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 Executive Director 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 economic 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.
Preeti Vissa is The Greenlining Institute’s Chief Operating Officer, responsible for enhancing the internal organization processes and infrastructure that will allow Greenlining to continue to grow and fulfill its mission.
Previously, as director of the Economic Equity team, Preeti led Greenlining’s efforts to ensure that the country’s largest financial institutions serve the needs of diverse communities. In this capacity, she regularly led delegations of community leaders in meetings with the nation’s leading financial regulators and CEOs. Preeti has published reports on issues of homeownership, small business entrepreneurship, supplier diversity and regulatory reform. She has presented and testified in numerous panels and hearings before the Federal Reserve and other official bodies. She is a graduate of Greenlining’s Leadership Academy.
Preeti graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles and has a Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University. She loves cooking and thinks that hot sauce should be considered one of the major food groups.
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 serves as treasurer of the Board of Directors for 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.
Tahira Cunningham leads our Bridges to Health team, working to achieve health equity for low income communities and communities of color. She created the Health Care Ambassador Program, which educated and trained clinic doctors and staff on key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and which was recognized by the Schwarzenegger administration as the first statewide ACA education campaign. Tahira also led statewide health work for the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, and has been recognized by the Assembly Select Committee on Boys and Men of Color and by local communities as helping to elevate the voices of young men of color.
Prior to joining The Greenlining Institute, Tahira was the Senior Policy Analyst with the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, leading the health policy aspects of the Boys and Young Men of Color Initiative, the state budget, legislation, and mental health policy. Tahira has also served as Associate Director of Public Policy for the California Primary Care Association, representing the state’s nonprofit community clinics and health centers, and for the California Dental Association, where she administered the Donated Dental Services program, providing free dental care to low-income and disabled individuals. Tahira has advocated on the state’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and oral health, as well as on health care issues affecting seniors, children, the homeless, and populations affected by HIV/AIDS. Additionally, Tahira has developed cultural and linguistic policies for the California Dental Association and the Sonoma County Rape Crisis Center. As an undergrad, Tahira also worked to organize young women of color impacted by rape on campus at Sonoma State University.
Tahira resides in West Sacramento, loves to cook and bake, is married and has two beautiful daughters.
As Development Director, Janine makes sure Greenlining has the resources it needs to advance its mission. In her tenure at Greenlining, she has played a key role in increasing the organization’s budget by 20 percent, and independent philanthropic grants by 80 percent. Her shining accomplishment has been building the organization’s development systems from the ground up. When Janine was asked about her favorite part of the job, she answered, “Taking a mess of information and analysis, identifying key themes, and boiling it all down to a simple and compelling idea.”
Janine comes from a background in racial justice print media. In her off hours, she writes and illustrates children’s books, and runs a fledgling publishing company, Blood Orange Press. 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 @BloodOrangePress
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 currently sits on the Advisory Council to the San Francisco Mexican Consulate and is 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.
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.
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.
Claudia Paredes is Leadership Academy director for The Greenlining Institute. A formerly undocumented immigrant from Peru, Claudia holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Public Policy from Pepperdine University. Claudia is a perpetual student of leadership and believes in the power of personal development and empowerment as a means to greater social change. She is a proud of alumna of Rockwood Leadership Institute and the Hispanas Organized for Policy Equality (HOPE) Leadership Institute, both focusing on individual leadership growth and practice. Together with a dedicated team, she leads five core leadership programs that engage young leaders of color in various stages of their educational and professional trajectory.
Claudia is an older sister, daughter and recently adopted mother to Charlie, Greenlining’s multi-ethnic leadership dog. In 2011, Claudia became a homeowner in Oakland.
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.
Sasha Werblin is an 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, successfully lobbying AB 624 (Coto), the Foundation Diversity and Transparency Act, through the state Assembly and organizing communities of color across the state to ensure that large California foundations equitably support minority-led nonprofits.
