As Senior Vice President, Member and Partner Engagement, Melanie plays a strategic leadership role at Mission Investors Exchange, helping to set organizational direction. She works with foundations and their partners to identify and drive resources towards innovative impact investing opportunities and facilitates partnerships across the sector.
Melanie began her career as a member of the U.S. Foreign Service and subsequently managed family offices and a private foundation. She has deep experience in the nonprofit sector, having been in leadership roles in four membership associations and nine nonprofit organizations. Melanie is a board member of the Energy Foundation and a founding member of the Impact Investing Committee for the Council of Michigan Foundations and Invest for Better. She is a graduate of Indiana University and is based in Seattle.
Rob Avruch is a Manager on the Housing Affordability team at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) and leads the team's narrative change portfolio. An organizer at heart, Rob thinks a lot about how to resource narrative infrastructure and power for the long haul. Rob graduated from Dartmouth College in 2011 with an A.B. in History and Women’s and Gender Studies. He lives in San Francisco with his partner, their standard poodle, Luna, and Burmese cat, Jaco.
Director, Housing Narrative Lab
Marisol Bello (she/her/ella) has spent a career championing the stories and voices of people struggling to get by, so they can lead in creating the solutions that help every person thrive. First as a career journalist - most recently as a national correspondent and editor at USA TODAY - telling the stories of families working to make ends meet, and then in the nonprofit world, where she led narrative strategies to change hearts and minds about those living on the brink and move people to action. A first generation American from a Caribbean family full of colorful storytellers, Marisol is originally from the Bronx and yes, she is a Yankees fan. She's lives on the East Coast with her family and a pandemic puppy named Chloe.
Founder and Social Impact Strategist, K.Billy Push
Kawanza Billy is Founder and Social Impact Strategist at K.Billy Push, a consulting company dedicated to creating community-centered social impact initiatives. Kawanza received her B.A. from The City University of New York at John Jay College, where she majored in Political Science, concentrating in Urban and Community Affairs. Though she's been organizing for change since she was 12, her advocacy career started as an outreach coordinator in Southeast, Queens, Harlem, and Brooklyn. Since moving to Washington, DC, she's served in numerous roles at education companies and nonprofits, building coalitions, and strategic partnerships, developing programs, and leading community engagement initiatives. D.C. is also where she was introduced to emergent strategy, liberatory design, and popular education techniques and tools, which have grounded her work. Currently, she manages youth advocacy and community service campaigns, focusing on education, environmental justice, and public health programs.
When Kawanza isn't facilitating or designing sustainable solutions, she serves as National Advocacy Chair for the National Urban League Young Professionals. For wellness, she creates nutritious and delicious recipes, produces cultural content, and is a nap ministry practitioner.
CEO, Heart of Los Angeles
Originally working at HOLA from 1993 to 1995, Tony became a teacher, Athletics Director and had a career in the sports business before returning and becoming the Executive Director in 2006. Since then, Tony has led the sustainable growth of the organization’s operating budget from $2.3 million to more than $7 million annually, reaching 74% more underserved young people with high quality programs and wraparound supports. Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards to include the 2012 LA Business Journal Leadership Award, Bank of America's Local Hero award and he was named to Town & Country's Top 50 Philanthropists list in 2015. In 2017, he was awarded statewide by the James Irvine Foundation for Leadership Innovation.
Tony holds a BA from Loyola Marymount University, an MS from the University of Tennessee, and was a Stanford University Fellow in the Business School's Social Innovation Program for Non-Profit Leaders. Since then, he served on an Advisory Board for Scripps College and was also President of the Dean’s Board of Advisors at the University of Tennessee. For his exemplary service, Tony has been named as a Distinguished Alumni by both Loyola Marymount University and the University of Tennessee. Tony served on the Leadership Council for L.A.'s Promise Zone and is an appointed Commissioner of the California Senate Rules Committee as one of twelve Commissioners working at the state level to provide information and advice to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Secretary for Education, and the State Board of Education regarding state and federal policy and funding issues affecting before and after school programs. Tony is dedicated to promoting legislative and administrative policies, both state and federal, that enhance the quality and accessibility of after-school programs in California as a CA3 Advocacy Steering Committee member and he is also the Advisory Board Chair for LA's very first after school Intermediary, Expand LA.
Assemblymember, California State Assembly, District 54
Isaac Bryan was elected in May 2021 to represent California's 54th Assembly District, which consists of Baldwin Hills, Cheviot Hills, the Crenshaw district, Century City, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Mar Vista, Palms, Rancho Park, Westwood and parts of South Los Angeles and Inglewood.
Prior to his election to the Assembly, Isaac served as the founding Director of the UCLA Black Policy Project – a think tank dedicated to advancing racial equity through rigorous policy analysis – served as the first Director of Public Policy at the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center, as well as Director of Organizing for the nationally recognized Million Dollar Hoods project, a community-based participatory research project.
Isaac also co-chaired the successful Measure J campaign in Los Angeles County, a ballot measure that allocated hundreds of millions of dollars a year to address racial injustice and strengthen communities. Measure J sets aside money for investment in youth development, small business support, job training, alternatives to incarceration, affordable housing, community mental health and substance abuse treatment, and other systems of care.
Isaac is a community organizer, highly regarded policy expert, and a published academic. He authored the first holistic report for the City of Los Angeles on the needs of the formerly incarcerated Angelenos, and exposed a gap in youth justice policy – research that was ultimately used by then Senator Holly J. Mitchell to advance SB439. His academic and organizing work has been at the intersection of environmental, economic, education and housing justice.
These issues aren’t just academic or policy questions – they are deeply personal. Isaac grew up in a family of fifteen, as one of nine adopted children. Several members of his family have struggled with houselessness, faced incarceration, and have struggled with substance abuse and mental health challenges.
Isaac has a Masters in Public Policy from UCLA, and lives in Los Angeles.
