2017 Leadership Academy Blog

 2017 Leadership Academy

Deep Investment in Emerging Leaders

Entry One: Pyramid of Power

Entry Two: Housing, Herstory and Justice

Entry Three: Civics and Meeting with a Decision Maker

Entry Four: Know Your Rights  



Pyramid of Power

Blog Entry featuring EBHO resident Leader Barbara Shingleton

Submitted February 9, 2017

We dedicate Leadership Academy’s first session to discussing systems of oppression and how they influence our lives every day. Institutions and the power they exert influence the work we do and the type of resistance we need to get ready for. We defined terms like racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination that have a negative effect on people’s lives and how those relate to housing justice. This is done through group activities and large-group discussion with the goal of setting up the framework for the rest of the Leadership academy sessions. Leadership Academy participant Barbara Shingleton was asked to reflect on the Pyramid of Power workshop. Barbara, an Oakland Housing authority resident, single mother of two and originally from Los Angeles, is a continuing student of sociology.

From this session, Barbara learned terminology, gained a better understanding of systems of oppression and power that will help her and her peers in later sessions at the academy. Barbara mentioned that information regarding systems that impact poor people’s everyday lives  is not accessible, preventing them from having an understanding of what they can do to improve their lives. Barbara ended her reflection with a final thought: “The Leadership Academy has the information we need to take initiative with the power we have”.


 Housing Herstory and Justice

Blog Entry featuring EBHO resident leader Tamia Green

Submitted March 9, 2017

The Leadership Academy’s second session focused on learning and discussing the housing herstory of the East Bay and the effects of gentrification in low income areas in the area. Alma Blackwell, an organizer with Causa Justa: Just Cause (CJJC) joined us in small group reflections of historical time periods as well as presented on CJJC’s Development Without Displacement Report (http://www.acphd.org/media/343952/cjjc2014.pdf) and its analysis of the stages of gentrification the Bay Area is experiencing.


We looked at events and moments in the past that either had an impact on communities of color or affected the way people of color were thought about. We particularly studied intentionally racist urban planning and funding practices as well as the relationships between displacement and policing/incarceration.

Leadership Academy participant Tamia Green  reflected on the housing herstory session and their experiences being from East Oakland and the impact of gentrification they have experienced. Tamia is a Section 8 tenant and has been in Oakland for 36 years.

 In this session, Tamia was able to learn the about events in the past that have affected migration in the U.S and immigration into the U.S, as well as moments that have affected migrants/immigrants. She was also able to learn about the effects of gentrification in the Bay Area. Tamia reflected on her time living in East Oakland and being impacted by rising rent prices. She shared that she had to move out of her East Oakland home because of this and moved to a new neighborhood where she felt out of place. Tamia ended her reflection on the workshop by sharing insight on why talking about gentrification is important: “Anything personal is powerful. It’s not textbook.” and “telling your story let’s you see what’s going on and let’s us take back some of our power”.


  Civics and Meeting with a Decision Maker

Blog Entry featuring Saira Guzman

Submitted March 27, 2017


Saira GusmanLA


The Leadership Academy’s third session focused on city decision making processes in Oakland and the East Bay. We were joined by two city leaders, Olga Bolotina, Oakland District 1 City Council Chief of Staff, and Jahmese Myres, Oakland Planning Commissioner to discuss the importance of active civic participation. Leadership Academy participants practiced talking to a decision-maker through role-playing activities and learned strategies for successful lobbying. Saira Guzman, a leadership academy participant, shared her experiences as a commissioner in the city of Hayward and how important it is for residents to participate in city politics.

Saira is a Community Service Commissioner in Hayward and a Resident Services Coordinator with SAHA (Satellite Affordable Housing Associates). Saira shared with the academy that she is a commissioner in Hayward and talked about her experiences and thoughts on the role. For her, one of the main takeaways from this session was the importance of following up with elected officials to ensure a response from them. She expressed that this is important because everyone should have the right to be involved in their community. In debriefing, Saira explained that her role as a commissioner in Hayward is important both for her and her community. As a Community Service Commissioner, Saira advises Hayward on ways to allocate resources as well as understand the needs of the community in the city’s community service efforts. Saira added: “it is important for Latina women to be represented in government and there is a significant importance of women’s representation in decision-making roles in the community/government; [she]’d like for [her] voice to be heard during the decision making process.”  


Know Your Rights


Know your rights

Blog entry featuring resident leader Shereen Rahman

Submitted April 17th

Session five focused on tenant organizing and reviewing the rights participants have as residents of affordable housing. EBHO resident leader and Leadership Academy 2016 graduate Charlene Jimerson walked residents through the steps residents can take in response to an issue in their community. Charlene shared lessons from her experience as a resident leader in her community and the victories she’s had by organizing with others and following grievance procedures in her building. We then spent time learning and sharing best practices around campaign strategy (using the Midwest Academy Strategy Chart).

Leadership Academy participant, Shereen Rahman, reflected on the workshop and her resident organizing experience in recent years. Being retired, disabled and legally blind, Shereen has volunteered and has been a part of different spaces that work towards organizing residents. Through the workshop, Shereen was able to see the importance for residents to know their rights. She shared that because people in affordable housing are not privileged,  they need to know their rights to make sure they can fix their situations.

Shereen also shared her experience with organizing residents in her building, with the goal of helping them understand their rights. Organizing since 2006, Shereen learned valuable lessons with the people she organized. One of the lessons she learned was that residents sometimes are afraid to organize for different reasons. Shereen learned that to get past this, she would need to do some work on her own to help residents. Shereen finished by sharing that there need to be more places for people to bring awareness to the issues of tenants’ rights.