Huntington Park, CA
Address: 6325 Pacific Blvd. Ste 300; Huntington Park, CA 90255
Telephone: (323) 826-9771
Fax Line: (323) 588-7079
Conference Room: ext. 118
(In alphabetical order by first name)
Ambar’s interest in civic engagement and community organizing for environmental health and social justice led her to CBE. She believes that an indigenous environmental justice framework is key to addressing the challenges of the ecological crisis as well the various forms of violence and injustices experienced by historically marginalized communities.
Director of Research and Policy – ext. 100
For the past 18 years at CBE, Bahram has managed a number of research, policy, and planning projects and has worked closely with CBE community members, organizers and attorneys to provide technical assistance for various campaigns. Bahram has served on different advisory groups including those at the US EPA and various California regulatory agencies, and he has been recognized for his contributions to environmental health and justice policies including an award from the American Planning Association for his work on the precedent-setting Clean Up Green Up Ordinance in the City of Los Angeles. Working with CBE staff, members and academic partners on collaborative and participatory action research projects, Bahram has authored, coauthored, and contributed to reports, articles, and academic papers covering diverse topics in environmental policy. He attended UCLA for his undergraduate and graduate training in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning. In his free time, he coaches soccer, bikes, walks, cooks, reads poetry, and spends time with family and friends.
Executive Director – ext. 105
“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 Executive Director for Communities for a Better Environment, a 40-year-old environmental justice organization that builds local power through community organizing, research, and legal support in Wilmington, South East Los Angeles, East Oakland, and Richmond, California to prevent increased pollution in already over-burdened communities and enact a Just Transition towards clean energy and healthy, empowered communities. Darryl embodies CBE’s leadership ladder, having first encountered CBE at the age of 18, when she took a CBE Toxic Tour. In 2005, she joined CBE as the Youth Program Coordinator where she organized youth to defeat the Vernon Power Plant. In 2011, Darryl transitioned into the role of CBE’s Southern California Program Director and was at the helm of successful community-based campaigns against the fossil fuel industry and toxic polluters. She co-chaired the Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling-Los Angeles Coalition (STAND LA) to advance a buffer zone policy on neighborhood oil drilling in the City of Los Angeles and was instrumental in leading the passage of Clean Up Green Up, a City of Los Angeles ordinance that is one of the first Environmental Justice Green Zone Policies in the nation. She has worked on the passage of statewide energy and climate policy and has worked to advance local clean energy and transportation goals. Darryl graduated from UCLA and has a background in student organizing, labor organizing and community organizing. Darryl serves on the steering committees of the California Environmental Justice Alliance and the Climate Justice Alliance.
Youth Program Coordinator – ext. 107
A queer feminist from Southeast LA, Dilia’s passion for environmental justice sprouts from witnessing her family work various jobs in the city of Vernon and growing up adjacent to the industrial part of Walnut Park. Prior to CBE, Dilia organized with Bienestar Human Services and CSULB’s Center for Latino Community Health, fighting for health equity and queer and gender justice. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Literature and History with a concentration in Latin@ Studies from Williams College. Dilia is a proud gemini-cancer cusp.
Grassroots Fundraising Organizer – ext. 112
Dinah graduated from UCLA, studied anthropology and labor and workplace studies, and it was here that her roots as an organizer began to take form. Her belief in social justice and the right to a dignified life for all people led her to continue her work as an organizer. Before joining CBE, her work was primarily focused in the Labor Movement, where she had the opportunity to work with various institutions and organizations like the UCLA Labor Center, the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, the Garment Worker Center, and SEIU-United Service Workers West. What she loves about organizing is the amazing power that people have to transform their lives and their communities through collective action.
Communications Associate – ext. 109
Gissela was a child when CBE’s campaign against La Montaña in South East Los Angeles first began. Her mother worked as a Community Outreach Worker for CBE at the time. Gissela grew up seeing what the power of community could accomplish and was part of CBE’S Youth Action Club at Huntington Park High School. She participated in the efforts to stop the construction of a Power Plant that was proposed in the neighboring city of Vernon, CA. This was eventually a victory for CBE- no powerplant! In December of 2016, she completed her B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Queer Studies from Cal State Long Beach. Gissela has a strong passion for social and environmental justice issues and brought her organizing experience back to her hometown community when she joined CBE in 2018 as a communications fellow.
Director of Finance & Operations – ext. 110
Iliana Alvarado joined CBE in March 2018. She is responsible for providing leadership, oversight and management to CBE’s financial department. Iliana has fourteen years of experience in the non-profit sector, specializing in grant management and reporting and operational efficiency.
