Young Women Run Bay Area: Lunch with Women in Politics

Lunch with Women in Politics



Janet Abelson, El Cerrito City Council

Bio coming soon.

Amber Childress, Trustee, Alameda County Board of Education.

Amber Childress is a marketing entrepreneur, mother, public speaker, and community advocate. She was raised in Oakland and has spent the majority of her life in the East Bay, attending Oakland public schools and Mills College to study Liberal Studies. From her school-age years through adulthood, Childress has benefited from programs like Upward Bound, A Better Chance, the Oakland Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program, and Emerge CA, which fueled her desire to fight for quality education for all students. The support she received in school and from her extended family taught her to embrace the idea that “It takes a village to raise a child”.

Childress is a longtime volunteer with Girls Inc. of Alameda County, serving as a mentor, committee member, and class volunteer, and volunteers with other nonprofits in Alameda and Oakland. She was selected as the recipient of the 2016 Powerful Women of the Bay Innovator Award for her dedication to the community, tech education, and other entrepreneurs. Childress serves on the Oakland Unified School District Measure G Citizens Oversight Committee and is a Board Member with the East Bay Women’s Network. She also mentors youth through summer internships and school volunteer work.

Megan Crawford, Board Member, Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School Board

Megan Crawford is a lifelong resident of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and attended K-12 schools there. With the strong educational background Megan received in the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District (PVPUSD), she continued on to obtain an AA degree from Marymount California University, followed by a BA in Environmental Studies and Geography from UCLA, then an MA (Master of Arts) in Education from Pepperdine University. Aiming to further her education, Megan is now enrolled in the MPA (Master of Public Administration) program at USC. Inspired by her years enrolled in the PVPUSD, Megan has devoted her career to education and is currently a teacher in the Redondo Beach Unified School District. Megan was recently elected to the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School Board in November 2018. She is the youngest elected official in Palos Verdes and has been enjoying her time on the PVP Board. She plans to focus on balancing the budget, high-quality curriculum and education, listening to teachers’ opinions and ideas, improving student wellness (both physical and mental) and student safety, sustainability in the district, and extending community partnerships.

Cheryl Davila, Berkeley City Council

Councilmember Davila has called Berkeley home for nearly 37 years. Since 1981, the Councilmember and her husband of over 31 years, have raised two wonderful children (now adults) through the Berkeley Unified School District. As a long-time resident of Berkeley, the Councilmember has seen the many changes in diversity and overall landscape of Berkeley, much of which can be attributed to increased market-rate housing, overpopulation, and gentrification. Councilmember Davila has also witnessed an increase in homelessness and is determined to find solutions to address these complex issues with compassion, empathy and dignity. As a councilmember, Cheryl continues to serve the community, working tirelessly to improve the conditions of the city and address the many unique issues that have been ignored for many years in District 2. She is committed to maintaining unity, diversity, affordability, safety, and warmth for all.  

Kate Harrison, Berkeley City Council

Kate comes from three generations of women activists, fighting for justice and equity. As a community leader, Kate: advocated for increased community benefits from Downtown developments; Successfully led volunteer efforts to secure $4 million/year for Berkeley’s affordable housing and homeless services, despite $1 million spent to oppose it; and enhanced the infrastructure, parks and Downtown by serving on Berkeley’s Housing Advisory, Parks and Open Space Commissions. Professionally, Kate has solved problems for agencies in 31 California counties, eight states and 14 nations. Her firm improves access to justice, for Native American foster youth in North Dakota, defendants without lawyers in Serbia and people returning to their communities from prison.

Ann-Marie Hogan, Former Berkeley City Auditor

Bio coming soon.


Jody London, Oakland School Board

Jody London has represented North Oakland on the Board of Education since 2009, having been re-elected to a second term in 2012.  London is a recognized leader on the Board, having served as Vice President in 2011, becoming President mid-way through 2011 and serving in that role through 2012.  She is serving as Vice President again in 2015.

London brings her background in public policy, the built environment, and community outreach and facilitation to her work on the Board. She is the author of policies and bylaws on citizen advisory committees, management of physical assets, and community engagement around facilities projects. 

London's involvement with Oakland Unified began in 2004, when her older child was in kindergarten at the neighborhood elementary school (both her children continue to attend neighborhood schools).  London led the effort at the school to replace aging portables with the first school building in California to receive matching grants from the State for being green-certified.  Along the way, she co-chaired the 2006 Measure B campaign, a $435 million bond.  London also has helped pass the Measure G (2009) and Measure N (2014) parcel taxes, and Measure J, the 2012 renewal of the general obligation bond for capital projects.  Prior to joining the School Board, London served on the Measure B Citizens Bond Oversight Committee.

Since 2013, London has served as one of Oakland's two representatives to the California School Boards Association.  In this capacity, she has been invited to serve on committees addressing partnership with business, implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, and adequate funding for K-12 public schools. 

London's professional experience is in State policy. She works with local government and non-profit organizations on strategic planning, communication, and advocacy on environmental sustainability and energy issues.  Much of her current work involves State energy regulatory agencies.

London holds a B.A. in English, with high honors, from UC Berkeley, and a Master in Public Administration from Columbia University.

London was elected Vice President of the Board, by her colleagues, on January 7, 2019.

Dianne Martinez, Emeryville City Council

Bio coming soon. 

Ally Medina, Mayor, Emeryville City Council

Bio coming soon. 

Nancy O'Malley, Alameda District Attorney

Bio coming soon.

