Read Gladys’ bio
Contact Gladys at: glimon [at] caleja.org
Read Melissa’s bio
Contact Melissa at: melissa [at] caleja.org
Finance and Administration Director
Read Yadira’s bio
Contact Yadira at: yadira [at] caleja.org
Read Raquel’s bio
Contact Raquel at raquel [at] caleja.org
Green Zones Program Manager
Read Tiffany’s bio
Contact Tiffany at: tiffany [at] caleja.org
Climate Justice Program Manager
Read Neena’s bio
Contact Neena at: neena [at] caleja.org
Climate and Air Counsel
Read Roger’s bio
Contact Roger at: Roger [at] caleja.org
Civic Engagement Program Manager
Read Mabel’s bio
Contact Mabel at: mabel [at] caleja.org
Cassie Gardener Manjikian
Special Projects Manager
Read Cassie’s bio
Contact Cassie at: cassie [at] caleja.org
Read Brittny’s bio
Contact Brittny at: brittny [at] caleja.org
Read Denise’s bio
Contact Denise: denise [at] caleja.org
Read Isa’s bio
Contact Isa at: isa [at] caleja.org
Read Alexis’ bio
Contact Alexis at: alexis [at] caleja.org
Policy & Political Program Associate
Read Leonela’s bio
Contact Leonela at: leonela [at] caleja.org
Read Valeria’s bio
Contact Valeria at: valeria [at] caleja.org
Gladys Limon, Executive Director (she/her)
Gladys has over 15 years of experience in legal, policy, and community-based work for environmental justice and civil rights. Having joined CEJA in 2017 as its first Executive Director, Gladys brings a deep connection to CEJA’s members and partners.
Gladys has extensive experience working on behalf of immigrant communities, including as staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF), where she litigated cases concerning anti-immigrant laws, racial discrimination, and the rights of low-income immigrant workers.
Most recently, Gladys worked as an attorney at Communities for a Better Environment, one of CEJA’s core members, on successful high stakes environmental justice matters including the shut down of Exide’s battery smelter that for decades polluted surrounding communities with dangerous levels of lead and arsenic, resulting in one of the most serious environmental catastrophes in California.
Gladys also helped lead the work of the Standing Together Against Neighborhood Drilling (STAND-LA) coalition alongside our partners at PSR-LA. Gladys brought an unprecedented environmental and civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Youth for Environmental Justice against the City of Los Angeles challenging the rubber-stamping of oil drilling projects in neighborhoods, resulting in the City’s issuance of a robust administrative guidance policy that provides environmental and anti-discrimination protections. Gladys was also a lead attorney representing CEJA in the fight to defeat the Puente Power Plant in Oxnard, a fourth dirty fossil fuel plant proposed in a disproportionately impacted community.
Contact Gladys at: glimon [at] caleja.org
Melissa White, Development Director (she/her)
I am CEJA’s Development Director. In the 1990s I taught English in Oakland, San Francisco and Japan, where my youngest student was four and my oldest was 84. In the late 1990s I became an organizer within the SF Bay Area and national LGBTQ community. These experiences led me into fundraising. I have raised money for immigrant and refugee services, breast cancer advocacy, LGBTQ behavioral health services, LGBTQ youth development, youth organizing around educational justice, and environmental health and justice.
My interest in environmental health and justice is personal and political. My mother and all of her siblings died of cancer after growing up in the 1930’s in a small Central Florida town very close to citrus agriculture and industrial facilities. I don’t know of any family cancer in the generations before or after theirs. I always wondered if exposure to pesticides or other toxic substances in their youth played a role in their deaths. This experience caused me to pay close attention to health issues, and I learned to see through an environmental health and justice lens while working at Breast Cancer Action.
Before joining CEJA, I fundraised for 5 years for a CEJA member organization – Communities for a Better Environment. As CEJA’s Development Director, I work to strengthen the culture of giving and receiving within and around CEJA.
In my free time, I like to wear high-visibility gear and ride my bicycle in LA. I also meditate, do yoga, and read.
