Meet the Team

Meet Our
People

Our team is our family. BOP Staff are made up of folks from all walks of life that are committed and passionate about the work that we do. Our multigenerational  staff ranges from former volunteers or members, to experienced organizing veterans and everything in between. 
 

Jackie Byers

Executive Director

Jackie has over 20 years of experience working in low-income...

 

Jackie Byers

Position: Executive Director
Email: jackie@blackorganizingproject.org
Categories: BOP Team

Jackie has over 20 years of experience working in low-income communities of color as an organizer and trainer on a broad array of issues, including tenant organizing, youth organizing, regional equity, and more.

She is the founding Director of the Black Organizing Project (BOP) in Oakland. Prior to Directing BOP, Jackie served as the Associate Director for the Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO) where she had the opportunity to support community organizing work by providing training and developing some of the most talented young organizers in the country.

Jackie is a native of Minnesota where she worked as a Lead Organizer for neighborhood based organizations in Minneapolis working on affordable housing. Prior to moving to Oakland, she was the Training Director for the Organizing Apprenticeship Project (OAP) in Minneapolis. Before leaving Minnesota she served as an active board member with Headwaters Fund For Justice.  Jackie is a firm believer in the importance of community, spirit and culture as essential to the transformation of individuals as well as institutions.

Chianda Rawlins

Office Manager

Chianda has over 15 years of experience as an administrative...

 

Chianda Rawlins

Position: Office Manager
Email: chianda@blackorganizingproject.org
Categories: BOP Team

Chianda has over 15 years of experience as an administrative professional and has been with BOP for over 3 years.  Chianda is an active member of the Center of Grace Ministries in West Oakland,  serving in multiple capacities.  She is the mother of two children in highschool.

Through her administrative work at BOP, Chianda is excited to be an asset to the growth and development of BOP, and is delighted to be a part of the BOP family.

Ni’Keah Manning

Program Coordinator

Ni’Keah has always had a passion for Black youth and...

 

Ni’Keah Manning

Position: Program Coordinator
Email: nikeah@blackorganizingproject.org
Categories: BOP Team

Ni’Keah has always had a passion for Black youth and families. A San Francisco State University alumnus , Ni’Keah was initially introduced to BOP through her field of study– Child and Adolescent Development with a concentration in Policy, Advocacy and Systems.

Ni’Keah came to BOP as a volunteer with no prior organizing knowledge or experience. Despite her lack of experience, once here,  she knew that indulging in this work full-heartedly was her responsibility.

Inspired by Black people’s resilience against power structures and other adversities, Ni’Keah believes that by prioritizing genuine relationship building and understanding first,  she can help her community rediscover its power.

For Ni’Keah, BOP is a welcoming, safe space that fosters dedicated people, through engaging with the community. Through her work with BOP and beyond, Ni’Keah hopes to ultimately help unveil the innate    power of  Black people in both children and adults.

Jessica Black

Black Sanctuary Director

Jessica is a Minnesota native with a passion for social...

 

Jessica Black

Position: Black Sanctuary Director
Email: jessica@blackorganizingproject.org
Categories: BOP Team

Jessica is a Minnesota native with a passion for social justice and cultural interpretation.  A mother of two, Jessica came to California in 2013 in order to reconnect with family.

For 10 years, as the Education Systems Navigator at the Cultural Wellness Center in Minnesota, Jessica worked to further enhance her skills of strategic planning, collective communication, shared authority and motivational speaking. Jessica has worked to dismantle unequal systematic approaches in housing, employment, education and criminal justice institutions for many years.

Jessica embraces and is guided by the elders within her community. These relationships  aid her in recruiting and organizing Black parents, to encourage their involvement in schools, and influencing policy, procedures, and paradigm shifts. Ultimately, Jessica’s passion to help Black people recognize the power and potential they possess led her to BOP. Through BOP Jessica hopes to continue her journey of achieving equitable access for Black people.

Jasmine Williams

Communications Director

Jasmine is a Sacramento native with a passion for reading and...

 

Jasmine Williams

Position: Communications Director
Email: jwilliams@blackorganizingproject.org
Categories: BOP Team

Jasmine is a Sacramento native with a passion for reading and writing . She fell in love with the Bay Area at 18 when she began her academic journey at San Francisco State University where she was an editor for the school magazine; Xpress Magazine. From SF State she achieved her BA degree in Journalism with a minor in Africana Studies and was determined to pour resources back into her community.

