Sky Allen is the Executive Director for IE United, a collective impact table of community leaders and agents in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Born, raised, and educated in the Inland Empire, Sky strives to uplift communities to advocate for what they need by challenging institutions and chipping away at structural issues at the local level. Prior to serving as Executive Director, Sky was the Program Director, where she fostered relationships with local community based organizations, statewide non-profit organizations, local government officials, and other regional stakeholders in order to bolster civic engagement and strengthen civic infrastructure. She led programs such as IE United's 2021 redistricting work and the organization's 2020 Census campaign. Sky first began serving the IE community as a fellow with the Warehouse Worker Resource Center after graduating from UC Riverside with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. She is currently a graduate student in the Master of Public Policy program at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
Alex Alpharaoh is a Guatemalan born, formerly undocumented citizen who immigrated to the U.S when he was 3 months old with his mother who was a 15 year old unaccompanied minor. He was raised as an undocumented citizen and had no path to citizenship until 2012 DACA was announced. Growing up without legal documents in the U.S. never stopped him from DREAMing, learning, and creating his own narratives.
In spite of his immigration status, Alex is an artivist, teaching artist, actor, and writer whose work is centered around uplifting and changing narratives about underserved and disenfranchised communities, which include the undocumented community.
As an actor, Alex has toured the U.S. with his solo biographical show titled WET: A DACAmented Journey, which earned him the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award for best solo performance, as well as recognition by the Mayor of Los Angeles in 2022.
As a writer, his stories, poems, and spoken word narratives address issues pertaining to race, class, immigration, assimilation, family, love, and Los Angeles. As playwright, Alex has written plays that make the "classics" accesible such as his own take writings by Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, and Anton Chekov.
As a teaching Artist, Alex hosts a series of acting workshops with formerly incarcerated folx that wish to enter the entertainment industry through film and television. He also works with organizations that teach acting and writing at various correctional facilities throughout California. Lastly, Alex teaches poetry and spoken word to public school students that range from ages 11-18 throughout various public school systems in southern California.
CEO, Funders Together to End Homelessness
Amanda Misiko Andere has spent over twenty years working in the nonprofit and public sector as a leader committed to racial and housing justice through advocacy for systemic change. Prior to joining Funders Together to End Homelessness as their CEO, she served as the CEO of Wider Opportunities for Women, a national advocacy organization. Currently, she serves as board chair of the United Philanthropy Forum and board member of Equity in the Center, The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, and Leadership Fairfax. Amanda is a founding member and on the leadership team for the National Racial Equity Working Group on Homelessness and Housing and the National Coalition for Housing Justice. She also serves on the Leadership Council for the DC Partnership to End Homelessness and is a volunteer advisor for Fairfax County on their racial equity task force.
Mayor, City of Los Angeles
Karen Bass is the 43rd Mayor of Los Angeles and the first woman and second African American to be elected as the city's chief executive. With an agenda focused on bringing urgency, accountability, and a new direction to Los Angeles, she will start her term with a focus on housing people immediately and increasing safety and opportunity in every part of Los Angeles.
A daughter of our city, Mayor Bass was raised with her three brothers in the Venice/Fairfax neighborhood and is a proud graduate of Hamilton High School. After serving as a front-line healthcare provider as a nurse and as a Physician Assistant, Mayor Bass founded the Community Coalition to organize the predominantly Black and Latino residents of South L.A. against substance abuse, poverty and crime, and to pioneer strategies to address the root causes behind the challenges faced by underserved neighborhoods.
She then went on to represent Los Angeles in the State Assembly and was elected by her peers to serve as Speaker, making her the first African American woman to ever lead a state legislative body in the history of the United States. Her time in leadership intersected with the Great Recession, and she was honored with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for reaching across party lines and making tough decisions to keep the state from bankruptcy while protecting vital services.
While representing Los Angeles and Culver City in Congress, Mayor Bass helped protect small businesses during the pandemic, created policy to drive local jobs from federal infrastructure funding, and led the passage of what the Los Angeles Times called “the most significant child welfare policy reform in decades.”
