Laura graduated from UCSC in 2007 with a degree in Environmental Studies. Since her graduation, she has worked on a variety of team-based community improvement initiatives and political campaigns across the nation. Laura has experience and success with training, recruiting and organizing volunteers. She believes that TOLA will expand those experiences and challenge her in other areas. Laura is a professional violinist who regularly teaches and performs.
Ben grew up in Oakland where he attended public schools. Ben recently graduated from Occidental College with a degree in Politics. During college Ben worked as a field organizer in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for Obama. Ben also worked for the Occidental Weekly, the collegiate periodical. Ben is interested in policy but has a strong desire to gain a robust understanding of politics from the ground up prior to attending graduate school.
Stephanie graduated with honors from UC Berkeley in 2008 with a degree in linguistics, but has a passion for social justice. Growing up in Orange County Stephanie became aware of the inequalities that exist in the education system as well as the challenges that face women of color, and has since been working with numerous non-profits and campaigns to fight for social justice. After TOLA Stephanie plans on going to law school.
Christian is the first member of his family to graduate from college. Growing up in a farm worker housing in Watsonville, Christian beat the odds and graduated from CSU Chico with a double major in Political Science and Latin American Studies. He is a self-starter who cares deeply about his community. Christian’s only experience on a political campaign was running his own campaign for Student Body President at CSU Chico.
Amy has extensive experience in the non-profit sector with a focus specifically on independent and community media. She comes to TOLA wanting to further develop her organizing and leadership skills and to receive the hands-on experience to contribute to her work in grassroots politics and policy advocacy. Amy will begin her Masters in Public Administration at the Presidio Graduate School in August and has expressed her full commitment to being a TOLA fellow.
Gabe is dedicated to providing opportunities for youth. He has experience in financial training for young adults. He designed and launched a financial literacy program that serves low income youth throughout CA. He served as a consultant on issues of financial literacy for various non-profits, government agencies, public schools, credit unions and commercial banks. He coaches and mentors high school athletes, focusing on developing leadership, initiative and perseverance. Gabe is excited to develop skills in TOLA that will further equip him to have a positive impact in our community.
Jamal has worked as a youth adviser for various Bay Area organizations since 1993. When not helping local youth find outlets and resources to improve their life, Jamal makes independent films that speak to the problems facing the African American community (http://www.equinoxmovie.com). The grant that currently funds Jamal’s position at the Shih Yu-Lang Central YMCA in San Francisco ends in June, but Jamal wants to continue helping his community and sees the TOLA program as a critical step in taking his passion for community service to the next level.