Board of Directors

Elihu Harris

The Honorable
Elihu Harris

Chairman

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Saundra Andrews

Saundra Andrews

Vice Chairwoman

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Royl L. Roberts JD

Royl L. Roberts JD, MBA

Secretary/Treasurer

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Alton Jells

Alton Jelks

Director

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Carol Johnson

Carol Johnson

Director

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Audree Jones-Taylor

Audree Jones-Taylor

Director

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Michael Lighty

Michael Lighty

Director

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William “Bill” Riley

Dr. William “Bill” Riley

Director

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Dr. Roy Wilson Ed.D

Roy Wilson Ed.D.

Executive Director, Martin Luther Kind Jr. Freedom Center

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Barbara Lee

FOUNDING CHAIR

The Honorable Barbara Lee

Congresswoman

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Staff

Dr. Karen Bohlke

Karen Bohlke Ed.D.

Director of Government and External Relations

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Dr. Karen Bohlke

Karen Bustamante

Educational Services Staff

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Dr. Karen Bohlke

Jovan Carreon

Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director

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Dr. Karen Bohlke

Angela Drake

Community Organizer

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Dr. Roy Wilson Ed.D

David Gaines

Educational Services and Washington DC Liaison

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Dr. Karen Bohlke

Natnael Gebremariam

Educational Services and Research Staff

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Dr. Roy Wilson Ed.D

Scott Horton

Communications Consultant

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Jana Jordan-Fisher

Jana Jordan-Fisher

Business Manager

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Dr. Karen Bohlke

Isabella “Bella” Lopez

Educational Services Staff

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Dr. Karen Bohlke

Kathy Neal

Government and Community Engagement

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Fifi

Fifi Fatou Ngom

Bookkeeper

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Dr. Roy Wilson Ed.D

Elena Pecot-Zuniga

Educational Services Staff

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Dr. Karen Bohlke

Chad A. Provost

Educational Services Manager

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Dr. Roy Wilson Ed.D

Liana Wills

Research Staff

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Dr. Roy Wilson Ed.D

Roy Wilson Ed.D.

Executive Director

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Dr. Karen Bohlke

Kei Yamamoto

Community Organizer

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The Honorable Elihu Harris

Chairman of the Board

Elihu M. Harris served as Mayor of Oakland for two terms, from 1991 to 1999. He was a 12-year member of the California State Assembly, during which time he authored the historic 1981 legislation designating Dr. King’s birthday a California State holiday. Mr. Harris received an MA in Public Policy from UC Berkeley and law degree from UC Davis. He served as Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District from 2003 to 2010.

Saundra AndrewsSaundra Andrews

Vice Chairwoman of the Board

Ms. Andrews brings a career of public service to her role as Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Directors. Now retired, she has served as Senior Field Representative and in various capacities for Congresswoman Barbara Lee for 15 years. Her focus areas have included education, labor, faith communities, Native American relations, women, Africa, Cuba, and Haiti. She also facilitated relationships with community organizations and local government. Prior to her work in the public sector, Ms. Andrews was a Project Manager for twenty years at Pacific Bell. Ms. Andrews has also worked in the political sector as Political Director for Barbara Lee for Congress, as Executive Board Member for the California Democratic Party where she served on the Rules Committee.

Ms. Andrews is recipient of the Lend A Hand Foundation Award, the Betita Cody Memorial Award presented by the Martin Luther King, Jr Rally Committee, the National Sojourner Truth Award presented by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, The Humanitarian Award presented by Pastors of Oakland. Ms. Andrews was also named Woman of the Year by Assembly member Rob Bonta (AD 18), and Oakland City Council member Larry Reid declared Saundra Andrews Day in the City of Oakland honoring her years of service. Various resolutions by Senator Nancy Skinner, Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Alameda Labor Council and the Congressional Record also recognize the contribution’s of Ms. Andrews.

