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
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, oversees finance and human resources at CFJ, making sure that the ship is running smoothly so CFJ can achieve its greatest impact. Karen has spent her career on the inside of social justice organizations working on leadership development, public health, and housing. Karen also ran the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Bay Area from 2006-2010 and danced with the salsa team Salsamania for a few glorious years. Nowadays you’re likely to find her playing with her daughter or kiteboarding. Karen earned her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and her master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Sambathany Chen (sambathany_AT_caljustice.org), Operations Associate, 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, (norma_AT_caljustice.org), Organizing and Policy Director, provides leadership in strategic relationship building as well as developing legislative and policy strategies in order to advance CFJ’s mission. Previously Norma was the Organizing Director at the Center on Policy Initiatives where she developed effective community and labor coalitions focused on economic and social justice issues. She also has grassroots organizing experience with immigrant rights as well as civic participation of underrepresented communities. She also has arts and culture experience having chaired Fiesta Del Sol, San Diego’s largest Latino street festival, as well as being arts commissioner for the City of San Diego where she focused on increasing arts funding and had a role in the strategy that led to additional funding for arts and culture. Norma has also taught art and Spanish. She holds a B.A. in studio art from the University of California, Irvine and a Master’s in Latin American studies with an emphasis on international migration from the University of California, San Diego. During her Masters, Norma had the opportunity to participate in the Mexican Migration Field Research Program, a binational research project between Yucatan and the U.S. and was one of the authors of the book which published their findings. She is a first generation college student, the proud daughter of immigrants and originally from Porterville, California. She enjoys good books, running and quality time with her people.
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, from a serious, but comical, working class Black and Filipino immigrant family. As a former English Language Learner student in Long Beach Unified School District and 1st generation college graduate, Saa’un is committed to building a public education infrastructure where all students have the opportunities to fulfill their aspirations. Saa’un joined CFJ in 2009 as an Organizer where they organized community college students and youth of color in Oakland schools. Currently, Saa’un oversees all communications & narrative strategy for CFJ’s regional and statewide campaigns. They are alsoo an Associate at the Center for Story-based Strategy where they get to apply their story & strategic wizardry on deeply personal statewide & national communication projects. Saa’un holds a BA in Philosophy.
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, 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 surf but will definitely take the necessary steps to avoid bodies of water in this cooler city!
Yvette Tran (yvette_AT_caljustice.org), Leadership Development Training Coordinator, leads the Professional Learning Network (PLN), which provides support to school districts in their LCAP community engagement. She also provides support for CFJ’s youth leadership development at the statewide level. Yvette joined CFJ as a student leader in 2004 and has since transitioned into different positions within the organization working on a variety of projects.
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 to 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, 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 of 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.
Grisanti Valencia (grisanti_AT_caljustice.org), Lead Organizer, oversees the Fresno region by leading local campaigns and leadership development of youth in Fresno. Grisanti is a Queer Indigenous Zapotec Migrant from the state of Oaxaca. She was born in Guaymas, Sonora and is a native of Ayoquezco De Aldama, Oaxaca. Grisanti writes poetry from personal experiences focused on her childhood and the Oaxaqueno culture. She is passionate about racial and social justice and believes we must make education accessible for all students. When not working, you can find her having family time and hanging around Fresno with her Pug Lassie as well as hosting poetry nights.
Luis Ojeda (luis_AT_caljustice.org), Campaign Coordinator, supports the organizing team in Fresno with campaign work and alliance building. Luis is a queer immigrant from Colima, Mexico that is passionate about social justice and challenging white supremacy. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from California State University, Fresno. During his spare time, Luis enjoys watching certified fresh films and being politically engaged.
San Jose Staff
Angeles Rojas (angeles_AT_caljustice.org), Lead Organizer
Long Beach Staff
Alejandra Ponce de Leon (alejandra_AT_caljustice.org), Statewide Campaign and Communications Manager 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.
Mayra Gonzales (mayra_AT_caljustice.org), Youth Organizer, 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.