Nayamin Martinez, MPH
Prior to joining CCEJN, Nayamin worked for the Madera County Public Health Department as a Health Education Coordinator and for ten years was the Health Projects Coordinator for the Binational Center for the Development of the Oaxacan Indigenous Communities. Nayamin has vast experience in working with immigrant and indigenous communities across the San Joaquin Valley managing public health programs in a variety of environmental topics including pesticides and air pollution. She has conducted participatory research and launched leadership and civic engagement programs. Nayamin serves in various advisory groups including the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program’s Pests, Pesticides and IPM Project; the Environmental Justice Advisory Group of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District; the Community Stakeholders Advisory Committee of the UC Davis Environmental Health Science Core Center; and the Children’s Health & Air Pollution Study, among others. Nayamin holds a Master’s Degree in both Public Health and Sociology.
Research & Policy Director
Genevieve Amsalem is CCEJN’s Research and Policy Director. She joined the San Joaquin Valley’s fight for environmental justice after moving to Fresno in 2015 and experiencing chronic air pollution firsthand. As Policy Advocate for the Coalition for Clean Air, and Policy Associate and then Executive Director of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition (CVAQ), Genevieve spent the majority of her professional life leading collaborative efforts to develop clean-air plans for the Valley. Most recently, Genevieve was California Air Resources Board Member Gideon Kracov’s Board Consultant, where she advised the Board Member on state-level air and climate policy. Genevieve has a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University with highest honors in Sociology and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Michigan. Genevieve sits on the AB 617 South-Central Fresno Community Steering Committee and founded the group Central Valley Young Environmental Advocates (previously Young Fresnans for the Environment).
Oil and Gas Director
As a child in a family of migrant farm workers who turned into community organizers, Cesar was exposed to community organizing and advocacy at an early age. Since starting with CCEJN, Cesar works in rural communities in Kern County helping fenceline communities affected by oil and gas and pesticides understand how to protect themselves from these sources of pollution and how to advocate for systemic changes that prioritize their health. Cesar has participated in multiple projects (i.e. Arvin Air Quality; I.M.P.R.O.V.E) where he has trained residents on how fracking and other activities related to the oil and gas industry are negatively impacting their neighborhoods. He has also trained community members on the collection of data using PM monitors and bucket samples.
Kassandra (she/they) grew up in Fresno, CA and is proud of their Central Valley roots. Their work in movement-building, agroecology and environmental justice is rooted in their love for the Central Valley. Kassandra studied Environmental Science at Fresno State and holds a M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon. As part of their Food Studies graduate specialization, Kassandra developed garden-based lessons for first-grade students and taught a capstone course examining the mainstream sustainable agriculture movement through the lenses of farmworker, food, and environmental justice. Kassandra went on to serve as an Environmental Health and Justice Fellow at Toxics Action Center (TAC) through University of Michigan’s Environmental Fellows Program. Kassandra supported TAC’s ongoing coalition work in zero waste, clean energy, water justice and abolition. In 2017, Kassandra returned home to serve as the Coordinator for the Community Alliance for Agroecology, a coalition of six environmental justice organizations working together to address environmental injustices perpetuated by industrial agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley. Since 2019, Kassandra has co-led the development of a local collaboration of land-based, Indigenous & POC-led programs led by what is now known as the Matriarchal Council. In 2022, Kassandra joined the CCEJN team as our Agroecology Director to continue her work with the Matriarchal Council and to develop our agroecology programming currently focused in Fresno County.
Community Organizer & Air Monitoring Specialist
My name is Ruben Rodriguez, a native of the western hemisphere. A father, son, brother, uncle and protector of all our relations. I currently reside on occupied Yokut/Tachi land in what we now call the great central valley. Sacred land that was once home to the great Tulare Lake. Now dried up and transformed into a multi billion dollar agricultural and dairy industry. As a resident of one of the most polluted air basins in the nation it was hard for me to make the connection between what was happening around us. Now as a community organizer/air monitoring specialist, I’m able to make that connection and understand why some have come to call this great valley a sacrificial zone. The Central California Environmental Justice Network has provided me with an opportunity that allows me to advocate for resources and services that will help underserved and marginalized populations in the central valley. Frontline communities like San Joaquin, Mendota, Huron, Raisin City, Kettleman City, Cantua Creek and Avenal that continue to deal with underrepresentation and lack of resources in a state with the 5th largest economy in the world.
Community Outreach Worker
Rocio was born in the Central Valley to immigrant parents. Both were from frontera towns and came to the U.S.A. She began her advocacy work in high school when she became involved in Proyecto Popular in 1990. Her parents knew the importance of keeping Spanish in her life, so she completed her medical interpreter internship at the Children’s Hospital in Madera. She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, completing her Associate’s Degree in paralegal studies. She most enjoyed the enforcement section of the labor and employment law. Rocio has also worked on the Census and conducted COVID testing alongside UC Davis researchers. Rocio often travels to rural communities in Fresno County and finds ways to link CCEJN clients with other helpful services.