Jasmine hopes to use her writing to shift the negative narrative of Black people repeated in mainstream media  and to ensure that Black people have a platform to uplift their voices and experiences . She is excited about reaffirming and celebrating the beauty of Blackness with BOP through storytelling, community building and organizing.

Betty Wallace

Oragnizer

Betty is a California transplant by way of Ohio who has...

 

Betty Wallace

Position: Oragnizer
Email: betty@blackorganizingproject.org
Categories: BOP Team

Betty is a California transplant by way of Ohio who has been in the Bay Area for over 8 years. A mother of 3 adult children and a grandmother to 7, Betty is passionate about uplifting and reuniting the spirit of the Black community. In addition to her community organizing work,  Betty serves as an Associate Minister at St. Mark Bethel Baptist Church in Pittsburg, CA.

Betty comes from a lineage of Black community workers and has played an intricate part in developing leaders and helping others unleash their voice and empower themselves through working together to make a difference. Despite her short time in the Bay area she has always made a point to volunteer and support her Black community and hopes to continue to bring unity, peace, love and equality back to the East Bay.

Travis Thompson

Communications Specialist

Travis, Southern grown with Caribbean roots, was born in Miami, Florida...

 

Travis Thompson

Position: Communications Specialist
Email: travis@blackorganizingproject.org
Categories: BOP Team

Travis, Southern grown with Caribbean roots, was born in Miami, Florida with a Trinidadian upbringing.  He has lived in the Bay Area for over 5 years and has been working in the design field ever since. Growing up in The South,  Travis has used his lived experience to inform his beliefs and the community work he chooses to be a part of. Although Travis has always been an artist of sorts– he has strongly focused more into  Graphic Design and hopes to bring his creative eye and unique skill set to BOP. He loves sharing his views and experiences of his life while also learning about other experiences and other perspectives.

It is a passion for Travis to convert his surroundings into a visual creative aspect that speaks not only to a mainstream audience, but to regular everyday Black people.  He gets great satisfaction from being a resource of any way he can for his people. He hopes that through BOP he can continue being an engaged member in his community and  create visuals that tell a different, more authentic story of the Black community.

Zachary Clarke

Organizer

Zachary is a California transplant who was  was raised in...

 

Zachary Clarke

Position: Organizer
Email: zachary@blackorganizingproject.org
Categories: BOP Team

Zachary is a California transplant who was  was raised in Camden– a small , segregated town in New Jersey.  For him, growing up in Camden was rough— however through the support of family and friends and joining his high school  track team– he was able to stay away from trouble and navigate his circumstances. Growing up in Camden, Zach saw education as a way out and dreamed of eventually teaching kids who came from similar environments, that it is possible to make it outside of your current situation.

Zach earned his  BA degree in Early Childhood Education from Coppin State University in Baltimore , Maryland. There he gained the tools he needed to fulfill his dream and start his career.  He hopes that through his experience and expertise, he can serve as real life example and be a real companion to Black youth who may have had to jump over a few hurdles in life.

Indigo Byers

Organizer

Indigo is a founding BOP member from Oakland and has...

 

Indigo Byers

Position: Organizer
Email: indigo@blackorganizingproject.org
Categories: BOP Team

Indigo is a founding BOP member from Oakland and has been a part of the organization since the age of nine.  She was first introduced to the organization along with her father — who is also a founding member and has been committed to the organizing and the work ever since.  From an early age, Indigo had been passionate about her community and how she can help make effective change. Growing up in the bay and going to high school in Clayton Valley ( considered a Bay area suburb)– she feels that she can easily relate to youth and community members who grow up in different cities across the Bay, that have to adapt to the varying cultures.

She is strongly influenced by her Black and Brown upbringing where she intends to use her own lived experience as a way to relate and share perspectives. In 2018, she participated in Center For Third World Organizing’s (CTWO’s) Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program (MAAP) where she spent time in New York and Miami ,and  was able to add valuable lessons and experiences to her organizing tool belt. She is currently a sophomore at Mills College in Oakland, where she is majoring in Ethnic Studies and minoring in Urban Education.She enjoys skateboarding with her dad and changing her hair and nails to match her mood on her time off.