Royl L. Roberts

Secretary/Treasurer 

Royl L. Roberts works as the Director of Employee Relations and Diversity Programs at Peralta Community College District. Royl is a former Administrator and Ethical Leadership Coach for the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center. He is also a Commissioner, District #3 on the Alameda County Human Relations Commission. Mr. Roberts graduated of Golden Gate University School of Law with his Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree and a Specialization Certificate in Business Law, with Distinction. While at Golden Gate he has served as a Peer Mentor, Law Student Ambassador, Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, and was the President of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). Prior to attending law school, he held various positions in the insurance and financial service industries. Mr. Roberts earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), and a Master of Business Administration from Our Lady of the Lake University. Mr. Roberts worked as a Law Clerk at Price And Associates, a Civil Rights Law Firm located in downtown Oakland. Mr. Roberts is also an active member in the Alpha Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. located in Berkeley.

Alton JelksAlton Jelks

Lecturer, Public Administration, Cal State East Bay

Alton Jelks brings extensive public administration expertise to the board of directors, having worked as Administrative Assistant to Assemblyman Elihu Harris, Special Assistant to the Mayor of Oakland, Deputy City Auditor and Associate Vice Chancellor for Peralta Community College District, where we had responsibility for fundraising, employee trainings and oversight of organizational processes. Alton excels in group facilitation for public and private sector settings, and has also served on the board of directors of many nonprofit organizations as well as worked at the executive level in the area of marketing and fundraising. Alton has taught in the Master of Public Administration at California State University East Bay for over two decades, teaching the full range of courses offered.

Audree Jones-Taylor

Principal Consultant, Parks, Recreation & Community Services Professional

Audree is a passionate advocate and an established national leader who has leveraged passion and confidence to bring innovative solutions to parks, recreation, conservation, preservation and play, with a special love for building strong relationships, she has a proven track record of cultivating community partners. Audree’s experience includes 40 plus years in municipal government, most recently she has combined her public sector work with the private sector through her service as a consultant with, the City of San Bruno Community Services Department, where she serves as a Strategic Advisor, she also serves as a consultant with National Strategies, LLC, she served as the Interim General Manager for Marin City Community Services District, and served as an Associate Researcher with Dr. Nina Roberts/Resource Legacy Fund with The California State Coastal Conservancy and served as a consultant to-Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District/Cooley Landing Project.

Audree is a graduate of the University of Redlands with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and holds a Master’s Degree in Leadership in the Arts from Saint Mary’s College of California. Audree is committed to public service. IN addition to her service on the Freedom Center Board of Directors, Audree is a member of the University of San Francisco Gellert Family Business Resource Center Advisory Board, and is a member of National Parks and Recreation Ethnic Minority Society.

Michael Lighty

Founding Fellow, The Sanders Institute

Michael Lighty retired after 25 years from California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, where he was the Director of Public Policy. He has spoken and organized throughout the country on health care reform, financing and delivery issues for over 29 years. He coordinated CNA’s campaigns for HMO patients’ bill of rights, clean money elections, and against Arnold Schwarzenegger’s effort to roll back CNA’s landmark safe staffing law. He coordinated the national Robin Hood Tax campaign to tax Wall Street trades to fund jobs, guaranteed healthcare, and a secure retirement for all. Mr. Lighty served eight years on the City of Oakland Planning Commission and was a Commissioner for the Port of Oakland. He has been active with non-profit organizations devoted to neighborhood issues, voter registration, and lesbian and gay equality. Lighty received his BA and MA from Stanford University in the Humanities, graduating with Honors. He grew up in Eugene, Oregon, where he was high school student body president.

William “Bill” RileyDr. William “Bill” Riley

Retired Educator

Bill Riley is a native of Oakland, California. He attended Oakland public schools and transferred from Merritt College, where he was student body president, to the University of San Francisco (USF) earning a B.A. in Sociology and Physical Education. He then attended San Francisco State University earning a M.A. in Educational Administration; then returning to USF, he received an Ed.D. in Educational Policy.

Dr. Riley has an over 40-year long career in public education, including working in the Oakland, East Palo Alto/Ravenswood and San Ramon School Districts. He has been a teacher, counselor, coach, vice-principal, principal, and administrator on special assignment. He also served as the Alameda County Office of Education’s Coordinator of Pupil Services and Child and Family Advocacy.

