Team Shortcode (Staff)
Kemi Alabi joined Forward Together in November 2014. As Editorial Manager, they help lead Echoing Ida and engage its growing Truth-Teller Network. They also document and share Forward Together’s story of courage, connection and change. A writer, editor and teaching artist, Kemi has spent the last decade amplifying the voices of Black women and non-binary folks. After studying political science and philosophy, they learned the power of words to conjure new worlds. Since then, they’ve worked with organizers in housing rights, the movement for Black lives, and queer and trans justice to strategically communicate visions of liberation. Kemi’s writing and editorial work appear in The Guardian, The Washington Post, Blavity, Catapult, The Toast and Winter Tangerine.
Adriann Barboa joined the Forward Together team in 2012, as Field Director for the Strong Families New Mexico program. Adriann works with families and communities across the state of New Mexico to bring about culture shift strategies that recognize the many kinds of families across her home state, and create new policies centered in the lived experiences of everyday New Mexicans. Adriann is a connector, an organizer, a trainer and loves to spend her time with families and communities working together toward building the world we all want to live in. She brings together a strong network of organizations and individuals in New Mexico that are modeling how to leverage their people power for the greater good. Adriann brings 15 plus years experience in the direct service and social justice sectors, working primarily on issues of gender, reproductive, anti-violence, education and youth and criminal justice in indigenous and communities of color. She is a proud mother of two loving young adults that bring her so much joy and keep her grounded.
Micah Bazant joined Forward Together as Artist-in-Residence in March 2017. They bring more than 10 years experience making art in collaboration with social justice movements. Prior to coming on staff, Micah worked as a freelance graphic designer, artist and art director. In 2014 they worked with Forward Together and trans justice organizations across the country on the Trans Day of Resilience Art Project. In 2016, Micah initiated the Trans Life and Liberation Art Series, celebrating the existence and resistance of trans activists and artists of color across the U.S. They love drawing, growing and eating food, animal-related adventures, and speculative fiction.
Vivek joined Forward Together in May 2017 and supports us as we use technology in our work, maintaining our current resources and finding new ways for us to fulfill our mission across our various locations. He came from roles in web development, web strategy and IT at Race Forward, Diablo Valley College, the University of Pennsylvania and Brooklyn Law School. When he’s not crawling under desks or talking his colleagues’ ears off about digital security, Vivek plays tenor sax with the Laney College Jazz Orchestra. He is an immigrant from India and grew up in Tucson, AZ. If you’d like to send Vivek a PGP-encrypted email, you can find his public key at https://keybase.io/vbharathan/key.asc (fingerprint: BE1E 57B9 3818 3451 0C61 55E5 218A C601 5924 9436).
Jessica joined Forward Together as the New Mexico Program Director in July 2015. She ensures that the Strong Families network in New Mexico is vibrant and connected while moving policy and culture shift work that meets the needs of all New Mexico families. Prior to joining Forward Together, Jessica spent twelve years at Media Literacy Project where she led the Girl Tech program for young women of color that centered on reproductive justice and video production. She also designed curriculum, taught classes to middle and high school students, and trained nationally and internationally in media literacy and media justice. Jessica brings experience in educating and organizing on media access issues, program planning and evaluation, and creating beautiful resources that are accessible to New Mexico communities. She recently served on the Board of Directors for Young Women United for six years. When not at work, Jessica enjoys spending time with her two sons, Luca and Micah, reading nonfiction, and hiking in the mountains.
Manuela joined Forward Together as a Development Assistant in September 2017. She manages the donor database, ensures donors are thanked promptly and accurately, and supports logistics for fundraising events. Prior to working at Forward Together, Manuela completed her Master’s degree in Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University. As a graduate student, her research focused on the colonial underpinnings of global development initiatives, particularly those centered on women and girls’ empowerment in the global South. She previously worked as an English and Spanish teacher in Vietnam, the UK and Gabon, learning with and from students of all ages and backgrounds.
When she is not crafting thank-you letters, Manuela loves to sing, dance, practice yoga, Skype her family and friends, and eat delicious food with her partner.
Jackeline (Jakki) joined Forward Together as the Oregon Field Organizer in November 2017. As the Field Organizer, she engages Oregonians primarily in Portland for healthcare access, family recognition and safe communities. Originally from Reno, Jakki studied Spanish and women’s studies at the University of Nevada where she began organizing around reproductive justice and immigrants’ rights. Most recently, Jakki served as a Raíz Organizer for Planned Parenthood Federation of America where she worked with Latinx communities on fights for reproductive health, sex education and access to care. When she’s not at work, you can find Jakki traveling, trying new Thai places, binging Netflix shows and tweeting.
Kelly joined Forward Together in August 2013. She passionately works to increase visibility of the Strong Families New Mexico program by strengthening and documenting efficient information systems, relationship building, and event planning to amplify staff capacity and partner networks.