Ayoka Turner

Chief of Staff

T. Ayoka Turner is a trainer, organizer and lifelong learner....

 

Ayoka Turner

Position: Chief of Staff

T. Ayoka Turner is a trainer, organizer and lifelong learner. She has over 25
years of experience working with young people, organizations and communities
to fight for social and community change. Ayoka has consulted and worked with
a wide variety of local and national organizations including, Black Lives Matter
Global Network, Causa Justa: Just Cause, Grassroots Institute for Fundraising
Training/GIFT, the Center for Media Justice, Center for Young Women’s
Development, Center for Third World Organizing/CTWO, Hunters Point Family,
San Francisco Department of the Department of Children, Youth and Their
Families, Soul of Unity and Liberation/SOUL, Children of War and YouthSpace.
Ayoka has also served as an adjunct professor in the Metro Academy for
Success program at San Francisco State University. In May 2016, she
completed a Masters of Divinity at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA.
Born and raised in Bed Stuy Brooklyn and on the Lower East Side of Manhattan,
Ayoka has spent her life fighting to improve the conditions for poor and working
class communities of color like the ones she was raised in. Ayoka lives with her
son Khalil in West Philadelphia.

Sanyika Bryant

Lead Organizer

For the last 20 years Sanyika Bryant has worked as...

 

Sanyika Bryant

Position: Lead Organizer
Categories: BOP Team

For the last 20 years Sanyika Bryant has worked as an organizer in different formations on a wide array of issues ranging from transportation justice, tenant rights, police brutality and more. He got his start in organizing as a member leader in the Bus Riders Union in Los Angeles and has gone on to work at Causa Justa Just Cause as a Tenant Rights Organizer for 11 years. He is also a longtime member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, serving in various positions in the organization’s leadership.

Sanyika’s work is rooted in self-determination and his political ideology is New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism. He sees his work as his personal contribution towards ending all forms of oppression and is committed to helping others build a world where everyone is truly liberated.

Sanyika was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was raised in Los Angeles, CA. He is the oldest of 6 and considers himself to be the 3rd parent in his family. He moved to Oakland in the fall of 2009. He has a passion for history and creativity and spends his free time studying history and making art.

Desiree Mims

Communications Coordinator

Desiree is a Mother and San Leandro native, who from...

 

Desiree Mims

Position: Communications Coordinator
Categories: BOP Team

Desiree is a Mother and San Leandro native, who from a young age- recognized her passion and calling to social justice and Black liberatory work. She attributes her early acclimation to the criminal INjustice system and the context of “life as a Black person in this society”, to her father, who is a Mississippi native and no stranger to the prison industrial complex. Desiree was personally impacted by school pushout and criminalization of her Blackness from as young as elementary school and those experiences have led her to organizing work in Oakland and eventually to her becoming a member of The Black Organizing Project in 2016. During her struggling years of dealing with school push out and expulsion– she found refuge in various artistic outlets, most notably writing, and was accepted into the Young Writers Workshop of UC Berkeley in 2009. 

It is with her writing and storytelling of experiences with school pushout and over policing of Black/Brown youth, that she finds healing from her own experiences and aims to help members of her community prevail and positively impact the oppressive systems in this country to create real change – despite their circumstances.

Desiree’s passion for systemic change has been catapulted since becoming a mother and she lets her dreams for a better future and schools for her kids motivate her to never give up. In addition to social justice work, Desiree is a big advocate for transformative self healing and is a big believer in the power of Meditation and the importance of Ancestral praise. She is also an advocate for Crystal Healing and is the owner of a Metaphysical Healing Boutique.

Alexandria Azzar

Digital Organizer

Alexandria grew up in a family that’s women in one...

 

Alexandria Azzar

Position: Digital Organizer
Categories: BOP Team

Alexandria grew up in a family that’s women in one way or another were involved in a fight for justice. Therefore she was one of the children who used to sit in on meetings and see what it looked like to sit down with people and strategize ways to solve problems at a very young age. Alexandria then become involved in organizing during her middle school years where she became involved in an organization where they developed a fight that deeply mattered to the young people they fought for a curriculum that was racially inclusive & just as well as leading undoing racism trainings among youth , registering people to vote across the country , sitting on a senate youth advisory council to be a voice for the youth in matters pertaining to curriculum. Alexandria is a mother and very family oriented and hopes to teach her daughter the valuable lessons that we can all learn about from the power of organizing.

April Yi

Director of Development

April brings a wealth of experience in nonprofit management. She...

 

April Yi

Position: Director of Development
Categories: BOP Team

April brings a wealth of experience in nonprofit management. She has partnered with numerous academic, environmental, and youth centered organizations on the design and implementation of business strategies and funding models that support sustainability and healthy growth.

Working collaboratively with large and small teams April has developed and led projects from start-up, full-implementation, to scale-up. She has a deep passion for work that directly impacts Black communities and engages stakeholders in a meaningful stewardship that leads to long-term impact and partnership.

April is a graduate of Notre Dame of Maryland University. She earned a Masters degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2002.