About Just Communities

VisionCLI 2012

Just Communities envisions an equitable and inclusive Central Coast where all people are connected, respected and valued.

Mission

Just Communities advances justice by building leadership, fostering change, and dismantling all forms of prejudice, discrimination and oppression.

Our Work

Just Communities offers cultural competency training to organizational leaders, education seminars for the general public, leadership training institutes for students and teachers, and customized consultation to local agencies for diversity and organizational change initiatives.  Just Communities consciously works with people from a diverse cross-section of the community along the lines of race, income, gender, sexual orientation, age, and religious affiliation.

Our expertise in human relations uniquely positions us to serve people and organizations in the education, health care, non-profit, government, and business sectors.  The breadth of our vision statement to "ensure that all people are connected, respected, and valued" does not limit our service to a single constituency.  Whether we are training health care providers on cultural competency, facilitating a diverse collaboration of service providers to address youth violence, or empowering at-risk teens as leaders in their schools, Just Communities continues to bridge differences among those of diverse backgrounds and cultures to strengthen the local community and advance social justice.

JUST Schools JUST Youth JUST Language JUST Communities JUST Events Collaborations/Partnerships

 

Our Staff

Jarrod Schwartz

Jarrod Schwartz
Executive Director
jschwartz@just-communities.org 

Jarrod Schwartz is the Executive Director of Just Communities Central Coast.  Jarrod served five years as the Program Director for the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) St. Louis, MO Region where he was responsible for the design, implementation and evaluation of NCCJ St. Louis' overall program strategy designed to foster equity and inclusion throughout the St. Louis community. Jarrod left St. Louis to launch a new NCCJ office in Santa Barbara, CA to serve the communities of California’s Central Coast, which he directed until it became Just Communities.  Jarrod is an educator and consultant with almost 20  years’ experience working with schools, businesses and communities to develop, implement, and evaluate organization and personal development programs.  He holds a Master’s Degree in Organization Development from American University and the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science.  He is an Associate of the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems, and Adjunct Faculty Member for Antioch University.  His personal and professional mission is to foster social justice and build community through transformative educational experiences for individuals, groups, organizations, and communities.  Jarrod lives in Santa Barbara with his partner Alana and their beautiful twin daughters, Sydney Michelle and Alix Peyton.

Ana Becerra

Ana M. Becerra, Ph.D.
Program Manager for Schools and Family
abecerra@just-communities.org

Ana Becerra is our Program Manager for School and Family Programs. Ana's work in the field of education spans over 40 years, in the roles of an instructional assistant in a remote reservation school, a credentialed teacher in low-income schools, in bilingual and gifted programs, a district science mentor teacher, a Director of Compensatory Education Programs and English Learner Services, and a school Principal. Ana co-directed numerous equity projects and taught courses at the University of California in Santa Barbara and she remains a consultant to the National Equity Project in Oakland; CA, a relationship that began nearly 20 years ago. Ana holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Montana State University-North, a Masters in Science Education from the University of Wyoming, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Organizations from the University of California in Santa Barbara. Ana was born in San Bernardino, California, as were her parents. She grew up in San Bernardino and Ventura Counties in California, but also lived on a remote indigenous reservation in Montana, in the university town of Laramie, Wyoming, in the rural areas around Reno, Nevada, and in coastal and central Oregon. Ana's passion for justice was lit at an early age when her parents took her and younger siblings to march with Cesar Chavez for the rights of migrant farm workers on the final stretch of his trek to Sacramento from Delano, California in 1966. Ana continues to work actively with a focus on the rights of people, in particular, on educational rights for all children and young people.

Alan Goff

Alan Goff
Program Manager for Youth and Community
agoff@just-communities.org
Alan Goff is our Program Manager for Youth & Community Programs. Alan looks forward to support youth throughout the Central Coast to unleash their leadership potential as they promote justice in their communities. His interest in social justice advocacy began in high school where he worked on relations between people of color and on issues of religious oppression post September 11, 2001. Alan completed his undergraduate education at UC Santa Barbara where his passion for justice work was deepened as he became involved in intergroup dialogue and social justice advocacy and education on campus. Most recently, he completed a Master of Education program in Social Justice Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he studied the theory and practice of Intergroup Dialogue, and the design and facilitation of social justice education in schools. Alan was born and raised in Los Angeles, of Belizean Kriyol and African-American heritage. When possible, he enjoys spending time on travel, food, and being in the company of family, especially his nieces. He is a fan of traditional arts, and participates in a folkloric dance company that is involved in art and cultural education projects in the Southern California area.
Aliz Ventura-Ruvalcaba

