board of directors

our officers & leadership

Zerihoun Yilma

Chair

Zerihoun Yilma has over 2 decades of experience in both for-profit and non-profit management. His international and local experience in the private sector has shaped his unique expertise for the non-profit sector. He is a community leader and he has worked diligently to bring awareness and collaboration among groups and organization representing the diverse race and culture of our immigrant communities. Through his expertise, he has also help shaped and provided technical assistance to several non-profit organizations in Los Angeles.

Zerihoun Yilma has co-founded and served in the board of Academia Moderna the African Public Health Coalition, and the Californians for Humane Immigrant Rights Leadership Action Fund (CHIRLAction fund) Zerihoun has also served in the Board of the Virgin Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles. He currently also serves as board treasurer for Californians for Human Immigrant Rights Leadership Action Fund (CHIRLAction Fund), and board member for Casa Libre. Zerihoun Yilma is also the 2015-16 cohort in the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s Leading from the Inside Out Yearlong Fellowship for Cross Movement Leaders.

Aimee Castenell

Vice Chair/Treasurer

Aimée Castenell is the Southeast Region Communications Director for the Working Families Party. She has over 15 years of experience in digital strategy and change communications, with a focus on human rights, racial justice, voter engagement among communities of color, and economic justice. Previous roles have found Aimée in strategic leadership at the U.S. Human Rights Network, ColorOfChange.org, the Center for Popular Democracy, OUR Walmart, None on Record, and strategy firms Fission Strategy and Do Big Things. She is also the co-creator of WeBuiltThis.org, a project dedicated to helping Black millennials use voting as a tool to combat state violence.

Aimée is an alum of the ReFrame Mentorship, a mentor and advisor in the Kairos Fellowship for digital organizers, a trainer in WFP’s Women Run Campaigns program, and an instructor and mentor in the 2019 Movement School. She holds an M.A. in Activism and Social Change from the University of Leeds and a B.A. in Anthropology from Smith College. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Aimée currently calls Atlanta, GA home. Aimée lives by the motto: A good story, well told, can change lives.

W. Yusef Doucet

Board Member

W. Yusef Doucet was born and raised in Los Angeles California, and has been a life-long Californian, spending his late teens and twenties in the San Francisco Bay Area, attending college at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, California and San Francisco State University. He is also a faculty member of the Santa Monica College English Department. He co-founded and facilitated the Dyamsay Writers’ Workshop in Santa Monica, CA, the Third Root Writers’ Workshop in Pomona, CA, a poetry reading series at the Velocity Café in Santa Monica, CA, and produced seasonal readings and performances at the City Market of Los Angeles Gallery, all projects of the Ubwenge Artists Collective.

He co-programs and co-hosts Liberation Cinema!, a monthly film screening at the AFIBA Center in South Los Angeles which is a project of BABA (Brotherhood Alliance Bridging Africans). He is a member of the Joko Collective, a grassroots think tank and community education project. Yusef is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University. His research interests include the policing effect of integrationist/post-racialist ideologies in popular culture, and anti-Blackness in the modern symbolic order. His work has been published in several anthologies and poetry journals.

Monique Noel

Secretary

Monique Noel, leads Development and Special Projects and Women’s Justice at the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN). Prior to working at LACAN, Monique worked at a private practice which specialized in criminal and civil rights law. She has a background in international human rights and worked at the UNITCR in Arusha, Tanzania.

 

Nse Ufo

Board Member

Nsé Ufot, is the executive director of the New Georgia Project (NGP) and its affiliate, New Georgia Project Action Fund (NGP AF). Nsé leads both organizations with a data-informed approach and a commitment to developing tools that leverage technology with the goal of making it easier for every voter to engage in every election. Nsé and her team are also developing Georgia’s home-grown talent by training and organizing local activists across the state. She has dedicated her life and career to working on civil, human and workers’ rights issues and leads two organizations whose complementary aim is to strengthen Georgia’s democracy.

Under Nsé’s leadership, NGP has registered nearly 400,000 Georgians to vote. Nsé was the driving force in merging civil rights with civic technology, allowing her team of organizers to use sophisticated targeting based on data through NGP’s mobile apps. Eager to gamify civic engagement using the science of video games, NGP was able to engage and empower voters across the state of Georgia. Under her leadership, NGP also studied block chains and cryptocurrency to learn how they could embed and apply similar security to voter suppression.

Prior to joining the New Georgia Project, Nsé worked as the assistant executive director for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canada’s largest faculty union. She also served as the senior lobbyist and government relations officer for the American Association of University Professors where she coordinated initiatives for mobilizing members around legislation and regulations that impacted higher education and labor law.

Nsé has appeared in local and national news outlets to discuss her work, including All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Salon and The Root. Additionally, she has served as a panelist on the national stage at SXSW and Netroots Nation, and was featured on BET’s Finding Justice series.

Nsé, a proud naturalized citizen, was born in Nigeria and raised in Southwest Atlanta. She earned a Bachelor of Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Dayton School of Law. Nsé is an avid cyclist that enjoys international travel, as well as listening and playing music from the African Diaspora. She also speaks fluent French.