WHO WE ARE
Co-Founder & Co-Director
Nicole Gervacio is an interdisciplinary
artist based in Oakland, California -
occupied Huichin - originating roots
from Luzon and the Visayan Islands
across the Pacific. Nicole integrates
various methods and mediums from
visual work to movement, video to words.
Her work is inspired by the body, memory,
permanence versus impermanence, and is
driven by the fear of forgetting.
Nicole received her BFA at California College
of the Arts in 2011 and has exhibited visual work
with various bay area organizations including People
Paper Scissors Collective, and is associated with the contemporary Filipinx visual artists collective Epekto Art Projects. Her words, poetry, and visual art have been published in Ano Ba Zine, The Pilipinx Radical Imagination Reader, The South Seattle Emerald, and collaborative zines produced through We Rise.
Since 2016, Nicole has been an active participant and collaborator with the grassroots adult freedom school Liberation Spring. That same year she co-founded the collaborative cultural production collective We Rise. Both continue to deepen and support her work as an artist and activist. Nicole currently works with The People's Conservatory in training young art scholars to explore, create, and envision through artistic endeavors that can promote positive social change. As an educator, Nicole sees her position in the classroom as that of a collaborator. She offers guidance, support, as well as space for young artists as they explore mediums for self expression and self discovery.
Co-Founder & Co-Director
Born and raised in Oakland, California
- occupied Ohlone land called Huichin -
granddaughter of Holocaust survivors,
gardeners, and artists, immigrants and
settlers - Catherine Duval Petru
dedicates her work to the weaving of
art and liberation, rooted in collaboration
and storytelling. Moved by the urgency of
revolutionary Grace Lee Boggs’ inquiry What
time is it on the clock of the world?, Catherine
is a founding participant of decolonial, feminist
grassroots adult freedom school Liberation Spring,
graduate of KPFA Radio’s First Voice Apprenticeship
Program, and co-founder and co-conspirator of cultural
production collective We Rise Production. She holds a BA in Critical Theory and Social Justice from Occidental College and graduated
with departmental honors for best integration of theory and practice.
Catherine’s study of grassroots mediamaking was nurtured during
her time with First Voice, where she continues to teach, produce
and collaborate. She makes podcasts, radio shows, audio features,
and facilitates group dialogues with liberation and community at
the heart of production. Examples of her writing, hosting, and engineering include This Land is Called Huichin, born out of the
featuring members of the Palestinian Youth Movement and
Gaza-based journalist Rawan Yaghi, and An Intro to Transformative
Justice with Mia Mingus. She provides technical production and
Catherine recognizes media as a vehicle for popular education,
and is committed to sharing her skills and inviting folks to take
the lead in their own creative practices and cultural production. Catherine practices American Sign Language and is committed
to transcribing every audio work.
For more, please visit Cat’s CV
Photo by Sania Elahi
Fire Tender, Writer & Host of Yuppie White Girl Treason
Grace Diehl is passionate about working for social justice across sectors and concocting radical strategy. With a deep foundation in conservation and philanthropy, she schemes for collective liberation by building bridges between change-makers.
Grace is also a writer. Look out for her upcoming novel Yuppie White Girl Treason in print and also podcast form!
Specialties: Team Dynamics, Strategic Planning, Grant Writing & Administration, Editing, Native Plant Production, Conservation Ecology, Figure Painting
Eri Guajardo Johnson
Creator & Host of The Birth Bruja Podcast
Eri Guajardo Johnson is a bi-racial, Midwest-born birth doula, wellness coach, community organizer, and host of The Birth Bruja Podcast. Drawing upon her breadth of experience supporting survivors of sexual assault, studying indigenous Mexican and Indian healing modalities, and obtaining her masters in Women, Gender, Spirituality, & Social Justice from the California Institute of Integral Studies- she approaches birthwork as a mechanism for individual and collective liberation.
The Birth Bruja Podcast is a manifestation of Eri’s passion for birthwork as a spiritual, liberational & decolonial practice. Listen now on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube & KPFA’s podcast site, Area 941.
Join the conversation with @BirthBruja
Photo by Sania Elahi
Yolanda Guajardo Mendoza
Yolanda Guajardo Mendoza is proud and excited to be participating in We Rise’s work through the art of transcription! Transcription is the process of turning audio recordings into written documentation. For over 38 years, Yo has been cultivating this skill through her work within various realms of the legal system. Born and raised in Metro-Detroit, Yo is happily married and a mother of three humans and two dogs. It is through her daughter, Eri Guajardo Johnson of The Birth Bruja Podcast, that Yo was called into the We Rise community. What began as a favor for Eri deepened into a new life journey of healing and discovery. Yo is grateful to be in this space of deep learning and is honored to be making this work more accessible for a wider audience.
Strategist, Photographer & Videographer
Mayra Rios studied at California State University, Chico where she majored in Business Administration: Entrepreneurship with minors in Managing for Sustainability and Marketing. During her academic career, she completed two years of study abroad, the first at the Dauphine University in Paris, France where she completed her marketing minor and the second at the University of Ghana, Legon in West Africa where she studied African drumming and dance.
