liz suk (Pronouns: she/her)
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 on the board of REAL People’s Fund and California Calls. liz joined Oakland Rising as the Leadership Development Manager, transitioned to our Political Director in Fall of 2019, and now serves as our Executive Director. 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.
Jon Bean (Pronouns: he/him)
Voter Engagement Director
Southern background, happily married, father of five, and raised in Alabama, Jon Bean was forced to experience racism quite often at a very influential age. This ignited a passion to fight for what’s right that still burns today. At the age of 15, he was elected president for the Youth College Chapter of the NAACP in Alabama. Beginning to recognize his natural talent for organizing, soon he was mobilizing folks to march on the same streets of Selma, Alabama that Dr. King Jr. marched before him. After following his path to Oakland in 1999, he began his journey to what he believes now is his calling as a transformative organizer. For the last decade he has committed himself to over 20 campaigns, knocked over 30,000 doors, sat on 3 elected/ appointed county councils, and worked for or with over 30 CBO’s throughout California. This includes 10 campaigns on Oakland Rising’s outreach staff – first as a team member, and later as a team lead. Over the years of helping create and being a part of so many victories, it has ensured him that choosing to be the change he wanted to see was the best path he could have chosen. Jon planted his firm roots here in Oakland by joining Oakland Rising’s permanent staff as Deputy Director and eventually becoming the Voter Engagement Director.
Beth Gunston (Pronouns: she/her)
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. Beth’s first job ever was door-to-door canvassing after high school. This launched her into a life-long journey of organizing and fundraising. 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.
Sol Rhee (Pronouns: them/they)
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 them 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.
Pecolia Manigo (Pronouns: she/her)
Pecolia, a San Francisco native and Oakland resident, is a passionate advocate with a deep understanding of diverse issues and global affairs. As a youth organizer, she demonstrated her commitment to community empowerment and advocacy. By age 20, Pecolia had participated in four major Bay Area campaigns and conducted over 100 nationwide training sessions.
As the former Executive Director of the Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN), Pecolia focused on developing parental leadership and empowering parents to drive transformative change in schools. She played a crucial role in organizing Black student and parent leaders as part of the Justice for Oakland Students Coalition, particularly in the Reparations for Black Students Campaign. This campaign aims to address the opportunity gap in early childhood education and public schools by 2026.
In 2022, Pecolia ran for School Board Director in Oakland’s District 4, mobilizing approximately 11,700 residents to support her visionary platform. Despite not securing the position, her campaign inspired students, parents, volunteers, donors, and community leaders to rally behind her vision for positive change.
Jos (Pronouns: she/her)
Jos began her career in Oakland Rising in April of 2019 as the Administrative Assistant, eventually moving into her new role in the Communications field.
Cynthia Morfin (Pronouns: she/they)
Cynthia originally came to Oakland Rising as our Administrative Assistant (before being promoted to IVE Manager!) after 8 years of labor and community organizing in the Bay Area. Prior to working at Oakland Rising, Cynthia was an organizer with our partners at East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, helping pass local labor ordinances like Times Up! Oakland: for fair workplaces and ending sexual assault on the job. She began organizing with UNITE HERE! Local 2 in San Francisco where she organized alongside her coworkers as a hotel worker to fight for a union. Cynthia brings to our team a deep commitment to building a strong movement of labor, housing, immigration, and environmental justice. Outside of Oakland Rising, you can find Cynthia practicing urban permaculture design farming in San Francisco.
Vernetta Woods (Pronouns: she/her)
IVE Team Leader
Vernetta joined our team 4 years ago first as a canvasser and then transitioned to our door fundraising team. After a break to focus on school and raising her son, she is back with us to oversee the day-to-day with our outreach team. “OR has raised the bar of my level of leadership…. I am the community. We’re here rooted in Deep East Oakland. The work being done is so necessary and needed. We’re going to tear this organizing thing up!”
Joevonte Kelly (Pronouns: him/his)
Joevonte joined Oakland Rising first as a canvasser in 2011 after returning home from Santa Rita County Jail when he was 18. What started out as just a job to pay the bills became his way to learn about how to use grassroots organizing around the issues impacting him and his community. Now 10 years later, Joevonte is managing our paid outreach program and supporting our Core Leaders Program.
Nory Tadeo (Pronouns: she/her)
Nory immigrated to the US with her siblings in 1975 from the Philippines. She has lived in Oakland all her life and has experience working in many fields – from owning an auto body shop to working in schools with young children. One of Nory’s most memorable times was when she volunteered and organized at a Friday Community Dinner for 13 years to help serve unhoused adults and children every week. As a mom of three children, her favorite hobbies include cooking, cosplaying and crafting.
Oakland, CA 94612
Oakland Rising and our collaborative partners are united in our vision for a city that embodies health, happiness, safety, and equal opportunities for all. Our goal is to create a model of progress and sustainability that showcases the possibilities for American cities in the 21st century. We are committed to dismantling the barriers of racial, economic, political, environmental, and educational inequities that have divided us, and instead, embracing the collective strength found in our city’s diversity. We firmly believe that Oakland can achieve its full potential when every resident, student, and bus rider has the ability to shape our city’s future. This vision is attainable and we are determined to realize it through our collective actions, whether it’s through voting, meetings, or call to actions.
Every year, we release a Vision, Issues, and Policy Platform (VIPP) which outlines the annual policies that we and our eight partner organizations prioritize in order to advance racial, economic, and environmental justice in the Town. Our collaborative’s agenda encompasses a range of critical initiatives, from expanding affordable housing to creating a more equitable democracy through campaign finance reforms. These priorities are designed to provide vital protections and innovative solutions for the most vulnerable members of our community. As we continue our efforts to promote these policies, we hold conversations with thousands of voters, lead and co-host impactful town hall meetings, educate and mobilize residents and voters, and undertake various other initiatives.
To gain a deeper understanding of our commitment to resist, protect, and advance in this political moment, we invite you to explore our 2023 Vision, Issues, and Policy Platform. Together, we are making strides towards a more equitable and just Oakland, and we remain steadfast in our pursuit of change, one vote, one meeting, one march at a time.
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Oakland Rising is a project from our hearts for the people of Oakland. Thank you for your contribution!