To contact a member of our staff, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-founder and Executive Director
For over 20 years, Kimberly Aceves has been passionately committed to social justice organizing and advocacy efforts that bring voice and power to youth, LGBTQ people, people of color, and working class communities in the Bay Area. Before coming on as the Executive Director for RYSE, Kimberly served as the Executive Director for Youth Together, the founding organization of the RYSE Center. Kimberly has formerly served on the boards of Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, Horizons Foundation, Youth Uprising, Astraea Foundation, and she served as the Advisory Board Chair for RYSE’s planning phase. Kimberly has also been a strong advocate for people of color and youth within the funding community and has served as a community funding panel member of the Women’s Foundation, Horizons Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, San Francisco Department of Children Youth and Their Families, Astraea Foundation, and the California Mental Health Services Administration. She is a former Rockwood Leadership Fellow, LeaderSpring Executive Fellow, and most recently a Stanford University Nonprofit Executive Fellow.
Co-founder and Associate Director
Kanwarpal Dhaliwal is one of the co-founders of RYSE and currently acts as the Associate Director. As Associate Director, she supports and guides the implementation and integration of healing-centered practices, grounded in racial justice and liberation, across all of RYSE's program areas. She also develops, promotes, and advocates for policies, investments, practices, and research that enliven healing, justice, and liberation across the fields and sectors in which RYSE works. Kanwarpal believes that the purpose of her work and life is to contribute to movements, communities, and legacies of liberation that honor the ancestors who fought for her existence and survival, and to forge a world that is just and gentle for future generations. Before joining RYSE, Kanwarpal received a Master's Degree in Public Health, and now serves as adjunct faculty at San Francisco State University.
Director of Finance and Operations
As Director of Finance and Operations since 2016, Jennifer maintains organizational fiscal infrastructure and human resources. She is passionate about reducing oppression in its many forms by creating greater awareness and more just systems. She wants to ensure increased equity for all. Before joining RYSE, Jennifer worked with many nonprofits over the past 20 years in various capacities, starting as a staff member, then becoming a consultant, and then returning as a staff member. Being exposed to numerous organizations helped her to learn best practices and gain valuable on-the-job training. Jennifer also completed and then taught in training programs focused on working in diverse communities led by people of color, which helped to ground her early career.
Grassroots Fundraising Coordinator
As the RYSE Grassroots Fundraising Coordinator since 2017, she supports all efforts to secure funding including events coordination, development, and communications. Michelle is passionate about striving to sustain resources and support accessibility to free services that empower intersectional, marginalized, and queer communities of color to cultivate a radical love, justice, and necessary change that endures and thrives. Before joining RYSE, Michelle worked in development and grants for the Bay Area non-profit API Legal Outreach, was a former literary arts educator, and currently volunteers to develop and host arts programming for Kearny Street Workshop in San Francisco. She received her BA from UC Riverside and her MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a practicing poet, arts community organizer, and author of A House Made of Water (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017), a lyrical examination of Asian-American identity, gender and sisterhood, the inheritance of stories, and survival from generational trauma.
Operations and Finance Coordinator
Monica has played many roles at the RYSE Center since joining the team in 2011. As Operations and Finance Coordinator, she supports key administrative tasks to sustain the Center. Mónica is passionate about giving back to her community and working alongside youth as an adult ally.
Director of Innovation
Dan Reilly has held many roles since joining RYSE in 2009. As Director of Innovation, he engages youth and community in visioning and designing a new youth-driven, healing-centered space that can better serve the wants and needs of the diversity of youth in Richmond. Dan is passionate about building community and bringing people together to accomplish things that others don't initially believe are possible. He is working to realize the vision of an expanded campus called RYSE Commons so that Richmond youth and invested stakeholders have a space to build, learn, heal, and transform themselves and their communities. Before joining RYSE, Dan received a B.A. in Film Studies from UC Santa Barbara. He has nearly 15 years of experience working on a number of music, video, and new media projects related to social justice issues.
Media, Arts, & Culture
Creative & Healing Arts Assistant
As Creative & Healing Arts Assistant since 2015, she guides the process of healing through the arts. Nyabingha is passionate about sharing love, building with her community, and the youth. She believes that youth are the light and that it’s her place to help them to keep shining. Nyabingha is an accomplished poet, playwright, and actress who has starred in Po’ Boys Kitchen, Bag Ladies’ Butterfly Blues, Fairytale, and Richmond Renaissance.
Video Production Coordinator
As Video Production Coordinator since 2011, she supports young people with an interest in video production to take their real life experiences to tell a bigger story. Gemikia is passionate about working alongside young people to create effective opportunities to strive for success. She wants to ensure that her community is uplifted to its fullest potential. Gemikia is a gifted playwright and videographer who has received awards for her original play Fairytale and her music video Street Literature.