Senior Staff Attorney
Jennifer Ganata joined Communities for a Better Environment in September 2018. Previously she worked at Communities for a Better Environment from 2007 to 2012 as a youth organizer and a legal fellow. She transitioned from doing environmental justice work to housing by starting her housing career at Eviction Defense Network. Before returning to CBE, Jennifer was a senior staff attorney at Inner City Law Center where she did eviction defense and land use.
Jennifer has a deep interest in connecting her passion for environmental justice and housing in order to defend frontline communities’ right to housing and a better environment. She believes that organizing is key to helping move our communities away from investing in an extractive economy.
Jennifer has a BA in Ethnic Studies and a minor in Urban Studies and Planning from University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Jennifer received a JD from City University of New York (CUNY), where she was trained through the Adult Defender Clinical program and an LL.M from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a focus on Critical Race Studies. She is a member of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles.
“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 has a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan. In her 25+ years at CBE, she has evaluated and advised about industrial pollution sources, industrial chemical phaseout opportunities, and Best Available Control Technical options. Julia evaluates technical reports and publications, turning this information into more accessible material for the community.
Southern California Program Co-Director – ext. 112
“Youth for Environmental Justice gave me the tools and space to challenge and organize in my own community, but most importantly, it proved to me that ‘Youth are the leaders of today not just tomorrow.”
I am honored to first-hand experience CBE’s transformative organizing model and leadership ladder, from being a core member during my high school experience into becoming an organizing intern, to becoming a youth program staff member and now as the SoCal Program Director.
Queer Maya-Cakchiquel born in Guatemala and raised in Southeast Los Angeles, Milton was 16 years old when they became involved in environmental justice work with CBE’s youth program, organizing to defeat the proposed power plant, Nueva Azalea, in South Gate. Milton was active in helping pass AB540, now a California state law, which allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public California colleges. They also organized with QTeam, a queer and trans youth of color collective Los Angeles. Milton received a BS in Plant Science from Cal Poly Pomona.
South East Los Angeles Community Organizer
Youth Program Coordinator
“it is not uncommon to wake up to the sound of loud machinery, to close your windows because of disgusting odors, or to have to choose between where you work and your health. Every day it is something. I decided to organize out of concern for the wellbeing of my twelve siblings, single mother, and neighbors.”
Rossmery, who identifies as a young Central American woman from SELA, has been organizing since the age of 14. She became involved with CBE because her older sisters introduced her to Youth for Environmental Justice (Youth EJ) and the community work young people were leading. As a Youth EJ member, Rossmery has advocated for CBE’s organization’s local, regional, and statewide campaigns out of Southern California. She has worked on several campaigns to push out toxic facilities and practices that go on in her community including the shutdown of Exide Technologies (one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of batteries) and challenging the expansion of the 1-710 freeway, an 18-mile freeway expansion project from the Pomona Freeway to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
As a youth leader, Rossmery was inspired by the power of voice and decided to major in Communication Studies, which allowed her to translate scholarship and local research into narratives and storytelling. Rossmery attended Humboldt State University, East Los Angeles College, and Cal State LA, where she recently earned her third degree. She continues the legacy of grassroots activism in her family as the current South East Los Angeles Youth Organizer.
Development Director – ext. 115
Stephanie has worked for over 20 years with under-represented communities as an organizer, community planner, coalition builder and policy advocate, mostly in the realm of community development, affordable housing and environmental justice. She launched her community activism as a volunteer organizer deeply involved with residents who secured a major policy win when the City of Los Angeles provided seed funding for a new non-profit to build parks in park-poor neighborhoods. For the past 10 years, she has worked exclusively in coalitions. Most of this work was as staff and then director of the Green LA Coalition, formed to advance a progressive environmental policy agenda for Los Angeles. She earned a Masters degree in City Planning from Boston University and a B.A. in Economics from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. She is growing her family through fostering and adoption and is a parent of two boys.
Civic Engagement Director – ext. 113
“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 brings deep community connection to her role at CBE, as she was raised and currently resides in Wilmington and served as CBE’s Development Associate for 3 years. Before joining CBE, Sylvia was a fundraiser at Peace Action West. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from San Francisco State University. She has worked on several electoral campaigns and is a member of the Wilmington Neighborhood Council.
