Contact Us



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 Rivera

Staff Researcher

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.  

Bahram Fazeli

Director of Research and Policy – ext. 100

Bahram Fazeli photo

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.

Darryl Molina Sarmiento

Executive Director – ext. 105

Darryl Molina photo

“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. 

Dilia Ortega

Interim Equity Director  – 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 becoming Interim Equity Director, Dilia was a Community Organizer and Youth Program Coordinator with CBE for seven years, where she focused on park equity and the campaign to prevent the 710S freeway widening. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Literature and History with a concentration in Latin@ Studies from Williams College and is currently pursuing her Masters of Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA.

Dinah Dominguez

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.

Gissela Chavez

Communications Manager – 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.

Iliana Alvarado

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.

Jay Parepally

Federal Climate Fellow

Jay is a University of California President’s Public Service Law and Energy Foundation fellow based in CBE’s Southeast LA office. He grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Here We Go Steelers!). After working for several years in healthcare financial consulting in San Francisco, he became passionate about the climate crisis and environmental justice issues, so he pivoted toward law school. Jay graduated from UCLA School of Law with specializations in environmental law as well as international & comparative law. During law school, he served as Chief Comments Editor for the Journal of Environmental Law and Policy and Co-Chair of the South Asian Law Students’ Association. At UCLA, he also partook in the California Environmental Legislation & Policy Clinic and interned with both the Center for Biological Diversity and the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

Jay has a BA in Psychology with a minor in Business from UC San Diego. He earned his JD from UCLA Law.

In his free time, Jay enjoys solo travel internationally, hiking in and around Los Angeles, and ecstatic dance (silent disco) events on the beach. He is also a certified yoga teacher who likes making pour over coffee while listening to Pod Save America in support of progressive causes.

Jennifer Ganata

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.

Julia May

Senior Scientist

“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.

Mayra Valerio

Finance Associate

Milton Hernandez Nimatuj

Southern California Program Co-Director – ext. 112

Milton Hernandez-Nimatuj photo

“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.  

Roberto Bustillo

South East Los Angeles Community Organizer

Roberto Bustillo has organized in Los Angeles since 1990, after arriving from El Salvador, where he also organized college students and workers. Roberto worked for the Community Coalition and Clinica Romero to combat the proliferation of alcohol outlets in poor communities; CES and SAJE as tenant organizer; at LA Voice and Innercity Struggle as a parent organizer and Proyecto Pastoral, Boyle Heights to increase residents’ participation in the 2020 Census. As a tenant organizer, Roberto was part of a partnership between clinics, health promoters, and tenant organizers to combat the environmental effects of lead in housing that affects children under 5 years old.

Rossmery Zayas

SELA Youth Organizer

“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.  

Stephanie Taylor

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.

Sylvia Arredondo

Civic Engagement Director – ext. 113

Sylvia Arredondo“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.

Terez Sanogo

Southeast Los Angeles Energy 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.

Wendy Avila

Outreach Coordinator

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. 

Wilmington, CA

Address: 113 E. Anaheim Street, Wilmington, CA 90744
Telephone: (323) 826-9771
Fax Line: (310) 952-4924

 (In alphabetical order by first name)

Alicia Rivera

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.

Ashley Hernandez

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.

Laura Gracia

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.

Roselyn Tovar

Energy Researcher

Roselyn grew up where SELA meets South Central, in the neighborhood of Florence-Firestone. Growing up in Los Angeles engendered Roselyn’s passion for social and environmental change as well as witnessing their parents work near toxic industries and communities including oil refineries and the city of Vernon.
Her parents’ love of gardening and farming nurtured by their upbringing in Nayarit, Mexico influenced Roselyn’s interests in plant biology. Roselyn earned a BA in Biology from Reed College in Portland, OR. Their senior thesis focused on studying floral pigments in endangered plant species. While at Reed, Roselyn helped create and implement the school’s first food pantry program and was a recipient of the Social Justice Research Fellowship. 
Roselyn is passionate about food justice as well as housing justice. With Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Roselyn canvassed in South Central for the Yes on Proposition 10 campaign that hoped to expand rent control by repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and volunteered for Union de Vecinas de Bell Gardens through CLRJ . Outside of work, Roselyn enjoys sculpture, cooking, drawing, and being a virgo moon. 

Theo Caretto

Associate Attorney

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.

Tyler Earl

Senior Staff Attorney

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.

East Oakland, CA

Address: 100 Hegenberger Rd, Suite 270, Oakland, CA 94621
Telephone: (510) 302-0430
Fax Line: (510) 302-0437

(In alphabetical order by first name)

Adele Watts

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.

Carly Cabral

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.

