Our Team

Planting Justice staff
 
Planting Justice Co-executive Director

Haleh Zandi

CO-FOUNDER + CO-DIRECTOR

Planting Justice TYY Team, Salvador

Salvador Mateo Escobar  

Assistant to Co-Directors

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Gavin Raders

CO-FOUNDER + CO-DIRECTOR

Education

 
Planting Justice Educator, Diane

Diane Williams 

EDUCATOR + CASE MANAGER 

Planting Justice Educator, Anthony

Anthony Forrest 

EDUCATOR + CASE MANAGER 

Planting Justice Educator, Bronte

brontë velez 

MEDIA DIRECTOR 

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Rahul Patel

EDUCATOR

Transform
Your Yard

Planting Justice Vendor, Bilal

Bilal Coleman 

EDUCATOR  

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Lisbeth Sanchez

EDUCATOR & FARMER

Planting Justice TYY Team, Nicole

Nicole Wires

TYY PERMACULTURE DESIGNER

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James Collector

PERMACULTURE DESIGNER AND PROJECT MANAGER

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Charles Hightower

TYY LANDSCAPER

 
 

NURSERY

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Victor Brazelton

NURSERY OFFICE TEAM

 
Planting Justice Nursery Team, Joe

Joseph Urias

NURSERY SITE LEADER

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Cesar Fragoso

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

Planting Justice Nursery Team, Adela

Adela Flores

NURSERY TECHNICIAN 

Planting Justice Nursery Team, LJ

LJ Clarke 

NURSERY TECHNICIAN AND FARMERS MARKET VENDOR

Planting Justice Nursery Office Manager, Adriana

Adriana Vera 

NURSERY OFFICE TEAM

Planting Justice Nursery Team, Otis

Otis Spikes 

NURSERY SITE LEADER  

Planting Justice Nursery Team, Jose

Jose Isordia 

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

Planting Justice Nursery Team, Luis Jr.

Luis Ortega Jr. 

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

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Luis Ortega 

NURSERY SITE LEADER

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Nnej Kennedy 

NURSERY OFFICE and VOLUNTEER MNGR

Planting Justice Nursery Technician, Yennifer

Yennifer Flores 

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

Food Forest + Farm

Planting Justice Farm Team, Andrew

Andrew Chahrour

FARM MANAGER [EL SOBRANTE]

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Julio Madrigal

FARMER [EL SOBRANTE]

GrassROOTS
ORGANIZING 

 
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Abraham Cazares

ASSISTANT FARM MANAGER [EL SOBRANTE]

 


photo by  Marissa Leshnov

Patrick Dunigan 

GRASSROOTS ORGANIZER 

Transportation services

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Daniel Alper

GRASSROOTS ORGANIZER

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Stu Millard

VEHICLE MAINTENANCE

 

administrative SuPPORT

 
Planting Justice Accountant, Jie Wang

Jie Wang

ACCOUNTANT

 
 

STAFF BIOS

 

HALEH ZANDI

CO-FOUNDER + CO-DIRECTOR

Haleh Zandi is a co-founder and the co-director of Planting Justice. Her approach towards the food justice movement particularly draws connections between the United States dependence upon fossil fuels within the industrialized and globalized food system and the unjust United States militarization of the Middle East and South Asia. 

She believes the modern colonial food system is in a paradigm of war, and she is dedicated to the ways in which diverse communities may build alliances and practice strategies that collectively resist the violence of the industrial food system and structurally shift the United States towards more ecologically sustainable and socially just ways for living on stolen land.

Haleh was born and raised in California, and she received her BA at UC Santa Cruz and an MA at CIIS in San Francisco. She is of Persian and Norwegian heritage, and she is the proud mama of two little kids. Prior to founding Planting Justice, she worked for Peace Action West and was an intern at the Women of Color Resource Center in Oakland. 

