Board Officers

Dana Perls

Board Chair

Dana Perls is the senior food and technology campaigner with Friends of the Earth, and leads the Food and Agriculture team’s international and national regulatory and market campaigns on biotechnology and genetic engineering. Prior to joining Friends of the Earth, she was the Northern California community organizer with Pesticide Watch, where she led regional campaigns to ban or regulate toxic pesticides used in agriculture. Dana brings a strong background in grassroots campaign organizing and environmental policy and combines them with her commitment to environmental justice. She has also worked on campaigns focused on water contamination to human rights to water in Panama where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer. Dana holds a Masters in City Planning from U.C. Berkeley in CA, and a B.A. from Cornell University.

Jen Loy

Board Secretary

Jen Loy is a Richmond resident and currently the Assistant Director of Local Government and Community Relations at UC Berkeley. Her specialties are Local government and community relations; policy analysis; developing space and support tools for innovators and entrepreneurs, writers and artists; healthy cities planning; community  engagement, coalition building, group facilitation and community organizing; developing and maintaining institutional partnerships; grant administration and management; program planning and evaluation; project management and content management; strategic planning and budget administration; quantitative and qualitative research (ie participatory research); strategic communications and media advocacy; labor, arts, culture, health writing/reporting; experienced in nonprofits, small businesses; cafe and gallery management and marketing; 20 years of event management and production.

Ray Holgado

Board Treasurer

Ray is a leader in the philanthropic sector with a track record of excellence in operations, finance, grant making, program management and strategy development. A former social worker specializing in system-impacted youth, with experience in the fields of education, workforce development and philanthropy. Skilled in process analysis, workflow design, grants management, community engagement, system implementation and organizational growth. A systems thinker with a passion for driving efficient, innovative and responsive philanthropy.

Board Members

Alfonso Leon

Board Member

Alfonso Leon is a local Richmond resident and has been actively involved in the community for over 10 years. Through rejuvenation projects, community development, and urban gardening he’s seen the impact he’s made in the community change vastly. His journey began when he was a teenager working with Earth Team as a volunteer in a grassroots project called, Aqua Team where he learned about creek restoration, community engagement, and urban development.

From there, he began taking classes at Richmond High, Urban Agriculture is where he learned the basics of gardening, sustainability through permaculture, and social resiliency through the act of growing food. After graduating from high school, he then worked at Urban Tilth’s Adams Crest Farm, and then eventually returned to the Richmond High site where he completed his full circle from being a student to assisting teaching the class. Marketing was also a passion where he worked on various projects with Urban Tilth in increasing it’s local Catahoula Market Stand presence, product development, and canvassing. He is one of the recent additions to the members of Urban Tilth’s board.

Christy Leffall

Board Member

Christy is an urban and regional planning professional. She has 15+ years of experience in housing and land use planning, policy advocacy, and community organizing. Her most recent role was Project Manager of The Association of Bay Area Governments’ (ABAG) Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AB 686) technical assistance program. She lead the development of trainings, resource guides, policy toolkits, and a wide variety of data and analysis metrics for evaluating segregation, displacement, and racial and ethnic concentrations of poverty in the Bay Area. Prior to that role, she served as a planning liaison and coordinator between jurisdiction planners, civic- and community-based stakeholders to advance equitable housing, land use and transportation growth strategies as envisioned in the Bay Area’s regional plan, Plan Bay Area 2050. Her love of Richmond began as the coordinator of the Richmond Equitable Development Initiative (REDI), which brought together a coalition of community-based groups that campaigned and achieved passage of the State’s first Health Element in a municipal General Plan.

She is a creative design- and systems-thinker who brings a strong background in stakeholder engagement; project and grant management; housing & land use policy; data collection and analysis; facilitation and holding space with marginalized groups, and building story narrative.

She enjoys road trips, the outdoors, a nice run along the Bay and her vipassana meditation practice. She holds a Master of City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Cal Poly Pomona.

Doria Robinson

Executive Director and Board Member

Doria is a 3rd generation resident of Richmond, California and the Executive Director of Urban Tilth since 2007, a community based organization rooted in Richmond dedicated to cultivating a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system. Urban Tilth hires and trains residents to cultivate agriculture in west Contra Costa County to help our community build a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system.