Mayor Bass earned her bachelor's degree in health sciences from CSU Dominguez Hills before graduating from the USC Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program and earning her masters degree in social work from USC.
Mayor Bass’s oldest daughter Emilia planned to follow in her mother’s footsteps working for social change. The Mayor continues to be inspired by Emilia and her son-in-law Michael’s passion for life. She has three other children, Scythia, Omar and Yvette, and two grandchildren, Michael and Henry, who live in the Los Angeles area.
Sr. Associate Director, Power California
Saa’un Bell is Sr. Associate Director at Power California. She leads political, policy, and narrative strategy to build the political power of young voters of color. Her work includes expanding the vote to 16, building a bench of underrepresented gen z and millennial leaders to run for local and statewide political office, and redefining democracy and civic engagement in California. Previously, Saa’un organized Black and Brown youth and community college students to transform California’s education system at Californians for Justice for 11 years. Her organizing, strategy, and writing are deeply rooted in Eastside Long Beach, her Working Class, Black Southern, and rural Filipino Immigrant roots.
Executive Director, Crenshaw Dairy Mart
Ashley Blakeney (she/her/hers) is a Los Angeles, CA/New Haven, CT-based arts healing facilitator, and program management professional. With a specific love for photography, expressive writing, and music, Ashley holds a passion for using arts healing approaches to empower folks to utilize art as a tool of storytelling and healing. Ashley began her tenure as Executive Director of the Crenshaw Dairy Mart in July 2021. She comes to this role immediately after serving as Senior Program Manager of National Programs for the Pablove Foundation, an organization which teaches children living with cancer to develop their creative voice through the art of photography. While there, she oversaw the development of arts healing curriculum, curated and produced gallery shows, built strategic partnerships and cultivated relationships with hospitals, community art institutions, local teaching artists and families. Prior to her role at Pablove, Ashley served as a high school educator working closely with youth in her hometown of New Haven, CT. In 2015, she received a certification from UCLArts & Healing Certificate program in social emotional arts. While facilitating in classrooms, Ashley used her training to cultivate safe-spaces and build powerful and meaningful relationships with her students. For over a decade, Ashley has committed her personal and professional practice to helping communities feel more engaged, centered and seen. She is excited to deepen the Crenshaw Dairy Mart’s work at the intersection of abolition and healing, with intention and care. Ashley received her BA at the University of Southern California.
Strategic Communications and Development Coordinator, Voice Media Ventures
Amber Bolden’s background includes program development, partnership development, journalism and workforce development. In her previous role, she co-created the CA Fwd Young Leaders Advisory Council and led CA Fwd’s Voices of Shared Prosperity series where she highlighted the diverse narratives of individuals who influence policy across California. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Redlands and a member of the Sankofa Birthworkers Collective of the Inland Empire. She is also an author and consultant with Black Voice News. Amber is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is deeply committed to the advancement and implementation of culturally conscious community-based solutions to help amplify the voices of historically marginalized people at the decision-making table.
Director/Choreographer, Stroll Groove, Inc.
Stroll Groove (@strollgroove) is a co-ed professional stepping and dance crew established in 2013 in Los Angeles. Founder and MSA choreographer Joe Brown has led the group to compete on NBC World of Dance (Season 1), be featured as choreographers and dancers in Beyoncé’s epic Coachella performance, and work on projects with Lizzo, Migos, Khalid, The Gap, and numerous live performances and commercial spots! This loud-stomping, high-energy group is known for bringing the party and important social messages wherever they go–from the classic, nostalgic hip hop vibes of the 80s/90s to the cultural rhythms of Stepping, African, Dancehall, & more!
Youth Advocacy Coordinator, Lens Co
Travis is a part of the youth led intermediary with the Housing Justice Collective. He also leads the Young People to the Front campaign which fights for the decriminalization of homelessness, equitable access to resources, elevating lived experience, and prioritizing youth specific services. He also facilitates the Youth Expert Board and the Youth and Young Adult Cohort.
