The City of San José Department of Transportation is proud to announce our new Equity Task Force! The City has partnered with 9 community leaders and community-based organizations (CBOs) from diverse local communities, particularly our most historically marginalized communities, to create this important team of leaders. This new task force is collaborating with the City in an effort to create a more equitable and people-focused transportation system.
These community experts will primarily focus on collaborating with each other and the City on the development of the Emerging Mobility Action Plan (EMAP) and its engagement process. They are also working with the engagement team to reach and gather broad input from their respective communities to ensure they are part of the decision-making process.
What Equity Task Force Members Do
All Equity Task Force members attend a series of meetings during key project phases to provide input and advice on a range of topics. They will:
- Learn about how the City does planning and propose improvements that would more effectively meet the needs of San Jose’s marginalized communities
- Help set the direction and goals of the plan in a way that centers community and equity
- Help create a collaborative and equitable decision making process that will be a model for future City work
- Help define/refine racial and social equity strategies and tactics
- Provide feedback on initial findings; did we hear the community correctly?
- Review and inform the engagement strategy and content
- Determine how to keep the project accountable to the community
In addition, Equity Task Force members can provide additional support to promote and organize outreach activities and broaden this conversation across different communities. This will help ensure that the City and equity engagement team hears a wide range of perspectives and understands their meaning.
How Did We Select the Equity Task Force Members?
The Equity Task Force partner selection process aimed to represent the diverse racial and social makeup of San José. We identified that it was important that these community leaders and community organizations:
- Represented and/or had connections with racially and/or ethnically diverse communities, and potential intersections, such as low-income populations and older adults
- Have experience working on social causes (land-use, tenant’s rights, etc.) and a strong reputation within their community
- Are able to reach and deeply engage their community
After receiving nearly 60 applications and interviewing candidates, we selected nine individuals to join the Equity Task Force.
Meet the Equity Task Force
Mother, Educator, Activist, and Community Leader, LaToya Fernandez is a dedicated advocate for our youth. As an education champion LaToya has served in local San Jose schools supporting students, educators and families through cultural responsiveness, restorative practices and community engagement. LaToya continues to serve the community in various roles: Teacher, activist, Dean Of Students, District 3 Neighborhoods Commissioner and is a member for the Tech Museum’s Educator Advisory Board and Chair for the Youth Outreach Committee for Women’s March- San Jose. Alongside these roles, Latoya continues to be a community advocate who is passionate about creating platforms for youth. Just one of these platforms is Youthhype, a community based organization that empowers youth in San Jose from marginalized communities to rise up. As its Founder, she facilitates workshops in self esteem, confidence, awareness and identity. Youthhype also actively participates in numerous community events, while pairing empowerment with activism, agency and leadership.
Alan Gouig is a community advocate and grassroots organizer living in the South Bay. Currently, Alan serves as the Nonprofit Catalyst Fellow with the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits (SVCN). Here, he conducts advocacy efforts and public policy research for nonprofits across Santa Clara County. Personally, Alan finds great love in exploring the civic sector at the nexus of his own Asian Pacific Islander (API) identity. Concurrently, he serves as a Civic Engagement Organizer with LEAD Filipino, stands as a proud alum of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute (APALI), and serves on the Board of Directors for the South University Neighborhood (SUN) Association. Alan seeks to raise the democratic capacity of his community by activating the political consciousness of Filipinxs, Asian Pacific Islanders, and the greater community at large.
Helen L. Kassa
Helen Kassa is the Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the African American Community Services Agency. She has been an active member of her community, holding various leadership positions with groups and organizations focused on racial equity and justice. With experience in equity work expanding from educational to environmental, Helen has always been passionately driven to improving the quality of life of the greater Black and marginalized communities, both domestically and abroad. She strives towards continued learning in order to continue impacting the spaces and communities she is a part of.
Adrienne Keel (She/Her)
Adrienne Keel was the Outreach Coordinator at Caminar’s LGBTQ Youth Space for 6 years before becoming the Director of their LGBTQ Programs. She has a background in queer and transgender organizing and strongly understands the importance of intersectionality, while advocating for and serving the LGBTQ community. With a commitment to equity, Adrienne hopes to create a transportation system that is safe for all and meets the needs of marginalized communities.
A proud member of the Chicano / Latinx community and lifelong East San Jose native, Peter Ortiz offers a wide range of perspectives and experiences. As a survivor of gang violence, former systems-involved youth, and a successful community organizer, Peter is a direct product of the community he advocates for. Currently, he represents East and Downtown San Jose on the Santa Clara County Board of Education and also serves on the Alum Rock Santa Clara St. Business Association as their Public Policy Advisor. Since Peter started his journey in public office, he has prioritized advocating for expanding access to early childhood education, dismantling the school to prison pipeline, investing in mental health services for students, empowering parents to influence the decisions made in the schools of their children, and for Ethnic Studies to be offered countywide.As the Founder of the Latino School Boards Association of Santa Clara County, he convenes Latinx elected leaders to discuss and propose solutions to the challenges facing Latinx students. Peter dedicates his entire life to advocating for racial equity and justice.
As the new Executive Director of Latinos United for a New America (LUNA), Mayra Pelagio is passionate about making the voices of the Latinx, immigrant, and low-income communities heard. She is a Mexican immigrant from Guanajuato, Mexico and has resided in East San Jose for more than 10 years. Mayra is also passionate about the environment, studying Environmental Science and Management at UC Davis and is pursuing a Master’s Degree focused on education around wildlife conservation for Latinx communities. As her work in the community deepens, she has developed an understanding and interest in advocating for the transportation needs of her community.
As a Vietnamese immigrant, MyLinh Pham greatly values and is grateful for the fruits of the Civil Rights Movement and those who have gone before to fight for freedom and social justice, which inspires her to contribute and advocate for vulnerable members within the community. In 1996, she helped form the Asian Health Center, the first Vietnamese American Federal Qualified Health Center look-alike in the U.S. located in Orange County, and now known as the Southland Health Center. Few years later, she moved back to the Bay Area and formed the Asian American Center of Santa Clara County, a non-profit community-based organization and has since served as its CEO. MyLinh would like to be a voice for the underserved and underrepresented communities who have historically been excluded from the planning process of important programs including public transportation.
Paris Etemadi Scott
Paris Etemadi Scott is the Legal Director at Pars Equality Center, a 501©(3) community-based nonprofit organization serving the legal and social needs of Iranian-Americans and other underrepresented immigrant communities in Northern and Southern California. Paris has over 13 years of experience as an attorney with a focus on immigration law and international human rights. She manages family immigration and complex removal defense cases and has extensive overseas experience including representation of refugees in Hong Kong before the UNHCR. As an immigrant herself, she understands the importance of advocating for the immigrant community and providing resources to enable newcomers become self-reliant, informed, and engaged members of the society. Paris is a member of the State Bar of California and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). She is an adjunct faculty at West Valley College (WVC) and a board member of WVC Paralegal Program.
Kiyomi Honda Yamamoto
Kiyomi Honda Yamamoto is a fourth-generation San Josean and Lead Housing Policy Attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley. Her public service career includes roles at Greenbelt Alliance, SPUR, the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, and as a Board Member for the Japanese American Museum of San Jose. Kiyomi also worked on political and campaign strategy teams in Washington, D.C., and the Bay Area. As a Japanese-American, her family’s history of facing prejudice and economic challenges inspires her commitment to supporting efforts that amplify community power for effective and lasting progress.