We’re excited to announce our 2023-2024 Community Leads Cohort. Each lead has a unique set of skills, experience, and ideas that they are bringing to the team. They will serve as shared collaborators with the City in the work to center frontline communities in our data and technology processes and policies.
Through September 2024, the cohort will work with each other and the larger Smart City PDX team on data dashboard consultations, community engagement design and implementation, community organizing strategy development, and partake in data justice trainings. Through this process, we will learn how to connect data work in the City to the priorities that our Portland communities are navigating. Our team is excited for all the work we will accomplish with the cohort.
Read more about our Community Leads:
Brandt Maina | RIOA wa ROE (They/He/Her) is a Portland-based queer abstract artist and absurdist writer and performer from Nairobi, Kenya. In 2016, they moved from Kenya to rural Indiana at 19 years old, a seven-year Crash Course on everything America has to offer a Black queer undocumented immigrant. With a BFA in the arts, and fresh memories of being homeless in downtown Portland, Brandt is documenting and abstracting his autobiography into works that reify to audiences this sense of the Present Future as it passes, right here, the slowing down, right now, the deep breath that joyously exhales our collective traumas.
In his advocacy and social practice work, Brandt has worked with Portland Parks Foundation and P:EAR mentor to lead discussions with at-risk and homeless youth about their experiences and hopes for the renovation of O’Bryant Park. Brandt is currently working as a creative programing designer with PUSH Movement for their after-school programs within the Portland School Districts. In Summer 2023, Brandt completed a training course with Oregon Health Equity Alliance after completing a project where he and his cohort partner designed and co-wrote a financial resource book with a group of women from the African immigrant and refugee community in the Portland Metro.
Sarah Hassouneh is a mother, doula, cultural worker, facilitator, and educator based in NE Portland. Her work is rooted in community, and theorizes around motherhood, gentrification and colonialism, birth and death, carework, and synthesis-building. As a high school and middle school teacher, she taught social studies and Language Arts in Detroit, Chicago, and Ramallah, Palestine, as well as implemented restorative justice programs in schools and designed intersectional and inquiry-based curriculum. Locally, she has offered classes on gentrification as it relates to global displacement and colonization. Currently, Sarah works in Portland, OR as a birth doula for the Black Parent Initiative, and as a Community Fellow for the Interstate Firehouse to advance a community-led Black cultural arts center in the city.
Jonathan Cruz currently works at the Multnomah County Health Department as a Program Specialist in the Air Quality program. He is a health educator, educating communities on seasonal air quality hazards such as winter wood burning and wildfire smoke. He is also on the board of Ka ʻAha Lāhui o ʻOlekona (KALO), the Hawaiian Civic Club of Oregon, where he chairs their ecosystems and government relations committees. As an active board member, he manages KALOʻs māla programming, where community members come to maintain connections to Hawaiian culture in the diaspora. He encourages people to learn more about environmental justice through cultural practices and to eat healthy food! He is also a consultant to many community organizations and government projects in Portland, specializing in data sovereignty, data collection, environmental justice, program development and implementation, and community engagement.
Jonathan has been an educator since 2010 when he started working in a loko iʻa (fishpond) on Oʻahu. It was working with the ʻāina and with the community that he found a love for outdoor education and environmental justice. He has a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and a minor in reading interventions from the University of Portland. Due to a lack of culturally specific social support and mental health support at the university, he did not complete his teaching certification. However, this did not stop him from teaching others in many different roles, from being a retail florist hosting workshops, an animal educator at the Oregon Zoo, a COVID-19 contact tracer, and a vaccine educator. Jonathan uses his ability to connect with others and share information in a personal way to empower people to make connections to health information and to motivate people to change their behaviors.