Director of Policy & Governmental Affairs, Inland Empire Community Foundation
Julian is an executive level government, nonprofit, and community relations professional with experience in federal, state and local government advocacy. In 2013, he joined the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley as the Education Programs Manager, and later the Director of Education Programs, where his work primarily focused on developing and implementing equitable education interventions, including family engagement, in partnership with local school districts. In 2015, his work was recognized by The White House for the development of the Latinos In Technology Initiative; an effort designed to help students get to and through college, and address the lack of diversity within the hi-tech industry.
In 2017, Julian was appointed as the Legislative Policy Representative at the California Department of Education by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. In this role, his policy portfolio included early childhood education, curriculum, and state standards. He was later appointed to Director of Government Affairs in 2019 where he oversaw the legislative and budget priorities impacting California’s 6 million students and 300,000 teachers. He now sits as the Director of Policy & Governmental Affairs for the Inland Empire Community Foundation where he is leading the development and implementation of strategically lifting community voices around regional policy and budget priorities that include education equity, inclusive economic development, housing, health, and environment. Work that has since been recognized by the California State Legislature.
Julian was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Dixon Unified School District in 2022. He received his bachelors degree from the University of California San Diego in Political Science/American Politics and his masters degree from American University in Public Administration and Policy. Julian and his wife, Jessica, a Speech Language Pathologist, live in Dixon and have 3 children, Mateo, Sofia, and Camila.
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).
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/CEO, Liberty Hill Foundation
Shane Murphy Goldsmith is the President and CEO of Liberty Hill Foundation, one of the nation's most admired social change foundations. Ms. Goldsmith served previously as Liberty Hill's Vice President and Chief Program Officer. She was responsible for the day-to-day oversight of Liberty Hill's programs including our training, grantmaking and campaigns as well as Liberty Hill's operations and finance departments.
Shane is a former Vice President of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners and LA Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Commission, and has served on the Commission for the Housing Authority of the City of LA. She is the Co-Chair of the Southern California Grantmakers Board of Directors, California Funders for Boys and Men of Color (CFBMoC) SoCal Region, and People Assisting the Homeless (PATH). Shane was a Durfee Foundation Stanton Fellow focusing on youth justice issues, particularly on ending youth incarceration as we know it in Los Angeles. Shane won the 2014 Congressional Hunger Center Alumni Leadership Award for leadership in programs or policies that promote social justice, reduce poverty and oppression and improve food security.
Prior to joining Liberty Hill, Shane was the Executive Director of PATH Ventures, an affordable housing development agency. She also served as a senior advisor to then-City Council President Eric Garcetti, overseeing housing, economic development, the city budget, public safety and LGBTQ issues. Shane has also worked as a community organizer focusing on economic justice in low income communities of color in LA.
A graduate of Kenyon College, Ms. Goldsmith spent a year as a National Hunger Fellow managing a homeless shelter in Indiana and then conducting federal policy research on welfare reform in Washington, D.C. Shane has a Master's degree in Public Policy and Administration.
Shane lives in Los Angeles with her wife Monica Granados and their two children
Councilmember, District 1, Los Angeles City Council
Eunisses Hernandez is a lifelong District 1 resident. Born and raised in Highland Park, she led campaigns, coalitions, and commissions that transformed local and statewide policy before running for City Council in 2021. Since taking office in December 2022, Councilmember Hernandez has prioritized a Care First agenda focused on creating access to community-based services, housing, and support for Angelenos.
Director, Home For Good, United Way of Greater LA
Carter Hewgley is the Director of Homeless Initiatives at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, where he focuses on building the evidence base, resources, and coalition to end homelessness in LA County. He is the former Senior Advisor at the D.C. Department of Human Services and Director of Analytics & Performance at the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University. Originally from Chattanooga, Carter has spent his career helping state, local and federal governments use data to solve problems big and small. Carter established the Enterprise Analytics Division at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which automated the “Common Operating Picture” for the nation, turning 25 years of disaster data into interactive and interconnected data visualizations for FEMA employees. He has also served as the Associate Director of Strategy & Performance at DC Public Schools, Office of Special Education and as an advisor to the DC City Administrator on health and human services.
After graduating from Miami University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration, Carter received a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Peter Hong is the editor-in-chief of Capital&Main, a Los Angeles-based news site founded to cover inequality. He has been a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and Businessweek Magazine.
