Meet Our 2022 Fellows

To see a snapshot of our 2022 Emerging Organizers Fellowship participating organizations and fellows click on the link below or scroll down to read through our Fellows full biographies.

2022 Fellowship Cohort 1 Pager (PDF)


Aidan Del Real
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice
Los Angeles, CA

Hey! My name is Aidan Del Real (they/he) and I'm super excited to work with YO Cali for the next couple months. I'm currently apart of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice , or East Yard for short, where I help with youth organizing. I'm interested in advocating for housing justice, water accessibility, and queer representation within organizing spaces. Outside of organizing, I love to garden, cook, sew, and go on runs :)


Alanah Martinez
Youth Alliance
Hollister, CA - Central Coast

Hi! I'm Alanah and I am currently the Youth Engagement Advocate at the Youth Alliance. I am also a student at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz focusing on Feminist Studies and Pyschology. Youth organizing is important to me because I believe in the power of all-inclusive, generational movements. As we learn from the past, young people are taking these lessons to create a new, expansive future. Because of the power that youth hold, harnessing that power and honoring young people is extremely important to me. My interest to be an organizer and an advocate for marginalized communities grows stronger every day and I am always looking forward to learning, growing, and learning to be outspoken for the things that I care about. I am excited to work with peers who I can share ideas with, feel safe with, and heal with. I feel very honored and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this fellowship, not only for my personal and professional growth, but also to be a part of a transformational community of young people.


Alexis Garcia
Little Manila Rising
Stockton, CA

Alexis Garcia is a first-generation Latinx college graduate from UC Davis with an emphasis in Human Development and Chicanx Studies. She is a Community Health Equity Specialist and Youth Coordinator with Little Manila Rising in South Stockton. She is dedicated to co-create wellness and healing in South Stockton by bringing awareness and education on Asthma, Environmental Justice issues, and the historic injustices and disinvestment in the community. Through this community effort, Alexis hopes to empower local advocacy, increase community engagement, and build community leadership through a cultural holistic social justice framework.


David Diaz
Pacoima Beautiful
Pacoima, CA

Hi everyone! My name is David Diaz and I am an emerging youth organizer at Pacoima Beautiful. I am a passionate youth organizer who wears their heart on their sleeve and is a huge geek for anything science related. As a youth organizer I am grateful and honored to witness our young people's growth as activists and leaders in our community.


Denise Rogers-Heydt
she/her, they/them
Californians For Justice
Fresno, CA

Denise Rogers-Heydt is a Youth Organizer in the Fresno region, she is a Fresno State alumni and holds a Bachelor's degree in Sociology with two minors: one in Philanthropic and Community-Based Leadership and the other in Music. As a research assistant with the Central Valley Health Policy Institute, they took part in analyzing focus group data for the Climate Change Health & Equity, developing the Central Valley Housing Data Repository, and co-facilitating racial equity workshops for DRIVE projects. Denise served as the Fresno State NAACP Political Action Chair during the Spring and Summer terms of 2020, during which she co-organized and co-lead the #WeCan'tBreathe event which highlighted the social inequities experienced by Black residents of Fresno, as well as other communities of color; there were at least 3,000 people in attendance and it is known as the largest demonstration in Fresno's history. Because of this demonstration, she was awarded the Youth Way of Peace Award by The Fresno Center for Nonviolence and the city of Fresno established a Police Reform Commission and Black Lives Matter Day. She also developed the Clovis Unified School District Alumni Discrimination survey, which generated over 4,200 responses in less than 72 hours.

Denise comes from a blended family and is the oldest of 7. Her father is a military veteran and raised them to be informed on sociopolitical issues, providing them with data & historical background to fill in the gaps when they had questions as to why people would make decisions based on building capital over basic human needs and rights. Those moments planted the seeds of social justice, her personal experiences with racism & academic journey have allowed those seeds to blossom into the work that she has been able to contribute to today.

Their educational background and interests include: Race & Diversity, Humanics scholar, Classical vocal training, Opera, and Choral performance; in addition to organizing for the community and critically thinking about social issues, Denise enjoys: performing music, modeling, and writing/reading poetry.


Dulcinea Arroyo
AFSC - Roots for Peace
Los Angeles, CA

I love to work with the youth of South Central Los Angeles because I am able to provide resources and knowledge that may help them navigate the world around them. I've been a grassroots organizer in the community for 10 years, and my goal through this fellowship is to connect with organizations across California to build a successful youth movement.


