MEET OUR BOARD
In Memoriam: Duane Chapman
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 peaks 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 service to my community and I seek challenges that include simply making the world a better place.
Jamin Pursell, Board Member-at-Large
I was born in Alaska and I grew up in Los Angeles, moving around often. I came out at the age of 14 in my freshman year of high school. I moved to the Bay Area in 2009 and moved to Richmond in '10. I worked on my undergraduate degrees in philosophy and political science with a focus on human rights and social justice at Cal State East Bay. During that time I volunteered with HRC and worked on a campaign for an LGBT mayoral candidate in San Francisco. In reaction to homophobia in our local city council chambers I worked on the reelection campaign of Richmonds openly lesbian city council member to be sure she was reelected. I got my masters degree in Science of Law in Sacramento just last year, 2016. During my studies, I interned with EQCA to further their work for the LGBTQI community at the state capital. In 2016 I got married to my boyfriend of 11 years. I enjoy drag and the drag community in the Bay Area. I will be serving in my position as best as possible while attending law school.
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 domestic violence counselor by the Asian Woman's Shelter. I am a former volunteer at the shelter.
Carolyn Weisinger, Board Member-at-Large
Carolyn Wysinger grew up in Richmond, California. She is a social entrepreneur, educator, activist, writer and event coordinator. Her desire to advocate for social justice started at an early age in school government and church leadership. She earned her B.A. in English from California State University, Long Beach and her M.F.A. from Antioch University. As an adult she learned how to use those same tools to build within the LGBT community. She was trained in Community Organizing under legendary organizers Alex Norman, Amelia Neito and Marc Colemen in the California Endowment Advanced Organizing Institute. She built her reputation in the community through promoting social events and volunteer work/workshops at conferences and retreats such as BUTCHVoices, Black Lesbians United, the UC systems ABC Conference, Gender Spectrum. Carolyn is serving her first term as a Commissioner of Human Rights and Human Relations in the City of Richmond.
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."
Matt Lewis, Board Member-at-Large
Matt Lewis is proud to represent Richmond, California in his role as Executive Director at Visit Richmond CA. Matt has served in this position since February of 2017. Matt loves to spread the message of Richmond and its wonderful story both in Richmond and the East Bay but also take the message on the road. Matt loves hearing people tell him of their favorite spots in Richmond.
Prior to beginning his position, Matt has worked in Hotels, both with Hotel Nikko San Francisco and Kimpton Hotels and also worked for SF Travel and the San Mateo County Convention & Visitors Bureaus. Matt has served on the Board of Directors for New Leaf in San Francisco and the San Pablo Community Foundation. He is a current member of the Zhoushan China-Richmond, CA Sister City Commission.
In his personal life, Matt loves travel, sports and being with friends and family. Matt is a resident of San Pablo, California. Matt is a proud alum of Butler University, in Indianapolis.