Huntington Park, CA
Address: 6325 Pacific Blvd. Ste 300; Huntington Park, CA 90255
Telephone: 323 826 9771
Fax: 323 588 7079
Conference Room: ext 118
(In alphabetical order by first name)
URSELA Coordinator – x120
Youth Organizer - x102
Angee Zavala first began working with CBE as a member of Youth For Environmental Justice (Youth EJ), Youth Action at Huntington Park High School, and Womyns Collective. From 2008-2009, Angee interned at CBE as Youth EJ organizing intern. In 2010, Angee worked with Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice. In late 2011, Angee returned to CBE as an organizer for CBE’s youth program.
Policy Director – x100
Bahram Fazeli is Research & Policy Analyst for the Southern California Office of CBE. In his twelve years at CBE, he has managed a number of research, policy, and planning projects and has worked closely with CBE community members, organizers and attorneys, providing technical assistance for various campaigns and projects. Bahram has served on many advisory groups including those at the US Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. He has also been guest speaker at various universities and schools and a panelist at numerous conferences. Working with CBE staff and academic partners from different disciplines on collaborative projects, Bahram has authored, coauthored, and contributed to reports, articles, and academic papers covering wide range of topics. He attended UCLA for his undergraduate and graduate training in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, walking by the Pacific Ocean, and reading poetry.
Director of Energy Program
“I have been a social justice activist since the late 1960s when I became involved in Colorado with the Crusade for Justice. When I came to CBE I was aware that the fight for environmental justice is a really important component of social justice: for the basic human right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and work and play on clean earth.”
Bill Gallegos has more than thirty years of experience as a social justice organizer. He has organized in factories, on campuses, and in the community. He is the proud father of two sons, Maceo and Ramon, and a wonderful nieto (grandson) Nikita. Bill has helped to lead campaigns to strengthen California’s pioneering greenhouse gas legislation, and is currently involved in helping to shape the State’s growing renewable energy infrastructure in a way that is equitable, democratic, de-centralized, efficient, and affordable.
Executive Director – x109
Over the last 20 years of community organizing, Byron Ramos Gudiel, has had the pleasure of struggling and working with activists and organizers throughout the country in service of racial, educational, environmental and economic justice. He has also worked to expand immigrant and worker rights in our communities.
While serving as Director of The Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ), Byron worked with staff, members and allies to improve the educational experience and environment of young people of color in Los Angeles and throughout California. Later, as the Director of Organizing at the Sierra Club, Byron led organizing efforts throughout the country to challenge the extraction, export and burning of fossil fuels, protect and create access to public lands, protect endangered species, and promote clean and renewable energy development. During his time at Sierra Club, he worked with members, staff, and allies to demand that people in low-income communities and communities of color have access to clean and renewable energy industry jobs and careers.
Southern California Program Director – x105
“As a daughter of Pilipino immigrants, I saw my parents were afraid to teach their children their own dialect. As I learned my history, I understood the struggles in the Philippines and in the US as rooted in the same oppressive system that puts humanity in ecological crisis. We must work for the survival of the future of the earth and our people.”
Darryl Molina Sarmiento is the Southern California Program Director for CBE. Before she became Program Director, she spent six years as Youth Program Coordinator, and organized youth in the successful campaign to defeat plans to site a polluting power plant in the City of Vernon near downtown Los Angeles. Darryl has served on the board of several environmental justice and youth organizations: the California Fund for Youth Organizing; the Coordinating Council of the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (as Co-Chair for the Youth Leadership Development Campaign); and, for Southern Californians for Youth.
Darryl graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles, where she was a student organizer, with a degree in Asian American Studies, and Political Science and Urban Planning minors. She has been a labor organizer with AFSCME 3299, and has done community organizing work with the Pilipino Workers Center of Los Angeles.
“Being young does not stop me from using my voice.”
Gerardo Gutierrez lives in Walnut Park and is currently a freshman at Huntington Park High School. He has been involved with Youth for Environmental Justice for three years and is the youth intern for the youth program for 2013-2014. In his spare time Gerardo expresses a lot of artistic ability through drawing and is inspired heavily by Christina Aguilera. Gerardo enjoys being part of Communities for a Better Environment because it has provided him with a safe space that allowed him to develop the strength, skills and social consciousness.
“Everybody has the ability to make change in the world so embrace your identity and don’t let the complexion of your skin, gender, or age deter you from success.”
