MEET OUR BOARD
Cesar Zepeda, President
Cesar Zepeda is a community leader raised in Richmond. Born in Mexico, his family immigrated to the Bay Area when he was eight years old. He has been a community leader and advocate since as far back as he can remember. Cesar co-founded and became President of the Hilltop District Neighborhood Council. He also Founded the Hilltop District Homeowners & Stakeholders Association Cesar co-founded the city’s first LGBT organization, Richmond Rainbow Pride, and Somos Latin@s, a Latino organization created to empower and increase the Latino voice in Richmond and Bay Area. Cesar joined the Contra Costa College Foundation Board in 2017 and served on many non-profit boards around the Bay Area, helping various causes. He volunteers every free time get gets.
BK Williams, Vice President
I am BK Williams, an issues-oriented filmmaker working at all times with social justice in mind. In 2014 when the anti-gay actions took place against the city’s lesbian Council Member Beckles, I was able to capture the events in the documentary Against Hate which details hate speech, free speech, big corporate takeover attempts, homophobia, and the uniting of the LGBTQI community that said “no more”, and changed the narrative for our community in Richmond. I serve in any volunteer capacity that provides a challenge and piques my interest and allows depth in any potential involvement. I seek to improve the community in which I live and connect those communities. After a career in the conservative world of banking, now I look forward to serving my community and I seek challenges that include simply making the world a better place.
Patsy Whala, Secretary
Patsy is currently a well-liked mystery.
Jamin Pursell, Board Member-at-Large
Jamin grew up in the Los Angeles area. He came out in his freshman year of high school. He moved to Richmond in 2010. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy and a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science with a focus on human rights and social justice from California State University, East Bay. He has volunteered with HRC and worked on political campaigns for LGBT candidates and allies. Jamin has a Master's degree in the Science of Law from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, during which he interned with EQCA. Jamin married his husband in 2016.
Lynn Sugihara, Board Member-at-Large
I am a third-generation Richmonder who grew up in Richmond and El Sobrante.
I currently live in Richmond. I am currently a board member of Richmond Rainbow Pride, QWOCMAP ( Queer Women of Color Media Art Project) and APIQWTC( Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women & Transgender Community). I am also involved with Tadaima, J-Sei and Omusubi which are organizations serving Japanese Americans. I am a dental hygienist by profession who was trained as a domestic violence counselor by the Asian Woman's Shelter. I am a former volunteer at the shelter.
Joey Smith, Board Member-at-Large
Joey is a civil servant, tradeswoman, and entrepreneur but also an accomplished presenter and speech coach who has a 20+ year career as a construction tradeswoman. She considers herself to be a “life-long community servant” and strives to inspire self-efficacy in others through expected and unconventional means. A long-time Contra Costa County activist, Joey has served on the Task Force on Workplace Violence Prevention; Soroptimist International, Richmond; and as a Delegate for the Central Labor Council AFL-CIO (Contra Costa). She represents District 1 as a Delegate to the California Democratic Party and on the Contra Costa Commission for Women.
Nicole Valentino, Board Member-at-Large
Growing up in Los Angeles, Nicole came to believe in alliances. She was an LGBTQ activist in her youth, working with LGBTQ youth and adults in recovery from substance abuse. She was later trained to be a mental health clinician at CSULA and JFKU where she studied psychology and Women's Studies. In the 1980s she worked as a political aide in Sacramento, but moved to the East Bay to manage programs at the non-profit mental health clinic Familias Unidas. Nicole later became a provider of mental health services to children and families at Contra Costa County Child and Adolescent Services. After moving to Richmond in 2005, she served as Community Advocate and Chief of Staff to former Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.
Nicole is also known for her work as an activist, creating and managing LGBTQ youth mentoring programs and making a short film exploring the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation. More recently, she has been advocating for and supporting RYSE, Y.E.S., BBK, Urban Tilth, Safe Return Project and other organizations. She has been a board member of Urban Tilth, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Saffron Strand and is currently on the board of Building Blocks for Kids. She is entering a new career working as a Life Coach after training at CTI - the Coaches Training Institute. She loves her life as a wife, mother, and grandmother, and credits the LGBTQ movement with allowing her "to openly be all three."