Purpose

Coleman Advocates believes that all children and families deserve access to high quality education, living wage jobs, family-supporting benefits, affordable housing, and a voice in the decisions that affect us. Since 1975, Coleman Advocates has pioneered programs and policies to expand opportunity for San Francisco’s children, youth and families,  Many of these hard-won programs and policies have served as models adopted by communities all over the country.

Coleman currently focuses on building more effective, equitable, and supportive public schools in San Francisco and beyond. We believe the transformation of our educational system requires the involvement of the entire community—not just teachers, school administrators, and politicians. Our organizational model has evolved over the years and today combines the development of rigorous policy proposals and implementation plans with deep community engagement and leadership development involving youth and parents.

While we work to increase opportunity for all young people in San Francisco, our primary focus is fighting to advance rights, safety, and full inclusion of low-income people of color. We know that quality education is key to future economic security, individual well-being, and social participation. San Francisco is considered a liberal bastion, but the racial achievement gap and the racial opportunity gap indicate how far we still need to go to achieve true equity.

Our Core Values

Grassroots Community Leadership: We believe that the people most affected by a problem must be the ones who determine and fight for the solutions.

Education as a Human Right: The fight for quality education, as a fundamental human right and a strategy of upward mobility for low-income people and people of color, is central to our work to keep families in San Francisco.

Equity and Social Justice: We are actively committed to the fight for equity and social justice, as they relate to race, class, gender and other areas of disenfranchisement, in our schools and communities.

Unity and Solidarity: We are a multigenerational, multiracial, multicultural and multilingual organization and we prioritize creating spaces for people of different ages, languages, races, and ethnicities to learn about and from each other, build community, and develop a collective vision for change. Together, we are stronger.

Youth at the Center: Youth have been—and will always be—at the forefront of social change movements. At the same time that we centralize the leadership of young people, we understand that building community around an intergenerational model is essential to effective community organizing.

Movement building: We believe that we must form strategic alliances with other community organizations to build a movement capable of winning long-term systemic social change because we cannot achieve our vision alone.

Innovation: We are working to solve some of our community’s toughest challenges and this requires bold and innovative leadership. We must consistently challenge ourselves to leverage our strengths in new and creative ways… to think, dream, and act outside of the box.

Who We Are

Kevine Boggess

Education Policy Director

Brandie Bowen

CMAC Lead Organizer

Yesenia Camacho

CMAC & Digital Organizer

Mildred Coffey

PMAC Organizer

Ya’qub Elmi

YMAC Organizer

MJ Hart

YMAC Organizer

Natalie Kim

Juvenile Justice Organizer

Sara Leaverton

Development & Operations Director

Andrea Mejia

YMAC Lead Organizer

Katherine Saviskas

Grants & Communications Manager

Tamara Taefu

Office Manager

Neva Walker

Executive Director

Kevine Boggess

Education Policy Director

Kevine Boggess grew up attending SF's public schools and is a graduate of City College of San Francisco and Morehouse College. Kevine has served on the SF Board of Education since January 2021.

Brandie Bowen

CMAC Lead Organizer

Brandie Bowen is the CMAC Lead Organizer. Brandie has been connected with Coleman Advocates since 2015 when she started as an intern and established Children Making a Change for Coleman's youngest members to develop as organizers and leaders for education justice early on. She is also an Auntie, artist, writer, and she is currently studying Human Rights Education at University of San Francisco's School of Education.

Yesenia Camacho

CMAC & Digital Organizer

Yesenia (she/her) was born and raised in the Salinas Valley, in a small town that was proactively taking action to increase youth voice. While in high school, Yesenia helped form two Youth Commissioner positions and helped create a Youth Council providing youth opinions and youth voices to the town. Yesenia went on to serve as one of these Youth Commissioners for two years. Her passion for social justice continued when she attended UCSC, majoring in Community Studies and Legal Studies while serving on the Oakes Student Senate for three years. Yesenia started working at Coleman in 2018 on her field study, which led her to her current position at Coleman Advocates as a Children Making a Change (CMAC) Organizer. As someone given the opportunity to have her voice heard as a youth, Yesenia wants to help other youth have that same opportunity in their cities. In 2020, Yesenia’s role expanded to include being Coleman’s Digital Organizer.

Mildred Coffey

PMAC Organizer

Mildred Coffey is a proud single mom of two sons. She has a Medical Assistant degree and before coming to Coleman, she worked in the medical field for 20 years, at California Pacific Medical Center. Ms. Mildred first started working with Coleman in 2012 through our Solutions Not Suspensions campaign as a Parent Leader. After 6 years as a Parent Leader, she stepped into being a Parent Fellow, from which she was promoted to a PMAC Organizer in 2019. In the past 3 years, fighting for education equity has been the focus of her work, supporting the leadership development of parents in the southeast and the Bayview in particular.

Ya’qub Elmi

YMAC Organizer

Ya'qub Elmi is a proud Black, Somali, Muslim, queer being, constantly learning, growing and healing with every new experience. They are a recent graduate from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Their experiences with youth span from advocating, supporting and empowering Transgender women of color (and their families) affected by the Prison Industrial Complex to working with foster youth through mentor-based relationships, to fighting as a young person for equity and liberation through critical and reflective education. They are excited to work with the ever-evolving young minds at Coleman as they learn, reflect, and grow with the youth of YMAC.

