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Empowered San Francisco Technology Needs Assessment Community Advisors & Partners

Meet the team of experts who will guide this important city-wide digital equity initiative!

This Community Needs Assessment is driven by a 14-member Community Advisory Coalition composed of a diverse cross-section of Deaf and Disabled community members, non-profit disability and aging cultural workers, veterans, transition-age youth, mental health advocates, and community representatives. The coalition oversees an inclusive process for seeking input and feedback from the community.

Community Advisors Coalition:

Image of Asim Brooks with a background showing that I’m a huge San Francisco Giants fan and the border around my picture is showing my solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

My name is Asim Brooks I have been a community rep for ShelterTech for the past four years as someone that experienced homelessness from 2013 to 2017 I believe that we are all entitled to technology and social services using tech in a clear and simple way to enrich and supplement our lives especially in our current times.

Closeup image of Aurora Alvarado whose hair is parted to the side hanging loosely over their left shoulder. Aurora is smiling, and wearing a lavender color blouse, and purple blazer.

Aurora Alvarado is the Healthy Aging & Disability Resource Program Manager Mission Neighborhood Centers (MNC), Inc. Aurora joined MNC in 2006 as Social Services Coordinator for the Senior Program and currently she is leading the program as the Healthy Aging & Disability Resource Program Manager, during the last couple of years, she has launched new programs and expanded services to other senior sites. She oversees and manages the different programs at the HADR Center: Aging & Disability Resource Program, Community Services, Community Services Pilot Program, Intergenerational Program and Naturalization Program. She and her team are responsible for assisting clients in identifying and securing vital benefits and community services, which will help them to continue independent and active in their lives. She is continuously seeking for new ideas on how to innovate and improve the recreational, educational and healthy program curriculum of the program, identifying needs and interests of older adults and adults with disabilities. Prior to coming to MNC, Aurora worked in the non-profit sector of Tijuana, Mexico for 11 years serving the low income and immigrant families as social worker, case manager and administration assistant. Aurora holds a B.S. in Marketing from UNADM in Mexico.

DeMian Williams, a 27-year-old Black-American male looking at the camera and smiling.

DeMian Williams is an outgoing advocate who has spoken for people with physical or mental disabilities with the help of his former transition program, AccessSFUSD: the Arc. He is currently an employee at the California Academy of Sciences, working there for 5 years, and is affiliated with The Arc of San Francisco.

Photo of Hannah Chadwick.

Hannah Chadwick serves as the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Disability:IN. She has been with the organization since 2018, and has a strong passion for diversity and inclusion. Hannah holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis with a double major in International Relations and Mandarin Chinese. Growing up in a rural village in China where there were no educational opportunities for children with disabilities strengthened Hannah’s commitment to advocating for social justice and equality in education, employment and all aspects of civic life. It has enriched her insights into the challenges and motivated her to find potential solutions. In her spare time, Hannah enjoys the outdoors, cycling, and traveling.

My name is Jason Chittavong, I am in my late 30’s, Asian-American wearing black v-neck t-shirt.

My name is Jason Chittavong. I am the Mentor Coordinator for the Veterans Justice Court of San Francisco. I recruit and manage a team of volunteers to mentor veterans in their treatment program. I have ten years of outreach experience in community relations and supportive service for veterans in the Bay Area. I have hosted social events and provide educational seminars and resources to the community of San Francisco.

Jennifer is a Caucasian woman with glasses and auburn shoulder-length hair, wearing a pink knit sweater.

Jennifer Walsh is the Ability Integrator at Community Living Campaign in San Francisco. They help build the skills and tools needed to have a good life by creating a community all around San Francisco in unique ways. As the Ability Integrator, Jennifer fosters inclusion by using everyone’s gifts and talents to allow an environment where everybody is contributing. Jennifer believes individuals need an opportunity to be empowered to find their voice and be seen and respected as leaders, making a real difference. Allowing a place for individuals to be themselves is a lifetime goal. Jennifer wrote her master’s thesis titled Establishing Relationships between People With and Without Disabilities to examine how conscious and unconscious stereotypes and stigma impact these relationships. Jennifer is a National Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist. When Jennifer is not working as an Ability Integrator, she is the adviser for the San Francisco People First chapter. She facilitates a social Alternative Augmentative Communication group for young adults. Jennifer is the co-chair of the Department of Rehabilitation’s Assistive Technology Advisory Committee. She is also the Golden Gate Regional Center Self- Determination Local Advisory Committee’s co-chair, and she sits on San Francisco’s Long Term Care Coordinating Council.

Photo of Lana Nieves.