Aliz Ruvalcaba-Ventura
Family Engagement Network Coordinator
aruvalcaba-ventura@just-communities.org 
Alíz was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Science from I.T.E.S.O. (Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente) with an emphasis on TV Media and Photography from UPR (University of Puerto Rico). In 2006 she moved to Santa Barbara to pursue her career in Media and worked for Univision (Spanish TV Newscast) as a producer and reporter until 2010 when she focused on her photography business.  After becoming a new mom at the end of 2010 inspired by her own baby, she specialized in newborn photography.

After moving to Santa Barbara and working with the Hispanic community here, she realized how effortless it was for her to have various employment opportunities and travel abroad due to her legal status. Her privilege was the key factor that forced her to utilize her abilities and strengths to try and help others that were not as lucky.

When she read the job description for the Family Engagement Network Coordinator she thought it was a position created with her passion and goals in mind.

“I am truly excited about this Family Engagement Network, it is a missing link that will bring our community together, giving resources and empowerment to those in need. It will serve as a bridge that will show the path to those parents who care for their children and their education giving broader opportunities to their families and to our community as a whole.”

Alíz loves to travel and photography remains a huge part of her life. When she travels she loves to capture beauty, traditions, people, and culture of the area with her camera. She loves art and helps coordinate the live performances for Viva el Arte Santa Barbara. She lives in Santa Barbara with her loving husband Henry and her two year old son Leonardo Sebastian. 
Alena Marie

Alena Marie
Project Manager
amarie@just-communities.org 

Alena Marie is the Project Manager for Just Communities’ Language Justice Initiative, which helps develop communities that are linguistically equitable for all. Alena’s social justice roots are in the movement to end gender-based violence, beginning as part of a team that developed an intervention program for domestic violence survivors in Santiago, Chile and later becoming a sexual violence prevention educator for local youth. Alena became involved with Just Communities as a volunteer in 2005 and joined the staff in 2008 with a focus on Equity in Education. In 2011, she transitioned her role to focus on Language Justice. Her passion for creating multilingual space for diverse people to work together across language barriers was fostered during a decade of involvement with bilingual community programs, and she believes that language access within social change movements is one of the keys to realizing a broad vision of justice for all people. She holds a BA from UC Santa Barbara in Women’s Studies with an Emphasis in Latin American Studies. Alena was born in Corvallis, Oregon and grew up in Murrieta, California. She lives in Santa Barbara with her wife and young son. 

Daniel Elenes

Daniel Elenes
Project Specialist
delenes@just-communities.org 
Daniel Elenes is our Project Specialist. Daniel is from Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. He moved to the United States when he was 15 years old and began his sophomore year at Oxnard High School. Daniel became involved with Future Leaders of America (FLA). FLA helped Daniel see that a college education would be of value to him personally but also saw education as an opportunity that should be available to all. To that end, Daniel attended Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks and graduated with a degree in Music with an emphasis on Technology.  After graduation, Daniel worked with the Nevada State Democratic Party as an organizer. He worked to get out the vote in the Latino community. Following his desire to move back to California, he began to volunteer with FLA and discovered Just Communities. After an opportune meeting with Jarrod Schwartz, (Executive Director of JC) Daniel landed the job of Project Specialist. Daniel handles a multitude of administrative tasks from translating the E Blast, to taking care of the data base and greeting you on the phone.


History of Just Communities

Just Communities Central Coast was established in 2001 as the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) of California's Central Coast.  NCCJ was first founded in 1927 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews, a national non-profit organization whose objectives included promoting harmony among different groups, especially those separated by cultural features such as race, poverty, and religion.  Prominent founding leaders included Theodore Roosevelt, Jane Addams, Benjamin Cardozo, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evan Hughes.

In 2007, Just Communities Central Coast established itself as its own community-based organization and became a founding member of the National Federation for Just Communities (NFJC).  NFJC is a coalition of like-minded organizations working across America to bring the values of diversity, inclusion, and social justice to our communities, schools, workplaces and institutions. Just Communities continues NCCJ's 85-year legacy as a respected human relations organization and as a resource for the Central Coast community