Gabriel Arana (he/him/his)

Gabriel Arana is editor-in-chief-of the Texas Observer and a contributing editor at The American Prospect. He was previously a contributor at them., features editor at Mic, senior media editor at the Huffington Post, a contributor at Salon, and senior editor at The American Prospect. His work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Mic, Salon, The Nation, The American Prospect, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, City & State, and The Daily Beast. He has been a guest on television and radio talk shows including MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, CNN's Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien, The Dr. Oz Show, PBS Newshour, and NPR's Talk of the Nation. Gabriel holds a bachelor's degree in linguistics from Yale University. He is a native of Nogales, Arizona and lives in New York City.


Lilea Duran (she/they)

Lilea brings a decade of experience in early learning and community building to her role as Executive Director of First 5 Napa County. Prior to her current role, Lilea served as the Community Programs and Network Manager at First 5 Napa County. She held prior positions as a Site Supervisor and Child Development Teacher at preschools in Napa County and brings leadership experience on several local nonprofit boards. Lilea has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Brandman University. She and her family have lived in Napa County since 2008. 


Rob Sánchez Nelson (they/them)

Rob Sánchez Nelson is a dynamic and seasoned facilitator known for their exceptional ability to lead transformative workshops and dialogues. With extensive expertise in the areas of intersectionality, higher education, queerness, student leadership, and the arts, Rob brings a wealth of knowledge to every facilitation experience. 

Rob holds a Bachelor of Arts of University of Rochester, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and is working towards a Doctorate of Education from University of Illinois. Through their varied educational experiences, Rob has developed a well-rounded understanding of how diversity and inclusion affects all facets of society. 

Rob draws from their experience, first as the Interim Director of the LGBTQI+ Life Office at Vanderbilt University, and now as Chief Diversity Officer at the San Francisco Ballet to facilitate workshops that bridge the gap between theory and real-world implementation. Their workshops are designed to challenge conventional thinking, provoke meaningful conversations, and empower participants to drive change within schools, organizations, and communities. 

Whether guiding participants through discussions on intersectionality, queerness, student leadership, or harnessing the arts for social impact, Rob's facilitation leaves a lasting impact. Their workshops equip individuals and teams with the tools and insights needed to enact positive change and drive progress in their personal and professional lives. 


Dr. Frederick Smith (he/him)

Dr. Frederick Smith is SF State's Associate Vice President for Equity & Community Inclusion. Previously, he served as the Director of the Cross Cultural Centers at Cal State LA from 2006 - 2019. 

Dr. Smith's research and professional interests focus on higher education and include: co-curricular learning experiences; the role of ethnic studies and cultural centers in student identity development and confidence building; campus climate experiences of historically marginalized and minoritized communities; retention and graduation of students of color in higher education; and collaborations between student affairs and academic affairs units for student success.  Fred has a strong professional background developing collaborative programs, events, services, dialogues, and celebrations that bring the campus community together.  

Smith has served twice as president of the California Council of Cultural Centers in Higher Education (CaCCCHE). He is active with the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE), NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, and American College Personnel Association (ACPA). 

Outside of higher education, Fred enjoys reading and writing fiction. He’s written and published several novels – In Case You Forgot (2019), Play It Forward (2015), Right Side of the Wrong Bed (2009), and Down For Whatever (2005) – that focus on queer people of color characters. 

Smith received his B.J. in Journalism/TV News from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He completed his M.Ed. in Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago. He earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University. 


Meredith Talusan (she/they)

Meredith is an artist who works at the intersection of writing, visual art, science, and performance. Her work has spanned multiple mediums and genres, though they are best-known to the public as a book author and journalist. 

Meredith is the author of the critically-acclaimed memoir Fairest from Viking/Penguin Random House, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist and best book of 2020 by multiple venues, including O: The Oprah Magazine, Marie-Claire, Electric Literature, and Library Journal, and was chosen for both the Teen Vogue and LitHub Book Clubs. She has also contributed to several essay collections, including the New York Times Bestselling Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture. 

Meredith is also the founding executive editor of them, Condé Nast’s LGBTQ+ digital platform, where she is currently contributing editor. She is also a contributing editor for Catapult and is on the board of Electric Literature. Meredith is on the faculty of the Sarah Lawrence MFA writing program and has taught at several residencies and conferences, including Tin House, Lambda Literary Retreat, and Grub Street. She has also done residencies at BANFF Centre, Hambidge Center, and Millay Arts, and has been the recipient of the Poynter Fellowship at Yale and the Marsha P. Johnson Fellowship from Jack Jones Literary Arts. 


