CEN's Building Representative Boards
Mariam Azimi Mutib
Mariam Azimi M. is a dedicated community advocate who helps women get the support, guidance, and emotional confidence needed to move forward in their life after surviving domestic violence. She has worked with FAITH.org as a court advocate for women who have survived domestic violence and has been instrumental in creating safe spaces that cater to the needs of this vulnerable population. Since her divorce in 2011, she has also provided support services to divorced Muslim women, establishing CircleofsiSTARhood at the ADAMS Center in Sterling, Virginia, co-founding Ikram Foundation and serving as president and founder of Care2Elevate.org, that provides grief support and education on cultural stigma around divorce for both men and women. Mariam is passionate about spirituality. Fluent in Arabic and Farsi, she loves music that talks to the soul and revives her inner calling for social change like Rumi and alike.
I’m interested in attending CEN BRB Program, because I have been the part of several boards within my community. I want to experience other board settings as well as learn from more senior members on how to become a well rounded board member to push the needed ideas forward. I’m looking forward to meeting others who have more experience and whom I can benefit and learn from. I appreciate this opportunity that have been offered to me and eager to attend to completion.
My name is Alexandra Caro. I was born and raised in Compton, California, to two working class Mexican-immigrants. From a young age, I witnessed a lot of inequality both around me and in the world that caused me to take an interest in social justice. This interest continued into my undergraduate studies and in 2018 I earned my Bachelor’s in Health & Societies from the University of Pennsylvania. During my time there I also did advocacy for low-income and POC students and learned I wanted to dedicate my future to serving marginalized communities. I entered the public health sector soon after graduating, working in nonprofit healthcare and HIV prevention. Through my work, I’ve been able to advocate for vulnerable communities I’m passionate about, such as queer and trans people of color and the working class. Soon after I began my professional career, I was also able to begin my own self-discovery journey and began my gender transition in 2020. Transitioning has only invigorated my passion to advocate for queer and trans folks of color. It is my goal to utilize my skills and my privilege to advocate for those most vulnerable in our society.
Throughout my time working in the nonprofit industry, I’ve gotten an insight into all the systems at play and limitations of many organizations to do the work they are meant to. Beyond this, I also am aware that the vast majority of boards are not reflective of the communities they serve. As somebody who is a trans person of color, as well has worked in direct-service of the community, I realize how important it is for people of my experience to have a seat at the table. The decisions of the folks in power ultimately most impact those most vulnerable, and so I believe it's important to encourage board representation from people who understand this from both personal and practical perspectives.
Alexandra (Alex) Diaz (she/her) was born and raised in San Jose, California. She is a graduate of the University of San Francisco where she studied international relations, it was there that Alex had the opportunity to travel the world and find a love for and dedication to service learning both domestically and abroad.
As the Director of Program at Girl Scouts of Northern California Alex leads a team that directly serves thousands of youth and adult members from Gilroy to Humboldt. These programs embody our mission of building youth of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Alex centers equity in the work she does by serving as a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) facilitator for staff and delivering DEIB programming to youth.
Alex has spent over 8 years working for Girl Scouts of Northern California, and is a lifetime member having grown up in the program herself. Alex has always had an interest in youth development. She has taught English abroad in China and Belize to preK-8th graders and volunteers as a tutor with Refugee Transitions, a Bay Area nonprofit that helps refugee and immigrant families with English language learning.
Alex is also passionate about the outdoors having spent 7 years working in the outdoor adventure and summer camp industry as well as serving as a volunteer for the American Camp Association. In 2022, Alex competed in her first triathlon with the Greater San Francisco Bay Area Team in Training group, where the team raised over $100,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. As a survivor herself, this was an especially great achievement.
Alex recently completed the Certificate in Nonprofit Management from CSU East Bay and is looking forward to using the skills and strategies learned in that program to advance her work at Girl Scouts and to support other Bay Area Nonprofits. Alex currently resides in downtown Oakland with her fiancée and two guinea pigs, Latke and Kugel. She is greatly looking forward to the BRB program.
I am excited to participate in the BRB program because I am interested in learning about best practices and how to put IDEAL at the forefront of the decisions that the board makes. I look forward to learning how we can build boards that are more representative of the communities they serve and working with a cohort that is passionate about mission driven work and sharing their diverse perspectives.
