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No Leaders without Organizers: The Importance of Building a Youth Organizing Pipeline

Thursday, February 23, 2023 -
10:30am to 12:00pm PST
Zoom Meeting
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Young people are fired up! They see injustices in their communities and existential threats to their futures - a severe housing and homelessness crisis, inflation and stagnant wages, democracy under threat and a loss of rights, and extreme climate impacts - all of which are felt disproportionately by Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color communities. They want a better, more equitable future for themselves and their communities, so many young people are following their passion and joining racial, economic, reproductive, immigrant, and climate justice movements in record numbers. At the same time, in part to pandemic related staffing changes, social justice organizations are looking to hire qualified movement leaders like never before.

However, we have a major pipeline problem. To address these challenges in the short and long term, we need more trained community and labor organizers. The opportunity for young activists to get intensive hands-on training is critical for building their basic organizing skills, while learning how to organize sustainably to minimize burnout, and also processing some of the challenging emotions that naturally arise when organizing. This enables them to enter the workforce and hit the ground running as movement leaders, and build a strong base for starting a career in social justice organizing.

What solutions are movement building organizations finding for the pipeline problem, and what role can philanthropy play to support tomorrow’s leaders? Join NCG and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to hear from movement building organizations and young activists about the pipeline issues facing movement building organizations, and bright spots like Base Building for Power ( which helps build a bridge between passionate young organizers and the movement organizations who need them to organize for justice. We’ll discuss recent successes and how philanthropy can get involved to support young people who are organizing for a better future.


Harley Agustino, Founder, Base Building for Power
Harley has been a tenant and worker organizer since 1998. Prior to founding Base Building for Power, Harley was a lead organizer for 14 years with UNITE HERE, the hospitality union, training organizers and organizing workers to fight for living wages, respect, immigrant rights, and a harassment-free workplace. Prior to working in labor, Harley was a community organizer and Executive Director of PUEBLO (which would later merge with CAUSE) on the Central Coast of California. Harley was trained by Dolores Huerta in the House Meeting Organizing Model from 2003-2006, and worked for the Dolores Huerta Foundation before joining the labor movement. He has trained and learned from hundreds of worker and tenant leaders fighting for justice. Harley lives with his husband in Portland, Oregon, and moonlights as a jazz saxophone musician.
CJ Callen, Director, Community Leadership and Capacity Building, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

CJ Callen’s career in the nonprofit sector was sparked by her passion for helping children and youth.As a philanthropy professional, CJ has managed grantmaking portfolios and led strategicgrantmaking initiatives; designed capacity building programs for grantees; developed grantmakingstrategy for donors and foundations. She served on the boards of Women & Philanthropy and BayArea Blacks in Philanthropy. CJ has repeatedly demonstrated a commitment to elevating the voicesof those affected by structural inequities and helping them forge sustainable solutions. With thatcommitment, she founded Y-MAC (Youth-Making-A-Change) to bring youth leadership into thepublic policy arena in San Francisco.Currently, CJ is the Director of Community Leadership and Capacity Building for the CommunityTeam of CZI where she leads a grantmaking strategy focused on leadership and power building, aswell as the provision of support to CZI’s partners to build their organizational resilience andstrengthen the ecosystem in San Mateo County.CJ received her JD from Stanford University where she was one of the first participants in the LawSchool’s Public Interest Loan Program. She obtained a BA in philosophy and political science withhonors from New York University.She resides in Oakland with her husband Jeffrey who is an Ethnomusicologist and her pandemicpuppy Pote named after her favorite character on the telenovela Queen of the South.

Rashad Douglass, Youth Organizer

Born and raised in South LA, Rashad joined the Base Building for Power summer program as the only teenager on the team. Rashad was already a SCOPE member, benefitting from their COVID-related services, when he began the organizing program and put his learning to practice during the program while organizing SCOPE's base in his home community. This program became a family affair for Rashad, whose single mom and even extended family members participated in house meetings and organized their friends and neighbors! While Rashad is currently a student at Dickinson College studying Political Science, he has continued organizing and putting his political science theory to practice while living abroad and studying at Oxford. Rashad's tenacity and dedication to his community helped him persevere when faced with all of the new challenges that young organizers go through. Since completing the program, Rashad has deepened his commitment to movement building and community power in Los Angeles and is excited to continue building the skills he needs to be a lifelong power builder

