Long Beach Residents Empowered (LiBRE) is committed to advancing justice in disadvantaged communities through the creation and preservation of affordable housing, renter protections, and community economic development. Our work is driven by our values of shifting power dynamics so that we can put an end to displacement and homelessness and ensure housing as a human right for everyone who calls Long Beach home.
WHO WE ARE
Norberto Lopez or Beto (He/Him/His) currently serves as the project director for Long Beach Residents Empowered (LiBRE). Beto graduated from Cal State University Long Beach in 2017 and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Chicano/Latino Studies. In the last few years he has gained local and national organizing experience in immigration, education, labor, and tenant rights advocacy. In 2018, Beto helped organize a successful rent strike in Downtown Long Beach. Beto fell in love with tenant advocacy because of the power tenants have when they organize. Before joining LiBRE he was a community organizer with the Greater Long Beach Interfaith Community Organization (ICO) and has been actively organizing in Long Beach since 2015 with a variety of local organizations and campaigns. Beto also serves as the current President of Latinos In Action, another local organization in Long Beach.
Paula Abad is a 1.5 generation immigrant from the Philippines who grew up in South San Francisco, CA. After moving down to Long Beach to study political science and global migration studies at CSULB, she found her passion for community organizing by joining local progressive Filipino organizations and assisting low-income migrant families in the Westside of LB. With almost 9 years of experience in grassroots organizing, she’s excited to join the LiBRE team as the new Right to Counsel Outreach Coordinator. She loves living in the Eastside of LB, tending to her plants, painting, roller skating, and making earrings.
Abraham (He/Him/His) will serves as the tenant organizer for Long Beach Residents Empowered (LiBRE). Abe graduated from UC Berkeley and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History with concentration in Latin America. Before joining LiBRE, his work has been grounded in education, community/labor organizing, and policy change. Most notably, he was a community organizer with the East LA Community Corporation (ELACC) where he focused on the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign. In 2018, Abe helped organize street vendors to usher in SB 946 (a state law that decriminalized street vending statewide and compelled cities across California to create vending permit systems) and get the Los Angeles City Council to vote unanimously in favor of a framework for a vending permit system. He actively organizes throughout Southern California in various struggles because he believes that when people come together they have the opportunity to be creative, strategize, organize and win
"My name is Mayra Garcia-Cortez I am a proud Mexican young woman pronouns she/her/hers, born and raised in Long Beach California. I am a student athlete currently enrolled at Golden West College working towards a degree in Criminal Justice, English, and Biology. I am a co-founder of a non-profit parent support group for parents with special needs children working towards educating and organizing parents to advocate and fight for their children's rights on an educational and legal level. I've done a series of volunteer work at other parent groups at Long Beach Memorial Hospital, and Latinos in Action California. I hope to apply my organizational knowledge to help HUD tenants organize and fight for their housing rights.”
“Hello everyone, my name is Ruby Rivera. I’m very excited to work with LiBRE. A little bit about myself, I am a proud Mexican born and raised in West Long Beach. I am a first generation student attending CSULB. So being from this city and having been a tenant all my life, I understand the struggles and worries that come along with being a tenant. It is an honor to be the communication specialist for LiBRE and have the opportunity to give back to my city.”
Alejandra Ceja would like to introduce herself “As a Chicano/Latino Studies major, I have been introduced to social and labor justice issues that affect the lives of low income, poor minority communities. Interning with LBRE will allow me to gain critical, coordinating, networking, and community organizational skills, where I will be able to connect with the Long Beach and Greater LA residents to effect change and empower our communities."
Dr. Gretchen Swanson works on neighborhood and community health projects in City of Long Beach and LA County. She has grant writing experience, she is articulate in describing social disparity at the person level and link to policy directions, especially as it relates to older adults and those aging with disability. She generates short pieces for social media, as well as, longer statements such as Op-Ed articles. She is President of Rose Park Neighborhood Association, a mixed ethnic Long Beach neighborhood of 10,000, 80% who rent. Dr. Swanson is the Coordinator of the LA Falls Prevention Coalition, a broad organization addressed safety needs of over 1.5 million older adults in LA County.
Susanne Browne is a Senior Attorney with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), based in their Long Beach office. Susanne has worked at LAFLA for nearly 25 years. Susanne’s community lawyer practice at LAFLA is focused on equitable development, preserving and increasing the supply of affordable housing, tenants’ rights, community economic development, environmental justice and language access. Susanne has dedicated the bulk of her career to working with community organizing groups to fight for justice for disadvantaged communities and help build community power.
