Jessamyn Sabbag, Executive Director
In 2009, Jessamyn joined Oakland Rising’s staff as Field Director and later Deputy Director, and coordinated the project’s collaborative of social justice organizations as well as its voter operations. Over seven years, Jessamyn grew Oakland Rising’s voter outreach operations from 1,300 supporters to more than 52,000 supportive voters citywide. From directing campaigns to leading political education trainings to lobbying City Hall, Jessamyn has contributed to policy and ballot box victories. These wins include increasing taxes on the wealthy to fund education, requiring jobs and community benefits from new developments, establishing more transparency and public participation in the city’s budget process, and expanding rights for immigrants and formerly incarcerated community members.
Tracey Corder, Field Director
Tracey Corder joined the staff of Oakland Rising in April 2015. A native of Milwaukee, WI, Tracey brings to Oakland Rising a rich background in social services, political and labor organizing, and nine years of campaign experience. In 2012, Tracey ran for local office in her hometown. Although she did not win, she garnered 47% of the vote and brought significant issues, including the need for cost-efficient public transit and juvenile justice reform, to the forefront of county government. Tracey has organized on a wide range of issues including support for living wage and human trafficking measures and opposition to right-to-work legislation. She has also conducted webinars for Emerge America, hosted trainings for members of the AFL-CIO, and is committed to training new activists and candidates for office.
Beth Gunston, Strategic Partnerships Director
As a proud East Bay native, Beth is excited to be able to give back to her community as the Strategic Partnerships Director at Oakland Rising. After graduating with a double major in Anthropology and Urban Studies from San Francisco State University, Beth knew that she would devote her life to the social justice movement. She earned her stripes at the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) where she spent a decade educating voters and running grassroots campaigns to pass solid public health and environmental protections and elect progressive leaders at the state level. During 6 of her years at CLCV, she fundraised from individual donors, raising over $2 million dollars for political work. Beth currently serves as the Board President of the League of Conservation Voters of the East Bay where she helps elect environmental champions to local seats in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. You can find her spending her free time running trails, climbing rocks, or holding a sign at a labor or environmental rally.
Pacita Rudder, Operations Associate
Pacita is an Oakland resident dedicated to immersing herself in progressive movements and organizations that expand her thinking around creating positive change. With an education in Comparative Cultures and Politics from Michigan State University, she has a love for building community across diverse backgrounds and understands the ways in which social change can be implemented into the political climate. Pacita’s previous organizing and logistics work with Michigan State University’s LBGT Resource Center, where she created programming around queer students of color and Mills College, helping create campaigns to fund women in higher education, laid the groundwork for connecting her organizational skills with progressive actions. In her spare time you can find her volunteering, dancing, writing, or finding ways to fill everyday moments with laughter.
Shanthi Gonzales, Leadership Development Director
Shanthi is a Bay Area native, graduating from Castro Valley High School where she was recruited to the No on Proposition 187 campaign by Californians for Justice (CFJ). If implemented, Prop 187 would have denied access to any public services for undocumented families in California. While they did not defeat the initiative, they were successful in every precinct that CFJ worked in. Shanthi went on to work with CFJ on many economic and racial justice campaigns, learning organizing skills that continue to serve her to this day. Shanthi has spent much of her career in the labor movement. One of her first jobs was with SEIU United Healthcare Workers West, where she organized homecare workers, conferences and other programs for the union. During this time, she realized how critical a strong labor movement is in creating economic security for low-income communities of color, and also discovered a passion for leadership development.
Prior to coming to Oakland Rising, Shanthi worked as the Membership Coordinator for the Women Donors Network, a national network of progressive women donors working to build a stronger social justice movement. In 2014, she was elected to the Oakland School Board and represents District 6 on the board. Through this role, she works with many parent and community groups to strengthen OUSD schools. Prior to her election to the School Board, she served as Vice Chair of the Oakland Library Advisory Commission (LAC), and is proud of the role she played in building a strong corps of advocates for Oakland libraries. She also served as Vice President of the Board of La Raza Centro Legal.
Shanthi studied Political Science and History in college at Cal State East Bay, and also has an MA in Political Science from San Francisco State University.