Professionally, she has been working in the education and non-profit sector for the last 5 years. Her past work includes administrative and marketing support for the Shafter Learning Center, the first learning center of it's kind for the community in Kern County, operations management for Mercy For Animals, an international non-profit animal rights organization, and project management of the Trauma Prevention Initiative: Arts Integration for communities in South Los Angeles. For this project, she worked with the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Department of Public Health to support the goals of the Trauma Prevention Initiative by providing arts performances and programming to support community healing and trauma prevention education. Currently, she works as Assistant Project Leader of Rhythm Arts Alliance, a Los Angeles based non-profit bringing West African and world arts & cultures to incarcerated youth in the LA probation system and as Program Coordinator for the Arts For Youth Network bringing arts programming to Juvenile Day Reporting Centers & Parks and Recreation sites throughout LA County.
She also founded her own media company, Blossoming Light Media & Consulting, in 2016, providing photography, videography and marketing services to artists and organizations, as a way to visually tell the stories of the work she is doing in communities and highlight the people, organizations and movements of our revolution for justice and peace.
Theatermaker, Teaching Artist, Facilitator, Weaver
Tierra Allen is a theatermaker, teaching artist, facilitator, educator, youth worker, and activist living in Occupied Huichin/Oakland, California. She holds a B.A. in Theater & Dance with concentrations in Black Studies and English from Amherst College, where she graduated magna cum laude and earned the David Kirp ‘65 Stonewall Prize, which recognized her thesis as a work of exceptional intellectual and artistic merit pertaining to the LGBTQI experience.
As Artistic Engagement Manager at Cal Shakes and Community Discussion Coordinator at TheatreFIRST, Tierra curates diverse programs that bridge theater and activism and leverage performances as sites for healing, critical consciousness-raising, and community-building. In addition to performing, directing and choreographing with companies and collectives throughout the Bay Area, Tierra has worked as a teaching artist and facilitator for social justice at Alameda County Juvenile Hall, at schools throughout Oakland, and has tutored community members from ages 5 to 65.
Devised works with her theater collective, The Bonfire Makers, include WE GO BOOM!, which explored the impact of the tech industry on Oakland; PLACE to LAND (an oakland love story), which examined Oakland’s histories of displacement and how to make its ideal future; and a theater-based tool kit to organize for housing justice and Proposition 10.
Her activism has also included consent education and sexual assault prevention; supporting survivors of domestic violence; counter-recruitment against the military’s targeting of Black and brown youth; education and empowerment of low-income girls of color; alternatives to displacement, homelessness, and the housing crisis; defunding police terrorism; and protecting the West Berkeley Shellmound.
Photo by Sania Elahi
Mallory Rukhsana Nezam
Social Catalyst & Systems-Strategist
Mallory Rukhsana Nezam is a civic artist & cultural strategist integrating community-driven development, socially-engaged art and urban planning. She works with government entities, grassroots cultural organizations and artists to bring arts and equity into community planning, policy and government, and has helped develop arts programs at Smart Growth America, PolicyLink and Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Her work is founded in beliefs in self-determination, racial equity, decolonization, inherent creativity and joy as a radical tool. As an artist and cultural producer, she use performance and play in public spaces to disarm and connect. Homegrown in St. Louis, MO, she is the founder of St. Louis Improv Anywhere, and involved in many artworks and interventions as an artist and activist after the death of Mike Brown, in Ferguson, MO. Nezam’s research focuses on the racial equity impacts of artist residencies in local government. She writes professionally for various publications and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University in Art, Design & the Public Domain. Mallory was a 2008 Fellow at the Community Arts Training Institute in St. Louis, MO, a 2018 Creative Community Fellow for National Arts Strategies, and is currently a 2019 Practices for Change Fellow at Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.
Read more about Mallory at www.mallorynezam.com
Dancer, Performer & Community Health Nurse
Uzoamaka Nwankpa (Uzo) is a is a fourth generation descendant of women healers. from Enugu, Nigeria, West Africa. She is a first generation immigrant to the west and dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the indigenous African healing practices. She is a performing artist, dance facilitator, choreographer, educator, researcher, registered nurse and an advocate for advocate for healing through the use of the arts. As an advocate for communities that use the arts to heal, Uzo is dedicated to creating and exploring diverse ways to combine ancient practices with innovation. As the Founder of the Uzo Method Project- healing through music and movement, she continues to create diverse ways to engage communities around the world through innovative workshops, speaking engagements, presentations and performances.
Read more about Uzo at theuzo.com
Photo by Carlos Willborn
Anjali Lynn Nath Upadhyay M.A.²
Creator & Host of Feral Visions
Anjali Lynn Nath Upadhyay M.A.² is academically trained as a political scientist, philosopher, and educator. She holds an M.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa with specializations in Indigenous Politics (the only program of its kind in the US) & Political Theory & a Graduate Certificate in International Cultural Studies (the only Cultural Studies graduate program in the US that explicitly teaches scholarship from the Global South & not mostly the Western canon). She also holds an M.A. degree from the oldest Women’s Studies Department in the US (at San Diego State University) with concentrations in feminist pedagogies, epistemologies, and gender and militarization. She double-majored in Women’s Studies and Political Science with a minor in Philosophy at California State University at Fullerton. From 2010-2014, she was a Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. Anjali’s longstanding curiosities focus on learning and teaching as practices of freedom.
Photo by Sunshine Velasco of Survival Media Agency