Benjamin ReynosoCommunications Specialist
Benjamin Christmas-Reynoso has been a grassroots organizer since the age of 15, a San Bernardino, CA native, intent on inspiring future generations through strategic education on issue-based organizing and innovation through messaging and media. Ben is heavily involved in his community and has been in both San Bernardino and Mississippi as a student at the University of Southern Mississippi. The needs are clear but the approach is ever-changing. Ben knows that and seeks to do all that he can do to educate and raise public awareness through various means of communication. Video editing is a forte, but community organizing is where his heart will always lie.
Brenda Huerta SotoCensus Outreach Coordinator
Brenda Huerta immigrated from Mexico City at the age of twelve. She recently graduated from UC Riverside with a B.A. in English and Spanish Literature. Throughout her undergraduate years, she was involved in PODER and the UC Undocumented Student Coalition, organizations that advocate for on-campus resources such as legal support, mental health services, mentorship, and financial support for students regardless of immigration status. During her tenure in PODER, she served as the Outreach Co-Chair, she facilitated presentations at high schools about DACA, AB540 and CA Dream Act to encourage undocumented students to peruse a higher education. Additionally, she served as a Steering Committee member for California Dream Network, the college component of CHIRLA, where she advocated for pro-immigrant statewide policies. Brenda will continue to be a leader and vocal advocate in her community and plans to attend graduate school in the future to obtain her Master’s in Education.
Veronica RomanCommunity Organizer
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Vero is a proud mother of three and a grandma to five grandkids. As a young woman, Veronica completed school as an Administrative Technician for Companies in the city of Cuernavaca Morelos, Mexico. She moved to the United States to gain better educational opportunities and has found that her passion is to help others in need and to do what’s right for the community.
Prior to working at CCAEJ, Vero has worked for a decade in the warehouses industry and has seen and experienced first-hand the injustices warehouse workers face. As a community leader in San Bernardino, she knew the difficulties community members lived through and wanted to help. She started researching non-profits and church groups to get information on free programs for food, housing, and bill payments. She has also worked with Sin Fines De Lucro on improving mental health and addiction.
Vero recognizes that simply providing information for the community is not enough, but knows that it takes effort and dedication. She is committed to showing up to better her community.
One of her favorite quotes is “He who does not live to serve, does not serve to live.”
Gabriela MendezYouth Organizer
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Gabriela Mendez is a resident of the city of Riverside and has been active in various movements fighting for immigrant protection, special needs, and environmental issues. She believes in making social change through community power.
As a CCAEJ representative Gabriela aspires to contribute to social and environmental justice movements by providing support for youth. In her free time Gaby likes to read, take hikes up Mt. Rubidoux, and watch movies with family and friends.
Andrea VidaurrePolicy Analyst
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Andrea Vidaurre is a Policy Analyst at the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ). Raised by migrant parents from Peru, she grew up in the Inland region of Southern California in the San Bernardino and Riverside counties. She recently graduated from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) where she earned her B.A. in Global Studies and expanded her knowledge and curiosity of community-based research and critical thought. She worked alongside tenured professors at UCR on multiple research projects studying transnational labor alliances, studying demographic trends at a local free medical clinic in San Bernardino and documenting critical discourse analysis from Central American & Mexican asylum seekers in Southern California. Following graduation, she gained experience working in Washington D.C. at GreenLatinos as a national advocate on environmental issues, researching occupational health and safety among grocery store and meatpacking workers at UFCW Local 770 and volunteering in local social justice campaigns. She is committed in continuing the fight against systematic oppression and its transnational implications. She loves constantly learning from the community around her and being apart of a greater movement for an equitable quality of life and conservation of our mother earth!
Anthony VictoriaDirector of Communications
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Anthony is a former reporter, who now serves as Director of Communications for CCAEJ. He’s built a career on being the community’s watchdog.
At a time when local news is underreported by major news media, as a journalist, Anthony helped shine a spotlight on Inland Empire policymakers and government agencies and their policy positions on immigration, homelessness, job-creation and public safety. He wrote about the growth of Latino-owned small businesses, the warehouse industrial complex, and the significance of community events like “Juneteenth” and the “March for Our Lives.”
Anthony is no longer just an observer. He is on the front lines of engaging working-class communities in the fight for equal access to live in healthy communities. His love and pride for the Inland Empire drives his advocacy and public service.
Allen HernandezExecutive Director
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A second-generation resident of Fontana, Allen spent his childhood in and out of the emergency room because of his inability to breathe normally. Allen’s parents, a small landscape business owner and casino housekeeper, would retreat to Lytle Creek, away from the smog, when Allen’s lungs failed him.
His career in environmental justice began as an organizer for the hotel workers’ unions UNITE Here Local 11 and Local 226, where he led hunger strikes and walk-outs to put power back in our hands. Then he joined the Sierra Club, often working hand in hand with CCAEJ to bring our voice to decision-makers and demand clean air and equity.
Allen holds a Master’s of Arts in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and a Certificate in Leadership, Organizing and Action from Harvard University. While he has given lectures and keynotes across the country on environmental justice and community organizing, his work building community power has always been in our community. Read more about Allen here.
Italia GarciaDirector of Civic Engagement
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Italia Garcia was born in Mexico City and immigrated to Riverside, CA at the age of ten. She attended Riverside City College and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of California, Riverside. Italia joined Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice on January 2017 and serves as the Civic Engagement Coordinator. She has been a vocal and passionate advocate of social justice issues and has led numerous successful civic engagement efforts throughout the Inland Valley. Italia enjoys spending her free time gardening, watching movies and playing soccer.
Hakan JacksonData Scientist
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Hakan Jackson was born and raised in Southern California. Upon graduating high school, he joined the United States Air Force as a Biomedical Equipment Technician. During his 12 year service, Hakan obtained an Associates in Applied Science in Biomedical Equipment Technology from the Community College of the Air Force and a Bachelor of Science in Social Science from University of Maryland University College. After honorably discharging from the Air Force, Hakan attended Boston University where he earned a Master of Business Administration.
At CCAEJ Hakan serves as Information Technologist, Cartologist, and Data Scientist. For fun, Hakan enjoys: podcasts, audiobooks, video games and bringing down systemic racism and the patriarchy.
Jean KayanoAssociate Director
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Jean Kayano, is the Associate Director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ). After 30 years of extensive experience in the nonprofit world to help with organizational change and management work – she has finally discovered at CCAEJ her passion for social and environmental justice work. Although her skill set revolves around organizational administration; human resource; and fiscal oversight – her greatest joy revolves around leadership building – working alongside community residents and staff who fight for the right to live in a healthy, toxic-free and sustainable environment. Jean’s work at CCAEJ also includes managing all the various program elements. She enjoys working within team and feels grateful to engage with others in this life-changing work!
Graciela LariosAdministrative Officer
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Graciela Larios, better known as Chela, joined Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice in 2008. She has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Riverside. Her efforts as a community organizer are in the Inland Valley primarily in the city of Jurupa Valley and San Bernardino, only an hour away from the Los Angeles area. During her time with CCAEJ she has been closely involved with the community; conducting and organizing community meetings and programs regarding environmental justice, health and civic engagement. Her passion towards the community in the Inland Valley grows every day as more and more industry moves in and destroys the beautiful green rural area the Inland Valley once was. Chela spends her free time listening to music, drinking coffee, eating pan dulce and hanging out with family and friends