure fair and equitable implementation of the Affordable Care Act and access to health care and workforce opportunities for boys and men of color. Additionally, Anthony oversees Greenlining’s community benefit advocacy, which focuses on increasing investments towards upstream, preventive health resources to improve community health
Anthony is a native of Chula Vista, California, and a graduate of the University of California Berkeley, with a degree in Integrative Biology.
A grandson of a Bracero, Daniel Cano is a second generation Chicanx who was born in Whittier, California. He was raised in Artesia, California and moved to Oklahoma City during his adolescence. He recently graduated from UC Irvine with two B.A. degrees, in Social Policy and Public Service and in Psychology and Social Behavior. In 2014, Daniel participated in the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) program at the University of Michigan and in fall 2015, he interned at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Cano spent his last undergraduate year institutionalizing food security on campus through activism and conducted research on the well-being of undergraduate men of color.
Daniel is thrilled to positively impact communities of color with The Greenlining Institute. He looks forward to growing and learning as much as he can as a Bridges to Health Fellow. He is a big music lover–hip hop specifically, which he creates in his spare time. When not reading or writing a strong verse, he might be exploring nature or vibing at a concert.
Patrick Brown joined Greenlining’s team in 2012 as the Manager of the Leadership Academy. Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, he comes from a lineage of community and labor organizers. While completing his B.A. at DePaul University in Political Science with a minor in Environmental Science, he served as training coordinator for DePaul’s Labor Education Program.
Committed to economic and community development, Patrick worked with OAI, Inc. for the next 10 years developing and implementing training programs for a national network of workforce re-entry programs. As manager of an EPA Brownfields job training grant, Patrick partnered with and developed the Greencorps Chicago program as a model for green jobs training programs. As a Green for All Fellow, he continues to provide trainings and workshops to engage disenfranchised communities in the green economy workforce.
Patrick is deeply connected to social justice artists / activists across the country and travels often. He loves ‘deep house’ music and enjoys spending time on crowded dance floors. He practices Vipassana meditation at the East Bay Meditation Center and is an active member in the East Bay Church of Religious Science. He lifts his voice with his church choir and is constantly considering how to achieve his dream of becoming a backup dancer for Janet Jackson.
Chagan Sanathu has a long history of engagement with the youth leadership programs — first as a 2010 Young People For (YP4) Fellow and later as a Center for Progressive Leadership Fellow. For 3 years, Chagan worked at the Young People For offices in Washington, DC, where she worked with the 12-person alumni board to help support the YP4 program. Chagan graduated in 2012 from Goshen College with a degree in business and public relations. During her time as an undergraduate, Chagan interned at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities where she researched the effects of child tax credit and earned income tax credit of low-income communities, with an emphasis on women who survived domestic violence.
Chagan is a former board member for the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum-DC Chapter, focusing on fundraising to support the chapter’s work on immigration reform, reproductive justice, and other issues impacting the API community.
Since her relocation to the Bay area, Chagan likes to explore the nearby region, cook, ride her electric blue bike and organizing with the local Desi (South Asian) community.
Joshua started his nonprofit career at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, working in the Community and Leadership Department. From there, he spent close to five years supporting the legal and project team at the National Center for Lesbian Rights as the Senior Legal and Project Assistant. Joshua was lucky to support the filing of the 2008 marriage cases, assist the Youth Project on issues pertaining to foster care and juvenile justice, and work with an amazing team of attorneys and advocates. Joshua was the 2012-2014 Education Fellow at The San Francisco Foundation, assisting in grantmaking for Early Childhood Education, Community Schools, and Equity program areas. While at The San Francisco Foundation, Joshua oversaw the LGBT fund grantmaking to LGBT organizations in the Bay Area.
Joshua is currently the co-chair of the Pride Law Fund (PLF), which funds new leaders and civil rights lawyers in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) and HIV/AIDS communities. Joshua also currently sits on the Leadership Council and Fundraising committee of Somos Familia, which supports Latino families with children who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ*) and conducts education to create family and community acceptance. Joshua also provides social media assistance to the Chicana/Latina Foundation.
Originally from southern California, Joshua has called the Bay Area home for the past 8 years. Joshua enjoys reading nonfiction by authors of color, staying in and watching television, and cocktail hour with friends.
As the Academy’s Program Coordinator, Javier supports the Academy as it works to develop a new generation of multi-ethnic leaders. Javier grew up in the Bay Area in a family of Syrian and Mexican immigrants. For many years, he’s been passionate about how racial equity affects one’s ability to build a better life.
Before joining Greenlining, he coordinated communications for Aspiration, a nonprofit that helps make technology more inclusive and accessible for social change efforts. At Aspiration, he helped organize and facilitate interactive events where people shared knowledge and grew collaborations across California. Javier graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies in 2013, with a concentration in human rights.
Javier also enjoys practicing and teaching yoga and meditation. After receiving his teaching certification from Yoga to the People in 2014, he was driven to explore how mind-body practices can increase empathy, improve stress resilience, and develop a more genuine self.