Having a diverse background in different fields I have a variety of different perspectives to bring to board meetings for effective collaboration. Working in industries such as mental health, start-ups, nonprofits, project management, and health care I am aware of the challenges that organizations face in various stages of growth. I am currently starting a new role as a Senior Project Manager & Policy Analyst at UC Berkeley University Health Services and will be transitioning out of a Director of Operations role with a nonprofit organization. I enjoy working within non-profit organizations and feel the most comfortable in nonprofit organizations where I can contribute to facilitating growth development and team building. I have a B.S in Health Education and a Minor in Holistic Health from San Francisco State University, Project Management Certificate from UC Berkeley Extensions and will be graduating in the spring of 2023 with an MPA in Health Policy from American Public University Systems
I wanted to join BRB because I believe in what the program is trying to achieve. Representation on non-profit boards is important to reflect the communities that they support. Having worked with non-profit boards in the past, I understand the importance of having diversity on the board to provide meaningful collaboration. Without representation, like-mindedness can cause nonprofits to become stagnant, and I hope to learn ways to contribute to a board that is effective and purposeful
About Smita:Born and raised in New Delhi, India, Dr. Smita Garg is a Bay Area-based artist, arts educator, and an accomplished Holistic healer-therapist. She earned her doctorate in Arts Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Smita’s doctoral thesis covered the topic of diversity, inclusion and belonging expressed through the arts. She brings to the table a deep and diverse experience from the fields of art, educational non-profits, and holistic healing. As a passionate advocate for the transformative power of the arts, Smita has been working on developing practices that bring a deep level of healing, calm, and peace through mindful artmaking. Since 2019, Smita has been an integral part of a local initiative called Creatives for Compassionate Communities (CCC), which is an incubator space for artist activists. Co-founded by Dana Bainbridge, Pastor at Urban Sanctuary, and PJ Hirabayashi, founder of Taiko Peace and co-founder of San Jose Taiko, CCC holds free, quarterly art workshops for the local and international community. During the pandemic, Smita collaborated with arts organizations of color such as Chopsticks Alley by providing live meditations via a weekly wellness event. The live-streamed event ran for 40 weeks. She also helped co-create a special artbook with Chopsticks Alley staff, based on traditional art forms of Southeast Asia. This book called ARTventure Down the Mekong is available on Amazon for purchase.
In collaboration with Green Foothills, Smita has also co-created Healing in Nature, a special program that connects people to local nature. Green Foothills is a key Bay Area nature and climate advocacy group. The Healing in Nature series is inspired by Chairman Valentin Lopez’ (Chief of the Amah Mutsun tribal band) desire to see a deeper connection between humans and nature. Smita is an active member of her community since she made San Jose, CA her home in 2003. She has volunteered her time for several local and international non-profits. She has served on the San Jose Arts Commission since 2017 and chaired it during the tough time of the pandemic. Smita serves on the board of Grateful Living and on the advisory board of Green Foothills. She is also co-founder and past chair of the Campbell Union High School District Education Foundation (CUHSDEF), a nonprofit serving over eight thousand high school students. Smita is fluent in English and Hindi and understands Sanskrit and Italian.
I am interested in CEN BRB program because I would like to explore opportunities with non-profit boards that are recognizing the need for wider, more meaningful representation. Additionally, as a person of color, I would like to learn to present my experience, my point of view, and my voice effectively for collective good while on a non-profit board.
My name is Mario Gomez, I am from Guatemala, and I am a first-generation student at San Francisco State University in my family. My primary language is Spanish, and English is my second language. My educational journey started at the age of 22 when I decided to move from Guatemala to this country. I began to attend ESL classes at the adult school. After that, I enrolled for a high school diploma. In 2021, I graduated with an Associate in Business Administration and Economics at Cañada College. I am currently furthering my education at San Francisco State University to pursue my bachelor’s in information systems. I am excited to learn and grow in the Business field.
One of the best experiences in my life was when I started to volunteer at the EFPS of San Mateo County and became a student ambassador at the United Way Bay Area to provide social services. Since then, I have advocated for my community, promoting a community-wide commitment to end homelessness and supporting my DREAMers' colleagues. I work at LifeMoves as Program Aide at First Step for Families in San Mateo. My hobbies are hiking, running, and photography.
My motivation for considering board service is to boost my professional credibility because it allows me to communicate and promote, as well as raise my professional profile among my peers, within my organization. In addition, serving on service through the CEN BRB Program will allow me to hone a variety of professional skills that will help me advance in my career.
