Team

Click a team member to navigate to their bio:

Des Buford (she/her/Des) Pronunciation: nmdrp.me/desbuford
Director of Network Engagement
des@justicefunders.org

Aminata Diallo (she/her) Pronunciation: nmdrp.me/amidiallo
Director of Organizational Culture & Development
aminata@justicefunders.org

 

Jessica (Jessi) Espinoza-Jensen (she/her) Pronunciation: https://namedrop.io/jessicaespinozajensen
Director of Leadership Programs
jessi@justicefunders.org

Sydney Fang (she/her & they/them) Pronunciation: nmdrp.me/sydneyfang
Just Transition Organizer
sydney@justicefunders.org

 

Dino Foxx (they/them) Pronunciation: nmdrp.me/dinofoxx
Community & Culture Manager
dino@justicefunders.org

Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano (he/him/his) Pronunciation: nmdrop.me/lorenzoherreraylozano
Co-Executive Director
lorenzo@justicefunders.org

Rachel Humphrey (she/her/hers) Pronunciation: nmdrp.me/rachelhumphrey
Senior Director of Practice Acceleration
rachel@justicefunders.org

Dana Kawaoka-Chen (she/her) Pronunciation: nmdrop.me/danakawaokachen
Co-Executive Director
dana@justicefunders.org

Michelle Loo (they/them) Pronunciation: namedrop.io/michelleloo
Director of Narrative Strategy
michelle@justicefunders.org

Rosita Lucas (she/her) Pronunciation: nmdrop.me/rositalucas
Director of Resource Strategy & Development
rosita@justicefunders.org

Mario Lugay (he/him/his) Pronunciation: nmdrop.me/mariolugay
Senior Director of Innovation
mario@justicefunders.org

Kimi Mojica (they/she) Pronunciation: nmdrp.me/kimimojica
Senior Director of Consulting
kimi@justicefunders.org

Maria Nakae (she/her) Pronunciation: nmdrp.me/marianakae
Senior Director of Engagement
maria@justicefunders.org

Sujatha Sebastian (she/her) Pronunciation: nmdrp.me/sujathasebastian
Senior Director of Leadership Programs
sujatha@justicefunders.org

 

Leela Singh (she/her) Pronunciation: nmdrp.me/leelasingh
Consulting Manager
leela@justicefunders.org

 

Lauren Jacobson Spokane (she/her/hers) Pronunciation: nmdrp.me/laurenspokane
Movement Commons Senior Consultant
laurenspokane@gmail.com

 

As the Director of Network Engagement, Des Buford is responsible for building and nurturing the Bay Area Justice Funders Network, a regional community for learning and action where funders committed to justice gain the knowledge and skills necessary to accelerate a Just Transition for philanthropy.

For nearly two decades Des has been dedicated to building and celebrating community through arts and cultural programming—namely at the intersection of LGBTQ communities and communities of color. She deeply believes in the transformative power of community to create dialogue, bolster coalition building, and spark social change. Des thrives on building long-term and deep relationships with colleagues, philanthropic allies, strategic partners, movement organizations, and community members.

Prior to joining Justice Funders, she was the Director of Institutional Partnerships & Events at Horizons Foundation. Des previously led the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival (Frameline), the largest showcase of queer cinema in the world, where she served in various leadership roles for fifteen years.

Trained as a stage manager, she remains an aficionado of flawless operational execution, and is an expert at large-scale and high-profile event production and management. Des has a demonstrated commitment to mentoring and developing new talent, particularly through a lens of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

In her free time, Des enjoys gardening, grilling, singing along to showtunes and Ricky Martin, and romping around the Bay Area with her partner and their beloved pup, Osita. She holds a B.A. from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, with a minor in LGBTQ Studies.

As the Director of Organizational Culture & Development, Ami’s role is to facilitate Justice Funders’ culture, learning, programs, and systems to nurture the sustainability of the organization’s internal infrastructure and capacity to advance the goal of field-wide transformation in philanthropy through a just transition.

Ami brings years of experience in evaluation, and program and project managemen in nonprofits and foundations. Most recently, Ami was the Manager of Learning and Community Impact at The Scattergood Foundation where she focused on mental and behavioral health advocacy, and managed a region-wide evaluation capacity building initiative for over 100 nonprofits in Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

Ami has a master’s degree in Science, Technology & Society from Drexel University, and a master’s degree in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania. As a first generation Senegalese-American born in Spanish Harlem and raised in Queens, NY, her passion for culture and community has guided her perspective in this work.