Lana Nieves is the Executive Director of Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco (ILRCSF), Lana Nieves works to protect the rights of people with disabilities, as well as to expand and nurture opportunities for society to become ever more accessible to all people. She has worked in the not-for-profit sector, both domestically and abroad, for 30 years, and been with ILRCSF since 2006.

A black, androgynous, young man smiles at the camera. He's wearing a basic white t-shirt in a lightly decorated room, with a plant hanging behind him.

Leif Pope (he/him) is a trans, gay, disabled, Black + Indigenous youth from San Francisco. He's studied network security and the forms of queer communities that appear online. His work includes resource guides for TGNC youth health and robotics mentorship. Outside of work, his hobbies include taking care of plants and snails, playing the bass, and sewing!

Profile image of Maia with her guide dog Gleam, photo by Anna Wilke.

Maia Scott's primarily arts and healing focused careers and interests support her belief in the importance of creativity in everyday life, from the art of learning to learning the arts. Montessori school, dance classes, and a bottomless supply of blank surfaces for coloring seeded Scott's ceaseless desire to enrich her world with creative process. Scott graduated with AA in Dance with honors, BA in Therapeutic Recreation, certificate in nonprofit management and an MFA in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts from the California Institute of Integral Studies here in San Francisco. A piece from her thesis project can still be found at the San Francisco Main library. Add to that training in massage and bodywork at the World School of massage and labyrinth facilitator certification from Veriditas and you round out Scott’s sensibilities toward healing and the arts as often one in the same. Presently, Maia Scott teaches accessible visual and performing arts classes through City College of San Francisco, works as an Accessibility Analyst for Fable and exploring all manner of gig jobs including consulting on accessibility with the Arts at CIIS and labyrinth training webinars for teachers of the visually impaired. Scott co-created and wrote the guide book for “Finger Walks”, a tactile labyrinth collection produced by the American Printing House for the Blind.

Photo of Neo Veavea.

Neo Veavea is the Project Coordinator for the Samoan Community Development Center, and the Co-Founder of U.T.O.P.I.A San Francisco. United Territories Of Pacific Islanders Alliances. In 1998, Neo organized the first Polynesian LGBTQ Social Support group in San Francisco, with sister chapters now in Seattle, San Diego, and Portland. Neo has lived in the southeast sector of San Francisco known as Visitacion Valley and in and around District-10 for 50 years.

Image of Nicole Bohn smiling, wearing a red shirt and black blazer sitting in her power wheelchair.

Nicole Bohn, Director of the San Francisco Mayor's Office on Disability. Nicole began her professional career in 1997 providing crisis intervention and reasonable accommodation counseling services for individuals with disabilities. She worked at the University of San Francisco from 1997 to 2008, during which time she was progressively responsible for managing and overseeing the University’s reasonable accommodation program and policies. Most recently, Nicole served as the Director of the Disability Programs and Resource Center at San Francisco State University, leading and coordinating centralized compliance efforts for a campus with more than 30,000 students and 3,800 employees during the last eight years.

Orkid Sassouni smiling at a camera, standing against the cooper-made wall, female presenting with brown-olive skin, in late 40s, wearing navy shirt with cream color spots. Hair buns back with one white flower placed behind the ear.

Orkid Sassouni is an employee at San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) Deaf Services. Orkid received her B.A degree in Art History and Museum Studies from Gallaudet University. Orkid attended Parsons School of Design in New York City from which she received a B.F.A degree. She attended San Francisco State University to study Inter Art Center. She received her M.A degree in Interdisciplinary Arts: Concentration in Education in 2002, a rare major that allowed Orkid to study multi-disciplines in theory, education, research, and discussion. She currently works at the San Francisco Public Library’s Deaf Services Center. She is also a past President and Coordinator for Deaf Visual and Performing Artists, known as DVPA. But Orkid has never abandoned her love of photography. Her photographs and mixed media artworks have been shown in galleries across the United States.

African-American woman with long braids pictured outdoors at the palace of fine arts wearing polka dot red wine dress with bright smile on a nice sunny day in San Francisco

Raenika A. Butler is the director of the Bayview Hunters Point Adult Day Health Care Center in San Francisco, California. She leads a multidisciplinary team who provides comprehensive care and services that helps to prevent unnecessary institutional placement and gives seniors a community based alternative to age in place at home for as long as possible. She serves as a member of the board of directors for the California Association for Adult Day Services (CAADS), the oldest and largest state association for adult day services in the nation. She demonstrates a commitment to the field of aging and has contributed to the recent shift in reimagining how Adult Day Health Care services are provided during a COVID-19 pandemic. Raenika is a forward thinker and has been a part of the Alliance for Leadership and Education (ALE) COVID-19 statewide crisis team and vision team of Adult Day Health providers who have hosted educational webinars about innovation and best practices for living in a COVID-19 world. Raenika holds a Master of Arts in Gerontology from San Francisco State University and was awarded the Gerontology Distinguished Alumni award for her dedication and advocacy efforts to serve the often overlooked and underrepresented low-income elder population in the Bayview Hunters Point community.