Braelan Murray, a Bay Area native, is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he received his B.F.A. in Film and Video Production. An award-winning filmmaker with over a decade of experience using media as a tool for advancing social change, his portfolio includes work for local unions, progressive nonprofits and cutting-edge media design firms —notably as editor and videographer on Annie Leonard’s world-renowned animated short, The Story of Stuff. As Communications Director at The Greenlining Institute, Braelan has expanded and transformed Greenlining’s use of all forms of media to tell the stories of the issues and communities we advocate for, greatly expanding the organization’s presence in all forms of new media.
When Braelan isn’t working, you can find him in the lab searching for the perfect blend of arts and activism, attempting to recreate the simple brilliance of his Nanna’s Italian recipes, or on the golf course blaming his clubs for his inability to shoot par.
Bruce Mirken brings two decades of journalism and communications experience as well as a long history of activism to his position as Media Relations Director. An award-winning writer who serves as Greenlining’s resident editor and all-purpose wordsmith, Bruce’s work has appeared in wide range of publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Men’s Health, and The Advocate. From 2001 through 2009, he served as Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. In that capacity, he appeared frequently on radio and television, including ABC World News, Anderson Cooper 360, and The Rachel Maddow Show, and was quoted in newspapers and magazines worldwide. His activist career began in the LGBT community (starting just out of college with the campaign against Proposition 6, which would have fired gay or lesbian schoolteachers in California) and quickly branched out to a wide array of social justice issues.
In his spare time, Bruce enjoys hiking, cooking and gardening – hoping that the San Francisco fog will burn off enough to permit a decent tomato crop each summer. He claims to make the world’s best spaghetti sauce, though our Research department considers this claim unverified.
Conrad Contreras brings his experience in digital and messaging strategy to Greenlining after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2015. Prior to Greenlining, he was a Fellow at Fenton, an agency that supports organizations and corporations accelerate social progress through communications. His work on multiple accounts in Fenton include crafting ad copies for Philanthropy University’s launch and securing media coverage for a national report on youth poverty by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. During his undergraduate career, he brought district candidates and the CA Secretary of State to UCLA in a campaign he directed to educate and register voters. Conrad also spearheaded a statewide campaign on college affordability, successfully preventing a tuition increase through digital communications, direct action, and lobbying.
Conrad worked for the Ben Allen for Senate campaign in 2014 and after the election, worked in the senator’s office by providing media monitoring and advising on issues he worked on.
He complements his creative vision and passion for issue amplification through storytelling with skills in graphic design and video editing.
While he’s not writing taglines in his spare time, you may find Conrad on competitive hip hop dance teams or photoblogging local restaurants.
Rachel cut her professional teeth as a bootstrapping AmeriCorps member, working with the non-profit Mission Economic Development Agency to spearhead strategy for and implementation of the SparkPoint Initiative. In that capacity, she worked with coalition partners to bring wealth-building services to low-income families. After completing her AmeriCorps service, Rachel began working at Greenlining, where she manages grants, supports fundraising efforts, and builds out and customizes the organization’s Salesforce database.
Rachel moved to the Bay Area after graduating from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Environmental Sciences and Medical Anthropology. Her background in economic development and environmental issues intersect in a passion for urban planning. Like her colleagues at Greenlining, Rachel is a fighter and an advocate. At the moment, she is an advocate for racial justice, dim sum, positive and systemic social change, creating, dim sum, emergency dance parties, Salesforce, imagination, and exploration. And dim sum.
Mariah coordinates Greenlining’s Annual Economic Summit, Academy Graduation and various events throughout the year. Prior to joining the Greenlining team, she helped to start-up Insight Garden Program, a nonprofit that builds gardens and offers job training in prisons across California. After receiving a degree in Food Systems, Ethnic Studies and Political Economy from UC Berkeley, her love of traditional foods and non-profit life led her to La Cocina, a food business incubator in San Francisco. It was there that she fell in love with the adrenaline rollercoaster that is event management — helping pull off the San Francisco Street Food Festival, an event that attracts 60,000 attendees to highlight La Cocina’s women-of-color-owned businesses. Mariah is committed to work that helps provide good jobs, meaningful work and economic opportunity to low-income communities.
When she’s not in the office, she likes to incessantly listen to podcasts, experiment with taco recipes, and browse pinterest for her next DIY home-design project.
Sonia is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley where she earned a B.S. in Society and the Environment, with a concentration on Justice and Sustainability. While at UC Berkeley, her aspirations shifted from climate science to addressing inequality; she is particularly motivated to combat housing discrimination and the environmental injustices resulting from it. In her position on Greenlining’s development team, Sonia is driven to cultivate a highly reliable and efficient experience for all of the organization’s funders. In doing so, Sonia aims to grow Greenlining’s financial sustainability and capacity to serve communities of color. Prior to joining the Greenlining team, Sonia served as a program coordinator and educator for the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Sonia feels passionately about applying her empathy and instinctive strategic planning to better the lives of both humans and other animals.
Sonia sings in a chamber ensemble, and can usually be found walking dogs in her neighborhood or with her nose in a Derrick Jensen book on BART. She also enjoys cooking, camping, and spending time with her cat, who is named Q.