I Love My Clients


Okay, I've realized that I'm going to have to do this in features of two over the next week because I realize I have so much to say about each org. So stayed clicked in for more.

I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to work with many great organizations as a non-profit development/management consultant. All of these groups and the people in them are amazing and some of the hardest working people I've ever known. And they do it all because they believe so strongly in social justice, youth development, empowerment for girls, presenting innovative and inspiring artists and creative projects, and community. Many of them have also become close friends and are at the heart of my community. I also want to give a shout out to a couple of folks who I owe much of this great connection to: my friends Dwayne Marsh (an economic and social justic policy analyst and AMAZING photographer) at PolicyLink, who I've met many, many people through over the past ten years (sometimes it feels like -- who doesn't know Dwayne :) -- thank you Dwayne!! And also Lisa Russ at Movement Strategy Center, who I initially met through Oasis for Girls and subsequently have worked in tandem with for many orgs -- thank you Lisa!!

So here are the first two highlights (I'm going to feature them in the order of who I've been working with the longest):

Oasis for Girls

The vision of Oasis for Girls is to cultivate generations of strong and creative women who realize their potential, live healthy lives and make a positive impact in their communities.

The mission of Oasis for Girls is to provide a safe space where girls and young women are inspired and empowered to become strong and creative women in their communities.

The young women and girls that Oasis serves, reflect the rich diversity of the SoMa district and other neighborhoods throughout San Francisco. They range in age from 10 years to 20 years. Oasis girls are Filipino, Latina, African American, Asian, and Caucasian. The majority are first generation Americans, however, many of them are also recent immigrants. Most speak languages other than English in their homes. They are all unique and often times face hardships of acculturation while striving to maintain pride within their own heritages.

The goal of Oasis is to fulfill the life cycle of a girl - from elementary school, to middle school, through high school and slightly beyond - through interdisciplinary programming that builds on each step of the way through a girl's development. Oasis has prioritized their programming and services to reflect this; some of the programs are offered to specific age groups, while others are open to all girls to build on our mentorship model. Opportunities for growth exist through arts, leadership development and life skills programs.

I met co-founders Jill Pfeiffer and Ly Nguyen in 2000 while Ly and I were both giving presentations for the Faiths Initiative youth program. They ended up hiring me to do development and that was the start of what has become a long, close relationship with both of them. I consider both Jill and Ly to be two of my closest friends. Jill has since moved to Wisconsin with her hubby Jacob (amazing artist) and their baby Aviva to work on art and community projects (prior to this she had been the Director of the Excelsior Family Connections and a Board member at Oasis). Ly has just started her new business Entice Boutique and is a Board member of Oasis for Girls. Priort to this, she was the Executive Director of Kearny Street Workshop.

Oasis for Girls now has an amazing team that includes executive director Rachel Parras, program manager, Ly Hoang, arts and arts education coordinator, Tina Bartolome. We also have a very committed Board of strong women: Nicole Lambrou, Purvi Patel, Carrie Robertson, Lupe C. Garcia, Elizabeth Misner, Ly Nguyen, and Danielle Tomkiel.

South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN)

The mission of SOMCAN is to build and support a strong, organized community that takes collective action to achieve equity for the low-income, people of color, immigrant and working class communities in the South of Market through organizing, leadership development and community planning.

SOMCAN's Core Values and Principles:

  • Creating political, economic and social equity.
  • Preserving community and diversity.
  • Ensuring political voice and taking collective team action.
  • Commitment to building the leadership and grassroots organizing of people of color, youth, women, low-income and immigrant people.
  • Creating a culture of accountability.

SOMCAN was founded in 2001 by a group of grassroots organizations committed to serving the needs of youth, seniors, veterans, the Filipino community, low-income residents, and the homeless in the South of Market neighborhood. Initially they came together informally in response to the unprecedented and unrestricted level of gentrification and displacement that they were seeing in the SoMa community, which included individual residents, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. Their goal was to support community members in immediate threat of eviction in the form of offering space for meetings, assisting with needed resources, and providing a collective voice. They found that this form of community organizing was very successful at leveraging the power needed for residents to be heard and achieve their goals.

Since then they have gone on to use their community organizing strength to ensure that community members have a strong voice in the planning and development of THEIR community.

Because SOMCAN's community is largely low-income, immigrants of color, our engagement strategies encourage the civic participation of newcomers. It is our intention to build the human, social, and institutional and community capital of residents through leadership development, organizing and networking and bridge building. SOMCAN has a three pronged approach to building residents' capacity to participate in these processes thereby strengthening and legitimizing the public discourse that shapes the future of our community. Our first strategy is to provide education and training to develop resident leadership on issues such as housing, health and land use, gentrification and displacement and education and safety. Our second strategy is to provide organizing support to tenant and youth organizations that empower residents and contribute to the social cohesion of the community such as the Trinity Plaza Tenants Association (TPTA) and the United SoMa Resident Organizers (USRO) and Street Hustlin' Youth and Empowerment (SHYNE). Our third strategy is to network and connect residents to other community based organizations and public officials.

When I first started working with SOMCAN in 2001, the only staff person was Jeanne Batallones. Fortunately Jeanne was extremely saavy at both community organizing and non-profit management. She was the Organizational Director until 2004 and is now on the Board.

The current team has been doing an amazing job of organizing residents in SoMa and making sure that the voices of the low-income residents of color in the neighborhood are heard. The current staff includes:
April Veneracion, Organizational Director, Chris Durazo, Community Planning Program Director, and Angelica Cabande, Resident Leadership and Organizing Program Coordinator