A Project From the Heart for the Progress of Our People
Oakland Rising emerged in 2006 when the Executive Directors from APEN, Ella Baker Center, E-BASE, and Urban Habitat recognized the need for an electoral strategy to complement the base building and policy organizing that they and like-minded organizations were undertaking with progressive, low-income, people of color, and immigrants in Oakland. For years, the progressive community had been attending City Hall rallies, lining up dozens deep for two-minute council testimonies and meeting with elected officials who deemed their input as an obligation rather than a strategic partnership. In issue after issue, community members and advocates showed up at City Hall in the hundreds, only to learn that deals on key issues impacting their families and neighborhoods had been cut weeks and months before. To counteract this reality, the founding Executive Directors envisioned an alliance of organizations that aligned with their civic engagement work, collectively worked on electoral organizing, and strengthened the social justice movement in Oakland.
From 2008 to 2015, the organization grew, gained support, and garnered victories. In September 2008, the collaborative hired Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont as its first Executive Director. A year later, Jessamyn Sabbag joined the staff as the first Field Director. From 2009 until 2015, this dynamic team built the organizational base from a few thousand to 52,000 voters who supported progressive issues and policies -- a sizeable cohort comprising 20% of the electorate in Oakland. Organizational members also grew from four to nine during the period. Together, the collaborative won flagship policies at the local and state level. These included a minimum wage increase; a tenant protection ordinance; a landmark good jobs policy that included living wages, local hires, and job access for workers with disadvantages, prior incarceration, and other employment barriers; Prop 47, a state measure reallocating resources from incarceration to community-based re-entry services; and Proposition 30, a state measure that returned $6 billion into the state for critical services by raising taxes on the wealthiest Californians.
In 2015, founding Executive Director, Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett, transitioned out of the organization, replaced by long-time Deputy Director, Jessamyn Sabbag. Tracey Corder also joined the team as the incoming Field Director. With Jessamyn’s seven years of experience at Oakland Rising and a fresh team by her side, Oakland Rising further invested into our Values-Based Leadership programs aimed at cultivating local, grassroots leaders who are accountable to progressive, community values.
Today, Oakland Rising is looking to the future and ready to meet new challenges while remaining committed to building a thriving progressive community in Oakland.