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Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?:


Post-show talkbacks are 30-minute on stage conversations with leaders in the Bay Area’s social justice community. Irma’s one-woman show has a 60-minute run time, and following the play, we take a five-minute break to allow audience members who wish to leave, the opportunity to do so. The talkback follows immediately.


There will be no talkback speakers on several days. Irma is interested in having audience members share their name stories, and any personal experiences related to the topics covered in her play.

Previous Berkeley Talkback Guests

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March 10: The 50th Anniversary of Ethnic Studies: Its Influence beyond Campus with Juanita Tamayo Lott




Juanita Tamayo Lott grew up in the 1950s in the Fillmore/Japantown, San Francisco.  A student striker at the historic 1968 SF State BSU/TWLF strike, she served on the planning committee for the School of Ethnic Studies in 1969 -1970 and co-chaired the Pilipino Studies Planning Group.


She trained at the University of Chicago in survey research, demography, and sociology. Mrs. Lott was a manager and senior demographer/statistician in the federal statistical system in Washington, D.C., directing the first Office of Asian American Affairs in the federal government in the 1970s.  In 2007, she co-founded the Filipino American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, College Park and in 2009 was founding donor of the Major General (retired U.S. Army)  Antonio M Taguba Profiles in Courage and Leadership at UMCP. She retired back to San Francisco after planning the 2010 Census at the U.S. Census Bureau.  Her publications include:

  • Golden Children:  Legacy of Ethnic Studies, SF State. 

  • Filipinos in Washington, D.C. with Rita Cacas.

  • Asian Americans: From Racial Category to Multiple Identities.

  • Spotlight on Heterogeneity:  The Federal Standards for Racial and Ethnic Classification. 

  • The Juanita Tamayo Lott Collection resides in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


March 9: Navigating Disability: Trump Era’s Clarion Call for Advocates and Activists to Come Out of the (Inaccessible) Closet with Ingrid Tischer

Ingrid Tischer has been a Bay Area-based fundraiser and non–profit manager for 25 years. After relocating from DC where she worked as an editorial assistant and volunteered as a Washington Free Clinic HIV test counselor, she joined the staff of a Women’s Free Clinic on Haight Street. This was where she learned to fundraise on the job for 8 years amid deep — and sometimes painful — staff–led work on how to improve their reproductive health services for marginalized women. But it was the experience of confronting how race, class, gender, violence, and poverty issues affect health care that translated a lifetime of disability experience from the purely personal into the political. As a result, Ingrid brought disability and chronic illness to the fore as political and economic factors, new concepts for most of her colleagues. She moved on to Breast Cancer Action, Equal Rights Advocates, Legal Aid at Work, and the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. Her media advocacy experience involved working in coalition with the Labor Project for Working Families, MomsRising, and The Impact Fund.


Since 2011, cross-disability advocacy and policy has been her ever-changing but exciting focus at DREDF. Because she grew up resisting the idea that disability = charity, the opportunity to be a social justice fundraiser with a disability is as much about upending stereotypes as it is about resource development. As a crip, she wants the members of her traditionally excluded and highly diverse community to be recognized as the contributors they are to a just society.


Her blog Tales From the Crip features disability cultural and political critique, and commentary. Her writing has also appeared in The Progressive, Ragged Edge, off our backs, and other outlets. She holds a BA in Philosophy from The American University. Learn more at DREDF 

March 3: Environmental Justice and Civil Rights with Yana Garcia


















Yana Garcia was appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in June 2017, to serve as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs at the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA).


Prior to joining CalEPA, Yana was an associate attorney at Earthjustice, in the California regional office, in San Francisco. Yana was also a staff attorney at Communities for a Better Environment, serving in Huntington Park and Oakland.  Her legal practice areas have focused on environmental justice issues, civil rights, land use, toxics and chemical disclosure, oil and gas extraction, and crude transport. Between 2011 and 2012, Yana served as a legal research attorney at the San Francisco Superior Court’s Civil Division, Office of the Presiding Judge.


Prior to practicing law, Yana worked on various environmental justice and civil rights projects aimed at achieving equitable access to clean air, clean water, and sustainable food and energy systems in the states of Texas, New Mexico and Massachusetts.  She also worked for the White Earth Land Recovery Project and the Honor the Earth Foundation in Minnesota, where she supported the work of indigenous communities as they worked to reclaim access to their traditional lands and sustain their traditional cultural practices.

