MEET THE STAFF
Ofelia Bello, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ofelia was born and raised in East Palo Alto. She grew up in the Gardens and currently still lives in town. Ofelia is a graduate of the Ravenswood School District and Eastside College Prep. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara and a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco in Urban and Public Affairs. Ofelia enjoyed playing for the women's rugby team at both universities.
Ofelia's previous professional experience has been in urban planning and public policy, specifically as it pertains to housing. She has also worked with grassroots organizations, coalitions and community members to address the community’s housing needs, with a specific focus on the needs of low-income, working class, and/or immigrant communities of color. As part of these collectives, Ofelia finds it necessary to work on on both short term and long terms strategies for achieving community stability and prosperity. She also currently serves as a full term planning commissioner in East Palo Alto.
When she's not working, Ofelia loves to spend time with her nieces and nephews, look for new foods to try, and visit music, arts, and film festivals!
Ofelia holds a M.A. in Urban and Public Affairs and B.A. in Sociology, Linguistics, History.
Tameeka Bennett, Assoc. Director email@example.com
Tameeka is an experienced organizer and lifelong East Palo Alto resident. Growing up in EPA gave her a strong sense of self, something she wishes to pass on to the youth she works with today, "People hear EPA and the first thing they do is think of all the negative things associated with who we WERE. EPA has made so many strides! We are a strong community. Filled with beautiful stories of resiliency and hard working families. My city taught me to never give up, to strive after what I want, go after my dreams. I want to pass all of that goodness onto the youth I work with everyday."
Tameeka joined the YUCA family in 2011. She formerly co-coordinated all leadership development activities with our environmental justice and affordable housing campaign and served as Executive Director until she passed the torch in February of 2019. She is currently serving as Associate Director until fully transitioning out of the organization later this year.
Tameeka formerly sat on the East Palo Alto Planning Commission as both an alternate and full term commissioner for three years. She sits on a host of Commissions, Committees and Boards geared at making a difference in the areas of climate change, social & environmental justice, affordable housing, youth leadership development and racial justice.
She is also the co-founder of a non-profit called Rebooting History, a documentary effort to record East Palo Alto history and lift up the stories of those fortunate enough to experience what was once known as Ravenswood High School (East Palo Alto's only Public High School, closed in 1976).
Cynthia Cruz, Education Program Director
Cynthia Cruz came up through YUCA as a young person in high school working on the campaign to shut Romic down!
We are thrilled to have her return as our Education Program Director, guiding our Education work! As a new venture, this campaign is rapidly growing while desiring to affect change through student and parent engagement as well as curriculum. The Education campaign is making great strides in making young people aware of Common Core Standards, engaging students and parents in bettering our school systems, and talking with teachers and admin about current curriculum.
Cynthia has been a magnificent addition the the YUCA family! She has carried the heart of the organization with her as she leads YUCA young people through Political Educations, Skill Building sessions and more. She works hard to ensure that our young people are made aware of current social climates, current events as well as their histories as people of color.
Cynthia holds several degrees including M.A. in Mexican American Studies, B.A. in American Studies, and an A.A in Sociology.
Kenia Miranda, Social Justice Program Director
Kenia Najar Miranda began as a core member with YUCA. She led numerous campaigns and social justice work as young person for 4 years before she went off to college at UC Santa Cruz. During her time at YUCA, she participated in the immigration campaign where her and other young people collected petitions for the California Dream Act, led Know Your Rights Presentations in the community, and sat on coalitions that worked in San Mateo County to stop referring young people and adults to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). While a youth organizer at YUCA, Higher Learning Components such as, political education workshops, toxic tours, breaking silences- inspired her to obtain a degree in sociology and Latin American and Latino Studies.
Her passion to resist inequality and injustice comes from growing up in a unique place like East Palo Alto. YUCA and UC Santa Cruz established a revolutionary consciousness that she will carry with her indefinitely.
Kenia is grateful to be back, and thrilled to instill the same passion that was passed down to her in other young people of color. Kenia will be leading as our Social Justice and Equity Program Director, guiding YUCA young people through pressing social justice issues.
Kenia holds a B.A. in Sociology & Latin American and Latino Studies.
“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all
the time” - Angela Davis