Solar on Multi-family Affordable Housing (SOMAH) Outreach Coordinator – ext. 120
Terez grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she attended Abington Friends School. Upon graduating from high school in 2013, she fell in love with sunny SoCal and moved to Claremont, CA. In 2016, Terez arrived in Long Beach, where she found a strong environmental justice advocacy community and passions for mobility justice, youth engagement, cycling, and civic engagement.
Terez is an alum of the Women’s Policy Institute – State (2017-2018), a public policy fellowship in which she advocated for AB 2299 (Chiu, 2018) to further equity in Medi-Cal. In policy advocacy and everyday life, she finds deep fulfillment in challenging oppressive structures and institutions to better center historically marginalized people and values.
Terez is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and in her free time, she enjoys cooking, bike riding, DIY-ing, and basking in the sunlight.
Theo Caretto is an associate attorney based in Huntington Park. During law school, he served as a digital editor for the Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs, and represented undocumented clients seeking asylum, legal status, and work authorization with the UCLA Immigrant Family Legal Clinic. He also interned with the California Attorney General’s Natural Resources Law Section and a federal magistrate judge. Theo holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law.
Theo enjoys woodworking, backpacking, learning about wine, watching Formula 1, and playing boardgames.
Wendy was raised in Southeast Los Angeles with roots in rural Central Mexico. They stand firmly grounded in the defense of their own community and others that are disproportionately impacted by environmental issues. They attended California State University, Sacramento and received a BS in Environmental Science. While pursuing their degree, they focused on urban farming, restoration ecology projects throughout the American River in Sacramento, the conservation of marine mammals throughout the Central-Southern Coast, and groundwater quality in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. They then continued to organize alongside farm-working communities in Tulare County for water justice. Here, they assisted in local/statewide advocacy, community-led water well testing, and research. At CBE, they are focused on housing and water work throughout Southeast Los Angeles.
Wendy enjoys solo hikes, making homemade home products, DJing, creative writing, and healing through the soil, minerals, and quality time with their loved ones.
Address: 113 E. Anaheim Street, Wilmington, CA 90744
Telephone: (323) 826-9771
Fax Line: (310) 952-4924
(In alphabetical order by first name)
Wilmington Community Organizer – ext. 106
“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 was the lead organizer in CBE’s campaign against La Montaña, a gigantic pile of cement rubble from the 1994 Northridge earthquake that was stored on an empty lot in residential Southeast LA County for 20 years, where it sickened neighbors with air pollution including cement dust. Alicia previously worked as an organizer at the LA Alliance for a New Economy, leading their Adams/La Brea Accountable Re-Development campaign and building support in Wilmington, CA for their Port truck drivers’ campaign. Alicia has a strong passion and commitment for environmental and economic justice issues.
Wilmington Youth Organizer – ext. 108
Raised in Wilmington, Ashley first became involved with CBE during her junior year of high school. As a member of CBE’s youth program (Youth EJ), she worked on the Clean Up Green Up campaign. She was then selected to be a CBE Youth EJ organizing intern. Ashley is very passionate about Clean Up Green Up because it is the first program of its kind in Los Angeles.
Climate Adaptation Resiliency Enhancement (CARE) Coordinator – ext. 103
Laura began at CBE as Richmond Youth Organizer and developed the Richmond branch of CBE’s Youth EJ Program, where our youth members are fighting environmental injustices and moving towards a Just Transition. Laura brings deep organizing experience to her new role as the CARE Coordinator. She graduated from the University of California- Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Art. Some of her previous experience includes volunteering and canvassing for Planned Parenthood, mentoring and tutoring young immigrants in Watsonville, CA, improving transportation for students and workers at UCSC, and coordinating a social media campaign with Physicians for Social Responsibility that highlights the health impacts caused by climate change. Laura also serves on the Richmond Progressive Alliance’s Steering Committee, where she focuses on youth engagement and environmental justice.
Housing Outreach Coordinator
Address: 100 Hegenberger Rd, Suite 270, Oakland, CA 94621
Telephone: (510) 302-0430
Fax Line: (510) 302-0437
(In alphabetical order by first name)
East Oakland Community Organizer
Adele Watts was born and raised in Oakland, California. Adele joined Communities for a Better
Environment (CBE) in September of 2020 as the East Oakland Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing
(SOMAH) Outreach Associate. While carrying out the implementation of the SOMAH program, she enjoyed educating the community on the benefits of the SOMAH program, sharing energy conservation and efficiency tips with community members and highlighting the importance of accessible solar energy and energy democracy for frontline environmental justice communities. Prior to joining CBE, Adele gained experience in local government, working with both the City of Oakland and Alameda County.