Contact Melissa at: melissa [at] caleja.org
Yadira Hernandez, Finance and Administration Director (she/her)
She ensures that CEJA has operational controls, financial administrative and reporting procedures, financial systems and human capital in place to ensure long-term sustainability, operating efficiency, and build capacity. Yadira is constantly challenging herself to find ways to translate, narrate and socialize finance as an organizing tool. She searches for opportunities to advance organizational culture through innovation, with a passion for building successful and motivated teams that collaborate and contribute to a culture of interconnection.
With over 10 years’ experience in nonprofit management, Yadira brings a broad range of experience in accounting, finance, and human resources to her work at CEJA. Serving in a wide range of leadership and management positions, she has worked in various nonprofit fields including immigrant rights, fiscal sponsorship, affordable housing and environmental justice. In addition to her finance career she has served on multiple boards of directors for various nonprofits organizations.
Yadira was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and raised in Northern California. When she is not busy working in an Excel document, she enjoys spending time with her two children and husband.
Contact Yadira: yadira [at] caleja.org
Raquel Mason, Policy Manager (she/her)
Most recently, Raquel worked in the State Assembly where she worked on a variety of bills and issue areas including natural resources. As an Assembly Fellow, Raquel had the opportunity to staff AB 1232 (Gloria), a CEJA priority bill that sought to combat any displacement impacts associated with the Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP). Before transitioning to Sacramento, Raquel worked at CEJA member organization, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA).
With PSR-LA, Raquel she supported the Air and Climate Justice work and the Toxics program. In this work, she coordinated the Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE) coalition by supporting its membership through a re-grounding process and affirming the coalition’s commitment to community-led work.
In 2017, Raquel participated in the Dr. Beatriz María Solís Policy Institute where she and the team of CEJA advocates learned the state policy process first-hand and passed AB 523 (Reyes). In her free time, she enjoys reading, dancing, and indulging her sweet tooth.
Contact Raquel: raquel [at] caleja.org
Tiffany Eng, Green Zones Program Manager (she/they)
As the Green Zones Program Manager, I work with CEJA to lift up the amazing work that groups are doing across the state to transform polluted and neglected areas into healthy, resilient, and vibrant neighborhoods. I first joined CEJA in 2016 because I love the fact that Green Zones are proactive, people-led plans that holistically combat environmental injustices while providing all the resources and opportunities that our communities need.
I see environmental justice as an important lens through which we can analyze the world around us and find solutions. While my hometown of Oakland, CA informed my politics and fueled my love for these neighborhoods, it also taught me hard lessons about institutional power and marginalization. Yet I love the fact that our people continue to shine, create their own visions of home, and organize to win.
In 2015, I completed my Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley where I focused on environmental planning and policy, water justice, and equitable economic development. Before going back to school, I served as a Youth Organizer, a Co-Director, and a Policy Director for over nine years with AYPAL: Building API Community Power. I have also worked with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), the Women’s Policy Institute (WPI), Community Youth Center (CYCSF), and Community Bridges Beacon in the Mission District.
When I’m not working on Green Zones legislation or coalition priorities, you can find me backpacking through the Sierras and promoting socially inclusive green spaces, reading people’s tarot cards, watching the Golden State Warriors win more games than ever before, and continuing my lifelong art and photography practices.
Contact Tiffany: tiffany [at] caleja.org
Neena Mohan, Climate Justice Program Manager (they/her)
As CEJA’s Climate Justice Program Manager, my goal is to ensure the needs and experiences of environmental justice communities are uplifted and are used to shape California’s climate policies. My hope is that we can lead the way in creating an equitable and just transition that addresses historical and current harms to marginalized communities, while also mitigating the impacts of climate change on our planet and its inhabitants.
My perspective is in part shaped by my experiences growing up in a South Asian immigrant family in a small town in the High Desert/Inland Valley of Southern California (the ancestral home and unceded territory of the Yuhaviatam / Maarenga’yam people). As a graduate of UC Berkeley with Bachelors of Science degrees in Environmental Sciences and in Conservation & Resources Studies, and a minor in LGBT Studies, I am also shaped by student organizing experiences in queer/trans people of color and environmental justice spaces. I was also the Conference Manager for the first ever Student of Color Environmental Conference at the university level in the state. During my undergraduate years, I had the opportunity to work with Earthjustice and National Parks Conservation Association to uplift diverse voices and share critical narratives. I got exposure to the state policy world as a Summer Associate on the Environmental Equity team at the Greenlining Institute, and was also a fellow at Alameda County’s Office of Sustainability, where I worked on climate adaptation, resilience, and equity issues in local government. In my free time, I like to create and give workshops on environmental and climate justice issues, and have done so for various conferences, retreats, and trainings.
