in memory of

 

dana harvey

A visionary leader who devoted her life, passion, and creativity to catalyzing groundbreaking programs, launching community-based businesses, and forging wide-reaching partnerships that fostered food security and equitable economic development.

team

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Ciara Segura

Co-Executive Director 

Ciara’s previous experience within California’s food system spans multiple industries, including early-stage food startups, organic produce distribution, and participatory social science research. She brings with her a strong capacity to think across disciplinary borders and a dedication to thoughtful, place-based advocacy that is driven by the needs and perspectives of local residents. Food is her greatest pleasure and what inspires many of her political commitments.

Ciara joined Mandela Partners in 2018 to address competing food access and economic challenges - ensuring fair pricing for farmers who grow sustainably while simultaneously keeping the cost of healthy food affordable in underserved communities. Since then, she has led the strategic growth of the organization’s food access initiatives and farmer network, and now oversees its business and workforce development programming. In her role as co-executive director, she will continue to deepen Mandela Partners’ cross-sector partnerships and programs, and cultivate pathways for asset and wealth building in limited resource communities of color.

Ciara grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and has lived in the Bay Area for over 15 years. She holds a B.A. in Feminist Studies from Stanford University and a M.A. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin.

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Maureen Silva

Co-Executive Director 

Born in the East Bay and raised in the Central Valley region of California, Maureen has seen firsthand the impact of urban development on local farming communities. She is passionate about uplifting sustainable food systems as a way to strengthen local economies, but also to help restore our planet. Since joining Mandela Partners, Maureen has played an integral role building the organization's fund development program from the ground up. Maureen has worked closely with the Board of Directors to diversify Mandela's funding revenue streams, and deepen relationships with philanthropic institutions and individual donors to support a $2.7MM organizational budget. She has led the organization through a multi-year fund development plan, created a streamlined donor management and communications platform, and built systems for effectively evaluating and reporting annual impact data. In her role as co-executive director, Maureen supports strategic planning and program development--including assessment of current and future initiatives, fostering innovation and areas of growth, and building new partnership opportunities on a local and national scale. 


Over the past decade, Maureen has been part of several nonprofits--serving communities nationally as well as in the San Francisco Bay Area-- to support healthier, equitable food environments. Maureen acquired her Master's Degree in Public Health from San Jose State University in 2014, and has traveled extensively across the country providing consultation with coalitions, nonprofits, and public health departments to develop multi-sector strategies that advance healthy places nationwide.

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Christine Kuo

Finance & Operations Director

Christine has more than 20 years of experience in finance across multiple industries, including healthcare, power and gas, entertainment, software, and retail. Before joining Mandela in 2014, she was a Finance Manager for a biotechnology firm in the Bay Area, working directly with divisional account teams, driving financial management cycles, and facilitating capital planning budgets. In search of an opportunity to work in a community-based field, Christine left the corporate sector to pursue a position with Mandela Partners. At Mandela, Christine has been able to build on her passion for healthy food and positively contribute to the Oakland community. As the Director of Finance & Operations at Mandela, Ms. Kuo manages a $2.7MM budget, provides oversight for contract and funds compliance, and oversees operations for the organization. Additionally, Christine is the organization’s technical assistance lead for financial management advising and support provided to Mandela incubated businesses.  Christine has a BS Degree in Managerial Economics from UC Davis.

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Sean Brekke-Miesner

Food Retail Manager

A third generation East Oaklander, Sean's grandparents owned a restaurant for 22 years, which had a big influence on his interest in food. Working in the restaurant industry for the last 10 years, Sean has worked every job in the kitchen from dishwasher to Sous Chef. Drawing on a background in everything from menu development to running an internship program at a local restaurant, Sean ​became the Food Retail Manager at Mandela Partners.

 

Sean manages the day to day operations at Oak Harvest Kitchen, formerly Core Kitchen --  a produce-center restaurant and second-chance employment training program -- in addition to providing facilities management and support for the Ashland Market & Cafe, a community food hall and community space. His belief in equity, job training for residents with employment barriers, and investing in underserved communities are the core values that attracted him to working at Mandela Partners and he looks forward to continuing to grow with the organization. Outside of work, Sean enjoys watching the A's and the Warriors, as well as trying new restaurants in Oakland.

