Meet the East Yard Team
Cindy Donis – Community Organizer
Cindy Donis (She/Her/Hers) grew up in the city of Maywood and graduated with a BA in Chicana/o Studies and Gender & Feminist Studies at Pitzer College. As a daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, she has always valued her roots and history of struggle. She became involved in social movements and organizing in college, fighting for worker rights through the Claremont Student Worker Alliance as well as connecting local and international movements through the Chiapas Support Committee. She spent 3 years working at the Labor/Community Strategy Center, as a youth organizer challenging the mass criminalization of black and brown youth and the militarization of communities. She is committed and passionate about creating a world where black and brown communities are truly free.
Erick Huerta – Media Organizer
Erick Huerta (he/him/ey foo) is an undocumented immigrant with a temporary work permit via Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He is a digital strategist and communications consultant for non-profits, labor unions, and grassroots organizations. With a background in journalism, he was a digital organizer for the immigrant youth movement in the early 2000s, a freelance writer for publications like L.A. Taco, and a community blogger for Boyle Heights. He is currently a board member of the grassroots organization People for Mobility Justice, advocating for transportation justice and equity in L.A. His latest project is hosting his own podcast, Órale Boyle Heights.
Jan Victor Andasan – Community Organizer
Jan Victor Andasan (Siya/They/Them/Theirs) was born in the Philippines until they emigrated in 1997 to Long Beach. They lived there for about five years where they attended Daniel Webster Elementary. They moved to Carson in the South Bay area where they got involved with student organizing against the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. They went to the University of California where they got a Bachelor of Arts in Asian American Studies with a concentration in Pilipin@ Studies. During their tenure at UCLA, they were involved with organizing students of color, LGBTQ issues, and various issues affecting underrepresented communities. They worked on the affordability, accessibility, and quality of higher education. Jan has a passion for addressing social justice issues.
Jasmine Gonzalez – Community Stability Organizer
Jasmine Gonzalez (she/her/hers) was born in Boyle Heights but moved at the age of eight and grew up in the city of Commerce. She obtained her B.A. in Geography from UC Santa Barbara and eventually became involved in political campaigns where she was able to develop her passion for engaging community members. She developed a personal interest in housing and came across EYCEJ where as a member she learned of the importance of community in order to fight oppressive systems. She is dedicated to housing justice and continually strives to equip herself with the tools needed to better support her community. Her goal is to empower the community by giving renters the tools and information they need. Her favorite part of doing outreach is hearing the infectious smile on someone’s face when she tells them housing is a human right.
Jocelyn Del Real – Energy Policy Organizer
Jocelyn (She/Her/Hers) was raised in Bell Gardens, where much of her interest in environmental justice began. She graduated with a BA in Geography/Environmental Studies and Urban Planning from UCLA. She has been involved with EYCEJ since high school and has served as a researcher for the Marina Pando Social Justice Research Collaborative. She assisted research in brownfield truthing, researched industrial pollution in the communities of Southeast and East LA, and will continue to produce community-based knowledge to demand accountability from polluters. She will continue working toward sustainable development and building power in low-income communities of color.
Laura Cortez – Organizer/Co-Executive Director
Laura Cortez (She/Ella) is a lifelong Bell Gardens resident. Laura received a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from CSU, Los Angeles, and her Master of Arts degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Community Development from CSU, Long Beach. Laura has organized in the South Bay & now organizes in her hood of Southeast Los Angeles. Laura is also a Spanish-English interpreter since 2010, including interpreting for domestic violence survivors, health, and immigration organizations. Laura started at EYCEJ in 2017 as a member & organizer for the Eastside & Southeast LA and currently supports our communities as a member, one of 2 SELA organizers & Co-Executive Director (2020). Laura’s hope is to work toward equity that improves the lives of families of color through community-led leadership in the Southeast cities for current and future generations.
