Huntington Park, CA
East Oakland, CA
Richmond, CA*Click staff name to see email*
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.
Darryl Molina Sarmiento
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.
Equal Justice Works Fellow– Sponsored by The Ottinger Foundation and The Stern-Hughes Family Fund
Idalmis Vaquero is an Equal Justice Works fellow based in Huntington Park. Her Equal Justice Works fellowship project is focused on advocating for the cleanup of the Exide facility and communities affected, including her hometown of Boyle Heights. Idalmis started her journey with CBE as an organizing intern back in 2014. Idalmis is a graduate of UCLA School of Law and received her B.A. from Wellesley College. She loves hiking, caring for her plants, and taking her dog on long walks.
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.
United Residents of South East Los Angeles (URSELA) Intern
Mercedes Sanchez, a 32-year resident of Huntington Park, has been a CBE member since 1994. She was one of the leaders of the 11-year La Montaña Campaign, which culminated in the cleanup of the site and the construction of Linda Esperanza Márquez High School. Mercedes was instrumental in creating a community coalition of leaders, churches, and other groups to implement an effective outreach plan to advocate for the CA Integrated Waste Management Board to give the final order for the City of Huntington Park and the demolition company to clean up the site. La Montaña was a massive pile of concrete rubble that was purchased for recycling, and it never happened, but it did create an environmental problem for the community as families feared it would create respiratory problems for their children. Mercedes was also part of a community effort to educate and mobilize the community around lead hazards in homes and toxic sites in the community. She is a health promoter and is also active with a group called “Aliados de la Salud” along with other activists and Altamed. In her free time, Mercedes enjoys spending time with her grandchildren.
Milton Hernandez Nimatuj
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.
UCLA Legal Fellow
Theo Caretto is a UCLA fellow 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.
Before joining CBE, Alison served as an Access to Nature Legal and Policy fellow in Natural Resources Defense Council’s Nature Program, where she focused on empowering and defending environmental justice communities through advocacy, parkland protection and sustainable land-use planning. During law school, Alison worked as a law clerk for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office in the Housing Division and the California Department of Justice’s Land Law Section. Alison holds a J.D. from Loyola Law School, and a B.A. in Politics and Philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
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
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)
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.
East Oakland Community Organizer – ext. 21
“Before CBE, I used to think that environmental justice was just for tree huggers. After taking a toxic tour in my East Oakland community, I quickly realized that a fight for the environment was a fight for people. Fighting for mother Earth was also a fight for her most vulnerable children- poor black, brown and indigenous communities of color”.
Angela is a Bay Area and frontline community native. Before joining CBE, Angela was a community correspondent with Oakland Voices, a community journalism project with The Oakland Tribune where she wrote about issues in East Oakland from the perspective of a community member. Angela first became active within the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014, where she began to realize the power of people who are united for a purpose. She has since transitioned to environmental justice because she feels it not only encompasses the fight for black communities and black equity but it advocates for other oppressed people and our collective home.
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
Equal Justice Works Fellow– sponsored by The Clorox Company
Jina is an Equal Justice Works Fellow and former legal intern at CBE. During law school, she helped represent community activists and nonprofit organizations harmed by dangerous and ineffective oil spill “cleanup” with the Berkeley Environmental Law Clinic. She also interned for Earthjustice’s International Program, Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, and the County of Marin’s community microgrids program. Prior to law school, she was a public health researcher at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Jina has a B.S. in Biology from Duke University, an M.S. in Environmental Health from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and a J.D. from University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.
Lujain Al-Saleh (she/her)
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)
Connie first joined CBE as a Justice Catalyst Legal Fellow in 2020. Prior to becoming an attorney, she worked in local government, community organizing, and non-profit services to transform health care and social safety net systems in New York. As a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholar, she received her B.A. from Yale College and her M.Sc. in Gender, Policy, and Inequalities from the London School of Economics. She holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
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.
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.
NorCal Program Co-Director – ext. 14
Zolboo first got involved with Communities for a Better Environment in 2017 as an active member at the East Oakland office. She has three years of experience engaging in grassroots advocacy at a national environmental nonprofit, where she realized her passion for environmentalism and drive to make a change in the world. Zolboo is passionate about empowering youth of color to realize their power and potential, and is excited to combine that with her love for environmental justice.