Who We Are

About

LA Voice is a multi-racial, multi-faith community organization that awakens people to their own power, training them to speak, act, and work together to transform our County into one that reflects the dignity of all people.

We believe all people have power and a voice. Every day we amplify that power by uniting diverse faith voices to stand-up for what their communities need, winning changes that improve the lives of all Angelenos.

LA Voice’s organizing presence is based throughout LA County, across 5 county supervisorial districts and 28 strategic cities. Throughout the county, we have 65 congregations, 26 with teams, and 17 of them with teams that can deliver.

In addition to this, LA Voice holds strategic power relationships with U.S. Congressional representatives, mayors and city councils of major cities within the county to facilitate a progressive racial equity agenda in the region

Congregations

37 congregations are participating in the 2022 LeadsTeam and Power Campaign: 

All Saints Pasadena, Pasadena
Baldwin Park United Methodist Church, Baldwin Park
Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Hollywood
Centro de Vida Victoriosa Church, Los Angeles
Chosen Generation Fellowship Church, Long Beach
Congregation Or Ami, Calabasas
Culver City Presbyterian Church, Culver City
Dolores Mission, Los Angeles
First Baptist Church of Pasadena, Pasadena
First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, Los Angeles
Grace UMC, Los Angeles
Greater Zion Church Family, Compton
Homeboy Industries, LA County
IKAR, Los Angeles
Inglewood First United Methodist Church, Inglewood
Islah LA, Los Angeles
LA CORE
LALMA, Los Angeles
Leo Baeck Temple, Los Angeles
McCarty Memorial Christian Church, Los Angeles
Nefesh, Los Angeles
New City Church, Los Angeles
Pasadena Mennonite Church, Pasadena
Rose City Church, Pasadena
Saint Mark UMC, Los Angeles
St. John Chrysostom, Inglewood
St. John the Baptist, Baldwin Park
St. Louis of France, San Gabriel Valley
St. Luke Holy Baptist Church, Long Beach
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Long Beach
Stephen S Wise Temple, Los Angeles
Temple Israel of Hollywood, Los Angeles
Transformative Justice Team
Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach (UUCLB), Long Beach
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles
Word of Encouragement Church – Pico Union, Los Angeles
Youth Cohort

Board of Directors

Umar Hakim (Chair) 

Umar Hakim is the Executive Director of the ILM Foundation and a member of Masjid Ibaadillah. In addition to organizing with LA Voice, he is an active alumnus of USC’s American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and NewGround Muslim- Jewish Partnership for Change. He is currently serving as executive director of the ILM Foundation.

Francisco Flores

Francisco Flores attends Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Hollywood. He is an art and design specialist and has been involved with LA Voice for over seven years. He is a Salvadoran immigrant.

Manjusha Kulkarni

Manjusha P. Kulkarni (Manju) is the Executive Director of Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), a coalition of forty community-based organizations that serve and represent the 1.5 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County.  Manju also serves as a Lecturer in the Asian American Studies Department of UCLA, teaching “Ethnic, Cultural and Gender Issues in America’s Health Care Systems” and “South Asian American Communities.”  Manju was recently appointed by Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve on the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program Advisory Committee.

Scott Minkow

Scott Minkow received his BA at Stanford University and spent several years working in Northern California. Scott then returned to L.A. for graduate studies at USC and Hebrew Union College. Since then, he has worked for most of his professional career within local and national Jewish organizations, focusing on development, programming, innovation, and grant-making. What inspires him most is building community and strengthening connections.

Rev Dr Najuma Smith

Rev. Dr. Najuma Smith is Founding Pastor of Word of Encouragement Church and Program Manager of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement. She speaks frequently about women’s empowerment, women in ministry, sexual violence awareness, civic engagement and the Black church.

Daria Nunez, Dolores Mission (In Memoriam) 

Daria Nuñez attends Dolores Mission Church and has been involved with LA Voice as a leader for more than seven years. Ms. Nuñez is also a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA). She is an immigrant from Mexico.

