Our Advisory Board Members
Berta Avila, Board Member
Berta is a native of Los Angeles and grew up in Cypress Park. Her work has centered around access to the arts and social justice. Berta is Associate Director of Self Help Graphics in Boyle Heights. She was previously the Community Relations Manager at Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park where she worked to strengthen the organization’s connection to the local MacArthur Park/Westlake community and the surrounding neighborhoods. At The Music Center of Los Angeles, Berta worked with free, public arts programs such as Active Arts and World City. She joined the board in 2012 and her work with MCM has focused mainly on board development and nonprofit best practices policies. Berta has a BA from Pitzer College, an MA in Arts Management from Claremont Graduate University, and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Korea in 2008.
Isidro Cerda, Board Member
Isidro is a native of Mexico City and grew up in the community of East Los Angeles. His interest in mobility and communities of color come from his experience as a Latino immigrant and are heavily influenced by the maxims of equity, social, and environmental justice. He is particularly interested in the potential of community based research and popular education in empowering and effecting change in underrepresented communities. Isidro obtained a BA in Global Economics and Latin American Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz, and completed coursework in the masters program in Urban Planning and Public Policy at USC. In the past he has worked as TOD research coordinator for SAJE, a tenant rights organization, and as a planning consultant for City of Los Angeles. Isidro spends his free time running, biking, collecting vinyl records, and finding new taco stands.
Adonia Lugo, Board Member
Dr. Adonia E. Lugo is a cultural anthropologist who explores the roles that race and class play in our experiences of transportation and public space. After completing a dissertation based on her fieldwork as a co-founder of CicLAvia and City of Lights, Adonia received her PhD from UC Irvine in 2013. She then put the concept of “human infrastructure” to work through strategizing race/class inclusion in active transportation advocacy, planning, and policy in Washington, D.C. Adonia returned to Los Angeles in September 2015 and currently teaches in the Chicana/o Studies department at Cal State LA and in the Urban Sustainability MA program at Antioch University. She consults as Bicicultures and writes at urbanadonia.com.
Peter Novahom, Board Member
Peter Novahom is a business leader within the Los Angeles community having worked with Recreational Equipment Inc. for the last 15 years supporting all Los Angalenos with their outdoor endeavors. He has also been involved with supporting many community non-profit efforts to create better access to local trails while educating the community on how to best protect our natural recourses. Peter is a native of Los Angeles, having lived his younger years within Boyle Heights just off 3rd Street during the 70′s and 80′s. Peter joined City of Lights in 2010 and supported its transition into MCM then to its new fiscal sponsor Community Partners in 2012. Peter Novahom is a strong advocate for underserved communities of color within the greater LA area.
Andres Ramirez, Co-Board Chair
As the first generation son of Salvadorian migrants, Andres Ramirez was born and raised in South Los Angeles and attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). While at UCLA, Mr. Ramirez chaired many university-wide organizations that focused on community organizing, activism, and social justice. He has led multiple efforts in South LA as the Community Organizer for Community Healthy Councils, TRUST South LA, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, Community Coalition, Coalition LA, and as a Public Ally. He is currently the Campaign Manager at SCOPE Los Angeles. SCOPE advocates for economic development, local jobs, and equitable distribution of resources to South LA. Ramirez has committed his life and career to social justice.
Ramirez is a strategist, tastemaker, organizer, and urbanist that specializes on innovative strategies to transform low income communities into thriving, healthy, self-sustainable hubs. As a native Angelino, he has dedicated his life to building community power in South/Southeast LA. He is a part of an emerging active transportation movement in South/Southeast LA that is challenging the city and county to transform its car-centric culture into one that supports multiple modes especially walking and cycling.
Ramirez is a certified LCI (#4146) who has taught bilingual courses for adults and children in South LA. Most recently he led Traffic Skills 101 courses for school staff at Audubon Middle School to assist with their newly created bike program.
Maria Sipin, Co-Board Chair
Maria advocates for the well-being of youth and LGBTQ persons, and low-income communities of color in health care and community settings. Her professional experience is grounded in nonprofit health and community mobilization for initiatives and projects related to the sexual and reproductive health of young people. This work focuses on the determinants of health and young people having access to respectful, competent, compassionate care, where walking, biking, and public transit plays a key role in linking them to these essential services. Maria is keen on social media and the role of technology for achieving health objectives and enjoys working on projects with a public health and equity focus that facilitate wellness, creativity, youth leadership, and structural changes. She is a certified bicycle safety instructor (LCI #3846), a “Walking College” fellow (class of 2016) for America Walks, and a MURP/MPH student at Portland State University.
