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CFJ Board

Taryn Ishida (Ex Officio Member) -Executive Director, Californians for Justice

Maria Noel Fernandez (San Jose) -Associate Director of Organizing and Civic Engagement, Working Partnerships

Justina Acevedo-Cross (Board Chair, San Jose) – Program Officer, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Victor Garcia (Oakland) – Independent Consultant, Victor Garcia Independent Consulting

Te ‘Ausha Garcia (Fresno) – Student, California State University Fresno, CFJ Alum

Santos Alvarado (San Jose) – Student, Independence High School

Reginald Quartey (Oakland) – Student, Oakland High School

Kim Boyer (Fresno) – Executive Director, Central Valley Afterschool Foundation

Jessica Gunderson (Oakland) – Policy Director, Partnership for Children & Youth

Nhu Anh Can (San Jose) – Senior Operations Manager, Edmodo

CFJ Staff

Statewide     Oakland    Fresno    San Jose    Long Beach

Statewide Staff

Taryn Ishida (taryn_AT_caljustice.org), Executive Director, has been a part of the CFJ family for over ten years, helping start a college advising program in 2005 and serving on the board of directors before becoming Executive Director of CFJ. As ED, Taryn provides leadership in program and campaign strategy, development and outreach, alliance building and policy, and management and operations. Taryn previously worked at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, playing an integral role in launching the Foundation’s place-based grantmaking program in 2008. Prior to the Packard Foundation, Taryn worked at Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and the Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Pepperdine University, and is a candidate in the Masters of Nonprofit Administration program at University of San Francisco. Taryn enjoys being a devoted aunty to her niece and nephew, discovering new desserts, and playing tennis.

Karen Anselmo (karen_AT_caljustice.org), Finance and Administrative Director

Sambathany Chen (sambathany_AT_caljustice.org), Operations Associate. Sambathany is heavily influenced by her Khmer heritage and uses her culture and history as the foundation that drives her motivation and passion to work towards social change. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz where she majored in American Studies and minored in Education. Throughout her college career she was highly involved in Asian American Pacific Islander activism, and focused much of her efforts in college access and retention work. In her spare time, Sambathany loves to cook, explore the outdoors, and spend time with her doggy, Oreo.

Norma Rodriguez, Organizing Director, As the Organizing Director, Norma oversees and supports San Jose and Oakland by providing campaign strategizing, supervision and staff and leadership development.

Rhea Martin (rhea_AT_caljustice.org), Organizing Director, oversees and supports CFJ’s four regions by providing campaign strategizing, supervision and staff and leadership development. She joined CFJ in 2001 as a sophomore in high school, when she decided to start working towards educational justice, fighting against the educational inequalities that plague the African-American community. As a high school student, she helped to run and win a bathroom improvement campaign in Long Beach. While she worked in Fresno as an organizer, CFJ Fresno managed to cut the student to counselor ratio from 800:1 to 450:1 and won new student-friendly A-G posters for every classroom in Fresno Unified. A student at California State University, Fresno, she collects all things Bob Marley and loves pretending she can sing along with her favorite 90’s Hip Hop and R&B acts.  As a staff member now, she cannot imagine working on anything more important than uplifting and empowering her community to speak up and demand change.

Saa’un P. Bell (saaun_AT_caljustice.org), Statewide Communications Director, grounded in her southern roots of Greenville Alabama and Eastern Samar, Saa’un is the oldest of six, in a serious, but comical, working class Black and Filipino immigrant family. Moved by her experiences as a Black and Filipino English Language Learner in Long Beach Unified School District, Saa’un joined Californians for Justice in 2009 as an Organizer where she organized community college students and youth of color to fight against the racial and educational inequities in their schools. She has been organizing immigrant and youth of color in education for 8 years. Currently in her role as the Communications Director, Saa’un oversees the Narrative Strategy for statewide education policy, perception of youth campaigns.

Now, if you ever see Saa’un in the streets of Oakland she’s probably not smiling. For fun serious, you can catch her kicking it with her australian shepherds Fox & Sir Fyodor Dostoevsky, fishing the Pacific Coast for Halibut, reading, writing short fiction & philosophizing on everything from science fiction to Sailor Moon. Saa’un holds BA in Philosophy, Sociology/Law & Society, and minors in Marxist & Ethnic Studies from UC Riverside.

Chelsie Brooks (chelsie_AT_caljustice.org), Development Manager, Leads the foundation and grassroots fundraising programs at CFJ. Chelsie started working with CFJ in 2010 as an intern for the Campaign for Quality Education while studying Political, Legal, and Economic Analysis at Mills College in Oakland. She is inspired by CFJ’s commitment to racial justice and political action, and is excited to be a part of building a strong foundation for this work.  

Margarita Vargas Patron (margarita_AT_caljustice.org), Development Associate, supports CFJ’s grassroots fundraising programs. Margarita grew up in San Diego County and is a first-generation college graduate. She studied Sociology and loved it because of her deeply rooted passion for social equity. After graduating, her personal background and experiences led her to embark on a year of service in Austin, TX as a Jesuit Volunteer (JV) with the Workers Defense Project (WDP), a workers’ center that empowers low-income workers to achieve fair employment. For all these reasons and more, she is honored and excited to be a part of CFJ. Despite hailing from Southern California, she does not know how to swim or surf but will definitely take the necessary steps to avoid bodies of water in this cool city!