Elisha Mendoza
Dolores Huerta Foundation
Fresno, CA

As a youth organizer in the central valley I hope to be able to further my understanding and expand my skill set on how to offer diverse leadership development to youth in the area. As someone who spent most of my teenage years doing work within the community I learned first hand just how important youth organizing is. Being able to bring youth voices/experiences into spaces is important in ways that most people aren't able to recognize until they see it happen. That's the recognition I hope to bring into my community with the youth I work with.


Farida Erikat
Majdal Arab Community Center of San Diego
San Diego, CA

Hi everyone! My name is Farida Erikat and I am a Palestinian Muslim born and raised in San Diego on occupied Kumeyaay land. I currently serve as the Youth Organizer with the Majdal Arab Community Center of San Diego, where I lead our collective of Arab youth who envision and implement community programming. I previously graduated from UC Irvine with a Bachelors in Psychology and a Minor in Education, which drove me to pursue working with youth at the intersection of education and advocacy. Since joining Majdal’s team last year, I’ve built many relationships with youth and their families from both the newcomer community and the previous generation of Arab immigrants in the area. To me, youth organizing is about equipping youth with the tools to become the strong leaders and changemakers that will cultivate political power in the pursuit of justice and self-determination for our community.


Fili Zaragoza
Youth United for Community Action
East Palo Alto, CA

My name is Fili and I have been working with Youth United for Community for 3 years. From this fellowship I hope to gain the skills to lead campaigns in my org and help guide the next generation of youth. I believe youth are the future and that they will be the ones to change everything.


Geena Ballesteros
She / her
Filipino Advocates for Justice
San Francisco, CA

Geena Ballesteros (She/ Her) was born and raised in Ohlone land also known as Hayward, CA. She got involved with Filipino Advocates for Justice early on as a teen through Pilipino Youth Coalition. In returning to the organization, Geena holds the role of Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Organizer. Her role targets engaging those 18-24+ years old in civic engagement, voter education, personal development and more. Her goal is to spread hope, love, and light in the world.


Jacob Mata
San Francisco Rising
San Francisco, CA

I am a Field Lead at San Francisco Rising--i host, facilitate and run the day to day field operations for various campaigns we are working on. During the summer, I led the field operations for our summer fellowship program (phone banking and canvassing), now I am doing that again for our Fall program. I really hope to accomplish and better my leadership skills--mainly providing feedback and coaching. I want to become a better active listener and really feel the things people say; I want to be better at my responses to them as well. Youth organizing is really important to me because at this stage in life, we are suppose to be finding ourselves and what's important to us; by organizing I have come to learn more not only about myself--my desires, ideas, and future dreams--but of my community; I have learned how to analyze the structures of power and develop ways to better my community and neighbors.


Jocelyn (Joce) Frias
LOUD For Tomorrow
Delano, CA

Hi there! I’m Jocelyn and I go by she/they/Ella pronouns. I am a first-generation Chicana whose roots are from a low-income background in Lamont, a small town south east of Bakersfield. I am proud to say I am the oldest daughter of undocumented folks who have spent countless years, to this day, in agricultural labor. Through the fellowship, I hope to heal and ground myself in newfound knowledge in order to bring those resources back into my youth organizing. Youth organizing is important to me because I believe younger generations are key to a life of liberation; They are passionate to learn and show up and I’d like to be one of many resources for our youth.


Lusi Wang
South Bay Youth Changemakers
San Jose, CA

I'm a queer and trans Chinese immigrant who grew up in a small suburb on unceded Tamien Ohlone territory (Santa Clara County). Youth organizing is important to me because youth have so much power and drive to build a better world, but they're often overlooked and undermined. I want to be part of transforming adultist narratives about youth! I'm excited to deepen my understanding of transformative youth organizing and gain clarity on my role in this work, especially exploring how I can incorporate healing justice into my organizing work.


Maya Rapier
Oakland Kids First
Oakland, CA

I was born and raised in Oakland, CA to immigrant parents. My favorite food is curry chicken and rice. I am excited to be a Yo Cali fellow and learn more about campaign strategies and movement building. Also how to deepen my connections with youth. I'm ready to expand my learning and build relationships with the other fellows.


