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, public policy nonprofits. Greenlining works to bring the American Dream within reach of all communities, regardless of race or income. 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.
Founded in 1993, Greenlining conducts research, advocates for better public policies, and trains young leaders. Greenlining has expertise on a variety of major policy issues, including the economy, environment, energy, telecommunications, health, and electoral issues. Greenlining runs one of the nation’s most successful leadership programs targeting tomorrow’s leaders.
Orson’s leadership has been featured in major media such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Univision, Telemundo, 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 political leaders.
Orson has been recognized by the New Leaders Council, Latino Leaders Magazine, La Opinion, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and Silicon Valley Latino.
Orson’s passion is fueled on his experiences growing up in the immigrant and working class neighborhood of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles. He attended U.C. Santa Cruz and received a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Orson is a product of Greenlining’s leadership academy. He is also a former PPIA Fellow and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellow. 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 secretary 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.
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.
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.
As the Claiming Our Democracy Director at The Greenlining Institute, Michelle works to strengthen democracy by ensuring that communities of color have a voice. In 2010-11, Michelle led a statewide campaign to involve an unprecedented number of people of color in California’s process of redrawing the state’s legislative and congressional districts – the first time districts were drawn by a citizen commission. As a co-founding member of the Future of California Elections Collaborative, she also partnered with county election officials, civil rights and good government groups to improve the state’s voting materials and identify what’s working and what’s not for communities of color. Michelle also wrote and lobbied for legislation to extend language access to the initiative process and voting rights to former felons.
Michelle earned her B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she organized state and national campaigns for higher education and immigrant rights. Currently, Michelle serves on the Executive Committee of the board of California Common Cause and on MapLight’s Advisory Board. When not working, she can be found spending time with her husband and family, barbecuing, soaking up the sun, or singing country music.
Before joining Greenlining as Health Policy Director, Carla Saporta educated and mobilized community members on policy issues and worked with policymakers to create and implement policy that benefits the community. She currently represents the community’s interest as an advisory member on Covered California’s Small Business Health Options Program Advisory Group.
In her role at Greenlining, Carla leads advocacy efforts to ensure that implementation of the Affordable Care Act will benefit communities of color. This entails working with policymakers to pass and implement state reforms, increasing health workforce diversity, increasing access to care for boys and young men of color, and finding solutions to covering those who will not benefit from the ACA. Carla also oversees Greenlining’s community benefit advocacy, which focuses on increasing funding for upstream programs that improve public health. Carla received her B.A. from Occidental College and her Master of Public Health at Portland State University through the Oregon Master of Public Health Program.
When Carla isn’t working, you can often find her running the lake with her sidekick Riley, Greenlining’s office dog and mood booster; brainstorming home DIY and redecorating projects for her and her fiancé to tackle; or attempting to grow vegetables in her backyard.
Vien Truong leads our Environmental Equity team, working to create solutions for poverty and pollution at the state legislature, California Public Utilities Commission, and in localities around the state. She has created nationally recognized programs and policies to increase billions of dollars in funding and resources to the communities most vulnerable to climate change. Vien has received congressional, state, regional and local awards for her work on behalf of low-income communities and communities of color. In 2013, Vien was featured in the SF Chronicle as one of San Francisco’s “Top Women Leaders,” and in 2014, she received Urban Habitat’s “Movement Builder” award and Oxfam America’s “Act Local, Think Global” award.
Prior to joining Greenlining, she led Green For All’s state policy and workforce development efforts. Vien was an Associate Attorney for the New Business Practicum at UC Berkeley’s Boalt School of Law, has worked with California Senator Joe Simitian in researching and developing state law, clerked with Chief Magistrate James Larson at the San Francisco Federal District Court and was the Community Economic Justice Law Fellow at UC Berkeley’s East Bay Community Law Center, helping to develop innovative, long-term economic development solutions to address the systemic problems confronting low-income communities.
She holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. Vien has served on the City of Oakland’s Planning Commission, helping guide the growth and development of her hometown. When she’s not at work, she’s juggling twin boys and her 1.75 dogs.
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.
As the Economic Equity Program Manager, Danielle advocates for a financial sector that looks more like America. She leads Greenlining’s work with the Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion to increase workforce and supplier diversity. Danielle believes that increasing the representation of people of color in the banking world is essential to economic recovery and prosperity for the entire nation. She received her BA from Stanford University in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity with Honors, where she engaged with multiple sectors on racial justice issues. Danielle wrote an honors thesis investigating the perceptions of government employees on women of color in cases of domestic violence. After college, Danielle joined Greenlining as the 2012-2013 Economic Equity Fellow and has continued to grow with her dynamic team.
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.
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. 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.