Faith in Action

Staff

Rev. Eddie Anderson

South LA Regional Community Organizer

Rev. Eddie Anderson is a graduate of Morehouse College and Claremont School of Theology.

He currently serves as the Senior Pastor at McCarty Memorial Christian Church in Los Angeles where his primary task has been calling forth a new moral imagination by working for the dignity, justice and love for those with their backs against the wall of oppression through lending his voice and body to the movement for Black Lives and various other activist efforts in Los Angeles.

Melanie Baker

Operations Coordinator

Melanie is the Operations Coordinator. She brings 7 years of administrative and operational experience to LA Voice, joining the team in 2021.

In her free time, she likes to eat at new restaurants, practice graphic design, and keep her Duolingo streak going.

Rachel Bishop

Chief Operating Officer

Rachel Bishop is the Chief Operating Officer for LA Voice. She came to Los Angeles from Brooklyn to join the LA Voice staff in June 2015.

She previously served as Development Director for United Community Centers, a social justice oriented community center in East New York, Brooklyn.

Prior to that, she spent five years with the League of Young Voters in a number of roles ranging from Operations Assistant to National Programs Director.

She has a B.A. in Political Science from New York University. In her free time, she likes to make music, cook food, and take naps.

Cesar Castrejon

Lead Community Organizer

Cesar was born in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico and migrated to the United States in 1990. Cesar landed in Chicago where he fell in love with Hip-Hop culture and the art of community organizing. In High School he joined a community organization “Generation Y” where he organized to implement peer juries and fight the unjust zero tolerance policies in Chicago public schools as well as the lack of funding and culturally relevant curriculum. In 2008 Cesar moved to California where he organized around educational Justice, Labor issues and housing Justice. Using Hip-Hop culture and native traditions as his foundational tools for organizing he has documented success in policy wins at the local and statewide level.

Cesar is father to two amazing daughters. In his free time he enjoys live music, live sports, collecting records and cooking for his loved ones.

Maura Chen

Housing Project Associate

Maura Chen is the Housing Project Associate with LA Voice. As an architectural designer, they work between organizers and developers on drawings for permanent supportive housing and other affordable housing types to be built on congregation-owned land across LA County. Chen is an artist, educator, architectural designer, and writer from Los Angeles (Tovaangar) with experience working in the East Bay, San Francisco, New York, and Philadelphia.

Their current research is focused on designing community kitchens to combat food apartheid and connect historically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The occupation of interstitial space and intersection of race, gender, class, and informal economies figure prominently in the work. Chen writes the substack newsletter “Drafting Curbside,” has been an artist-in-residence at Dirtbaby Farm, volunteer cook with the People’s Kitchen, and food runner with West Philly Food Not Bombs. They have been published by Pidgin Press, Haus Red, Disc Journal, and the Dry River, taught as a visiting assistant professor at Pratt University and at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, hold a BA from the University of California Berkeley, and a Masters from Princeton.

Maritza Cuestas

Community Organizer

Maritza joined LA Voice as our Community Crganizer representing the SFV Region. She has  a B.A in Technical Management with Honors: Cum Laude.

She has a long experience in community based outreach and organizing, she has received congress and state recognition for her work in the communities throughout LA County.

Her experience includes relationship building with constituents, community leaders and the community at large, partnership development and maintenance, and coalition building. She has a passion for Social justice.

She is a proud wife to David and a mother of two beautiful daughters
Carla and Andrea.

Yvonne Figueroa

Organizing Director

Yvonne Figueroa was exposed to community organizing while attending California State University Long Beach.

After graduating, she worked on various political and community campaigns before joining the labor movement in the long term care industry.

On her off time, she leads communications for her church in Lancaster.

She loves hiking, camping, reading, live music, eating, and is open to all kinds of new experiences!

Rev. Zach Hoover

Executive Director

Zachary Hoover is the Executive Director of LA Voice and is in his 18th year organizing with PICO California and Faith in Action.