Adele’s shift to environmental justice work has allowed her to combine her passion for social and environmental justice and education while working in her community. In her current role as an East Oakland Community Organizer, Adele seeks to uplift and center Black voices and to center the Just Transition Framework. While at CBE Adele has been actively engaged in advancing CBE’s Anti-Blackness and Equity work, spearheaded the East Oakland Toxic Tour Video project and supports with the distribution of CBE’s Wildfire resilience kits. Adele is a proud alum of Arizona State University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Urban Planning. Outside of work, she loves visiting museums, reading, practicing yoga and mothering her imaginative and resourceful 7-year-old daughter.
NorCal Communications Associate
Becky Hoag is a second-generation South Bay Area native with a passion for communicating climate change issues. She has bachelor’s degrees in environmental science and journalism from the University of Oregon, and she previously worked as a science writer for the Naval Postgraduate School communications office where she broke down various science topics for funders, potential students, and fellow researchers. In 2020, she founded her social media brand, Beckisphere, to cover climate change and energy transition topics on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, and via podcast. Becky has produced climate change content for several organizations including KQED and Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE).
In her free time, Becky loves to play with her black cat, crochet, dance, and hang out with friends.
East Oakland Clean Air Program Coordinator
Carly was born in LA county, raised in Riverside County (the Inland Empire) and her family is from México. Carly moved up to the Bay in 2015 to attend SF State and completed their undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Sustainability & Social Justice and a minor in International Relations. She has been living in Oakland since January 2022 – she moved to Oakland to join the Climate Corps Americorps Program as a Sustainability & Equity Fellow at OUSD to support the creation of the OUSD Sustainability Plan.
In this position, Carly supports the development of AB 617 and, in tandem, the Community Emissions Reduction Plan (CERP) and any other clean air projects in East Oakland. She is very passionate about environmental justice and social justice, in general – by any means necessary.
Carly has been a part of Feed the Block, an Inland Empire-based mutual aid since October of 2020. She enjoys empowering the community she’s from and community she lives in, going to direct actions/community events, and learning new skills and concepts to support community and better herself. On their down time, they enjoy spending time with friends, taking creative classes in community spaces such as ceramics and sewing, reading, being silly, taking care of her plant babies, dancing, and having memorable experiences.
NorCal Program Co-Director
“My actions are my only true belongings: I cannot escape their consequences. My actions are the ground on which I stand,” Thich Nhat Hanh
East Oakland Youth Organizer
Gustavo Gutierrez is the youngest child of two young parents who moved to San Diego, CA from Mexico when Gustavo was only 3. Gustavo moved to the Bay Area in 2017 to study at UC Berkeley but was disillusioned with the elitist and neoliberal agendas of higher education and found refuge in local food sovereignty movements. Since then, they have dedicated themselves to popular education and agroecology as a path towards liberation. In 2022, Gustavo graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor’s of Science in Society and Environment. Gustavo cites their experiences as a young activist fighting for food justice and gun reform as a major inspiration for their role as East Oakland Youth Organizer.
Gustavo says, “Reflecting on the experiences of my youth, I realize that when I was fighting for justice in my community, I was actually advocating for other people’s solutions to the problems my community and I were experiencing. As East Oakland Youth Organizer, the youth’s vision for a just and equitable world will be my number one priority. I’m going to move with intention and make sure that I’m creating a safe and brave space for youth to explore their innate ability to think critically and dream of a better future. I just want to water the plants, you know?”
NorCal Legal Fellow
Sarah is a Berkeley Law Foundation fellow and a former CBE legal intern. Sarah graduated from UC Davis School of Law with certificates in environmental and public interest law and served as co-editor in chief of Environs journal of environmental law and policy. As a law student, she also published an original article on the impact of media portrayals of toxic pollution in the Georgetown Environmental Law Review.
Sarah came to the law from local government and public health, including emergency food security work in the early months of COVID and tobacco control research on industry advertising strategies. Through this work and growing up in a period of rapid gentrification in San Francisco, Sarah decided to pursue a law degree to help fight to put community health before corporate greed.
In her free time, Sarah enjoys playing with her cats Sopita and Mole con Pollo, hiking and camping, cooking, and making music with friends.
Legal Director – ext. 18
“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. More than two decades later, I still believe this is the way to bring about a just, sustainable world.”
Shana has worked as a public interest lawyer and advocate since 1999. Her focus has been on enforcing environmental laws and advocating before administrative agencies to secure meaningful environmental protection statewide. Shana holds an A.B. from University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law. In addition to her advocacy, Shana has taught at Stanford Law School.
