Frank J. Omowale Satterwhite is an organizational and community change consultant who completed a BA degree at Howard University, a MS degree at Southern Illinois University and a Ph.D degree at Stanford University. Omowale is the President of Leadership Incorporated, a nonprofit consulting firm focused on building capacity for social change in communities of color. He previously served as President, National Community Development Institute; Acting Superintendent, Ravenswood City School District; and Associate Dean and Chairman of African American Studies, Oberlin College. During his career as a nonprofit management consultant, Omowale has assisted more than 1,200 organizations in 120+ cities and 40+ states. From 1979 to 1983, Omowale was the lead organizer and campaign manager for the movement to incorporate the City of East Palo Alto.
Sharifa Wilson works as a non-profit consultant focusing on program development, advocacy, community change & engagement. She holds a B.S. from New York University and began working with children of East Palo Alto, as a teacher in the Ravenswood district. Her belief in civic engagement led her to serve on the EPA Human Services Commission, chair the Personnel Commission and co-chair the Rent Stabilization Task Force. Elected to the East Palo Alto City Council, she served for 12 years; three as Mayor and five as Vice Mayor and Chair of the Redevelopment Agency. In 2020, she ended her 12-year tenure on the Ravenswood City School District Board of Trustees. A powerful community activist, Sharifa has worked with non -profit youth serving organizations, such as College Track, One EPA, and Live In Peace and serves on the board of the EPA Family YMCA & EPA Tee-Ball/Pitching Machine.
Sisilia Afungia is from a little village named Tatakamotonga in the Tonga Islands. She entered the United States in 1983. She moved to East Palo Alto in September 1985 when her parents bought their first house, where she remains today with her family. She attended Kavanaugh Middle school (Cesar Chavez now) and Woodside High School. Sisilia attended JobTrain where she received an Office Occupational Process certificate. She also obtained an Air Travel School certificate from ROP. She has been a nurse’s aide for more than 20 years. Since Covid-19, she has been a caregiver to her parents. Now, with the East Palo Alto Archive Project, she is helping, learning from and honoring the community leaders and people of East Palo Alto.
Ruben Avelar was raised in East Palo Alto; attended Kavanaugh and Green Oaks and was bused to Carlmont High School. He attended Cal State Northridge for two years and then graduated from UC Berkeley with a B/A in Political Science. After graduating, he worked as a substitute teacher for the Ravenswood School District. He taught Mexican folkloric dance and founded the “Raices de Mexico” dance troupe in East Palo Alto. The troupe performed throughout the Bay Area for over 30 years. After East Palo Alto’s incorporation, Ruben participated on the City’s Arts Commission. He worked with at risk youth and high school dropouts at Bob Hoover’s Youth Development Center. During East Palo Alto’s Redevelopment era, Ruben was a relocation sub-contractor helping tenants qualify to receive relocation benefits. Ruben is currently the Director of Career Center Services for Job Train, where he has worked for 26 years.
Jonathan Bryant was born and raised in East Palo Alto. His schooling included Eastside College Preparatory High School, and a degree from Notre Dame de Namur University, majoring in Sociology. After college, he worked with the unhoused populations in San Mateo County and served as co-chair of the East Palo Alto Measure C committee. He landed two internships at Singularity University in Mountain View, a tech university educating executives and entrepreneurs from across the globe, working as a media manager, videographer, and sound guy. Jonathan then started at StreetCode Academy as program manager and worked up to lead instructor when he launched Junior StreetCode. At the same time, he helped Belle Haven launch their Makerspace as a Tinkerer for four years. Later, he taught at Stanford University at their Makery lab. After Stanford, he founded Pass the Torch and Edtech Tours, which was featured in the New York Times.
Kalamu Chaché came to live in East Palo Alto with her family from Brooklyn, New York in the mid-1960s. After graduating from high school and pursing a college education at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon and Nairobi College in East Palo Alto, she has been serving the East Palo Alto and the Belle Haven area of Menlo Park communities in numerous professional, executive, administrative, advocacy, and artistic areas of employment and volunteer services. A strong advocate and practitioner of activism and volunteerism, specializing in the areas of youth development and the Literary/Music/Performing Arts, Chaché has worked on numerous causes and programs in the East Palo Alto community and greater San Francisco Bay Area. Today, she is a leading Cultural Arts Activist/Advocate/Initiator/Educator/
Curator/Promoter/Author/Recording & Performing Artist for a number of programs, causes and events, as well as serving as the East Palo Alto Poet Laureate since 1983.