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 for Kituo Cha Sheria: Centre for Legal Empowerment to ensure that undeserved communities were at the vanguard of local development initiatives as well as helping local community-based organizations to build fundraising and organizational capacity. 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.
Sasha graduated from Smith College in 2007 with a B.A. in Sociology and Psychology. In her spare time, she loves to dance, sing, style her friends for special occasions, go garage and estate sale hopping and play with her cat Charlie.
Zainab is from San Diego and recently graduated from UC San Diego with a B.A. in International Studies with a focus in Political Science and History. Her first exposure to public policy was through her internship with Students for Economic Justice at the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI) in San Diego. This experience sparked her interest in further pursuing public policy.
Zainab is passionate about finding innovative solutions to the challenges of governance on local, state, and national levels. As the Claiming our Democracy fellow, Zainab looks forward to working on projects that will make the legislative process more accessible and inclusive during her time at The Greenlining Institute. If Zainab were a superhero her name would be z-badz and her superpower would be mind control.
As the Economic Equity Program Manager, Danielle advocates for a financial sector that looks more like America. 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. For Danielle, every issue is an economic issue; utilizing the lived experiences and knowledge of communities of color in corporate America is essential to economic recovery and prosperity for the entire nation. To this effect, she regularly advises banks and their regulators on metrics to best measure workforce and supplier diversity. 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 going to microbreweries and discovering new food trucks. As a result, she can usually be found huffing and puffing her way through cardio kickboxing classes most weekends.
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.
Alheli Cuenca was born and raised in sunny Fresno, California. She graduated this year from Mills College with a B.A. in Political, Legal, & Economic Analysis with an emphasis in Legal Studies and a minor in Sociology. Alheli is passionate about education and is a powerful advocate. As a peer educator with the Mills College Diversity and Social Justice Resource Center, her passion grew and she focused her advocacy skills.
As an established peer educator, Alheli spent time as a policy intern with Educators for Fair Consideration. Doing this work allowed her to see firsthand how community organizing and public policy advocacy can affect comprehensive legislation reform addressing social issues. Having learned that lesson, Alheli committed herself to the work of social justice. Upon completing her fellowship, Alheli plans to pursue a Masters in Public Policy and a Juris Doctorate to help her achieve the ultimate goal of bettering the world through public service. Alheli enjoys quiet activities and loves lounging with her cat, Lola, in her family’s patio while listening to country music.
Last November, Alheli participated in a half-marathon, which came as a surprise to her family because she has never enjoyed running due to her asthma and growing up in Fresno — not exactly the best combination. Thankfully her body was strong enough to complete the half-marathon, despite her failed attempts to actually train for it. This was a transformative experience for Alheli, as she experienced firsthand how powerful she was (mentally, emotionally, and physically) to stay motivated throughout the run and how liberating It felt to cross the finish line.
Since then, Alheli has made a commitment to herself to build her endurance so she can participate in future running events every year as a symbol of self-love and self-care.
JC De Vera is a Bay Area native who grew up in San Jose. Believing that education would help lift his family out of the working-class struggle, he overcame the obstacles he faced in a violent, under-resourced high school and made it to his dream college, UCLA, where he graduated magna cum laude in 2011 with a B.A. in Sociology and Asian American Studies.
At UCLA, he developed his passion for community empowerment and solidified his life’s mission: ridding the world of hate and inequality. As a student activist and elected student government official, he advocated tirelessly for college affordability, the expansion of ethnic studies, and increased access and retention for students of color in higher education. JC began his Greenlining journey with the Academy as the 2011-2012 Communications Fellow. Today, he’s Greenlining’s new media whiz, managing online communications and strategizing online campaigns to expand Greenlining’s reach and impact.
JC is a 2014 alumnus of the Front Line Leaders Academy, a political leadership development program focused on providing young progressives the tools and knowledge to run effective campaigns for public office. Outside of Greenlining, JC also serves on the boards of Filipino Advocates for Justice, the Greenlining Academy Alumni Association, and Lacuna Giving Circle.