Photo of Winnie Yu.

Winnie Yu is the Director of Programs & Administration, Self-Help for the Elderly. Winnie Yu has 15 years of experience in nonprofit program and administrative operations: leading and managing federally funded projects that impact the local community; private and public grant writing; compliance and monitoring; as well as project implementation and management within and across teams. Winnie has a degree in Political Economy of Industrial Societies from the University of California, Berkeley, and is bilingual in English and three dialects of Chinese: Cantonese, Mandarin, and Taishanese.

Urban Jazz Dance Company (UJDC) was founded in 2007 by Deaf dancer and choreographer Antoine Hunter, Urban Jazz Dance Company’s (UJDC) mission is to uplift and provide opportunities for Deaf, Hard of hearing and Disabled artists from marginalized backgrounds. UJDC amplifies visibility and creates opportunities for Deaf artists through programming by 1) being a Deaf-led dance company highlighting Deaf experiences, 2) teaching dance classes to Deaf and hearing dancers, 3) annually producing the Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival (BAIDDF) and November productions, both platforms for Deaf artists to celebrate their talents through performance/workshops that engage 70 artists and 750 attendees, 4) Deaf Dance Festivals in other locations including San Diego, Rochester NY and Turkey, 5) touring Deaf’s IMPRISONED Internationally, a production exploring Deaf diaspora and how a Deaf person lives in a “prison within a prison”, 6) school engagements serving over 5,800 youth per year with 47% from low income backgrounds, 8) community workshops with local museums and organizations, 9) the ongoing virtual #DeafWoke and 10) teaching contracted organizations Deaf/Disabled access/inclusion practices through UJDC Access Services program.

UJDC annually performs ~45 performances/events reaching 17,000 people and tours nationally and internationally, performing at venues such as the Kennedy Center and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and abroad in England, Russia and beyond. Hunter utilizes the artistic talents of his company to engage with audiences and communities to empower Deaf and disabled communities, and advocate for human rights and access, working to end discrimination and prejudice.

Logo of Urban Jazz Dance Company Access Services with photo of shirtless male dancer in the background.

Urban Jazz Dance Company Access Services provides access consultations on Deaf Culture practices, Deaf accessibility, PR/Marketing and other materials connected to events/information and advice on how to outreach to the D/deaf community and make sure potential audience members have access to information surrounding your events. UJDC also creates bilingual video logs in ASL, English voice, captions, transcriptions and visual descriptions for DeafBlind/Blind access to invite Deaf community to Deaf and hearing events.

UJDC has provided these services for arts organizations such as AXIS Dance Company, Jess/Curtis Gravity, NAKA Dance Theater, Hope Mohr Dance and other local arts and non-arts organizations. UJDC centers its programming in providing opportunities and access to marginalized communities including those who identify as Deaf, BIPOC, LBGTQIA, immigrants, and communities with disabilities.

Program Team:

Image of Cecile Puretz, a white woman standing with her arms crossed in front of a brick wall and street. She has brown hair with bangs, is wearing a black blazer and scarf, and is smiling at the camera.

Cecile Puretz (she/her) currently serves as the Program Manager for this citywide Technology Needs Assessment at Thriving in Place. Cecile previously served as the Access and Community Engagement Manager at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, where she managed Access programs and guided institutional practices to increase accessibility for audiences with disabilities and communities who have historically lacked equitable access to the arts. Cecile is the Co-Founder of the Bay Area Arts Access Collective (BAAAC), a volunteer-run network dedicated to enhancing accessibility in arts and cultural spaces. She holds a BA in Community Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MA in Education from Concordia University. In 2019, she received the Disability Leadership Award for Access to the Arts from the World Institute on Disability. She is driven by the belief that disability culture and identity are vital to building a more accessible and equitable city and world.

A picture of Andrea standing in front of a tree. Andrea has brown skin and shoulder-length, black hair. She is wearing square eyeglasses and is smiling at the camera.

