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Our Pioneers in Justice advocate for systems change in gender equality, climate change, criminal justice, LGBTQ+ rights, racial equity, immigrant rights and gun violence.


Immigration Policy Advisor
National Center for Lesbian Rights
2010 Pioneers in Justice Class

Arcelia Hurtado has been a lifelong activist for civil rights. Currently, she is an associate attorney at Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood and serves as immigration policy advisor at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving LGBT equality through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education.

Previously, she served as NCLR’s deputy director and as trial and appellate lawyer representing adults and children in the criminal justice system as well as women on death row. She also served as executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, a national women’s rights organization, and founded and codirects the Breaking Down the Barriers/ Let Her Work Project, which assists formerly incarcerated women reentering the workforce.

Hurtado has taught at various law schools, mentored students pursuing public interest legal careers, and is an active board member of various professional, legal services, philanthropic, and community-based organizations. She has also served on San Francisco’s Board of Appeals and was named a “Bay Area Changemaker” by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2012.


Executive Director
Transgender Law Center
2015 Pioneers in Justice Class

Kris Hayashi has been active in social, racial and economic justice organizing for over 20 years. Kris served as the Executive Director of the Audre Lorde Project, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color organizing center based in New York City for ten years. Previously he served as a trainer and organizer at Western States Center in Portland, Oregon. He also served as Executive Director of Youth United for Community Action.

Kris became Executive Director at Transgender Law Center, one of the largest organizations in the country advancing the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people, in February 2015. Prior to that, he had served over a year in the role of Deputy Director at the organization.


International Public Interest Initiatives,
Stanford Law's Levin Center
2010 Pioneers in Justice Class

Titi Liu is the director of international public interest initiatives at Stanford Law School’s Levin Center, where she develops and implements programs that support students who are pursuing a career path in international public interest lawyering and serves as a resource for leading practitioners in the field, with a focus on transitional societies. Liu has a long career advancing social justice issues both domestically and internationally.

She was most recently the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. Prior to that, she was the law and rights program officer for the Ford Foundation in Beijing, China, and a State Department and USAID consultant. She has also served as the Garvey Schubert Barer visiting professor in Asian law at the University of Washington, where she studied the role of public interest litigation in social movements in Asia, and has published extensively in the US and China on the relationship between litigation and social change.


Executive Director
2015 Pioneers in Justice Class

Pastor Michael McBride (known as “Pastor Mike”) is a native of San Francisco and has been active in ministry for over 20 years. A graduate of Duke University’s Divinity School, with a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Ethics and Public Policy, Pastor McBride founded The Way Christian Center in West Berkeley, where he presently serves as the Lead Pastor.

In March 2012, he became the Director for the Lifelines to Healing/LIVE FREE Campaign with the PICO National Network, a campaign led thousands of faith leaders and faith congregations throughout the United States committed to addressing gun violence and mass criminalization of people of color.

In 2013, Pastor McBride was selected as the #9 Top Clergy Leader to Watch in the US by the Center for American Progress. In 2016, he was appointed as an Advisor on President Obama’s Faith Based Advisory Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He is a nationally recognized trainer, activist and speaker who provides commentary with MSNBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera, NPR, NY Times, Huffington Post and many other programming and publications for issues related to faith and racial justice.


Executive Director
Causa Justa :: Justa Cause
2015 Pioneers in Justice Class

Vanessa Moses is the Executive Director of Causa Justa :: Justa Cause. She was previously Co-Director of Programs at CJJC for 12 years. Vanessa has a long track record of building the power & leadership of working-class communities. She trained as an organizer at the National School for Strategic Organizing with the Labor/Community Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union in Los Angeles.

Vanessa has served as co-chair of San Francisco Rising, and in 2016 Vanessa’s leadership led to the formation of Bay Rising, a regional alliance of community-led organizations working to address the crisis of inequality throughout the Bay Area and statewide. Vanessa was also one of the co-creators of Bay Resistance, a multi-sector rapid response network of over 50 organizations.


Executive Director
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
2015 Pioneers in Justice Class

Zachary Norris is the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and a former director of our Books Not Bars campaign. Prior to rejoining the organization, Zachary co-founded and co-directed Justice for Families, a national alliance of family-driven organizations working to end our nation’s youth incarceration epidemic.