When he’s not busy tweeting away, you can find him jamming out to Beyonce and Justin Timberlake, jogging around Lake Merritt, or taking his love for hip-hop dancing to a local Bay Area bar.
Joel was born in Gallup, New Mexico and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona where his family currently resides. 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 recently graduated 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.
Joel’s experiences growing up in a low-income, immigrant household compelled his interest in and passion for policy issues affecting underrepresented communities. In law school, Joel received the San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association Public Interest Law Fellowship and worked at the California Appellate Project, the Office of Staff Attorneys at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Federal Trade Commission. In his fellowship, he hopes to obtain the skills and experience necessary to effectively advance the interests of underprivileged communities. If Joel was a superhero, his name would be The Green Alchemist and he would have the power to feed the hungry by turning waste and pollution into healthy and nutritious pizza, burgers, ice cream, and chocolate chip cookies for the world to enjoy.
Francisco Espinoza is the oldest of four sons of two immigrant parents. Living as an undocumented youth provided plenty of challenges, and Francisco worked hard in school to make his family and community proud. After high school Francisco attended Citrus College, completed undergrad at the University of California Riverside, and most recently received his Masters of Public Health degree from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
Throughout his post-secondary education, Francisco was extremely grateful for the emotional and financial support offered by friends, family, and his community, including an online campaign that provided the tuition for his first quarter of graduate school.
As a Health Equity Fellow, Francisco is excited to develop the skills needed to work with communities to improve the intersections of health and environment. His commitment to improving health is personal and stems from inequalities he has experienced trying to access healthcare with his family. Francisco’s parents, the foundation of this success, are like many immigrant parents: hard-working, selfless, and loving. His ultimate career goal is to practice medicine with principles of cultural humility and cultural competency so that children can have the support of their parents like he had from his.
During his spare time, Francisco enjoys learning life lessons from the sport of baseball. His favorite national park is Yosemite and he aspires to hike Half-Dome in the near future. When appropriate he strums the guitar, attempting to create melodies.
Jessica Fuentes immigrated to the Bay Area from Puebla, Mexico at the age of four with her mother and younger sister. She is a proud product of the Hayward Unified School District and a first generation college graduate from UC Berkeley. The barriers she and her family faced in accessing health and higher education opportunities based solely on immigration status shaped Jessica into an immigrant rights leader.
As an undergraduate, she advocated for undocumented student rights to higher education, volunteered at various Bay Area health organizations, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. interning and researching the intersection between health and immigration policies.
During her time at Street Level Health Project, an Oakland-based community health center dedicated to improving the lives of immigrant communities, Jessica held multiple roles, from food program coordinator to community relations manager. Her most cherished role, however, was working one-on-one with community members and helping them navigate the health care system to find adequate and affordable resources for their immediate needs. She is excited to be part of the Health Equity Fellowship and looks forward to contributing over four years of direct community health experience to developing and improving policy solutions for marginalized communities.
Jessica plans to return to school in the near future to pursue a Master of Public Health. She loves spending Sunday afternoons with her family, playing board games, going salsa dancing, and traveling with her loyal companion, Eeyore.
Anthony Galace is a native of Chula Vista, California, and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Integrative Biology, with a focus in Human Biology and Health Sciences. As the child of Filipino immigrants, Anthony’s desire to advocate for underserved communities was shaped by his exposure to the struggles his family members and other immigrants faced while coming to the United States.
During his time at UC Berkeley, Anthony developed his passion for advocacy through active involvement with multicultural coalitions to increase student-of-color resources. Upon graduating, he interned at Asian Health Services, a community health center in Oakland Chinatown, where he helped publish a comprehensive report detailing the primary health concerns of the Filipino population in Union City, California. As a member of the Bridges to Health team, Anthony hopes to contribute to increasing access for communities of color to quality, affordable, culturally-competent health care. If he were a superhero, his superpower would be to manipulate the velocity of time, and the world would know him as Captain Gametime.