Vanessa "Agana" Espinoza
Visual Arts Coordinator
As Visual Arts Coordinator since 2015, Agana transforms lives through various media of visual arts with cross collaborations in music, video production, and performing arts. Agana is passionate about providing avenues for youth to tell stories and heal, working at the intersections of restorative youth justice and agitating narratives. Before joining RYSE, Agana was an interactive educational video game designer at LeapFrog, an animation producer at Great Schools, and a digital storytelling teaching artist at Streetside Stories. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Ex'pressions College for Animation and Special Effects. Agana has won awards for outstanding mural contributions from National Association for Crime and Delinquency, and she has shown her artwork in various galleries such as Galeria de la Raza, SOMArts, The Oakland Terminal, 1AMGallery, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, as well as various museums across the country for the Carving Through Borders project with CultureStrike.
Visual & Healing Arts Assistant
As the Visual & Healing Arts Assistant since 2016, he works one-on-one with youth to help them develop as young artists in their communities. His passion pushes him to bring a youthful and innovative energy to projects. His work ensures that that youth are able to create art that preserves Richmond stories. He is a Richmond High School graduate and currently studies Photography with a focus in Community Arts at California College of the Arts.
Education & Justice
Director of Education & Justice
Stephanie Medley has been part of the RYSE team since 2012 and now acts as the Director of Education & Justice. As Director of Education & Justice, Stephanie leads program development and advocacy and cultivates cross-sector collaborations to address the needs of youth & young adults impacted by education, economic, and criminal & juvenile justice systems. Stephanie is passionate about supporting the development and coordination of youth-friendly and culturally appropriate policies, practices, and supports. She works to create avenues for young people to navigate their own liberation and transform systems. Before joining RYSE, Stephanie worked on housing and eviction defense with Bay Area Legal Aid, serving as a law clerk at San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and Alameda County Public Defender’s Office and clerking for the Honorable Donald S. Mitchell, Superior Court of California County of San Francisco. Stephanie holds a J.D. from John F. Kennedy University College of Law, received her B.A. in Political Science and American Studies from San Francisco State University, and currently sits on Contra Costa County's Racial Justice Taskforce.
Economic Justice Program Manager
Andrew Yeung has been the RYSE Economic Justice Program Manager since 2016. As Economic Justice Program Manager, he supports youth to achieve economic justice for themselves and their community, from comprehensive employment supports to youth-led inquiry and advocacy. Andrew is passionate about the critical analysis of schooling systems, with an eye on transforming all learning spaces to realize equity and liberation. He works to reshape the economic landscape to prioritize the needs and voices of youth and all marginalized and resilient peoples. Before joining RYSE, Andrew received an Associate's degree from Pasadena City College and a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. He is a core organizer with Teachers 4 Social Justice and a Coro Youth Development Fellows Program alumnus.
College Access Coordinator
Destiny Iwuoma has been the RYSE College Access Coordinator since 2016. As College Access Coordinator, he supports young people on their journey to higher education in addition to building a college-going culture at RYSE. Destiny is passionate about making higher education attainable for young people of color. He works to ensure that the masses of youth in Richmond are competitively eligible for the post-secondary school of their choice. Before joining RYSE, Destiny received a BA in American Studies: Race, Education and Public Policy from UC Berkeley.
Youth Justice Program Manager
As Youth Justice Program Manager since 2017, she helps RYSE youth leaders to develop their political education and leadership skills. Alisha is passionate about bringing youth voice to the forefront of decisions being made in their communities about them. She works to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline. Before joining RYSE, Alisha worked for Project WHAT!, where she focused on policy change and advocacy work that directly impacted children of incarcerated parents (CIP). She also received an award from Community Works West for her commitment and authenticity in her work with Children of Incarcerated Parents.
Youth Success Coordinator
Briana Urrutia has been the RYSE Youth Success Counselor since 2017. As Youth Success Counselor, Briana ensures a successful transition for systems-involved youth returning to the community by providing high quality support. She is passionate about being an advocate for change in the juvenile justice system and promoting social justice. Briana is working toward her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science and Criminal Justice, which allows her to develop the communication skills and techniques necessary to be a strong ally to young people. Before joining RYSE, she interned at the American Canyon Chamber of Commerce as well as Spark Point, where she encouraged personal development and community growth. She also volunteered in the IMPACT program, which is a youth diversion program dedicated to changing the lives of in-risk youth.