Todd Doherty is Greenlining’s Systems Administrator, responsible for all IT resources and helping to keep the organization ahead of the curve on technology implementation. Beyond keeping everything running, Todd strives to use technology as a tool that strengthens the impact of Greenlining’s work and facilitates more efficient use of staff time. Todd graduated from UCLA with a Master’s in Ecology and has experience working for numerous environmental nonprofits at the intersection of Technology and Environmental Science. He is a true interdisciplinary professional and his main goal in life is to use technology to affect positive environmental and social change.
Originally from Lake Tahoe, Todd has since lived in Los Angeles, Mexico and Costa Rica. He is a brand new resident of Oakland and is thrilled to be a part of a vibrant, diverse community that is stepping up to modern challenges together. In his free time, you can find Todd adventuring in nature or relishing the wealth of cultural outlets he now finds himself amongst.
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.
Stacy Maldonado is the House Manager at Casa Joaquin, Greenlining’s multi-ethnic residential leadership program for low-income, first generation UC Berkeley students. She was raised in South Central Los Angeles and holds a B.A. in American Studies with an emphasis in Consumer Society and Globalism from the UC Berkeley. Prior to joining The Greenlining Institute, Stacy worked as the Programs and Policy Associate with Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), where she helped manage the HOPE Leadership Institute – an intensive statewide leadership program designed for professional women in California. She is passionate about the arts, access to higher education, and the professional and leadership development of young adults.
Stacy has run a half-marathon without training (do not try this at home), and continues training for a full marathon — although she is convinced that she is a better sprinter than long-distance runner. In her spare time, she enjoys painting, lounging with her puppy Bailey, and creating her own dance moves such as “the robot reject.” Stacy’s everyday mission is to laugh… and eat ice cream.
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.
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. Recently, she graduated from UC Hastings College of the Law.
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. In her fellowship, she hopes to be exposed to resources necessary to advance the rights of communities of color and to gain leadership skills to effectively advocate for these rights.
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.
Jordan Medina is from Saginaw, Michigan and received a B.A in Sociology with a minor in Afroamerican and African Studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. As a student, Jordan became very interested in the study of race and socioeconomic status, and devoted most of his undergraduate career to learning more about the intersectionality of those two identities. As a program coordinator and dialogue facilitator for the Program on Intergroup Relations, Jordan engaged students to think critically about both identities by facilitating semester-long dialogues.
As an undergrad, Jordan also became involved with NPR-affiliate Michigan Radio, and served as a production assistant for State of Opportunity, an award-winning series that looks at childhood poverty throughout the state of Michigan. Jordan became interested in health policy after spending a summer in New York City with the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, where he analyzed the effectiveness of current policies designed to lower obesity rates in low-income communities of color and created his own policy alternatives.
Jordan is very excited about his move to the Bay Area and cannot wait to experience the culture, the music, and, most importantly… the food!
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.
Aysha Pamukcu is a proud Bay Area native, first-generation American, and Greenlining Legal Academy graduate. As Greenlining’s Economic Equity Policy Counsel, Aysha works on policy-oriented strategies to close the racial wealth gap. Before joining the Economic Equity team, Aysha worked as a public interest attorney, human rights advocate, criminal prosecutor, and healthcare policy consultant.
On weekends, she is an omnivorous reader and an amateur fire-dancer. Aysha holds a B.A. with honors in English and Political Science from Stanford University. She earned her J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.
Roman Partida-Lopez grew up in the San Diego border region. Born in Chula Vista, CA, he split his time between Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico and Chula Vista. He attended the University of San Diego where he obtained a B.A. in Urban Studies and a minor in International Relations. He recently graduated from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where he was part of the Pro Bono Society.
Roman is passionate about giving back to his community. During his time in Law School, Roman interned at San Diego Coastkeeper, the Employee Rights Center and the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, where he was recognized with an Outstanding Service Award and also received the Wiley W. Manuel Certificate Award for Pro Bono Legal Services. In his fellowship, he hopes to better understand the way to bridge the current gaps between environmental programs and those offered to underprivileged communities.
Roman is new to the Bay Area and is excited to explore Northern California with his wife and two children, a two and a half year old toddler and a newborn.
Yurida Ramos is Greenlining’s Events Coordinator. She oversees the production of Greenlining’s special events throughout the year. Most recently, she coordinated Greenlining’s 20th Anniversary Economic Summit and the 2013 Supplier Diversity Report Card event in San Francisco. A passionate advocate for high quality education, Yurida previously coordinated multi-subject curriculum for an after-school program within the Berkeley Unified School District.
Originally from Farmersville, California, Yurida moved to the Bay Area to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. Yurida plans to return to school and pursue a master’s degree in public policy. During her free time, Yurida enjoys practicing Pilates and watching her favorite sci fi shows.