Based in Philadelphia, she enjoys life as a foodie, cooking, swimming, and her newly found joy in hiking and the outdoors.

As the Director of Leadership Programs, Jessi is part of the team responsible for the design and implementation of JF’s’ Harmony, Maestra, and Alumni Initiatives. Jessi brings experience in grassroots partnership building, capacity building, convening, facilitation, and philanthropy.

Prior to JF, Jessi was staff at the Santa Fe Community Foundation and Director of the New Mexico Health Equity Partnership, a statewide network advancing health equity and racial justice. Jessi worked with a team to co-create strategy, design and implement community driven research trainings and technical assistance, facilitate critical connections via network building, organize gatherings for peer learning, and coordinate grantmaking. She found great joy in working with graphic illustrators to visually document gatherings, uplift stories, and communicate learnings for narrative change.

Jessi thrives on building relationships and serving as a connector. She believes in showing up with presence, curiosity, and clarity while holding complexity and nuance. Values that are important to her are integrity, compassion, connectedness, creativity, and play.

Jessi lives in Santa Fe, NM with her husband and two beagles, Burcak and Bogus. She grew up in Albuquerque, was born in California, and has roots in Mexico. She holds a MA in Sociology and a BBA in Marketing & Accounting. Jessi loves spending time hiking, running, snowshoeing, skiing, and relaxing in the park listening to the birds. Doodling, dance breaks, reading, and shared meals with friends and family also bring her joy.

As the Just Transition Organizer, Sydney amplifies the vision and values of the Just Transition framework within philanthropy, aligns resources with the strategy set by the Richmond Our Power Coalition (ROPC), and facilitates participatory grantmaking processes for resources stewarded by the ROPC.

Sydney is a part of a long lineage of organizers and advocates advancing just transitions, from “changing the story” as a communications strategist at Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), to “changing the rules” as a Green Zones Policy Fellow at California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), to “moving the money” as a designer of the first-ever participatory budgeting process at Harvard University. As an action researcher and critical evaluator with the CoDesign Initiative, Sydney has held space with local community partners and program funders to advance community-driven, place-based projects in Greater Boston. She has spent over ten years advancing grassroots organizing and policy campaigns for racial, gender, and environmental justice.

Sydney was born and raised in Santa Rosa, CA, where her family and thousands of others endured the impacts of the recent Tubbs, Kincaid, and Glass Wildfires. She is the daughter of an immigrant from China and a refugee from Vietnam, a nail salon worker and a factory worker. A first-generation college graduate, Sydney is also the product of U.S. refugee resettlement programs, public housing, free/reduced school lunches, K-12 public schools, and the University of California system. She has Masters in Public Policy and Masters in Urban Planning degrees from Harvard University and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Public Health from University of California, Berkeley.

On a good day, you can find her drawing (political) comics, wrangling media at direct actions, cooking a new recipe, or running with her partner.

As Community & Culture Manager, Dino works closely with Justice Funders’ People-Centered Systems Circle by introducing and supporting the adoption of regenerative practices and co-creating a culture of: psychological safety, centering well-being, radical interdependence, untethered imagination, and generative leadership internally and externally.

As a gender non-conforming, queer, indigenous grassroots fundraiser from San Antonio, TX, Dino comes to Justice Funders with many years in social justice philanthropy, two decades in non-profit operations and has been working to return financial resources to the places from which wealth has been extracted. As Operations Coordinator and Donor Organizing Coordinator for Thousand Currents (formerly IDEX), Dino collaborated on the formation of a giving circle of young inheritors of wealth in the Bay Area and helped establish the Thousand Currents’ COVID-19 rapid response fund which provided emergency grants to organizations in the global south.

Dino is a mindfulness practitioner who enjoys cooking, meditation, yoga, hiking, volunteerism, traveling (when safe) and music. They are the author of When the Glitter Fades (Kórima Press), and are committed to the creation of nonviolent social change through the art of Drag.

As Co-Executive Director, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano supports the team in pursuing collaborative strategies to build a bold and sustainable Justice Funders by strengthening internal operational systems, aligning programs with our vision, and cultivating practices that nurture an organizational culture through which we are all able to flourish, thrive, and bring our full selves to the work of transforming philanthropy toward a Just Transition.