Kelly proudly represents herself as a Diné Woman, residing from northeastern Arizona, she is Kinłichíi’nii (Red House Clan) and born for Naakaii Dine’é (Mexican People Clan). She presently lives in Albuquerque, where she completed her BA in Psychology from the University of New Mexico (UNM). While at UNM, she was very active in various capacities with several student organizations and in community organizing. Kelly currently serves as an active board member of the Native American Voters Alliance Education Project and is a co-author of Native Americans and the University of New Mexico. Outside of work, she enjoys being outdoors, playing volleyball and softball, and watching the sunrise.
Jeana joined the Forward Together team in March 2017 and works primarily from Portland, Oregon. As the Director of Philanthropic Partnerships, Jeana is passionate about building relationships to mobilize financial resources that power the work of Forward Together and our movement. Most recently, Jeana served as Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon, where she successfully built the organization into a nationally recognized LGBTQ powerhouse, known for innovation, intersectionality and bold policy wins. During her tenure, Jeana led a transformative process to integrate racial and transgender justice into the organization’s culture and priorities. She positioned the organization to play an essential role in the national strategy to win the freedom to marry and worked statewide to advance transgender health access, immigrant rights and economic justice campaigns. Jeana built relationships across the LGBTQ and allied movements, channeling the influence, resources and energy of partners toward education and policy campaigns that profoundly shifted the landscape for LGBTQ people, couples and families. Outside of work, Jeana enjoys 80s dancing and pinball with her husbian, Collin, and adventures with their two amazing sons, Emmett and Griffin.
Leslie joined the Forward Together team in October 2014 as the Director of Finance. Throughout her career, she has worked in a variety of not-for-profit organizations in accounting, administrative and program positions. She is a licensed CPA (Inactive) in the State of Oregon. Her activist interests include affordable housing, economic and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, and anti-violence work. When not in front of multiple spreadsheets, Leslie bikes, runs, eats and watches movies (with a particular soft spot for sing-along musicals).
Kalpana joined Forward Together in 2013. As the National Field and Policy Director, Kalpana directs our state-based organizing and civic engagement program, in addition to our national policy work. From 2005 to 2012, Kalpana directed the racial justice and gender justice programs at Western States Center, including developing two state-based report cards and a program to support LGBTQ people of color. Kalpana has been a youth organizer and reproductive rights organizer and worked in philanthropy at both the Third Wave Foundation and the Ms. Foundation for Women. She remains active in philanthropy and currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity. She is a knitter, cook and avid reader. She is the mother of two fabulous boys, Sachin and Kavi.
Alanna joined Forward Together as the Individual Giving Manager in July 2016. She is excited to inspire and thank people who invest in grassroots organizing and community-led change. Most recently, she stewarded donor-advised fund holders at the San Francisco Foundation and worked with them to give locally. Previously, Alanna worked at The Boston Women’s Fund, which makes grants to grassroots social justice organizations led by women of color. She earned a BA in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brown University. Alanna can often be found going on lunchtime walks or curled up with a fantasy novel. She would like you to consider making a donation to Forward Together today.
Diana joined Forward Together as the Movement Building Director in December 2017, working from Yonkers, New York. As the Movement Building Director, Diana advances efforts to build, expand and engage in effective, collaborative movements, including working with over 200 organizations in the Strong Families network. Diana brings over a decade of experience in civic engagement, politics, academia and leadership development on a variety of social justice areas. Prior to joining Forward Together, Diana was the Senior Director of Community Engagement Programs at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), where she managed the Community Mobilization department and oversaw the strategic implementation of organizing, civic engagement and leadership strategies to ensure optimal impact and alignment with advocacy. She previously served as an administrator at New York University, and has also served as an adjunct at the school’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, teaching service-learning courses on civic engagement and women’s movements on sexual and reproductive health in the Caribbean and Latin America. Diana holds an MPA in Health Policy and Management and an MS in Global Affairs.
Outside of work, Diana serves on the SisterReach Board of Directors and also serves on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Yonkers Public Library. When not building with movement folks, you can find Diana reading about reproductive justice, race and class while drinking café, or hanging out with her familia, also while drinking café.
Erin joined Forward Together in April 2016 as the Communications Director working from Brooklyn, New York. As the Communications Director, Erin develops strategies to spread Forward Together’s message of empowering families with the rights, recognition and resources they need to thrive. She oversees all aspects of the organization’s communications and is the first point of contact for media inquiries.
Erin comes to Forward Together from the labor movement where she worked as a communicator for 1199SEIU. As a seasoned communications strategist, she has lead communications campaigns to win paid sick days and living wage legislation, secure affordable housing, keep hospitals open, secure strong union contracts, and provide medical relief in Haiti. Erin has previous experience as an organizer working to build union and community coalitions in the Bronx and Newark, organize tenants at the University of California-San Diego and as an educator fighting for access to higher education and the retention of underrepresented students. She is also a communications trainer with degrees in advertising and communications and several years of teaching experience.
When not nerding out on the latest trends in communications strategy, you can find her on the dance floor or roaming the streets of New York with her camera.