Executive Director, Engage San Diego
Luis Montero-Adams (He/Him/His) serves as the Executive Director of Engage San Diego and Engage San Diego Action Fund. Luis is a passionate advocate and believes strongly in community organizing. Throughout his career he has worked in progressive organizations focusing on direct service, education, civic engagement, and policy. Prior to working at Engage San Diego, Luis served as the Advocacy and Civic Engagement Manager at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. In this role, Luis led policy and budget advocacy at the city and county levels, and community outreach efforts for voter education, census, and redistricting.
Prior to his work at The Center, Luis was a Health Educator at San Ysidro Health. Luis also served Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest for 10 years in several roles spanning the agency’s three pillars: education, health services, and advocacy. His time at PPPSW ignited his passion for community organizing, coalition building, and voter outreach.
While his commitment to the San Diego community was cemented as an adult, Luis’s family established roots in the San Diego region when he was a young child. Luis is from Los Angeles and was the first of two children born to undocumented immigrants. Concerned with increasing violence near their home and a desire to be closer to their extended family in Tijuana, Luis’s family moved to San Diego when he was four. After obtaining their US citizenship and being priced out of homeownership, his family moved to Tijuana when Luis was eight. For eight years, Luis joined his father as a member of the transborder community, commuting to school each day. Although Luis moved back and has lived in the City of San Diego since September 13, 2001, his binational roots continue to shape his perspective and how he engages the region.
Luis earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies with a minor in Latin American Studies from San Diego State University in 2017, after transferring from San Diego City College. Lu
NYT Bestselling Author and National Political Strategist, Democracy In Color
Steve Phillips is a national political leader, bestselling author, and columnist. He is the author of The New York Times bestseller Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority and the newly released national bestselling book How We Win the Civil War: Securing a Multiracial Democracy and Ending White Supremacy for Good.
He is a columnist for The Guardian and The Nation, and an opinion contributor to The New York Times. He is also the host of “Democracy in Color with Steve Phillips,” a color-conscious podcast on politics. He is the founder of Democracy in Color, a political media organization dedicated to race, politics and the multicultural progressive New American Majority.
Phillips is a graduate of Stanford University and Hastings College of the Law and practiced civil rights and employment law for many years. Phillips has appeared on multiple national radio and television networks including NBC, CNN, MSNBC and C-SPAN.
Professor and Center Director, UC Riverside
Karthick Ramakrishnan is professor of public policy at the University of California, Riverside, and is executive director of California 100, a transformative statewide initiative focused on building a shared vision and strategy for California’s next century that is innovative, sustainable, and equitable.
Ramakrishnan also founded the Center for Social Innovation at UC Riverside, and AAPI Data, a national publisher of demographic data and policy research on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). He has published many articles and 7 books, including most recently, Citizenship Reimagined (Cambridge, 2020) and Framing Immigrants (Russell Sage, 2016), and has written dozens of opeds and has appeared in nearly 3,000 news stories. Ramakrishnan was named to the Frederick Douglass 200 and is currently working on projects related to racial equity in philanthropy and regional development. He holds a BA in international relations from Brown University and a PhD in politics from Princeton.
Ramakrishnan is president of the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni, chairs the California Commission on APIA Affairs, and serves on the Board of The California Endowment and the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee (NAC). Ramakrishnan also founded Census Legacies, which builds on the foundation of census outreach coalitions to build more inclusive and equitable communities, and the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, an official section journal of the American Political Science Association.
More information at https://karthick.com.