Any inquiries, please contact haleh@plantingjustice.org

GAVIN RADERS

CO-FOUNDER + CO-DIRECTOR

Gavin Raders is a co-founder and co-director of Planting Justice, a father to two amazing daughters, a social justice activist, and a permaculture demonstrator/teacher. For the past 17 years, he has dedicated his life to peoples' movements for peace and social/economic/racial/environmental justice. Prior to Planting Justice, he studied the history, failures, and successes of social movements as a cultural anthropology student at UC Berkeley, and organized on a range of anti-war, anti-nuclear, environmental and human rights issues both on campus and off. He has knocked on nearly 30,000 doors in California, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada as a community organizer with Peace Action West, and those experiences of speaking with thousands of people and walking city streets, knocking on doors, and taking in how land wasn't being used to meet community needs, sowed the seeds of Planting Justice. Rather than fighting against the things that we don't want and continuously reacting against the onslaught of oppressive systems, Gavin decided at a young age to build solutions that bring healing, health, peace, opportunity, and justice to those around him, using his privileges strategically for reparations and redistribution, and creating space for those most impacted by structural violence to live out their own dreams and enact the solutions they know to be necessary, while simultaneously supporting themselves and their families.

Any inquiries, please contact: gavin@plantingjustice.org

SALVADOR MATEO ESCOBAR

ASSISTANT TO CO-DIRECTORS

My position at PJ requires me to be outside a lot. I’m a site manager for most jobs, and we’re just building gardens, just getting stuff done. The crew that I work with consists of men who have transitioned from prison to the outside, and we provide a job with a living wage of $17.50/hr. Growing up I didn’t have much access to healthy food. My mom worked two jobs, didn’t have much time to spend with me and my two sisters. She would give us $20 and tell us to get something eat. The fridge was full of food, but we didn’t know how to cook it. It was really expensive to get something healthy, as opposed to something that wasn’t healthy. Thanks to Planting Justice, we’re able to afford more quality food and know where it’s coming form - because I know that it’s growing in my own back yard. I love what I do. I love being on site, being outside. I wouldn’t change a thing.

EDUCATION

DIANE WILLIAMS

EDUCATOR + CASE MANAGER

Diane Williams brings to Planting Justice decades of experience as a social worker and public health educator. She is Native Alaskan and has been a resident of the Fruitvale district in Oakland since the 70's. She previously brought her experience and energy to the Native American Health Center, Children's Hospital, Alameda County Prison Health Services, and the Peralta Historical Hacienda and Museum. Diane was fundamental in saving and continuing to maintain the Fruitvale community garden, which had been an empty lot for over 35 years. Diane has a BA from Indiana University and a Master's in Public Health from UC Berkeley. 

ANTHONY FORREST

EDUCATOR + CASE MANAGER

Anthony Forrest has served for the past 7 years as an Educator and Case manager for Planting Justice, which has given him the opportunity to demonstrate growth and stability. Planting Justice was the change he needed to change his life. He was locked up for over 25 years, and Planting Justice supported him to continue his work in community-building and provided opportunities and experiences that he otherwise may have never had. As someone who was formerly incarcerated, he now has the privilege through his work with Planting Justice to teach inside of prisons and juvenile detention centers to offer a reflection of what is possible in re-entry. His commitment to freedom helps him to make sound decisions now without second-guessing himself, and he wants this same foundation for others who are currently locked up in State institutions. Not only has he stayed out of prison, he is representing the work of Planting Justice across the country, he made the cover of the East Bay Express, and he also started his own business, a personal touch mobile detail company, with 10 guys on parole working for him. He wants to thank Planting Justice for giving him a better outlook on life! 

brontë velez

EDUCATOR + MEDIA DESIGNER

brontë velez is guided by “the many rivers that have come together” to make and sustain them. as a black-latinx multimedia artist, life-long student, and designer, their praxis (theory + action) lives at the intersections of critical geography, black liberation ecologies and creative placemaking. they live by the call that "black wellness is the antithesis of state violence" (Mark Anthony Johnson). their work intends to compost the violences forged by environmental racism through radical imagination. this commitment iterates through several mediums (farming, ancestral arts skills, popular education) and this year grows through Lead to Life where they serve as the creative director for a process where they transform weapons into shovels and hold ceremonial tree and garden plantings at sites impacted by violence. These ceremonies are accompanied with offerings for popular education rooted in healing and environmental justice. they are committed to joy, wellness, decomposition as rebellion and walking in the prayer that “justice is what love looks like in public."