Early in his journey, Lorenzo was confronted with the painful contradictions between the radical and inspiring mission statements of movement organizations and the mistreatment and exploitation of their employees. Moved by the stories of heartbreak and loss of those who came before him, coupled with the heartbreak and loss he was experiencing, he rejected the practice of creating martyrs out of each other and of offering ourselves—our physical and mental health, our agency, our dreams—as sacrifices in the name of future generations. Turning to the wisdom of women of color, most of them queer, he began nurturing an organizational development and leadership praxis rooted in two fundamental beliefs: 1) to do our work well, we must support each other in being well; and, 2) to move in the direction of a shared vision, we must begin embodying that vision in the present.

Building on two decades of nonprofit management and governance experience; graduate training in Cultural Studies, Organizational Leadership and Ethics, and Chicanx Studies; and, a practice in neuroscience-informed asset-based coaching, Lorenzo applies these beliefs to every aspect of his work with the Justice Funders team—from the infrastructure we create; to the design, delivery, and assessment of our programs; to the supervision and professional development we provide; to the questions we ask and the reflections we offer one another; to the wellness strategies we weave into our together.

Raised in the Bay Area and northern Mexico, Lorenzo makes queer home with his partners, two rapidly growing teenagers, and a chihuahua in San Francisco.

Driven by a vision of a truly just and equitable world, Rachel Humphrey has worked in the philanthropic and nonprofit sector for 25 years as a strategist, capacity builder, and movement builder. She is passionate about people feeling connected, empowered, and purposeful in their collective efforts for justice, and brings a solid and ever-evolving anti-oppression lens as well as skills in Appreciative Inquiry and Conflict Literacy to supporting this aim.

Beginning in 2015, Rachel designed and led Justice Funder’s leadership development and consulting work. In 2022, Rachel’s work at Justice Funders focuses on accelerating the shift to regenerative practice through individual and group coaching. Prior to joining Justice Funders, Rachel supported social justice nonprofits and foundations as an independent consultant and as a Senior Consultant for TCC Group. Rachel also spent a decade mobilizing resources for community-based organizations around the world, including seven years as Director of Philanthropic Partnerships at the Global Fund for Women.

Rachel has trained extensively in participatory facilitation methods, including with the Institute of Cultural Affairs, Social Transformation Project, and the Center for Right Relationships. She has studied embodied leadership practices with Strozzi Institute and Coaches Rising. She is a few administrative hoops away from becoming a Master Certified Coach (MCC) through the International Coach Federation and holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration and an A.B. in Anthropology and Asian Studies. In her free time, she can be found on the trails near her home in West Marin County, CA.

As Co-Executive Director of Justice Funders, Dana Kawaoka-Chen partners and guides philanthropy in reimagining practices that advance a thriving and just world.  Dana leads with vision and is guided by relationships.  As a practitioner, Dana co-authored the “The Choir Book: A Framework for Social Justice Philanthropy,” and was a primary contributor to “Resonance: A Framework for Philanthropic Transformation.”  You can find her writing on a Just Transition for Philanthropy in Medium.

As founding Executive Director of Justice Funders, Dana grew the organization by aligning its strategy to the visions of movements working for racial, economic and social justice.  Dana’s leadership in facilitating a Just Transition for philanthropy by redistributing wealth, democratizing power and shifting economic control to communities has resulted in millions of philanthropic dollars being mobilized and aligned to build infrastructure for frontline communities to govern themselves.  For her work advocating for deeper investments in social movements and grassroots organizing, Dana was recognized by Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) in 2015 as one of twenty-five national “Leaders in Action.”

Dana has previously served in executive functions for two other non-profit organizations.  She has a Masters of Science degree in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco, Bachelor of Arts degrees in American Studies and Visual Art from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Non-Profit Management Certification from San Jose State University.

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Dana currently lives in San Jose with her family.

Michelle joins the team as the Director of Narrative Strategy, leading the work to communicate philanthropy’s reimagined role in supporting thriving social justice movements. They have six years of experience working in grassroots organizations and communications creating content that resonates with a working-class base, funders, and policy makers. They have worked at the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), 9to5 Colorado, Charles B Wang Community Health Center, and Families USA to name a few organizations.

Michelle is visionary and able to make connections across liberation movements, curious and interested in learning about people and the society we live in, and community-centered in their work and life. Raised by Chinese Malaysian immigrants in New York City and Philadelphia, Michelle is grounded in building the power of poor and working people. Abolitionism and anti-imperialism are core tenants in their organizing. They are now living and building community in Washington, DC, where you can find them volunteering as an abortion doula, paying attention to the plants and birds in their neighborhood, and gathering people for good food and karaoke.

