ABOUT US

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.

OUR STAFF

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Andre Donado | andre@wearelbre.org | she/they
Project Director

Andre Donado grew up in Colombia, her country of origin. She holds a degree in Political Science from Southern New Hampshire University and a degree in Film and Television from El Centro de Investigacion Cinematografica, CIC in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After moving to the United States, Andre became a student activist at Long Beach City College. This is where she found her passion for community organizing. Since then, Andre has continued fighting for social justice and social equity. She has led and worked on essential policy campaigns for immigrant and housing rights at all levels of government. She has also challenged oppressive systems, like policing and mass incarceration. When not working, Andre enjoys spending time with her dog (Wali), hiking, and playing tennis.

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Jimmy Ecklund | jimmy@wearelbre.org | they/them
Digital Organizer

Jimmy Ecklund is Digital Organizer—in an inclusive, holistic sense—here at LiBRE. Them and their family are locally rooted in the Long Beach area and Southern California working-class organizing. After a few stints in and out of higher education and inspecting aerospace machined parts for a short while, they settled into their passion for community organizing and sticking it to the man. Once we've fixed this mess of a society and overthrown our oppressors, they'll go into the country to raise big pumpkins.

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Jayson Mercado | jayson@wearelbre.org | he/him
HUD Community Organizer

Before Jayson Mercado became a part of LiBRE as a HUD VISTA Organizer, he was a car salesman at a local dealership near Long Beach Airport. Through personal connections, he began doing some volunteer work assisting current organizers that were working with HUD/Low Income properties. After witnessing several tenants dealing with injustices and poor living standards due to the harassment and negligence from their property management, Jayson began to get more involved in helping organizers with their work until a position became available at LiBRE where he is able to join his now colleagues in the front lines doing something he is passionate about... helping those in need.

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Jordan Wynne | jordan@wearelbre.org | they/them
Grants Manager

Jordan Wynne Jordan Wynne was born and raised in Long Beach and is committed to a future where everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home. Graduating from Long Beach Poly in 2013, Jordan pursued a political science degree at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, before returning to becoming involved in the fight for housing justice. Advocating for local policies including rent stabilization, just cause for eviction, and dedicated funding for affordable housing and tenant assistance, Jordan has devoted their policy career to fighting for a more equitable, just society. They currently sit as the co-chair of the Long Beach Homelessness Services Continuum of Care Board

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Kevin O'sullivan| kevin@wearelbre.org | he/him
GIS Analyst

"I visualize and build interactive maps for LiBRE. I am using the data available to me to showcase issues in Long Beach and where they are happening. I graduated from California State University, Long Beach, with a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science. I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Geography at CSULB as well. I have spent the past six years working in GIS, visualizing census data to analyze oak tree mortality. I love hiking, gardening, and adventuring with my family. I also understand the struggle and fear of being evicted while living paycheck to paycheck. That's why I work with LiBRE in hopes of helping people not live in poor conditions. I want to make this city a better place for everyone. I want to make Long Beach a better place for myself, my daughter, and future generations."

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Mayra Garcia-Cortez | mayra@wearelbre.org | she/her
Neighborhood Tenant Organizer

"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.”

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Mayra Garcia| mgarcia@wearelbre.org | she/her
Community Land Trust Organizer | Language Justice Organizer

Soy Mayra Garcia soy orgullosamente Mexicana. Estudié Ingeniería en sistemas y comunicaciones y me gradué en Guadalajara. Tengo  hijos y soy madre divorciada. Mi segundo hijo es un ser maravilloso muy especial . con  discapacidades diferentes. Siempre he estado en  la lucha por la inclusión porque se reconozca a esta comunidad tengo un grupo de apoyo por más de 20 años empoderando padres y familiares en este tema. y mi primera hija una organizadora comunitaria que lucha por los derechos de los que no se pueden defender. Estoy muy orgullosa de mi familia y son los que me dan la energía y la fuerza. Tengo 25 años viviendo en Long Beach y ahora soy ciudadana orgullosa . He tomado muchos talleres de liderazgo y abogacía. Hoy soy organizadora comunitaria del CLT y de justicia por el lenguaje y   muy orgullosa de ser parte de esta gran organización que es LIBRE .

