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.
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 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 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.
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.
Lukas Brekke-Miesner is a third generation East Oaklander and a champion of all things Town. He received his diploma from Oakland Technical High School and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and Education from UCLA. He became active as a high-school student as part of the TryUMF program and Youth Speaks, in addition to serving on the board that founded Youth UpRising. He spent his college years working for various youth development organizations in Los Angeles and Oakland before moving to New York where he became a freelance writer and founded the Oakland Arts & Culture blog, 38thNotes. Lukas is in his sixth year with Oakland Kids First and his second as the Director of the REAL HARD Program, which engages students in campus culture change work at Oakland Tech, Castlemont, and Fremont High Schools. Lukas also continues to write creatively, for his blog, and as a consultant for local organizations.
Christina joined the OKF PASS-2 team in 2013 driving forward the Civic Engagement & Social Movements program at Oakland Tech. Prior to her time at OKF, she spent nearly a decade helping develop MetWest High School in OUSD from a new, teeny tiny alternative school to an established internship and project-based school and started the arts and academic afterschool program with community collaborators and partnerships. She attended California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia where she was introduced to community-based arts teaching through the CAP (California Arts Partnership) program and unearthed a deep passion for building and teaching with high school youth during her time at KAOS Projects in Leimert Park. Beyond that, you can find her either djing with her SF crew Sweater Funk and Oakland crew Wax Works, cooking up a storm in the kitchen with her always-hungry two year old daughter, drawing and screenprinting in a smelly studio somewhere, or taking peel-apart photographs with her Polaroid camera.
Misha is a graduate of the Political Science department at San Francisco State University (SFSU). On campus, Misha was dedicated to organizing students and faculty in her department, and served as the editor-in-chief of a student-run publication titled Politics by the Hour. In the early part of 2010, Misha joined the Black Organizing Project (BOP) as one of the founding members. Her passion for journalism and story telling led Misha to focus on developing the organization’s print communications by creating the Black Organizing Project’s Our Story newsletter, to document BOP news and events, as well as the captivating stories that BOP members and the community had to share.
Today, Misha is inspired by the powerful role that journalism and mass-media have played in highlighting social movements throughout history, specifically during the civil-rights era, and aspires to empower communities of color by sharing their stories.
Geordee Mae Corpuz is a San Francisco born, transnational Pilipina organizer with roots ranging from Pangisinan to Ilokos. Raised throughout the Bay Area, her experiences growing up shaped her political mindset, as well as her family's deep history in migrant farm labor. She received her Bachelors degree in Asian American Studies from UC Davis in 2011. Geordee Mae dedicated a significant amount of her Davis tenure recruiting and retaining low-income Pilipin@ students from across Nor-Cal into the folds of higher education through the BRIDGE program, as well as planning significant educational conferences for communities of color in the Sacramento area. Since then, Geordee Mae has pursued her passion for education and ethnic studies as an organizer for Californians for Justice working alongside Oakland students to create an equitable and racially just education system in California and Oakland. Her hobbies include visiting museums, karaoke, going hiking, attending concerts, and spending time with her Ilocano grandmothers.
María has over 10 years of experience working with and advocating for youth and immigrants, and most recently, formerly incarcerated persons. She first began organizing in her East Oakland neighborhood alongside Oakland Community Organizations (OCO) on issues of education, policing, and immigrant rights. After graduating from Mills College with a B.A. in Ethnic Studies, María worked for the Alameda County Public Defender. She also helped establish Oakland’s municipal identification card program. At the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, María was the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal. Upon graduation, she served as a law fellow for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, María joined the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights as a local organizer. Her work is focused on organizing formerly incarcerated individuals and their family members to help end mass incarceration while advancing justice reinvestment initiatives. María is also working on establishing a Family Justice League where families navigating the Alameda County justice system can get peer support and use community organizing strategies to improve outcomes for their loved ones. On occasion, María can be found watching an independent film, singing and dancing cumbias, or practicing her Vietnamese.
Sia Henry is dedicated to creating a more racially and socioeconomically just society, especially for high incarceration communities of color. She has been awarded a fellowship to join NCCD, where she works on various projects within California and other states to promote using restorative justice to address the criminalization of youth and the criminal justice system’s racial and ethnic disparities. Sia is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she served as street law cochair of the Black Law Student Association, director of events for the Harvard African Law Association, chair of the Harvard Law School Chapter of the Athena Women’s Mentoring Grad Student Board, judge for the Boston Debate League, and conference/symposium chair for the Harvard Law Journal on Racial and Ethnic Justice. Sia spent her law school summers assisting with record expungement and other reentry issues at the Georgia Justice Project and within NCCD’s restorative justice project. Prior to law school, Sia attended Duke University, where she created her major in criminology and criminal psychology, was a Duke cheerleader, and graduated summa cum laude.
Jasmine Jones graduated of San Francisco State University (SFSU) in the spring of 2011 where she received her B.A. in Sociology. While she attended SFSU she was an active member of the Black Student Union with a strong commitment to creating equitable schools for students from low-income communities. She was introduced to organizing in 2010 through a course tailored to organizing in communities of color. While learning theories of organizing she volunteered with the Black Organizing Project (BOP). Upon graduation Jasmine received the John Kinch Humanitarian award and was the voted the class speaker for the Sociology department. In January of 2011 Jasmine was hired to be an organizer with BOP. She currently leads the Bettering Our School System campaign that has been successful in defining and limiting the role of police in the Oakland Unified School District. Outside of organizing Jasmine serves as the Chair of the Human Rights and Human Relations Commission in the city of Richmond. Jasmine has a strong vision and passion around creating an equitable world where all people are valued and respected, but more specifically where Black people are treated with dignity.