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Sabine Dabady

Entrepreneurship Development Coordinator

Raised in Brooklyn, New York to Haitian Immigrants, Sabine is grateful for the path that brought her to California and now, Mandela Partners. Following several years of securing tour dates for performing arts companies, nursing injury after a bike accident was one of the catalyzing events that motivated her to pursue work connected to health, nutrition and food systems. Deeper reflections and questions about the built environment of her Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush sparked the necessity to ask complex questions over simple solutions. In 2015, she moved to the Bay Area to complete a graduate degree in Public Health at UC Berkeley.

 

In her role as Entrepreneurship Development Coordinator, Sabine collaborates with East Bay entrepreneurs in service to promoting their businesses and contributing to positive shifts in community wealth and health. Leading with curiosity, she relies on the tools that shaped her rich and diverse background working in arts administration, nutrition education, urban agriculture, and teaching. In her free time, Sabine swims regularly to keep her sane and hopes to complete a (non-competitive) swim from Alcatraz.

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Amani Ali

Healthy Grocery Initiative Coordinator

Amani is an Oakland native and the Healthy Grocery Initiative Coordinator at Mandela Partners. Amani received a Masters in Social Work from California State University, East Bay, where she studied community mental health and her understanding of societal injustices were deepened. Shortly after, she was called toward food justice while volunteering in Oakland. Her professional experience includes nonprofit administration and facilitating a variety of youth programs. In her free time, Amani enjoys cooking and competing in pool (billiards) tournaments.

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Nina Arrocena

Community Produce Stands Coordinator

Nina Arrocena is a core contributor of the Healthy Retail Team, and leads Mandela's Community Produce Stand Program. Raised in the Salinas Valley, agriculture has been a large part of her life, and she moved to Oakland with hopes of making a positive contribution to her new community. She is thrilled to be part of the meaningful work of providing access to fresh, healthy food to community members throughout the city. From families at elementary schools to the regulars at the Senior Center, Nina's favorite part of her job is the daily interaction with a wide variety of customers.

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piper thomasson

Development & Communications Coordinator 

As a dancer and arts administrator, Piper is very familiar working in and with nonprofits. She brings her passion and expertise from the field to her new position with Mandela Partners and could not be more excited! Born and raised in Stockton, CA (occupied land of the Miwok people), Piper is also no stranger to the importance of advocating for food justice. Her first job (in high school) was at El Concilio, a resource center for marginalized communities, primarily serving the local migrant farmworkers. At Mandela Partners, Piper coordinates fund development and communications with program staff. She is responsible for building relationships with Mandela's network of donors and supporters, and creates external materials that furthers the mission and the work of the organization. 

 

For the past few years, Piper has felt grateful to call Oakland (unceded land of the Ohlone people) her home because she is surrounded and inspired by the art that comes out of the East Bay (especially Oakland) which has a depth and honesty that is resounding and inspiring. It speaks to the spirit, tenacity, and history of the people of this place and she looks forward to contributing, both to the artistry and to our collective liberation via empowering and uplifting already-vibrant communities, in her own way by listening, loving, and acting.
 

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​Aliyah Bey

Wellness Educator

Aliyah is Mandela Partners' Wellness Educator. She is from Southern California and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Psychology from California State University, East Bay. Aliyah studied nutrition and recently became a Registered Dietitian. Aliyah joined the Mandela Partners team because the work aligned with her core values, which allows her to support communities that desire to live healthy and peaceful lives. 

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Leroy Musgraves

Health & Diet Educator

Leroy is a master gardener and farmer who has been working with Mandela Partners and the West Oakland community since 2004. 16 years of farming and urban gardening experience makes Leroy an invaluable asset to Mandela Partners and the West Oakland community. Mr. Musgraves holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Cal-State Los Angeles. He received his Certificate in Horticulture from the Agro-Ecology and Sustainable Agriculture Department of UC Santa Cruz in 1997. Currently, Mr. Musgraves lives in West Oakland and works with Mandela Partners as a Health and Diet Educator. He facilitates classes on nutrition, physiology, and major diseases affecting African American and other low-income communities of color. He continues to utilize his extensive nutrition and produce experience to benefit the Bay Area community through community education.

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Sang (John) Saephan

Healthy Retail Associate

Sang is a part of the Healthy Retail Team. Growing up in Oakland, he would often go to corner stores to buy unhealthy snacks while his parents were at work. As a college student with the hopes of becoming a Physical Therapist, he started to understand the value of healthy foods and its role in the physical and mental health for people of all backgrounds, especially those in low-income communities. As part of Mandela Partners' Healthy Retail Team, Sang hopes to promote healthy eating alternatives!

