STEERING COMMITTEE



The BAJFN Steering Committee is an active governance body that provides strategic direction, leadership in coordination with the Advisory Committee and Network Director to guide the mission and operation of the Network.

Myra Chow

Director of Nurturing Equity Movements, The San Francisco Foundation

Myra Chow is Director of Nurturing Equity Movements at The San Francisco Foundation. A seasoned grantmaker and philanthropic consultant with over 25 years of experience, Myra brings to the Foundation a broad range of community health expertise, from managing substance abuse prevention programs for low income youth to developing grantmaking initiatives to educate at-risk populations about HIV/AIDS. She also currently serves on the UCSF University Community Partnerships Council. Before joining The San Francisco Foundation, she held numerous leadership roles at the Gap Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation, Community Youth Center (formerly Chinatown Youth Center), the U.S. Peace Corps, and served as an independent consultant for a variety of foundations and nonprofits. Myra holds a Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Yale University.


Alexandra Desautels

Program Manager, The California Endowment

Before joining The California Endowment as a Program Manager, Alex was the Local Policy Manager with the Alameda County Public Health Department. She led the effort to create Place Matters, the department’s first local policy initiative working at the intersection of health and criminal justice, economic, education, housing, land use, and transportation issues. Alexandra earned her Masters of Social Welfare at U.C. Berkeley, with an emphasis on policy, planning and organizational development. Before moving to California, she worked in violence and teen pregnancy prevention and youth development programs in Washington, DC, her hometown.


Kathryn Gilje

Executive Director, Ceres Trust

Kathryn is the Executive Director of Ceres Trust, which provides grants that support research in organic agriculture and farmer–to–farmer education; programs to eliminate pesticide exposure and GMO contamination; the protection and proliferation of pollinators; and efforts to preserve food crop biodiversity and public access to seeds. Before leading Ceres Trust, Kat was co–director of Pesticide Action Network North America; co–founder/director of Centro Campesino; and senior associate at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. She received her organizing training through the Voices for Racial Justice apprenticeship program, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, Gamaliel Foundation and Center for Third World Organizing. She spent years on small farms, milking goats and raising chickens.  Now, she raises bees and lives with her family in Oakland, California; serves as chair of Genesis, a faith–based organizing association; and participates in local movements for racial equity and ecological resilience. Since moving from the prairie to the coast ten years ago, she has developed a love of surfing.    


Shalini Iyer

Director of Programs, Metta Fund

Shalini manages all aspects of the Metta Fund's grantmaking--overseeing community collaborations and partnerships.  She was recently elected to sit on the SF HIP Steering Committee representing the philanthropic community seat.  A passionate advocate for low-income communities and communities of color, Shalini previously worked in the Community Health grants program after serving as a multicultural fellow at the San Francisco Foundation.  A native of Philadelphia, she has worked for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.


Alexander Saingchin

Program Officer, Common Counsel Foundation

Alex joined the Common Counsel Foundation in 2014.  Previously, he served as the public policy and civic engagement fellow at The San Francisco Foundation.  For nearly 15 years, he has played varying roles as an organizer, community lawyer, and policy advocate in the New York and New Jersey area.  In the wake of 9/11, for example, Alex co-designed a $1.15 million relief program at the Asian American Federation.  His community organizing and policy advocacy experience includes work with the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, the New York City AIDS Housing Network (now known as VOCAL-NY), and the Urban Justice Center. As a community lawyer, Alex served as New Jersey director for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he managed its workers and civil rights docket and oversaw its organizing campaigns for immigrants’ rights in the state.  Most recently, Alex served as a public defender in New Jersey, and as chief of staff to Councilman-at-Large Rolando R. Lavarro, Jr. in Jersey City. Alex received his business degree from the State University of New York at Albany, and his Juris Doctor from the Rutgers School of Law – Newark.


is the 2013-2015 program fellow in public policy and civic engagement. Alex comes to the Foundation with nearly 15 years of experience fighting for human rights in the New York and New Jersey area, playing varying roles as an organizer, community lawyer, and policy advocate.  In the wake of September 11th, for example, he co-designed and managed a $1.15 million relief and recovery program at the Asian American Federation of New York to assist the thousands of Asian Americans impacted by the disaster.  Alex has worked with groups such as the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York , the New York City AIDS Housing Network, and the Urban Justice Center, helping to successfully increase New York’s minimum wage in 2005, fighting for stronger tenant protection laws, and pushing for legislation that would eliminate institutional discrimination in city government using universal human rights principles, respectively. In his role as a community lawyer, Alex founded the New Jersey office of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he managed its civil and workers’ rights docket and oversaw its organizing campaigns for immigrants’ rights in the state.  Most recently, Alex served as a public defender in New Jersey, and as chief of staff to Councilman-at-Large Rolando R. Lavarro, Jr. in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Alex received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Albany, and his Juris Doctor from the Rutgers School of Law – Newark. - See more at: http://www.sff.org/about-tsff/who-we-are/foundation-staff/alexander-w-saingchin/#sthash.oYSn8vfF.dpuf
is the 2013-2015 program fellow in public policy and civic engagement. Alex comes to the Foundation with nearly 15 years of experience fighting for human rights in the New York and New Jersey area, playing varying roles as an organizer, community lawyer, and policy advocate.  In the wake of September 11th, for example, he co-designed and managed a $1.15 million relief and recovery program at the Asian American Federation of New York to assist the thousands of Asian Americans impacted by the disaster.  Alex has worked with groups such as the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York , the New York City AIDS Housing Network, and the Urban Justice Center, helping to successfully increase New York’s minimum wage in 2005, fighting for stronger tenant protection laws, and pushing for legislation that would eliminate institutional discrimination in city government using universal human rights principles, respectively. In his role as a community lawyer, Alex founded the New Jersey office of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he managed its civil and workers’ rights docket and oversaw its organizing campaigns for immigrants’ rights in the state.  Most recently, Alex served as a public defender in New Jersey, and as chief of staff to Councilman-at-Large Rolando R. Lavarro, Jr. in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Alex received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Albany, and his Juris Doctor from the Rutgers School of Law – Newark. - See more at: http://www.sff.org/about-tsff/who-we-are/foundation-staff/alexander-w-saingchin/#sthash.oYSn8vfF.dpuf
is the 2013-2015 program fellow in public policy and civic engagement. Alex comes to the Foundation with nearly 15 years of experience fighting for human rights in the New York and New Jersey area, playing varying roles as an organizer, community lawyer, and policy advocate.  In the wake of September 11th, for example, he co-designed and managed a $1.15 million relief and recovery program at the Asian American Federation of New York to assist the thousands of Asian Americans impacted by the disaster.  Alex has worked with groups such as the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York , the New York City AIDS Housing Network, and the Urban Justice Center, helping to successfully increase New York’s minimum wage in 2005, fighting for stronger tenant protection laws, and pushing for legislation that would eliminate institutional discrimination in city government using universal human rights principles, respectively. In his role as a community lawyer, Alex founded the New Jersey office of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he managed its civil and workers’ rights docket and oversaw its organizing campaigns for immigrants’ rights in the state.  Most recently, Alex served as a public defender in New Jersey, and as chief of staff to Councilman-at-Large Rolando R. Lavarro, Jr. in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Alex received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Albany, and his Juris Doctor from the Rutgers School of Law – Newark. - See more at: http://www.sff.org/about-tsff/who-we-are/foundation-staff/alexander-w-saingchin/#sthash.oYSn8vfF.dpuf

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