Esther Goolsby

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 

Esther is an Oakland native, a parent of three, a grandparent of two, and a health and justice advocate who says it’s time for positive change in her county of Alameda! She was born in Alameda County and raised in East Oakland, so Esther is grounded in community and knows about the connection between the health of people and the environment. Volunteering with local organizations in her neighborhood since 2011 after taking a toxic tour with Communities for a Better Environment, Esther became more focused and learned to educate and organize her community about environmental racism and the poor land-use policy or lack thereof. Esther has served on various boards and partnered with other organizations as well as many other coalitions to improve the health of Oakland residents. Esther is currently, President of the RPF Board (Revolutionizing our Economy for All Local People). RPF was founded and democratically governed by six East Bay community organizing groups offering equitable access to finance for small businesses in the historically disinvested community. After being a member and then an organizer with CBE she left the position in 2020. Esther is a former 2020 Candidate for District 4 of Alameda County Board of Supervisors that received 33.3% of the vote. We must, “Stop Pollution and Just Transition” for real change. 

Gustavo Gutierrez

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?” 

Kim Ryan

East Oakland Staff Researcher

Kim Ryan is a Bay Area transplant and was drawn to Oakland in 2015 due to its diversity of culture and community. Prior to joining CBE, Kim worked as a field scientist and project manager for the environmental remediation of lands impacted by contaminated soils and groundwater. With a deep interest in transparency, accountability, and engaging community and after being catalyzed by the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020, Kim made a shift to work more directly with communities experiencing environmental injustices. She first joined CBE in 2021 as a volunteer working on the Mosaic Project and began working as a staff researcher in 2022 to provide technical support for the AB617 Community Emissions Reduction Plan for East Oakland.

Kim holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the State University of New York at Oswego and an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the Graduate School at the College of Charleston where she focused primarily on water quality research projects. In her spare time, Kim enjoys hiking in the Oakland hills and spending time with her family.

Malika Alim

Building the Good Organizer

Introducing Malika Alim, a dedicated advocate for environmental justice which includes food, water, and land justice. The Oakland native is deeply committed to addressing environmental issues that disproportionately impact Black and IPOC communities. As the Building the Good Organizer, Malika works tirelessly to promote sustainable practices, fight against environmental inequalities, and empower communities in their journey towards a healthier and more equitable environment. Malika serves on the board of the REAL People’s Fund, a ten-million-dollar fund dedicated to the creation and preservation of small Black and IPOC local business in the City of Oakland. The Fund does this through political action, neighborhood outreach, and engagement. 

Nyah Tisdell

East Oakland Organizer
Nyah Tisdell was raised in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County. She comes from a family of Black, Ecuadorian, and Puerto Rican ancestry, filled with resilient relatives and, of course, delicious food. Growing up in the Valley, she learned firsthand the ways in which pollution of basic needs, such as water, air, and food, were harming her community. She wanted to learn more about environmental justice and understand why this was happening.
Nyah moved to the Bay Area in 2018 to study at the University of California, Berkeley where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Society and Environment. Her first introduction to labor organizing was in her internship with Unite Here, where she built relationships with low-income communities of color and hospitality workers unionizing their workplaces throughout the East Bay. She saw that the same people fighting for their basic needs at work were the same ones suffering because of environmental injustices. From this experience, she learned how important peoplepower is in building a strong movement, and this inspired her to pursue her journey of organizing.
A hope she has for the future is for there to be more community gardens in Black and brown neighborhoods, so people can have access to fresh, healthy food, traditional ecological knowledge, and the healing energy of the soil. Nyah lives in Oakland and loves going on waterfall hikes, dancing, painting, rock climbing, singing, and playing her electric guitar.

Ruby Acevedo

Senior Staff Lawyer
Ruby is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and was born and raised on California’s Salad Bowl (Salinas). She joined CBE as a Senior Staff Attorney in November 2023.                   

Before law school, she served as a community advocate for California Rural Legal Assistance where she fought for environmental justice alongside black and brown communities. During and after law school, she spent many years practicing housing law. She has represented dozens of individuals in evictions actions and in lawsuits against slumlords.

Sarah Chen Small

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.

Shana Lazerow

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.

Sharifa Taylor

Staff Researcher
Sharifa Taylor is a Bay Area transplant with experience in civic engagement organizing, public health and urban planning research. She is passionate about racial equity in the public sphere and takes a historical, systemic approach to her work. Before coming to CBE, Sharifa worked in varying positions as an intern for the East Bay Center for the Blind’s Transportation Justice Project for seniors and people with disabilities; as a program assistant for Vision to Learn for low income and students of color in need of vision services; and as a church outreach coordinator, in her home state of Missouri, in hopes of getting more African Americans to join the organ donor registry. Outside of work, Sharifa enjoys hiking, camping, singing karaoke, sewing (upcycling), and learning about biotecture/non-traditional homes on YouTube.

