Alex Rojas

Senior Operations Coordinator

Alex [they/them] is originally from Ecuador and has been involved in community and resistance work at different capacities during their time in the Bay Area. One of their favorite projects has been co-founding and facilitating an expressive arts group at a local winter shelter. They’re also passionate about exploring and practicing ways of metabolizing experiences and emotions that are held in the body through physical movement, bodywork and breathwork.

Alex finds joy in spending time in the sun, swimming, biking to everything, reading, and looking after animals.

Debbie Leggio

Managing Director

Debbie (she/her) is an experienced finance, operations, organizational development,  and human resources management professional with a deep commitment to social justice and dismantling systems that disseminate economic injustice. Debbie brings over 20 years of experience working with mission-based organizations dedicated to community building and advancing a more just and equitable society to her role as Managing Director. 

A native New Yorker, Debbie relocated to the Bay Area in 2009. She comes to the organization with many years of experience in the non-profit sector working in Human Services as a Program Director and Learning and Development Coordinator with Housing Plus Solutions in Brooklyn, New York as well as, Economic and Workforce Development as the Director of Finance at Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center in San Francisco. 

Prior to joining Restore Oakland Inc as a staff member, Debbie was the Director of Finance and Operations at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a founding partner where she helped manage a $22M capital campaign and helped the launch of Restore Oakland. .

As an advocate for social justice and drawing from her own personal experience the impact of mass incarceration has on society, Debbie believes “when there is passion behind the work we do, it fuels us to work for the change we believe is possible”. She has done volunteer work with the Correctional Association of NY-Women in Prison Project, Hour Children Working Women Program, WIBO (Workshops in Business Opportunities), the Prisoner’s Literacy Project in Berkeley, and the San Francisco AIDS/Life Cycle.

Debbie studied liberal arts and business at Medaille College in Buffalo, New York. After graduating cum laude, she continued her education at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California, achieving a bachelor of science in human services. She also holds a Certificate in Non-profit Management from Golden Gate University and a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion in HR Management. Debbie also has certifications as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (HRCI SPHR Certification) and is a  Certified Health & Wellness Coach.

In her leisure time, she enjoys gardening, the beach, hiking, wine tasting, and exploring all that northern California has to offer.

Jessie Nguyen

Restorative Economics Organizer

Jessie (they/them) is a community advocate, food entrepreneur, and queer creative based in Oakland, Ohlone Land. Raised in the Bay, by way of Naperville, Illinois, they are a second-generation Vietnamese of the diaspora. Jessie began their career in economics and has spent the past decade cooking and sharing Vietnamese food. They are passionate about the heart-centered experiences of community building as opportunities for awareness, connection and care.

Jo Bauen

Healing Justice Circlekeeper

Jo (she/they), Ed.D. is an educator and organizer with a focus on social justice. She studied and taught Popular Education methods at UC Berkeley, and implemented parent leadership and participatory research projects in the Oakland Schools. Jo currently teaches the principles of restorative/transformative justice for Community Works West, in SF County jails. She holds a weekly ‘Citizens’ Circle’ with formerly incarcerated and never incarcerated individuals. Jo swims, cycles, plays the flute, and loves to garden and cook.

Kari Malkki

Healing Justice Organizer

Kari (any pronoun) is a queer, Black organizer and facilitator who brings her training in policy advocacy and social work to the movements for prison-industrial-complex abolition and Black liberation. Kari has roots in rural North Carolina, Uganda, and Finland, and has been cultivating a home in the Bay Area over the last six years.

Before joining Restore Oakland, Kari provided advocacy and support to incarcerated Californians fighting for resentencing and release, and worked with unhoused folks and low-income families to access housing and vital services. They hold an MSW/MPP from UC Berkeley, and are passionate about liberatory approaches to healing and mental healthcare. On good days, Kari may be found reading in the sun, dancing to live music, homemaking with their partner, and tending to plants.

Zoe Parsigian

Communications Designer

Zoe (she/her) is an organizer, designer, and researcher committed to storytelling and collaborative design processes to address social problems. At the heart of her process is curiosity and a fierce commitment to inclusive design. Originally from the East Coast, Zoe has been living and organizing in Oakland for the past 10 years, and has deep relationship with the Bay.

Zoe has a background in architecture, anti-prison organizing, and restorative justice facilitation.  Working with Decarcerate Alameda and California Coalition for Women’s Prisoners, she has been supporting community-based movements towards liberation for over a decade. This work has led her to shift her design focus towards communications design for political organizing, and she recently graduated from California College of the Arts with a Master’s in Interaction Design. 

Patrick Leonard

Development Consultant

Patrick (He/Him) was born and raised in Michigan and has lived in Oakland for eight years working with organizations committed to decarceration and community-led strategies for healing and building equity. Before joining Restore Oakland, Patrick developed a guaranteed income project that provides monthly no-strings direct cash assistance for people returning home after incarceration. He loves his two cats, being near water, and trail running in the east bay regional parks.

