Co-founder and Executive Director
For over 20 years, Kimberly Aceve 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.
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.
Grassroots Fundraising Manager
As the RYSE Grassroots Fundraising Manager since 2017, Michelle supports all efforts to secure funding including events coordination, development, and communications. Michelle strives to sustain resources to provide free services empowering communities of color, to cultivate a radical love and justice that endures and thrives. Before joining RYSE, Michelle worked in development and grants for API Legal Outreach, and as a literary arts educator. She received her BA from UC Riverside and her MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a lead coordinator for Kearny Street Workshop's reading series, KSW Presents. Michelle is a poet, arts community organizer, and author of the book A House Made of Water (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017), a lyrical examination of Asian-American identity, sisterhood, 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.
Grants Manager and Storyteller
Lana Tilley has been the Grants Manager and Storyteller since 2017, building funding applications by listening to and sharing stories emerging from RYSE. Lana works to develop partnerships that support organizational agility, center racial and social justice, and effect systems-level changes. She is motivated by youth-led movements in our collective histories and is passionate about uplifting the leaders that our world is seeking. Lana works to sustain funding so that young people and our entire community can grow with the support of healing, imaginative, and liberating relationships. Before joining RYSE, she has worked to research health programs affecting young adults in California, developed youth-focused healing spaces for families dealing with homelessness, and facilitated curricula on the intersections of movement-building and health. She also volunteers with the Public Health Justice Collective in the Bay Area. Lana received a Master's Degree in Community Health Education from San Francisco State University.
Thupten has been the Senior Accountant at RYSE since 2018 focusing on invoicing, payroll processing, tracking and getting financial resources. Prior to joining RYSE, he has worked as an accountant, bookkeeper, auditor, account clerk, and in HR. Thupten is passionate about learning and sharing, and he brings with him skills in detail oriented work and expertise in Microsoft Excel. He holds a CPP, Certified QBO, is a Certified Non-Profit Accountant Professional, and received a BA in accounting.
Media, Arts, & Culture
Media, Arts, & Culture Director
Ciera-Jevae "CiCi" Gordon
Media, Arts, & Culture Program Manager
As the Media, Arts, & Culture (MAC) Program Manager, CiCi mentors and supports her team as they collectively elevate all art forms within RYSE. CiCi is passionate about creating spaces where youth are comfortable so they can challenge themselves and their peers in their art while building community. CiCi has worked at the African American Resource and Cultural Center at UC Santa Cruz for 4 years coordinating study jams and the Black graduation. She has taught poetry at the Santa Cruz county jail. CiCi has a BA in Sociology, has received the Dean's Award for her chapbook Incarcerated Words, All Campus Honors Awards, and placed 5th in the nation as part of the Root Slam Team. She has been on four national slam teams and currently serves as one of Richmond's Poets Laureate.
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.
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.
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.
Aja Lenae Johnson
Music & Performing Arts Coordinator
As the Music & Performing Arts Coordinator since 2018, Aja co-develops and supports programming related to showcasing the artistic talents of RYSE youth and helps members develop technically, professionally, and spiritually as music and performance artists. She works in solidarity with youth to re-imagine themselves and their communities through creative projects, and so youth feel loved, seen, and deeply valued. Before coming to RYSE, Aja was a student program coordinator at Sacramento State University, facilitating and creating workshops and events centered on social justice leadership, the arts, mental health and liberation for marginalized folks. She has worked as a recreation aide and college-access mentor for Black and Brown youth. Most recently, Aja was an equity-centered college adviser at Oakland Technical High School. Aja is a poet, visual artist, and vocalist/songwriter, and brings her knowledge on popular culture, black studies, and queer/feminist hip hop. She has a BA in Ethnic Studies, and is a LGBTQ+ Safe Zone Trainer.
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.
Webster Quoc Nguyen
Visual Arts Assistant
As the Visual Arts Assistant since 2017, Webster engages with members through interactive and fun art-based workshops and events that integrate creativity and social justice. He is also part of RYSE's graphic design team. Webster is passionate about working with and serving an amazing community that is in a constant state of growing, healing, and mobilizing. Webster has expertise in printmaking, digital design, workshop facilitation, and has extensive knowledge on 90s R & B. Before coming to RYSE, Webster has worked as a screen printer, balloon twister, ice packer, carpet inspector, and window sales person. He was an Eduardo Carrillo Scholar, Irwin Scholar, Irwin Grant recipient, and a double major in Art and Community Studies.
