board of directors

our officers & leadership

Zerihoun Yilma

Interim Board Chair

Zerihoun Yilma is the Associate Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, (CHIRLA), where he has long served to bring immigration issues at the forefront. Zerihoun has over 20 years of experience in both for-profit and non-profit management. His experience in the private sector has shaped his unique expertise for the non-profit sector. Zerihoun has had diverse professional and academic journeys in countries including, Ethiopia, Botswana, Namibia, and India. He received his Master’s Degree in Accounting and Cost Accounting from Poona University and his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Management from Shivaji University, both in India. Before coming to CHIRLA, Zerihoun worked in the financial services industries in Los Angeles and in Africa, and managed and oversaw small-scale manufacturing plants and service industries. Zerihoun is a community leader and has provided technical assistance to several non-profit organizations in Los Angeles. He is a co-founder of the Academia Moderna (www.academiamoderna.org ) a K-5 Charter School in Walnut Park, California; the African Communities Public Health Coalition (African Coalition) (www.africancoalition.org ) that advocates for and provides culturally-competent wellness and mental health programs to African immigrants; and the Californians for Human Immigrant Rights Leadership Action Fund (CHIRLAction fund) (www.chirlafund.org) an organization that promotes and advocates for immigrant rights. He has also served as Vice President of Virgin Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles. Zerihoun is a member of Black Immigration Network (BIN) and he has contributed to the formation and growth of the network.

Aimee Castenell

Board Member at Large

Aimée has over 10 years of experience in online advocacy, digital strategy, and strategic 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, and OUR Walmart, to name a few.

Aimée is a board member of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Vice Chair of the Georgia Working Families Party, an alum of the ReFrame Mentorship, and a mentor in the Kairos Fellowship for digital organizers. 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 resides in Atlanta, GA with her polydactyl cat, Güero.

Nana Gyamfi

BAJI Executive Director

Nana Gyamfi, JD is a human and civil rights attorney, an adjunct professor in the Pan African Studies Department at the California State University Los Angeles, the host of “Uprising: The Asafo Edition” onPacifica Radio’s 90.7FM KPFK, and an organizer and activist associated with various local, national, and international causes.

As a Movement attorney, Nana addresses the social justice challenges of Black and other marginalized communities of color through legal advocacy, organizing, and involvement in community causes and activism. Nana is a co-founder of Justice Warriors 4 Black Lives, a Black-led network of attorneys and non-attorneys fighting on the legal frontlines in support of the Movement for Black Lives. She also heads the Community Legal Clinic & Restorative Justice Center (CLCRJC) where she provides legal representation, advocacy, alternate dispute resolution, and “legal-ease” workshops regarding constitutional and human rights. 

Nana is a well-respected and well-loved adjunct professor in the Pan African Studies Department at California State University Los Angeles. She teaches a wide range of courses, including “Race, Activism and Emotion”, as well as classes in African history and the African Diaspora. 

The daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, Nana brings an internationalist Pan African revolutionary perspectiveto her analysis of current news and events on “Uprising: The Asafo Edition” on 90.7 FM Los Angeles. One of less than a handful of Black women on talk radio during Los Angeles’ drive-time hours, Nana prioritizes the voices of Black/Afrodescendent women and LGBTQAI guests too often excluded from the airwaves. Nana is a frequent radio show and television news guest, and is featured in the crtically-acclaimed HBO film, “The Grim Sleeper”.