During the seven years he led the campaign, Books Not Bars built California’s first statewide network for families of incarcerated youth, led the effort to close five youth prisons in the state, passed legislation to enable families to stay in contact with their loved ones, and defeated Prop 6-a destructive and ineffective criminal justice ballot measure.

In addition to being a Harvard graduate and NYU-educated attorney, Zachary is also a graduate of the Labor Community Strategy Center’s National School for Strategic Organizing in Los Angeles, California and was a 2011 Soros Justice Fellow.


Executive Director
Chinese for Affirmative Action
2010 Pioneers in Justice Class

Vincent Pan is a progressive leader on issues of racial justice and social change. Whether reforming immigration laws or fixing the criminal justice system, promoting language access or increasing civic participation, he believes that social justice campaigns must be aggressive and visible while also connecting people with shared values such as compassion, inclusion, and equity.

To create a world that works for everyone, he advocates a holistic approach that simultaneously changes laws as well as hearts and minds. Prior to joining Chinese for Affirmative Action in 2006, Pan was a consultant to the William J. Clinton Foundation, where he helped start treatment programs for children living with HIV/AIDS in China.

Before that he cofounded and directed Heads Up, a nonprofit organization that runs after-school and summer programs for low-income children in Washington, DC. His work with Heads Up was profiled by The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other publications. He is a former winner of the Do Something Brick Award for community leadership and has been a fellow with the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University, the Echoing Green Foundation, and the Stride Rite Foundation.


Director, Equity & Social Justice
Northern California Grantmakers
2010 Pioneers in Justice Class

Chris Punongbayan has been involved in grassroots activism in the Asian American, immigrant worker, and LGBTQ communities for his entire career, and his vision of social justice is grounded in the realities of those communities. He currently serves as director of equity and social justice at Northern California Grantmakers, an organization that brings together foundations, nonprofits, government, and business to tackle the region’s most pressing social issues.

Previously, he served as executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, the nation’s first legal and civil rights organization serving low-income Asian Pacific American communities. During his tenure at ALC, the organization appeared twice before the Supreme Court of the United States. Prior to that, he worked as a Ford Foundation New Voices Fellow with Filipino Advocates for Justice and held positions at Positive Resource Center and Asian Americans for Equality.

A former vice-chair of the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission, Punongbayan is a member of the Community Advisory Panel of KQED and treasurer of Mobilize the Immigrant Vote Action Fund. He is also a certified yoga instructor and blogs regularly for The Huffington Post.


Leadership & Transition Coach
Hyeon-Ju Rho Coaching
2010 Pioneers in Justice Class

Hyeon-Ju Rho is a coach specializing in helping leaders develop the inner resources to lead with resilience, creativity, authenticity, and integrity, as well as to navigate the personal and professional complexities that come with a change in professional direction. Before finding her calling in this work, Rho served as executive director and then co-director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, where she presided over an organizational name change and affiliation with three other organizations, in effect quadrupling the reach of her team’s work.

A graduate of New York University Law School, Rho has also served as a trial attorney in the civil rights division of the US Department of Justice; practiced poverty law as a staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center in New York City; and spent six years in China consulting for the Ford Foundation and heading up the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law initiative.

She holds coaching credentials from the Coaches Training Institute and the International Coach Federation.


Executive Director
Mobilize the Immigrant Vote
2015 Pioneers in Justice Class

Aparna Shah has worked for social change and expanded democracy with immigrant and refugee low-income communities for over 22 years. Under her leadership, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote has organized statewide campaigns directly reaching 275,000+ immigrant and refugee voters of color, built the long-term infrastructure and capacity of grassroots immigrant and refugee organizations across the state to run electoral and issue campaigns and established a sister organization, the MIV Action Fund.

Prior to joining MIV in 2009, Aparna worked to advance the self-determination and reproductive justice of women, people of color, and queer communities and spent several years working to transform a public middle school into a vibrant youth and community center in San Francisco’s Mission District. Aparna sits on the Board of 18 Million Rising and holds a Master of Health Sciences degree from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.


Executive Director
American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California
2010 Pioneers in Justice Class

Abdi Soltani is a nationally recognized civil rights leader who has dedicated his adult life to social justice and equal treatment for all. His early work as an organizer helped change California from a state that passed some of the most regressive policies in the mid-90s to a state that is among the most progressive in our nation.