Leanna Noble is a retired community and union organizer so I contribute my experience and skills to the planning of LiBRE's organizing strategy for both market rate and HUD senior and disabled building tenants as well as volunteering to conduct outreach, 1-on-1s and small and large meetings facilitation and related follow-up. In addition, She does volunteer work to help design and implement plans to identify and develop tenant leaders. She also volunteers to help design and implement organizational structure, decision-making and other internal LiBRE organizational development needs.
Fred Bigony Is a senior tenant advocate with an interest in housing justice as well as environmental justice and how the two intersect. He graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 1980 with a Bachelor’s degree in Geological Sciences and completed graduate studies after that. Prior to joining LiBRE Fred worked for several environmental consulting companies in the private sector and most recently as a subject matter expert for the California State Board of Geology developing professional licensing exams. Following the last Great Recession in 2008 he experienced joblessness and homelessness. He currently lives in a senior HUD section 8 building where he is an active board member of the Resident Advocate Network. He continues to provide environmental consulting services on a part time basis.
Sylvana Uribe is a public relations professional working in the nonprofit sector in Long Beach, CA. Sylvana was born and raised by working immigrant parents in Central Long Beach, an area of the city marked by redlining practices and housing inequities. Through the use of storytelling and other communications tools, Sylvana strives to have her work amplify grassroots movements led by working families and reverse inequities for renters and historically disenfranchised neighborhoods in Long Beach. Sylvana joined the advisory board of Long Beach Residents Empowered in July 2019.
Wayne Marchyshyn is an active social justice activist/organizer in Long Beach, CA, over the past nine years as a member of several local organizations, including: President of Veterans For Peace Chapter 110 (originally from Canada, he is a U.S. veteran.), Advisory Board role with Long Beach Residents Empowered (rental advocacy organization), Advisory Board role with Long Beach Community Table, Long Beach May Day Coalition planning committee, Long Beach Area Peace Network, and People for Palestine Israeli Justice. Wayne is a graduate of Long Beach Neighborhood Leadership program and Long Beach Rise Community Organizing.
John Kindred has experiences as someone who has been a student of color, single-parent of four children, a member of the disable community, someone who know what it is like to be wrongly evicted and homeless with children while being in college and an activist. Other experiences include participation in the Long Beach Environmental Alliance, Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust of Long Beach and Seal Beach, Don't Waste Long Beach , California Alliance for Retired Americans, Congress of California Seniors---Region 6, Housing Long Beach, Gray Panthers-Of Long Beach, Cambodian Association of America, Long Beach Neighborhood Leadership Program, L.A. Chapter Tuskegee Airmen, Rebuilding Long Beach Together, Long Beach Transit Paratransit Service Advisory Committee, Coalition for a Smoke-Free Long Beach, Surfrider Foundation-Long Beach Chapter, Long Beach Summer Night Lights Collaborative, The Long Beach Neighborhood Leadership Program, Civic Engagment Club, John Kindred.
Max Norris is a public service attorney working for the California Labor Commissioner who is co-chair of LiBRE's Advisory Board for the year 2020. Max is lifetime renter who came to Long Beach in late 2012 for a job with the Labor Commissioner and to be able to afford rent on a state workers salary, effectively being displaced from his home, the Bay Area, due to the rapidly exploding rental market there. As Max made a home in Long Beach, he quickly realized his own role in changing his adopted home of Long Beach and began organizing locally to slow that impact. This organizing led to many great interactions with LiBRE, which led to him joining the AB in 2019.
Manuela Martinez is a Support Group Facilitator for grandparents and/or other relative caregivers who are raising their grandchildren due to the parent’s inability to safely raise the children. In this work Manuela works with individuals directly impacted by the rising rent prices in Long Beach, and its surrounding cities. Manuela helps with the upkeep of LiBRE’s member database.
Dr. Gary Hytrek is a Professor in the Department of Sociology. For LiBRE he conducts research by developing survey and focus group instruments and working with CSULB graduate students and LiBRE organizers and Board members to collect and analyze survey and focus group data among low-income, senior, and HUD tenants. This data is used to further LiBRE organizing and policy advocacy goals. He also assists in identifying and writing grants to support LiBRE organizing and data collection.
Dr. Neal Richman was on the faculty of the UCLA Department of Urban Planning for approximately twenty years. He also led a research unit called the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge that produced online interactive mapping to support neighborhood research by community advocates, including community-based asset mapping. At LiBRE his focus is fundraising by writing grants and supporting organizational development.