Community is important to Bill. He is currently a member of the Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center Board of Directors and recently appointed by Mayor Libby Schaaf to the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth Planning and Oversight Committee. In the past Bill has served on the Oakland Zoo Board and on the City of Oakland Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission for thirteen years. In addition, he served on the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees from 1998 through 2018; representing Area 5 covering a large portion of Oakland and the entire City of Piedmont.

Bill has been happily married for over forty-five years and has two grown daughters, both of whom are college graduates.

Dr. Roy Wilson Ed.DDr. Roy Wilson Ed.D

Executive Director, Martin Luther Kind Jr. Freedom Center

Roy received a BA in English and Masters in Creative Writing both from the University of Washington. Roy has a Doctorate in Education and is a published author, scholar, and presenter on civil rights, nonviolence and libratory leadership practices. He has served as director of various non-governmental entities including Seattle Managua Sister City Association, International Relations Director for El Centro de la Raza, and is the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Community Leadership and the Jack Hunter O’Dell Education Center. Roy has received international, state and regional awards for his work in civil rights and confronting racial and socio-economic disparities. He is widely published and his work has been featured in Life Magazine, the New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald, Seattle Times, Oakland Tribune, and in a National Public Radio TV Special “The United States of Poetry” and a National television feature on the Nickelodeon Network.

Barbara LeeThe Honorable Barbara Lee

Founding Chair

13th-CD, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a forceful and progressive voice in Congress, dedicated to social and economic justice, international peace, and civil and human rights. First elected in 1998 to represent California’s 13th Congressional District, the Democratic lawmaker has established a reputation for principled and independent stands, unafraid to take on the tough issues and speak her mind for her constituents, for a more just America, and for a safer world. As a social worker by profession, being an advocate for people in dealing with the federal bureaucracy has been a priority.

Dr. Karen Bohlke

Director of Government and External Affairs

Dr. Karen Bohlke has thirty years of administrative, managerial, grant writing, fund development and advocacy work with educational organizations serving youth and families. She has successfully managed a capital campaign for the O’Dell Education Center in Kent, WA, and numerous federal grants including as partner for Gear Up at the University of Washington, as director of Jose Marti Child Development Center bi-lingual Head Start and Therapeutic Day Care, leadership programming with Metro Miami Dade County Teen Court Program, an ARRA Federal Stimulus work study program with the Oakland Civic Green Campaign, oversight of Department of Justice Appropriation with the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center, Oakland CA and a twelve year Washington State Legislative Appropriation with the Institute for Community Leadership. Karen coordinates our fund development and government relations efforts. Karen holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University, an MA Ed from Antioch University, and a BA in Education from the University of Washington. She is a Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation Leadership Fellow.

Karen Bustamante

Educational Services Staff

Karen Bustamante, Educational Services Staff, is a graduate of the Freedom Center. She has been studying Ethical Leadership and Community Organizing at the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center since high school. She has traveled up and down the West Coast with the Freedom Center as an intern on various Summer Civic Engagement Tours and has traveled to Selma, Alabama for the Faith and Politics Civil Rights Pilgrimage for the 50th Anniversary of the Marches from Selma to Montgomery. She has organized for various Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series and has facilitated a multitude of Leadership Poetry Workshops. In May of 2019, Karen graduated with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Writing from the University of California, Merced. She is taking a gap year, taking on managerial responsibilities of the educational services team, and plans on attending law school.

Jovan Carreon

Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director

Jovan Carreon, Executive Assistant, is an East Bay native and holds a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Passionate about the power of words, narrative, and storytelling, Jovan developed organizational and administrative experience at a number of Bay Area publishing and media companies before joining the Freedom Center, responding to an inner calling to better contribute to the world around him.