Doria has served as Executive Director since 2007. Raised in a strong church community where her grandfather was the minister, Doria spent weekends and summers on the church’s 350 acre ranch in Fairfield California. It was on the Apostolic Temple of Truth Ranch where she was taught her first strong lessons on the power of cooperative economics by her grandfather Elder Vernon V. Robinson. Doria has also worked on organic farms in Western Massachusetts where she attended Hampshire College, at Veritable Vegetable, a women owned organic produce distribution company, Real Food Company and Mixed Nuts Food Co-op.

Doria is a Certified Permaculture Designer, Bay Friendly Gardener, Nutrition Educator and Yoga Instructor. She is the co-founder of the Richmond Food Policy Council, former co-chair of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance Western Region and member of the Climate Justice Alliance, Food Sovereignty Working Group.

Erwin Lee Acox, Jr

Board Member

Erwin Lee Acox, Jr. With more than 20 years of experience working with executive leaders in complex organizations, Erwin L. Acox, II is a diversity, equity & inclusion expert focused on transforming organizations from the inside out. Based in San Francisco, Erwin is Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Tides. In addition to crafting and implementing sustainable DEI practices, he advises organizational leaders, through culture shifting, for positive employee experiences. His DEI practice focuses on getting to the root causes of organizational inequities to provide sustainable approaches to creating workplaces where employees feel valued and respected for their humanity and contributions. Previously, Erwin has led system-wide diversity and inclusion efforts for the Illinois Department of Transportation, where he supported nearly 6,000 employees through culture shifting, while also shifting contracting practices to be more equitable and inclusive of women and BIPOC. He has also coached leaders on discovering and understanding the impact of their actions on the workforce, especially how they could lead to negative impacts on women, and People of Color. His areas of expertise are diversity and inclusion strategy and implementation, employee relations, coaching, training development, and transforming toxic cultures to human-centered. Originally from the Southside of Chicago, he LOVES house music, Chicago pizza, hot dogs sans ketchup (mustard, relish and sport peppers only), and chilling with his family and friends.

Heather Blackie

Board Member

Heather Blackie is an agricultural Jedi. She consults in a wide range of regenerative agriculture practices, from biodynamic farming, composting, rotational grazing and fencing, and helping foundations skillfully invest in sustainable agriculture. She is a farmer and co-owners of Quiet Valley Farm in Nicasio, CA.

Jennifer Ly

Board Member

Jennifer Ly is currently the Environmental Justice and Land Use Manager at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Trained as an urban planner, she previously held planning roles at the City of Long Beach and City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Jennifer’s experience in local government began at the City of Richmond, where she had the opportunity to work in the City Manager’s Office helping develop and implement the City’s progressive program for sustainability and health equity. It was during her time at the City of Richmond that she became inspired by Urban Tilth. Jennifer earned a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. In her free time, she enjoys martial arts, the outdoors, and eating noodle soup.

Nate Shaffran

Board Member

Nate Shaffran serves as co-Director of Lending for Community Vision, a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), where his team finances community-serving nonprofits, inclusive small businesses, and affordable housing development. He joined Community Vision with over 15 years’ experience in development lending and social enterprise, with a focus on food and agriculture. He previously worked for a decade with the social impact lender Root Capital, launching the organization’s African operations and building a portfolio of over $30M and a staff of 30+ African professionals. A native of Richmond, CA, Nate holds an MS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and BAs in Economics and Political Science from Swarthmore College.

Tania Pulido

Board Member

Tania Pulido was born and raised in Richmond California. She was employed by Urban Tilth for 9 years before moving on to become the Community Services Coordinator for the Community Housing Development Corporation. Her 9 years of experience working within Urban Tilth gives her a unique perspective on the Urban Tilth board. For ten years Tania has committed her personal life and career to food justice, community journalism, youth development, and community organizing in Richmond. As a San Pablo and Richmond native, and now Richmond homeowner, she is rooted and invested in the future of Richmond.