Michaela Rain Ward
Saving California Salmon
Hoopa, CA- NorCal

He:yung my name is Michaela. I am a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and I live on our reservation. I have worked as a Teacher's Aide for the past five years and I am currently an Education Advocate for the Save California Salmon Organization. This upcoming year I hope to continue to integrate the Save California Salmon Standardized Curriculum into the local schools. I am also hoping to strengthen my leadership ability. Youth organizing is important to me because it helps people develop better social skills, provides emotional support, and gives opportunities to build relationships with your peers. I believe that educating our future generations of youth will help ensure that our cultural knowledge is strengthened and continues on.


Monse TG
CIYJA - California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance
Statewide CA

Monserrat, also known as Monse is an undocumented, femme, and unapologetic student abolitionist. Monse believes in community power and has been organically building community in the Inland Empire and through different pockets of California. She believes that it's important to be a vocal and passionate advocate for social justice issues that are led by directly impacted folks, especially youth. Because of this, Monse hopes to advocate, empower, and cultivate a strong sense of community throughout this fellowship. She believes that youth organizing is important because youth hold the power to transform communities and cultivate leadership for liberation.


Ryondell Bourne
Youth Justice Coalition
Los Angeles, CA

Bio: Coming Soon


Sam Gutierrez
Gente Organizada
Pomona, CA

Hello, I’m Sam! I’m a queer and trans non-binary Mexican-American youth organizer from Pomona, CA. I graduated from UC Berkeley last Spring, where I majored in Ethnic Studies and minored in Education. Though I spent about half of my time attending school virtually and didn’t get a chance to meaningfully connect with others, my time at UCB allowed me to really think about and learn what it is to be a “we” in the face of struggle and oppression. As a fellow, I hope to gain the tools and skills that will allow me to strengthen the sense of “we” in my community and nurture a feeling of authentic community, collectivity, and connection amongst queer and trans youth in Pomona through organizing. Youth organizing is important to me because it has connected me to other young folks that believe in a shared vision for a just world and our power to lead us toward freedom and liberation.


Sequoia Monet Coleman
California Native Vote Project / Nor Cal Native Youth for Justice
Statewide CA

My name is Sequoia Coleman and I'm from Sacramento, California. Throughout this fellowship, I am hoping to be able to help my community and future generations by partnering with different school districts in Northern California in hopes of preventing trauma that is placed on indigenous students. Youth organizing is important to me because I believe that our younger generations have the power and ability to make serious change. With youth organizing, I am able to help others realize they have a voice and provide them the necessary steps to take action.


Shai Chang
Hmong Innovating Politics
Fresno, CA

Shai Chang, they/them pronouns, graduated from Fresno State in spring 2021 with a bachelors in Sociology, a minor in Peace and Conflicts Studies, and a certificate in Social Justice and Social Change. They are currently organizing with Hmong Innovating Politics to create space for queer Hmong/ Southeast Asians to feel like they belong and feel empowered. Youth organizing is so important to them because as a queer young person, who still seeking and creating space for other queer folxs, spaces never existed for them growing up. Through the fellowship, Shai hopes to be able to create even more capacity and build history that queer Hmong/ Southeast Asians exist and matter.


Stephanie Mixelle Barboza
Pukúu Cultural Community Services
San Fernando, CA

Stephanie Barboza is from ancestral Pueblo Coca territory in Jalisco, Mexico. She is a first-generation Xicana born and raised on unceded Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians lands, known as the San Fernando Valley. She recently received a Bachelor of Arts in Chicanx Studies with a Minor in American Indian Studies from California State University, Northridge in May. During her time at CSUN, she was committed to student organizing and held positions in various BIPOC centered student organizations, lastly serving as Co-Chair for the American Indian Student Association. During her time as Vice Chair of CSUN’s University Student Union Board of Directors and a Student Representative in the University Commission for Diversity and Inclusion, she realized the importance of young people to have a seat at the table when it comes to advocating for an equitable future.

Currently, she is the Youth Organizer for Pukúu Cultural Community Services and coordinates their Tutčint Health Leadership Program. In addition, she is a Cultural Worker Apprentice Program Fellow with Metzli Projects. Outside of her work, she enjoys creating artesanías, roller-skating, and practicing Danza Mexica. She is passionate about youth organizing and is dedicated to supporting Indigenous youth on their path to higher education and becoming our community’s future leaders.

She dedicates her work and accomplishments to the seven generations before and after her. She acknowledges the role of her ancestors, the ancestors of the land she is a guest of, and all of the community members who have become her elders, aunties, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters, and guide her on this journey.


Wassim Hage
AROC - Arab Resource and Organizing Center
San Francisco, CA

BIO: Coming Soon