Board of Directors
Board Chair | Community & Economic Development (Retired) - City of Richmond
Thomas Mills, after 40+ years of professional service to residents, neighborhoods, businesses and developers in the Greater Bay Area, retired from the City of Richmond CA as its Economic Development Administrator. Prior to Richmond, Thomas—in various senior level positions—devised and fought for policies, programs and resources to maximize: community benefits, access to capital and living wage jobs (NEDLC); affordable housing and commercial finance (Local Initiatives Support Corporation); land acquisition and historic preservation (Trust for Public Land); cooperative ownership, asset building and resident-led business and economic development (TCMI).
Thomas was a co-founder of Mandela MarketPlace (MMP), and previously served on several boards, including Mercy Housing California, the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH), Building Opportunities For Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), Home Buyer Assistance Center, and the California Community Economic Development Association (CCEDA)
Thomas holds a JD in Law (University of California, Berkeley—Law Review); a MS in Education (University of Southern California, Los Angeles); and, a BA in Industrial Psychology (California State University, Los Angeles).
Board Treasurer | Former Senior Banker, JPMorgan Chase Community Development Bank
Cort Gross is a senior banker at JPMorgan Chase Community Development Bank, focusing on affordable housing finance. Mr. Gross has close to 30 years of experience in the field, working recently on business development with Self-Help Federal Credit Union, and for many years before consulted on community investment, assets, and the financing and development of real estate. He worked previously as CFO of nonprofit housing developer BRIDGE Housing Corporation, Vice President of Affordable Housing with mortgage banker TRI Capital Corporation, and Program Manager for Lending with nonprofit financial intermediary the Low Income Housing Fund. A former Coro Fellow in public affairs, Mr. Gross received his A.B. degree in history at Stanford University and his M.Div. Degree in liberation theology at Yale University.
Jose Adonnis Jimenez
Board Secretary | Clinic Manager, Mission Neighborhood Health Center
Jose is a clinic manager and consultant whose expertise in health strategy and operations stem from his deep roots in public health. Since graduating with his degree in Public Health from UC Berkeley, Jose's professional and entrepreneurial pursuits have allowed him to serve his community in several capacities, including as a Spanish medical interpreter. In addition to making quality healthcare accessible to under-resourced communities, Jose is also passionate about workforce development and has successfully acquired funding to expand economic and career opportunities for underrepresented students across the Salinas Valley and Central Coast.
Jose currently serves as the Mandela Partners Board of Directors Secretary and has been a board member since 2018. He has also served as a board member of the Kaiser Permanente Latinx Association and the Health Career Connection Alumni Association. Additionally, Jose has served as a pro bono consultant for other nonprofit organizations across the Bay Area, helping increase their reach and impact.
As an active board member, Jose is proud to contribute to Mandela Partners' mission to increase access to healthy foods for limited-resourced communities, support small farmers, and invest in BIPOC food entrepreneurs.
Raminder K. Somal
Board Member | Consulting Manager, RDA Consulting
Raminder Somal is a seasoned consultant with 20 years of professional experience in social impact and sustainability. Raminder brings expertise in community needs assessments and connecting private and philanthropic leaders to engage in problem-solving and community investment opportunities. She is passionate about creating solutions to community challenges in the areas of in housing, employment, entrepreneurship, and food insecurity, especially in communities of color. As Consulting Manager at RDA, she contributes this expertise to a variety of projects across the human services spectrum. Prior to joining RDA, she worked as a Community Relations Senior Consultant for Wells Fargo, where she developed and strengthened relationships with key community partners and nonprofit organizations as well as internal regional leaders.
Board Member | CEO, Feed the Hunger Foundation
Patti Chang is currently the CEO of the Feed the Hunger Foundation. She is the former President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of California, which funded over 1100 organizations throughout California as well as in Mexico, China, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. She oversaw the merger of a southern and northern California foundation to create a statewide foundation for women.
Patti has served as a Commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and the San Francisco Commission on the Environment. She was the President of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women where she chaired taskforces on Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, and Domestic Violence. Patti has served as the board chair of the Women’s Funding Network (an association of 120 women’s funding organizations, 20 outside of the United States) and the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development working on human rights.
Patti was instrumental in passing the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women, making San Francisco the first city to adopt an international treaty. Both through her work at the Women’s Foundation and through numerous boards on which she has served, Patti has worked to end discrimination based on race, class, gender, national origin and sexual identity. Her passion lies in finding solutions to the economic, social and political barriers faced by low-income individuals, particularly women and girls. Patti received her B.A. and J.D. from Stanford. She is originally from Hawaii.
Board Member | Former Director of Strategic Initiatives, Community Vision
As the former Director of Strategic Initiatives at Community Vision, a community development financial institution based in San Francisco, CA, Esperanza Pallana drives investment that institutes leadership by, and honors the labor of, people of color. Esperanza works to align organizational systems and initiatives that ensure that Community Vision’s programmatic strategies are focused on creating measurable, sustainable social change rooted in equity and justice. Esperanza’s career has spanned more than 20 years in food systems, environmental health, and public health advocacy, always with a deep calling to promote racial and economic equity.
She first made her mark leading the Oakland Food Policy Council, where she focused on issues of economic equity, land acquisition, use and rights as well as ownership of food and farm businesses by people of color. In her role as Executive Director, she launched successful policy campaigns and organized with the community on a response event around economic and racial inequities affecting the food system called the Wine Soul Train; a policy campaign to address the basic human right to grow and access food; and an amplification event as a call to action to Black and Brown communities to decolonize our bodies and minds. She shifted her focus to community development, where she works across sectors to meet community needs in land ownership, equitable food systems, health, labor, wages, and environment, supporting both nonprofits and social enterprises. Today, her work includes leading place based initiatives across California to ensure community centered investment.