Meet Our Board
Eric Ares – Interim Board President
Eric Ares serves as the Manager, Homeless Systems Change for the Home for Good Team with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. In this role, he works to improve policies and performance in key systems to end homelessness in LA County. Before the United Way, Eric spent 7 years as a community organizer and Deputy Director with the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), where he worked alongside low-income and homeless leaders in Downtown and South Los Angeles to promote social and racial justice through community organizing, civic participation, and public policy development. He has degrees in History and Theology from Boston College and has over 15 years of experience in grassroots policy advocacy, organizing, and direct service in the areas of affordable housing, homelessness, and community food security. Eric was born and raised in South LA and currently resides in the same home his family has lived in for over 75 years.
Nona Randois – Board Vice President
As the Southern California Director for AFJ’s Bolder Advocacy program, Nona manages AFJ’s Southern California office; builds partnerships with nonprofits and foundations in the region that are engaged in policy advocacy; and builds the capacity of these groups to advocate for policy and systems change by providing legal and practical training, technical assistance, and publications to ensure groups have the knowledge they need to become confident advocates and tools to help them navigate complex advocacy rules.
Nona previously worked as an attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, where her practice focused primarily on representing nonprofits in community economic development, land use, community benefits agreements, nonprofit tax, real estate, and corporate legal assistance. She also has experience in employment law, strategic planning, and organizational capacity building. She has often engaged in policy advocacy, with an emphasis in workforce development, targeted and local hiring policies.
Nona earned her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and undergraduate degrees in International Relations and French from the University of Southern California. She is a member of the Council on Immigrant Integration (a project of the California Community Foundation) and served on the City of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board for over a decade. She is an Adjunct Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Southern California
Francisco Cendejas – Board Secretary
Francisco Cendejas is a coordinator with the National Union of Healthcare Workers. He has worked to organize teachers, logistics workers, and hospital workers over more than a decade in the labor movement. Cendejas graduated with honors from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Science, Technology & Society, and a minor in Urban Studies.
Michael “Mike” Neely – Board Treasurer
Mr. Neely is the founder and past director of the Homeless Outreach Program/Integrated Care System. The Homeless Outreach Program was founded in 1988 as a pilot program with $50,000 and four employees and grew into a multi-million dollar project with more than sixty employees.
He served on the State Commission on Homeless Veterans, the State Commission on African American Males and Substance Abuse. He was a Los Angeles County Commissioner on the Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Commission. He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Brain Trust. He currently serves as a Los Angeles Commissioner on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority
Mr. Neely served on the Downtown Strategic Plan Committee which provided the framework the downtown Los Angeles’ renaissance in the 21st Century. He was also involved in many projects which changed how things are done: the development and implementation of the first mobile HIV/AIDS testing van, the first outreach program to employ formerly homeless persons to reach other homeless persons, helped the US Census Bureau to implement counting homeless persons in the 1990 census, assisted the City of Los Angeles to organize its homeless count in support of its lawsuit against the Federal government in the mid-1990s, worked on the Los Angeles County welfare reform implementation committee, was a member of the Prop36 implementation task force.
Mr. Neely was selected as a Hesselbein Fellow of the Peter Drucker Foundation(now Leader to Leader Institute) which provided intense training in leadership and management with some of the great thought leaders of our time including, Peter Drucker, Frances Hesselbein, Noel Tichy, Warren Bennis and Ken Blanchard. The fellowship also included the opportunity to be mentored by a management expert. He was mentored was Jim Collins, author of ”Good to Great” and they studied and worked together extensively over the course of six months and have maintained contact through the years.
Mr. Neely also served on numerous advisory boards and study groups as well as the Board of Directors of the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives. Mr. Neely retired in 2004 but remains active in community projects.
Jim Mangia – Board Member
Jim Mangia, is the President and CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Centers, a network of a dozen nonprofits, federally qualified health centers, and school-based clinics providing free medical, dental, and mental health services to more than 200,000 patient in South Los Angeles.