Founder and CEO, Kingmakers of Oakland
Chris Chatmon is CEO and Founder of Kingmakers of Oakland (KOO) an award winning nonprofit that supports school districts around the country to improve the educational and life outcomes of Black Boys.
For 10 years Chatmon served as the first Executive Director of the office of African American Male Achievement (“AAMA”) for the Oakland Unified School District (“OUSD”). The office of AAMA was the first of its kind in the country to operate within a public school district. Chatmon also served as the first Deputy Chief of Equity and Sr. Advisor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Oakland Unified School District, Oakland, CA.
Chatmon is passionate about uplifting the African-American community and has dedicated his career and life work to creating pathways of success for Black Youth within Oakland and beyond.
Chatmon has received numerous local and national awards and accolades for his work and service to Black Youth and the City of Oakland, CA.
In 2020 Chatmon was awarded Oscar Wright Lifetime Achievement Award from OUSD and Oakland,CA Mayor Libby Schaaf honored Chatmon with The City of Oakland Mayor’s Proclamation July 1st “Chris Chatmon Day”.
Education Week Magazine named Chatmon as a “Leader to Learn From” and Campaign for Black Male Achievement selected him as a “Social Innovation Accelerator” because of his commitment to improving life outcomes for all youth and especially African American males.
Prior to KOO and OUSD, Chatmon was the Principal of an alternative high school in San Francisco, and Executive Director of Urban Services at the YMCA in Oakland for over 10 years.
Chatmon started his career in education teaching history and physical education in the San Francisco Unified School District.
Chatmon earned an M.A. in Education and a secondary teaching credential in Social Science from Brown University.
Chris Chatmon is humble, a pioneer, and a visionary. He has audacious love for Black Youth and the Black Community.
Co-Director, Color Congress
Sonya Childress co-directs the Color Congress, a new national collective of majority people of color-led and serving organizations with programming aimed at centering and strengthening nonfiction storytelling by, for and about people of color. She recently served as Senior Fellow with the Perspective Fund where she advanced initiatives to move the documentary field towards equity and transparency. She spent 20 years as an impact producer at Firelight Media and Active Voice. A frequent writer, speaker and trainer in the documentary impact and culture change space, Sonya also serves on the boards of the Center for Cultural Power and The Whitman Institute, is a member of the Documentary Accountability Working Group, and was an inaugural Rockwood JustFilms Fellow.
Director, Impact Investing, TCE
Amy Chung manages The California Endowment’s $250MM commitment to Impact Investing. TCE’s Impact Investing program provides strategic capital that lifts up vulnerable and disinvested communities in California and supports a world where capital is aligned with mission and values. The Impact Investing toolkit includes Program-Related Investments and Mission-Related Investments.
Prior to joining The California Endowment, Amy held positions in impact investing across the private and nonprofit sector. She was previously the Associate Director of Capital Innovation at Living Cities and a Vice-President in Citi’s Community Capital division.
Amy holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Amy also holds an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Attorney, Berkey Williams LLP
Ms. Costa joined Berkey Williams LLP as one of the Firm’s 2017-2018 Indian Law Fellows. She is a descendent of the Sherwood Valley Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians and Round Valley Indian Tribes.
Ms. Costa earned her B.A. from the University of California, Davis, where she majored in Native American Studies. In 2017, she earned her J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, where she received her specialization in Critical Race Studies with an emphasis on Native American rights.
Ms. Costa previously clerked for the Wishtoyo Foundation and the Yurok Tribe’s Office of the Tribal Attorney. She also participated in the UCLA Tribal Legal Development Clinic working for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. As a third year law student at UCLA School of Law, Ms. Costa worked as a part-time legal extern at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute where she contributed to legal publications and policy letters. Ms. Costa is a member, and previously served as the Board President, of the California Indian Law Association, Inc. (CILA). In 2022, Ms. Costa joined the Advisory Committee of the California Truth and Healing Fund, established to provide California Native American families, communities, tribes, and organizations with resources to engage in opportunities associated with the goals of the landmark California Truth & Healing Council.
As an Associate at Berkey Williams LLP, Ms. Costa uses both her legal education and community-involvement experience to work on behalf of tribal clients in all of the firm’s practice areas, with a focus on of tribal water rights, land conservation transactions, cultural resource protection, and Indian child welfare matters.
Rani de Leon
DJ, Rani de Leon
Rani de Leon is a Los Angeles-based DJ & cultural programmer. With over 15 years of experience in events involving music, film, theater, and cultural arts, his passions in life are driven by the belief that arts & culture have a unique power in bringing people together for profound and unifying experiences.
As a DJ, he is known for his signature blend of eclectic and accessible worldly sounds, jazz textures, and ‘feel-good’ roots & soul music. He is the founder of Soul in the Park, a DJ and live music event series in Los Angeles, and he is the co-founder of Radio Afrique, a series of events focusing on music and film from Africa and the diaspora.
He is a member of LA-based web radio collective dublab, where he hosts a monthly radio show – Tizita Radio – highlighting music of nostalgia.
He is currently the Director of Performing Arts at Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC).
Vera de Vera
Program Director, Weingart Foundation
Vera is a program director at the Weingart Foundation where she manages the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program, capacity building partnerships and grantmaking in Ventura County. She also co-manages the Southern CA Youth Organizing Capacity Building Initiative. She brings more than 20 years of experience in philanthropy and nonprofit board service, combined with previous experience in government and public policy. Vera is also a former Durfee Foundation trustee and a current member of both the California Community Foundation Legacy Society, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Islander Giving Circle and Weingart Foundation Staff Giving Circle. She focuses her personal giving and time on supporting BIPOC-led arts and culture, narrative-change and power-building organizations. A native Southern Californian and first-generation college graduate, Vera’s commitment to social justice stems from her life experience as a daughter of immigrant parents from the Philippines and living in working class neighborhoods in Long Beach, Oxnard and Carson.