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. He is a regular contributor to Greenlining’s blog, where he writes about telecommunications and competition policy.
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.
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 Rresponsibility, 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.
Rachel cut her professional teeth as a bootstrapping AmeriCorps member, working with the San Francisco-based Mission Economic Development Agency to spearhead strategy and planning for the SparkPoint Initiative. In that capacity, she worked with coalition partners in order to bring wealth-building services to low-income families. After completing her AmeriCorps service, Rachel began her current position as Greenlining’s Development Coordinator, supporting fundraising efforts and managing the organization’s Salesforce database in order to increase Greenlining’s fundraising capacity.
Rachel moved to the Bay Area after graduating from the University of Michigan. There, she studied Environmental Sciences and minored in Medical Anthropology. Since graduating with her B.A. in 2013, she has worked in the nonprofit world to address social inequities. Her passions lie at the intersections of environmental justice, economic development, immigration, and health. Her drive to impact positive change in the world has led her to work at Greenlining and spend her spare time helping with the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship project, VITA tax assistance project, and as a tutor at Cesar Chavez Elementary. These days, Rachel puts her environmental background to good use studying urban planning and hiking around the Bay Area.
Hector joined our Development team in the summer of 2013 as Grants Associate, providing much-needed writing support and coordination of materials for existing grants, including grant reports and renewals. He has followed a proudly non-traditional life path, having danced and raised hell everywhere from Hawai’i to Colombia.
Following the strong example of challenging the unjust status quo that led his family to leave Latin America, he majored in Dramatic Art with an emphasis in Dance at the University of California, Davis, where he also worked as an LGBT student activist. He has also worked as an educator, returning to his native Colombia for a while in the hopes of expanding the minds of Latin America’s youth to the possibilities of a better, more peaceful and just world. His favorite activity other than dancing is conversing with people about history, politics, social dynamics, and spiritual practices.
Tariq is from Boston, Massachusetts and a recent graduate from Ithaca College with a B.A. in Politics and a Minor in Black Studies. Amidst a number of campus and citywide involvements, Tariq’s leadership experience capstoned with his tenure on the Ithaca College Board of Trustees as the sole student member. There he was able to advocate for underrepresented populations as well as lobby for much needed policy changes that would benefit all students, not just some.
Tariq believes that systematic racism prevents our society from actualizing into one that is just and equitable. As such he is most excited about his work as a fellow in exploring tangible ways to empower the voiceless while simultaneously beginning to reverse 400 years of discrimination and disenfranchisement. He is looking forward to good food and the new experiences California brings. If he were a superhero he’d be “Heart Throb”–a superhero that helps people fall in love with just one wink.
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.
Zach Murray joined The Greenlining Institute as the Leadership Academy coordinator in January 2015. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Zach brings several years of experience in leadership development, public policy, and advocacy with a focus on low-income communities and boys and men of color. Most recently, Zach was the coordinator of policy advocacy and knowledge leadership for Larkin Street Youth Services, a leading provider of services for homeless youth in San Francisco.
Previously, Zach served as a 2013 Bill Emerson Hunger Fellow. In this capacity he completed placements at the Center for American Progress where he made contributions to Progress 2050 and Policylink’s recent book “All-In Nation: An America that Works for All,” and at Just Harvest, where he completed research critical to the launch of Farm Truck Foods, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s first mobile grocery. Zach attended Cornell University completing B.A. and B.S. degrees in Africana studies and Urban and Regional Studies. While an undergraduate, Zach completed a year-long fellowship at the Urban Institute, conducting an analysis of food deserts in Washington, D.C.