BILAL COLEMAN

EDUCATOR

Bilal Coleman was born in Berkeley and raised in Oakland, CA. He is a parent of two and he enjoys spending time with both his children. He has a passion for health and personal fitness and giving back to the youth by sharing his personal experiences with the criminal justice system. He appreciates the way everyone at Planting Justice treats each other like family and has supported and accepted him as part of the family. Bilal was sentenced to 20 years in prison at the age of 17. After serving his full sentence, Bilal was released in November of 2015 and is chronicling his first year of freedom through his video diary project, The Freedom Chronicles. 

RAHUL PATEL

EDUCATOR

Rahul is an ecology and food justice educator for Planting Justice. He brings a lifelong experience exploring the natural beauty of different California ecologies into work with young humans reconnecting with the lessons that nature and its elegant systems can teach us. He spent many years working in locavore restaurants as a cook and can bring the best out of any vegetable. Rahul speaks and listens to plants and is an advocate for Natural solutions to human-made problems (after all, humans are a part of nature). As a constant student of Permaculture, he observes the elegant and sustainable solutions nature has developed over millenia and hopes to integrate them into cities.  His hope for the young people is that they may steward and love the Earth in exchange for its knowledge and bounty.

LISBETH SANCHEZ

EDUCATOR & FARMER

pronouns: her/they

Lisbeth was born and raised in Oakland. They are currently holding a hybrid position as an educator at Maple Street Correctional Center and hands on at the El Sobrante Farm. They have worked for many years as an organizer. Lisbeth is currently training with mentors and elders under ancestral practices of curanderismo and traditional Mesoamerican herbalism. Lisbeth is committed above all else to radical grassroots movements, food justice, land reclamation, and herbalism as radical forms of resistance and community self-defense.

TRANSFORM YOUR YARD

JULIO MADRIGAL

TYY SITE LEADER

Julio Madrigal grew up in Oakland, he has witness the struggles people have around food along with the health issues of malnutrition. Julio has had the opportunity to learn from people in his community and this has rooted his love for the Planting Justice community. Julio enjoys teaching people ways to better their gardening techniques or simply learn to use plants as medicine.This has made Julio realize that change is possible and just like plants it takes time to grow. 

NICOLE WIRES

TYY PERMACULTURE DESIGNER

Nicole Wires was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, where she made a promise to the mountains she loves to swim in every mountain stream, creak, river or lake that she comes across.  While her paid work does not define her, she loves working with the Transform Your Yard Team at Planting Justice as a permaculture designer, designing sustainable, California native, and edible landscapes for clients all over the Bay Area.  Her unpaid work includes organizing with the White Noise Collective, exploring the intersection of white privilege and gender oppression in the struggle for racial justice, and working to dismantle the prison industrial complex with the #DefundOPD working group of the Anti Police-Terror Project.  She also loves to garden, read, dance, climb, hike, play guitar, drum, and explore.

CHARLES HIGHTOWER

TYY LANDSCAPER

Bio coming soon!

JAMES COLLECTOR

TYY LANDSCAPER

As a landscaper for Planting Justice, I feel grateful for every day that I can make a hands-on contribution to building resilient, equitable communities in the Bay Area. A lifelong student of permaculture, my earlier work as an environmental journalist led me to the powerful question: “Where does our food come from?” Answering this question continues to challenge almost everything I was taught growing up in America. From off-grid, organic farms in developing countries to data-intensive horticulture projects, it’s been a journey of healing and re-education. I’m honored to be here working alongside the Planting Justice family. The plants and animals are rooting for us!

