Staff

Jessamyn Sabbag

Jessamyn Sabbag

Executive Director

In 2009, Jessamyn joined Oakland Rising’s staff as Field Director and later Deputy Director, and coordinated the project’s collaborative of social justice organizations as well as its voter operations. Over seven years, Jessamyn grew Oakland Rising’s voter outreach operations from 1,300 supporters to more than 52,000 supportive voters citywide. From directing campaigns to leading political education trainings to lobbying City Hall, Jessamyn has contributed to policy and ballot box victories. These wins include increasing taxes on the wealthy to fund education, requiring jobs and community benefits from new developments, establishing more transparency and public participation in the city’s budget process, and expanding rights for immigrants and formerly incarcerated community members.

Prior to joining the team at Oakland Rising, Jessamyn directed GenVote, a national youth civic engagement coalition; created a national online directory of progressive youth organizations; became the first Civic Engagement Coordinator at the Marin Grassroots Leadership Network; mobilized against the Iraq war, and created a free arts and theater after-school program.

Jessamyn serves on the Board of Directors of California Calls, an alliance of 31 grassroots, community based organizations across the state. She is driven by a profound love and belief in Oakland and democracy, and brings deep values and experience around police accountability and anti-racism. She is deeply committed to building collective progressive political power for Oakland’s working class, immigrant, and communities of color. When not working for justice and liberation, she and can be found at the beach, in the garden, and on the dance floor.

Jessamyn is a graduate of Brown University, with a double major in ecological and evolutionary biology and history and public policy of education.

Sol Rhee

Sol Rhee

Director of Operations

Sol joins Oakland Rising as an Operations and Executive Manager. Since immigrating from Korea as a teenager, Sol has called the Bay Area home (even when they were away in Southern California for graduate school). Their passion for economic and racial justice led her to work with organizations like Koreatown Immigrant Worker’s Alliance and Congregations Organizing for Renewal. They are excited to support Oakland Rising’s work in fighting to improve the lives of Oakland’s working class and residents of color. Outside of their work for Oakland Rising, Sol supports domestic violence survivors as a Multi-lingual Access Model advocate at the Asian Women’s Shelter, and organizes with Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans (HOBAK) and Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse (KACEDA). At rallies and community events, they can be spotted with a Korean traditional drumming crew, Ieumsae.  

Sol holds a BA from UC Berkeley, with double major in Ethnic Studies and Political Science, and an M.Div from Claremont School of Theology.

Beth Gunston

Beth Gunston

Strategic Partnerships Director

As a proud East Bay native, Beth is excited to be able to give back to her community as the Strategic Partnerships Director at Oakland Rising. After graduating with a double major in Anthropology and Urban Studies from San Francisco State University, Beth knew that she would devote her life to the social justice movement. She earned her stripes at the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) where she spent a decade educating voters and running grassroots campaigns to pass solid public health and environmental protections and elect progressive leaders at the state level. During 6 of her years at CLCV, she fundraised from individual donors, raising over $2 million dollars for political work. Beth currently serves on the board of the League of Conservation Voters of the East Bay where she helps elect environmental champions to local seats in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. You can find her spending her free time running trails, climbing rocks, or holding a sign at a rally.

Laneisha Butler

Laneisha Butler

Field Manager

Laneisha is a third-generation Oakland native committed to defeating poverty, criminalization, gentrification, and other injustices amongst the Black community in Oakland in communities similar to her own. In 2017, she received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and wants to use her education and her own experiences of injustices to change public policies for the better and uplift voices of her people with Oakland Rising. For Laneisha, this fight is very personal. For centuries, her ancestors have faced barriers to thriving in a society that was built by them, but not for them. Therefore, she is determined to reclaim what was stripped from her people and continue to pave the way for future generations to do the same.

Liz Suk

Liz Suk

Political Director

liz suk grew up in the Bay Area with deep roots in Deep East Oakland.  She has a 25+ year career in various non-profit and grassroots organizations in the Bay Area and currently sits as the President for the Board of Directors for Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN). liz joined Oakland Rising as the Leadership Development Manager and transitioned to our Political Director in Fall of 2019. She is committed to social, racial, and environmental justice for indigenous, black, and brown communities and passing on these values to her two children, whom you’ll often see by her side during meetings and during campaigns. She brings a micro to global lens in her coordination, strategy, and politics. She enjoys hiking, camping, creating and sharing herbal remedies, writing poetry, and photography. Most of all, as a connector and protector, liz enjoys cooking and feeding people while imaging a new world rooted in love, liberation, peace, and justice. 

Vernetta Woods

Vernetta Woods

Field Team Leader

Born in Dayton, Ohio and raised in Oakland, Vernetta Woods is a single mother of three. She’s been active as a community leader for the past four years with several organizations and schools. She presently attends Merritt College pursuing a degree in child development. Working with the community is her calling and feels her voice speaks for those who feel they can’t speak for themselves. She’s excited to continue what she loves and that’s to inform and educate people about Oakland Rising and what it believes in.

Raya

Raya

IVE Organizer

Driven with the ambition to improve the life of her family and community alike, Raya is passionate about organizing towards socioeconomic and environmental justice. Raised in a family of five by a single mother, the issues of poverty and political disenfranchisement are not foreign to Raya. With the support of her family, Raya is enrolled at Laney College studying Political Science with intentions to transfer next fall. In addition to her work with Sunrise, Raya currently works with Oakland Rising as IVE organizer, building political power and translating her knowledge into public action. Outside of her work Raya enjoys satisfying her curiosity reading, and exploring the city, and spending time with her baby niece.

Ember Kraus

Ember Kraus

Field Team Member

Born in Portland, Oregon and a grateful Oakland transplant, Miranda organizes around local climate justice, tenant’s rights, and equity-based economic projects such as community land trusts. Most currently, Miranda is a community representative for Oakland’s 2030 Equitable Climate Action Plan. While studying environmental policy and the political economy at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, Miranda produced a radio show that shone light on the city’s environmental policies, for better and worse. Since then, Miranda has been passionate about community radio and practicing citizen journalism. In their spare time, Miranda loves playing the piano, singing, composing, going on bike rides, and meandering in local greenspaces. They are excited to be fundraising for the greater good of Oakland, as well as work with such a talented and amazing team!

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info@oaklandrising.org

510.261.2600

570 14th Street, Suite 6
Oakland, CA 94612

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