Angela Drake

Community Organizer

Angela Drake has been studying ethical leadership and community organizing at the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center since the sixth grade. In addition to traveling on and key noting the Faith and Politics Civil Rights Pilgrimage with diverse members of Congress, Angela has presented keynote addresses and facilitated classes in regions of the West Coast. Angela joined the Freedom Center staff as a community organizing intern in 2017 while in high school-- class of 2019 Castlemont High School, Oakland Unified School District. Angela in trained as a co-facilitator of the ethical leadership classes at the Freedom Center, and actively carries out organizing on statewide and regional community civic engagement projects.

David Gaines

Educational Services

David Gaines is a graduate of the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center. He has been studying community organizing and transformational leadership since he was a sophomore in high school. David has participated in and organized various civic engagement projects including delegations up and down the west coast with the Freedom Center, registering voters, coaching students as an intern, and he has assisted in the organizing of the Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series. At the invitation of Congresswoman Lee, David has traveled with and key-noted the Faith and Politics Institute’s Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage, which under the leadership of Congressman John Lewis, hosts members of Congress to Selma, Montgomery, Memphis and South Carolina. David transitioned to staff at the Freedom Center as a Social Justice Organizer in 2017 while still in high school.

David is a graduate of Alameda Science and Technology Institute, a running start school in Alameda, and will be graduating with his bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies from American University, in Washington, D.C. fall of 2020. He has recently been accepted to a dual degree program that will allow him to work toward completing his Masters of Public Administration in the spring of 2022. He is a first generation college student, and was raised by a strong single mother who actively encouraged David to engage in public service. David also actively represents the Freedom Center in the nation’s capitol where he has also served in an intern capacity in the office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee. In addition, he also sits on the Board of Directors at the Institute for Community Leadership.

David is trained as a facilitator of the Freedom Centers numerous classes on nonviolence leadership and on the teaching of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. David is 20 years old.

Natnael Demeke Gebremariam

Educational Services and Research Staff

Natnael Demeke Gebremariam is currently the Educational Services and Research Staff for the Freedom Center. He has an extensive experience in areas of human right, parliamentary processes and capacity building at a national level. As part of his work Natnael had visited and investigated human right situations in Ethiopia by visiting various federal prisons, human right institutions, courts in the country with parliamentary standing committee. He has visited and lived in many countries in Africa, Europe and North America which gave him an invaluable opportunity to meet people from various backgrounds. Natnael graduated from the university of Warwick (UK) and Lund University (Sweden) with a joint master’s degree in economic development and growth.

Scott Horton

Communications Consultant

Scott Horton joins the Freedom Cetner team with more than 35 years expertise with numerous non-profit organizations helping them articulate their brands, tell their stories, broaden their visibility and increase the public’s participation in their work.

Jana Jordan-Fisher

Business Manager

Jana Jordan-Fisher has thirty five years of Corporate Tax, Accounting, and Payroll Tax experience. She has successfully managed the accounting for other Non-Profits and Small Businesses. Jana is from Pasadena and moved to the Bay Area to attend Golden Gate University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Accounting. She has previously worked for Del Monte Corporation, Morgan Stanley, Genentech and Anderson and Associate’s CPA firm. She is certified with the Internal Revenue Service and California Tax Education Council. She specializes in keeping the organization current and in compliance with the accounting and tax laws for Non-Profits. Jana’s intent is to bring her education and knowledge to the organization while obtaining the spirit and integrity of Martin Luther King Jr., the MLK staff and its friends.

Isabella "Bella" Lopez

Educational Services Staff

Isabella "Bella" Lopez, Educational Services Staff, is originally from Southern California and moved to the Bay Area to study at San Jose State University. During her time at San Jose State University, she studied abroad at the University of Oslo in Norway. She was involved in a LGBT community organization and studied Norwegian society and life. Within San Jose State University she was a member of the San Jose State University Women’s Rugby Club and became the Treasurer in the 2018-2019 year. She graduated the summer of 2019 from San Jose State University with a B.A. in Anthropology, with a concentration in Cultural Anthropology.