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.
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.
Tyjohn "TJ" Sykes
Youth Justice Assistant
TJ 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. TJ is passionate about working alongside youth that come from the same communities as him. His ultimate goal is to end gun violence in Richmond. TJ 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. TTJ also received a Men of Merit Award.
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.
Career Pathways Specialist
As the Career Pathways Specialist, Mikaela supports young people in becoming career ready, assisting them in finding employment and exploring career opportunities and fields to reach their goals and dreams. Mikaela is passionate about allowing young people to understand the important of their own stories and experiences as qualifications for employment. She has worked at the nonprofit The First Tee of Greater Seattle, teaching young people life skills and healthy habits through golf, and as a resident advisor at Seattle Pacific University. She has served as a volunteer for many years with the Bay Area Rescue Mission, assisting in their youth programs and camps, and also through the Seattle Union Gospel Mission REMIX youth program, and as a camp coordinator for the National Black Church Family Conference in North Carolina. Mikaela studied fashion and costume design and holds a BA in Apparel and Textile Design. As an artist, she creates works of encouragement, justice, and women of color empowerment.
Education Engagement Advocate
Deysi Chacon has been the RYSE Education Engagement Advocate since 2018, providing youth with education and career advising. She conducts and facilitates workshops grounded in critical pedagogy that are designed to support members in developing academic skills and self advocacy in navigating schools. Deysi is passionate about being an adult ally to youth from her community, and works to support and advocate for youth to assure they meet their academic goals. Deysi works to dismantle the School to Prison pipeline, to strengthen education systems that does not miseducate youth. Prior to joining RYSE, she worked as the College Readiness Advisor at Richmond High School and as the Student Services Coordinator for KIPP Heritage Academy. She was a member of 50-50, a youth organizing and mentorship organization based in San Jose, where she facilitated workshops in topics including Know Your Rights, college readiness, and self-care. Deysi is trained in Restorative Justice and Social Emotional Learning Practices. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies with a minor in Human Rights from San Jose State University.
Luis "Cubas" Cubas
College Access Coordinator
Pronouns: he/himEmail: luis[at]rysecenter.org
Luis Cubas has been the RYSE College Access Coordinator since 2018, providing young people with tools and opportunities to learn about college, and the different options available when it comes to higher education. Cubas supports young people transitioning from high school to college, addressing issues such as feelings of belonging on campus, financial aid, access, and more. His services that are competent and sensitive to young people's needs. He is passionate about creating safe spaces, establishing institutional change for inclusivity, bettering the educational sustem. and supporting youth in their professional and educational goals. A former RYSE RLT Member, Cubas has worked at the undocumented student services at UCSC, supporting students in their academics, well-being and post-graduation goals. He has served as a student program coordinator for the UCSC Chicanx Latinx resource center (El Centro). Cubas earned a BA in Psychology, with a Minor in Latin American and Latinx studies from UCSC, and i knowledgeable in photography, social media, and entrepreneurship.
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.
As the Clinical Therapist since 2017, Marissa provides and coordinates trauma-informed, healing centered and culturally relevant therapeutic and integrative supports and programs for young people in Richmond and West Contra Costa. This includes psycho-social assessments, individual and group therapy, case management, and crisis intervention. Marissa is passionate about making mental health services more accessible to marginalized communities that have been impacted by various traumas and violence. She is interested in utilizing art/theater as a form of resistance, healing, and transformation. Marissa works to create culturally affirming spaces where folks can express themselves, heal and visualize a better future for themselves and their communities. Before joining RYSE, Marissa worked with survivors of domestic violence and their children in the Bay Area and has 10+ years of serving youth and families in various capacities. She received her BA in Theater from Columbia College Chicago and her MA in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Drama Therapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
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.
