Rockwood Leadership Institute is pleased to announce the 2019 Building Power Fellowship Cohort!
A partnership between Rockwood, The California Endowment, and InPartnership Consulting, the Building Power Fellowship focuses on supporting health equity leaders to skillfully and collaboratively shift the local and state health policy landscape.
A cohort of 22 diverse leaders were selected, representing organizations across two of California’s key regions: Sacramento and San Diego. The fellowship will provide unique capacities that health equity leaders need to build power, including: bringing a racial equity lens to their leadership; addressing racial equity in their organizations and communities; increased ability to lead, convene, and mobilize in networks and coalitions; strengthened ability to conduct power mapping at the local, regional, and state level; and a deepened understanding of how to hold community decision-makers and leaders accountable and incorporating strategies to do so.
Join us in congratulating this wonderful cohort!
Jasmin Aleman | Executive Board Member, Sol Collective
Jasmin is a law school graduate, organizer, and activist. She has served on the executive board of directors of Sol Collective for over a decade. Sol Collective is a Sacramento nonprofit that focuses on promoting social justice through art, culture, and activism. Jasmin has organized Immigration forums and Immigration Know Your Rights trainings. She co-leads a monthly cooking class, “Healthy Cooking on a Budget”, aimed at addressing food desert related health concerns. She serves as a tutor and mentor and has experience leading presentations in high school and university classrooms around issues of identity, mujeres in law and politics, and social justice.
Amanda Cheyney | Vice President of Operations, MANA de San Diego
Amanda is an award winning professional with over 15 years of experience in workforce development, economic development, and community development. She has worked in a variety of fields including tourism, healthcare, technology, and manufacturing. She attended San Diego State University, College of Business and studied abroad in the Mediterranean with Semester at Sea. She currently serves on the board of MANA de San Diego, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower Latinas through education, leadership development, and civic engagement. Amanda describes her life in three phases: 1) as a child in suburban San Diego, 2) as a teenager in rural and urban areas in Mexico and 3) as a young adult in urban San Diego. As a result, she had an early awareness of socio-economic disparities. As an introvert, she enjoys spending time with her husband, wandering in nature, reading, podcasts, cooking, journaling, and sipping lattes at local coffee shops.
Elizabeth (Lizzy) Cooper | Program Manager, Youth Advisory Council, UC San Diego Center for Community Health
Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Elizabeth found her passion for health and youth development work at the age of eighteen with the AmeriCorps program City Year. Since that time, Elizabeth has partnered with communities across the United States on a myriad of programs and projects related to advancing health equity. Elizabeth is a proud alumna of both UC San Diego and San Diego State University, as well as the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship. Elizabeth currently works with the UC San Diego Center for Community Health, where she has the privilege of working with young people on advocating for healthy changes in communities that have experienced systemic inequities.
Palvinder Kaur | Director of Development & Programs, Jakara Movement
Raised in Yuba City, Palvinder left her hometown to attend college at UCLA. She served as the first community organizer for the Jakara Movement from 2013-2015, working throughout Northern California. She went on to attend the University of Texas Health Science Center to obtain a Master in public health and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in educational leadership at UC Davis. She lives in Natomas and is passionate about youth development, education, health, and building community power. Palvinder has been appointed in Sacramento to the Maternal Child Health and Adolescent Advisory board, the Adult & Aging Commission & the Sacramento County Language Access Advisory Committee (LAAC). You will often find Palvinder taking pictures of landscapes and scenery and philosophizing on our purpose in life.
Sean Elo | Executive Director, Youth Will
Sean, J.D., serves on the San Diego Community College Board of Trustees and is the executive director of Youth Will, where he works with youth to build power to create the future they want and deserve. His family’s multiethnic, multi-religious diversity and their experiences riding an up-and-down roller coaster in and out of the middle class will forever shape the way Sean sees the world and motivates him to make it better. Sean is a proud first-generation college student who graduated from California Western School of Law where he focused on creative problem solving.
Teresa Flores Onofre | Director of Organizing, Sacramento Area Congregations Together
Tere began her career as a youth organizer at the age of 16 in her Catholic youth group and she has been engaged in faith-based community organizing for the past 11 years. She has led campaigns to invest in recreational activities for youth, expand access to health care, increase opportunities for students of color to attend college, support passage of comprehensive immigration reform, and encourage civic participation among underrepresented communities throughout California. She is a mestiza from Puebla, Mexico and a first generation immigrant in the United States. She received a Bachelor of Science in political economies of industrialized societies from the University of California-Berkeley. She currently serves as the director of organizing for Sacramento Area Congregations Together (ACT).
Cristian Franco | Justice Policy and Programs Assistant, MILPA: Motivating Individual Leadership for Public Advancement
Cristian is a mentor, facilitator, organizer and advocate for youth. He has worked in the nonprofit sector advocating for pro-choice women’s rights and reproductive health. Collectively, through the Male Involvement Initiative, he focused on male participation in partnership health, as well as coordinated Young Men as Fathers, a support group for teenage dads. In addition, one of his passions is working with incarcerated youth, bridging education and community resources to empower youth to make better choices. Currently, he is working on justice policy and implementation of funding towards building stronger families and safer communities. In his free time, he coaches youth sports with teenagers ages 14-16. He hopes to continue strengthening his ability to communicate, organize, and develop leadership.