When I’m not advocating for climate justice, you can find me learning electric bass guitar, supporting other social justice organizations, writing poetry, traveling in nature, and meditating in the sun. I also enjoy exploring various decolonial, ecological, feminist and queer of color theories, and am on a journey of (re)discovering and (re)defining my relationship to land, institutions, other beings, and myself. My guiding light is the interconnectedness of all things, and I hope my efforts in this work help bring about more healing, freedom, and love in these connections.
Contact Neena at: neena [at] caleja.org
Roger Lin, Climate and Air Counsel (he/him)
As Climate and Air Counsel, Roger will lead and implement CEJA’s alliance-wide engagement with the Climate Scoping Plan of the California Air Resources Board and related issues. Roger has practiced law in the public interest since 2006. He is a former Staff Attorney of CEJA member Communities for a Better Environment and Senior Attorney at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment. His advocacy is centered on community organizing and collaboration with other experts to further the environmental justice movement.
Roger helped lead successful local and statewide campaigns to limit the extraction, refining and transportation of more polluting and hazardous crude oil feedstocks in California. As part of that work, Roger has focused on state climate policy. He is also an advocate for the greater deployment of renewable and affordable energy resources in environmental justice communities, and secured significant investment in San Joaquin Valley communities previously redlined out of energy infrastructure.
Roger most recently spent five years developing and instructing the environmental justice program at UC Berkeley School of Law, first as an Adjunct Professor of Law and then Deputy Director of the Environmental Law Clinic. He has extensive experience in environmental and civil rights litigation and is a member of California’s Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group, which advises the California Public Utilities and Energy Commissions. Roger is also a co-author of Environmental Justice: Law, Policy and Regulation, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Alameda County Homeless Action Center.
Mabel Tsang, Civic Engagement Program Manager (she/they)
As Civic Engagement Program Manager for CEJA and CEJA Action, I work to build the political power, self-governance and self-determination of EJ communities and communities of color burdened by health, economic and environmental impacts. I build the bridges of accountability between California’s elected leaders and voters, manage ballot measure campaigns, and expand democratic participation for environmental, racial and social justice by centering and including members of our community who have been historically barred from voting. I’ve successfully led the campaign to beat down Proposition 70 which preserved critical public funds to fight climate change.
I became an organizer because of my mom. I found myself in the social justice movement in hopes of making the world a better place for her and others like her. Despite health problems ranging from heart disease to asthma my mother worked as a waitress and a care-taker which brought me into organizing at United Food and Commercial Workers alongside Walmart workers with Organization United for Respect at Walmart, for retail workers’ rights, human dignity and respect in one of the largest commercial global polluters. This brought me to work for San Francisco Rising, an alliance of six Asian, Black, Latinx grassroots working-class immigrant, youth, and people of color base-building organizations across San Francisco, to build the political power to elect progressive candidates and pass bold ballot measures for necessary resources and changes in our community when elected officials would not or could not. I brought my experiences to Asian Pacific Environmental Network a member of CEJA to lead a campaign to contact 30,000 voters, the largest Asian Pacific American direct voter contact efforts in California. I carry these invaluable lessons forward into CEJA’s Civic Engagement and Electoral programs to build the infrastructure of political power and decision making for the future we are building today.
Outside of electoral politics and organizing, I am a current fellow in LeaderSpring’s LEADStrong women of color cohort. I can be found meditating and teaching yoga, taking trips to some of the most beautiful places, and writing books for children of color so they can see themselves in this world.
Contact Mabel: mabel [at] caleja.org
Cassie Gardener Manjikian, Special Projects Manager (she/they)
As CEJA’s Special Projects Manager, I work to raise our profile and impact by project-managing our 2 annual publications (the EJ Scorecard and EJ Agency Assessment) and 4 annual events (the Congreso, Spring Lobby Day, CEJA-wide retreat and Staff Retreat).My environmental and social justice career began in 2006 when I graduated from UC Davis with a major in Sociology and minor in Women’s Studies. I joined the Sierra Club in Washington DC to advance global sexual and reproductive health and rights and sustainable, healthy communities, while partnering with the growing international youth climate movement. In 2010, I left to intern with two of these projects in Ethiopia and Mexico, during a solo backpacking trip to 6 continents. There I witnessed first-hand the vast, urgent need for locally-based climate justice solutions. I returned to the U.S. invigorated with a new life mission – to advance policies and programs that improve community health and climate resilience.