Camilo Villa (he/they)

A Colombian interdisciplinary artist and Spanish language educator & consultant based in the Bay Area. He holds an M.A. in Education for Equity & Social Justice from San Francisco State University and a B.F.A. in Individualized Studies with a minor in Social Action & Public Forms from the California College of the Arts. Their art practice and educational research addressees the liberation of Queer Latinx communities, the violent erasure of social leaders in his home country Colombia, and the journey of Latin American migrants crossing the US-Mexico Border. Camilo’s work has been exhibited at Senator Scott Wiener’s Office as part of the We Belong-Pertenecemos exhibit and at the SFMOMA Artists Gallery as part of the Hispanic Heritage exhibit. Their work has been featured in magazines, such as Bay Area Reporter, Voyage LA , NEWAGE, and Latin:SF. 

Camilo builds intersectional spaces for learning by incorporating culturally and queerly responsive pedagogical models in his teaching practice. Most recently, he published his master’s thesis titled Teaching Gender Inclusive Spanish: Advancing Pedagogy Towards Gender Equity on ProQuest. The purpose of this study is to evaluate a gender-inclusive Spanish language curriculum developed for 3rd-5th grade Spanish classes that employs the letter "e" to desexualize the masculine generic form. Fundamental to this approach is how pre-colonial indigenous gender systems advance the now contested need to eradicate sexist expressions in the Spanish language that has increasingly gained momentum in Latin America for the past decade. 


Jonathan Kissam (he/him)

Jonathan Kissam is the Communications Director for the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE). Prior to joining the union’s staff in August 2017 he was an active rank-and-file member for over two decades, serving in various elected local and district positions, including as a member of the union’s national General Executive Board for three years.

After witnessing the backlash to Vermont’s 1999 civil union law, a major step towards the legalization of gay marriage, Kissam and his co-workers drafted a resolution, “Fight Homophobia,” that was passed by the UE national convention in 2000, strengthening the union’s position against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 2004, while serving as Secretary-Treasurer of the union’s New England District 2, he drafted a resolution endorsing the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, which was passed by the district and later incorporated into national union policy.

As UE Communications Director, Kissam frequently uses the pages of the UE NEWS to popularize the history of marginalized groups within the labor movement; his 2021 article “Working-Class Pride in the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union,” which was reprinted in the publication Labor Notes, helped spark interest in the remarkable history of that union throughout the labor movement.


Heather Feeney (she/her/hers)

Heather has been in the heritage sector for over a decade working at a variety of museums, art galleries, and historic homes. Her previous positions concentrated mainly on the care of collections with a focus on information management. In her current role as Collections and Exhibits Manager at the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, she has expanded her work into exhibit creation, focusing on storytelling in a museum setting. Heather has a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from the University of Guelph and a certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship from Fleming College. Last year Heather curated the "Queer at Sea" exhibit, which explored the history and contributions of queer, transgender and two-spirit people in B.C.'s maritime industries.


Meredith Whipple Callahan (she/her/hers)

Meredith Whipple Callahan brings two decades of experience as a strategy consultant and line executive to her work in leadership development. Deeply fluent in business, Meredith helps clients find clarity, meaning, and action. She has an unparalleled ability to integrate organizational realities with personal and interpersonal wisdom. Her clients appreciate her intelligence, direct approach, and dedication to truth. 

Meredith’s distinguished business career began at Bain & Company where she worked on due diligence and strategy for technology, healthcare, and private equity companies. Thereafter, she worked at Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, as a manager. As a leadership executive, Meredith designed, built, and managed global leadership programs as well as led succession planning and executive development functions. Today, Meredith is a Partner at Evolution, a leadership development firm focused on humanizing the modern business organization. Meredith’s work focuses on executive coaching and organizational development in service of: leadership teams (individually and collectively), succession planning, emerging leaders, diversity and inclusion, and culture change. 

Meredith is a certified coach, experienced facilitator, published author, and international speaker. She is a Professional Certified Coach with specialized certifications in strengths-based leadership, emotional intelligence, and gratitude. Her publications include Indispensable: How to Succeed at Your First Job and Beyond (Inkshares, 2018) and The Intentional Life: Reflections from Conscious Living (Potrero Press, 2019). Meredith holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Yale University and a Master of Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has been featured on CNN, in the Chicago Tribune, and on numerous podcasts and local media outlets. 

Meredith lives in San Diego with her wife, two young children, and two dogs. She is passionate about nature, yoga, ritual, cooking, and personal evolution. Additionally, Meredith is a certified celebrant and has studied spirituality extensively at Himalayan Institute. 


Meagan Nance, Director of Inclusion Initiatives and the Educational Opportunity Program

Jalen Chavez, EOP Program Assistant
Morrow Cove