Juan Rosales lives in South Gate and is currently a senior in South Gate High School. Juan has been involved with Youth for Environmental Justice for the past year and is the youth intern for the youth program for 2013-2014. Juan is involved in other forms of community work with South Gate High School’s Interact Club and was part of organizing Relay for Life at his school. Juan enjoys being part of Youth for Environmental Justice because he finds empowerment through being a young person. He believes CBE breaks down negative myths and pre conceived ideas that youth do not have a voice in their community.
“My parents taught us we must pay attention to our world and financial system–that we should work for justice for everybody and a healthy environment. My dad was an engineer who encouraged me in science. My mom was a feisty woman who believed women, regular folks can change the world.”
Julia May joined CBE staff in the late 1980s after years in the electronics industry. It was a perfect match for someone who wanted to use her engineering degree to do environmental work. She and her seven siblings grew up in the Detroit area with a strong sense of social justice and parents who had protested during the Depression and raised their kids as vegetarians—unheard of at the time. Julia is moved by CBE’s long-term continuity as a magnet for great people doing strategic environmental and justice work, science analysis, public interest law, and skilled grassroots organizing. She has worked with CBE and other nonprofits for over two decades.
Julia specializes in technical analysis and policy to clean up oil refineries, power plants, and other industrial pollution, and on expanding clean, alternative energy. She loves working with organizers, community members and youth identifying emissions, impacts and clean-up options. Julia also loves getting her hands dirty in the garden, and has very eclectic musical interests.
Southern California Staff Attorney – x121
“Ever since I was young, I’ve felt that helping those most vulnerable was what made life most meaningful. So I studied history to understand why the system works for some people and not for others. I went to law school to change that system.”
Maya works on legal cases and policy matters that help advance CBE’s mission of empowering communities and pushing for systemic change to achieve environmental justice. She provides legal support for CBE’s campaigns in Southeast Los Angeles (including the Huntington Park area, where her father grew up) and Wilmington. Her work engages her in local and statewide policy issues. Maya litigates cases in state and federal court—her primary areas of expertise include air pollution (in one of the nation’s most polluted air basins) and the California Air Quality Act, but she enthusiastically pursues any cases or policies that will improve the environment and public health, particularly in California’s most vulnerable communities.
Maya graduated in history from the University of Washington in 1998, and from the UCLA School of Law in 2001. In addition, she holds a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2005), where she studied U.S. legal and environmental/public health history. Maya has worked at Chatten-Brown & Associates (now Chatten-Brown & Carstons), and at the South Coast Air Quality Management District. In her spare time, Maya enjoys spending time with her family, SCUBA diving, and has recently taken up beginning ballet classes.
Youth Co-ordinator – x112
“Youth for Environmental Justice gave me the tools and space to challenge and create in my own community, but most importantly, it proved to me that ‘Youth are the leaders of today not just tomorrow.’ I am excited to have the opportunity to work as the Youth Organizer in Wilmington because I strive to offer a similar if not better space than the one that welcomed me 12 years ago.”
Milton Hernandez Nimatuj is Maya-Cakchiquel, born in Guatemala and rooted in Southeast Los Angeles. He was 16 in 2000 when he became involved in environmental justice work with CBE’s youth program (Youth EJ) as part of the successful organizing effort to defeat the proposed power plant, Nueva Azalea, in South Gate, in southeast Los Angeles County. That campaign, along with involvement in conferences, workshops, actions and presentations, developed Milton’s sense of his own empowerment as an activist and organizer.
CBE/Youth EJ allowed Milton to grow as and interact with a variety of people and movements. He became active with Wise Up!, an immigrant youth group that helped pass AB540 (now a California state law), which allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public California colleges. Milton also helped establish Qteam, a queer and transgender youth of color collective that creates change through multi-issue organizing. As youth coordinator at the Southern California Library, he developed curriculum for high school students about south L.A. history, community issues and organizing efforts. Currently, Milton is CBE’s Youth Co-ordinator.
Organizer – x107
“I have made a personal commitment to work in and with my community to improve the conditions surrounding contaminated areas so that one day our future leaders (our children and their children) can raise their young in a safe and clean environment.”
