Lorena Melgarejo

Executive Director

Lorena Melgarejo has served as the the Executive Director of Faith in Action since 2017. With over 20 years in community organizing experience, Lorena started her career as a union organizer for Justice for Janitors and later worked as a faith-based organizer for Faith in Action National. In 2005, she became Lead Organizer for San Francisco Organizing Project. Before she stepped into her Executive Director position with Faith in Action Bay Area, Lorena coordinated parish organizing and immigrant solidarity for Faith in Action and the San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese’s Office of Human Integrity.

Lorena is a longtime resident of the Mission District in San Francisco.

Adriana Guzman

Lead Community Organizer, San Mateo County

Adriana Guzman is Faith in Action’s lead community organizer for South San Mateo County, having joined the staff in 2015. She works with clergy and lay leaders in both English-speaking and Latino congregations. In recent years, these leaders have made important strides in securing housing and immigration justice for their communities.

Adriana first became a leader with Faith in Action in 2014, when she worked as a phone banker and canvasser for Campaign for Citizenship. Later that year, she volunteered to answer an early version of the Rapid Response hotline, fielding calls from community members who had encountered ICE and connecting them to legal help.

For Adriana, faith is central to organizing. Faith shapes her values and guides her actions as an organizer; and she constantly turns to faith as a source hope, connection, and strength as she serves her community in its fight for justice.

Ashley Pocasangre

Community Organizer

Ashley is a community organizer with Faith in Action Bay Area since 2021. She organizes in both San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. Having joined Faith in Action Bay Area as a youth leader in 2017, Ashley soon took on planning and leadership roles in our fight to secure dignified, affordable housing for seniors living in San Francisco. She is excited to join Faith in Action Bay Area because the organization strives to create a reality in which “closest to the pain are closest to the power.”

Ashley is a graduate of the San Francisco Unified School District and currently studies Political Science at San Francisco State University.

Carolina Parrales

Director of Finance and Operations

Carolina Parrales Faith in Action Bay Area’s Director of Finance and Operations. She joined Faith in Action Bay Area as a community organizer in 2018.

Carolina was born and raised in El Salvador. She has a degree in architecture from Universidad Centro Americana, a Jesuit university in her home country. As an architecture student, Carolina had the opportunity to work with refugees in the rural community of Teosinte, helping to build a bridge that connected Teosinte to a nearby city for the facilitation of commerce. Carolina’s experience in Teosinte ignited her passion for organizing and justice work.

Before joining Faith in Action Bay Area, Carolina worked for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. She lives in the East Bay with her husband, Javier, and their son Abel.

Chirag Bhakta

Director, Mission Community Power Institute

Chirag Gunvantbhai Bhakta is the founding Director of the Mission Community Power Institute (MCPI).

Born to Gujarati (Indian) immigrants and raised in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, he is an experienced community organizer with 15 years of dedicated work on education, tenants rights, and housing. 

In 2021, Chirag, along with the Koshland Fellowship of the San Francisco Foundation, launched MCPI to build community power and create organizing synergy in the Mission District.

Cynthia Hinestroza

Operations Manager

Cynthia Hinestroza has served as the Operations Manager of Faith in Action Bay Area since the merger of San Francisco Organizing Project and Peninsula Interfaith Action in 2014.

Joanna Lawrence Shenk

Clergy Organizer, San Francisco

Rev. Joanna Lawrence Shenk joined Faith in Action Bay Area as a clergy organizer in January 2021. She is also the Associate Pastor at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco.

In 2018, Joanna took part  in a year-long cohort, in which San Francisco clergy learned about organizing, studied the history of the city, and wrestled with their call as faith leaders. She became inspired to build community power to change things in the city.

As our clergy organizer, Joanna accompanies San Francisco faith leaders in developing their moral vision of a city in which everyone belongs. She writes, “as people of faith, we must claim our power and the Spirit’s power to envision a world freed from white supremacist, heteronormative, capitalist patriarchy.”

Joanna lives in the Mission District in San Francisco.

Lisa Marie Wong

Communications and Data Organizer

Lisa Marie Wong was introduced to Faith in Action Bay Area in early 2017, when she attended a Rapid Response training. She quickly became hooked on the organization’s mission, ethos, and people. She joined the Faith in Action Bay staff as a Communications and Data organizer later that year.

Matt Alexander

Director of Organizing

Matt is Faith in Action Bay Area’s Director of Organizing. He was a Faith in Action leader for close to 20 years, before he finally joined the organization as a community organizer in 2018.

Matt came to the organization as a passionate, longtime educator in San Francisco public schools. In 2003, he helped found the June Jordan School for Equity, a nationally-recognized innovative, community-based school, where he later served as principal.

Matt was elected to the San Francisco Board of Education in November 2020.

Marc Adams

Community Organizer

Marc joined Faith in Action Bay Area as a community organizer in 2021. Prior to joining the organization, Marc served as a campus minister in San Diego, worked for various nonprofits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and worked as both a reporter and producer in broadcast journalism in Washington D.C. As an extrovert who has always loved connecting with others and building relationships and bridges across difference, people are his passion and community is where he finds his home.

Among his many roles over the years, his most cherished is that of a husband to his partner of 11 years and father to his two young children, both of whom inspire him create a world with new urgency where everyone truly belongs. Marc was born and raised in Orange, California.

Nani Friedman

Community Organizer, San Mateo County

Nani Friedman is a community organizer working in San Mateo County. She joined the Faith in Action Bay Area staff in 2020.

Nani was first introduced to Faith in Action Bay Area in 2017, when she supported the organizing work of our leaders in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks as part of a summer fellowship in college. She has experience in housing organizing and policy.

Nani grew up in Belmont in San Mateo County and is deeply invested in organizing for a more equitable and inclusive home. She is inspired by Faith in Action’s vision to change how power works in the county, led by members of our community that are most impacted by racial, economic and social injustice.

Tom Jackson

Community Organizer

Tom joined Faith in Action Bay Area as a community organizer in 2021. He has over 22 years experience in arts and culture work, labor organizing, community organizing, and government work. His skills include listening, dialoguing, teaching, organizing adults and youth, and recruiting and developing leadership. He has deep experience organizing in schools, neighborhoods and workplaces. Tom has dedicated all of his professional life to empower communities to better themselves and their future.

Violeta Roman

Community Organizer, San Francisco

Violeta joined Faith in Action Bay Area as a community organizer in 2016. Under her guidance, Violeta’s leaders do powerful work in affordable housing, eviction prevention, voter engagement in San Francisco.

Violeta found her calling as a community organizer when a close family member experienced deportation. The accompaniment that the faith community offered her during that time affected her deeply and inspired her to help others in a similar way.

Violeta is a longtime parishioner at St. Peter’s Parish in the Mission District of San Francisco.