2014/2015 Fellows for a New California
Anabella Bastida | Executive Director, Council of Mexican Federations (COFEM)
Anabella Bastida leads the Council of Mexican Federations (COFEM), the largest Mexican organization in California that strives to mobilize its membership base, develop active leaders, and improve the educational and socioeconomic attainment of immigrant families in California. Anabella brings to the organization valuable experience joining the work of immigrant-led organizations with the need for leadership development through initiatives and services. She has focused adamantly on immigrant integration issues, educating and informing immigrants about their rights, and advocating for increased benefits for all immigrants. She is also working to change the narrative around immigration by raising awareness about the many benefits the immigrant community brings to the state. Anabella has successfully mobilized her membership to demand comprehensive immigration reform and protection of civil rights.
Zahra Billoo | Executive Director, San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA)
Zahra Billoo is a community organizer, civil rights attorney and the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA). Billoo is a leading voice on American Muslim civil rights. She is a 2013 recipient of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California’s Trailblazer Award and a 2014 recipient of the National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Chapter’s Unsung Hero Award. Billoo’s work with CAIR-SFBA has been highlighted in local and national media outlets including KTVU, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, the Christian Science Monitor, and NPR.
Lian Cheun | Executive Director, Khmer Girls in Action
Lian Cheun is the executive director of Khmer Girls in Action. Lian started out as a youth organizer with the Kids First! Campaign and has since worked to fund youth programs, organized for educational and health justice, volunteered and trained for numerous electoral efforts, and fought for workers’ rights regionally and internationally. In 2007, Lian helped Migrant Forum in Asia organize the very first regional, migrant domestic workers’ assembly in Asia. Lian believes in fighting for our self-determination as women, as workers, and as creators of knowledge and culture in our communities. She was also the director of the Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program (MAAP) at the Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO). Lian serves as a commissioner on The White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders. When Lian is not working, she enjoys yoga, dog training, and cooking with her partner.
Joanna Concepcion | Executive Director, Filipino Migrant Center
Joanna Concepcion is the executive director of the Filipino Migrant Center based in Long Beach. She was born in Manila, Philippines and immigrated to California at the age of twelve to reunite with her parents. She earned her BAs in Philosophy and Feminist Studies with honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2010. After engaging in her first community campaign around the labor trafficking of Filipino migrant workers, and traveling to Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Puerto Vallarta to participate in the 4th International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees in 2010, Joanna solidified her commitment to national and international grassroots movements fighting for justice for all migrants and immigrants.
Rev. Dr. Art Cribbs | Executive Director, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE CA) | Administrative Pastor, Los Angeles Filipino American United Church of Christ
Art Cribbs is the executive director of CLUE-California, a statewide federation of six faith-based organizations that advocates for worker and immigrant rights, moral public budgets, quality public education, and affordable/accessible health care. He is pastor of the Los Angeles Filipino American United Church of Christ, and an ethics instructor for police chiefs, sheriffs, and command staff at the California Department of Justice. He has an extensive background in broadcast news and talk radio. As a jazz-poet performance artist and playwright, he has written two original plays, including Awaiting Judgment©, which brings together 20th century theologians and social activists Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a fictional dialogue inside a prison cell. He has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, in Political Science; an M.Div. from the Chicago Theological Seminary; and, a D.Min. in Ethics from the Claremont School of Theology.
Miguel Hernandez | Executive Director, Orange County Congregation Community Organization (OCCCO)
Miguel Hernandez is the executive director of the Orange County Congregation Community Organization (OCCCO), a PICO CA affiliate. He has been fighting for justice for 20 years using faith-based community organizing. He has professional experience as an engineer, teacher, and community organizer. Miguel was born and raised in Santa Ana, California where he currently resides with his beautiful wife and two precious daughters. He received a BS in Civil Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and a teaching credential from California State University, Long Beach.
Betty Hung | Policy Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
Betty Hung is the policy director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, where she oversees strategic policy advocacy initiatives to promote equity and justice for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities in solidarity with other underserved communities. Betty supports the leadership and community engagement of AA and NHPI community members in the movement for immigrant rights and social justice. She started her career at Advancing Justice – LA in 1997 on the legal team that litigated the groundbreaking El Monte Thai and Latino garment worker case. She rejoined the organization in 2012. Previously, Hung was Directing Attorney of the Employment Law Unit at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Special Counsel at Inner City Law Center. Hung serves on the boards of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) – LA, Economic Roundtable, Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, and the National Lawyers Guild.
Katie Joaquin | Campaign Director, California Domestic Workers Coalition (CDWC)
As the campaign director of the California Domestic Workers Coalition (CDWC), Katie Joaquin organizes domestic worker groups across the state to advance campaigns for dignity in the home. She worked with hundreds of household workers and supporters to win the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights and is now coordinating the drive to organize 10% of California’s private pay domestic workers by 2017. Prior to joining Mujeres Unidas y Activas as the CDWC campaign director, Katie was the organizer at Filipino Advocates for Justice for seven years, where she supported immigrant workers in developing their leadership through campaigns fighting wage theft and asserting their labor rights. Katie was born in Quezon City, Philippines.
