Sabaa Zareena, Administrative & Operations Manager + Fellowship Manager (they/them)
Sabaa (they/them) has been providing administrative and operations support to arts and social justice projects since 2010. Their dedication to supporting arts and social justice initiatives stems from their own experiences of creating art inspired by historical and current social justice practices and theories. Some of the organizations they’ve worked with are Just Be, Qulture Collective and CultureStrike. In addition, they've worked with many projects centered in catalyzing change and building strong foundations of support for intergenerational Black, POC, migrant and LGBTQ communities.
When not working with YO! Cali they’re cultivating a healing justice project aimed at creating intentional spaces to support the mental and emotional health of GNC and Trans communities. They're also studying film making and photography in relation to performative interactive arts.
Grisanti Valencia, Healing Justice Director (they/she)
Grisanti Avendaño (She/They) is an organizer, facilitator, strategist, poet, space holder, and coach. Her ancestors come from Ayoquezco de Aldama, Oaxaca, the people of the clouds and where the turtles come out; in the ancestral Zapotec lands of Southern Mexico. In her role as the Healing Justice Director at YO! Cali has supported, coached and trained many organizers and youth leaders from the Central Valley and across the state. In her role she breaks down healing justice with the intention of offering a remembrance of our lineage , ancestors and the magic that happens when we center healing in our hoods and movement. They are the founder and fire keeper of the Central Valley Healing Collective where they host healing clinics and emerge resources in the region. When not working you can find her on a walk with her 4-legged babies Flicka and Roni enjoying time with her nibbling Sebastian and movement niblings.
Ashley Uyeda, Capacity Building Director (she/they)
Ashley, she/they, is a 4th generation mixed race Japanese American who was born and raised in Northern California, but claims LA/Tongva Territory as home. She has been involved in the field of youth organizing for racial, economic, and gender justice since 2006. Her foundation in youth organizing comes from her work with SoCal for Youth, a multi-racial network of youth organizations in Los Angeles that built the capacity and power of youth organizing regionally across communities and issues. In 2007, she joined Khmer Girls in Action as an organizer with Cambodian American young women, and eventually served as their Organizing Director where she developed the strategic vision and direction of local and regional campaigns, led GOTV efforts, and focused campaign work on School Based Wellness Center, Anti-Deportation efforts, educational justice, young women’s health access and reproductive justice. In 2008 she joined YO! Cali to launch and build out their Emerging Organizers Fellowship and strengthen the pathway for youth organizers in the field, and now provides strategic direction for their capacity building efforts to support BIPOC youth and organizations across California. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys hanging out with her niece, baking, playing Taiko drums with her troupe in Los Angeles, and being a plant & fur parent.
Linda Sanchez, Field Building Director, and add pronouns (she/her/hers)
Linda was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and migrated to Orange County in her early teen years. In 2014 she graduated from UC Berkeley where she received a dual degree in Political Science and Chicano Studies. Linda has over 10 years of experience in youth leadership development and most recently worked on various bills aimed at combating the punitive systems in California.
Citlali Ruiz Martinez, Youth Organizer (she/her/ella)
Citlali is Oaxaquena and Zaptoeca, migrated and raised in Santa Ana! Citlali loves her hometown full of bright colors, radiant community, and her chosen family. Over the years Citlali has centered her love for young people and community through volunteering in various organizations that focused on youth empowerment, womxn reproductive rights, youth civic engagement, and other youth spaces. Currently Citlali is focusing her work at Youth Organize California as Youth Organizer, she continues to uplift and support young people through leadership, healing, and political education.
She loves drinking ice coffee and reading on her time off, as well as spending time with her friends and family out at the swap meet or having adventures in Santa Ana
Jenn is a first generation US born creator from the Central Valley, more specifically Fresno, California. As the oldest of 5 siblings, her experiences as an additional parent to them, as well as a protector and guide to her own parents have been the driving force behind her work and how she got involved in social justice organizing. Jenny started organizing in the immigrant right’s field which opened the door for her to build connections in the Central Valley. She has been active in her community since 2017, and has had roles such as organizer, outreach coordinator, coalition lead, and youth program coordinator among others throughout her years. She has led work in detangling ICE and local law enforcement collaboration, pushing for the divestment of police in her community, and also worked with school districts to transform antiquated policing practices such as dress codes. Jenn has hopes of continuing to cultivate abundance and safety for her community and sees healing as an inseparable part of her work. Jenn is joining YO! Cali as the Fellowship Manager, and is excited to bring her love and passion for youth organizing and her personal connection as a former alumni to the Emerging Organizers Fellowship.
Jeremy Lahoud, YO! Cali Co-Director (he/him)
Jeremy has worked for and with grassroots organizations focused on youth organizing for racial and social justice since 1994. In 2004, he joined Californians for Justice as Long Beach Lead Organizer and subsequently served as Organizing Co-Director in 2007-2008 and Executive Director from 2009-2012. Prior to moving to California, he spent a decade organizing for racial and educational justice with African American, Latinx, and Arab American youth at the Southwest Youth Collaborative in Chicago. Jeremy helped to launch YO! Cali as a Senior Fellow with Movement Strategy Center and has served as YO! Cali’s Co-Director since 2017. Jeremy lives on Tongva land in South Central Los Angeles with his partner, Maria, a high school social studies teacher, and their three children, Adila, Tecún, and Amar. He enjoys cooking the traditional Lebanese food he grew up with, playing capoeira with the Omulu Capoeira group, playing soccer at Evolve Soccer, and learning from his Rinzai Zen teachers, Norma Wong and Rosie Abriam.
Daulton Jones (he/him/they/them), Central Valley Lead Organizer
Daulton was born and raised in Yokuts Territory (aka Bakersfield). The Central Valley is their home and they do this work to ensure that this beautiful place that held and raised them up is given the support it needs to flourish! During his time in movement work, Daulton has focused on restorative justice with Black and brown youth and families, housing eviction protections, economic justice and the fight for defunding and reinvesting in community revitalization with the People's Budget Bakersfield. As an Afro-Indigenous person, the only reason Daulton is here today is because of their ancestors' understanding that the fight for freedom lives in not just the body, but in the spirit as well
J. Ishida, YO! Cali Co-Director (they/them)
J Ishida (they/them) is a fourth generation, Hawaii rooted, Asian American organizer, partner, and parent who centers their values of play and interdependence at the core of their work. They draw on 20 years of organizing experience with Californians for Justice, Youth Organize! California, and the Center for Empowered Politics. Their deep background in BIPOC youth organizing and capacity building brings expertise in campaign strategy, base-building & leadership development, organizational development & change management, and strategic planning. J has designed and guided leadership transitions, organizational assessments, and program redesign processes to build organizations that are sustainable, effective, and accountable to its values and membership.