As a Somali woman and former refugee, Sahra been passionately engaged in addressing the physical and mental health and social well-being of East African women and their families for over 14 years, through education, advocacy and services. Sahra co-founded United Women of East Africa Support Team (UWEAST), a nonprofit dedicated to improving San Diego’s East African women and families’ well-being.
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Sahra has worked in many different capacities, always with the same intent, to help improve the quality of life for East African Refugee. In addition, she has been instrumental in the development of the Hooyo Health Program (Hooyo means Mother in Somali), a program designed for Somali and East African mothers and their families, as well as the Girl Scouts San Diego. Girl Scouts has helped to equip the young girls to enjoy good success as youth, which will transfer into their adulthood. The California Wellness Foundation, recognized Sahra as the 2006 California Peace Prize Honoree. Sahra was also recognized as a 2012 Cool Woman.
Lori Shellenberger is an election reform and voting rights strategist who consults on state and national campaigns to build a more inclusive and representative democracy.
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Shellenberger was director of the ACLU of California's Voting Rights Project from 2011 to 2017, where she spearheaded integrated legal, policy, and organizing strategies to re-enfranchise people stripped of their voting rights because of a criminal conviction; advocate for compliance with state and federal voting rights laws; and advance legislation and implementation to build an infrastructure for voter registration at public assistance agencies, offices serving people with disabilities, Covered California, and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Cory began practicing law in 1995 with Mundell, Odlum & Haws in San Bernardino, California, where he primarily litigated commercial and employment-related disputes. In 1998, he moved to Washington, D.C., and added environmental law and regulatory compliance to his practice while pursuing graduate degrees and teaching at The George Washington University Law School and the University of Maryland. Cory returned to southern California in June 2002, and his practice now balances small/family-owned business law with public-interest and government-accountability litigation.
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Cory’s two favorite pastimes are scuba diving and traveling to remote places around the world (hopefully to scuba dive).
Led by the communities it serves, PANA raises refugee voices to increase their visibility and impact in the region. PANA does this by bringing hundreds of impacted residents to meetings with their political representatives to voice their experiences and change policies that affect them and their economic, educational, health, and housing needs. PANA also engages youth leaders from diverse backgrounds in work on issues they identify as critical and trains them to contact and turn out thousands of new and inconsistent voters each election cycle. And, because the communities PANA serves are so deeply impacted by 45’s detrimental policies, it works with national partners to push back on these policies and provide support to communities directly affected by his Muslim Ban, including nationals from Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
As Executive Director of PANA, Ramla Sahid has overseen the organization’s growth and prominence as it has skyrocketed in a few short years to become one of San Diego’s most important civic engagement and advocacy organizations. Ramla has received numerous awards for her work with PANA including the “2017 Women of the Year Award” by Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, “2017 Global Citizen Award” from the United Nations Association of USA, the “Muslim Community Champion Award” by the Islamic Center of San Diego, and was named the “2017 Voice of the Year “by the Voice of San Diego. She regularly speaks at conferences on the power of building and leveraging community voices to achieve equitable outcomes for families.
Geneviéve L. Jones-Wright was raised by her single mother in a low-income home in San Diego, California where devotion to family and self-respect was cultivated. In the fourth grade Geneviéve decided to follow in the steps of Justice Thurgood Marshall and become a “social engineer.” Since that day, she has been determined to “carry the bags” of Justice Marshall as he had done for Mr. Charles Hamilton Houston.
In keeping with the vision, Geneviéve obtained a J.D. from Howard Law after graduating from the University of San Francisco with a B.A. in mass media communications. She obtained an LL.M. in Trial Advocacy in a one-of-a-kind program specializing in federal criminal defense from California Western School of Law. She has practiced in federal court in both the Southern and Central Districts of California, and proudly served San Diego County as a public defender for 13 years where she represented poor people charged with serious crimes.
Geneviéve is the inaugural Legal Director for The Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA) where she develops cutting-edge human rights and national security policy for immigrant and refugee communities in San Diego County. She is a member of the organization’s “Rapid Response” team, providing a legal infrastructure to respond to the growing, urgent threats to Muslim, asylee, and refugee community members. Geneviéve uses her expertise, leadership, fierce drive, and litigation skills to secure human rights, justice, and freedom for our immigrant and refugee communities to ensure everyone has equal protection and justice under the law.
Beyond the courtroom and policymaking, Geneviéve serves on the City of San Diego’s Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention where she chairs the Gang Documentation committee. She is a volunteer attorney for the California Innocence Project and a member of the State Bar of California’s Council on Access and Fairness. In addition to being a proud member of Lawyers Club, Geneviéve is President of the Howard University Alumni Club of San Diego, Vice President of the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association, 2nd Vice President of the San Diego branch of the NAACP, and a board member for Historically Black Colleges and Universities Alumni Club San Diego.