Grace Lee | Policy Director, Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA)
Grace Lee is the policy director for Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) where she focuses on immigrant rights, language access, and racial justice issues. She is a graduate of UCLA School of Law and a member of the State Bar of California. At UCLA, Grace specialized in Critical Race Studies and Public Interest Law and Policy, and served as a law clerk for Public Advocates and the ACLU of Northern California. She is the daughter of Korean immigrants and was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Arcenio J. López | Executive Director, Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)
Arcenio J. López is Mixtec born in Oaxaca, Mexico. He is fluent in English, Spanish, and Mixteco. Arcenio was an early MICOP volunteer while working in the fields and began working with MICOP as a Community Organizer in 2006, mobilizing the indigenous immigrant populations of Ventura County’s unincorporated Rio and Nyeland Acres communities to successfully call for improved school busing routes and public safety. Named associate director in 2010, Arcenio developed many of MICOP’s signature programs, including Interpreter Services, Tequio Youth Group, literacy classes, the “No me llames Oaxaquita!” campaign, and the Indigenous Knowledge Conference. Arcenio became MICOP’s executive director in July of 2014.
María Marroquín | Executive Director, Day Worker Center of Mountain View
Maria was born in Mexico. She worked as an organizer at the teachers’ union in Mexico City and became a strong advocate for social justice and the power of community action. She and her son later moved to the United States. Maria has worked tirelessly as an organizer and advocate building community alliances, raising funds, and working for immigrant reforms on the national, state, and local level. She was named Woman of the Year by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, Immigrant Advocate of the Year by SIREN, and received the Mexico Award from the Mexican Consulate. She helped to strengthen the leadership at Peninsula Interfaith Action (PIA) as a member of their board of directors for several years, and she served two terms as board president of National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON). Maria was also named a “Local Hero” by KQED.
Luis Ojeda | Statewide Coordinator, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA)
Luis Ojeda was born in Colima, Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. with his family over 20 years ago. He is an undocumented and queer organizer who lives by the philosophy of peace, love, and understanding. Luis is currently working to advance the rights of undocumented immigrants in the state as the statewide coordinator for the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. Before that, he worked as the Central California Organizer with CIYJA. He holds a BA in Political Science from California State University-Fresno.
Luis Olmedo | Executive Director, Comite Civico Del Valle, Inc.
Luis Olmedo is the executive director of Comite Civico del Valle, an organization located in Imperial Valley whose mission focuses on addressing environmental health-related problems in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys. Luis is a member of various state and national networks that focus on environmental justice policy and regulations. His organization has partnered with academic and research institutions to expand environmental research in Imperial County and published studies on border asthma and allergies, perchlorate bio-monitoring, and agricultural burning. He has pioneered the web-based environmental justice monitoring community Identifying Violations Affecting Neighborhoods (IVAN). He serves as the chairman of a collaborative task force model that brings together community, government, academia, and industry to help identify and address environmental issues within specific neighborhoods.
María Poblet | Executive Director, Causa Justa :: Just Cause
María Poblet is a leader in movement building for racial, economic, and gender justice, and the executive director of Causa Justa :: Just Cause. The organization unites working class Latino and African-American families fighting gentrification and displacement in the San Francisco Bay Area towards a vision of powerful, stable and healthy communities. In 2009, she helped lead the merger between St. Peter’s Housing Committee and Just Cause Oakland that created Causa Justa :: Just Cause, bringing together the organizations’ respective work in the Latino community in San Francisco and the African-American community in Oakland into a single, regional organization for racial and economic justice. She has been a leader in grassroots movement-building with the U.S. Social Forum and the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. Maria had the privilege of being mentored by June Jordan, and was the Artistic Director of Poetry for the People before she fell in love with community organizing.
Christian Ramírez | Director, Southern Border Communities Coalition and Human Rights Director, Alliance San Diego
Christian Ramírez was born in Tijuana, Mexico. Since 1994 Christian has been active on issues relating to U.S. immigration policy and its impact on southern border communities. He has presented at international and national gatherings on the state of human rights on the U.S.-Mexico Border. Christian is a nationally and internationally recognized spokesperson on immigration and border enforcement issues. At the Alliance San Diego, Christian serves as director of human rights programs. He also staffs the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium and the Southern Border Communities Coalition.
Stephanie Richard, Esq., | Policy and Legal Services Director, The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)
Stephanie Kay Richard, Esq., is the policy and legal services director at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) where she provides direct legal services to survivors of human trafficking and technical consultation on human trafficking cases nationwide. She has been involved in the anti-trafficking movement for over ten years. Stephanie has served as the domestic lead for the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) and the policy co-chair of the Freedom Network, USA, two national U.S.-based coalitions working to improve federal and state laws and the implementation of those laws to better serve trafficking survivors in the United States.