Alan Gouig (he/him) is a community advocate and grassroots organizer based in Downtown San Jose. Originally from San Leandro, CA, Alan is a proud graduate of San José State University (SJSU), with a B.S. in Business Management and Administration. Currently, he serves as the Public Policy & Advocacy Associate with the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits (SVCN). Here, he conducts public policy research and advocacy efforts for nonprofits across Santa Clara County. Also close to his heart, Alan strives to bolster the democratic capacity of Filipinxs into the world of civics. Present day, he serves as the Founding Board Chair of the Filipino Alumni Network (FAN SJSU) and aspires to build a sustaining leadership pipeline for Filipinxs at his alma mater. In his free time, he holds great pride in being a long-time boba aficionado, avid news junkie, and AMC A-list Stubs Member.
I'm excited to join the BRB program to learn the skills and strategies necessary to be an effective board member. It's important to me that I bring the intersectional perspectives and identities of my community along with me. I hope to apply these lessons when making more informed, intentional, and equitable decisions.
My current role is an outreach worker and a Housing Navigation Tenancy Specialist the organizations I am currently working for Heluna Health in SF and LifeMoves in San Mateo County. Some of my goals are to provide street outreach, inform members of my community about housing rights, issues and to remove barriers for people facing homelessness. One of my accomplishments is I was able to house families whose barriers to housing Changing the mindset of the public and the face of homelessness. A fun fact about me is I am a die-hard Prince Fan.
I am interested in this opportunity through CEN Board Program because I am interested in learning how they are run because boards have a voice in communities where representation is not always present.
Vanessa "V" Grijalva
I am an experienced Office Manager and Executive Administrator with a demonstrated history of working in public policy, DEI, program and organization development. Currently I serve on the board for the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley where I lead our Policy and Advocacy initiatives.
I have a passion for helping others and thrive off of the success of any company I work for. When they succeed I succeed! My goals are to network, build relationships and see how we can help one another. My passions are god, family and my community. God has ordained my steps and I know that what I am doing currently in the DEI space as well as with racial and social justice work... this was what I was meant to do.
To me, you all lead the charge in diversity and education. Organizations reach out to you all for your guidance and expertise! I want to be in a room with diverse voices. That is where the magic happens! When diverse people have one goal with diverse outlooks… that makes for a beautiful outcome.
Born in Texas, raised in Guanajuato Mexico by my grandparents and then in Gilroy CA, where I joined my mother and 6 siblings. Raised by a single mother in a low-income household. I am a first-generation college graduate (CSUMB). I obtained an MSW degree from San Jose State with the goal of engaging in macro social work activities in underserved communities. I hope to obtain my LCSW in the near future and also expand my knowledge in non-profit management.
I LOVE to travel the world and immerse myself in different cultures and experiences. I am fascinated with the worlds diversity and appreciate opportunities where I can learn how to make a positive impact.
I am fortunate to contribute to a team who is devoted to serve and empower others selflessly and whole heartily. I thrive in spaces that allow creatively and innovation to find long lasting solutions to some of our community’s social ailments.
I am looking to participate in this experience because I would like to one day see people with lived experience serving, guiding and empowering non-profits who are crucial to the health of our communities.
Jess Hudson is a domestic violence survivor and single parent of two. She graduated from San Francisco State University in 2021 and has dedicated herself to advocating for policies that support survivors and address drivers of poverty. She has trained police departments on coercive control and cyberstalking, spoken on a domestic violence panel with Congresswoman Jackie Speier, and engaged with various media outlets on the need for expanded CalEITC and Advanced Child Tax Credits. In her work at United Way Bay Area as a policy specialist she is committed to dismantling poverty and making the Bay Area a more equitable place for us all to live.
As I begin my career in nonprofit work and also as an Advisory Board member, I am looking forward to learning how to be comfortable and rest in my power. As a queer, low-income, neurodivergent woman and as a parent to a neurodivergent trans child, I know that stepping into these spaces can feel overwhelming or unwelcoming. My hope is to both gain the skills for myself and to be able to take that knowledge and co-create space at the table that welcomes and values the many experiences and perspectives folks bring with them.
I am Jamie Kearns from Vallejo, CA. I have been both married and in education for the last twenty-two years. I am the mother of three amazing children. My eldest is a Deaf thirty-year-old son, my middle child/son is sixteen years old and my daughter is thirteen years old.
I am a brand new member of the UWBA Advisory board and would like to gain some skills with non-profit boards.