As we turn ten years old in 2018, our staff is continuing to expand. With excitement, we hired a well-seasoned Oakland organizer and relationship builder as our first ever Political Director, Reverend Damita Davis-Howard. You may know Rev. Damita most recently from her organizing at Oakland Community Organizations (OCO) or previously from her labor work. She holds the distinction of being the first African-American woman to lead a statewide labor union in California as the Executive Director of SEIU Local 535.

In the community, Rev. Damita has also served as a member and chair of the board of governors of the Alameda Alliance for Health, the organization that oversees provision of quality healthcare to Medi-Cal recipients and Alameda County’s underserved children and families.

She also serves on the Community Working Group Committee of Oakland’s Operation Ceasefire where she works to reduce gun violence in Oakland.

Joining our staff this month, Rev. Damita will lead our collaborative’s work and strategy, run our field operations, and support our growing leadership development and youth organizing work. A Bay Area native, she has lived in Oakland since she was 17, and has dedicated her life to building power amongst working-class folks. Self-described as a “dedicated community activist and advocate for race equity, community safety and labor standards,” she brings a deep working knowledge of Oakland politics and relationships with local elected and faith-based leaders which she will use to help further our mission of advancing policy centered in racial, economic, and environmental justice.

In addition to bringing Rev. Damita onto our team, this past fall we also hired two other staff members: Nemo Curiel as Movement Technology Manager and Elly Rhee as Operations and Executive Manager.

As part of our commitment to integrating data across our collaborative partners, Nemo is spending much of his time preparing our Movement Technology Fellowship for launch this year. The Innovation Fellowship is an accelerated-educational program for technological staff from our partner organizations with a focus on web development, programming, and CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) system mastery and advocacy. The fellowship is meant to ensure a standard level of web development and technological dexterity across our collaborative as well as engage the collaborative in ensuring adoption of the Oakland Ring CRM as the standard tool to use.

He is also leading our Innovation Technology Project which is a partnership with the technology solutions incubator, DevLabs. Together, we will produce a CRM and ancillary tools to serve as the collaborative’s centralized (collects all data), shared (partners have access to the data), and standard database (partners use only this tool to collect data). We expect the new CRM to:

● grow the constituent relationships across the collaborative;
● show geographical overlap between organizations;
● show how constituents interact with the different organizations;
● identify and support leaders from the community; and
● make it easier to engage with community members to further their involvement in political work.

Additionally, the CRM will facilitate communicating pertinent information to funders, engaging with existing and potential community donors, and handling privacy with sensitive information more easily and effectively.

We are also excited to have Elly Rhee as our Operations and Executive Manager. She is an amazing behind-the-scenes organizer who brings exquisite attention to detail and a sense of calm in the storm, especially in providing much needed support so that we can keep things moving strategically and efficiently.

Since immigrating from Korea as a teenager, Elly has called the Bay Area home (even when she was away in Southern California for graduate school). Her passion for economic and racial justice led her to work with organizations like Koreatown Immigrant Worker’s Alliance and Congregations Organizing for Renewal. She is excited to support our work in fighting to improve the lives of Oakland’s working class and residents of color.

Outside of her work for Oakland Rising, Elly supports domestic violence survivors as a Multilingual 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, she can be spotted with a Korean traditional drumming crew, Ieumsae.




570 14th Street, Suite 1
Oakland, CA 94612

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Oakland Rising is a project from our hearts for the people of Oakland. Thank you for your contribution!