Lupe Valdovinos – Administrative/Operations Assistant
Guadalupe (Lupe) Valdovinos, (She/Her/Hers) was born and raised in East Los Angeles. Very proud of her community, culture, and family history, she decided to be the first in her family to pursue higher education. She graduated from CSULA in 2018 with a BS in Public Health. She has ambitions to combat environmental health disparities in her community and began volunteering with EYCEJ in the summer of 2018. Having participated in water research for the H2Ours campaign was the moment she felt she can encourage the growth of knowledge in her community. It is through her efforts in volunteering with EYCEJ that she found her passion to fight the good fight with amazing people. Lupe’s journey has just begun and she embraces it with everyone willing to grow with her.
mark! Lopez – Eastside Community Organizer & Special Projects Coordinator
mark! Lopez (He/Him/His) comes from a family with a long history of activism. He was raised in the Madres del Este de Los Angeles Santa Isabel (Mothers of East LA Santa Isabel – MELASI), an organization co-founded by his grandparents, Juana Beatriz Gutierrez, and Ricardo Gutierrez. This set his trajectory as a community activist. He engaged in a wide array of student activism at UC Santa Cruz where he earned his B.A. in Environmental Studies and taught university courses at UC Santa Cruz, Cal State Northridge, and UCLA Extension. mark! earned his M.A. from the Chican@ Studies Department at Cal State Northridge, where he completed his Master’s thesis titled The Fire: Decolonizing “Environmental Justice.” mark! joined East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice as a member three years before joining the staff. After serving as Lead Organizer for East Yard Communities and Co-Director with EYCEJ Co-Founder Angelo Logan, mark! served as the Executive Director for over 6 years. He is now serving as Eastside Community Organizer & Special Projects Coordinator. He organizes in the area where he was born, raised, and continues to live. mark! is the 2017 North American Recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize.
Paola Dela Cruz-Pérez– Youth Organizer
Paola Dela Cruz-Perez (She/Her/Ella) was born and raised in South Los Angeles and moved to Compton when she was a teen. She began her organizing as a youth by coordinating mutual aid efforts with and for unhoused and housing-insecure families. Through these experiences, she became politicized about the systems that perpetuate injustices. She went on to earn her Bachelor’s in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she deepened her understanding of community healing, community organizing, and community power building. Paola continues organizing in her hood through East Yard’s Southeast LA membership spaces, Compton Tenants Union, and Compton Rising. She is passionate about engaging and equipping youth with the necessary tools to fight against environmental racism, white supremacy, capitalism, and other systems of oppression. Paola loves being in and around water and is an Aztec Mexica danzante.
Taylor Thomas– Co-Director
Taylor (she/they) calls Long Beach home, where she was born and raised, and continues to deepen her roots. Having had an incredibly gracious grandmother as an example, and being raised in an under-resourced community, she has been involved in various community-based efforts since the age of 15. She has supported organizing for quality and affordable education, as well as worked with folks experiencing homelessness. With the guidance and support of Great Leap and EndOil, Taylor, along with four other community members, co-wrote and performed a theater play called ‘The Air We Breathe’ in 2013, which chronicled what it’s like living in Long Beach and dealing with air pollution. She began her journey with EYCEJ as a member shortly thereafter, eventually becoming an intern before transitioning into a staff role. Taylor aims to combine art, sustainability, compassion, and social justice into a movement of love. Taylor was EYCEJ’s Research and Policy Analyst but now serves as a Co-Director.
Tiff Sanchez – Eastside Youth Organizer
Tiff (she/her/hers) is a 3rd generation, Angelino, with family roots in East LA and Boyle Heights. A pattern maker by trade with more than 17 years of experience in the fashion industry, she gained her certification in fashion design at LATTC. Her eclectic organizing background comes from an “Each one, Teach one”, DIY ethos learned from various autonomous community spaces in Los Angeles like The Smell, a DTLA punk venue where she contributed to creating a safe, all-ages community space for local youth. She also co-organized PPE drives for day laborers in partnership with IDEPSCA and her futbol supporter group Lxs Tigres Del NorthEnd. She is a member of WOC Sisterhood Collective where they provide communal healing and she’s a volunteer with Warriors Community Self Defense, both out of East Side Cafe in El Sereno. She was a member at East Yard for a year before joining the team and it was at East Yard where she learned that community building and organizing does not have to come from an academic level but rather the recognition of one’s ability to put their love of community and experience into action. Tiff enjoys drinking tea, 90’s R&B, all things sci-fi, and plants.
Whitney Amaya – Incinerator Organizer
Whitney Amaya (She/Her/Hers) grew up in Long Beach, California with strong ties to her family. Her parents, whom immigrated from El Salvador in the late 1980s/early 1990s, have taught her the importance of education, caring for the environment, and fighting for justice. She received her B.A. in Geography/Environmental Studies from UCLA in 2015, and her M.S. in Geographic Information Science from CSULB in 2018. Before joining East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice as staff, she had volunteered as a member for about three years and was a proud participant of the Marina Pando Social Justice Research Collaborative. Whitney will continue to address environmental racism and organize together with her community.