As executive director of the ACLU of Northern California since 2009, Soltani’s fight for civil liberties has been expansive and inclusive of racial, gender, and economic justice. He has deepened the ACLU’s partnerships with communities most directly impacted by injustice and disparities and expanded the organization’s presence into the Central Valley and the State Capitol, which has enabled the ACLU to defend and advance the civil liberties of all Californians and to mobilize our communities as a collective voice for fairness and equity.

Previously, he served as executive director at Californians for Justice, the Campaign for College Opportunity, and Parsa Community Foundation. He serves on the board of Public Advocates, a legal advocacy organization, and is a graduate of Stanford University.

Kimberly ThomasRapp

Executive Director (Former)
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR)
2010 Pioneers in Justice Class

Kimberly Thomas Rapp previously served as executive director at Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR), where she helped broaden the scope and relevance of the organization’s triple-barreled work as direct service providers, impact litigators, and advocates in the areas of racial, economic, and immigrant justice.

Before joining LCCR, she served as lead deputy counsel for the County of Santa Clara and as legal counsel to the Santa Clara County Office of Education and various school districts. Before her public service, Thomas Rapp was the director of law and public policy for the Equal Justice Society. Before and after law school, she worked in the private sector, conducting investigations and trainings on workplace discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual harassment, and issues of hours and wages. Throughout her career, Thomas Rapp has been motivated by her grandparents, who grew up picking cotton in Texas and encouraged her to take advantage of every opportunity that came her way, from undergraduate studies at Berkeley to Stanford Law School.


Akonadi Foundation
2010 Pioneers in Justice Class

Lateefah Simon is president of the Akonadi Foundation, a nationally recognized advocate for civil rights and racial justice. Previously, Simon served as director of the California’s Future Program at the Rosenberg Foundation, a strategic effort to change the odds for women and children in the state.

Prior to that, she served as executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, leading the organization through its first strategic planning process in more than 10 years. She also served as head of the Reentry Services Division of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, helping to launch and lead programs designed to prevent former offenders from returning to a life of crime. Simon’s advocacy career began at age 19, when she became executive director of the Center for Young Women’s Development.

She is the recipient of numerous honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the Jefferson Award for extraordinary public service, and the State Assembly’s “California Woman of the Year.” In 2016 Lateefah was elected to serve District 7 on the BART Board of Directors and was appointed by the governor to the California State University’s Board of Trustees.


Executive Director
Filipino Community Center
2015 Pioneers in Justice Class

Terry Valen is the Executive Director of the Filipino Community Center (FCC), an organization founded in 2004 to address the displacement of airport security screeners by a law, passed in the wake of the 9/11 tragedies, requiring that all screeners be U.S. citizens. This resulted in massive firings of screeners nationally and in the Bay Area. FCC is a progressive voice for the broader Asian and Pacific Islander community, advocating for immigrant and worker rights, language diversity and racial justice.

Terry was influenced at a young age by his upbringing in New Orleans, when he was among a handful of Asians living in his neighborhood. Terry witnessed the many barriers that his classmates faced to attain higher education and earn a livable income – and he has fought for inclusion, equality and justice ever since. Terry was appointed by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in 2013 to San Francisco’s Wage Theft Task Force. He was awarded the San Francisco Foundation Koshland Civic Unity Award in 2011 and he serves as the National President of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns.

Maya YoshitaniMiyaYoshitani

Executive Director
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
2015 Pioneers in Justice Class

Miya Yoshitani has been the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network since 2013. Starting at APEN as a youth organizer in the 1990’s, Miya has an extensive background in community organizing, and a long history of working in the environmental justice movement. APEN has been fighting – and winning – environmental justice struggles for the past 27 years and remains one of the most unique organizations in the country explicitly developing the leadership and power of poor and working class Asian American immigrant and refugee communities.

Through many years of leadership, Miya has supported APEN’s growth and expansion from a powerful local organization in the Bay Area, to having a statewide impact through an integrated voter engagement strategy and winning transformational state policy for equitable climate solutions for all Californians. A movement leader in many key local, state, and national alliances, APEN is helping to shift the center of gravity of what is possible when the health and economic well-being of working families, immigrant and communities of color are put at the center of solutions to the economic and climate crises.