As Director of Resource Strategy & Development Rosita’s role is to provide strategic leadership towards the creation of a regenerative finance strategy that will advance the mission of Justice Funders, and to communicate the work, impact, and vision of a Just Transition for Philanthropy. Rosita engages with a range of external stakeholders including philanthropic supporters, members of the Bay Area Justice Funders Network, program participants and consulting clients, as well as our larger national network of movement and philanthropic allies. She joins the team with expertise in online engagements and giving, capital campaigns, development planning, grants, and major gifts.

Rosita previously served as the Director of Advancement Services for Student Affairs Philanthropy at UC Berkeley, where she partnered in planning for the $200 million Campaign for Undergraduates. She supervised a team of advancement professionals, coordinated external relations for a unique scholarship and recruitment initiative, Fiat Lux, that serves Black, Indigenous and people of color as well as first-generation college students, and managed philanthropic office operations for the Division of Student Affairs. She also recently consulted as a philanthropic director for Oakland’s Holy Names University, where she supported the recognition of their 150-year milestone through a multi-faceted community events series and fundraising initiative. Prior to this, Rosita worked at City College of San Francisco’s Office of Research, Planning and Grants leading efforts in support of grant proposal and budget development for math, science, literacy, English as a Second Language, technology, and other areas.

Credentialed as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), Rosita values continued learning within the fundraising profession. She holds a M.A. in Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a B.A. in History from UC Berkeley. Rosita resides in Oakland with her family.

As Justice Funders’ Senior Innovation Director, Mario partners with philanthropy and field practitioners to design, pilot and scale both innovation and collective action that advances social movements through our Movement Commons Lab. Mario comes to the organization via Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school), where he served as a 2016-2017 Civic Innovation Fellow, as well as Guidestar, where he held the position of Entrepreneur-in-Residence. He is the founder of the movement-building technology platform, Giving Side.

In 2010, Mario co-founded the New American Leaders Project, the country’s first and only organization dedicated to training first- and second- generation immigrants to run for elected office. He has held leadership positions at the Kapor Center for Social Impact, as well as the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation, providing leadership around new and unprecedented philanthropic investments in both integrated voter engagement strategies and for a fair and accurate 2010 census count. He built significant community organizing experience as the National Coordinator of Racial Justice 911 and at CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities in the Northwest Bronx.

Mario is a long-time philanthropic and nonprofit consultant, speaker and trainer. He currently is an advisor to the High Net Worth POC Donor Collaborative, Digital Impact and New Media Mentors, and previously served as board member of Resource Generation, American Prospect, and as board chair of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. He is a graduate of Columbia University.

Kimi Mojica joined Justice Funders in 2018 and currently serves as the Senior Director of Consulting where they guide and support philanthropic institutions in aligning grantmaking practices with social justice values and the Just Transition. In addition to leading Justice Funders’ consulting practice, they lend their talents to support the design and delivery of the Harmony Initiative and other leadership programs. They bring over twenty years of experience as a process strategist, facilitator and trainer working with a broad range of leaders and groups to vision and steward positive change beyond traditional DEI efforts, to transform culture, conflict and practices towards collective liberation.

Kimi works at the nexus of conflict literacy, peacemaking, leadership and organizational development grounded firmly in an equity lens that recognizes how power, structure and systems impact connection, relationships and quality of life. In addition to philanthropy, their career and background spans across sectors  having worked in higher education, tech, corporate, as well as community based formations. Prior to Justice Funders, Kimi has worked as the Membership Services Manager at Asian Americans Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) and has served as Board Chair of East Bay Meditation Center and the Astrea Foundation. Kimi’s commitment to racial, gender and healing justice is evident through the dynamic ways they hold space/process with a participatory, experiential, learning-centered, skills-based approach rooted in compassion. Possessing an insatiable desire to explore the complexities of change, resilience and the human condition, Kimi is also an associate trainer at SEEDS and a lead facilitator and curriculum designer at Awaken, in addition to being a coach, mediator and circle keeper.

Born in San Francisco, Kimi currently lives in Oakland, CA/Ohlone Territory. They believe in the power of imagination and can often be found seeking refuge in nature, or in their meditation and Kajukenbo martial arts practices.