Carlos Velásquez, Board Member
Carlos is currently an Associate Transportation Planner with KOA Corporation, a transportation consulting firm in Monterey Park, CA. He has provided sustainable transportation solutions to some of the biggest development projects throughout the region. Prior to KOA, Carlos worked as an Assistant Planner for the City of Huntington Park where he prepared and processed entitlements and environmental review documents. Carlos has also worked with local businesses in his hometown of South Gate, CA to explore economic revitalization strategies for its downtown district. He was part of the Technical Advisory Committee that worked to develop City’s Bicycle Transportation Plan. Carlos is an avid cyclist and a proponent of equitable transportation options for all. Carlos received a Master of Arts in City and Regional Planning from University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography/Environmental Studies and History from UCLA. As most dedicated urban planners, you might find him fist-pumping the night away at a local nightclub during his free time.
Maryann Aguirre, Communications and Project Analyst
Maryann Aguirre was born and raised in Boyle Heights and is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. As a young mother at the age of 17 with little to no access to a vehicle she was no stranger to multi-modal transportation. Maryann joined the all women of color bicycle collective, Ovarian Psycos in 2011 and during her five years as an active core member she centered much of her work and passion around women of color on bicycles as an alternative method of transportation and a tool for social change.
Maryann joined MCM in 2014 as a Program Specialist and through her involvement she has developed and led innovative community-based campaigns, bike rides and programs that centers women, people-of-color and low-income communities in public planning processes focused on bicycle education, street safety and land use. She has engaged in several local and national projects and conferences and has been invited several times to present at the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC to discuss the impact of bicycle facilities on housing affordability and women-of-color’s roles in leading inclusive and accessible bicycle advocacy.
As the new Communications and Project Analyst Maryann will be supporting the growth of MCM programs and policy work and share this through various communication platforms.
Rio-Jill Contreras, Policy and Programs Manager
Rio Contreras was born and raised in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park. Since the age of 17, Rio has been an avid cyclists and has not owned a car for 10 plus years. Rio is committed to cycling, walking and busing as to commute, have fun, and explore! Rio has particularly focussed in teaching about bike safety to youth of color and bike mechanics to Women, Trans/Queer, and Femmes. Rio began working in bicycle advocacy at Humboldt State’s Political Science internship with Library Bikes Arcata and then moved to Oakland, CA to work with Cycles of Change. With Cycles of Change Rio co-taught 7,000 youth in bike safety, trained over 50 educators on bicycle safety, and co-developed the Alameda County Bicycle Safety Training Manual. Currently, Rio has been co-developing youth programs around cycling in collaboration with LA Rooted, which is a program of Raíces Roots, a People of Color collective that rode our bikes and public transited to Guatemala to connect with our ancestral roots. Rio is also involve in advocacy to protect marginalized long-term residents from displacement and unjust treatment. This connects to mobility, for as residents get displaced from inner cities their access to affordable and accessible transportation options are limited. Additionally, marginalized communities often are largely targeted with tickets and not given information to make safe and legal decisions about walking and cycling. Revolution one pedal at a time!
Our Program Committee Members
Erick Huerta, Program and Active Transportation Education Specialist
Erick Huerta is a digital strategist and communications consultant for non-profits, labor unions, and grass-roots organizations. He has a background in journalism from East Los Angeles College, is a hyper local blogger for the neighborhood of Boyle Heights, and freelance writer. Erick is an advocate for immigrant’s rights, cyclist of color, and working class communities. You can follow him online as El Random Hero.
Caro Vera, Program Specialist
Carolyn “Caro” Vera is the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants. As a South Central Los Angeles native, Caro is passionate about merging community organizing and urban planning practices to promote equitable, walkable, and livable neighborhoods by and for low-income communities of color. She comes from a community organizing background, where she has worked to advance migrant and educational justice in Los Angeles. Caro is currently a graduate student in the Urban and Regional Planning program at UCLA, where she hopes to gain the critical tools necessary to make her a stronger advocate for her community of South Central. She received a BA from UC Berkeley in Ethnic Studies and Chicano Studies. Currently, her passion and organizing revolves around anti-gentrification and anti-displacement efforts in Los Angeles. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her bike around LA and living in coffee shops.