President and CEO, SoCal Grantmakers
Christine Essel joined SCG as President and CEO on February 1, 2013. As president, she sets the strategic direction and priorities for the organization, overseeing programming, communications, member services and public policy. Prior to joining SCG, Essel held leadership roles in the government, corporate, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, where she has shaped legislation and public and corporate policy. She brings a wealth of experience to SCG including a deep knowledge of the region and a passion for forging creative solutions to complex community challenges, along with extensive relationships and expertise in corporate philanthropy, finance, real estate development, government and community relations. For over three decades, she worked at Paramount Pictures, serving as Senior Vice President, Government and Community Affairs, a department she built from the ground up. In that role, she was responsible for the studio’s philanthropic efforts and for shaping Paramount’s civic presence while managing all political and legislative activity, corporate social responsibility and fundraising activities. During her tenure she was also responsible for overseeing in excess of $500 million in real estate development projects on the studio lot.
Most recently, she served as CEO for the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA), with an annual budget exceeding $600 million, a staff of 260 employees and 32 project areas throughout the City of Los Angeles. In response to a statewide call by the legislature, Essel's leadership helped lay a critical foundation for the dissolution of the agency, leading to a successful redistribution of resources for schools and local governments, while ensuring the completion of many crucial affordable housing projects and other developments vitally important to the economic growth of the region.
She has been named to numerous Boards and Commissions over the years, serving as chair of the California Film Commission, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, the Hollywood Community Advisory Council, Alternative Living for the Aging and Central City Association. She also served as Vice‐Chair of the California Workforce Investment Board and FilmLA and was a member of the powerful Los Angeles World Airports Commission, Grand Avenue Project Joint Powers Authority and Los Angeles Development Fund. Essel has been honored by esteemed organizations such as City of Hope, National Women’s Political Committee, Alternative Living for the Aging, Weingart Center Partners, Central City Association and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. In 2016, she received the Leader of the Year Award from the Southern California Leadership Network. She has been named to the Non‐Profit Times “Power and Influence Top 50” for the past two years (2016 and 2017).
Artistic Director, Street Poets, Inc.
Barbara Fant has been writing and performing for over 15 years. She competed in 9 National Poetry Slam competitions, and she is a World Poetry Slam finalist. She is the author of two poetry collections, Paint, Inside Out (2010) and Mouths of Garden (2022). Her work has been featured by Button Poetry and Def Poetry Jam, and has been published in the Academy of American Poets and Electric Literature, amongst others. She has received residencies from Idyllwild Arts in Idyllwild, California and Connect Arts in Havana, Cuba. For over 10 years, she had led healing-informed poetry workshops for both youth and adults who are incarcerated, those in community, adults in recovery, and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. She holds a B.A. from Ohio Dominican University, an M.F.A. from Antioch University Los Angeles, and a Master of Theology from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. She is the founder of the Black Women Rise Poetry Collective and co-founder of The Senghor Project, West African International Artist Residency. Currently, she serves as the Artistic Director for Street Poets, Inc. in Los Angeles, CA.
Senior Program Officer, Homelessness, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Seyron Foo leads the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s programmatic and advocacy goals on realizing a Los Angeles where homelessness can and should be rare, brief and non-reoccurring. Previously, he served as senior advocacy officer for the Foundation, managing advocacy strategies for the Homelessness, Foster Youth, and Opportunity Youth Initiatives. Prior to the Foundation, Seyron oversaw public policy and government relations at Southern California Grantmakers and Philanthropy California, where he led initiatives that strengthened philanthropy’s partnerships with state and local governments. He has experience in various government sectors, including the California Senate Majority Leader’s Office and the City of Long Beach.
In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom re-appointed Seyron to the California Board of Psychology, a state board that protects consumers of
psychological services by
regulating the practice of
psychology, and supporting
the evolution of the
profession. He served two terms as Board President, the first public member to do so in more than a decade. He earned his master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs and his bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and political science from the University of California, Berkeley.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Liberty Hill Foundation
Shane Murphy Goldsmith is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Hill Foundation. Goldsmith previously served as Liberty Hill's Vice President and Chief Program Officer. Prior to joining Liberty Hill, she was the Executive Director of PATH Ventures, an affordable housing development agency. Before that, Goldsmith served as a Senior Advisor to then-City Council President Eric Garcetti, overseeing a variety of field and legislative projects, including housing, economic development, the city budget, public safety, and LGBTQ issues. She currently sits on the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners and is the co-chair of the California Executive Alliance for Boys and Men of Color So-Cal Region. Goldsmith is on the Steering Committee of Hope and Heal: The Fund to Stop Gun Violence in California. She also sits on the Board of People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) and the selection panel for the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship.
Director of Arts Education, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture
Denise Grande is Director of Arts Education at the LA County Department of Arts and Culture, where she oversees the Los Angeles County Arts Education Collective, a regional initiative dedicated to making the arts a core part of every child’s growth and development. This work involves promoting a common agenda, developing strategies for systems-change, and shepherding a coalition that engages over 100 arts organizations, 74 school districts, 5 charter school networks, nearly a dozen government agencies, and an active Funders Council. Previously, Ms. Grande was Director of Programs and Strategic Partnerships for the Metropolitan Opera Guild at Lincoln Center in New York, annually serving 160 schools across 7 states. During her 20 years at The Music Center in Los Angeles, she played a leadership role in arts education program design, implementation, research and evaluation. Ms. Grande received her BA from UCLA in dance and was a Coro Fellow through the California Arts Council’s Arts Leadership Fellow Program.
President's Professor, Loyola Marymount University
Dr. Cheryl Tawede Grills is a Clinical Psychologist with a current emphasis in Community Psychology. On the faculty of Loyola Marymount University (LMU) for the past 35 years, she is a Professor of Psychology, Director of their Psychology Applied Research Center, and President’s Professor in the College of Liberal Arts. She is the Founder and Executive Director of a non-profit organization, Imoyase Community Support Services, dedicated to program evaluation, action research, and technical assistance with community-based organizations focused on social justice, community organizing, and community-defined interventions.
