Education Equity Team

Ariona Jean-Johnson
Arc of Justice Summer Fellow

Ariona Joined Public Advocates in 2018 as an Arc of Justice Summer Fellow with the Education Equity team. First-generation to attend college in her family, Ariona remains dedicated to community accessibility and inclusion initiatives.

Before beginning law school, Ariona worked with the Upward Bound Program at Mills College in Oakland, California, where she assisted first-generation to college high school students throughout their academic journeys. Here, Ariona focused on using creative pedagogical techniques to teach and strengthen student writing. A strong believer in leveraging information to highlight social inequities, Ariona is passionate about social justice research; her particular focus area is on the racial identity development process of Black youth.

Ariona is currently a J.D. candidate at Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., where she is finishing up her first year. Ariona graduated from Mills College in Oakland, California where she received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Economics and Ethnic Studies. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Ariona loves sunshine and community festivals.

Manuela Boucher-De La Cadena
Law clerk

Manuela grew up in Davis, California after living in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Peru. She graduated from Occidental College in 2014 with a major in History and a minor in Spanish. After graduation she worked as an JusticeCorps fellow in the Alameda County Family Law Facilitator’s office helping self-represented litigants navigate their cases in a variety of civil law areas. This experience confirmed that she wanted to become a lawyer to help minimize and fight against inequities found throughout the legal system.

As a 2L at King Hall School of Law at UC Davis, Manuela was a member of the Immigration Law Clinic, a co-chair of the Immigration Law Association, a board member of La Raza Law Students’ Association, and an associate member of the Immigration and Nationality Law Review. Over the course of law school, Manuela has become increasingly committed to the advancement of marginalized populations, people of color, and increased diversity to reach a point at which the legal system accurately reflects society at large.

Belén Moreno
Summer intern

Belén Moreno is native to Sacramento, CA who just recently graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a minor in education from Occidental College in northeast Los Angeles. She is pursuing a Master’s Degree and teaching credential from UCLA in the fall of 2018 and is very excited to be in her hometown for the summer. In the past few years Belen has been gaining experience working as a tutor, teacher’s assistant, mentor, career counselor, and researcher alongside educators at Eagle Rock High School, Miguel Contreras High School, Occidental College, and Cosumnes River College.

Her passion for working in public schools, developing social science curricula, and researching higher education policy that supports academic retention and mental health resources for students of color stems from her experiences as a Xicana in California public schools and a predominately white private college.

Metropolitan Equity Team

Victoria Wenger
Law Clerk

Victoria (Tori) Wenger is a rising 3L and Furman Public Policy Scholar at New York University School of Law. Prior to law school, Tori worked as a communications associate for Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C. While at Advancement Project, Tori worked primarily on voting rights issues, and also contributed to efforts regarding police brutality, immigrant detention, and the school-to-prison pipeline. At NYU, Tori serves as a student fellow at the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law and chairs NYU’s Prison Reform and Education Project. Tori has also worked with NYU’s Civil Rights Clinic and the Racial Equity Strategies Clinic at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

She spent her 1L summer working on death penalty defense with the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center. Tori graduated from Harvard College in 2014 with a joint degree in African American Studies and Government. Born in Boston and raised on the seacoast of New Hampshire, she is excited to enjoy the opposite coast this summer and contribute to Public Advocates’ dynamic racial justice and civil rights advocacy efforts.

Zachariah Oquenda
Law Clerk

From rural Illinois, Zachariah Oquenda moved to California at seventeen years old. Having experienced housing instability and homelessness, Zachariah specializes in local housing law and policy at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. He was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning his B.A. with honors in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Claremont McKenna College.
Passionate about public service, Zachariah works under the Berkeley Law Policy Advocacy Clinic to research and advocate elimination of antihomeless laws. He has provided direct services at the East Bay Community Law Center to connect community members to housing and social services.

He currently volunteers in Hayward election and issue campaigns, as well as organizes in Hayward to promote housing equity. He is an appointed member of the Hayward Community Taskforce, Sanctuary City Sub-Committee and was recently appointed to represent Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 2 on the Measure A Citizen’s Oversight Committee.Zachariah is an active member of the League of Women Voters Eden Area and an executive board member for Hayward Neighborhood Alert, which promotes community engagement and safety. He is also a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar from California and lives in Hayward with his amazing spouse, April.

Eleana Binder
Summer intern

Eleana is from Berkeley, and she is a Berkeley High graduate (Class of 2014). She just graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon with a degree in Sociology. Her experiences working with homeless individuals in Berkeley and San Francisco have influenced her immensely and have shaped her desire to fight against poverty and injustice of any kind.

Eleana plans on working with and fighting for folks who are oppressed and disenfranchised through the non-profit sector or in government. Her policy interests include affordable housing, transit justice, mass incarceration, homelessness, income and wealth inequality, and so much more! She is so excited to join Public Advocates this summer as a policy intern.

Development Team

Ethan Yan
Summer intern

Ethan Yan is a rising junior at Menlo School in Atherton, California, supported by a full-tuition award, the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship. At school, he serves as the Junior Class President and is a Pre-Trial Attorney for the Menlo Mock Trial team. He is also a distinguished musician, having performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center; with local orchestras in Marin, Monterey, and Santa Cruz; and with the San Francisco and Los Angeles Operas. However, his greatest passions lie in law and politics.

He has volunteered at the Asian Law Caucus’ Workers’ Rights Clinics and interned with Congressman Ro Khanna and State Senator Jerry Hill. He hopes to attend law school and enter into public service or work for a non-profit organization in the future. Ethan is delighted to spend this Summer as a Development Department Intern at Public Advocates, working to create a database on Pillars and learning about the organization’s equity-promoting work in the local community.

Russell Ives
Summer intern

Russell is a rising senior at Menlo-Atherton High School. He is working at Public Advocates this summer on the Development and Communications Team, assisting with outreach and data protection initiatives. He is passionate about Speech and Debate, serving as a captain for the MA Debate Team, and his interests include Literature, Journalism, International Relations, Bookbinding, and Volleyball.

Diversity Committee

Gabrielle Thomas
Summer intern

Gabrielle Thomas is a class of 2021 Jamaican born and raised scholar at Davidson College, where she is a degree candidate for Africana Studies and Political Science. Her research interests include (but are not limited to): Africana philosophy and politics; the intellectual history of Africa and the African Diaspora; and intersectionality and political movements. She is currently a member of the Pre-Law Society at Davidson College, the founder and president of the Africana Society at Davidson College, a member of the Women’s Leadership Conference Planning Committee, a member both the Social Event Committee and Black History Month Committee of the Black Students Coalition, and a competing member of the Debate Club.

She plans on attending law school and utilizing her degree in the field of political consulting or activism. She also aspires to be an essayist. Her relevant coursework is: “Introduction to Africana Studies” (AFR 101); “Classical Political Theory” (POL 202); “African American Political Philosophy” (PHI 221); “African-American Literature before 1900” (AFR 282); “W. E. B. Du Bois at Large” (AFR 303-0/ENG 382-0); “Black Women in Contemporary Performance” (AFR 250-0);“Courtroom 101: Litigation Basics” (LWU 101); and introduction to the Legal Profession: Law, Ethics and Society” (LWU 102).

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