In 2003, Geneviéve co-founded and served on the Board of Directors of ELITE (Educated Ladies Investing in Tomorrow’s Exemplars), a local program that prepared young girls for college. Currently, Geneviéve serves on the Board of Directors for the David’s Harp Foundation, a local nonprofit that transforms the lives of “at-risk” and homeless youth through the power of music. Recently, Geneviéve re-launched her professional motivational speaking firm, Motivation.In.Action (MIA). Through MIA, Geneviéve empowers individuals—especially women and youth—to “write their own stories” and to live on purpose.
Her life goal is to use the law as a tool for our most vulnerable groups. Geneviéve has an abiding love for God and sincerely desires to manifest Divine Love through service by way of her life.
As Deputy Director of PANA, Homayra Yusufi works closely with the Executive Director to advance the mission and goals of the organization. She leads the team of organizers and advocates with a community-driven approach to advance policies that directly impact refugee communities. Ms. Yusufi joins PANA with over a decade of experience protecting the civil rights of immigrants, refugee and Muslim communities.
Prior to joining PANA, Ms. Yusufi worked as a Senior Policy Strategy Consultant working on a range of policy campaigns. She also served as the Senior Policy Advocate with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where she developed the organization’s immigration policy platform and led the immigrant rights integrated advocacy team. During her tenure at ACLU, Ms. Yusufi worked collaboratively to pass multiple pieces of state legislation that provided protections for immigrant communities. She also worked on advancing the civil rights of the Muslim community through her work at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-San Diego).
Ms. Yusufi graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelors in Political Science and received her Masters in Public Policy from UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy. During her time at UC Berkeley, Yusufi was a consultant with the Emery Unified School District working on the intersection of housing policies and student academic outcomes.
Ms. Yusufi was born in Afghanistan and became a refugee at the age of two. Her family immigrated to the United States where they established new lives in San Diego. As a proud mother of two daughters, Ms. Yusufi works tirelessly to build a better world for their future.
Mustafa Dib is a community organizer with the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans - PANA. Mustafa is comitted to building a stronger and better connected Syrian Community in San Diego. He organizes community convenings to educate members on their rights, conducts a community intake process to connect families denied services to pro-bono lawyers and helps them prepare for their appeal. Previously, Mustafa was the head mechanic for paper companies in Damascus, Syria.
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In May 2015, Mustafa and his family resettled in San Diego from Syria.
Qureesh Hussein is self-employed and a community leader dedicated to advancing a more equitable world and just world. He is committed to a world where refugee families have safety, security, and can lead dignified lives as full participants in their new home.
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Hussein arrived in the U.S. in 2010 as an asylum seeker through the San Ysidro Port Of Entry. Since arrival he has dedicated his life to his community in support of community members, youth, and families.
Hussein is originally from Ethiopia and enjoys playing soccer and politics.
Nathan Fletcher is a Marine Corps combat veteran, former California State Assemblyman and Professor of Practice in Political Science at the University of California.
As an elected member of the California State Assembly Fletcher served as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs in the New Economy and is the author of the landmark public safety legislation “Chelsea’s Law”. In his time in office, he passed and had signed into law more than 30 bills, addressing issues including tax reform, healthcare, homelessness, veterans, job creation, public safety and more. He was also a leading advocate of the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’
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Fletcher is an Ironman Triathlete and avid outdoorsman who enjoys surfing and alpine mountaineering/glacier climbing. He lives with his wife, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and their four children in San Diego, California.
Dhaha Nur is the Data Analyst of the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans - PANA. He oversees efforts in building community power through digital organizing, and advocacy. He is responsible for the efficacy and growth of PANA’s non-partisan voter engagement and census efforts. As well as the analysis of local and statewide campaign strategies to advance issues that promote the full inclusion of our refugee and AMEMSA communities.
Dhaha holds firm to the idea that it his unequivocal duty to stand for the rights of those around him. He is a refugee that believes the catalyst for change starts from within communities, and aspires to be an agent of change. He believes that change will only come when change happens within. His experience with civic engagement is diverse and broad. It includes conducting research, data analysis, community advocacy, and youth leadership development.
Dhaha is a Data Analytics graduate student at San Diego State University.
Abdi Ali is self-employed and a community organizer working with elders and community leaders to help build a unified voice in the Somali community.
Abdi arrived in the U.S. in 2010 as an asylum seeker and has volunteered and supported PANA since inception. He has also organized asylum seekers to connect them to community services and self-help networks providing housing, food, and transpiration support.
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Abdi is ardent supporter of Manchester United and loves talking history and politics.
Dr. Ahmad Bailony is a pediatrician in National City, California and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Paradise Valley Hospital and Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. He received his medical degree from University of Toledo College of Medicine.
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Ahmad was born and raised in San Diego by his Syrian parents. As well as being a pediatrician, he’s a blogger and punk rock enthusiast.
John is a physics graduate from Imperial College, London and has over 30 years of experience managing product development groups in the U.S., UK, Norway, India & South Korea. He’s been a CTO, VP Engineering and Program Manager with telecommunications, consumer electronics and medical devices companies.
He immigrated to San Diego, California in 1993 and founded Ruby White Enterprises in 1996, providing communication & technology services to businesses, non-profits and progressive groups.
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John looks to help build greater union between immigrant tech workers and refugees.