Tyler pursued a career in law to fight for a more just world for all. Their past work on wetland habitat conservation in the Imperial Valley inspired their passion for environmental justice as they saw the stark difference between a protected environment and the disastrous consequences of pollution on already over-burdened communities of color. In law school, they furthered their study of environmental law by interning with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Enforcement Section and the California Public Utilities Commission and helped clients navigate the legal system during internships at the Working Peoples’ Law Center and USC’s Post-Conviction Justice Project. They graduated with a B.A. in History and Political Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and earned a J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.
Address: 340 Marina Way, Richmond, CA 94801
Telephone: (510) 302-0430
Fax Line: (510) 302-0437
Conference Room: ext. 20
(In alphabetical order by first name)
Just Transition Campaign Manager
Human Resources and Operations Associate
Destiny-Keioko was born in Oakland, CA and raised in Richmond, CA. She worked as a Post Retirement Analyst for the State of California. There she received her passion for Human Resources through an internship with her department chief. She briefly relocated to Houston, Texas in 2020. After volunteering with the city to help citizens of Houston regain food and housing after the severe winter storms in 2021, she furthermore decided to pursue employment within nonprofits that focused on social justice and community service. Upon relocating back to her hometown, Destiny-Keioko found the alignment of work and service through CBE in 2022.
She completed her bachelor’s at Sacramento State. She is currently a Master of Human Resource Development Student at the University of Houston. Outside of work, Destiny-Keioko is a classical pianist and enjoys hiking.
Human Resources Director – ext. 25
Emily came to CBE via the queer/reproductive rights and healthcare reform movements in Portland, Oregon, where she developed her passion for helping to demystify and make available resources that are often gatekept by patriarchal, white supremacist, and profit-driven systems. Initially hired at CBE as Finance Associate in 2015, she became HR Manager in 2017 and HR Director in 2018. During this period of rapid organizational growth, Emily has worked to develop and strengthen the organization’s internal HR functions to more fully support our staff and reflect our political and organizational philosophies.
Emily has a BA from Lewis & Clark College, and a Senior Professional in Human Resources certification from HRCI. In her non-work hours Emily is an enthusiastic succulent gardener, knitter, and fiction writer.
Richmond Youth Organizer
Keala was born and raised in the Bay Area and has family roots in Brasil. She is a movement scholar, youth organizer, and educator building and dreaming at the intersections of abolition and environmental justice. Keala attended Northwestern University, where she earned her B.A. in a self-designed academic program in Critical Race Environmental Justice Studies. She founded an environmental justice youth organization fighting for divestment from the extractive fossil fuel industry and self-determination in Black & Brown frontline communities. Her Mellon Mays undergraduate thesis research centered the experiences of currently incarcerated comrades at Cook County Jail during the COVID-19 pandemic to conceptualize an abolitionist environmental justice political framework.
Just Transition Fellow
Kerry (they/she) is finally back home in the East Bay and proud to be part of the Richmond Organizing Team as the Just Transition Fellow. In this role, they are supporting the Organizing Team’s ongoing efforts to amplify community power in Richmond and align local, regional and statewide policy to meet Richmond’s needs through a Just Transition. They were previously at Self-Help Enterprises where they worked with farmworker communities in the San Joaquin Valley to address contaminated and depleted drinking water sources and energy equity issues.
Kerry holds a law degree from Stanford, an MSc in Water Science, Policy & Management from Oxford, and a BA from Georgetown. They are a member of the board of directors of Black & Pink, a national prison abolitionist organization serving queer and trans folks and people living with HIV/AIDS who are impacted by the carceral system, and they are honored to play a coordinating role in the Allensworth Cemetery Project, which has returned the cemetery to local control for the first time in decades. In all their work, Kerry aims to support historically marginalized communities, particularly low-income communities and communities of color, to advocate for themselves and succeed in their own futures’ creation.
Richmond Community Organizer
Lazuli was born and raised in Richmond, CA. They attended UCLA and received a Bachelor’s in Chicanx and Central American Studies. Their purpose is to build community and create pathways toward healing our land and people from toxic environments and corporations.
Tessa is a Bay Area local passionate about the right to clean air, water, and soil. She joined CBE in 2022 after receiving her MS in Environmental Health Sciences at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Tessa has experience working with NGOs and research groups focused on reducing farmworker communities’ pesticide exposure in California, opposing neighborhood oil drilling in Los Angeles, protecting endangered species in the US, and studying the health impacts of drinking water contamination. She holds a BA from Occidental College where she studied Urban and Environmental Policy.