NURSERY

ADRIANA VERA

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

Bio coming soon!

JOSEPH URIAS

NURSERY SITE LEADER

Bio coming soon!

CESAR FRAGOSO

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

Bio coming soon!

OTIS SPIKES

NURSERY SITE LEADER

Otis grew up in Sobrante Park and has lived here in the neighborhood for the past 37 years. After hearing about the Planting Justice Nursery & Aquaponics Farm Incubation Center, he came to apply for a job, and was quickly hired for his experience and expertise in irrigation construction, a skill he honed working for the City of Oakland's Parks & Recreation Department. He's excited to be a part of something BIG that will benefit the community of Sobrante Park.

LUIS ORTEGA

NURSERY SITE LEADER

Bio coming soon!

ADELA FLORES

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

Bio coming soon!

JOSE ISORDIA

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

Bio coming soon!

LJ CLARKE

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

Bio coming soon!

LUIS ORTEGA JR.

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

Bio coming soon!

NNEJ KENNEDY

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

pronouns: she/her/we/us

NneJ was born in Oakland and grew up in the Bay Area, received a degree in Anthropolog(y from SFSU. After 20 + years in the food and beverage industry doing everything from helping in her dad's bar as a child, waitressing, bartending, catering, and managing 2 restaurants in New Zealand she found her focus deepen into a health based lifestyle. While working at Flying Studios (http://www.flying-studios.com), coordinating volunteers and managing facilities, she heard the call to come to Planting Justice as soon as the nursery was being built in East Oakland, "I trusted it was where I needed to be and I followed my deeper calling, but it did take awhile to fully dive in." She volunteered for a year, graduated from the BAFTP (Bay Area Farmer's Training Program (offered by MESA & PJ), and Soul Flower's ROOTS Permaculture Design Course (http://www.soulflowerfarm.com/roots-training.html) and she officially joined the nursery team in 2017. Planting Justice's partnership with Sogorea Te Land Trust and Lead to Life really helped solidify that she was in the right place.

“We will one day, in this life or another, see a world without borders. Where we live based on an ecosystem where all life forms are valued and every being has access to healthy food, clean water, housing, education, reverence for their gifts in the world, and access to the tools/resources to realize those gifts. May our deep gifts emerge, may we celebrate life in ceremony and the rhythms of mother earth again, may we build a culture-based world (where black, brown, indigenous and POGM (People of the Global Majority) are truly valued), where languages are plentiful, where sang and dance bring joy to all, and may our true love of life spread to galaxies far and wide.”

Outside of Planting Justice she helps anchor Oakland's Awakin Circle (http://www.awakin.org/local/city/oakland Come join) and a farm stand "Frutagift" where we pass on the gift of fresh organic produce directly from farmers onto our neighbors with less access to healthy food.

Her daily yoga, meditation, and self-care practices help ground her in the direct action work needed in our time.

Please read this https://www.lifeworth.com/deepadaptation.pdf and/or listen to this http://www.thefutureisbeautiful.co/2018/12/27/e45-jem-bendell-on-deep-adaptation-climate-change-and-societal-collapse-acceptance-and-evolution-in-the-face-of-global-meltdown/

Her passions in life are seeding a world of co-liberation and cooperation rather than competition and capitalism, decolonizing her own mind and others, rooting in racial healing, regeneration, growing food, being in nature, hiking, dancing, song circles, and building community. Every day we sit with the grief of the time we are in and the beauty that we are creating to get out of this mess. We need each other. "I'm so grateful to Sogorea Te and Planting Justice team for the opportunity to learn so much daily together and all my teachers along this journey”

YENNIFER FLORES

NURSERY TECHNICIAN

Bio coming soon!