Ramla Sahid | Executive Director, The Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA)
Ramla Sahid is the founder and executive director of the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA). She is responsible for overseeing the organization’s growth and prominence as the leading voice for refugees in San Diego. Ramla is committed to advocacy and policy projects that address racial disparities. In her previous role as a community organizer, Ramla facilitated processes that generated people-led, effective campaigns. An example of this work is the Restorative Justice (Community Justice Program) Pilot project. The project was developed as an alternative to incarcerating youth in City Heights and will promote safety and reduce the overreliance on the incarceration of racial minorities. Ramla is also a past fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute, a program of the Women’s Foundation of California. Her team is responsible for the successful passage of AB 2102 (Ting). Ramla has a BS in Nutritional Sciences from San Diego State University.
Meng L. So | Director, Undocumented Student Program | Academic Counselor, Educational Opportunity Program, University of California, Berkeley
Meng So was born in a refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border and migrated to the San Francisco Bay Area the way many children do—fleeing strife in his homeland. He currently serves as the first director of the Undocumented Student Program at UC Berkeley, coordinating efforts to initiate and enact a comprehensive agenda that responds to the needs of first generation, low-income, and undocumented students. Thus far, the program has initiated a holistic system of critical support services for undocumented students including a Dreamers Resource Center, immigration legal support, emergency grants, mental health support, and faculty/staff training. The program has quickly emerged as a best practice of support being replicated at other universities in the state and nationwide. He sits on the UC Presidential Task Force on Undocumented Students, and lends his voice to national efforts to advocate for inclusive immigration policies and a Federal Dream Act.
Alexandra Suh | Executive Director, Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA)
Alexandra Suh is the Executive Director of KIWA (Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance). Founded in 1992, KIWA’s mission is to build the power of immigrant workers and residents, and to organize a progressive grassroots leadership to transform our workplaces and communities in Koreatown and beyond. Through strategic campaigns, grassroots organizing, leadership development, policy advocacy, services, community-based research, and coalition building, KIWA organizes workers and residents across industries to address immigrant workers’ rights and community conditions. Alexandra joined KIWA’s staff in 2009, and began as director in 2011. Her past experience includes community organizing and advocacy around women workers; peace and trade justice; and immigrant women facing homelessness, prostitution, mental illness, and substance abuse. She is a co-founder of the Korea Policy Institute. Alexandra holds a PhD from Columbia University and took courses in Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona with the aim of integrating environmental solutions with social and economic justice work. She was formerly a professor at Scripps College, The Claremont Colleges. She and her partner live in Koreatown where they are raising two young children.
Corey J. Timpson | Director, PICO California
Corey Timpson currently serves as Director of PICO California, a statewide organizing effort of the PICO National Network. PICO California is one of the largest grassroots community organizations in California uniting 19 local community-based organizations and organizing 450,000 families from 485 faith congregations throughout the state. Before joining PICO California in 2010, Corey served as executive director of two local federations of the PICO Network, ICUC (Inland Congregations United for Change) and OCCCO (the Orange County Congregation Community Organization). Corey graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May of 1988 with a BA in Philosophy. Prior to joining PICO in 1993, Corey lived and worked in Santiago, Chile as a faith-based community educator. Corey and his wife of 17 years, Natalie, reside in Lake Elsinore, California with their daughter Samantha and son Jonathan.
Opal Tometi | Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
Opal Tometi is the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), an education and advocacy organization comprised of African Americans and black immigrants working at the intersection of racial justice and migrant rights. Opal resides in New York City where she also supports BAJI’s flagship program the Black Immigration Network (BIN), a nationwide network of Black-led organizations, programs and individuals uniting for racial justice and migrant rights. Opal is a first generation Nigerian-American who was born and raised in Arizona, and has been active in the migrant rights movement for over ten years. Opal was the 2012 recipient of the “Unsung Hero for Justice” Award by the African American Legislative and Leadership Conference of Arizona. She is an advocate to end violence against women, a writer and a media maker. Opal holds a BA in History and an MA in Communication and Advocacy.
Hector O. Villagra | Executive Director, ACLU of Southern California
Hector Villagra has been executive director of the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) since February 2011. He launched the Orange County Office of the ACLU SoCal in September 2005 and served as its director until October 2009 when he became legal director for the ACLU SoCal. Before joining the ACLU, he served as regional counsel for the Los Angeles Regional Office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) from 2001 to 2005, and as a staff attorney at MALDEF from 1999 to 2001.
Hee Joo Yoon | Executive Director, Korean Resource Center
Hee Joo Yoon is the executive director of the Korean Resource Center (KRC). Prior to leading KRC, Hee Joo became the organization’s program director in 2005, after being a volunteer for thirteen years. She has been instrumental in developing and strengthening the organization’s programs and services, which now include the areas of health access, civic engagement, youth leadership development, immigration legal services, and financial literacy. Hee Joo was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for her leadership in launching and managing an impactful, culturally competent housing and foreclosure prevention program. Hee Joo is currently on the board of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. She is the former president of Young Koreans United of Los Angeles, and Secretary of the Korean Alliance for Peace and Justice of USA.