Robert Cabrales is a community organizer for Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) in Southern California. Robert was born and raised in the unincorporated Florence District of L.A. County adjacent to South Los Angeles, growing up with poverty and environmental injustice in neighborhoods surrounded by factories and metal scrappers. The experience led Robert to join CBE’s “Youth for Environmental Justice” (Youth EJ). Prior to joining CBE staff in 2002 as the community organizer for South East Los Angeles (SELA), Robert played a key role in defeating the proposed 550 MW Power Plant in South Gate during the 2001 “energy crisis.” He continues to organize in the Southeast LA community, which saw him grow to a leader he is today.
Robert studied music at Pasadena Community College and he and his band Soul Conference play occasionally at such landmark occasions as CBE’s first Southern California Earth Day Celebration and the 10 year anniversary of CBE’s Youth EJ program.
Donor Engagement Coordinator – x113
“My name means “of the forest” when I learned this- it was as if I became complete. My love for the outdoors and nature came full circle. I made a promise to do what I can do to protect Mother Earth.”
Sylvia graduated from San Francisco State University with her BA in Political Science and a Minor in Women Gender Studies; she focused her education in the areas of nonprofit administration and social movements. While living in Oakland, she worked at Peace Action West with the Outreach Team and Membership Department. At CBE Sylvia works to increase the commitment of our members, build CBE’s relationship with our supporters, coordinates special events and develops a fundraising plan of action.
Before Sylvia transitioned into CBE she was organizing canvass and phone bank teams to mobilize voters to the voting booths with Goundworks Campaigns. She was able to talk to voters in her own neighborhood and hear the issues they were most concerned with. Sylvia decided to take a stand and lend her voice to her fellow Wilmington residents- she was elected as a board member on the Wilmington Neighborhood Council in 2012 and is part of the Land Use Planning and Gateway Beautification Committees. As a founding member of the revamp of United Wilmington Youth Foundation and a core organizer for the Wilmington based colectiva Mujeres Unidas, Sylvia organizes grassroots community events and develops grassroots fundraising strategies. When she has spare time she enjoys a nice hike exploring trails, riding her bike, and talking politics.
Financial Director - x110
Yadira was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, she came to California when she was 6 years old. She grew up in a the rural town of Graton, where she began to understand the impacts of social inequalities. For this reason, she began to work with the Graton Day Labor Center. This Center aimed to advance and protect the human, labor and civil rights of day laborers and their families. Yadira believes that every person should have access to basic human rights; and she believes that CBE embraces this belief as well.
Yadira has been an active member in South Central LA, where she currently resides. She has been involved in different capacities; as a board member of a local nonprofit, as a treasurer of her Neighborhood Council, or as a volunteer with special projects. Prior to joining CBE, Yadira was a Senior Finance Associate at Community Partners in Los Angeles. Yadira was also the Director of Administration at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. She graduated from UC Davis with a double major in Economics and International Relations, and she holds a Certificate in Accounting from UCLA Extension.
Address: 116 E Pacific Coast Highway. Ste 200; Wilmington, CA 90744
Telephone: 310 952 9097
Fax: 310 952 4924
Community Organizer – 310-952-9097
“To help people evolve from being passive and inactive into concerned individuals who feel the responsibility to participate in the fight for environmental justice rewards my spirit, and it helps me to continue the long and hard struggle to fight for our planet.“
Alicia fled the civil war in El Salvador in 1980. Trying to cross the border, she and her siblings were deported several times to Mexico and, after being mistreated by INS agents, they were deported back to El Salvador. After they finally made it to the US, Alicia became involved in educating Americans about the human rights abuses by the government of El Salvador and to end the US military aid. Despite her “illegal” status she debated the then INS director, and then US Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams. She appeared in numerous media outlets including 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace. She was co-founder and director of El Rescate, the first social and legal aid program for Central American refugees in Los Angeles.
Alicia transitioned into environmental organizing in the campaign to make Texaco accountable for their pollution in Wilmington CA and in the Ecuador rainforest. Her work at CBE since 1995 has included successfully organizing against “La Montana” as well as several other campaigns and opening the first CBE pilot office in Huntington Park. More recently, she was featured in a column by Steve Lopez of the LA Times as well as in its Spanish Hoy edition for her work on Prop 23. She currently works in the Clean Up Green Up campaign to address the cumulative impact of multiple sources of pollution in Wilmington, CA. Alicia got a BA in interdisciplinary studies from Cal State Dominguez Hills. She has three children.