Youth Justice Assistant
Tyjohn Sykes has been at RYSE since 2015. As Youth Justice Assistant, he leads member engagement activities and orientation as well as promotes RYSE’s values throughout the Center. Tyjohn is passionate about working alongside youth that come from the same communities as him. His ultimate goal is to end gun violence in Richmond. Tyjohn has worked at many nonprofits throughout California. He is an accomplished performer who has been in multiple RYSE productions: The Adventure of Grief, Bag Ladies’ Butterfly Blues, Fairytale, and Richmond Renaissance. Tyjohn also received a Men of Merit Award.
Education Justice Coordinator
Valerie Jameson has been the RYSE Education Justice Coordinator since 2016. As Education Justice Coordinator, she facilitates programs, events, and campaigns that bring awareness to changes in the education system and help youth to realize their desired school community. Valerie is passionate about educational praxis that enables young people to change their material and societal conditions to dismantle systems of oppression that have marginalized youth and their communities. She will always support youth in building power that allows them to educate, advocate, and mobilize the community to create school changes that reflect their needs and interests. Valerie is a homegrown change agent who was politicized as a youth and returned to Richmond after graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in Ethnic Studies and Social Welfare, minoring in Education.
Community Health Director
Joe Kim has been the RYSE Trauma and Healing Program Manager since 2012. As Trauma and Healing Program Manager, Joe is responsible for facilitating hospital-based violence prevention through the RYSE Restorative Pathways Program. He is also responsible for coordinating holistic, trauma-informed counseling and case management support for young people. Joe is passionate about working with youth to create innovative, youth/healing-centered approaches to counseling models, programs, and spaces. He works to foster a culture that supports young people in resisting systemic oppression and violence while creating and building sustainable alternatives. Before joining RYSE, Joe received a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz.
Clinical Psychology Intern
Anthony Lucas has been the RYSE Clinical Psychology Intern since 2017. As Clinical Psychology Intern, he provides emotional and mental health support to our young people. Anthony is passionate about and inspired by the strength and resiliency of RYSE youth. He works to promote and ensure community healing. Anthony is currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA, and has presented a paper at the International Association for Relationship Research conference at Syracuse University.
Community Health Program Manager
Brian Villa has been with RYSE since 2012 and is now the RYSE Community Health Program Manager. As Community Health Program Manager, he coordinates RYSE's health and wellness programs including healthy sexuality, LGBTQ groups, and sexual health education. Brian has also supported various radical inquiry work including RYSE's Listening Campaign, Listening to Heal, and Youth Participatory Action Research. Brian is critical of the current education system and believes that communities can mobilize together to create revolutionary transformations in society. He will always ensure that young people are empowered and supported in their development in becoming community leaders. Before joining RYSE, Brian received a B.A. in Southeast Asian Studies and American Studies with a Minor in Education from UC Berkeley
Sterling Gilder has been a RYSE Culture Builder since 2016. As Culture Builder, she develops relationships with RYSE members and helps to promote RYSE’s values of youth leadership and creativity. Sterling is passionate about creating racial justice in the school system. She will always work to empower and improve the lives of Richmond youth.
Trauma Response Specialist
LaVonda Vaughn has been the RYSE Trauma Response Specialist since 2016. As Trauma Response Specialist, she supports and empowers youth by providing services for victims of trauma, particularly those in the RYSE Restorative Pathways Program. Growing up in Richmond, LaVonda saw first-hand the effects of not having the support that is needed to overcome the many issues that we face today. She is passionate about helping people heal from trauma and learn to navigate systems that are designed to work against them. LaVonda has 10+ years of experience as a Case Manager working with dual-diagnosed, previously homeless families.
Member Engagement Coordinator
As Member Engagement Coordinator since 2016, he welcomes youth and community members to the Center. Randy is passionate about making sure RYSE is a fun and safe space for the youth.
Youth Organizing Director
Jamileh Ebrahimi has been the Youth Organizing Director since 2012. As Youth Organizing Director, she builds a vibrant youth organizing culture both at the Center and in the Richmond community. Jamileh is deeply committed to education, organizing, organizational and community sustainability, and movement building, and through her 18+ years of community organizing, she has discovered the importance of community empowerment, healthy living, and justice. She works to ensure that young people serve as key stakeholders and decision-makers on issues and policies impacting their individual and collective health and well-being. Before joining RYSE, Jamileh started organizing for change in Youth Together (YT) at the age of 13. Following high school, she became the Regional Organizer at YT where she worked for seven years organizing the regional Ethnic Studies conference, campaign planning, and doing local, regional, statewide, and national coalition work for educational justice. She was a member of the BSU at Berkeley Community College, Organize Da B.A.Y., Schools Not Jails Coalition, and the Just Act Core Group, where she had the opportunity to travel to Brazil for the World Social Forum.