Oakland Staff

Geordee Mae Corpuz, (geordee_AT_caljustice.org), Lead Organizer, is responsible for developing the leadership abilities and organizing skills of the students at Oakland High and Oakland Tech. She was born and raised in the Bay Area, and graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian American Studies and a minor in Communications. During her time at UC Davis she became highly involved in Asian Pacific American activism, educational equity, and access into higher education for underrepresented communities. She worked for BRIDGE: Pilipina/o Outreach & Retention on campus, and planned several youth conferences, including Pilipina/o Youth Conference which brings together Pilipina/o Youth Coalitions all around the Bay Area. She also performed at the Mondavi Center in the production of Asian Voices: My Own Story Greatest Hits, put on by Los Angeles Arts Commission’s artist Alex Luu. After college, she moved to Sacramento to work with Building Healthy Communities in South Sacramento, and worked on the Youth Block Report project. During her time there she developed the first annual “I Am Sacramento Conference” which served to cultivate Sacramento community and youth empowerment. She is highly involved in several youth organizations all over Northern California, and is also apart of the UC Davis Asian Pacific American Alumni Association.

Justine Santos, (justine_AT_caljustice.org), Youth Organizer, Justine supports the leadership development, education and mobilization of young people in the CFJ Oakland region around critical community issues through building their capacities to become agents of genuine social change. Her experience in organizing has roots in her hometown, Union City, CA where she engaged in political work with Filipino Advocates for Justice (formerly Filipinos for Affirmative Action) and Anakbayan East Bay as a high school student. In college, she helped develop and launch the social justice pathway, Change It Now (C.I.N.) at Chabot College in Hayward and transferred to San Francisco State University to obtain a B.A. in Environmental Studies, with a concentration in Sustainability and Social Justice. After college, Justine found her heart in education and taught an Ethnic Studies class for 3 years at Balboa High School through Pin@y Educational Partnerships. She currently pursuing an M.A. in Human Rights Education at University of San Francisco and continues her community organizing work as a board member for Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity (FACES) in Oakland, a core member for Active Leadership to Advance the Youth (ALAY) in San Francisco and a youth organizer for CFJ in Oakland. Justine loves to spend time outdoors and the only thing she loves more than french fries is her dog, Nala.


Fresno Staff

Grisanti Valencia, Lead Organizer

Aaron Weathers (aaron_AT_caljustice.org), Youth Organizer, supports the CFJ Fresno region by working with youth on their leadership development, as well as supporting local campaigns. Aaron holds a Bachelor’s degree in Pan-African Studies with a concentration in Women & Gender Studies and LGBTQ studies. He is also pursuing his Master’s degree in Communication with a focus on identity performance. He has 4 years of experience organizing on his college campus around issues affecting queer people of color. He is committed to integrating his activism within his scholarship and throughout his community. As a new organizer with CFJ, Aaron looks forward to uplifting youth of color in the Central Valley. 


San Jose Staff

Angeles Rojas (angeles_AT_caljustice.org), Youth Organizer


Long Beach Staff

Alejandra Ponce de Leon (alejandra_AT_caljustice.org), Lead Organizer, oversees and supports the CFJ Long Beach region by leading local campaigns and leadership development. Alejandra holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies, and a minor in Chicana/o Studies and Political Science, as well as a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning. She has 10 years of organizing experience, in addition to years committed to organizing and serving her community as a volunteer and activist. Though Alejandra joined the CFJ team only recently, she has led several campaigns to victory in her time as an organizer, including the formation of OC RISE UP, the coalition that led the successful implementation of district-based elections in Anaheim to ensure better representation of working families and communities of color.

Kenyon Davis ( kenyon_AT_caljustice.org), Youth Organizer, leading work to identify and recruit new leaders in the BMoC Campaign and develop skills to advance changes toward a healthier community. Kenyon continues to tear down every form of institutional racism, since his involvement with CFJ in 2008. While in high school, Kenyon and his peers faced massive budget cuts, teacher layoffs and lack of counselor support and other resources for A-G and college readiness preparation. In response to these conditions, Kenyon immediately got involved with CFJ. He graduated from the Summer Youth Leadership Academy in 2008. When he graduated, he walked out with an armor of skills. Kenyon progressed through the leadership roles of a Volunteer, Member, Leader, Intern, Board Member, and now he is a staff member. It’s been a long ride with the organization, but he loves the fact that he can support students with the skills they need to be empowered. Kenyon truly believes a “Man can strip everything away from you, but not your education!”

Mayra Gonzales ( mayra_AT_caljustice.org), Youth Organizer, Mayra grew up in South East LA where they supported the organizing efforts of Communities for A Better Environment and Youth For Environmental Justice as a high school student. They received their B.A. in Gender and Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley and previously worked at the Multicultural Community Center there. Mayra is excited to be back in Southern California after many years in the Bay Area. They are passionate about popular education and community based learning models that give communities the tools to dismantle systems of oppression and fight for liberation.