Meet our Speakers and Mentors
Keynote Speaker: Lateefah Simon
Lateefah Simon is President of the Akonadi Foundation, an organization based in Oakland, CA, that funds and nurtures racial justice movement building to eliminate structural racism and expand opportunity for youth of color. In 2016, Lateefah won election to the BART Board of Directors, representing District 7, where as a transit-dependent woman she is fighting for equitable mobility. She is also an California State University Trustee, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve the largest public university system in the world. Lateefah has been on the frontlines for the most vulnerable communities in the San Francisco Bay Area since age 15, when she was recruited to be an organizer for the Center for Young Women’s Development (CYWD). At 19-years-old she was appointed Executive Director of CYWD, where she served 11 years and brought the organization to national acclaim. At 26, her work earned her the distinction of the youngest woman ever to receive a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship. She went on to lead the creation of San Francisco’s first reentry services division under the leadership of then District Attorney Kamala D. Harris. Lateefah later served as Executive Director of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Program Director at the Rosenberg Foundation. Lateefah has received awards for her work including Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World, the Remarkable Woman Award from Lifetime Television, the Levi Strauss Pioneer Activist Fellowship, the New Frontier Award from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, “Woman of the Year” by the California State Assembly, and inclusion in Oprah Magazine’s first ever “Power List”, Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 40 Under 40, and the Root 100. An avid speaker, Lateefah lectures across the country at top conferences and universities on community leadership and social change. Lateefah lives in West Oakland and is a mother of two daughters.
Jessica Castro was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and has spent most of her life in CA. She grew up in Irvine and attended the University of Southern CA (Fight on!) where she studied Broadcast Journalism, International Relations and Multimedia. Jessica started her career in TV news in Amarillo, TX before she spent nearly half a decade in Las Vegas as a reporter and morning anchor. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys tennis, reading, cycling, swimming and hiking.
Marandah Field-Elliot is a third-year student at UC Berkeley where she studies Political Science and American Studies. During her Sophomore year, she ran a winning campaign to serve on UC Berkeley’s ASUC Senate, where she represents students on the issues of sexual violence, political engagement, LGBTQ+ issues, as well as mental and reproductive health. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in law, advocating for gender equality and reproductive justice.
Maddie Franklin is a political campaign operative based in San Francisco, CA. Maddie got her start in politics as a senior in college when she helped found the California Women's List, a PAC dedicated to electing more women to California state offices. She has helped student leaders start California Women's List chapters at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and Calpoly SLO, believing that organizing young women is key to achieving gender parity not just in elected office but across all positions of leadership in politics and policy. After graduating with a B.A. in Economics from UC Berkeley in spring 2015, Maddie worked for the California Federation of Teachers and graduated from the Labor Summer program at the Berkeley Labor Center. She was campaign manager for Lateefah Simon's successful BART Board election in 2016. Today Maddie continues to work in politics as an independent consultant.
Gabriela Jimenez is Senior Public Affairs Officer for Planned Parenthood Northern California Action Fund. Her lifelong dedication for advocacy and political organizing began as a toddler when her mother would take her precinct walking and phone banking on weekends. In high school she volunteered at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles because she wanted to help educate her peers about sexual health and their rights. While attending San Francisco State University, Gabriela interned with San Francisco SupervisorJohn Avalos and Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar. Previous to working at PPNorCal AF, Gabriela spent time working on Capitol Hill for New York Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and for the Department of Labor, Office of Public Affairs. Gabriela is passionate about reproductive justice because she believes a woman’s right to choose cannot just be theoretically legal but actually accessible for all women.
Nick Josefowitz was elected to the BART Board in 2014, representing District 8, which includes portions of San Francisco. Nicholas launched RenGen Energy, a company that developed and built renewable energy power plants. Nicholas quickly grew the business, building over $100m of solar power plants and providing thousands of homes and businesses clean electricity. A lifelong Democrat, Nicholas has been fighting for a just and sustainable future ever since he first knocked on doors for John Kerry’s presidential campaign in college. He was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to the San Francisco’s Environment Commission, and helped bring low-cost loans to San Franciscans looking to upgrade their homes to make them more comfortable and energy efficient.He volunteers with numerous non-profit and community groups -- serving on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council, the California League of Conservation Voters and as the founder of Leadership For a Clean Economy. Nicholas graduated from Harvard. He lives in Pacific Heights with his wife Tali, whom he met in college.
Nikila Kakarla is a legal support specialist at LinkedIn working in areas of risk, IP, and privacy protection. She is a graduate of Barnard College of Columbia University and is focused on the intersection of tech and policy. Nikila has worked on the political campaigns for Obama for America and Reshma Saujani (founder of Girls Who Code) as well as interned for Google and the US Department of Education.
Rebecca Langer has lived in France, Belgium, and Morocco advocating for effective policies on human rights and environmental regulation. She moved to San Francisco in 2014 and has since found her passion at the intersection of renewable energy policy and environmental justice. As a Program Manager at GRID Alternatives, Rebecca advocates on behalf of low-income homeowners throughout California to make sure they have access to the benefits of solar energy. In addition to helping clients save money on utility bills, Rebecca is so proud to work for an organization that champions a more diverse and inclusive solar workforce, connecting an industry that needs good people with communities that need good jobs.
