who i am

I learned about the civil rights, Black Power and Chicano movimientos on TV in the 60's, as a working class, latchkey kid in San José, California.

This led to my participation in anti-war demonstrations and school walkouts for “ethnic studies” curriculum and canvassing door-to-door to get out the vote, long before I was old enough to vote myself. I've remained passionate about furthering equity and liberation throughout my life.

Photo: Dolores Huerta Foundation

In 2005, I became one of the first folks of color from the nonprofit sector to become a “certified coach.” I began working with individual coach partners, who were primarily social justice activists and people of color.

In 2010, I joined the faculty of an accredited coach training organization, Leadership that Works. I co-led fourteen certified coach training cohorts virtually, in the Bay Area, in Los Angeles and in New Mexico. That’s about three hundred or so coaches, many of whom are BIPOC and social justice activists.

I’m a co-founding member of the With/In Collaborative,  a core associate with RoadMap Consulting, and a vetted member of more than fifteen coaching “pools” for numerous leadership programs, including the Nexus FellowshipRockwood Leadership Institute, and programs associated with CompassPoint Nonprofit ServicesUCSF’s HealthForce and Haas, Jr. Fund’s Flexible Leadership Awards. At this point, I’ve partnered with about 500 folks from the social justice, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.

Prior to becoming a coach, I worked in nonprofits for 26 years, including a community-based free women’s clinic where I was an “accidental” Executive Director. A colleague suggested I work with a coach – which I’d never heard of. I did – thank goodness!* I also worked for a California state-wide leadership program for women’s health leaders (primarily women of color). 

I identify as a Chicana/Mestiza/Pocha, with light skin privilege. I’m a cis-gender woman. I use she/her pronouns.  I’m “straight” and a “baby boomer.” I was raised working class and am now middle/owning class. I’m California-born, with ancestral roots in the borderlands, around Loving and Carlsbad, New Mexico and Chihuahua, México.

I humbly identify as La Madrina Chingona,** (“Badass Godmother”) a nickname given to me by folks I trained to be coaches.

I was married to a 6’5″ African American guitar player who died in 1993. I’m now married to a skinny white sax player. We, and our rambunctious dogs, live in Oakland, California, on land that originally belonged to the Ohlone.*** I love live music, dancing, singing loudly, water coloring, gardening, colors (in my home, clothing and the natural world), watermelon, cooking and belly laughs. I’m both a dog person and a cat person. I try to walk daily and practice Pilates regularly.

Most proudly, I’m the Nina (godmom) of six god kids: Oni, Marya, Olivia, Avery, Diego and Carter Xochi.

They’re my inspiration for all that I do.

My father, Luciano, and some of his brothers
My Parents 1931
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*My coach was Eileen Blumenthal of Rocket Science Coaching
**The way I support my godkids and folks learning to be coaches is similar: I believe in them and their resourcefulness, trust their choices and what they’ll learn. And, I strongly remind them (this is the Chingona part) – we have just ONE life, so there’s no better time to fulfill your purpose!
***I support The Shuumi Land Tax – a voluntary annual contribution that non-Indigenous people living on Ohlone territory can pay to support the Sogorea Te Land Trust.