Jennifer Martinez, Director, Housing Affordability, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Dr. Jennifer Martinez is the Policy Director for Housing Affordability at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). Prior to joining CZI, Jennifer was a community organizer for 17 years and worked on campaigns for housing justice, immigrant rights, restorative justice, and quality education. From 2017 to 2021, Jennifer served as the Chief Strategy Officer for PICO California, the largest faith-based community organizing network in California, where she helped lead several statewide and regional campaigns for affordable housing, tenant rights, and tax reform. 
Jennifer has a BA from Stanford University and an MA and PhD from the University of Nottingham, England. Her graduate research focused on social movement strategies in the struggle for housing and land rights in Venezuela and South Africa, and in 2011, her PhD won the British International Stud Association thesis of the year award. Born to a Mexican-Irish family in Southern California, Jennifer now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home.
Pablo Rodriguez, Executive Director, Communities for a New California Education Fund

Pablo Rodriguez is the founding Executive Director of Communities for a New California Education Fund, and directs 14 full-time staff, over 40 part-time year-round canvassers who implement ongoing non-partisan voter engagement efforts via CNC's Sacramento, Merced, Fresno, Hanford and Coachella Valley offices. Since 2011, CNC Education Fund's Civic Engagement programs have engaged over 600,000 voters through phone banking and door-to-door canvassing. The implementation of CNC's integrated leadership development and mass voter engagement strategy spans seventeen counties in the San Joaquin Valley, Coachella Valley and Sierra Foothills. 

Prior to CNC, Pablo served as a Public Policy Consultant and Communications Director at a Sacramento political strategy and research firm.  His responsibilities included the development and implementation of Federal political strategy, issue research, communications and national field programs with an emphasis on voters of color. Pablo also previously served as Director of the Dolores Huerta Community Organizing Institute, where he developed trainings for base building, and directed political action campaigns for organizations throughout California.  In addition, he developed service-learning programs with San Jose State University, the National Association of Social Workers, and Loyola Marymount University. In partnership with LMU, he initiated the development of the first micro-finance program focusing exclusively on farm workers in the United States.

Pablo currently serves as a board member of: Community Water Center Action Fund in Tulare County, Courage California, board member, Advisory Committee member of: USC's, Equity and Research Initiative, Advisory Committee member of UC Merced, Community and Labor Center. Pablo has previously served as Board Chair with the Americans for Democratic Action Education Fund in Washington D.C., and on the boards of the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project in Sacramento and La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley.


Tess Willams, Youth Organizer
Tess comes to organizing from the service industry where they learned through first hand experience the need for strong organizers in all fields. As an immigrant themself, Tess has found community in their volunteer work as a tenant organizer with Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED). Tess' activism and organizing led them to Base Building for Power where they worked organizing the broad membership base of LA Forward, a progressive organizing team working across Los Angeles. Since completing our organizing program, Tess has continued their organizing work with hospitality workers in Unite HERE Local 11 in addition to their political and grassroots campaign organizing. Tess' passion for worker justice is what led them to want to learn strong base building skills through the program and keeps Tess committed to movement building through organizing.
Joey Williams, Director of Organizing, CA Native Vote Project
Joey Williams, a member of the Nuwa (Kawaiisu) people out of the Kern Valley Indian Community, began organizing over 15 years ago as a youth pastor working to dismantle the school to jail & prison pipeline in Bakersfield. He has been a product of the foster care , jail, and probation system since age 7. Joey went on to serve as Board Chair, Organizer, and Chapter Director at Faith In Action Kern County, now Faith In The Valley Kern, and worked at PICO California as Field Director. Joey committed his life to bringing people of color, young people, and disenfranchised targeted communities off the sidelines and into the big fight for good jobs, quality education, and ending mass incarceration and police brutality. Joey's proudest moments were the electoral wins on Prop 30 and 47, which he benefited from a felony reclassification in 2015, and most recent with wins on Prop 55 & 57, even winning in Kern in 2016. Joey currently is the Co-Vice Chair of the LA County Cares First Community Investment Advisory Board-CFCI (Measure J) representing the Native American Community, which is allocating $100 million from the LA County Sheriff's Department, and investing back in the communities they have harmed. Joey is currently the Director of Organizing at the CA Native Vote Project is committed to dismantling White Supremacy, and building native power so that all our people can be free, self determined, and live the full life their Creator intended.
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