Ana Tanea Gonzalez | Volunteer, San Diego Community Schools
Ana is 37 years old, a proud Mexican, and a mom of three kids: Angel (14) Elian (9) and a young daughter Bella (6), who she resides with in San Diego. As a mom, she likes to be involved in her kids’ activities, and as an immigrant with no family in the country, she has learned to be involved in her community, to know how to ask for help, and find solutions for me and my family. She has also learned she can contribute and help others too. With her husband’s support, she can be an active volunteer in the community and serve different organizations and programs.
Kula Koenig | Square One Project Director, United Way California Capital Region
Kula is an activist. She has been that way since she started collecting money from the residents of her apartment complex for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in junior high school. Currently, she serves as program director for the United Way California Capital Region directing the Square One project – an initiative to end poverty through education. She has held positions as lobbyist, district director in the CA State Assembly, and political campaign coordinator. Kula loves being of service to her community. She is president of the Sacramento chapter of Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) and is passionate about black women being in positions to influence policy. She received her bachelor’s degree from UCLA and an MBA from George Washington University. Kula loves deadlifts, dancing, eating (plantain chips and Liberian food) and leads with her heart.
Kirin Kumar | Executive Director, WALKSacramento
Kirin is the executive director of WALKSacramento, a regional community-based organization that works toward transportation justice with a focus on health, safety, equity, and economic prosperity. Kirin’s background is in environmental policy and public health. Kirin enjoys exploring Sacramento on bike and drinking good beer.
Victor Jerome Malin Jr. | Founder, Reaching Back To Our Youth
Growing up the odds were stacked against Victor from ever making it out of the low income neighborhood he was born into. Both parents were mentally ill and at 9 years old, he was taken out of his parents’ home and found himself in foster care, group homes, and juvenile detention facilities, until at the age of 18 he found himself facing 17 years in prison. However, during his time locked up, he found a light at the end of the dark tunnel he’d created for his life…a college education. Through a special federal grant for youthful offenders, he was able to obtain most of his lower division credits from behind the walls. Just 3 months prior to his release date he was accepted to California State University Sacramento where he received a bachelor’s degree in finance, insurance & risk management and now works as an accountant. At the age of 28 and only 5 years out of prison himself, he started a nonprofit mentoring program called Reaching Back “To Our Youth”. Never forgetting where he has come from and recognizing his obligation to today’s at-risk youth, he now goes back into the institutions he once found himself, to speak, motivate, and give hope. His main message to the youth is that “if I did it, so can you!”
Ryan McClinton | Community Organizer, Sacramento Area Congregations Together
Born and raised in the Valley Hi neighborhood of Sacramento, Ryan has worked for years to transform Sacramento communities impacted by racial and economic inequity. Since 2017, he has worked as a community organizer with Sacramento ACT focusing on criminal justice reform and reinvestment in communities. Ryan’s work brings together his faith values with a deep love of developing community leaders. His work focuses on increasing the power of local people to design solutions to the challenges they face while changing systems and policies to help their community thrive. Ryan’s recent work has included working on issues of police accountability and transparency, ending mass incarceration of Black and Brown people, and investing in re-entry and prevention to reduce recidivism. As the landscape of social and criminal justice evolves in Sacramento, Ryan is committed to ensuring community representation and voices at the tables where decisions are made on policies that impact their lives.
Rebecca Miranda | Special Projects Coordinator, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans
Rebecca is the program manager at Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans. Originally from California’s central valley, she is committed to fostering refugee capacity building through policy development at the local and global level, and facilitating the advancement, social capital, and inclusion of refugees in the San Diego community. Prior to working at PANA, Rebecca was a volunteer with Alliance for African Assistance and the San Diego Refugee Forum. She holds a master’s degree in international relations from the Institut Barcelona D’Estudis Internacionals where she focused her thesis research on social movement theory, and transnational advocacy networks targeting the issue of global immigrant detention. Rebecca earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from California State University Fresno.
Hatem Mohtaseb | Executive Director, Majdal Center
Hatem is a Palestinian activist and social justice leader who has been organizing for the liberation of Palestine, as well as building with other communities of color in Southern California for over six years. Hatem is the founder of the Majdal Center in El Cajon, California, where they offer empowerment services and skills training to the Syrian and Iraqi refugee community there. Hatem is currently working as a community organizer at PANA, The Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans in San Diego, an organization dedicated to creating equal opportunity for refugees through public policy, research, and advocacy.