Ray Evans

Healing Justice Circlekeeper

Carlus “Ray” (he/him) is a Richmond native who currently resides in the South Bay. He is a business owner and a Restorative/Transformative Justice circle keeper.

He holds a weekly ‘Citizens Circle’ with formerly incarcerated and never incarcerated individuals. Ray has facilitated community building circles at Stanford University as well as given a speech on prison abolition for a Cops off Campus rally, also at Stanford University.

Ray knows the fundamental problems of the US prison system from the inside and is able to counteract this well functioning system with a humane approach to crime and conflict through this work that he does. He is a formerly incarcerated individual who spent 27 years as a resident of the California Department of Corrections.

Tash Nguyen

Interim Executive Director

Tash (she/they) is a queer, gender-nonconforming, community organizer and circlekeeper working to build racial and economic justice. For over 10 years, they’ve been organizing to reduce jail populations, stop jail expansions, and redirect resources out of carceral budgets and into life-affirming community solutions.

Tash is trained in restorative justice, mediation, and various conflict resolution techniques. They believe that we must build a culture, the skills, and practice that move beyond punishment if we are to meaningfully break cycles of violence and create a world rooted in shared prosperity.

Prior to joining Restore Oakland in 2019, Tash served as a Senior Organizer and Advocate at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a founding partner of Restore Oakland. Their prior work experience includes supporting student leadership and organizing at UC Santa Cruz’s Office of Student Organization & Advising Resources. They proudly serve on the board of the REAL Peoples Fund

Tash was born and raised in the Bay as a child of Vietnamese refugees. Their dedication to resisting systems of domination is fueled by the deep ties she has in her community and her broader vision of liberation. They love noodles, their dog Yoda, backpacking, and nerding out over music and poetry.


Our Board

Jahmese Myres

Leadership Development Director at
The Partnership for Working Families

Jahmese Myres (she/they) is a campaign strategist, social justice organizer, and transformational leadership coach based in Oakland, CA. She currently serves as the Leadership Development Director at PowerSwitch Action, supporting the growth and success of organizers and movement leaders across the country.

Prior to joining PowerSwitch Action, Jahmese served as the Political Director for the 2020 California ballot initiative, Prop 15: Schools & Communities First. She also spent 9 years at East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE) leading community benefit campaigns, local ballot measures, and public policy development. Her work with powerful community and labor coalitions has resulted in groundbreaking wins for economic justice including job access for the formerly incarcerated, local hire requirements, minimum and living wage increases, tenants’ rights, and protections for women on the job.

Appointed under two Mayors, Jahmese on the City of Oakland Planning Commission from 2014-2020, fighting for equity during one of the city’s biggest development and gentrification booms.

Jahmese holds a Bachelors of Science in Economics from Saint Mary’s College of California and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from University of California, Irvine.

Jessamyn Sabbag


Matt Nelson

Executive Director at Presente

Matt Nelson (he/him) is the Colombian-born, Midwestern-raised Executive Director of—the nation’s largest online Latinx organizing group; advancing social justice with technology, media, and culture. Before his work at, Matt was the Organizing Director at and co-founded several worker-owned cooperatives in multiple midwestern cities. He is a seasoned campaign strategist who has won dozens of local and national campaigns and a skilled community organizer who has trained thousands of activists. He is a long-serving community organizer and campaign strategist who was featured in the first major book on the Ferguson Uprising, “Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion”. He contributed to the book, “Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times”, and is an editor of the recently released book: “Turnout! Mobilizing Voters in an Emergency” (Routledge 2020) He is finishing a new book on how Latinx organizing and cultural power is reshaping U.S. politics (Routledge 2022).

Nwamaka Agbo

Board Chair

CEO of Kataly & Managing Director of the
Restorative Economies Fund

Nwamaka Agbo (she/her) is the CEO of the Kataly Foundation and Managing Director of the Restorative Economies Fund. In her roles, Nwamaka collaborates with the Kataly team to lead the foundation’s day to day operations, while holding the community-centered strategy and vision for the Fund.

With a background in community organizing, electoral campaigns, policy and advocacy work on racial, social and environmental justice issues, Nwamaka is deeply committed to supporting projects that build resilient, healthy and self-determined communities rooted in shared prosperity.

Prior to joining the Kataly Team, Nwamaka built an independent consulting practice guided by her framework on Restorative Economics. As a consultant, she provided technical assistance and strategic guidance to community owned and governed community wealth building initiatives like Restore Oakland, Black Land & Power and others. Her work with these community driven projects led her to providing trainings and advisory services to donors, foundations and impact investment firms including institutions like The San Francisco Foundation and RSF Social Finance. Nwamaka has served as a fellow for the Center for Economic Democracy and the Movement Strategy Center. She proudly serves on the board of Thousand Currents, Restore Oakland, Inc. and Resource Generation.

To relax and unwind, Nwamaka enjoys spending quiet time in her Oakland backyard savoring sips of bourbon.