FOOD FOREST + FARM

ANDREW CHAHROUR

FARM MANAGER (EL SOBRANTE)

Andrew grew up in Ohio, received an Environmental Studies degree from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, and has worked within several sectors of the food & water world. Working with the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming he documented the recession of Aspen stands, researched the impacts of livestock management practices, and was introduced to the top-down approach of improving management practices. Uninspired by top-down change, Andrew moved to Boston where he co-founded a wiki-based website devoted to ethical consumerism by providing product life-cycle information to everyday consumers. Having learned a lot from this first entrepreneurial experience, Andrew moved to the Bay Area in 2007 following his passion for food and the environment and found meaningful non-profit work with the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA). Working with MESA for 3 years, Andrew expanded the farmer training program's outreach by developing a new website, better tech systems, and by visiting with active and potential organic host farms across the country. In early 2010, seeking more hands-on work with local communities, Andrew left MESA to help start the non-profit Planting Justice. Andrew has worked with Planting Justice as a Permaculture Designer, Director of the Landscaping Program, and in May of 2015 Andrew began his current position as the Farm Manager of the organization's 5-acre food forest in El Sobrante. Since 2010, Andrew has been a member-owner of Water Wise Supply - an online-retail shop that specializes in providing information and supplying hardware to DIY and professional installers of greywater and rainwater systems. Also Since 2010, Andrew has been a core member of Wild & Radish, a collective committed to environmental stewardship, ecological building and urban agriculture that is currently building a eco-village on thirteen acres in El Sobrante.

Any inquiries, please contact andrew@plantingjustice.org

ABRAHAM CAZARES

ASSISTANT FARM MANAGER [EL SOBRANTE]

pronouns: he/they

Abraham was born and raised in Oxnard, a coastal Southern California city (Chumash Homeland), surrounded by some of the most productive agricultural land in the state. In spite of this proximity, he grew up disconnected from the land and the food being produced around his primarily POC and working class community. Seeking to change the inequities present around him, Abraham studied Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems at UC Davis, where he learned about sustainable food production methods, and the different ways oppressive structures in our society reduce and take away the ability for people to nourish and heal themselves and their communities. After graduating, he worked at a 20 acre diversified crop and poultry farm for 2 years, where he learned about the current realities and challenges of being a small farmer in this country. Abraham returned to UC Davis and helped to start and coordinate the Community Table Project at the Student Farm, an effort focused on addressing inequities around food access and program accessibility in the university. Through this work, Abraham worked with other students and staff to establish interdisciplinary ways of using outdoor education spaces, and helped to coordinate the donation of fresh, organic produce from the Student Farm to food security organizations on campus. Intent on continuing to participate in efforts to reconnect folx of marginalized identities to land, food, and healing, Abraham joined the Planting Justice team as an Assistant Farm Manager at the 4 Acre Farm and Orchard in El Sobrante.

GRASSROOTS ORGANIZING

PATRICK DUNIGAN

GRASSROOTS ORGANIZER

I grew up on a ranch in the Sierra Nevadas of Northern California amongst nothing but trees, animals, and my 6 brothers and sisters.  Ironically never growing food besides the animals, i've always been a country side obsessor.  Going to school in the Bay Area gave me the perfect counter balance to my isolated upbringing and showed me what city life could and is all about.  In comes Planting Justice to bridge the gap for me.  Cities have cut us off from the earth and all that the earth has to offer us.  We at PJ get to bring us all back to mother earth and unlock her wild secrets of food, healing, and love.  If you see me out on the street, don't worry, I won't bite.........hard.

DANIEL FRANCIS

GRASSROOTS ORGANIZER

Daniel Francis was one of the first members of the original Planting Justice Canvass team when it formed in 2012, and served as the fundraising department coordinator from 2013-2016. He is currently attending Golden Gate University School of Law, but he still finds time to exercise his right to free speech in public for the cause of Planting Justice. 

ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT

JIE WANG

ACCOUNTANT

Jie Wang is a Certified Public Accountant who specializes in non-profit billing for mental health, foster care, adoption, Title IV and more.  Jie supports the Planting Justice Financial Committee with financial reporting, reconciliation, audit preparation, and annual tax preparation.