Yelisa Ambriz is the daughter of Mexican immigrant farmworking parents from Michoacan, Mexico. She was raised between the grape and almond fields of Pratton in Fresno, CA. After being displaced from their land, Yelisa’s parents migrated to the United States in order to secure a better education and future for their children. In May of 2020, Yelisa graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a B.A in History and a minor in Chican@/Latin@ Studies. During her childhood and within her time in higher education, Yelisa became heavily involved with activists that advocate for farmworkers, immigrants, and other marginalized groups. Moreover, in her time working with community-based organizations, Yelisa has managed to educate communities on their rights, organize marches in the streets for peace, as well as provide resources to families in need. A poet in her free time, Yelisa writes about her experiences growing up in the Valley. Her dream is to improve the lives and living conditions of immigrant and farmworker communities in the Central Valley by educating, preserving roots, and reconnecting them to their cultural lands and traditions.
Estudio en la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México (UNAM) Literatura Dramatica y Teatro, tiene mas de 20 a˜nos viviendo en el valley central (Fresno) y ha participado en diferentes proyectos con CCEJN. Al principio a través del teatro mostrando a la Comunidad las diferentes areas que cubre la organización para informales y concientizar a la Comunidad como de la Calida del aire y la importancia de su participación (censo) Ahora en proyectos con mas cercania a la Comunidad: contactándolos y hablando con Ellos para saber mas de sus necesidades y problematica y asi brindarles mas apoyo sobre todo en esta época de pandemia del COVID-19 ayudándoles con recursos y pruebas a su Alcance. De gran importancia para Ella y muy gratificante poder ayudar a muchas familias a travez de la organización.
Me encanta conectar con las personas cuando me ofrecieron ser parte de CCEJIN supe que seria parte de una de mis pasiones. Mi hoja de servicio abarco durante 3 años de desempeño como Presidenta del Comité de Promotoras de Salud en Camarena Health como voluntaria uno de nuestros logros junto con la colaboración de Padres de familia, Directores, Doctores, Enfermeras, Organizaciones, Estudiantes, Acesores, Personas de la Mesa Directiva del Distrito se pudo hacer el cambio de las Politicas de Bienestar de Madera me gusta ayudar por el bienestar de mi comunidad. Luego trabaje para Camarena Health como Educadora de Coverd California dando alcance comunitario y presentaciones de los Seguros Medicos e inscripciones. Asi mismo fui tambien voluntaria en el Centro de Recursos para Padres del Distrito Escolar de Madera dando clases básicas de computación, entre otras actividades de experiencia fui Co-facilitadora del programa School Smarts de Californa State PTA que se inpartieron talles en diferentes escuelas de Madera y Co-facilitadora del programa Tomando Control de tu Salud por parte de Santa Ines Medical Center en Fresno y Participe en la capacitación de Latinas Saludables de Vision y Compromiso para compartir lo aprendido voluntariadamente en la comunidad de Madera por ultimo la colaboración de voluntariado con algunas Organizaciones no lucrativas.
Liliana was born and raised in the Central Valley. She is a proud first-generation Mexican-American daughter and older sister. Her volunteer work first began in high school through assisting with local food drives and clothing drives. In college, she joined forces with Terra Bella Voice for Change in a local environmental dispute through promoting meetings, petitioning for signatures, and co-running their social medias and website. After graduating from Fresno Pacific University with her BA in Graphic Design in May of 2022, Liliana is dedicated to using her experiences to advocate for better social and environmental advocacy in the Central Valley. She currently works as California Central Environmental Justice’s Communications Specialist and Social media Manager.
Agroecology Project Coordinator
Carlos has lived and worked in the Central Valley for over 30 years. He has worked in Kern County and Tulare County organizing with various non-profits through advocacy and grassroots efforts to empower underrepresented communities of color. He currently works in Fresno County as part of a broader Central Valley effort to create alternative, sustainable, and autonomous food systems that are centered on and empower Indigenous communities.
Community Organizer & Air Quality Specialist
Ileana is a graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies. During her time at UCSB, Ileana was a part of the Community Affairs Board, where she volunteered as a Family Literacy Program Coordinator, and an Environmental Coordinator. Ileana worked to encourage literacy in underserved communities where students were learning English as their second language. She also coordinated university events such as beach clean-ups and tree planting. After graduating, Ileana obtained her International Society of Arboriculture Certification and began working as a Utility Arborist in the Central Valley. Ileana’s commute was NE of the valley to the Sequoia National Forest, where she experienced forest fires and thinning, and had a clear view of the smoke plume that consistently lived over her home in Bakersfield. Now as CCEJN’s Community Organizer and Air Quality Specialist, Ileana works to advocate for resources and services that will help alleviate Central Valley communities that are heavily overburdened with pollution.