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Feb 24, Jason Okonofua & Michael Harris

The School to Prison Pipeline: How to End it















Michael Harris is Senior  Director, Juvenile Justice at the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL).  At NCYL, Michael has worked on litigating unconstitutional probation practices, reducing racial disparities in statewide juvenile corrections systems, and on cases that challenge the “school-to-prison pipeline” in Texas, Connecticut,  and California. Additionally,  he works on litigation to address implicit bias, and he has delivered presentations to local and national gatherings on the role implicit bias plays in  decision-making  within the  criminal and juvenile justice systems as well as the  school to prison pipeline.  Before joining NCYL, Michael was Deputy Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, working in California, and Washington to reduce racial disparities in the juvenile justice system using a collaborative process to achieve systemic reform. Prior to Michael’s work at the Burns Institute, he was Assistant Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the  San Francisco  Bay Area  where he worked on a broad range of civil rights cases.


Learn more about NCYL at Youth Law



Dr. Jason Okonofua is a social psychologist in the Psychology Department at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Okonofua is interested in science-based and scalable strategies to combat inequality in society. This work spans contexts such as education, criminal justice, and business. It investigates how negative stereotypes can contribute to inequality in these context and how that process can be dismantled. For example, some of his research in education investigates how the effects of one person’s stereotyping and another person’s threat reverberate and escalate over time. He asks how stereotypes about stigmatized children can shape how they interact with teachers, administrators, and police officers. He also develops theory-based psychological interventions that protect teacher-student relationships from the deleterious effects of stigma and bias. Dr. Okonofua's work is situated to inform psychological theory, field experimentation, and public policy.

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February 10, 2019

Michael Nava

Mysteries With A Mission: Crime Fiction As A Political Tool
























Michael Nava is the author of an acclaimed series of eight novels featuring gay, Latino criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios who The New Yorker, called “a detective unlike any previous protagonist in American noir.” The New York Times Book Review has called Nava “one of our best” writers.


His 2016 novel Lay Your Sleeping Head, a reimagining of the first Henry Rios novel published 30 years ago, was named by the Lambda Literary Review “one of the literary events of the year.”  In January 2019, Michael launched the Henry Rios Mysteries Podcast, which adapts Lay Your Sleeping Head into an 18-episode podcast inspired by classic radio theater. His new Rios novel, Carved in Bone, will be published in spring, 2019 by Persigo Press, Michael Nava’s fledgling publishing company.


He is also the author of an award-winning historical novel, The City of Palaces, set at the beginning of the 1910 Mexican revolution.


His website.

February 3, 2019

Betty Reid Soskin

Reflections On A Remarkable Life























Betty Reid Soskin is best known as the 97-year old Park Ranger for The Rosie The Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. Betty is celebrated internationally, and in 2018 she was named one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year. Betty’s spellbinding talks at the Rosie the Riveter Museum are the highlights of any visit to that National Park. As a woman of color, she worked in a segregated union hall at the Kaiser Richmond shipyards, while the celebrated Rosie The Riveters tackled trades jobs such as welder, boilermaker, machinist, electrician, pipefitter.


Her stories paint a full picture about conditions in our country during WWII: the marvelous feat of a heavily female workforce building 474 ships at a rate never equaled. Amidst the can-do spirit, people of color, many of them migrants from Southern states, were second-class citizens in our Jim Crow nation (legal segregation was the law of the land, not just a Southern problem). Almost overnight the city of Richmond grew from 24,000 to 100,000 people.


Betty’s talks and the wonderful films shown at the Museum tell the story of segregation and mistreatment of US citizens. She introduces us to Japanese Americans families, United States citizens, forcibly relocated to internment camps. She recounts the explosion at Port Chicago Naval Yard that killed 320 sailors and injured an additional 400 people (most of them African Americans) and the subsequent court-martial of 200+ black men who refused to return to work in unsafe conditions.


So much more to know about Betty: composer and singer, entrepreneur, mother, grandmother, community leader. Above all, an optimist who inspires us to do good, to be our best selves. Check out her blog, CBreaux Speaks . . . “after more than nine decades of crowing the sun up.” Betty’s first book is Sign My Name to Freedom: Memoir of a Pioneering Life.





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Previous San Francisco Talkback Guests 


Saturday, December 22, 2018


Lawyer Writers of Color: Telling Our Stories

Sara Campos & Adam Smyer


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Threats to Asian-American Immigrants in the Trump Administration


Aarti Kohli is the Executive Director of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. Previously the Deputy Director, Aarti is an experienced nonprofit lawyer, manager and philanthropic adviser with more than fifteen years of experience in issues impacting low-income and undocumented immigrants. Prior to her role as Deputy Director, Aarti led her own consulting practice. Aarti managed politics of demographic change and immigration reform at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.