Director, Equity, Arts & Culture, SCG
Erica serves as Interim Director for the Equity, Arts and Culture team. Born in Argentina, raised in Los Angeles - Erica combines her years organizing within the immigrant rights movement, her training in alternative medicine and her life-long creative practice together for programming, consulting and healing work that is unique, rooted and versatile. Prior to joining SCG, Erica served as Director of Youth Programming at the Miguel Contreras Foundation (MCF) where she led social justice programming for immigrant communities. A leading voice in bridging healing and social justice work, Erica has been invited for speaking, teaching and consulting engagements with California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, Chuco's Justice Center, MCF, SHIFT, LA-USC Wellness Center, InnerWayLa, Peace Over Violence, California Conference for Equity and Justice, Southern California University of Health Sciences, and The African American Policy Forum. Since 2018, Erica has been commissioned each year by UCLA’s Wesley Foundation to create and teach a Healing+Justice Series for UCLA students. In 2019, Erica was awarded the UMC grant to create No Estan Solos, a multidisciplinary healing and advocacy program for Latinx undocumented and refugee youth. Erica also served as Ayurvedic Practitioner and Counselor at WeSpark Cancer Support, making her the youngest woman to ever serve as lead Ayurvedic Practitioner in an integrative health center for cancer patients and survivors. In 2019, Erica founded the Women’s Healing Course, a series inspired by the intersection of race, gender and healing that has been offered all throughout California and, due to national recognition, is now being offered virtually to global audiences.
Erica is informed by her background as a seasoned writer and performer. She is a founding member of the Dancing Diaspora Collective, a collective of POC artists and healers dedicated to honoring, sharing, and reimagining practices of the Latin & African diasporas in dialogue with local and global histories of cultural resistance. Most recently, her solo work “I am my Mother’s Daughter” about mothers and migration has been performed for over 8,000 people at UCLA’s historic Pauley Pavilion and has been selected for KPCC’s Unheard LA live series.
Erica holds a BA in World Arts and Cultures from UCLA and an AWP (Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner) certification from Southern California University of Health Sciences.
Trevor Smith (he/him) is a writer, researcher, and strategist focused on the topics of racial inequality, wealth inequality, reparations, and narrative change. He is currently the Director of Narrative Change at Liberation Ventures, a field builder fueling the movement for Black-led racial repair, where he is building a “Reparations Narrative Lab.” The Lab is a first-of-its-kind creative space designed to build narrative power behind reparations. He is also the creator, curator, and editor of a newsletter titled Reparations Daily (ish), which is a project of the BLIS Collective, a culture change tank, focused on building power within and between Black and Indigenous movements.
Trained as a journalist, he has extensive experience working within advocacy communications on an array of issues including housing, economic opportunity, criminal justice, voting rights, education inequality, and fiscal policy. He has previously held program and communication roles at various racial and social justice organizations, including the Surdna Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
His research and writing on reparations have been published in academic journals like The Review of the Black Political Economy and major media outlets like Business Insider, USA Today, and TIME Magazine.
A first-generation American with Sierra Leonean roots, he is the son of Gerald and Olivette Smith, and brother to Megan. He spent a large portion of his life in New Delhi, India, and Seoul, South Korea, and owes a large part of who he is today to the people and experiences that shaped him throughout his time there. He received his B.A. in Journalism from American University and his Masters in Public Administration from New York University. He is an avid reader, taker of walks, food buff, and joke-teller. He currently resides in what he considers the best neighborhood in New York City, the Lower East Side.
President & CEO, Roosevelt Institute
As the President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, Felicia Wong directs the organization’s mission, vision, and strategy in pursuit of a high-care, low-carbon economy that works for all. She was the US representative on the G7 Economic Resilience Panel in 2021 and served on the Biden-Harris administration transition advisory board.
Under her leadership, Roosevelt has grown more than fourfold, and now regularly works with the nation’s top public officials, academic experts, and progressive movement organizers. Her research focuses on post-neoliberal thought and the intersection of race, economics, and social stratification; and her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, and the Boston Review. She co-hosts the podcast, How to Save a Country, and is the co-author of the book The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Prior to joining Roosevelt, Felicia ran investment services for the Democracy Alliance. She also ran operations and product development at a venture-funded, labor union-aligned education services company. Her public service includes a White House Fellowship in the Office of the Attorney General and a political appointment in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. She serves on the boards of the Economic Security Project, Deep Springs College, and the immigration policy group America Is Better. Felicia holds a PhD in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. Her doctoral dissertation on the role of race and framing in K-12 public education politics received the 2000 American Political Science Association award in Race, Ethnicity, and Politics.