Sydney Jackson is a college student from Philadelphia, PA, who relocated to San Mateo in 2016. She is a junior at San Francisco State University, majoring in history and minoring in Africana studies. Even though she has never lived in East Palo Alto, everyone who has made the Bay Area feel like home to her lives there. She has spent a lot of time in EPA and it is where she has family and support. As a history major and huge EPA supporter, this project is very important to her and she is very excited to be working on it.
Juan Mendez grew up in East Palo Alto, where he attended Ravenswood District Schools before graduating from Phoenix Academy. He is a proud, first-generation college graduate from the University of California Berkeley, with a BS in Legal Studies and a minor in Public Policy. Mendez returned to East Palo Alto after graduating college and has demonstrated a significant commitment to his community by running for City Council and serving as a Planning Commissioner for the City of East Palo Alto. He decided to join the East Palo Alto Community Archive project because he understands the importance of preserving our history and the need to share our story for many generations to come. In his spare time, he mentors high school/college students, enjoys reading, trips to the beach and spending time with his family.
A resident of East Palo Alto since 1994, is the owner of Api Consulting, specializing in editing and records management. Previously, her career was in software development and marketing. She holds a BS from Purdue and an MS degree in Computer Science from USC. The archive project is right up her alley. Married to Duane Bay, a former East Palo Alto City Councilmember active in incorporation, she followed his example into community volunteering. Barbara has taken long-term board leadership roles in all of her non-profit work: Midpen Media Center Board President; EPA CAN DO; and a founding board member of OEPA, the East Palo Alto-Belle Haven Chamber of Commerce and the Ravenswood American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) program. She was appointed to the 2010 San Mateo County Charter Review Committee. Barbara has also participated in numerous local political campaigns, including co-chair of the 1997 Measure I campaign.
Meda Okelo was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. He studied at Makerere University (Uganda) and the University of Nairobi, majoring in French and Political Science. He taught middle and high school French. He studied Journalism at the University of Nairobi and worked briefly with the local media. In 1981, Meda attended Stanford University to pursue a master’s degree in Mass Communication Research. Intrigued by efforts to rename East Palo Alto “Nairobi,” he rented a house on Illinois Street with some friends. In 1985, Meda was hired as EPA’s Cultural and Human Services Coordinator. He ultimately served Director of Community Services until 2011 when he reconnected with journalism and published What’s What in Government in 2012 and What’s What in Non-profits in 2013. In 2014, Meda launched El Ravenswood, a monthly magazine showcasing people, organizations, places and events in East Palo Alto and Belle Haven in Menlo Park.
Dianne Otterby moved to East Palo Alto shortly after she was married in 1964 in order to help out at a teenage drop in house. This started a life-long commitment to the community. She and her husband Lon served on the Incorporation committee in the 80’s. Dianne later taught in Ravenswood School District for 20 years. She served as treasurer of EPAK from its inception in 1994 until retiring in 2006. Since retiring, she has served hot meals out of St. Francis of Assisi Church, volunteered in the EHP warehouse and tutored in after-school and summer programs. Dianne has three children, who have stuffed many an envelope and passed out many a flyer, and four grandchildren
Tonga Victoria is a first-generation Tongan-American, born and raised in East Palo Alto. After graduating from University of Redlands with a Degree in Race and Ethnic Studies, she jumpstarted her community organizing career by running for East Palo Alto’s City Council. Despite losing, Tonga Victoria went on to serve EPA youth at several non-profits including One East Palo Alto, College Track and Live In Peace. Then, in Los Angeles, she served as the Leadership Development Manager for Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, a national non-profit promoting social justice. In 2019, in Tonga, Tonga Victoria was the Communications Director for Tonga Trust (MORDI). After a year, she returned to be Project Manager for the Get Involved Foundation, Behavior Analyst for Palo Alto Unified School District, and Housing Organizer for Youth United for Community Action while publishing her first novel, YA Urban Fiction book Hyphen American (Book 1 of a trilogy).
Want to provide ideas or get involved? Connect with our team!