Elizabeth Pabon-Alvarado, Councilmember, San Pablo City Council

Elizabeth Pabon-Alvarado has over 20 years of experience in the fields of accounting, payroll and HR leadership. She is a 26-year resident of San Pablo, a mother to three sons, grandmother of eight, and is married to David Alvarado, a former San Pablo Planning Commissioner and current West County Wastewater District Director. Ms. Pabon-Alvarado is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Hillary Ronen, San Francisco Supervisor

Hillary Ronen was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors District 9 seat in November 2016. Prior to her election, she worked as Chief of Staff for District 9 Supervisor, David Campos. Hillary is a graduate of UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law. After law school, Hillary worked at La Raza Centro Legal and became the Director of La Raza’s Worker Rights Unit. Hillary has also worked as an immigration attorney in a private firm and pursued international human rights claims of children of Haitian descent residing in the Dominican Republic.

Currently, Supervisor Ronen is Chair of the Rules Committee of the Board of Supervisors and a member of the expanded Budget & Finance Committee. She represents the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission and on the Local Agency Formation Commission.

Rebecca Saltzman, BART Board

Rebecca Saltzman is the Vice President of the BART Board and served as Board President in 2017. Saltzman chairs the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority and serves on the Alameda Transportation Commission and BART-AC Transit Interagency Liaison Committee. Before she was elected, Director Saltzman spent years as a public transit and policy advocate, coalition builder, organizer, and manager with local, state, and national issue-based organizations. Saltzman previously served as Vice-Chair of the Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, where she advised the City of Oakland on pedestrian and bicycle policy and infrastructure. In 2011, Saltzman received the League of Women Voters of Oakland’s Making Democracy Work Award in recognition of her work and commitment to increasing citizen engagement in local government. Saltzman graduated with a BA in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in Oakland with her wife Caitlin, and relies on BART, buses, and walking to get around.

Ann Schneider, Millbrae City Council

Bio coming soon.

Nina Senn, Former OUSD School Board Director

Bio coming soon.

Kyla Sinegal, Board Member, San Lorenzo Unified School District

Bio coming soon. 

Sheng Thao, Oakland City Council

Sheng Thao comes from humble beginnings. One of four daughters of asylum seekers from the Vietnam War, she is a member of a tight-knit, Hmong American family.  As a single mother, and domestic violence survivor, Sheng put herself through college while working and raising her son.  She graduated as Valedictorian from Merritt College and transferred to U.C. Berkeley, where she earned her degree in Legal Studies. During her time at Cal, she co-founded a food access program for students with children because she encountered many students who struggled to afford healthy food for their families.  

Sheng has many years of experience on the Oakland City Council as a senior legislative staff member and as Council Chief of Staff. As Chief of Staff, she has managed multiple city budget cycles - focused on balancing a transparent and responsible budget. Sheng also has extensive experience staffing regional government Boards and Commissions where she has worked on ways to bring funding to Oakland for public safety, transit, and capital improvement projects. Sheng is also an active participant on the Alameda Labor Council's Rapid Response working group, which aims to protect undocumented immigrants in Oakland and its neighboring cities. As a champion for the environment, Sheng has worked on policy solutions to provide cleaner air and water for Oakland residents. 

Sheng is a lifelong public servant and currently serves as a board member on the Redwood Heights Association, she is also on the board for the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, and serves as the Vice President for the Asian American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her son, biking through Joaquin Miller Park, and camping in the Stanislaus and El Dorado forests with her family. Sheng lives in District 4 with her 11-year-old son, Benedict, who is a Joaquin Miller Elementary alum.

Roseann Torres, Oakland School Board

Roseann Torres began her career as an attorney in January 2000 as a Deputy County Counsel of San Joaquin County, representing various county agencies such as Health and Human Services, San Joaquin General Hospital, the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Conservator/Guardian, as well as others.

To gain more rigorous courtroom experience, Ms. Torres became a Deputy District Attorney also for San Joaquin County, wherein she represented the People of the State of California in hundreds of criminal cases. Therein, Ms. Torres saw a need for Spanish speaking attorneys who could communicate directly with clients about critical details of their defense, rather than through interpreters who frequently made errors in open court. This led her to end her career in the public sector and pursue private practice.

Torres Law Group (formerly Law Offices of Roseann Torres) opened in March 2004 and has since served 1000's of clients in civil and criminal matters. Along with becoming a trusted advocate on behalf of clients throughout the Bay Area, Ms. Torres believes strongly in giving back to the community and has served on a variety of boards and committees in Oakland. She has sat on the Board of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Alameda County, Centro Legal de La Raza, Youth Movement Radio, National Women’s Political Caucus, East Bay La Raza Lawyers Association, and the Latino Connection PAC and the Measure Y Committee. In addition, the firm has routinely housed interns from local high schools as well as Girls Inc. to ensure college readiness and provide direct exposure to the practice of law for those interested in law.

In 2012, Ms. Torres decided to run for elected office to serve the youth in Oakland and won a seat on the OUSD School Board to represent District 5. In November 2016, she was re-elected to a second four-year term.

Jenny Wong, City Auditor, City of Berkeley

Bio coming soon. 

Jocelyn Yow, Eastvale City Council

From an early age, public service has been part of Jocelyn Yow’s life and a source of growth and inspiration. Growing up in a working-class immigrant family, her family emphasizes the importance of giving back and community service.

In 2011, Yow’s family moved to the Inland Empire and settled in Eastvale, where she quickly found a home.

She became involved in advocacy while attending Norco College. She continued that work by representing her peers at large as student body president. With home close to her heart, she transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree.

Yow served as a district representative for California State Senate and an aide for the United States House of Representatives, where she worked tirelessly to help seniors, families, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and children to access valuable government services as they navigated through the complexities of our government.

Yow is currently pursuing her master’s degree in government at Harvard Extension.