Mangia serves as a State Commissioner on the State of California Workforce Investment Board and was appointed by the Governor as an Expert Advisor to the Let’s Get Healthy California Task Force. He is the Chair of the Public Health & Prevention Task Force for the California Primary Care Organization. Mangia served on the LA Care Health Plan’s Board of Governors from 2008-2012 and was as a member of President Obama’s Health Advisory Task Force.
He is also the founder of the South Los Angeles Health & Human Rights Conference and has built a myriad of innovative partnerships with school districts, government agencies, and community-based organizations and schools to increase access to health care services and strengthen the healthcare safety net for impoverished and economically disadvantaged children and their families.
Jyotswaroop Bawa – Board Member
Jyotswaroop Kaur Bawa is the Associate Director at California Immigrant Policy Center. Previously she was the Assistant Director at UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) Program. She was the Education Director at SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund). In her role at the helm of the Education Initiatives, she is responsible for the strategic growth and development of the organization’s leadership development work with Sikh youth (SikhLEAD) and with broader Sikh community members via the Law Enforcement Partnership Program that trains community members to engage and build dialogue with local law enforcement bodies. She develops the curriculum and coaches leaders as they assume responsibility for bringing the change that is needed to achieve equality for all in America.
Bawa graduated with her MPA from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, and received her B.A. in English with a minor in Conflict Resolution from the University of California at Irvine.
Shoshana Kreiger – Board Member
Shoshana Krieger is a staff attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA) where she has worked in its Medical Legal Community Partnership and Health Consumer Center. Her work has focused on the social determinants of health – specifically the relationship between slum housing conditions and family health outcomes.
Kreiger graduated UCLA in 2011 with a joint degree in law and urban planning where she was enrolled in the David Epstein Public Interest Law Program and was the recipient of the Mimi Perloff Fellowship. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a tenants rights organizer in New York City and served as a Municipal Services Development Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay.
Orinio Opinaldo – Board Member
Orinio Gregorio Opinaldo was born in Los Angeles and attended St. Agnes Elementary and High School of which he is still an active member in finances, social justice, and liturgy.
He has been a teacher for forty-four years for LAUSD and has taught all elementary grades and served as a resource teacher in art, drama, math, writing, and reading. He was chosen as an outstanding teacher from the Mayor’s Office when he taught at Fifty-Second Street Elementary (1964-1989), nominated for the Disney teacher award when he taught at Forty-Ninth Street Elementary (1989-2004) and was selected as the 2008 Hero for Harmony Elementary School from LAUSD Board of Education. (2005-2008)
Erick Velazquez – Board Member
Erick Velazquez has lived and studied in South LA for most of his life. He spent part of his childhood in Mexico, arriving in the US at the age of 7, with his parents and two younger siblings. Shortly upon moving to California Erick and his sister began school. Erick achieved English proficiency by the 3rd grade and continued his education until graduating high school at James A Foshay Learning Center with honors.
Erick and his family moved residences frequently; sometimes the move was because the family grew, welcoming, new members, but in some cases, he found out later, due to illegal evictions. Erick’s first-hand experience with the troubles and turmoil that an illegal eviction can cost a family led him to understand that an ability to adapt was essential to a family’s success and prosperity. He can identify himself in the community members he works with facing difficult housing situations. This helps him be aware that people facing difficult housing conditions must continually and, often, completely rearrange their lives to fit new living situations.
Today, Erick, at 29, enjoys a fruitful life working as a manager for personal income tax company, Siempre Tax, and welcomes opportunities to grow his experiences. He is thankful to his parents’ resilience and teamwork for a lot of what the family has attained. He has become more involved in his community and tries to spark interest in people to do more for others. Erick feels that change is inevitable, but with a strong social foundation, we as a people, can move forward and welcome this the future with open arms and without fear.
Rev. John Cager
Second AME Church
Business Owner NTS/Nuevo South
USC Professor of Geography and American Studies & Ethnicity
Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Policy and Development at the University of Southern California (USC)