Last month, the Akonadi Foundation launched the Arc Toward Justice Leadership and Solidarity Program. CompassPoint is excited to facilitate a cohort of twenty dynamic leaders working toward a racially just society for youth of color in Oakland. Over the next year, this group of leaders will explore leadership frameworks, learn about strength-based leadership, dive into coaching, and engage with themes of self-care and sustainability.
Yejide Ankobia, Community Works West
Yejide Ankobia currently manages the RCC program at Community Works West in Oakland, a victim-centered diversion program for youth. Prior to Community Works, Yejide worked as the Restorative Schools Coordinator for Hayward Unified School District, and was employed by SEEDS Community Resolution Center in Berkeley, CA. Prior to SEEDS, Yejide worked for Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) as Dean of Restorative Discipline and School Culture at Castlemont High School in East Oakland through collaboration between RJOY and Oakland Unified School District. During this time, Yejide and a handful of others certified to train, and led by OUSD’s RJ program manager, delivered regular trainings to district educators in Oakland’s three tiered model of Whole-School Restorative Justice. A proud Bay Area native, Yejide studied journalism at San Francisco State University and reported for the Oakland Tribune and San Jose Mercury newspapers. In a career move that took her away from print media, Yejide began working with youth in 1997 at Mercy High, San Francisco, as director of school development.
She moved to Oakland in 1999 and soon began working with youth at The Mentoring Center (TMC) as project coordinator of a DMC program designed to lower the number of minority youth confined to the Alameda County Juvenile Hall. In 2005, Yejide was introduced to Restorative Justice through a training sponsored by RJOY and from there represented TMC as a member of the Alameda County Restorative Justice Task force for several years. In ’05, Yejide also enrolled in Law school and would continue her studies until 2007 when she took a leave of absence to celebrate and honor the birth of her son. In addition to training consultant for local Restorative Justice agencies, Yejide co-facilitates a support group to empower ‘at-risk’ girls, especially African American girls. A certified yoga instructor, Yejide spends time she’s not working or parenting writing and sharing the benefits of yoga with youth and adults.
Sergio Arroyo EastSide Arts Alliance
Sergio Arroyo is a teacher, artist, and community activist. Since 1994, Sergio has worked with Raza youth in the Bay Area to explore their identity and find their voice through the arts. Currently, Sergio teaches Raza Studies at various Oakland high schools, focusing on the issue of Identity which has often been distorted as a result of invasion and colonization in the Americas. The class takes students on a historical journey exploring systems of oppression and the impact of racism on the Raza community. Sergio is also part of the Xican@ Moratorium Coalition, which works to address issues impacting the Raza community by educating, mobilizing, and direct action. Sergio holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree from San Francisco State University.
Deanna Gao, Forward Together
Deanna identifies as a queer gender non-conforming US-born Chinese woman and has been working for several years with youth of color in Los Angeles and now in the bay area. She started working in Oakland as the youth organizer at Forward Together in October 2013 following work as the youth organizer at Chinese Progressive Association in San Francisco. Her passion for an ethics and practice of anti-oppression and justice is very much informed by radical (queer) women of color feminisms and organizing. She believes that transforming conditions of violence and oppression in our world is by honoring the work and experiences of those most impacted and transforming the ways we learn to love and relate to ourselves and each other. She is interested in a practice of loving accountability in her own life and in the relationships she builds with youth. She is also passionate about karaoke and dancing.
Poonam Juneja, Public Counsel
Poonam Juneja is the Statewide Education Rights Staff Attorney at Public Counsel. She previously worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mississippi Youth Justice Project, where she fought to end unconstitutional and abusive conditions of confinement in juvenile detention centers and punitive, unlawful school discipline practices. Poonam is a 2009 graduate of Yale Law School, where she was an member of the school’s Immigration Legal Services and Advocacy for Children and Youth clinics and was the recipient of the Florence M. Kelly ’37 Family Law Prize for exceptional achievement in family law. Prior to joining Public Counsel in 2014, Poonam clerked for the Honorable Marsha S. Berzon of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Honorable Claudia Wilken of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
E.J. Pavia, Urban Peace Movement
A son of Mexican and Filipino parents, E.J. Pavia's Mexi-pino identity is a source of cultural pride. Recognizing the importance of his family's immigrant past, E.J. earned his B.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies with a concentration in Social Justice from UC Santa Cruz. As the first member of his family to attend college, he also understands his responsibility to raise awareness of social injustice not only in his own family, but also in marginalized communities. He has dedicated his post-college years to work that builds the leadership of youth of color while also providing a safe space for youth to heal from personal and community trauma. Currently a Youth Organizer for Urban Peace Movement in Oakland, E.J. continues to engage youth and adults in local and statewide movement building work. For E.J., trusting relationships, peace of mind, and good times are a top priority. The mantra "uplift someone higher than yourself" guides both his personal and professional lives.
To see read about the full roster of participants, click here.