Aarti was also the Director of Immigration Policy at the Warren Institute at UC Berkeley School of Law where she led the institute’s immigration initiative on issues of equity for immigrant families, particularly access to education, employment and legal protections in the deportation process.  Formerly, she worked on a range of issues, from bankruptcy to voting rights, as Judiciary Committee counsel to Representative Howard Berman (D-CA). Before working for Congress she served as Assistant Legislative Director at UNITE union in Washington, DC where she lobbied on behalf of low-income garment workers. More about her organization at: advancing justice































Saturday, January 5, 2019


Pay Us More & Touch Us Less: It’s Time to Step Into the 21st Century and Close the Race & Gender Wage Gap

Delia Coleman, Director of Strategic Communications, Equal Rights Advocates


Delia Coleman is a passionate policy and strategic communications professional who has served the nonprofit sector for over 12 years as an advocate, lobbyist, and policy communications practitioner. A skilled policy advocate, speech writer, and communicator, Delia strives to make the wonky accessible – and actionable.

Prior to joining ERA, Delia was Vice President of Strategy and Policy at Forefront, a statewide association for foundations and nonprofits in Illinois.


A native of California, Delia holds a BA from UCLA and a Master’s in 19th Century British & American literature from the University of Michigan. She has been Board Co-Chair of the Chicago Abortion Fund and Board member of several charitable nonprofits with missions affecting women and communities of color. A fairly new resident of the East Bay, Delia is still figuring out what direction she’s facing when she looks out her window and writes multicultural romance novels in her spare time.



























Saturday, January 12, 2019


Supporting the Next Generation of Legal Change Makers

Christopher Punongbayan, Executive Director, California ChangeLawyers


Christopher Punongbayan is the Executive Director of California ChangeLawyers, a statewide foundation that invests in bright, diverse legal changemakers to ensure they have the opportunity to become tomorrow’s legal changemakers.


Over the last twenty years, Chris has gained deep experience in social justice issues. He profoundly believes in giving voice to the unheard, breaking down barriers, and creating strategic alliances to advance equity. Prior to joining the California ChangeLawyers, Chris was the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus and held positions at Northern California Grantmakers, Positive Resource Center, and Filipino Advocates for Justice.


Currently, Chris serves on the California Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Affairs, KQED's Community Advisory Panel, and is the Treasurer of the Mobilize the Immigrant Vote Action Fund. A native of Massachusetts and the son of immigrants from the Philippines, Chris graduated cum laude from Brown University with a degree in Asian American Studies and UCLA School of Law where he completed the Critical Race Studies concentration and the Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy.


Learn more about California ChangeLawyers:






























Saturday, January 19, 2019


Immigration Enforcement and ICE Practices in California

Grisel Ruiz, Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), Staff Attorney


Grisel Ruiz is a Staff Attorney in San Francisco where she focuses on the intersection between immigration law and criminal law. This includes advising attorneys and advocates on the immigration consequences of criminal offenses, training on removal defense, and supporting local and statewide campaigns to push back on immigration enforcement. In addition to technical assistance, training, and campaign support in these areas, Grisel also helps lead the ILRC’s state legislative work. Grisel is currently the Board Chair for Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC), a nonprofit that advocates for detained immigrants.


Prior to working with the ILRC, Grisel was a litigation associate at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and a Stimson Fellow housed at the UC Davis Law School Immigration Clinic and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. As a legal fellow, she co-founded “Know Your Rights” programs at local immigration detention centers, for which she received an award from Cosmo for Latinas.


Grisel is an immigrant herself and earned her law degree from the University of Chicago where she received the Tony Patiño Fellowship. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, where she dual majored in Political Science and Spanish Literature. Grisel is admitted to the bar in California is fluent in Spanish.



























Saturday, January 29, 2019

The ACLU Defends our Rights Against the Trump Administration 

Candice Francis


Candice Francis is the Communications Director at the ACLU of Northern California where she works to ensure top-notch strategic communications to advance and amplify the impact of the organization’s legal and policy advocacy goals. She oversees media relations, strategic communications, communications planning, framing and messaging, online communications and writing.


Prior to joining the ACLU, Candice was the Communications Director at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR). There her responsibilities included positioning LCCR as a preeminent civil rights law firm through strategic communications, media relations, digital media, and brand/identity development and enhancements. 


Candice has also provided communications expertise to promote social justice and health equity at the Public Health Institute, Kaiser Permanente, McKinney & Associates, and Martin & Glantz LLC. As a journalist, she produced radio and television programs at KQED and KRON-Channel 4. She was also a faculty member at UC Berkeley and Peralta Community Colleges.


Candice is a graduate of Brown University and received a Master’s degree in Communications from Ohio University where she was a recipient of a Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) fellowship.

 More about her organization at:






















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