Richmond, CA

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)

Aaloni Chess

Development Associate

Aaloni is a longtime Richmond resident that cares deeply about the health and safety of frontline Environmental Justice communities that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and industrial pollution. After completing her undergraduate studies and attaining her B.S. in Molecular Environmental Biology from the University of California Berkeley, she is committed to utilizing her skillset to give back and invest in her community. Specifically, her passion for contributing to the healing of communities of color and promoting health and wellness in frontline Environmental Justice communities is what grounds her in her work as the NorCal Development Associate at CBE. In this role it is most important to her to tell the stories of CBE’s organizing and activism work in a manner that centers and highlights the leadership of youth from historically underrepresented communities in the environmental justice movement. She believes that by investing in our youth and centering their experiences we are investing in the betterment of the future.”               

Amelia Keyes

Harvard Law Review Legal Fellow

Amelia grew up in Brunswick, Maine. After several years working as an environmental policy researcher in Washington DC, she pivoted to law school with the hopes of becoming an advocate for environmental and climate justice. As a law student, Amelia interned with the Boston-based environmental justice organization Alternatives for Community and Environment. She also conducted clinical work in Accra, Ghana, and organized with Law Students for Climate Accountability to push law firms to drop their fossil fuel clients.                          

Amelia earned her law degree in 2023 from Harvard Law School. She has a BA in Economics from Columbia University.

Outside of work, Amelia likes to try new foods, drink espresso, explore the outdoors (she’s excited to try new hikes in the Bay Area!), read historical fiction, and hang out with her two cats.  

Destiny-Keioko Berry

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.

Emily Johnson

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.

Katherine Ramos

NorCal Program Co-Director

Katherine Ramos is the Interim Program Director for Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) in Richmond, CA. Born and raised in Newark, NJ, Katherine has experienced and been witness to many of the inequities navigated by our most undervalued and underserved communities. She has been a grassroots community organizer for nearly two decades of her life, with a focus on mentorship of youth and developing decolonized curricula for education cooperatives. As a single mother to a teenager, it has been her principal goal to help create the environment where he and all the community he engages can have access to basic needs like clean water. Katherine has been a core member of the Urban Cooperative Enterprise Legal Center (UCELC), leading education sessions on alternative economic models and cooperatives, COVID Know Your Rights training for workers, as well as the coordination of water distribution hubs. After moving to the Bay area, Katherine joined the Richmond Our Power cohort as their managing director, where she was tasked with co-creating plans and solutions with members of each of the coalition organizations to move the Just Transition based projects forward with support and funding. Since January 2024, Katherine has joined the CBE team to help continue to shape a community-centered and led transition away from the fossil fuel industry. In her role within CBE, she utilizes her experience in the healing arts (yoga, massage, and reiki) to co create learning and meeting spaces grounded in transformative principles and practices. Her commitment to community activation, democratic collective power, and building community deeply grounded in transformative justice and mutual aid continues to drive the work she is dedicated to doing.

Keala Uchôa

NorCal Communications Associate

Keala was born and raised in the Bay Area and has family roots in Brasil. She is a movement scholar, community 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. Her Mellon Mays 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. 

Keala first joined CBE Richmond in January of 2023 and supported the re-launch of our youth-centered offerings, the re-build of our Richmond team, office re-design, and the launch of our community mutual aid programs, such as our people’s apothecary and air filter distribution. Her passion for storytelling and writing is rooted in her ethos as a community and youth organizer.

As NorCal Communications Associate, she now stewards strategic campaign communications for both the Richmond and East Oakland teams. She spearheads values-aligned earned media partnerships with local reporters and outlets eager to uplift the stories of frontline Richmond and East Oakland residents. 

Her organizing contributions and scholarship have been shared at guest lectures and panels at various universities, including Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Santa Clara University, and Northwestern University. Her research will also be published in a forthcoming anthology in late 2024. 

Kerry Guerin

Just Transition Fellow

Kerry (she/her) is finally back home in the East Bay as an attorney and as the Just Transition Fellow supporting the Richmond Team’s ongoing efforts to amplify community power through a Just Transition. She was previously at Self-Help Enterprises, where she 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. She is the Board Co-Chair of Black & Pink, a national prison abolitionist organization serving queer and trans folks and people living with HIV who are impacted by the carceral system, and she is 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 her 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. 

Lazuli Trujano

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.


Martine Johannessen

Staff Researcher 

Martine was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. They are a researcher and urban planner who believes in the power of collective action and transformative planning to cultivate just, equitable, and healthy cities. Prior to joining CBE, Martine worked in local government as part of the City of Oakland’s Strategic Planning team, where they supported efforts to expand and protect affordable housing. They are particularly interested in decommodified housing and land stewardship models that build community power, and expand our notions of community, interdependency, and home.

Martine is a researcher at heart, and they are excited to join CBE as the NorCal Staff Researcher. In all their research, Martine strives to weave together different types of data – maps, art, personal stories, quantitative analysis, among others – to help build political movements and effect change. They hold a Master of City Planning from UC Berkeley and a BS in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University.


return to top ^