Dr. Grills is a national Past President of The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) and serves as one of the lead trainers in the Community Healing Network/ABPsi partnership on the Emotional Emancipation initiative. She currently serves on the CA Reparations Taskforce, appointed by the Governor of CA and on the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC). Dr. Grills also serves as a Commissioner and Chair of Los Angeles County’s Sybil Brand Commission for Institutional Inspections, which focuses on conditions and practices within county jails and correctional facilities. Most recently, Dr. Grills was appointed to the Governing Council of the Global Pan African Movement and is member of the International Planning Committee of the 8th Pan African Congress to be held in Uganda in early 2024.Dr. Grills is a research principal investigator on several multi-site projects addressing mental health disparities, social determinants of health, positive youth development, and COVID’s impact on communities of color nationally. An important part of her work is in the area of racial stress focusing on research and training associated with racism, racial stress, implicit bias, and the development of community-based self-help models to address the negative effects of racism on people of African ancestry in the US and globally.
Consultant, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
Daniel Heimpel is an award-winning journalist, philanthropy expert and educator. He is currently the executive editor of The Giving List, a high-end magazine and website that connects vetted nonprofits with high-capacity donors.
He also serves as a consultant to the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation.
Prior to joining the Giving List, Heimpel founded and led Fostering Media Connections, a national journalism nonprofit focused on children, youth and families. He has both written and produced stories for Newsweek, The San Francisco Chronicle, CNN and the Oprah Winfrey Network among many others, winning numerous journalism prizes along the way.
He is also a pioneer in journalism education, with his Journalism for Social Change class having reached hundreds of graduate students at U.C. Berkeley, USC and UPenn, and thousands globally as a massive open online course offered through edX.
Executive Director, LA County Commission for Children and Families and Lead, SCG Child and Family Well-Being Funders Collaborative
Dr. Tamara N. Hunter has worked to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families for nearly two decades. She is the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families, an advisory body to the County’s Board of Supervisors on matters involving child welfare and juvenile justice-impacted children, youth, and families. Dr. Hunter, a macro practitioner, has extensive experience and expertise in public child welfare; having designed, implemented, and managed programs; administered internal operations; and led cross-sector collaborative teams. She has published, presented, and lectured on these topics.
Dr. Hunter also leads the Southern California Grantmakers + Los Angeles County Child and Family Well-Being Funders Collaborative, which brings together philanthropy and the public sector in support of systems-level collective impact to advance child and family well-being.
She holds a doctorate in social work from the University of Southern California, and lives with her wonderful husband and three ragdoll cats.
Deputy Director, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement
Felicia Jones is the Associate Director & Chief Strategist with Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE) in San Bernardino, CA. In this role, she supports the organizations multi-issue racial and social justice organizing through campaign strategy, coalition building, policy advocacy, and grassroots leadership development. She has spearheaded and facilitated multiple collective impact efforts bringing community and institutions together to advance racial equity through creation of new institutional policies, practices, and investments in racial equity.
She currently serves as a co-chair of the Inland Empire Black Equity Initiative, is a regional coalition of Black-led organizations developing a shared agenda for policy and systems change to uplift black people and communities across the Inland Empire. As a co-chair, she also helped to establish the Black Equity Fund, a pooled fund effort and partnership between the IE-BEI and the Inland Empire Funders Alliance to strengthen and scale Black-led and empowering organizations’ sustainability and capacity to lead systems change work. She is also a founding member of Building Leaders and Cultivating Change (B.L.A.C.C.), a giving circle of grassroots donors who direct their gifts to support black led community organizations working on the frontlines of racial justice. Felicia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts from Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles, California.
Program Director, California Wellness Foundation
Karren Lane is program director for the Leading Power for Change portfolio. She comes to Cal Wellness from the Weingart Foundation, where she held the role of program director. In her time with the Weingart Foundation, she co-designed and launched their $4.25 million, multi-year Youth Organizing Capacity Building Initiative. She also led the foundation’s grantmaking strategies in South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles, while working to increase investments in youth organizing, leaders of color and economic inclusion in Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Prior to her role at the Weingart Foundation, Lane was the vice president of policy at the Community Coalition in South LA where she specialized in developing policies and strategies to improve education, child welfare and criminal justice reform. She received her BA from UCLA, a master’s degree from Columbia University and a law degree from the Southwestern University School of Law.
Educator, California Truth and Healing
Chag is of Yurok, Maidu, and Achumawi Indigenous ancestry from northern California. He is the author of the World War One graphic novel Soldiers Unknown and recently directed a short film on the Wiyot artist Rick Bartow. Chag managed the Native Cultures Fund, a program of the Humboldt Area Foundation, for ten years and raised several million dollars in support of the Fund's mission. He works for UC San Diego and just presented at the SD Comic-Con about Indigenous art, history, and comic books. He is a member of the CA Truth and Healing funding committee.
Communications Director, RadComms / M4BL
Shanelle Matthews collaborates with social justice activists, organizations, and campaigns to inspire action and build narrative power for social justice and liberation. She is the communications director for the Movement for Black Lives, founder of Radical Communicators Network (RadComms), and faculty of Resistance Narratives at The New School. She is co-editor of a forthcoming anthology that details world-building narrative campaigns and strategies led by social movement communications workers in the 21st century.
Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Woman of La luna Studio
Luna has taught at various studios including in Los Angeles, Ghana & Mexico. She also teaches online & owns her own yoga studio, Women of La Luna Studio. She offers kundalini yoga classes, meditation gatherings, healing circles and sound bath alchemy. Luna focuses on providing a space that helps students connect their breath, their spirit, their ancestors and their inner wisdom through traditional Kundalini Yoga & Meditation.
