May 2022 Newsletter

May the 4th be with you!

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Happy May and may the 4th* be with you! One of the benefits of running a small nonprofit is that you can just sort of decide what’s being celebrated at any given time, and this month we’re all-in on Star Wars. Well, not all in,** but we are using Star Wars Day as a jumping-off point to discuss what feels like a good theme this month: real life heroes working for communities, day in and day out.

Speaking of heroes, it’s almost Mother’s Day. Don’t forget to call your mom, your mom’s mom, or any mom in your life that’s special to you this weekend!

This month, we’re super excited to share an interview we conducted with one of our good friends from outside of California, the inimitable Dina Harris. Dina has an amazing story and, if you’re not familiar with her work, you won’t be disappointed. We are also excited to share an update on legislation we’re supporting this year, a reminder that our happy hour is coming up soon (May 12), and a staff round-robin on our personal heroes.

May is also Asian American Heritage Month,*** and we’d like to use this as an opportunity to honor a civil rights icon – and San Pedro’s hometown hero – Yuri Kochiyama. Since this is a professional newsletter we try to watch our language, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t emphasize what an absolute badass she was. After leaving California for New York, she founded Asian Americans for Action, actively supported the Young Lords and the Harlem Community for Self Defense, was a friend to Malcolm X, and continually sought to connect the struggles of her community to other communities of color (and vice versa). We’re all better off because of Yuri’s advocacy and I hope we live up to the very high bar she set throughout her life.

This month we’d like to ask folks to consider supporting Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition addressing anti-Asian hate in the U.S. There are many great organizations out there doing great work for the AAPI community, but Stop AAPI Hate is addressing an urgent and pressing issue that needs our support right now. We hope you’ll take a moment to contribute to their important work.

In closing, I’d like to share some very inspiring words from Yuri: “Don’t become too narrow. Live fully. Meet all kinds of people. You’ll learn something from everyone. Follow what you feel in your heart.”


Adam Briones

CEO, California Community Builders

*Unfortunately, there’s a more political origin to the phrase than one might expect.

**This is actually the last time we’ll reference Star Wars in this newsletter. Apologies to anyone that was looking for a ton of Tatooine-related content.

*** Fun fact, this year also marks the 435th year anniversary of Filipino sailors reaching California’s coast, more than 30 years before the Pilgrim’s landed on Plymouth Rock.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes: Detroit Edition

This month we’re kicking off a semi-regular series in which CCB staff interviews people doing amazing work in the community. While it’s impossible to tell every story, we’re going to do our best to shine a light on people doing the hard work day-in and day-out to make a difference at the local, state or national level.

For our first interview, we spoke with our friend Dina Harris, the President and Chief Executive Officer of National Faith Homebuyers, a Detroit-based nonprofit organization that provides down payment assistance, financial counseling, and community workshops and classes to support first-time homebuyers in Michigan and Georgia.

Click here to read the full interview.

“God is a big part of the work I do. My work is ministry for me. I get ideas in the middle of the night and am always excited to work for the sake of helping people, not to get awards.”

Update on Priority Legislation

Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer (center), and staff from CA YIMBY (left and right), and CCB after a successful vote on AB 2873. Photo credit: Ryan Joy, CA YIMBY.

It’s an exciting time for legislation in California, and we’re happy to report that CCB’s two sponsored bills – AB 2560 and AB 2873 – passed out of their initial committees! As always, this was a team effort and our cosponsors for AB 2560 (Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services / Richmond Community Foundation) and AB 2873 (California YIMBY / LISC LA) deserve all the credit for moving these bills forward.

We have approximately 10,000 more things to get done before these bills can reach the governor and we need your help. If you haven’t already, we hope you’ll consider supporting these important pieces of legislation. Additional details below, but please reach out any time to Adam Briones at for more information.

AB 2560 “Transforming Blighted Property into Homeownership Opportunities”

  • Who is the author? Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland)
  • What will the bill do? Create a pilot program in Alameda and Contra Costa counties that will 1) require local governments to create a list of blighted, vacant properties and disseminate that information to community developers; and 2) provide an opportunity for local governments to collaborate with community foundations and financial institutions to create new sources of financing for affordable, for-sale homes.
  • Where can I sign on in support? Visit our website here.

AB 2873 “Affordable Housing Supplier Diversity Act”

  • Who is the author? Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles)
  • What will the bill do? Require affordable housing developers that receive an allocation of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to report on the diversity of their contractors, subcontractors, and other suppliers.
  • Where can I sign on in support? Visit our website here.

Aloha Summer!

Come join CCB family and friends at Oakland’s historic Aloha Club on 5/12. We’re celebrating a few things:* all of the great work our team and colleagues have done thus far this year, the fact that it’s almost summer, and most important, the ability to be (carefully) together again in-person with our friends! Key facts below and on the flyer:

  • Date – May 12, 2022
  • Time – 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Location – Aloha Club, 952 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, CA 94601
  • Transportation  1.5 blocks from Fruitvale BART
  • Outdoor space – Great patio, but bring a jacket since it gets cold
  • Longest bar and coldest beer in Oakland – Confirmed, but we encourage you to do your own research

For more information or to RSVP, please email Sylvia Aguilar at or visit

*It’s also Ron’s birthday, but he won’t let us make a big deal about it.

Our Heroes!

Since it’s Star Wars Day and almost Mother’s Day, CCB staff decided to share our biggest heroes, both fictional and real.

Sylvia Aguilar

Chief Operating Officer

My favorite fictional hero is Wonder Woman. Lynda Carter was amazing in that role!

My real hero is Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, who was appointed the new chair of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee and is a champion on the issues I care about.

Moorea Benmosche

Public Policy Intern

My favorite fictional hero is Simba from the Lion King because of his resilience and ability to cultivate relationships with others. Also, great songs.

My real hero is my mom because her drive, strength, ambition, and grace inspire me!

Adam Briones

Chief Executive Officer

My favorite fictional hero is Batman, both because he’s a scientist and has a pretty good cinematic record.

My real favorite hero is my mom, Reyes Briones, who is a wonderful, exceptionally kind person. She also has a lot of professional wisdom from her 25 years in the public sector, including things like “I’d never worked with clowns and didn’t plan to start any time soon.” Love you mom!

Ron Chavez

Director of Community Development

My favorite fictional hero is Superman because he changes his disguise by changing his glasses. Sometimes the simplest approach is best.

My favorite real hero is Nelson Mandela. He led South Africa into unprecedented territory and deserves every accolade he has been given.

Minhal Hanif

Program Manager

My favorite fictional hero is Dr. Strange, so I’m really excited for this upcoming movie.

My real hero is my cat, Milo! I may have rescued him from the streets, but he rescued me from a life of boredom and cat-lessness. 🙂

Hannah Phalen

Senior Program Manager

My favorite fictional hero growing up was Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games because she took care of her family and everyone around her from a young age.

My real hero is my sister for doing the same thing! <3