MJ Hart

YMAC Organizer

Born and bred in the Bay Area, MJ (they/them) is an artist, abolitionist, community organizer and gang member turned activist after surviving the horrors of growing up in the criminal injustice system. MJ is on the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission in San Mateo County and is a Founding Board Member with the organization Pride In Truth. MJ is the Co-Founder & Community Outreach Coordinator with the Underground Scholars Program at UC Santa Cruz. They are the first in their family to attend higher education and after recently earning their BA in Psychology with a minor in History of Consciousness from UC Santa Cruz, they have joined the Coleman team as a Youth Organizer with YMAC. Through the development of a critical consciousness, MJ strives to put the weaponization of their mind into action, sharing political education and organizing with grassroots movements in their communities and beyond, pushing a hard line for justice and transformational healing while watering revolutionary seeds of resistance.

Natalie Kim

Juvenile Justice Organizer

Natalie (she/her) is a Korean-American femme raised in Las Vegas, returning to her San Francisco roots. As a grandbaby of the pushout of Korean Americans in the Bay Area, she has found her voice at Coleman through the guidance of elders and the inspiration of her students. After supporting the YMAC team as a Youth Organizer from 2019 - 2021, Natalie has transitioned into her new role as Juvenile Justice Organizer, focusing on the Reimagine Youth Justice Coalition San Francisco and abolition in the City.

Sara Leaverton

Development & Operations Director

Sara hails from a working class family in rural Oregon. Finding a passion for economic and racial justice in her youth, Sara has worked with community-based organizations for years, assisting in various capacities. After originally interning at Coleman in college, and assisting with the Solutions Not Suspensions campaign and the re-approval of the Children’s Amendment, Sara joined the Coleman family permanently in 2015 as the Director of Administration. Utilizing her different skill sets, she has been able to support Coleman’s work in events and fundraising, now as the Development & Operations Director. When not hustling to raise money, Sara can be found wandering in the trees or cooking up random acts of deliciousness.

Andrea Mejia

YMAC Lead Organizer

Andrea Mejia was born in the City and raised in the City and East Oakland, as the daughter of immigrant parents from Central America. As Coleman’s YMAC Lead Organizer, Andrea brings her personal experience of school pushout and the school-to-prison pipeline, which helps her understand and further serve San Francisco’s most impacted youth. Raised by a grandmother who always taught her to stand up against injustices, and now as a mother herself, Andrea is teaching her son to advocate for himself and his community.

Katherine Saviskas

Grants & Communications Manager

Born and raised in New York City and its suburbs, Katherine first started organizing for racial justice and systems change as a high schooler. For the past 15 years, she's worked alongside BIPOC youth and white youth, supporting them through leadership development, community organizing training, media/film projects, and now through strategic communications and narrative shift work. In addition to her work at Coleman, Katherine makes art and radical aliveness events, and she organizes white people to dismantle racism.

Tamara Taefu

Office Manager

Tamara is a Hawaii native, half Pacific Islander and half Asian identified woman who moved to the Bay Area back in 2009. She was raised by a single mother of three children in low-income housing, which fueled her passion for working with minority groups within the low-income population. Tamara is a first-generation college graduate. She graduated from California State East Bay with a BA in Sociology and is currently pursuing a Masters in Educational Counseling with an emphasis in College Counseling and Student Affairs. Before coming to Coleman, she worked with children within different realms of childcare for 6 years and in the nonprofit sector for 2 years. In her free time, Tamara enjoys traveling, cooking, organizing, being a plant Mom, chasing the latest food trend, and napping.

Neva Walker

Executive Director

Neva Walker is a long-time community organizer and political leader. She has decades of experience building power with low-income Black and Brown youth and families for racial justice, education justice, and criminal justice. Neva was born into an activist family in Minneapolis – her mother founded and ran the social service programs at Sabathani Community Center, which was located across the street from their family’s home, and whose legacy was honored by having their street named after her: Clarissa Rogers Walker Way. At age 28, Neva was the first Black woman elected to the Minnesota Legislature in state history, and serving as a legislator for 8 years, she centered training and including young people of color as leaders in every area of her work. Since her start at Coleman Advocates in 2011, Neva’s work at Coleman reflects her lifelong commitment to systems change through the leadership of Black and Brown students and their families, through community organizing, advocacy, and civic engagement. Neva leads on regional, statewide, and national education justice coalitions, including the Dignity in Schools California coalition. Neva is also the Executive Director of Coleman Action Fund, the 501(c)(4) sister of Coleman Advocates.

Coleman Board:

  • Steve Bingham (Treasurer)—Staff attorney emeritus, Bay Area Legal Aid
  • Christina Canaveral—Director of Community at New School San Francisco, former Director of Parent Engagement and Education Policy at Coleman Advocates
  • Rosario Cervantes (President)—Consumer rights advocate with the CA Public Utilities Commission
  • Curtis Chan, M.D.—Medical Director of Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health, San Francisco Department of Public Health
  • Maria Luz Torre (Vice President)—Director and lead organizer for SF Parent Voices
  • Ianthia Mack—Former PAY member; Community Organizer
  • Giuliana Milanese—Community and Political Organizer, Civil Rights activist

Job Opportunities

We’re hiring a Youth Organizer. Here’s the Job Description.

Contact Us

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Address:
Coleman Advocates
459 Vienna Street
San Francisco, CA 94112

Phone:
415-239-0161
Email:

info@colemanadvocates.org