Vice Chairman, Yurok Tribe
Frankie Myers is the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe the largest Federally recognized tribe in California, cultural practioner and traditional fishermen. He is the youngest Vice Chairperson ever elected and the only Vice Chairman ever elected to consecutive terms. The Tribe has seen the largest growth period in it history under his administration. Mr. Myers has been a lifelong advocate for his culture and has helped lead the effort to undertake the nations largest salmon restoration project to Undam the Klamath River. He has been a leader in the tribe to restore the balance back to their traditional landscape including the return of Cultural Burning, reintroduction of the California Condor and acquisition of 50,000 acres of traditional ancestral territory. Under their current administration the Tribe has also seen an amazing growth in their economic development including the creation of three additional corporations that have help provide living wage jobs, discretionary revenue back to the tribe and support food sovereignty on the reservation. Frankie Myers is also a Councilmember for the California Truth and Healing Council that looks to rewrite the history of California to tell the true and accurate story from the indigenous perspective. Pushing for policy and funding to continue the path to healing and addressing the Murdered and Missing Indigenous People epidemic has been at the forefront of his work on the Tribal Council.
Director of Research, Center for Public Interest Communications
Annie Neimand, Ph.D., works with social change organizations, scientists, storytellers and activists to apply the science of how people think and act to storytelling and communication strategy. She translates insights from behavioral, cognitive and social science for social impact campaigns. She works with organizations to experiment with and innovate campaign strategy.
Annie designs, manages and leads research projects for organizations all over the world. Insights from these studies inform strategies, campaigns and interventions for social change. Annie also coaches narrative change practioners in designing research projects and frameworks with an intersectional, science-driven approach to help guide their strategy and thought leadership.
Organizations include the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Participant, National Geographic Society, Define American, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The White House Office of Technology and Science Policy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Radical Communicators Network, Spitfire, Burness, CADCA, and Animal Outlook. Annie's work is regularly featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Currently, Annie is exploring the science of narrative change, measurement and evaluation for learning, how to build movement networks and methods to integrate systems thinking and human-centered design for behavior change strategy.
Annie has her PhD in Sociology, with expertise in social movements, social psychology, strategic communications, storytelling and intersectionality. She is a trained qualitative researcher with experience in designing and leading qualitative and mixed methods projects for organizations all over the world.
Senior Vice President of Research Interpretation, FrameWorks Institute
Moira O’Neil serves as Senior Vice President of Research Interpretation at the FrameWorks Institute. In this role, she leads FrameWorks’ efforts to interpret and share communications science with the nonprofit sector so it can more effectively drive social change. Moira manages a team of communications professionals and social scientists who help fields of practice frame social issues in ways that have the proven power to deepen understanding and inspire action. A sociologist with expertise in how frames impede or advance social movements, Moira has helped hundreds of organizations strengthen their communications capacity. Moira joined FrameWorks more than a decade ago. Since then, she has conducted framing research around dozens of social issues and has led major projects to reframe the public discourse around immigration, race, and criminal justice. She also brings deep expertise in issues related to sexual violence, equity, and equality. Prior to joining FrameWorks, Moira worked as a research associate for the Vera Institute of Justice on projects related to immigration policy and at the Institute for Scientific Analysis on issues related to substance misuse and drug policy.
Founder & Chief Architect, Social Good Solutions / Black Equity Collective
Kaci Patterson brings over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Always with an eye toward human and community development, Kaci works with philanthropic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and public entities to design, operationalize and manage strategic racial justice initiatives from concept to implementation.
Prior to consulting, Kaci held entry-to-executive-level roles within the nonprofit sector, leading capacity building, education advocacy, and social justice initiatives where she facilitated networks of organizations and served over 1,000 civil society leaders and public officials worldwide. In addition to managing multi-million-dollar grant-making portfolios in the United States and abroad, Kaci has created programs recognized as breakthrough contributions in her field: the School Boards and Community Engagement Initiative (2011), B.L.A.C.C. (Building Leaders and Cultivating Change), a grassroots social activism fund (2014), and the Black Equity Initiative/Black Equity Collective (2017/2021). She has received several community and philanthropic awards for her work and was selected into the 2019 inaugural class of The Aspen Institute Civil Society Fellowship.
She has served as the Chief Strategist of the Black Equity Initiative since its inception in 2017, a racial justice philanthropic initiative she designed, and now serves as the Founder and Chief Architect of the Black Equity Collective, which launched in 2021 under her leadership. Kaci also leads the philanthropic engagement efforts of the AAIMM Prevention Initiative in her role as Senior Director for the LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment and as a Strategic Liaison for the Center for Strategic Partnerships. Kaci sits on the board of Social Justice Partners—Los Angeles, Tides Advocacy, and is a state commissioner in the Department of Consumer Affairs. She is a certified mediator, a graduate of Pepperdine, and holds an MBA in Organizational Management & Leadership from the University of LaVerne.
Executive Director, For Freedoms
Claudia Peña is an artist and serves as the Executive Director of For Freedoms which is an artist collective that centers art and creativity as a catalyst for transformative connection and collective liberation. By wielding the power of art, For Freedoms aims to deepen and expand our capacity to interrogate what is, and imagine what could be. She is on faculty at UCLA School of Law and in the Gender Studies department. She is the founding co-director of the Center for Justice at UCLA which works to dismantle the prison industrial complex and racialized mass incarceration by expanding higher education, facilitating creative spaces, transformative practices, and movement building on university campuses, in system-impacted communities and correctional facilities. Claudia is the Co-Founder of Repair, a Los Angeles-based organization focused on the health and the disabling effects of inequity, violence, exploitation. Prior to that, Claudia was the Statewide Director of the California Civil Rights Coalition (CCRC) for over five years. While there, she focused on racial justice, gender equity, voting rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, equal opportunity, progressive taxation, policies, housing rights and coordinating ballot initiative efforts. She was previously Equal Justice Society’s Judge Constance Baker Motley Civil Rights Fellow where she researched and presented on issues of implicit bias and equal protection.