Laura Martinez became the first Latina council member to serve the City of East Palo Alto in 2008. In 2011, at the age of 27, she was elected the youngest serving, and first Latina mayor, in East Palo Alto's history. She was selected by Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal as one of the “Top 100 Women of Influence” in 2012 and “40 Under 40” in 2015. Laura was appointed to the Sequoia Union High School District and served as a Trustee from March-December 2015. In addition, she is the Expanded Learning Program Director at Aspire Public Schools, supporting students and families at East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy. She is also an IGNITE teacher. Laura received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, with a minor in Spanish, from Whittier College. She currently resides in East Palo Alto.
Dey Nava is the Public Affairs Officer for Planned Parenthood Northern California Action Fund. Dey is passionate about advancing healthcare access for all, and also ensuring that the social and economic environments within communities support opportunities for a long and healthy life. In 2015, she graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Anthropology, and went on to complete a fellowship with Oakland-based TOLA (The Organizing & Leadership Academy). At TOLA, she worked on a San Francisco Board of Supervisors independent expenditure campaign, as well as a door-to-door canvassing project in Watsonville that engaged the community around issues of diabetes and the possible solution of a local soda tax. Dey is bilingual in Spanish, and has completed internships with the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California in Sacramento and Asociacion Karibu in Madrid, Spain.
Daisy Ozim is the Director of Resilient Wellness, a health education programmed designed to end the cycles of multi-generational trauma through policy advocacy, service delivery and education. She has been involved in community based outreach and advocacy and civic youth engagement, since her late teens. As a seasoned health advocate, based in San Francisco bay area, she's a fierce proponent of health and wellness as well as decolonizing all aspects of the public sector. She dedicates time outside of her advocacy life to train in holistic health. In addition, she has worked on several issues including, health care quality for young women, public health implications of police violence, increasing visibility of self-care for social justice advocates and political empowerment for young women. Daisy is an alumni of IGNITE and previously served as a High School Facilitator.
Angeles Roy is a bilingual and bicultural political campaigns operative and strategist based in San Francisco CA. Originally from Chile, she emigrated to the Bay Area nine years ago and holds a B.A., in Political Science from UC Berkeley. Angeles has extensive experience leading and winning candidate and issue based campaigns such as Hillary Ronen for supervisor in 2016 and No on Proposition E in 2014. In addition, she has served at a number of boards including the SF Chapter at ACLU; California Women's list––a PAC working towards electing women to statewide office––and the San Francisco Young Democrats where she's focused her efforts in voter registration, educational programming and advocacy. Angeles is also a proud graduate of Emerge California and the New American Leaders Project.
Erin Schrode is a citizen activist and journalist. This leading voice on sustainability, social impact and millennials and a vocal advocate for environmental action, public health and equal justice She just ran an unprecedented campaign for US Congress in California. Since co-founding Turning Green in 2005, Erin has developed eco education and action platforms to inspire, educate, and mobilize millions of students and the global public. As a social entrepreneur and community organizer, she champions civic leadership, conscious living, and environmental stewardship worldwide. For more on Erin – erinschrode.com and @ErinSchrode on Twitter and Instagram.
Maria Stamas is an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) Energy & Climate Program, where she advocates for equitable clean energy solutions as a means to mitigate the effects of climate change. Maria testifies and participates in regulatory proceedings before the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, and the State Legislature. As a leading member of the Energy Efficiency for All Initiative, she focuses on clean energy policies for multi-unit residences and underserved areas. Maria has contributed to the development of building benchmarking and data transparency policies throughout California, and holds a J.D. from Berkeley Law, an M.A. in Energy & Resources from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. degree from Oberlin college. She is also a board member of Women Energy Associates.
Marissa Trambley is a Director at Stott Development Solutions Group. She most recently served as the lead fundraiser in Silicon Valley for Hillary For America’s Presidential campaign after working in development and politics for nearly 10 years. Marissa’s career began in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill as Clerk & Legislative Advisor for the House Natural Resources Committee, focusing on water and energy issues. Marissa then ventured into the development field at EMILY’s List to support a growing major gifts operation, and subsequently launched a new program to build bridges between policy thinkers and change agents in Congress. She managed all the West Coast fundraising and development for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee under Leader Nancy Pelosi. She has also advised on development for multiple women’s groups and emerging non-profits. Marissa received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego. A California native, she lives in the Bay Area with her husband and their dog, cat, tortoise and chickens.
Mya Whitaker is the Program Director for the Bay Area Urban Debate League, a non profit that teaches youth throughout the Bay Area policy Debate. As an alumni to the program Mya has helped the program reach over 3,000 students. While attending SFSU in her senior year Mya was able to launch the first SFSU IGNITE cohort. Mya has also been involved in community outreach, joining the Oakland Civilian Review board as a commissioner in 2015. In January 2017 Mya was able to help Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf choose Anne Kirtpatrick as chief of police. As an Oakland Native police violence and youth empowerment are some of the biggest items on her agenda. Mya is currently in EMERGE Ca 2017 preparing her to run for local office in 2018.
Jocelyn Yow joined Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi in October 2016, focusing on issues related to Asian Pacific Islander (API) community, education, healthcare, social security, and grants. Prior to joining Office of Congresswoman Pelosi, she was a District Representative at Office of State Senator Tony Mendoza. She held multiple leadership positions while attending college. She was the youngest Student Body President at Norco College. While attending UC Berkeley, she founded the Pre-Law Coalition for Social Justice and had the honor of serving as a Commissioner for City of Berkeley. She was recently elected as a Delegate for AD 60.