I joined the Liberty Hill Foundation while earning a Master of Public Health degree at UCLA, and put my ideals into action – advancing the Clean Up Green Up campaign to create Green Zones in three LA environmental justice communities. After graduation I became a half-time Research and Policy Analyst at East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, to develop a similar Green Zones Campaign in the city of Commerce. In 2013 I moved to Sacramento and managed community asthma education programs at Breathe-California, before returning to LA and joining CEJA in 2016.
In my free time I enjoy running, hiking, cooking, traveling, speaking Spanish, learning Armenian, and spending time with my amazing husband Garo and 3 sons Razmig, Avo and Zaven.
Contact Cassie: cassie [at] caleja.org
Brittny Anya, Operations Manager (she/her)
I manage the operations for the amazing work CEJA does across the state. I enjoy managing operational systems because it is the engine that keeps CEJA running. I like exploring various productivity tools and to-do lists to maximize and increase our productivity. I’m passionate about building resilient communities that are most impacted by systematic injustices that plague our world. I came to CEJA because the folks at this organization work tirelessly to promote environmental awareness to improve the health of our communities.
Before joining CEJA, I did some community organizing around social justice during my time at Fresno State with Black Students United and through my sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. Additionally, I’ve spent a lot of time working in the social work field with youth and families providing direct services, program management, and administrative support.
During my free time, I can be found listening to music. I love music especially anything from 90’s R&B, Hip Hop, and Jazz. Music keeps me centered and energized to get through the days whether I’m feeling up or down. When the weather permits, I like to spend time at the beach on the sand listening and watching the waves because it’s so calming.
To sum up my life, I would say that I am a continuous learner with a desire to continually gain new knowledge for self-improvement and make positive impacts on the world.
Contact Brittny: brittny [at] caleja.org
Denise Forrest, Development Manager (she/her)
As Development Manager, I manage and support diverse aspects of CEJA’s development work while raising CEJA’s annual budget. I am responsible for the day-to-day management of the grants program, including grant tracking, reporting, and drafting. I play a key role in developing CEJA’s individual donor fundraising program.
I come to this work with a sincere belief in the power of people and devote myself to vocations that uplift, connect, and empower communities to create real, positive change. In the ongoing human project to liberate all peoples, my contribution has largely been in grassroots EJ, food justice, and LGBTQ+ community organizing.
I am a recent transplant from Philadelphia where I earned Master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in Environmental Policy and Nonprofit Leadership. In my spare time I enjoy hanging out with my brilliant partner Sean, reading everything from philosophy to pulp romance, playing D&D and video games, and snuggling my roommate’s dog, Starla.
Contact Denise: denise [at] caleja.org
Isa Flores-Jones, Communications Manager (she/her)
As Communications Manager, Isa works with CEJA members and partners to amplify local and regional struggles through state-wide media campaigns.
Originally from Sacramento, Isa completed her B.A in History and Literature from Harvard College, where her work with the fossil fuel divestment campaign brought her into coordination with local community-controlled cooperative finance such as the Ujima Project. As a 350.org Climate Justice Fellow Isa joined a cohort of youth organizing fellows to develop their strategic organizing skills. From fending off InfoWars reporters to knocking doors to conducting training webinars for hundreds of new organizers, Isa is committed to the practice and processes of equitable, just, and transformative storytelling.
Isa developed her communications and research skills through time contributing to national press outreach with the Sunrise Movement Press team and as a research fellow to Latin American corporate accountability watchdog PODER. She believes in the power of community-controlled resources and the abolition of carceral systems. In her free time she enjoys cooking for friends and writing short fiction.
