Our Team

 

To contact a member of our staff, please email info@rysecenter.org

Administration

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Kimberly Aceves

Co-founder and Executive Director
Pronouns: she/her

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.

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Kanwarpal Dhaliwal

Co-founder and Associate Director
Pronouns: she/her

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.

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Jennifer Chien

Director of Finance and Operations
Pronouns: she/her

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.

Michelle Lin

Grassroots Fundraising Manager
Pronouns: she/her

As the RYSE Grassroots Fundraising Manager since 2017, she supports all efforts to secure funding including events coordination, development, and communications. Michelle strives to sustain resources and accessibility to free services that empower intersectional, marginalized, and queer communities of color, to cultivate a radical love and justice that endures and thrives. Before joining RYSE, Michelle worked in development and grants for the Bay Area non-profit API Legal Outreach, and was a former literary arts educator. She currently develops and hosts arts programming as a volunteer 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, and survival from generational trauma.

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Lana Tilley

Grants Manager and Storyteller
Pronouns: she/her

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.

Mónica Díaz

Operations and Finance Coordinator
Pronouns: she/her

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.

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Dan Reilly

Director of Innovation
Pronouns: he/him

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

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Nyabingha Zianni

Creative & Healing Arts Assistant
Pronouns: she/her

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.

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Gemikia Henderson

Video Production Coordinator
Pronouns: she/her

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
Pronouns: she/her

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.

 

Francisco Rojas-Meraz

Visual & Healing Arts Assistant
Pronouns:he/him

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

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Stephanie Medley

Director of Education & Justice
Pronouns: she/her

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.

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Andrew Yeung

Economic Justice Program Manager
Pronouns: he/him

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.

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Destiny Iwuoma

College Access Coordinator
Pronouns: he/him

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.

 

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Alisha Murdock

Youth Justice Program Manager
Pronouns:she/her

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.

 
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Briana Urrutia

Youth Success Coordinator
Pronouns: she/her

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.

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Tyjohn Sykes

Youth Justice Assistant
Pronouns: he/him

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.

 
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Valerie Jameson

Education Justice Coordinator
Pronouns: she/her

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 

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Joe Kim

Community Health Director
Pronouns: he/him

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.

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Anthony Lucas

Clinical Psychology Intern
Pronouns: he/him

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.

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Brian Villa

Community Health Program Manager
Pronouns: he/him

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

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LaVonda Vaughn

Trauma Response Specialist
Pronouns: she/her

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.

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Dalia J. Ramos-Mucino

Member Engagement Coordinator
Pronouns: She/Her

Dalia J. Ramos-Mucino has bee he RYSE Member Engagement Coordinator ince 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.

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 Marissa Snoddy

Clinical Therapist
Pronouns: She/Her

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. 

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Sterling Gilder

Culture Builder
Pronouns: she/her

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.

 

Randy Joseph

Member Engagement Coordinator
Pronouns: he/him

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

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Jamileh Ebrahimi

Youth Organizing Director
Pronouns: she/her

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.
 

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Diana Diaz-Noriega

Youth Organizing Coordinator
Pronouns: She/Her

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.