As Senior Director of Engagement, Maria leads Justice Funders’ integrated capital strategy, encouraging foundations to divest their endowments from the extractive economy and reinvest those resources into BIPOC-led, movement-aligned Just Transition projects and loan funds that build local, regenerative solidarity economies. She brings 20 years of experience in expansive roles as movement builder, organizer, trainer, fundraiser, communicator, capacity builder, community educator, researcher and direct service provider.

Prior to Justice Funders, Maria served as Development Director for Forward Together where she led a team that tripled the organization’s institutional and individual fundraising revenue, significantly grew its grassroots donor base, established the organization’s first major donor program, institutionalized the participation of the Board of Directors in individual fundraising efforts, and shifted the culture and practice of fundraising from isolation to integration into the overall organization and its programs. She is passionate about mobilizing resources to support thriving movements for racial, gender and economic justice.

Maria is a member of the Hella Heart Oakland Giving Circle and BoomShake Music, a multicultural community program that uses music and drumming for creative expression, cultural survival and social change by supporting grassroots movements and building the leadership of people of color to be cultural creators for our liberation. She is a 2006 New Voices Fellow and holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley with an emphasis in maternal and child health. She loves reading food blogs but can’t find time to cook most of the recipes she wants to try. Instead, in her free time you’ll find her drumming at protests and hanging out at playgrounds all over Oakland with her three spunky girls.

Sujatha believes in the power of collaboration to help advance a just and thriving world. As Senior Director of Leadership Programs, she oversees the design and implementation of Harmony and Maestra in close partnership with the Justice Funders team. In this role, she works with foundation leaders across institutions to build the capacity and resources to align philanthropy with social justice.

Sujatha is an experienced strategist, capacity builder, and facilitator with a diverse background in systems change and community development. Over the past 18 years she has collaborated with a broad cohort of foundations, intermediaries, and nonprofits.  In addition she is the  founding principal of the Conveners Group and co-founder of Conveners.org.

Sujatha grew up in a multicultural household, the proud daughter of a midwife and an immigrant entrepreneur. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. While she considers herself a New Yorker at heart, Sujatha feels blessed to call the East Bay home where she lives with her wonderful family and joyful pup Luna.

As the Consulting Manager for Justice Funder’s consulting practice, Leela works to build cohesive and collaborative consulting systems and infrastructure through project management and administration, research and analysis, and facilitation and business development support.

Prior to Justice Funders, Leela was a founding member of the project management office at Start Early, a national early childhood education nonprofit, where she served as the project manager for a multi-year, collective impact project focused on state pre-k systems improvement in Washington, Tennessee and Oregon, in addition to designing and delivering trainings on decision-making, empathy mapping, and project management capacity building for the organization internally. As a project manager for Morten Group, LLC, a consulting firm grounded in racial equity principles working with foundations and nonprofits across the country, Leela provided both project management and project leadership for a wide portfolio of clients. Leela has experience in a variety of fields outside of direct project management, including organizational assessment and strategic planning, training design and delivery, and racial equity audit and action plan design and implementation.

Leela is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMPÒ) and a PROSCIÒ Certified Change Manager. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and South Asian Studies with Research Distinction from The Ohio State University.

Born in upstate New York and raised in Ohio, Leela now calls Chicago home. Outside of work, Leela continues to focus on and expand her commitment to abolitionist praxis, and is on a separate but similarly never-ending journey to locate the best pastry in the city.

 

Lauren organizes people and resources to bring to life shared visions for the future we want to live in. She moves through life and work with a sense of joy and hope, curiosity and creativity, humility and authenticity. Sometimes this means she’s caught dancing down the hall when there’s no music playing, or singing out loud at her desk, or making her wedding invitations out of broccoli. Lauren has been involved in organizing and activism to win racial and economic justice for the past 20 years, and professionally for the past 12 years as a community organizer, non-profit manager, and fundraiser.

Most recently, Lauren’s life force has been poured into the founding and leading of a liberation-focused, spiritually vibrant Jewish community in DC called the New Synagogue Project (NSP), launched by the Team of Instigators she built in spring 2018. NSP now counts over 400 people in its membership, has a full-time rabbi and half-time administrator, and is driven by 14 volunteer leadership teams.

Since starting her career as a community organizer at the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation – IAF) and as a fellow at JOIN for Justice, she’s worked as a synagogue organizer at the Union for Reform Judaism, Associate Director of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington, and Director of Development at Faith in Action (formerly PICO). She now works as an independent consultant working on projects in partnership with organizations and leaders working toward social justice and collective liberation.