Marissa L. Munzing | Program Director, Health Education Council
Marissa serves as the program director for the Healthy Schools Initiative at the Health Education Council. Marissa oversees a team of five staff working collaboratively with schools and school districts across the Sacramento region to enact policies, systems, and environmental changes with the goal of developing a school culture that advances the health and well-being of all students and families. Prior to her role in the Healthy Schools program, Marissa worked closely with the Valley Hi community of South Sacramento, leading a multi-sectoral collaborative group focused on increasing access to healthy food, physical activity opportunities, safe streets, and educational resources to create a thriving Valley Hi community. Marissa is mom to a toddler boy and a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and a minor in Southeast Asian studies.
Rosa Olascoaga Vidal | Community Organizer, Mid-City CAN
Rosa was born and raised in City Heights, San Diego. Rosa got involved with community organizing at 12 years old with Mid-City CAN Youth Council advocating for a skatepark in City Heights. Rosa graduated from the University of San Francisco in 2018 with a BA in politics. Currently, Rosa is a community organizer at Mid-City CAN for transportation justice.
Patricia (Patty) Ramirez | Migrant Family Services Director, Jewish Family Services
Patty was born and raised in East Los Angeles. She is of Salvadoran and Mexican descent and has a Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California. For nearly a decade, Patty has dedicated her work to serving immigrant victims of crimes. Patty is passionate about integrating multi-disciplinary approaches to best serve immigrant victims seeking humanitarian reliefs. Patty is a “border social worker” and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Social Work and is passionate about increasing access to justice and opportunity for immigrants fleeing violence and persecution from the Northern Triangle. Patty’s experience ranges from working with the immigrant and refugee population, violence prevention, criminal justice policy advocacy, and reproductive justice. Patty is currently the director of migrant family services where she directs the daily operations of family-based services at the JFS led asylum seeking shelter for families in San Diego. No matter what hat she is wearing, Patty’s goal remains the same— to empower and uplift immigrant and refugee communities.
Daniel Silva | Founder/Director, Self Awareness and Recovery
Daniel is founder of Self Awareness & Recovery (SAR), a former inmate, and is a passionate reform and rehabilitation advocate. He was sentenced to state prison at 19 years old, and served 38 years; before being paroled. While serving time, he completed many rehab programs, but there was one program in particular that opened the doors to his second chance at life: Houses of Healing. This program gave him the opportunity to create a rehab program, and thus Self Awareness & Recovery (SAR) was born. Had there been intervention and rehabilitation programs earlier in his early development in Los Angeles, Daniel believes that more of his years would have been spent on the outside helping others, as opposed to being locked-up on the inside – both figuratively and literally. It is his mission to fight for those who have no one to fight for them, by intervening before young people get stuck in the system, as well as advocating for the rehabilitation and healing of those who remain inside prison.
Katrina L. Simmons | Program Manager, South Sacramento Christian Center
Katrina is a self-proclaimed “Sacramentan.” In 2016, Katrina left corporate work after a 15+ year career, giving full attention to what God has called her to; assisting in development, grant writing and implementation of programs held at the Simmons Community Center which includes alternative to violence trainings, youth mentoring, night walk coordination, basketball programs, health & wellness programs and more. She serves as the program manager at South Sacramento Christian Center and is the lead for the Black Child Legacy Campaign on the Reduction of African American Childhood deaths in Valley Hi. Passionate about serving and seeing her community thrive, she continues to support families with services that uplift and empower a strong community. She is the mother of 3 children, and the wife of Pastor Les Simmons but denounces the “titles” that people try to place, including the “First Lady” title opting to be known simply as Katrina.
jean-huy tran | Cofounder, Viet Vote
jean-huy is a Vietnamese migrant who came to the U.S. in 1990. After graduating from UCLA, he resided in LA for 10 years before moving to San Diego, where he is now considering himself as a native. In addition to his professional career in the accounting field, jean-huy is an activist with a focus on criminal justice reform, immigration, AAPI representation & voting rights. He currently has an active role with Indivisible, Viet Vote, We The People SD, AAPI Democratic Club.
Alexis Villanueva | Business Partnership Specialist, San Diego Workforce Partnership
Alexis is a San Diego native that has dedicated her career to providing services to underrepresented communities. Most recently, Alexis was providing WIOA services and business services to support the San Diego foster youth communities in metro and north county. In her free time, Alexis mentors young women at San Diego State University and enjoys traveling with her family. Her educational background includes two bachelor’s degrees in social work and social sciences from San Diego State University. Alexis is currently pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership from National University.
Hazel Watson | Volunteer Leader, Sacramento Area Congregations Together
Hazel grew up in Davis, CA went away for college but came back shortly after and have lived here ever since. Married to my best friend Jason, Hazel has two children, Maggie of 17 years of age and Neal, my grown son from a prior relationship. For paychecks, Hazel has worked with children and adults with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings. As a volunteer, she has spent several years working with people who are unhoused. She also spent many years taking leadership roles first in my church and then in Sacramento Presbytery. About two years ago, Hazel started volunteering with Sacramento ACT with their Live Free committee, which organizes around reforming the criminal justice system, on a local and state level.