Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont, Directora Ejecutiva
Named after the Maxim Gorky poem, Esperanza is compelled to bring her inexhaustible hope, organizing experience and political passion to Oakland Rising. Since childhood Esperanza has been steeped in creating social change through organizing and activism. Her lifelong connection with Oakland’s progressive history, culture and political climate brings a special perspective to Oakland Rising.
Esperanza grew up in East Oakland where drug dealing and violence riddled the streets. Thanks to close guidance from her politically active parents, she remained grounded in the political struggle for freedom locally, nationally, and internationally. After graduating from Skyline High School, Esperanza received a BA in English Literature from Mills College.
In 2004, Esperanza took a position as a worksite organizer with the California state workers union, SEIU Local 1000. Assigned to the Downtown LA turf with nearly 2000 workers, Esperanza organized graveyard shift custodians to stand up for their contractual right to respect and dignity at Cal-Trans, which led to her first arrest. The arrest was followed by statewide actions by workers which resulted in the successful arbitration under the Unfair Labor Practice statute and unfettered union access.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Esperanza (whose maternal family has lived in New Orleans for over 200 years) and six other organizers decided that their skills were needed to help black and displaced survivors reclaim their lives, their homes and their city. Using a consensus-building model, The People’s Organizing Committee organized from the “bottom-up” by taking direction from the poorest, blackest and most oppressed people who demanded resources from the government. In addition to training new organizers, developing organizing plans, implementation strategies and volunteer orientation, Esperanza worked as the Administrative Director for POCC.
When the opportunity to use the community/labor organizing cadre-model to build capacity for Barack Obama in California arose, Esperanza was excited to participate in this experimental political organizing program. She was hired as the Regional Field Director for Northern California in October 2007. Growing up in Oakland, Esperanza believed that engaging low-income people of color in East and West Oakland would be the key to winning the 9th Congressional District (Oakland). Esperanza proudly trained and mentored 9 organizers, organized 73 teams, coordinated volunteers to make 51,000 phone calls in just one day, and won 3 of 10 Congressional districts for Barack Obama on February 5th - more than any other Regional Field Director in California.
During the Obama Campaign, Esperanza had the honor and privilege to be the campaign liaison for Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Shortly thereafter she was hired as the Political Director of Barbara Lee for Congress, where Esperanza was able to forward the progressive politics and vision of one of the nations most historic progressive political icons.
Esperanza’s work as the Executive Director advances her conviction that Oakland’s great potential will be realized with a progressive vision that empowers working families and people of color to see themselves as vehicles for change. Esperanza serves on the State Board of Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) as a Political Action Co-Chair, the 1st Vice President of BWOPA’s Oakland/Berkeley Chapter, Member-At-Large for National Women’s Political Caucus- Alameda North Chapter and is an elected 16th Assembly District Delegate to the California Democratic Party.
She was recently appointed to the Alameda County Human Relations Commission.
Jessamyn Sabbag, Directora Adjunta
Jessamyn Sabbag became Field Director of Oakland Rising in 2009. She brings a decade of experience in building organizational alliances, organizing grassroots efforts in support of racial justice, and implementing cutting edge community-based electoral campaigns. In her two years at Oakland Rising, Jessamyn has directed nine winning campaigns and has grown the scale of campaigns from 1,300 voter contacts to 18,000 voters contacts.
As a native of the Bay Area with deep values around local investment in organizing, Jessamyn has been thrilled to find a home at Oakland Rising. Prior to becoming O.R.’s Field Director, she spent three years leading programs at the Generational Alliance, a national coalition of over 20 progressive youth organizations. She directed their 2008 “GenVote” electoral program, supporting locally indigenous youth leaders to run hard-hitting grassroots field and communications programs for low-income youth of color in 20 cities around the country. After the 2008 election, she led the drafting of the first national Youth Policy Agenda, which has driven the work of the Alliance since her departure.
Her previous work includes serving as the Civic Engagement Coordinator at the Marin Grassroots Leadership Network, building a national online directory of progressive youth organizations at Future5000.com, mobilizing against the war in Iraq, and creating a free arts and theater after-school program. She brings deep values and experience around police accountability and the promotion of a holistic view of public safety. Jessamyn’s educational background includes two degrees from Brown University, one in educational public policy and the other in evolutionary and ecological biology.
She is driven by a deep love and belief in Oakland and in democracy, and is absolutely honored to uphold Kahlil Gibran's vision that "Work is love made visible" through her time at Oakland Rising.
Karina Kopali Serna, Directora de Alianzas de la Comunidad
"We are here to share in the fight that starts in the communities and barrios." – President Evo Morales
Kopali was born and raised in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles along with her four sisters and brother. Born to immigrant parents, Kopali was inspired and educated from an early age by the legacy of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, which had a strong base in Boyle Heights. She moved to the Bay Area 15 years ago to attend college at UC Berkeley. As a student she became active in student organizing campaigns to support the rights of farm workers in California and to fight labor abuses in maquiladoras south of the border at the hands of corporations based locally. She has since made Oakland her home. She holds a degree in Humanities and is a 2005 graduate of the UC Santa Cruz apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture where she studied organic farming and gardening to remain connected to her ancestral agricultural roots.
Kopali has a strong personal and professional commitment to developing community-based organizations that empower low-income communities of color. Over the past 10 years, through her collaboration in various innovative and progressive projects, she has worked to position women and communities of color as collaborative stakeholders for social change. Kopali joined Oakland Rising in October 2011, bringing with her five years of experience in grassroots and non-profit fundraising. Prior to Oakland Rising, Kopali worked at organizations like WAGES (Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security), the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), and the Ecology Center of Berkeley. At Oakland Rising, she leads in the areas of Fundraising, Development, and the building of strategic Community Partnerships.