The Bay Area continues to experience extraordinary economic prosperity and unprecedented population growth, while greater numbers of people are left out and displaced. This keynote session will explore what a holistic, intersectional approach to advancing housing justice can achieve in our region.

About our panel

Keynote speakers and moderator

Favianna Rodriguez
Artist, Organizer

Favianna Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and social justice activist based in Oakland, California. Her art and praxis address migration, gender justice, climate change, racial equity, and sexual freedom. Her practice boldly reshapes the myths, stories, and cultural practices of the present, while healing from the wounds of the past. Favianna’s work serves as a record of her human experiences as a woman of color embracing joy, sexual pleasure, and personal transformation through psychedelics as an antidote to the life-long impacts of systemic racism. Her signature mark-making embodies the perspective of a first-generation American Latinx artist with Afro-Latinx roots who grew up in Oakland, California during the birth of hip hop and the devastating war on drugs.

In addition to her expansive studio practice, Favianna is the co-founder and president of The Center for Cultural Power, a national organization igniting change at the intersection of art, culture, and social justice. She has received the Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship, the Atlantic Fellowship for Racial Equity, and the SOROS Equality Fellowship. An artist entrepreneur, she has co-founded various institutions, including the EastSide Arts Alliance, a cultural center and affordable housing complex in Oakland, CA, and, the largest Latino online organizing community in the US. She is currently working on a film about generational womb trauma and healing.

Joseph Tomás Mckellar
Executive Director, PICO California

Joseph Tomás Mckellar is the Executive Director of PICO California, the largest faith-based organizing network in California, whose mission is to catalyze faith-based and spiritually-centered people power in California to create systemic change for the most vulnerable so that all Californians can belong and thrive.

In his role, Joseph provides strategic leadership to 10 multi-faith, multi-racial community organizations representing 450,000 Californians, and accompanies a talented staff team running power building and leadership programs for 2,500 grassroots volunteers.

He helps lead PICO’s Faith Votes campaign, dedicated to significantly expanding the California electorate to include millions more young voters, low-income voters, and voters of color around a vision for a State of Belonging. Additionally, Joseph guides PICO’s statewide campaigns to transform the criminal justice system, protect and promote immigrant families, increase affordable, family-sustaining housing, advance structural tax reform, and create an inclusive economy.

Joseph founded and directed Faith in New York and Faith in the Valley in California, which are members of the Faith in Action National Network. Joseph previously worked as a Community Organizer in San Diego and Orange County, as an Assistant Teacher with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Boston, and as a Prison Minister in San Diego.

As a first-generation college graduate, Joseph earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Political Science, with a minor in Biology, from the University of San Diego. Joseph is a Fellow of the inaugural class of the Civil Society Fellowship, a partnership of The Anti-Defamation League and The Aspen Institute. Joseph also serves on the Board of Directors of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

Melissa Jones 
Executive Director, Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiatives (BARHII)

Melissa Jones is the Executive Director of BARHII, the coalition of the Bay Area’s governmental public health departments. BARHII is a national engine for health equity thought leadership, powered by the ingenuity of the San Francisco Bay Area’s public health departments and community partners. Under Melissa’s leadership, BARHII has served an essential “health voice” to help pass groundbreaking legislation that has saved tens of thousands of lives and improved the health of communities impacted by systemic inequities–including expanded paid sick leave, statewide rent-gouging rules, pandemic-related eviction prohibitions, and climate justice programs.

Over the last five years, Melissa has trained over 1500 government officials in California in Adaptive Leadership for Racial Equity. She brings to BARHII twenty years of experience in nonprofit and municipal government in the Bay Area’s large and small cities, as well as time with the nation’s largest community development intermediary, where she launched Resilient Communities, Resilient Families and was awarded the LISC President’s Award for excellence in comprehensive community development. She is a proud resident of Oakland, active community member, and has co-chaired two efforts focused on Equitable Recovery in the Bay Area. She serves on several boards including the Association of Bay Area Government’s Regional Planning Commission and the California COVID-19 Justice Inaugural Steering Committee. She is a proud Oakland resident, has co-chaired efforts focused on Equitable Recovery in the Bay Area, and is a founding member of Black HAT, the Bay Area’s Black housing coalition.

Nelson Layag (Moderator)
Consultant, Coach, and Facilitator, Principal at Layag Associates, Inc

Nelson’s passionate about working alongside people and organizations who fight for justice. His understanding and love for the power a group of individuals have when they find a way to work effectively together is evident in his organizational development work with nonprofit organizations, teams, and leaders. In his 25+ years of work in organizational development, he has supported organizations in a wide range of issues that include performance management/staffing, coaching and communications, project management, organizational change, boards of directors, strategy, and leadership development. At the core of all his consulting, facilitation and training engagements is equity and justice. Nelson is also a certified leadership coach through Leadership That Works and not only bring his coaching to individuals but also with teams. Before starting his own consulting firm in 2018, he spent 24 years at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and served in various roles including directing the public training program, leading consulting projects, and designing and leading leadership development initiatives. At CompassPoint, he was also part of the “Equity Panel” that led the execution of a reimagined equity centered compensation structure for the organization. Most recently, he co-designed the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California’s Anti-Racist Champions of Change leadership program. Some of his recent clients include Surge Institute Oakland, Earthjustice, SOMA Pilipinas, Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, Z Space, Sierra Club, Dolores Street Community Services, Changelab Solutions, and MyPath. In addition to his professional work, he currently serves as the board treasurer of Filipino Advocates for Justice.

Prior to joining CompassPoint, Nelson was a youth group home supervisor for Star House in San Jose and social worker serving youth in Baltimore, Maryland. He earned a BA in Business Administration and Marketing from Loyola University in Baltimore and was part of a group of students that helped lead the development of what later became the Center for Service and Justice at Loyola. He currently lives with his partner and three children in Alameda where he spends much of his “spare time” trying to keep up with youth sports, college applications, field trips, and homework. He loves to cook and especially loves sharing his love for Filipino food.