Rosa joined the Forward Together team in April 2016 as the Grants Manager working from the Portland office. As the Grants Manager, Rosa helps to develop, implement and administrate institutional fundraising strategies for Forward Together and its programs. Most recently, she served as the Development and Communications Director at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health where she implemented new strategies and systems to secure necessary resources to sustain programming and developed an organizational approach to grassroots fundraising. During her time at ICAH, Rosa served on the leadership team of the organization where she nurtured a supportive, inventive and dynamic team with an equal focus on the big and small picture, grounded in the organization’s mission and values. Prior to ICAH, Rosa served as the Development and Communications Manager at Western States Center where she focused on grants management and social media communication. Rosa is committed to volunteering in philanthropy and has been part of the grant making committee of McKenzie River Gathering (MRG) Foundation and the pilot Giving Project of the Crossroads Foundation. She holds a double BA in Latin American and Latina/o Studies and Spanish from DePaul University and an MA in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University. Rosa is a Mami of twins and enjoys powerlifting and Virgen de Guadalupe iconography.
Michele Ruffin joined the Forward Together team as the Oregon Campaign Manager in November 2017. Based out of Portland, she leads the state-based program in Oregon toward policy wins and effective culture shift campaigns.
Prior to joining Forward Together, Michele spent over two years on Governor Kate Brown’s team managing campaign schedules, cultivating relationships with organizational leaders, and assisting policy development. She comes from a strong campaign organizing background in both issue advocacy and state elections, but her heart has only one mission, to build political power for queer and trans Oregonians of color and their families.
Michele is a coffee drinking, comic reading, phone banking, campaign nerd who enjoys time with her wife and chosen family.
Prerna Sampat joined Forward Together in December 2017 as a Digital Strategist based in Brooklyn, New York. Over the past decade, she had previously helped shape a number of campaigns for economic justice, racial justice, immigrant rights, worker rights and trans liberation. Working at the global LGBTQ rights organization All Out, Prerna led a culture shift campaign to make digital spaces more inclusive for TGNC people, resulting in the expansion of Facebook’s gender categories from two to more than seventy. At ALIGN, Prerna led digital communications for a pivotal campaign that mobilized thousands of workers and community leaders, successfully driving Walmart out of New York City. In 2015, Prerna joined The Worker Institute at Cornell University, where she developed digital strategies to boost enrollment, taught workshops on digital organizing and authored pieces interrogating the labor movement’s role in the immigrant rights movement. Prerna was among the founding members of the Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC) and Trikone Chicago. She has previously served on the Movement Building Team at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and the Catalyst Action Committee of New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG).
Maria joined Forward Together in January 2016 taking on the role of Administrative Coordinator. Born in the Philippines, Maria immigrated to the United States when she was seven years old, settling with her family in Arizona and eventually moving to the Bay Area in high school. Maria earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University’s College of Ethnic Studies. Prior to joining Forward Together, Maria worked with multiple community-based organizations in San Francisco providing support and facilitation of services ranging from after school programs to workforce development training. At Forward Together, Maria’s role includes not only ensuring that administrative systems run smoothly, but also providing programmatic support to staff and directors. Maria is passionate about Filipino food, cold brew coffee and baked treats. She can spend hours wandering around bookstores and craft stores.
Since Eveline’s leadership began in 1999, Forward Together has become widely recognized for its innovative role in the Reproductive Justice Movement — working with grassroots communities; providing thought leadership; developing effective tools and resources for evaluation, training and documentation; and organizing for long-term systemic change. In 2010 Eveline and other leaders launched the Strong Families Initiative, which now works with over 170 organizations to change the way people think, feel and act in support of families. Eveline served as Principal Investigator for two National Institutes of Health grants that explore the intersection between environmental justice and reproductive justice. Eveline is a recipient of the Gerbode Fellowship, was named one of Women’s eNews’ 21 Leaders for the 21st Century, was awarded the 2015 San Francisco Foundation Community Leadership Award, and was awarded the Lani Shaw Award for Courage and Compassion in the Pursuit of Reproductive Justice by the Funders for Reproductive Equity in 2017. She holds a Master of Public Health in Community Health Education from UC Berkeley.
Jainan joined Forward Together in August 2014. He gained his professional experience in business and accounting with diversified businesses, including nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jainan is highly efficient, detail oriented and passionate about business and accounting. He is also used to producing high-quality work in a time-sensitive environment. Jainan received his Bachelors of Accounting and Economics at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji where he gained most of his professional experience. He is excited to learn, grow his skill set and provide quality service to the organization. His favorite recreational activities include cycling, golf and movies.
Cecy Velasco joined Forward Together in January 2016. As the New Mexico Field Manager, she engages and builds with members across the state through events and workshops and digitally through email, text and social media. She also helps grow and support the Strong Families New Mexico statewide network. Cecy earned her BA in Psychology and Family Studies from the University of New Mexico (UNM). While at UNM, she organized on campus for immigrant rights and education access, mentored freshmen students, and interned for the Strong Families New Mexico program. Cecy is the proud daughter of hard-working Mexican immigrants. After growing up and living all over the Southwest, she is happy to call Albuquerque home as it holds a special place in her heart. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her orange tabby cat named Chubby, taking long naps and binge-watching shows on Netflix.