Rev. Zach holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School and is ordained in the American Baptist Church. 

Zach first learned organizing from Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico. Since joining LA Voice, he has led organizing campaigns that have dismantled unfair car impound policies targeting immigrants, increased access to groceries in food deserts, increased public accountability for reinvestment by major financial institutions, increased voter participation in communities of color, removed obstacles to employment for formerly incarcerated Angelenos, and bridged gaps between communities divided by race, class and geography.

Rabbi Jocee Hudson

Clergy and Formation Lead

Rabbi Jocee Hudson joined LA Voice as the Clergy and Formation Lead in July 2021.

Jocee received rabbinic ordination, as well as Masters in Hebrew Letters and Jewish Education, from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University.

Prior to joining LA Voice, she was an Associate Rabbi at Temple Israel of Hollywood.

Jocee and her partner Rook are the proud parents of Sela, Max, and Solomon, who fill their lives with so much love.

You can contact her via email at jocee@lavoice.org

Sarah Jawaid

Special Projects Director

Sarah Jawaid is an organizer and certified leadership coach that has been with LA Voice for 5 years.

She previously worked on criminal justice reform issues, particularly with black and latino Muslims in South Los Angeles.

Janice Johannsen

Development Manager

Janice is responsible for managing the day-to-day functions of the Development Team as well as providing fundraising strategies to increase and sustain funding. In this newly created position, she will be responsible for grants management, individual donor campaigns and events, and donor stewardship and cultivation.

Janice made a career transition from being a corporate trademark paralegal to fundraising when she realized that she is most passionate about work that transforms lives and creates opportunities. Her first introduction to nonprofit work was when she started fundraising efforts to send children-in-need to school in the Philippines. She has also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Step Up Savannah (Georgia) and has worked at other nonprofits such as Advancement Project California and Southern California Public Radio.

Janice is a proud wife and mother to two adorable rescue dogs. She loves to travel and her dream destinations tend to be the more exotic. When she can’t go anywhere, she experiments with her Instant Pot.

Velvet Magallon Nestlehutt

Operations Director

Velvet first joined our team as our first full-time Operations Assistant in September 2015.

Velvet holds a Masters of Science in Nonprofit Management from the Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles.

Her prior experience includes an administrative internship with New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and a position as Administrative Support Assistant at California State University Los Angeles.

Angel Mortel

Lead Community Organizer

Angel Mortel is an organizer with LA Voice.  She spent over 15 years in Brazil, serving most of those years with Maryknoll Lay Missioners.  Her ministry involved organizing community health volunteers, coordinating an income generation project for women and fundraising for the national prison ministry of the Brazilian Catholic Church.  Her passion for social justice grew out of her experiences in Brazil, but also from living and teaching in inner city Washington, DC and working with Bread for the World and Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. Most recently, she managed the faith community outreach program at Brave New Films.  Angel has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Third World Studies from Oberlin College and a Master of Arts in International Development from American University.

Pastor John Oh

Project Manager for Faith in Housing

Pastor John Oh is the Project Manager for Faith in Housing. His role is to facilitate the building of affordable and permanent supportive housing on congregation and denomination-owned land. He comes from over fifteen years of parish ministry in LA County and has “the soul of an organizer” stemming from his Wesleyan roots of social justice and spirituality. He is passionate about reducing environmental impact and designing greener buildings as a LEED AP with a background in construction engineering and management. John has a Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Yesenia Padilla

Communications Director

Yesenia Padilla joined LA Voice as communications manager in May of 2022, and currently serves as its communications director. Yesenia has over a decade of experience in communications strategy and narrative development for movement-building organizations. 

Yesenia came into movement work as an organizer, working with organizations such as ACLU, the San Diego Labor Council, and the SAFE California Campaign, experiences which primed them for developing messaging and strategy that truly represents programmatic work. As a communicator, Yesenia has cultivated and managed communications programs for Alliance San Diego, the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, the Southern Border Communities coalition, and Lawyers for Good Government. 