CEO, Unleashing Giants Studios
Emil Pinnock is an American film director, producer, writer, and actor from Harlem, New York, whom has been active in the film industry over 20 years. Having acted since a youth his on screen credits started with a recurring role on the PBS national program Reading Rainbow and extended to acting roles in major motion pictures Sixth Man and Beloved. Other credits include Gridiron Gang Starring The Rock and NBC' s series E-Ring. As a writer -director Pinnock has led over 10 projects including his breakout project, Up North (an original series), having premiered at SeriesFest and breaking records winning best actor, director, drama and the most coveted audience award. He along with his production company, Unleashing Giants Studios, now have production deals at Blumhouse Productions, and Entertainment Studios, with projects in development at Radar Pictures, Atmosphere Entertainment, and Abigal Disney’s Level Forward. He has recently have been tapped to write the original stories for The Negro Baseball League, FUBU founder Daymond John, and the origin story of legendary lyricist Biggie Smalls, which are all currently in development.
Interim Co-Executive Director and Chief Impact Officer, Ecotrust
Olivia M. Rebanal is an interim co-Executive Director and Chief Impact Officer of Ecotrust, a Portland-based nonprofit that works from Alaska through Northern California. Olivia leads work across Ecotrust’s key program areas—food and agriculture, fisheries and coastal communities, forestry and ecosystem services, social finance, and green workforce development — and implements systems-scale solutions that advance economic opportunity, environmental stewardship, and racial equity.
Previously, Olivia was Director of Inclusive Food Systems at Capital Impact Partners (CIP), a CDFI that has deployed over $2.7 billion to serve 5 million people in our communities’ critical sectors: health care, education, elder communities, healthy food, cooperatives and affordable housing. Olivia managed the strategy, initiatives and partnerships related to CIP’s work in building equitable food systems through innovative programs like the $30 million Michigan Good Food Fund, an ecosystem of support designed to increase access to affordable healthy food and create opportunities within the food economy, especially for those who are historically excluded. Olivia also oversaw the development and implementation of the organization-wide social justice strategy at Capital Impact Partners, a multi-year effort to strategically embed equity and justice into all facets of the organization’s work.
Olivia has also served as Director at National Development Council, launching and managing regional small business loan programs for the Grow America Fund, whose strategy is to cultivate community wealth through business ownership and entrepreneurship, particularly in communities of color.
Olivia has over 20 years of leadership in community development & social finance, including over a decade of underwriting experience, with emphasis on entrepreneurs of color. Olivia holds an AB in Bio-Medical Ethics from Brown University and MPA in Public Finance from NYU's Wagner School of Public Service.
President, Color Of Change
Rashad Robinson is President of Color Of Change, a racial justice organization with more than 7 million members who demonstrate the power of Black communities every single day. Under
Rashad’s leadership, Color Of Change led the $7 billion advertiser boycott of Facebook, changed how crime, policing and race are represented on TV, won net neutrality as a civil rights issue, and devised innovative strategies to hold decision-makers accountable to Black communities — from local prosecutors to multinational corporations. Rashad’s analysis,
advocacy and activism are featured frequently in a wide range of major media and community media, and he also regularly serves as a keynote speaker at events across the country. He testified to Congress about regulating Big Tech, and about ensuring racial equity in banking,
housing and education, and was Co-Chair of the Aspen Commission on Information Disorder.
Director, LA County Department of Arts and Culture
Kristin McDonald Sakoda Esq. is Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, a local arts agency with a mission of advancing arts, culture, and creativity throughout the largest county in the U.S. The Department of Arts and Culture provides grants and technical assistance to hundreds of nonprofit organizations; runs the largest arts internship program in the nation; coordinates countywide public-private arts education initiatives; increases access to creative career pathways; commissions civic artwork; supports free community programs; implements the LA County Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative; and advances cross-sector cultural strategies to address civic issues. Appointed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Ms. Sakoda previously served as Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and led the organization during its historic transition into the County’s first Department of Arts and Culture.
Ms. Sakoda is an arts executive, attorney, and performing artist with over 25 years in the field. She has appeared as a speaker around the world and performed on national and international stages including with dance and social justice company Urban Bush Women and in musicals Rent and Mamma Mia! on Broadway. Prior to her work at the Department, she previously served in leadership roles at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs overseeing a portfolio of strategic, programmatic, policy, legislative, and funding programs with a $200m annual budget, and was instrumental in advancing diversity and inclusion; public art; creative aging; cultural facilities and affordable workspace for artists. She holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law with honors in Entertainment Law and B.A. from Stanford University with a specialization in Race and Ethnicity and a secondary major in Feminist Studies. She is a Board member of Grantmakers in the Arts, the national association of public and private arts funders in the U.S.
Shaady Salehi is a strategist, facilitator, and network builder who has been working in the nonprofit sector for nearly two decades. She currently serves as the executive director of the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, a learning and advocacy initiative to advance more equitable and power-conscious practices in philanthropy. Her career in the nonprofit sector has spanned many roles -- from department head, to executive director, to board member, to consultant -- and her main body of work has centered on using film, media, and strategic communications to advance social change.
Executive Director, Gente Organizada
Jesus Sanchez. He/him/his from Pomona, CA. Executive Director and co-founder of Gente Organizada.
Director of Field and Funder Learning, Pop Culture Collaborative
Nayantara Sen is a Bengali immigrant, a trilingual storyteller and fiction writer, a narrative and cultural strategist, and a social justice educator. She is the Director of Field and Funder Learning at the Pop Culture Collaborative, the Lead Designer and Narrative Strategist for the Butterfly Lab for Immigrant Narrative Strategy, and the previous Director of Narrative and Cultural Strategies at Race Forward. At the Collaborative, she supports learning immersions for field members and funders, advises on narrative programs, and incubates two emerging projects – Culture Change U (a training and learning institute) and Project Azaadi (a national network of narrative and cultural strategists and practitioners).