Andrea Aguinaldo (she/her) contributes to the Empowered Cities Technology Access Project as a Researcher and Analyst for the Digital Equity Needs Assessment Initiative. Previously, she worked as a Graduate Intern and Administrative Analyst with the San Francisco Human Services Agency, Policy and Planning Unit where she informed initiatives focused on increasing the accessibility of social services for vulnerable and marginalized populations. Andrea holds a MA in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley. She has seven years of experience in building the collaboration and evaluation capacity of multisectoral community health and development projects. Andrea grounds her work in compassion, inclusion, and social justice.

Headshot photo of Jon Morato.

Designer, creative director, web developer, and entrepreneur; Jon Morato has worked extensively in the disability rights community for the past 15 years. Jon has been employed as an Art Director and Creative Director before recently venturing out on his own in 2017 to start Jon Morato Creative; a one-stop shop for advertising, branding, accessible design, and web-based solutions. His firm's client list includes numerous independent living centers up and down the great state of California, along with other advocacy groups and organizations as well. Born in San Francisco, Jon's family moved away from the City to the Sonoma County suburbs when he was a kid, only for him to later come back many years later to San Francisco for a higher education at the Academy of Arts College. Jon currently resides in Marin County with his wife Tanya of 13 years. They share their dog Sal and three cats Hobie, Monty, and Carlotta.

Logo of Empowered San Francisco.

Empowered San Francisco catalyzes municipal efforts to advance equity and economic opportunity for people with disabilities and their families. Launched in 2019 with support from Citi, Empowered Cities is a collaboration co-chaired by the Offices of Disability of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and spearheaded by New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

Logo of Thriving in Place.

The Mission of Thriving in Place is to strengthen, sustain and advocate for the work of the San Francisco In-Home Supportive Services Public Authority and support Bay Area-wide non-direct services programming, ensuring low-income older adults and people with disabilities are able to remain and thrive at home and in their communities.

We are grateful to Thriving in Place who is the fiscal sponsor for the project and is an active partner in achieving the project goals.

Community Partners:

We would like to thank the many San Francisco community organizations, as well as the disability and aging community members that shared their expertise and expressed their support for this project. To partner with us, please contact or call 415-593-8129

  • AccessSFUSD
  • Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC)
  • Alzheimer's Association of Northern California
  • Art + Action
  • Bay Area Jewish Healing Center (BAJHC)
  • Bayview Senior Services
  • Blind Posse
  • Calling Up Justice!
  • CCSF Disabled Students' Programs & Services (DSPS)
  • Coalition of Agencies Serving the Elderly (CASE)
  • CODE Tenderloin
  • Community Alliance of Disability Advocates (CADA)
  • Community Forward SF
  • Community Living Campaign
  • Community Tech Council
  • COVIA Well Connected
  • Creative Aging San Francisco
  • Creativity Explored
  • Curry Senior Center
  • Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing (DISH)
  • Department of Disability and Aging Services (DAS)
  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
  • Disability Visibility Project (DVP)
  • Dr. George W. Davis Senior Center
  • Eldercare Alliance Dementia Inclusive Community Programs
  • Family Caregiver Alliance
  • Felton Institute
  • Golden Gate Regional Center (GGRC)
  • Hands On Bay Area
  • Independent Living Resource Center of SF (ILRCSF)
  • Institute on Aging (IOA)
  • Jewish Family and Children's Services (JFCS) Seniors at Home
  • Larkin Street Youth Services
  • LavaMae
  • Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University
  • Mayor's Office on Disability (MOD)
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Mental Health Association of San Francisco Resource Center
  • Mission Neighborhood Centers Healthy Aging and Disability
  • Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA)
  • On Lok Lifeways
  • Openhouse
  • Pomeroy Recreation & Rehabilitation Center
  • ProBono ASL
  • Public Authority San Francisco In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)
  • Ruth's Table: Bethany Center
  • Saint Vincent de Paul Society
  • Samoan Community Development Center
  • San Francisco Office on Digital Equity
  • San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) Access Services
  • San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR)
  • Self-Help for the Elderly
  • Senior and Disability Action (SDA)
  • Senior Services Coalition of Alameda
  • SF Department of Veterans Affairs (SFVA)
  • SF Tech Council
  • Shanti Project
  • ShelterTech
  • SOMA Pilipinas
  • SPUR
  • Sunset Youth Services
  • Support for Families of Children with Disabilities
  • Tenderloin Community Business District (TLCBD)
  • Tenderloin Housing Clinic
  • The Arc of San Francisco
  • Toolworks
  • UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations
  • UCSF Division of Geriatrics
  • Urban Jazz Dance Company (UJDC)
  • Veterans' Justice Court
  • WISE Health
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA)