B.L.A.C.K. Equity Intensive Cohort 2021


Building Love, Agency, Community and Knowledge



American Civil Liberties Union

Allysa Victory


Allyssa Victory (she/her) is a changemaker, coalition builder, and advocate from Oakland, California. Allyssa holds a B.A. with Honors in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego with a minor in African American studies and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law with a concentration in Government Law. Allyssa is a licensed Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Northern California’s Criminal Justice team and is Counsel to Communication Workers of America - Local 9415.  She is also the outgoing Community Programs Director for the statewide Afrikan Black Coalition serving locals through direct services, political education, and coalitional support. In her spare time, Allyssa enjoys Oakland's parks with her dogs and creating visual art.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization should make Black staff feel like we can bring our full selves to our work and workplace."

Arneta Rogers


Arneta Rogers (she/they) is the Gender, Sexuality, and Reproductive Justice Director at the ACLU of Northern California. Their work focuses on fighting for the right to bodily autonomy for BIPOC, systems-impacted, and other communities on the margin, and providing programmatic leadership and vision to a team of reproductive and gender justice advocates. Arneta co-leads the organization’s advocacy to decriminalize sex work and supported the development of a statewide coalition, DecrimSexWorkCA, that centers the leadership and experience of Black trans women, femmes, and non-binary people of color disproportionately impacted by criminalization. Arneta is the former Policy Director of the Positive Women’s Network- USA and earned their law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law. In their free time, they enjoy growing vegetables in their Oakland garden, playing basketball, and drumming for the movement with the Boomshake.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization looks like, feels like, or is comfort."

(previously associated with ACLU)

Asia Alman


Asia Alman (They/She/A) is a queer Afro-Caribbean organizer and advocate who is determined to see liberation in their lifetime. For the last 6 years, Asia has organized to address the impact of racial and gender-based violence on citizen and migrant Black women and gender-expansive people domestically and abroad. In their current role as an Organizer at ACLU of Northern California, Asia leads the foundational development of DecrimSWCA, a coalition of Black, Indigenous, and sex workers of color, organizers, and allied organizations demanding the full decriminalization of sex work in California. A also serves as the Bay Area Lead Organizer for Black LGBTQIA Migrant Project where she coordinates a local campaign to decriminalize sex work in Oakland. In addition, Asia is a Board Member of the Telluride Association, a 2020 Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD) Institute alum; a 2019 Women’s Foundation of CA, Women’s Policy Institute-Local Advocacy Fellowship alum; a 2018 Greenlining Institute Policy Fellowship alum; and a recipient of the 2017 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. A holds a B.A. in Political Science and Africana Studies with honors from Vassar College and will forever be a proud Brooklynite.

"To Asia, a Pro-Black organization feels like transformative justice in action."


Aspire Public Schools

Melissa Brookens


Born and raised in Stockton, California, Melissa Brookens (she/her) traveled away her first year of college where she found her calling to be a teacher and desire to give back to her community in Stockton.  After her first year in college, she returned to her roots in Stockton to become the first person in her family to earn her college degree and a teaching credential. She made her way to Aspire Public Schools in 2010 where she was a founding educator of Aspire APEX Academy, followed by principal resident, principal, and currently serves as one of the Associate Superintendents in the Central Valley (CA) 

A core value of Melissa’s is service and “breaking the cycle”. She is an advocate for scholars to support with thinking through systems and structures which are maintaining an inequitable cycle. She actively looks for ways to dismantle and question these systems and structures. In this work, Melissa understands the deep, personal, and emotional toll it can take on a person and she deeply advocates for, models, and shares the importance of self-care.  She has been married for 12 years and has three beautiful children who keep her centered in her work.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization is an organization that centers and amplifies the voices of Black people (children and adults) in decision making. Systems and structures are set up to support Black youth and teammates which will be of the benefit of all."

Stacy Thomas


Stacy Thomas (he/him) (Aspire) is a dedicated educator who works tirelessly to produce positive outcomes for communities of color. He began his educator path as a middle school and high school math teacher in schools throughout East Oakland, Californoia for over 12 years. Stacy moved to a Home Office role for Aspire Public Schools where he serves as the Equity Program Manager. In this role, he has overseen several initiatives in support of 38 schools within the charter network, including incorporating culturally responsive teaching into classroom observation rubric, facilitating conversations about racial equity, and establishing regional teammate racial affinity groups. Stacy’s current work is supporting pro-Black programming initiatives in Aspire Public Schools throughout the state of California. 

In addition to his work at Aspire, Stacy serves as a guest lecturer at Alder Graduate School of Education for the teacher residency program for the Identity & Education course. He also does a podcast with his sister titled “What Are You?” which talks about race and identity through a multiracial and biracial lens.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization is an organization that intentionally and vocally supports the needs of Black people within its organization as well as within the community in which it serves."

Lindsey Fuller


Lindsey Fuller (she/her) is the Regional Director of Student Services for Aspire Public Schools serving the scholars, families, and school communities of 11 Bay Area schools. She leads all non-academic initiatives, including mental health programming, behavior prevention/response efforts, socio-emotional learning, and crisis management. Lindsey also serves as the certified trainer for Restorative Practices (IIRP) and Crisis Prevention (CPI).  Outside of her role at Aspire, Lindsey engages in consulting work to bring engaging professional development to a host of CMOs and school districts.

As a native of the Oakland/Berkeley community and child of two educators, Lindsey believes that through trauma-informed interventions, strong school climate, rigorous instruction, and culturally responsive practices, schools and families can work collaboratively to support the whole child’s needs. As a “Panther Cub,” she fights with the strength of her ancestors behind her for the liberation of her children and young people everywhere.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization is one that centers the brilliance, self-determination, and collective liberation of all Black stakeholders (scholars, families, and staff) to ensure that folks of and from the community are positioned to make transformational change."

Beneficial State Foundation

Quinn Williams


Quinn Williams (he/him) manages Beneficial State Foundation’s equitable bank standards, which includes co-development and refinement of the standards, and supports the Foundation’s overall policy advocacy. He started his career in Colorado advocating for policies that empower working families. Quinn is committed to increasing access to capital in Black communities, particularly in the South, where he is from. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, exploring the outdoors with friends, and eating dishes that might be too spicy for you.  

"To me, a Pro-Black organization is connected."

Symone Jackson


Symone Jackson (she/her) manages Beneficial State Foundation’s digital engagement strategy as a member of the organization’s Strategic Communications team. She is passionate about supporting community-led solutions to help build a just and equitable world. In her free time, she organizes with the Justice for Gregory Johnson Coalition, providing support to the family and local students who are organizing to make their CSU campus safer for Black students.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization is powerful."

Robert Wilkins


Robert Wilkins Sr. (he/him) is the Managing Principal of The HIIP Group Ltd., a strategic advisory firm that provides planning, marketing, and organizational development services for social enterprises and nonprofit organizations.  He is the retired President and CEO of the YMCA of the East Bay [1997-2016].  Mr. Wilkins is an ordained minister and Visiting Professor of Functional Theology and Community Leadership at the American Baptist Seminary of the West at the Graduate Theological Union.  He is a member of the Executive Board of Directors for SPUR and Beneficial State Bank.


East Bay Housing Organization

Ronnie Boyd


Ronnie Boyd serves as EBHO’s Community, Faith, and Justice Organizer. She is a community organizer who uses healing justice as her framework for engaging with constituencies. Over the years as an organizer, Ronnie has developed a diverse background in police and prison abolition and public education reform. Ronnie comes to housing by way of witnessing the amount of unhoused residents in both Chicago and the Bay Area. Ronnie is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan with a love for Afrofuturism, Black contemporary art, and womanist theology. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in Women’s Studies from San Diego State University where she studied how science fiction, TV, and film provide political commentary on gender, race, violence, and reproductive politics. Ronnie also organized faith leaders in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, activating congregants to direct action and advocating for anti-racist/anti-oppressive policies and structures. In her spare time, she enjoys watching wholesome comedic television shows to remind herself that good people can and do exist in both this reality and alternative ones.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization feels like a place where I can bring my whole self to the work."

Kiki Poe


Kiki Poe is the Membership and Operations Director at East Bay Housing Organizations. She has dedicated her professional and personal life to being of service to the people. Over her career, she has worked on securing LGBTQ+ rights, led database training for nationwide fundraising teams, created programs to send Buddhist encouragement publications to people who were incarcerated among so many other great accomplishments and connections. With over 15 years of experience in building relationships and supporting mission driving organizations, she is excited to be working in the effort to bring housing equity to the Bay Area. One of her favorite quotes is from her mentor in life, Daisaku Ikeda: “A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.” She believes every relationship built is the opportunity to create change starting with that person. 

"To me, a Pro-Black organization looks like, feels like, or is advancement."

Damion Scott


Damion Scott was born in San Francisco and raised in East Oakland. After graduating from Webster University with a degree in Speech Communication, he became a Fellow at the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in San Francisco. As a Fellow, he worked for the Drug Policy Alliance, The City of Oakland, United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, PG&E, and the East Oakland Youth Development Center. After graduating from CORO, he became a Political Organizer for the Alameda Labor Council and helped progress labor causes in the 2016 election. Since 2017, Damion has worked as a Field Interviewer for Mathematica Policy Research focusing on research projects in the East Bay. He joined East Bay Housing Organizations in 2020 as the Census and Campaign organizer, spearheading EBHO's census and elections outreach to residents of affordable housing.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization is Empowering"


Grow Dat Youth Farms

Julie Gable


Julie Gable (she/her) has spent more of her life in New Orleans than in her hometown of Pembroke Township, which is located 67 miles south of Chicago.  Her move to New Orleans in 1985, after graduating from Illinois State University where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications/Public Relations, evolved when her husband relocated from Chicago back to his hometown after accepting a call to the “ministry”.  Julie decided, at the age of 24,  New Orleans would offer a new lease in life. With two adult sons and 35 years of marriage, that “lease” renews yearly. 

Her positions in Marketing/Development and Programming for health, secondary education, and youth development non-profit organizations span over 3 decades.  She is at the start of three years as the Development Director for Grow Dat Youth Farm and can truly say 

"To me, a Pro-Black organization feels like Peace."

Devon Turner


A native of Plaquemines Parish in southeastern Louisiana and “country girl,” Devon Turner (she/they) is the Executive Director of Grow Dat Youth Farm, a youth leadership development organization that encourages young adults in New Orleans to explore sustainable agriculture, community leadership, and their own leadership potential. At 7 acres, Grow Dat operates the largest farm in New Orleans and reimagines how public land can be a vehicle for equity. 

Over the past 20 years, Devon has served as an educator on social justice issues at the nexus of race, gender, justice, and violence and as an education director for programs assisting justice-involved youth returning home from Riker's Island. She returned to southeastern Louisiana in 2015, excited to support the people and communities who raised her. Her current activities align with her interest in promoting youth-led and youth-centered spaces, food sovereignty, and strong, culturally-grounded communities.

To Devon, a Pro-Black organization is a journey.

Faye Matthews


Faye Matthews (she/her) is a New Orleans native, attorney, and community advocate. Faye currently serves as Legal Policy Advisor for the National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf Program. In addition to providing day-to-day advice on legal issues affecting the conservation, protection, and restoration of complex ecosystems. Faye works with various stakeholders in communities vulnerable to climate impacts to define sustainable solutions. As a firm believer in the power of equity, Faye believes that the only way to tackle the global climate crisis is to center those who suffer first and worse during natural disasters and other climate events. By prioritizing frontline communities, we can be assured that benefits and resources are optimized for the benefit of all.

Previously, Faye served as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Faye is a graduate of the University of New Orleans and Southern University Law Center where she was a member of the law review. When away from work, Faye enjoys reading, yoga, and indulging in outdoor activities, especially fishing, bike riding, and hiking.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization feels like freedom – freedom to live, to think, and to be. It is one that actively acknowledges the collective experience and position of Black people and dedicates itself to improve the status quo by challenging the very systems that stand in the way of true Black liberation."


Ishmael Herrod


Ishmael Herod aka Ish (he/him) has been with Greenpeace since 2011 after attending Howard University. He currently serves as the Talent Acquisition Manager at Greenpeace and has been working constantly to ensure the organization is bringing in diverse, dedicated people to advance our work and help the fight for environmental and social justice. 

"To me, Pro-black organization is necessary."

Folabi Ojagbaju


Folabi Olagbaju (he/him) is the Democracy Campaign Director with Greenpeace USA.  Prior to this, he served as the Founding Director for Outreach with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) where he built the organization’s grassroots mobilization program and engaged constituents on priority advocacy issues.  Prior to joining LIRS, Folabi held several senior leadership positions with Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) as its Director of Just Earth! a cutting edge environmental justice program and as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director where he managed the regional field program work and translated AIUSA’s human rights agenda into grassroots membership organizing plans and transformative human rights victories.  Prior to joining Amnesty International, Folabi was with the US labor movement as a Research Organizer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) where he helped low-wage, recent immigrant workers organize Unions and negotiate collective bargaining agreements.  A native of Nigeria, Folabi holds a doctorate in political science from The George Washington University.

 "To me, a pro-Black organization feels like promise land." 

Jerilyn Johnson


Jerilyn Johnson (she/her) is the Director of People & Culture at Greenpeace USA, a global leader in environmental advocacy. In her role as Director of People & Culture, Jerilyn is responsible for the development and implementation of the organization’s People Strategy. She has more than 10 years of experience in human resources management and organizational development. Her areas of expertise include maintaining efficient and compliant people operations and building healthy and engaging organizational cultures and internal programs centered on equity, justice, and integrity. 

Jerilyn received a B.A. in Economics from The University of Texas and an M.S./M.B.A. in Finance/Human Capital Management from the University of Maryland. In addition to her academic degrees, she also holds advanced designations in Human Resources, SHRM - SCP and SPHR, and is a Certified Diversity Executive.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization commits time, money, and other resources to the growth, development, advancement, well-being, and safety of black people."


National Harm Reduction

Charles Hawthorne


Charles Hawthorne (they/he) is a part of National Harm Reduction Coalition’s California Capacity Building Team as a Capacity Building Manager. Their role includes leading the NHRC’s harm reduction training work for the state of California, as well as supporting harm reduction programs with technical assistance. In their prior role, Charles led the San Francisco Harm Reduction Training Institute, providing Harm Reduction training and technical assistance to programs that serve people who use drugs, people who do sex work, and unhoused populations. 

Charles received their B.S. in Biochemistry from Purdue University and is currently pursuing their Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins. They are a Bloomberg American Health Initiative Fellow in the Addiction and Overdose focus area.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization feels like Real Talk."

Tamika Jackson


Tamika Jackson (she/her) is currently a member of National Harm Reduction Coalition’s HepConnect Team in the role of Harm Reduction Resource Manager. She is tasked with providing strategic support for the HepConnect Initiative aiming to reduce Hepatitis C through the expansion of harm reduction services and the build-out of a regional coalition to support 30+Grantees in WV, KY, TN, IN, NC.

Tamika has worked in Social Services and stigmatized health topics for the past 20 years in Sex Education, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Suicide Prevention, Parenting Education, and most recently, Reproductive Justice with a focus on Abortion Referrals. 

A Proud Graduate of Alabama State University, a Historical Black University in the South, Tamika is a Certified Experiential Specialist and has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology also currently pursuing a Master's in Human Services.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization looks like, feels like, a place void of ego."

Monique Tula


Monique Tula (she/her) is the Executive Director of National Harm Reduction Coalition, a national advocacy and capacity-building organization that promotes the health and dignity of people affected by drug use. Previously, she was the Vice President of Programs with AIDS United where she oversaw the grantmaking and technical assistance portfolios. With more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Ms. Tula has devoted her career to harm reduction advocacy and infrastructure development of community-based organizations. 

Ms. Tula is a skilled trainer, having taught program evaluation courses at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and facilitated numerous organizational development training for community-based organizations throughout the U.S. 

An alum of the Centers for Disease Control’s Institute for HIV Prevention Leadership, Ms. Tula holds a degree in Community Planning with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from Boston University’s School of Management. Ms. Tula has been nominated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Award and formerly served as Board Chair for BEAM, a collective of mental and emotional health advocates dedicated to dismantling systems that cause egregious harms to Black people in America.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization feels like liberation."


Southern California Grantmakers

Kameron Green


Kameron Green (she/her) is the Vice President, Professional Learning & Family Philanthropy, at Southern California Grantmakers. Kameron plays a significant leadership role in developing and implementing SCG’s Professional Learning strategy and programs. This includes managing the day-to-day operations of SCG’s Professional Development portfolio, Family Philanthropy offerings, and relationships with peer and affinity groups. 

Kameron is a member of The Prytanean Women's Honor Society, the Alliance for Women in Media, and is a member of the Board of Directors for Central City Neighborhood Partners (CCNP), a leading nonprofit organization committed to advancing systemic change to benefit low-income communities through collaborations. Kameron graduated from The University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Media Communications.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization is connected."

Sequoia Thompson


Sequoia (she/her) is a Senior Trainer for the Los Angeles County Lesbian Bisexual and Queer Women’s Health Collaborative and Program Coordinator for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation – Los Angeles. She has presented as a Motivational Speaker and Cultural Humility Facilitator for Professional Development at various organizations such as The American Heart Association, Peace Over Violence, and The Department of Public Health.

Sequoia has experience facilitating interactive dialogue discussing intersectionality, gender identity, dismantling white supremacy, and has spoken on international panels including the 2017 Opportunities for a more Inclusive Higher Education with the former Dutch Minister of Education, Jet Bussemaker at Universiteit Van Amsterdam. Sequoia incorporates storytelling to humanize the difficult discussions that individuals and society at large are not having. This pairing of storytelling and administrative decolonizing creates a powerfully impactful ambiance for transformational and sustainable change.  

Sequoia graduated from UCLA with her BA in Psychology and LGBTQ+ Studies where she was awarded the Rae Lee Siporin LGBT Leadership Award for Outstanding leadership and service to the UCLA LGBT community at her Lavender Graduation. Sequoia is an ardent advocate for mental health and incorporates her journey through Major Depressive Disorder to empower those who may not have the resources to understand the condition and thrive through and with it!

Sequoia is passionate about social justice and BIQTPOC (Black Indigenous Queer Transgender People Of Color) advocacy. She wants to continue to be a part of healing the hearts of those affected by systemic anti-Black racism, challenge the institutions who overtly and/or covertly perpetuate it, and continue to challenge ourselves so we don’t perpetuate this systemic plague that separates us. 

"To me, Pro-Black organization looks like, feels like… love."

Alexis Smart


As a member of Southern California Grantmakers’ Membership and Sustainability team, Alexis Smart (she/her) works with fundraised revenue including grants, conference sponsorships, and passthrough funds. She is also your go-to for membership eligibility review, prospects, and potential members. Alexis also served on SCG’s internal Culture Committee for 1.5+ years.

In her career adventures, Alexis worked in social work and coordinated intergenerational programming for high school students, refugee families/youth, formerly homeless families/youth, disenfranchised communities of color, immigrants, asylees, survivors of domestic violence, and senior citizens (age 65+). Alexis then transitioned into development and fundraising work in Los Angeles for two years before joining SCG. Early in her career, she worked in support of an epidemiological research program that provided free health services to injection drug users, and homeless individuals in the San Diego region. Alexis obtained her B.A. in Sociology from UC San Diego with a minor in Psychology. She has a passion for public health, behavioral health, research on the effects of trauma, social justice, and philanthropic work. She also loves organizing/creating space for meaningful experiences with her closest friends and loved ones.

"To me, a Pro-Black organization looks like, feels like… thriving."


Darrell Davis


Darrell Davis (he/him) is the High School Program Manager for the Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools Program at TransForm.

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Darrell has lived in the Bay Area for over 18 years, and has an extensive background working in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Darrell holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Journalism from Florida A&M University, as well as a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) in Theology from Liberty University; In addition, Darrell has a Masters of Business Administration in Public Administration and is now pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy in Divinity at Liberty University. 

In his spare time, he is the head varsity girls’ basketball coach at the famed McClymonds HS in Oakland and enjoys recording music and spending time with his wife and two children.

Darnell Grisby.


Darnell Grisby (he/him) is the Executive Director of TransForm, a leading policy advocacy nonprofit advancing equitable, sustainable transportation and land use solutions in California. A national thought leader in transportation policy and the mobility justice movement, Darnell also has deep expertise in anti-racist initiatives, housing affordability, transit-oriented development, and the intersection of transportation and housing finance. He is the former Director of Policy Development for the American Public Transportation Association, policy lead for a national smart-growth think tank, and senior advisor in the California Legislature. Darnell has been quoted or featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and Bloomberg. He has degrees from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and UCLA.

Mike Calhoun


A native of Oakland, Mike (he/him) is an Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) Program Coordinator at TransForm working in Oakland elementary schools to promote safe walking and biking and reduce traffic congestion. The SR2S program provides free, innovative programming for children and adults. Through this program, Mike is helping make Oakland a stronger and safer community. 

Mike attended Morehouse College in Atlanta and returned home to continue his pursuit to help engage, inspire, and motivate young people. He has more than 25 years of experience engaging and empowering youth, beginning at the Boys & Girls Club, where he served as a teen member of the club’s junior staff and later as the Social Recreation Director.

In addition, Mike has served as the site director for the after-school program at West Oakland Middle School and as both a program director and camp director at the YMCA. 

When not “on-duty,” Mike can be found spending time with his daughter Brooklyn, fully immersed in a graphic design project, or watching horrible yet entertaining reality TV. He’s also an avid fan of WWE (Triple H is king), the Dallas Cowboys, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the New York Yankees.