For the last 15 years, Nayantara has worked at the intersections of arts and culture, narrative and story-based strategy, racial and gender justice, immigration, movement strategies and equity-building for arts institutions. Nayantara is a recovering arts administrator who has previously held staff, curatorial and consulting roles in museums, film festivals, theatre and community-based arts organizations. Her artistic background is in oral history, creative fiction writing and Theatre of Oppressed.
She was the Lead Designer of the NYC Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab, which equipped 60 NYC arts-producing organizations and museums with strategies for racial and cultural justice. She is the author of Creating Cultures and Practices for Racial Equity: A Toolbox for Arts and Cultural Organizations, the widely taught Cultural Strategy Primer, and the Storyline Partners’ Stories for Change toolkit. At the Pop Culture Collaborative, Nayantara works closely with arts and social justice philanthropy to advance learning and action on narrative strategies. She also partners with a wide range of arts organizations such as the Constellations Fund at the Center for Cultural Power, Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts-NY, and the San Jose Museum of Art.
Erika Seth Davies
Founder, The Racial Equity Asset Lab
Erika Seth Davies is the Founder of The Racial Equity Asset Lab (The REAL), a venture that centers racial equity in impact investing and works to shift capital to address the persistent racial wealth gap. Erika is the CEO of Rhia Ventures, which aims to transform the U.S. market for sexual, reproductive, and maternal health into a vibrant and equitable one through its impact investing, ecosystem building, corporate engagement, and narrative change work. She is a seasoned leader with more than 20 years of experience in development and fundraising, program design, collaboration and partnership management, and racial equity advocacy. She previously served as Vice President of External Affairs at ABFE (Association of Black Foundation Executives) where she designed the SMART Investing Initiative, a field-wide effort to encourage foundations to incorporate a racial equity lens in endowment management practices through increased access for racially diverse- and women-owned investment management firms.
Erika is a Social Entrepreneur in Residence with Common Future and a former Fellow, Equitable Access to Capital Markets in the Fair Finance portfolio of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University. She was a member of the inaugural class of the ABFE Connecting Leaders Fellowship program, a recipient of the NYU Wagner School of Public Service IGNITE Fellowship for Women of Color in the Social Sector, and a member of the class of 2017 for Executive Leadership Institute of CFLeads.
Erika most recently was the Associate Director of Philanthropy at McDonogh School and previously served as the Chief of Staff of the Baltimore Community Foundation. She enjoys volunteering and serves as a member of the boards of Impact Hub Baltimore, Baltimore Algebra Project, and the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund. Her most significant role is that of mother to Ethan and Evelyn.
Tribal Affairs Secretary, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom
Christina Snider serves as Tribal Affairs Secretary to Governor Gavin Newsom and leads the Governor’s Office of Tribal Affairs established within the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom on July 1, 2022. Snider was appointed February 19, 2019 by Governor Newsom to continue her service in the Governor’s Office following her appointment on February 6, 2018 by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. On July 1, 2020, Snider has also previously served as Executive Secretary of the California Native American Heritage Commission, appointed by Governors Newsom and Brown. She is an enrolled member of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians.
As a member of the Cabinet, Secretary Snider serves as the Governor’s Tribal Advisor and oversees effective government-to-government consultation between the Governor’s Administration and California tribes; informs, develops and implements policy directives related to tribal governments and Native American communities; leads the California Truth & Healing Council and California Indian Heritage Center Task Force and oversees the Tribal Nation Grant Fund Program.
In addition to her duties leading the Governor’s Office of Tribal Affairs, Secretary Snider serves as a member of the California Broadband Council, the Judicial Council Tribal Court-State Court Forum and an ex officio member of the California Advisory Committee on Geographic Names.
Christina received her law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2013 and is licensed to practice law in California and the District of Columbia. She has extensive experience in tribal law and policy, having worked with the United States Department of Justice Office of Tribal Justice, the National Congress of American Indians, the California Native American Heritage Commission, and several tribal governments and organizations across the nation. Christina received her Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Chief of Narrative & Culture Change, Caring Across Generations
Ishita Srivastava is a cultural strategist and producer who believes in the power of storytelling and pop culture to move hearts and minds and transform social norms to create lasting social change. With a decade of experience working at the intersection of social change movements, media, and pop culture, Ishita came to lead the narrative and culture change strategy work at Caring Across Generations in 2017. She previously worked at Breakthrough, a global human rights organization where she produced digital campaigns and projects spotlighting immigrant rights, racial justice, and gender justice, most notably THE G WORD, an interactive storytelling platform about people’s personal stories about gender norms and gender-based violence. In producing innovative projects that inspire and move people, she has brokered and managed partnerships with multiple organizations, in the U.S. and internationally, as well as artists, storytellers, and strategists from the worlds of advertising and entertainment.
Born and raised in New Delhi, she holds a BA in English literature from St. Stephens College (Delhi), a BA in media and communications from Goldsmiths College (London), and an MA in cinema studies and culture and media from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her thesis documentary film, Desigirls, examined the intersection of gender, sexuality and immigrant culture as it follows two women as they negotiate their varied and often fraught experiences as queer Indian women in New York City. Ishita, famously, does not like sweets.
Yogi + Host, Can I Get a Sat Nam Podcast
Sacha Taylor is a yoga teacher, podcast host and business consultant. She has taught yoga and meditation since 2013 and has worked with students from ages 3 to 90+. She is passionate about helping folks incorporate mindfulness into their daily routines to decrease stress and increase joy.