Youth Organizer – 310-952-9097
Address: 1904 Franklin Street, Ste 600 Oakland, CA 94612
Telephone: 510 302 0430
Fax: 510 302 0437
Conference Room: ext 25
(In alphabetical order by first name)
Richmond Community Organizer – Cell: 510-282-5363
Andrés Soto is a Richmond, California raised advocate for social justice who for more than 30 years has engaged in struggles for civil rights, educational rights, immigrants rights and environmental justice. Andrés has also been on the front lines of the battles for gun control, youth violence prevention, elimination of police brutality and creating the Progressive Movement in Richmond, California. He is a founding member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance. Andrés is also a working musician in the Bay Area and has played his Saxophones around the world. Andrés is also a proud father of two sons and is enjoying grandfatherhood with his four grandchildren.”
Richmond office address:
1021 MacDonald Avenue, Richmond, CA 94801
Senior Scientist – x19
Greg has extensive environmental science and policy experience, and expertise in the fields of industrial investigation, pollution prevention engineering, energy system planning and exposure assessment. In his 30 years with CBE he has led research in campaigns on water quality, air quality and food chain contamination; participated in pollution prevention audits of more than 100 industrial facilities; and, authored or co-authored 20 major scientific publications including CBE reports and formal peer reviewed work. He serves as an expert for CBE and other community-based groups and nonprofits on pollution prevention and sustainable energy projects in the oil and electricity sectors. Greg is committed to community participation in environmental science.
Heather Lewis is a Legal Fellow at Communities for a Better Environment who provides legal support to communities that are advocating to prevent and reduce pollution and build healthy and sustainable communities. While in law school Heather worked with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center in Whitesburg, Kentucky on coal mining environmental justice litigation, and clerked with the U.S. EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. She was also a Student Advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York and the Center for Popular Democracy in Brooklyn, and an intern with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2010 with a degree in Environmental Studies, and from NYU School of Law in 2013, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the NYU Environmental Law Journal.
East Oakland Community Organizer - x24
Born in Michoacán, Mexico, at age 11 Jose migrated to the United States to reunite with his family. His early bond with nature nurtured a strong commitment for environmental equity, leading him to acquire a degree in Environmental Science from UC Berkeley.
Jose trained and mobilized Oxnard, his hometown, to advance environmental awareness through CAUSE, a local organization. His efforts helped: establish public interest into restoring local wetlands, add a toxic waste site into the EPA’s superfund list, mobilize and educate community members to seize the construction of a power plant. He also organized communities to block a mining company from establishing liquefied natural gas tankers.
Jose’s leadership allowed him to organize Berkeley’s communities to open a charter school and to pass a comprehensive towing policy for unlicensed immigrants. During his tenure as a Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action (BOCA) organizer he established leaders to address issues pertaining to: educational achievement gap, community safety, homelessness, housing, and immigrant integration.
As an organizer for CBE, Jose is invested in identifying and empowering leaders to build upon their leadership, expertise, and each other to reduce environmental impacts. His faith values prompt him into organizing while influencing policymaking to help communities reclaim respect and value.
East Oakland Community Organizer - x21
Nehanda Imara is an Oakland, resident, dedicated activist, organizer, educator and adjunct teacher for African American and Environmental Studies at Merritt College. Nehanda created the first Environmental Racism/Justice course at the Peralta Community College District. Read more about Nehanda’s accomplishments in the Examiner.com article: “Nehanda Imara, Oakland’s mother of environmental justice.”
She is a member of the Board of Directors of Leadership Excellence, a non-profit African American youth organization in Oakland and member of the East Oakland Building Healthy Community initiative. Nehanda also serves as Co-coordinator of Merritt’s “Black Consciousness Raising Tours of Africa and the African Diaspora.
Nehanda has traveled to over 10 African countries as well as the Caribbean and Central America. As a freelance writer, she has contributed book reviews and written for the San Jose Metro, “Nkrumaist Review” (journal of Africa and Pan African topics) and various online media.
As an organizer for CBE, her outreach and recruitment work has built a strong core membership and broad support base of youth, students, residents and community partners in the Oakland area. She organized the first CBE ‘Love Yo Mama Earth Day’ in 2007 in collaboration with community partners in deep East Oakland, a community suffering deeply from the present global ecological crisis, bringing information and resources to youth and residents that typically lack access.