Zach has a deep passion for social justice which he credits to his mom, an activist in her own right who encouraged him to meet and engage with other activists from around the world. Along with a number of young leaders in Oakland, Zach helped pioneer #BlackBrunch, a form of protest responding to police brutality and the deaths of innocent people of color at the hands of the police. In his free time Zach enjoys riding his bike around town, gardening, attending concerts and stirring up trouble (the wholesome kind).
Juan Reynoso is from Escondido, California and received a B.A. in Human Biology with a concentration in the Social Determinants of Health from Stanford University. Motivated by his immigrant family upbringing and the inequitable urban development patterns of his hometown, Juan became passionate about addressing issues of social and economic equity, especially in how they relate to public health. He is one of the Health Equity Fellows at The California Endowment office in Los Angeles. Juan provides strategy and grantmaking support for the Healthy Communities South Region and Health4All teams at The California Endowment.
While at Stanford, Juan pursued this passion for public health by becoming involved in various research and service-learning opportunities. Juan co-led a community-based participatory research project to investigate how a farm-based summer camp intervention would affect socioeconomically underserved children’s preferences for vegetables. Moreover, as part of an undergraduate honors thesis, he implemented a youth photovoice project in which he investigated the attitudes that low-income suburban youth have toward their food environment. Most recently, Juan was an intern at San Mateo County’s Health Policy and Planning division, where he assisted in their countywide health equity initiatives and publications. After the fellowship, Juan hopes to complete a dual masters program in both public health and urban planning.
Whenever Juan is not keeping up with current events and social media, you can find him reading a book or running long distances. Juan is looking forward to becoming an Angeleno and exploring all the parks and museums in the region.
Ozi Uduma is a graduate of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor; double majoring in Anthropology and Afroamerican and African Studies (graduating with Distinction). She was born and raised in Detroit, by way of Nigerian parentage. She is the former Co-chair for the Coalition for Queer People of Color and a former executive member for the Black Student Union.
Ozi is passionate about celebrating lived experiences of everyone, especially women of color, and dismantling the shame that we were taught to embody because of said experiences.
When she is not working, Ozi loves to read, swim, dance Bachata, and spend hours on Tumblr and Netflix! Additionally, when not expressing herself using written and/or verbal language, Ozi expresses herself through Tumblr gifs. So, if you find any that she should add to her lexicon, please send them her way. No, seriously … send them her way.
Pang Vang was born in Thailand and raised in Sacramento. As the eldest in the family, she held many responsibilities and quickly learned to be a self-advocator. Believing that education was the key to success, she overcame her obstacles and made it to her dream college, UC Berkeley. In 2013, she graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Integrative Biology and a minor in South and Southeast Asian Studies.
While at UC Berkeley, she served as the Education Coordinator of the Hmong Student Association and interned for the Asian Pacific Islander Recruitment and Retention Center. She also volunteered at the Oakland Children’s hospital for the Hematology and Oncology Department. She became more interested in health policy after interning for the California Primary Care Association in summer of 2013, where she helped develop the beginning stages of a HIPAA compliance toolkit for community health centers. She is a professionally trained mental health interpreter and has assisted Hmong refugees in Thailand with their UNHCR applications during her travel abroad studies. Inspired by her work and life experience as a low-income, under-resourced refugee, she is passionate about health equity, community empowerment, and access to education in low-income population. In the Health Equity Fellowship, she hopes to gain more knowledge about health policy and advocacy through research and community organizing. In the future, she hopes to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor.
Pang set her mind on becoming a doctor in the second grade, but at one point she wanted to be an actress and supermodel. After finding out that models are usually 5’7” or taller, while she was only 5’0”, she finally gave up that dream and now considers learning how to take professional pictures. Her goal is to purchase a DSLR Camera and learn how to use Photoshop to enhance pictures. Once she achieves this, she hopes to build a photo documentary of the lives of Hmong families living in different parts of the world, from America to Southeast Asia, China, France, and even Latin America.
When Pang is not working or studying, she enjoys cooking and running at the park, especially along the Sacramento River. She also loves to just lay back and enjoy a thriller or action movie.