Veronica Terriquez directs the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and holds faculty appointments in the Urban Planning and Chicana/o and Central American Studies Departments. She received her doctorate in sociology from UCLA, a master’s in education from UC Berkeley, and her bachelor’s in sociology from Harvard University. Often taking an intersectional approach, her research focuses on social inequality, immigrant incorporation, and transitions to adulthood. She is interested in understanding how institutional policies and practices can be responsive to the needs of low-income immigrant, Black, and Indigenous communities. She has published widely in journals and disseminated research in collaboration with schools, unions, community organizers and local governments. Terriquez’s research is geared toward policy relevance
Yalda T. Uhls
Founder and Executive Director, Center for Scholars & Storytellers
Yalda T. Uhls, a former senior exec at MGM and Sony, left the movie world to study child development, earning a Ph.D. in Psychology at UCLA. Uhls recently
founded the Center for Scholars & Storytellers, an organization dedicated to bridging the work of child development researchers and youth content creators. Uhls is also an assistant adjunct professor at UCLA where she does research on how media affect the social behavior of tweens and teens and teaches a class on Digital Media and Human Development; she is an advisor for Common Sense Media, YouTube Kids and Family, Barbie, and the Jacobs Foundations Learning and Science Exchange; and is the author of the parenting book Media Moms & Digital Dads: A Fact not Fear Approach to Parenting in the Digital Age. Research conducted by Dr. Uhls has been featured in Time Magazine, The NY Times, USA Today, NPR and many others, and published in academic journals such as Developmental Psychology and Computers in Human Behavior.
Capacity Building Director, Youth Organizing California (YO! Cali)
Ashley Uyeda, she/they, is a 4th generation mixed race Japanese American, queer womxn of color. She brings over 15 years of experience in grassroots youth organizing for racial, economic, and gender justice. Her foundation in BIPOC youth organizing comes from her work with SoCal for Youth, a multi-racial network of youth organizations in Los Angeles that built the capacity and power of youth organizing regionally across communities and issues, and Khmer Girls in Action where she started as a youth organizer and eventually served as their Organizing Director. At KGA, she led base-building & leadership development efforts, developed the strategic vision and direction of local and regional campaigns, led GOTV efforts, and focused campaign work on School Based Wellness Center, Anti-Deportation efforts, educational justice, young women’s health access and reproductive justice. Currenthly, as the Capacity Building Director at YO! Cali, she launched and facilitates the Emerging Organizers Fellowship to strengthen the pathway for youth organizers in the field, and provides strategic direction for their capacity building efforts to support BIPOC youth and organizations across California to build power, transform & heal communities. In her spare time, Ashley loves being a plant & fur parents, enjoys hanging out with her niece, baking, collecting & making earrings, and being near or in bodies of water.
Tracy van Slyke
Chief Strategy Officer, Pop Culture Collaborative
Through her work on media and movement building for the last 17 years, Tracy has worked with a cross-sector of content producers, social justice organizers and philanthropic leaders to help
them develop the profound storytelling and audiences experiences that can catalyze mass audiences for social change.
Working with Executive Director Bridgit Antoinette Evans on the Collaborative’s leadership team, Tracy co-anchors the organizational strategy development and implementation. In addition, she leads in specific program areas including grantmaking (including artist-led pipelines, narrative infrastructure and power building, pop culture for social change field building) and communications, learning and evaluation (including learning and community building for philanthropic peers).
Previously, she was the director of the Culture Lab, which through rapid prototyping methodology, built programs and products to help social justice leaders quickly adopt and advance their ability to use pop culture strategies and storytelling to create a just and equitable world.
As a fellow at the Opportunity Agenda, she authored the groundbreaking 2014 report “Spoiler Alert: How Progressives Will Break Through With Pop Culture.” Before founding the Culture Lab, she was the co-director of the New Bottom Line, a national alignment of economic justice grassroots organizations; was director of The Media Consortium, a network of the leading independent media outlets in the country working to increase their collective impact; and publisher of In These Times, a national award winning political magazine. She is the co-author of the book Beyond The Echo Chamber (New Press, 2010) and her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, Politico, Medium and more. She has been on the boards of National People’s Action and served as president for Free Speech TV and Women, Action and the Media.
Beatriz (Bia) Vieira
Chief Strategist, Women's Foundation California
As the Women’s Foundation California’s Chief Strategist, Bia Vieira leads the Culture Change Fund, a $10+ Million national fund using culture change strategies to accelerate new ways of addressing gender, racial and economic justice issues.
Bia is a queer organizer, producer, strategist, political and cultural activist with over 20 years of leadership experience ranging from the philanthropic to the nonprofit sector. Her life work centers around advocating for a more just and safe world where power and possibility are not limited by gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, or any other factor.
CEO and Co-Founder, Treehouse
Prophet Walker, Co-Founder and CEO of Treehouse, grew up in South LA, where amidst poverty, violence, and homelessness in his neighborhood, community was always at its core.
Prophet is deeply involved with both criminal justice and education reform and serves on multiple non-profit and civic boards. In 2014, Prophet ran for the California State Assembly, coming in second. This passion for reform was triggered by his personal experience of being incarcerated at 16 and sentenced to spend 6 years within an adult prison. While incarcerated, he started a state-wide program that allowed inmates to earn a two-year college degree, and today thousands of inmates participate in the program. Prophet was one of the program’s first graduates to come home and attended Loyola Marymount University where he received a degree in Civil Engineering. In 2015 President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama invited Prophet to attend the State of the Union to honor his efforts to reform our criminal justice system and for his commitment to our children.
Prophet’s experiences surrounding community strength and human connectedness inspired him to create Treehouse, recognizing the power of community in proximity and shared humanity. Prophet leads the company day to day, with a focus on acquisitions research, property selection and investor relations. Prophet enjoys spending his free time with his daughter and friends.
Co-Founder, For Freedoms
Michelle Woo is a cultural producer and artist based in Los Angeles. She is a Co-Founder of For Freedoms, an artist-run organization that models creative civic engagement for which she received a 2017 ICP Infinity Award. Her diverse role includes creative strategy and oversight of national campaigns, public art, exhibitions and programming. She also advises individual artists on studio operations and business management. In addition, she has produced photo shoots for NBC Universal, TIME, GQ and New York Times Magazine.