As an activist-educator, Nehanda’s philosophy is to “put activism” into everything. Whether leading youth/student groups to Ghana or working on communities gardens in East Oakland, Nehanda is inspired by these local and global exchanges.
Northern California Program Director – x11
“Growing up in Flint, MI, I felt the suffering of the black community resulting from disinvestment, deindustrialization, outsourcing, crime, pollution, and the loss of thousands of jobs when General Motors left the city. Though my dad had seniority in the union and maintained a job, I heard the vivid struggles of racism at his work and in union politics. I have worked to find solutions to these issues through advocating and supporting community-based solutions that benefit working class people and people of color.”
Nile Malloy is the Northern California Program Director for Communities for a Better Environment. His work is focused on local land use, environmental, health, and climate programs and policies that support local resilience—a community’s ability to resist or rapidly recover from extreme circumstances–in Oakland, Richmond and the rest of the Bay Area.
Nile is interested in social entrepreneurship and innovative projects that address solutions to community problems. He has taught and lectured at the collegiate level at the New College of California and was a high school teacher in San Francisco for four years. Nile served on the Cumulative Impacts Working Group for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. He holds a B.A. in Urban Anthropology and African American Studies from the University of Michigan, and an M.A. in Social and Cultural Anthropology with a focus on local and global economic and environmental projects.
Staff Attorney – x16
“Growing up in a rural and conservative town in England shaped my desire to fight for social justice. The law provides me with a means to do so; I am proud to be a part of the Environmental Justice movement and a member of CBE.”
Roger Lin is a Staff Attorney at Communities for a Better Environment. He provides legal advocacy to achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and promoting green, healthy and sustainable communities and environments. He has previously worked with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, the United States Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, and most recently advocated for the rights of low-income and disabled residents of Alameda County at the Homeless Action Center. Roger graduated from Stanford University in 2001 and from Golden Gate University School of Law in 2006, with a Specialization in Public Interest/Environmental Law. When not in the office, Roger is usually playing soccer, boxing or hanging out with his family.
Legal Director – x18
“I went to law school because I knew the system was broken. It was there that I first met community members fighting for environmental justice in Southeast LA, working to move a toxic waste transfer facility, working to move La Montana, working to make a livable world. I immediately saw that community empowerment was the way to bring about change, and that environmental laws could play a crucial role. Fifteen years later, I still believe this is the way to bring about a just, sustainable world.”
Shana Lazerow is the Chief of Litigation at Communities for a Better Environment. She is committed to providing the legal assistance needed to bring about CBE’s vision of empowered communities and an environmentally just society. Shana brings the legal perspective to CBE’s campaign teams, develops and pursues lawsuits using federal and state environmental statutes, and coordinates the organization’s litigation docket. She also engages in regional and statewide policy issues including transition to clean energy.
Shana graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993, and from University of California, Los Angeles School of Law in 1997. Prior to joining CBE, she was the program director for San Francisco Baykeeper and a staff attorney at Waterkeepers Northern California, where she ran a small legal clinic to train public interest lawyers. In her dozen years of legal practice, Shana has also made brief forays into academia, and cherishes the prospect of helping the next generation of activists and lawyers develop strategies to bring about social change.
Staff Attorney – x22
Yana Garcia is a Staff Attorney at Communities for a Better Environment. She has joined the Oakland-office team after spending time in CBE’s Huntington Park office where she pursued various litigation-based and other legal strategies to prevent and reduce pollution throughout the LA-area – specifically in Southeast LA and Wilmington. Yana provides legal support for CBE’s statewide, regional and local campaigns in southern, and now northern California. She joined CBE to re-engage in the work that inspired her to be an attorney.
Prior to law school Yana worked with various indigenous communities throughout the country and into parts of Mexico as a Pilot Project Coordinator for Honor the Earth Foundation based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and as a Development and Programs Associate at La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In law school her practice experiences were focused on environmental justice and civil rights. She was a fellow at the Texas Civil Rights Project in El Paso, Texas and a Legal Intern at Alternatives for Community and Environment, an environmental justice organization based in Boston, Massachusetts. Yana also externed for now retired Justice Carlos Moreno at the Supreme Court of California in 2009-2010, and spent a year as a research clerk at the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, with then-Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein.
Yana is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2006), and Northeastern University School of Law, class of 2011.