Ana Aldaco – Administrative Assistant
Ana Aldaco was born and raised in the City of Bell. She started at Cerritos Community College where she earned her AA in Geography. Later, transferred to UC Santa Barbara and earned her BA in Geography in March, 2019. While being at UC Santa Barbara, she was head of the planning committee for the geography club and organized events for her campus community, which developed her interested in community organizing. She was also part of the Peer Mentor Program at UC Santa Barbara where she was a mentor to help transfer students adjust to a four-year institution and served as a critical advising and support role for students. She always had an appreciation for the environment since she was younger and started to escalate as she got older when she took her first geography course at Cerritos. While attending UC Santa Barbara, she had access to better air quality, smelled clean air, the freeways and railroads were more than a mile away, and lived nowhere near an industrial site. This made her perspective on her community, completely change, and realized she wanted to have a voice to represent low-income communities to fight for environmental justice. Within the year of being a member at EYCEJ, Ana has showed leadership in her community, dedication, and passion in environmental justice work, and wishes to one day pursue a career where she gets to work with low-income communities of color for environmental justice.
Alessandro Negrete – Communications and Development
Alessandro Negrete is a queer immigrant of color that was born in Manzanillo, Colima, MX. He grew up in California, early on he saw and witnessed first hand the issues that low income communities of color faced. As he grew up and his family moved around following the picking seasons, as his mother was a field worker, he started reading to grow his own skills. When he was in high school he organized his classmates against Prop. 21, which sought to criminalize youth of color. He continued to stay active in his Boyle Heights community. Later on finding a connection to his queer and immigrant identity, he connected with the immigrant youth movement and worked to get Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals passed through organizing with the Immigrant Youth Coalition. After volunteering with them for years, Alessandro was able to become the leader of the first statewide network of grassroots community based immigrant youth led organizations. Their he learned the importance of bringing resources and having communications strategies. He brings that wealth of lived experience to all parts of his surroundings. Always acknowledging the need to talk about intersection, he hopes to expand his knowledge of environmental racism and connect his immigrant community to this work.
Cindy Donis – Community Organizer
Cindy Donis 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 though 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.
Jan Victor Andasan – Community Organizer
Jan Victor Andasan was born in the Philippines until he emigrated in 1997 to Long Beach. He lived there for about five years where he attended Daniel Webster Elementary. He moved to Carson in the South Bay area where he got involved with student organizing against the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. He went to the University of California where he got a Bachelor in Arts in Asian American Studies with a concentration in Pilipin@ Studies. During his tenure at UCLA, he was involved with organizing students of color, LGBTQ issues, and various issues affecting underrepresented communities. He worked on the affordability, accessibility, and quality of higher education. He has a passion for addressing social justice issues
Janet Valenzuela – Community Organizer
Janet Valenzuela is a eco-mujerista from Huntington Park (Southeast Los Angeles), who’s work is centered on bridging the outdoor industrial complex to environmental justice issues in the Los Angeles area using alterNative models to connect the outdoors to environmentally disadvantaged communities. She will be graduating from California State University Northridge with a B.A. in Chicano/a Studies and a Minor in Sustainability, with plans to pursue a career in environmental health law, particularly incorporating the intersections of grassroots activism and environmental justice. She is dedicated to challenging ongoing structures of colonialism that work towards rationalizing the use of destructive elements in her community and those alike.
Jessica Prieto – Community Stability Policy Organizer
Jessica Prieto was born and raised in East Los Angeles. She recently completed her Masters of Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA, focusing on Community Economic Development, and Housing. She also has a B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning with a minor in Race and Resistance Studies from San Francisco State University. Jessica has previously worked at T.R.U.S.T. South L.A. and USC’s Environmental Health Center, and has interned for the Liberty Hill Foundation, the Bus Riders Union, and Causa Justa: Just Cause. She has extensive experience working at the grassroots level on various planning issues and their impact on communities of color, such as transportation equity, anti-displacement, and environmental justice. She has been an EYCEJ member since 2015, participating in MP-SJRC’s first cohort, organizing tenants impacted by Exide Technologies, and representing EYCEJ in the Lower LA River Working Group. She enjoys walking and taking transit, watching movies, and is a frequent patron of local street food vendors.
Jocelyn Del Real – Community Organizer
Jocelyn was raised in Bell Gardens, where much of her interest for 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.
Karla Perez – Youth Organizer
Karla is a recent graduate from CSULB where she majored in Geography. She also graduated from LBCC with an A.A. in Social Sciences. She hopes to be a part of East Yard for many years to come.
Laura Cortez – Community Organizer
Laura Cortez is 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. She has been an Spanish-English interpreter since 2010, including interpreting for domestic violence victims, health, and immigration organizations. Before coming to EYCEJ, Laura focused on youth in Southeast LA and Long Beach to transition into college and work toward health equity. More recently, she organized community in Long Beach and Wilmington around air quality and health advocacy with Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma. Laura’s focus 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.
mark! Lopez – Executive Director
mark! Lopez 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 has 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 Masters 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! is now the Executive Director. 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.
Taylor Thomas– Research and Policy Analyst
Taylor Thomas is a born and bred Long Beach local. Having had an overly compassionate grandmother and an underserved community, she has been involved in social justice movements since the age of 15. She has organized for quality and affordable education, as well as homeless rights. 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’, which chronicled what it’s like living in Long Beach and dealing with air pollution. She aims to combine art, sustainability, compassion, and social justice into a movement of love. She is currently earning her B.A. in Human Development at CSULB.
Whitney Amaya – Incinerator Organizer
Whitney Amaya 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.