Richmond Progressive Alliance Members Elect New Leaders
In the biennial elections held at the February membership meeting, Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) members re-elected twelve members to the Steering Committee (SC) and added four newcomers.
Both the returning Steering Committee members and the newly elected can be characterized as bridge-builders. Collectively, the SC members actively engage with at least 24 city and/or community organizations on top of their work with RPA. Going beyond our core group of members to cultivate relationships with more people and organizations is a shared goal of this Steering Committee. That’s how political power grows.
RPA also continues to take steps forward in diversifying its leadership group in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, immigration status, economics, and age. There is more work to be done, but the organization is starting to truly reflect the full spectrum of Richmond residents.
RPA members elected B. K. Williams and Claudia Jimenez as co-coordinators of the organization’s Steering Committee. Claudia, Richmond District 6 City Council member, represents the RPA’s Budget Action Team to the SC. B.K., who has returned to the co-coordinator’s role for a second two-year term, is also active with Women in Politics and Richmond Rainbow Pride. She says she remains “amazed at what this organization has done despite the odds. I understand the challenges ... and am still excited over what we can accomplish if we work this organization the way it is most beneficial to the community.”
Laura Mangels, a newly elected SC member who represents the Council Action Team (CAT), hopes to develop policies to hold police more accountable to the community. In addition to her position in the RPA, she serves on the city’s Re-Imagining Public Safety Taskforce. Making the RPA more representative of Richmond's true diversity is a priority for Laura. Starting with the CAT, she believes the RPA can be retooled and adjusted to be more open and accessible. About herself, Laura says “as a recovering academic...my goal is to be grounded by listening carefully to what community members say. The way forward for the RPA is listening.”
“Make Room for Youth”
Aleta Alston-Toure' brings deep experience with activist groups such as People's Strike!, Parable of the Sower Intentional Community Cooperative, AfrocSoc (a component of Democratic Socialists of America), Black Lives Matter, New Jim Crow Movement and Southern Movement Assembly. She/they comes from a family of organizers and politicians and identifies as "an organizer, strategist and mother". Aleta's progressive lens draws on Black Radical Tradition and global perspectives of grassroots liberation. Specific organizing efforts Aleta has been involved in include mobilizing at United Nations Hearings for stand your ground legislation, state capital legislation in Florida around the domestic violence victim, Marissa Alexander's freedom and Trayvon Martin's murder and local city hall legislation. Aleta hopes her/their interest in organizing BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) young people, distressed mothers and children, isolated elderly, unhoused/homeless and the working class coincides with RPA's interest in building the leadership of those who are most displaced.
Richmond Rainbow Pride proposed that Jamin Pursell fill the seat designated for their representative to the SC. Jamin said his membership on the SC would contribute to “engagement in the intersectional conversation for which being a member of the LGBT community is a facet.” Besides bringing the needs of the LGBT community in Richmond to the attention of the RPA and its base, Jamin added, “In a larger sense, I wish to petition the city to provide LGBTQ-oriented services, given Richmond's long history of overlooking this community.” Specifically, he referenced gender and sexuality inequities in homeless interventions that restrict access for gender-non-conforming and transgender residents and family aid programs that systematically exclude LGBTQ community members based on a heteronormative understanding of family.
“Folks Might Become Allies”
Floy Andrews steps into the RPA office of Recording Secretary in place of Michelle Chan who performed many of the duties of the office while also publishing The Activist, the organization’s online newsletter. Floy's professional experience in environmental and land-use law, litigation, and in business appealed to RPA members, as did her testimony that she is a detail-oriented, pragmatic leader who likes to see results. “As a small business owner,” Floy said, “I understand the needs of folks who may not be progressive, but might become allies if our agendas” overlap.
Other re-elected RPA SC officers include Sue Wilson as Communications Chair, Michael Gliksohn as Treasurer and Chris Broglio as Office and Membership Chairman. Mr. Gliksohn also represents the Housing Action Team to the SC. Virginia Ramirez and Alyssa Kang return to the SC filling seats of allies ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment) and National Nurses United, respectively. Mike Parker represents the Schools Action Team to the SC. Steering Committee members at large include Jovanka Beckles, AC Transit District Ward 1 Board of Directors member; Marilyn Langlois, fair rent and just cause for eviction proponent; Eduardo Martinez and Melvin Willis, Richmond City Council members representing election districts 5 and 1 respectively.