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I can remember growing up in the Bay Area, from Oakland to San Jose, never seeing anyone who looked like me, making decisions about the needs of the most underrepresented and marginalized I proudly have risen from.

Painfully, I witnessed so many women, children, men and young people of color, in my own family, experience trauma from systems of institutional oppression that crippled many families for generations. As a mother, who was born out of poverty, violence and fear myself, I know our voices were never highlighted or heard, because those making decisions didn't see our value or our power. Through struggles and resiliency, I found my voice, my tribe and how I could break cycles of oppression, so I have spent decades working to change policies, get a seat at the table and elect better leaders.

Times are changing, but the historical inequities, the growing issue of affordability in the Bay Area and the unknown outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic, if not collectively addressed, will continue to increase inequality and exclusion. The one thing I know is we must continue to speak up and stand up in meaningful ways, as we build a pipeline of future leaders.

In my current roles, Hayward Planning Commission, At-Large Commissioner on the Alameda Status of Women, Vice Chair of the California Democratic Party LGBTQ Caucus, PAC Chair for East Bay Stonewall Democrats and Courage California, I work tirelessly to educate my community to expand understanding of local policy, give our community a voice and creating diversity in all political spaces I serve.

As the first openly Lesbian Black, Afro-Latina Women to be elected in Santa Clara County, featured at Sundance Film Festival HBO Documentaries, features in countless articles and an award winning advocate, our time is now!

"I am just trying to be the Women I wished I would of met at 14."

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