The Stepping Into Power training team is led by Eveline Shen and Forward Together senior staff, master practitioners of Forward Stance. In addition, throughout the sessions, we are joined by two guest faculty in storytelling and music.
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.
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.
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.
Dalia Rubiano Yedidia joined Forward Together as the Movement Building Manager in February 2015. She coordinates the Strong Families Network, leads culture shift projects and drives movement-building strategies. Born, raised and still living in San Francisco, Dalia’s organizing roots are in the domestic worker movement, where she organized nannies, housecleaners, and personal attendants to seniors and people with disabilities in New York, Chicago and the Bay Area. Outside of work, she enjoys writing creative nonfiction, reading alongside her cat and relishing Bay Area views on hikes with her partner.
We are pleased to welcome Melanie DeMore and Michael Balaoing to help us harness our full individual, organizational, and collective power.
Guest Faculty Bios
Michael Balaoing, Esq. has devoted his life to social change as a 25-year veterans of strategic communications, leadership development, corporate responsibility, and global philanthropy. Today, Michael coaches people how to communicate – whether you’re a nonprofit advocate in Montana, a start-up CEO in Silicon Valley, a philanthropist in Manhattan, an actress in Hollywood, or a high school student in Nairobi. He is the founder of Candlelion LLC, former Senior Coach at Own The Room and past president of its parent company Blue Planet Training. He has personally trained over 10,000 people around the world. During his tenure, Own The Room has grown from a single coach to a world-class cadre of professional trainers fluent in 7 languages reaching 100 top businesses in 27 countries.
Grammy nominated singer and song-writer. Born in the Bronx, raised in Anchorage, folks moved all five kids to San Antonio, finished school, got out of Texas, kinda got off on being the only Black folk singer in Taos, NM, then decided to get back into the mix, took all her stuff and moved to Oakland where she’s been for the last 21 years. (Actually Mel and Tracy C. had a good laugh one day in San Francisco where they finally met and realized folks had them mixed up all the time. They still do!) Every town Melanie traveled became her teacher and an opportunity to hone her craft as a songwriter, troubadour, and an emissary of tolerance, kindness, and harmony through the sound of her golden voice.