Clinical Case Manager
As RYSE's clinical case manager since 2017, David holds space for young people to explore and author their own experiences, with a focus on trauma and healing. David lends space for young people to explore how they define themselves and the world around them. He witnesses the unleashed brilliance of our youth. David has worked as a community organizer for Center for Third World Organizing and the Southern Center for Human Rights, and as a labor organizer for SEIU 1021. He holds a BA from UC Santa Cruz, is a published poet through AntiRacism, Inc., and always leads with love.
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.
Alex de las Mareas
Community Health Program Coordinator
Alex de las Mareas has been the RYSE Community Health Program Coordinator since 2018. Alex facilitates a queer identity group where members can discuss their intersecting identities and experiences. She provides identity focused, trauma informed, accurate and accessible sexual health information by creating safer spaces to reflect on sexual identity formation and what it means to have a healthy sexuality. Transformative justice, intersectional feminism, and unconditional compassion are some of the most important lenses in Alex's life and work. Alex strives to create opportunities where young people can prioritize self love, appreciation, and wellness to unlearn harmful messages created by systemic violence and instead create collective movements for healing and liberation. Before joining RYSE, Alex was a peer health educator for high school and transitional age youth through Planned Parenthood Northern California, focusing on healthy sexuality with a harm reduction lens. She also worked as a sex educator for Good Vibrations in San Francisco. Alex holds a BA in Critical Race, Gender & Sexuality Studies with an emphasis in Multicultural Queer Studies from Humboldt State University.
Dalia J. Ramos-Mucino
Member Engagement Coordinator
Dalia J. Ramos-Mucino has been the RYSE Member Engagement Coordinator since 2017. As Member Engagement Coordinator, Dalia is responsible for holding a friendly and positive culture within the space and with the youth. Dalia is passionate about creative expression in different forms like dancing, poetry, and storytelling. She will always work to ensure that RYSE is a safe, welcoming, and fun environment where youth feel open to express their thoughts and feelings. Before joining the RYSE staff, Dalia attended RYSE as a 14-year-old member and at 16 became an intern on the RYSE Leadership Team. She has been trained in Non-Violent Communication, Restorative Justice, and more.
Member Engagement Assistant
As the Member Engagement Assistant since 2017, Jaime creates safe and friendly environments for young people so they feel welcome and accepted for who they are. Jaime makes sure their needs are met and that they are able to be themselves around the space. He works to uplift positive culture at RYSE. Jaime was a member at RYSE since 2011 at the age of 14. He served as a RYSE Leadership Intern from the years of 2013 to 2014. Jaime continues to bring to RYSE a positive culture, robust member engagement, passionate campaign work, and his skills in program facilitation.
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.
Youth Organizing Coordinator
As the Youth Organizing Coordinator since 2017, Diana fosters and supports youth leadership development in every shape and form, including holding weekly workshops on team building, political education, leadership trainings, self and collective healing. With Diana, youth learn about their individual identities in relation to issues happening locally and worldwide to gain a better understanding of themselves and their roles in a continued social justice movement. Diana works beside communities of color to create change at the individual, local, and worldwide level. She co-create spaces with youth to foster leadership and organizing skills to understand and challenge systems of oppression. Diana also uses art, dance, and photography to challenge systems of oppression, organize, and cultivate individual and collective healing in communities that have been and continue to be oppressed under white supremacy. Diana received a B.A in Community Studies and a minor in Latin American and Latino Studies from UCSC in June 2017. She was raised in Richmond and returned to give back to her community.
Voter Engagement Coordinator
As the Voter Engagement Coordinator since 2018, Carlos leads RYSE on the California Youth Vote voter registration initiative, a non-partisan statewide initiative to inform 16-24 year old students on the impacts of voting. Carlos maintains and builds RYSE's values and alliances when coordinating with educators, school staff, and community leaders to host training, workshops, and presentations. He trains, develops, and empowers youth leaders' civic engagement in their communities. Carlos is most passionate about the interdisciplinary approaches to health, creative expression, and community building. He also brings with him skills in video production, directing, music production, painting, and the knowledge of El Salvador history. Before joining RYSE, Carlos was a video producer of short films, documentaries, and music videos spanning issues of food justice and student activism, particularly during the #BoycottDriscolls movement. He was awarded at RYSE's annual "Truth Be Told" film festival back in 2016, and was a double major in History and Film & Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz.
Education & Justice Tutor