Contact Isa: isa [at] caleja.org
Alexis Sutterman, Program Associate (she/they)
As Program Associate, Alexis supports the work of CEJA’s programmatic committees. She works most in CEJA’s Energy Equity committee, supporting a Just Energy Transition to a system that is reliable, healthy, affordable, just, and powered by 100% clean and renewable energy. Alexis also works as a coordinator between CEJA’s committees on integrative work that models the Just Transition and Just Recovery frameworks. She is honored to be a part of a movement aiming to stop the bad, build the new, and change the rules.
Before arriving at CEJA as a fellow in August of 2019, Alexis was studying political science and broadcast journalism at Chapman University. During this time, she was active in local political advocacy and civic engagement through her roles as president of Chapman University Young Democrats and fellow for NextGen California. On campus, she registered students to vote, led workshops, volunteered on campaigns, and organized campus-wide events including a “Rock the Vote” concert and a walkout against gun violence.
In addition to local advocacy, Alexis is extremely interested in pursuing systems change world-wide and has conducted undergraduate research on international issues at Chapman’s Earl Babbie Research Center. She supported two professors on their research on development assistance in South Sudan and indigenous environmental campaigns in Colombia. Alexis has also travelled to Israel/Palestine as a member of the Olive Tree Initiative organization to practice international conflict analysis and resolution. Inspired by this trip, she wrote her senior thesis on the humanitarian and political crisis in Gaza, and used decolonial frameworks to envision a just resolution.
Alexis is committed to the Zapatista belief that otro mundo es posible. She is motivated by decolonial scholarship, activism, and leadership emerging from within environmental justice communities across California and the world. And she is dedicated to co-creating a world where every person can thrive. This means restoring wilderness and biodiversity, repairing and deepening relationships between ourselves and the earth, and exploring our multitudes. In her free time, Alexis enjoys reading too much into the subtext of political and existential memes. She also loves journaling, hiking, and watching movies.
Leonela Leon, Policy and Political Program Associate (she/her)
As CEJA’s Policy and Political Associate, Leonela supports both CEJA’s civic engagement efforts to build the political power of EJ communities and CEJA’s legislative advocacy to fight for critical EJ policies at the state level. Leonela graduated from UC Berkeley in 2021 with a B.S. in Society
& Environment and minors in Public Policy and Journalism. She studied the intersection of race, class, gender and the environment, as well as public policy and media as tools for achieving justice. Outside of the classroom, she co-led the ASUC Department of Unsustainable Partnerships’ Pour Out Pepsi campaign to pressure UCB to end its partnership with PepsiCo. She was also a member of the Students of Color Environmental Collective (SCEC) where she was a lead organizer of SCECon21, a national conference that re-centers the environmental narrative around justice and BIPOC voices. Leonela is a proud recipient of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability’s 2021 Sustainability Award for her student organizing and commitment to growing the space for BIPOC environmentalists on campus.
In her free time, you can find her thrift shopping or spending time with her many pets.
Valeria Paredes, Development Associate (she/her)
Valeria received a dual bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Economics and spent much of her undergraduate career working for student retention initiatives such as the American Indian Resource Center and the Chicanx/Latinx Resource Center with the goal to foster community among first generation students of color.
She coordinated the People of Color Sustainability Collective where she contributed to grant proposals, presented to UC administrators about the goals of the collective and engaged students, faculty and community members in programming. PoC
SC designed educational workshops and facilitated reflective spaces to center BIPOC voices, explore environmental justice topics in the U.S. and global South, and highlight resilience in communities that challenged dominant narratives of sustainability.
She had the opportunity to take service-learning trips to cities such as Seattle, WA and New Orleans, LA to learn about local organizing efforts to combat displacement, food insecurity and economic inequality. With a passion for environmental economics and policy, Valeria supported and encouraged peers to think through resource management and city planning challenges.
Most recently, Valeria was a food and agriculture fellow at Friends of the Earth where she co-authored a bee-friendly retailer scorecard and toxicity analysis on conventional pesticides to promote pollinator and frontline worker health in our food system. She recently found a work home at CEJA as the new Development Associate and is excited to contribute to the growing, statewide EJ movement.
Valeria grew up in Southeast LA county and enjoys drinking coffee and tea, hiking, going to the swapmeet and spending time with her younger siblings, David and Victoria. She is always interested in learning about critical race and ethnic studies, food sovereignty and reproductive justice as well, which are all connected to environmental justice!