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David Pham

Healthy Retail Associate

David is part of Mandela Partners Healthy Retail Team. David is a born and raised Oakland native who would often resort to eating unhealthy liquor store snacks and fast food due to the lack of grocery stores in his community. After graduating from the University of California, Davis, he understood that unhealthy food can affect ones physical and mental health in the short and long term. As part of the Mandela team, he hopes to support and educate his community about the importance of healthy eating and affordable food options!

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SILVIA GUZMAN

Community Outreach Associate

Silvia lives, works, and plays in East Oakland and is a parent of three children. For the past seven years, she has worked on a wide range of community projects relating to wellness and health, supporting healthy retail projects in the Castlemount community as an East Oakland Innovator, as a community outreach worker with the Building Blocks For Equity Unit, and as a certified First Aid for Youth Mental Health instructor with the Alameda County Public Health Department's Maternal, Paternal, Child, and Adolescent Health division. More recently, Silvia served as a Healthy Food & Healthy Housing Champion with La Clínica de la Raza and is an interpreter with Faith In Action East Bay organization, promoting civic engagement and resident leadership.

 

Before officially joining Mandela Partners, Silvia organized and trained other parent leaders who supported Mandela Partners' Community Produce Stand program at OUSD elementary schools. In her role with Mandela, Silvia supports outreach and community engagement for Mandela's Community Supported Agriculture service.

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Jeremy dutrA

Ashland Entrepreneurship Associate

Jeremy supports the growth of the Ashland Market & Café and its entrepreneurs through curating community engagement opportunities and developing marketing strategies. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Jeremy received his degree in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Resource Management from California State University, East Bay. While in college, he developed a deep appreciation for how our food choices affect the health of our physical environment, impact local economies, and influence community wellness. This led him to first volunteering with and later working for the San Francisco-based nonprofit, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), where he supported farmers’ market management and operations for over three years. Around this time, he was also drawn to the mission of Bi-Rite Market of "Creating Community through Food," and found himself working in their Front of House Department to learn more about Bay Area food businesses.

Most recently, Jeremy promoted the event venues and designed the operation rental processes for the Castro Valley Marketplace and provided digital content management for the Castro Valley Today project. He enjoys being able to cultivate the Ashland Market & Café into an inclusive gathering space centered around community and food.  

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Mariah O'Rourke

Marketing and Outreach Associate

Mariah is a born and raised Latine Afakasi from the Bay Area. She received a Bachelor of Science in Communication Design from California State University, Monterey Bay. She loves working with her community by participating in projects that enable healing, activism, and aspirations. She is passionate about building environments everyone can participate in and people from all backgrounds are valued, respected, and supported. Outside of Mandela Partners, she is a Multidimensional Designer for Soulstice Bay Area, a non-profit focused on creating accessible sacred spaces and affordable creative expression for Bay Area artists. She hopes to be a leader in her community who can help develop and empower the next generation of Pacific Islander scholars. Mariah also really enjoys anime, manga, gaming, and her cat, Tito.

mandela produce distribution

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Erick Ismael Sanchez de Leon

Manager, Operations 

Erick Ismael Sanchez de Leon, who friends call "E", loves California and has a special place in his heart for the Bay Area. His academic interests revolve around our built, natural, and imagined environments. He also enjoys learning about places and spaces off the beaten path. Erick works alongside Joseph at Mandela Foods Distribution assisting with warehouse management, produce sourcing, and delivery. Erick loves meeting new farmers, exploring West Oakland, and providing community residents with healthy, locally grown produce.

Yuro Chavez

Associate, Produce Distribution

Yuro is a San Francisco raised Guatemalan-American who has been living in the East Bay for over a decade. He believes strongly in supporting local small farmers and providing the community with healthy fruits and vegetables. He has been with Mandela Partners since 2007, and as part of the Mandela Produce Distribution team he has gained valuable business skills. Yuro looks forward to continuing to grow his skills as well as the business.

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Joseph Tsai

Associate, Produce Distribution

Joseph is the Produce Distribution Associate at Mandela Produce Distribution. After serving as a long time member of Mandela Partners' Healthy Retail Team, Joseph grew into this role to further support local farmers. An advocate for change, he believes in healthy eating in all communities. Growing up as an Oakland native, Joseph encourages the strength of cultural diversity wherever he goes. Also a participant of Oakland's Youth Impact Hub, he is starting a social enterprise around cultural soups to bring communities together. Joseph enjoys good music, especially old school Bay Area hip-hop.

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Mandela Partners is a 501(c)3 organization. Donations are tax deductible.

 

EIN 11-3754129

@ 2020 by Mandela Partners