Yesenia is also a published freelance journalist, writing for Complex Magazine, Thought Catalog, and Shades of Noir, and is credited with being the first journalist to write about gender-neutral terms in Latinidad for a national publication. 

Yesenia’s poetry has been published in Queen Mob’s Teahouse and The Angel City Review. They were one of the curators of San Diego’s largest experimental poetry series, Now Poetry, and a founding editor of Lumen Magazine

In their free time, Yesenia continues to organize various projects, from helping expand a Narcan distribution in partnership with the San Diego Department of Public Health, conducting desert search and rescue operations as part of Aguilas del Desierto, to building a mutual aid network for grocery runs in response to COVID-19. Currently, Yesenia is currently the coordinator of the DSA-LA Mutual Aid Committee. 

A fronteriste for life, Yesenia enjoys spending time with their family and friends in the borderlands deserts, hot yoga, and cooking. 

Yesenia received their Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing with a minor in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.

Nona Pittman

Community Organizer

Nona joined the LA Voice team as a community organizer in June 2023. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University with degrees in African American Studies and Communications Studies and a minor in Gender Studies. She participated in on-campus action at LMU, where she organized for the facilities management workers to receive a minimum wage of $21 an hour.

Nona is passionate about education and justice led by faith. She desires to see a world that uplifts the human dignity in all people. In her free time, she loves to learn, read, write, and listen to podcasts.

Alyssa Perez

Civic Engagement Organizer

Alyssa joined LA Voice staff in July 2022 as our Civic Engagement Organizer, and has been a leader with LA CORE for several years, a racial equity organizing initiative in the Jesuits West province.After her graduation from Loyola Marymount University (LMU), she worked for two years at St. Martin de Porres Elementary School in Belize City with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Alyssa also holds a Masters degree in Nonprofit Management from the University of San Francisco. These experiences were the foundation of her passion for community organizing, and her strong commitment to living a faith that does justice.In her previous role, she oversaw advocacy programs and alternative break immersions, and she continues to serve as a Resident Minister in the LMU community.Alyssa loves spending time with her family (especially her two baby nieces!), reading, traveling, and has a growing love of writing poetry.

Beatriz Sandoval

Community Organizer

Beatriz is a community organizer with LA Voice. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Chihuahua, Mexico, and a High School Diploma here in the United States. After graduating with her BA in Physical Education, she began working with youth people to interrupt the cycle of poverty in her town, organizing them and fighting for parks and spaces where they could play, do sports, and be trained for jobs.

Beatriz has over twenty years of experience in community-based outreach and organizing. As a physical education teacher in an elementary school, she organized her students’ mothers to reclaim the after-school building to exercise and play sports, and collaborated with local Institutions to develop programs to serve people with diabetes and High blood pressure. 

Beatriz has more than fifteen years of teaching experience, and more than ten years of experience in small business management. She is familiar with volunteer recruitment and training, and has fought for civil rights; working as a strategist in campaigns such as Proposition 30, 47,57, 10, and 20, and Bills such as AB 60 and SB 54. Beatriz is a Spanish speaker and speaks English as my second language. Beatriz has received recognition for community outreach from congregational, state, and local members. She is passionate about empowering, educating, and connecting individuals to information and resources. She is reliable, honest, hardworking, and always willing to learn more and improve.

Aliyah Shaikh

Community Organizer

Aliyah is a Community Organizer at LA Voice

Andrea Vocos

Community Organizer

Andrea is an organizer with LA Voice. Born and raised in Orange County, she began organizing in high school, working on climate change, poverty, and LGBTQI+ campaigns. She credits growing up in a low-income immigrant household with her early political awakening.

Andrea has a B.A. in journalism from The New School. She was previously an organizing committee member, Spanish language outreach coordinator, and Events Committee co-leader for the North Brooklyn chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Prior to that, she organized with Oxfam for almost a decade in both California and New York.

Joe Strummer once said, “Without people, you’re nothing,” which Andrea follows as her personal ethos. Another world is possible.