I am Mayra Garcia and am proudly Mexican.  I studied Systems and Communications Engineering and graduated in Guadalajara. I have children and I am a divorced mother. My second child is a very special wonderful being with different disabilities. I have always been in the fight for inclusion so this community is recognized. I have a support group for more than 20 years empowering parents and relatives on this issue and my first daughter, a community organizer who fights for the rights of those who cannot defend themselves. I am very proud of my family and they are the ones who give me energy and strength. I have lived in Long Beach for 25 years and am now a proud citizen. She took many leadership and advocacy workshops. Today I am a community organizer for the Community Land Trust and language justice for and very proud to be part of this great organization that is LiBRE.

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Sylvana Uribe | sylvana@wearelbre.org | she/they
Communications Director

Sylvana Uribe is a public relations professional with over 8 years of experience in the local nonprofit sector. 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 tools, Sylvana strives for communications efforts at LiBRE to amplify grassroots movements led by working families and reverse inequities for renters in historically disenfranchised neighborhoods across Long Beach. Sylvana graduated from California State University, Long Beach in 2017 with a degree in journalism with an emphasis in public relations. 

COMMUNITY CANVASSERS

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Cheyennena Hawk |  she/they
Stay Housed LA Canvasser

Cheyennena Hawk is a Long Beach native. She was born to and Afro-Brazilian mother and an indegenous father. During her childhood schooling she went to a school that was built in community values and dual lingual. From a young age she was taught about civil rights, activism, and community organizing. Her passions also include visual arts, theathre, and history.

INTERNS|FALL 2022-SPRING 2023

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Allison Lopez| allison@wearelbre.org | she/her
Communications Intern

Allison Lopez is a proud born and raised Southeast Los Angeles Latina. Growing up in a marginalized immigrant household has inspired her to pursue a degree in Sociology after dropping out her first year of college in 2017. After some self-pushing, she obtained an AA-T in Sociology and a Business Certificate from East Los Angeles College and is currently attending her last year at CSULB. As an outdoors person, she enjoys gardening, hiking, and a day at the beach. She hopes to someday expand her family’s small business and help small business owners in her community grow and succeed. “Echale Ganas”.

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Ayah Said| ayah@wearelbre.org | she/her
Communications Intern

Ayah Said is pursuing her degree in Healthcare Administration with a minor in Information Systems. She previously worked as a Student Event Coordinator for the Legacy Program at Cypress College, where she had the opportunity to organize events for the African American program cohort. She also has past experience as a Research Assistant on campus, focusing on a study related to service providers’ perspectives on the service provision process for Latinx survivors of intimate partner violence. She is passionate about the intersection of social justice and health care and believes in a sustainable healthcare system that recognizes health as a right and not a privilege. She hopes to utilize her degree to advocate for an equitable health system.

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Stevie De La Fuente| stevie@wearelbre.org | she/her
Community Organizing Intern

My name is Stevie De La Fuente and I am a community organizing intern at LiBRE. I am a current CSULB student working toward a bachelor's degree in Political Science with a concentration in Law, Politics, and Policy, as well as a Legal Studies Certificate. Alongside my classes and this internship, I am a member of the Moot Court team on campus, which is a simulation of appellate argument with a hypothetical legal case. Through my work with LiBRE, I aim to apply my growing legal and political knowledge to make Long Beach a better place and advocate for housing justice for underserved and overlooked communities. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family & friends and trying new places to eat! 

OUR BOARD

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.

Leanna Noble is a retired community and union organizer and contributes 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.

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. 

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.

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.

Max Norris is a public service attorney working for the California Labor Commissioner who is co-chair of LiBRE's Advisory Board.  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 and answering calls placed to LiBRE's main contact line. 

Dr. Gary Hytrek is a Professor in the Department of Geography.   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.