Kathy Neal

Government and Community Engagement

Kathy Neal, Government and Community Engagement has over 35 years in business management, more than 25 years of public sector involvement, and served for 15 years in statewide and local government regulatory and policy-making positions. She is recognized for multi-faceted strategic thinking & organizational abilities combined with a demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of all people. Kathy represented the California State Assembly on both the CA Integrated Waste Management Board and State Bar Board of Governors, was a gubernatorial appointee to the CA Community Colleges Board of Governors and a Port of Oakland Commissioner. She is elected to and an officer of the Alameda County Democratic Party, President of the Oakland Community Fund and has been on numerous non-profit and community service boards. A published author, Kathy earned a BA in Political Science from the California State University at Los Angeles; a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of San Francisco; and two Business Management Certificates from Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business.

Elena Pecot-Zuniga

Educational Services Staff

Elena Pecot-Zuniga, East Bay Native, is an Educational Services Coordinator for the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center. She is a trained Ethical Leadership Coach, having studied principles of nonviolence and community organizing with the Freedom Center since 2008, when she became a student in our organization. As part of the Summer Civic Engagement Tour, Elena has traveled to the state of Washington for leadership/poetry workshops and did door-to-door voter registration in various neighborhoods of East Oakland. She traveled to Alabama as a participant of the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, where she learned from multiple luminaries of the Civil Rights Movement and was a part of the cohort that started the Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series.

As a member of the Sigma Delta Pi Honor Society, she graduated from UC Berkeley in 2016, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a minor in Education. During her time in college, she served as an active general body member of Hermanas Unidas de UC Berkeley, Inc., a mentor for Project S.M.I.L.E., a member of the Black Recruitment and Retention Center, and a private Spanish tutor. Elena is extremely passionate about progressing social justice and educational equity. She is a highly skilled and goal oriented team player, with over six years of experience in multiple areas of law. She has plans to attend law school in the future.

Chad A. Provost

Educational Services Manager

A lifelong resident of Oakland and a father of 2, Chad has a passion for issues focusing on inequities in our community that focus on children. With twenty years of experience in the business community and a passion for education, Chad brings a combination of hard work and learning to the Educational Services Team. Chad graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Mass Communication from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Liana Wills

Research Staff

Liana joined the MLK Freedom Center as a student in 2016. She has written and presented numerous speeches, led classes, helped facilitate lectures and events in the Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series, and more. She was also on the 2017 delegation to Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham Alabama for the Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage. Liana is a trained coach, with a passion for civic education and engagement. In 2019, she graduated from Bishop O’ Dowd High School with first academic honors. She is currently attending the University of California, Riverside and working toward a BA in Psychology.

Dr. Roy Wilson Ed.DDr. Roy Wilson Ed.D

Executive Director, Martin Luther Kind Jr. Freedom Center

Roy received a BA in English and Masters in Creative Writing both from the University of Washington. Roy has a Doctorate in Education and is a published author, scholar, and presenter on civil rights, nonviolence and libratory leadership practices. He has served as director of various non-governmental entities including Seattle Managua Sister City Association, International Relations Director for El Centro de la Raza, and is the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Community Leadership and the Jack Hunter O’Dell Education Center. Roy has received international, state and regional awards for his work in civil rights and confronting racial and socio-economic disparities. He is widely published and his work has been featured in Life Magazine, the New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald, Seattle Times, Oakland Tribune, and in a National Public Radio TV Special “The United States of Poetry” and a National television feature on the Nickelodeon Network.

Kei Yamamoto

Community Organizer

Kei Yamamoto, Community Organizer for the Freedom Center, has experiences living and working with people from all across the country during his time living in diverse settings and places including residencies in Los Angeles, Chicago, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. He has traveled with the Freedom Center as a summer intern on the Summer Civic Engagement Pilgrimage where teams of high school and college aged youth traveled to 32 cities, towns and tribes working on “how to get more people civically engaged”. The delegates met with leaders of the Civil Rights Movement past and present. He attended Alma College graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. In his time there, he served as a member of the varsity soccer program, member of various social-justice oriented clubs, research assistant for the Department of Psychology, student tutor, and peer mentor for local youth. Kei brings a high-energy passion for social justice and educational equity to the educational services team.