As the State Policy & Field Director for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Jennifer combines her extensive policy experience with her passion for justice to lead the organization's campaign to end mass incarceration through policy, legislative, and budget advocacy. Her past experience includes working with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, SEIU, and organizations such as Project Angel Food and and Learning for Life. In 2011, she was selected as one of 10 fellows across the country for the Youth Justice Leadership Institute and in 2012, she was selected for an inaugural fellowship with the Women's Foundation of California's Women's Policy Institute's Budget Advocacy Team. Most recently, she served as a faculty in residence for Scripps College's New Leadership program. Jennifer graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Korean and holds a JD from the University of San Francisco, School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in the state of California.
Ruben is strongly dedicated to lifting up the voices of youth with untapped potential in his community. Born and raised in Oakland’s Fruitvale District, Ruben has direct lived experience with being labeled as an "at-risk" youth seeking positive outlets and alternatives to street life. Ruben has been featured in local radio and newsprint, testified to the CA State Assembly Select Committee on Gun Violence, and has served on the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color Youth Policy Task Force. Ruben started his work with CURYJ as a community outreach specialist, coordinating four mural block parties and organizing the clean-up of an abandoned site now harvesting its first community garden haul. The summer of 2012, Ruben completed a 10-week intensive training for Outdoor Educators. A Dewey Academy graduate (an Oakland Unified School District Continuation School), Ruben helped to lead a school-based youth leadership and action research project with Dewey students to develop community solutions to address public safety in Oakland that empower youth in the Spring of 2013. The project at Dewey Academy has now evolved into a year-long after-school program that he co-coordinates. Ruben is also a volunteer with Xican@ Moratorium Coalition where he helps to lead the youth organizing group, Coatlnecalli. As a father of two beautiful daughters Ruben is dedicated to organizing and advocating for social change that will benefit generations to come.
Nuri Nusrat is a Program Associate for the Restorative Justice Project at the National Council of Crime and Delinquency. At NCCD, she supports jurisdictions throughout California in creating and implementing restorative juvenile diversion programs. Prior to coming to NCCD, Nuri worked with the National Mitigation Coordinator for the Federal Death Penalty Project, supporting lawyers whose clients were facing death sentences. She also has experience in assisting people in dismissing their criminal convictions and working with youth with incarcerated parents. She is dedicated to serving those impacted by the criminal legal system.
Mike is a fifth generation Oaklander who is very passionate about creating a better Oakland for young people by developing programs that help them realize their potential for leadership. As a defendant in the Fruitvale gang injunction, he became an outspoken leader in the Stop the Injunctions Coalition and has continued to advocate against policies that criminalize youth of color. Mike has spoken to local radio outlets, media, and testified at the state capitol before the State Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, and served on the Youth Policy Task Force for the Alliance of Boys and Men of Color. He was also a panelist a the Beyond the Bench conference where he directly shared his experiences with Judges, Prosecutors and others in Law Enforcement to give them an opportunity to learn what the impact of certain judicial practices have had on the health and success of boys and men of color.
As a community organizer for CURYJ, Mike helped to organize mural block parties and a community garden project in Oakland’s Fruitvale District where he has lived his entire life. Mike also conceptualized and initiated the Aztlan Beautification Movement, which involves youth in creating murals of Oakland community history and culture. As a member of Oakland’s Native American community, Mike helped lead a Native Boys and Men leadership and action research project in the spring of 2013 based out of the Intertribal Friendship House, the oldest urban American Indian community center in the country, to engage Native youth in envisioning solutions for a better Oakland where youth can thrive. Currently, Mike is co-coordinating an after-school program for CURYJ at Dewey Academy, organizing more mural projects, and advocating locally and statewide for policy and systems changes that improve outcomes for his community.
Maisha Quint is a Bay Area born and raised organizer and poet. A staunch anti-prison organizer since high school, she worked for five years at Legal Services For Prisoners With Children and taught poetry for four years at UC Berkeley with June Jordan's Poetry for the People program. She joined the EastSide Arts Alliance as a collective member 7 years ago and is currently Program Coordinator there. She has organized with the Committee to Free the San Francisco 8, Friends of Marilyn Buck and the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights.
Igdalia oversees and supports CFJ’s four regions by providing campaign strategizing, supervision and staff and leadership development. Igdalia was born in Michoacan, Mexico but has lived most of her life in San Jose, she is a former CFJ alumni. She became a student leader with CFJ while she was a Junior at James Lick High School, and learned to develop not only her skills as a youth organizer, but gained a deep passion for social & racial justice, which made her return to CFJ to organize her community. Over her 12 years of organizing experience with CFJ, Igdalia has played different roles within the organization; first as a parent organizer, San Jose lead organizer, statewide youth organizer, and recently the Organizing Director.
As an organizer, she has led several policy campaign wins such as a Bilingual Certification for Students at East Side Union High School District, a policy at the Alum Rock Elementary School District that created a college going culture, and the adoption of a resolution in the ESUHSD to make A-G College default curriculum. Igdalia has centered her life on organizing low-income students of color in her community to fight for social justice and racial justice. Through her work in CFJ she continues developing young leaders to be agents of social change. For fun Igdalia loves to read, organize and hike.
Ernesto Pepito is the Associate Director, Youth Leadership at Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. He manages a number of outreach, volunteer and internship initiatives and projects that promote youth leadership for thriving parks, healthier communities, and a more environmentally just society. As a recognized leader, he has attended and presented at conferences nationally and internationally on the work that is occurring in Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Most recently Ernesto has been involved the Americas Great Outdoors Initiative both locally and nationally. He started his career leading middle and high school service learning programs for Americorps and has a degree in political science.