Celebrating 20 Years of Food & Community

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20 Celebrating Celebrating

Years of Food & Community Years of Food & Community

Looking Back & Looking Forward

We can hardly believe it, but Mandela Partners is celebrating our 20th anniversary! Thank you for being a part of our community, whether you’ve been with us from the beginning, or we’re just getting to know each other.

Our work began in West Oakland in 2004 as part of a local movement rising against the longstanding inequities our communities faced: an extractive food system that withheld access to fresh foods, a racist legacy of redlining and economic disinvestment, and exclusion from quality jobs, small business support, and longterm wealth-building opportunities.

For the past two decades, we’ve used food as a tool for Black and Brown communities to build wealth, well-being, and opportunities in their own neighborhoods. We envision a time when our communities have access to all they need and more: food and economic stability; jobs and business opportunities that build long-term family and community wealth; and economic investment that centers and listens to legacy residents and allows those who have been here, to stay here.

Since our founding, both the needs of our community and our work have grown tremendously – together, we’ve faced gentrification, multiple economic recessions, and COVID-19. Through each change, we’ve pivoted our programs to meet community challenges head-on. This report outlines both our past successes, and our new, three-year Regenerative Plan to both deepen and grow our work.

Looking Back & Looking Forward Job Creation Holistic Wellness Programming Partnering with BIPOC Farmers How We Use Food to Build Community Power Local Produce Distribution Creating Healthy Food Access Points Uplifting Entrepreneurs

Since Our Work Began We Have...


Brought nearly $612,000 in non-extractive loans to local farmers and food businesses.

Generated more than

$10 million in local economic returns.

2.5 million pounds of fresh produce to families across the East Bay.


We have been a catalyst for creating opportunity for people who might not have realized they have this opportunity. Even if we go away, there is a whole network of people who aren’t afraid to take risks, who know they have value in their community, who will advocate for themselves and others. “ “

Founding Executive Director Led Mandela Partners until her passing in 2019.

Dana Harvey

Our Work with Farmers

Food is the heart of Mandela Partners. Our community food hub, Mandela Produce Distribution (MPD), works with a network of small BIPOC farmers to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to our neighbors across Oakland and Alameda County.

All the farmers we partner with operate locally within the Bay Area foodshed and use sustainable growing practices. We build supportive and trusting partnerships with our farmers, providing them with equitable sales channels through our wholesale and retail programs to support their economic success.


Food Access Programming

Getting fresh, delicious, and affordable food to our community is a top priority. Over the years, we’ve partnered with local schools, health centers, housing communities, and businesses to distribute more than 2.5 million pounds of locally grown fruits and vegetables to our neighbors facing barriers to food access.

Today we distribute this produce through our:

Sliding scale Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Produce Box Program, where customers purchase a weekly box of produce at a price they are able to; those using; those using SNAP/CalFresh benefits receive a 50% discount.

Free Produce Distribution in partnership with local community-based organizations.

Community Produce Stands, where community members can shop for seasonal produce with cash, card, or SNAP/CalFresh at a 50% discount.

In 2023, we brought back our Community Produce Stands after needing to close them at the start of COVID-19. You can find our Community Produce Stands at:

La Escuelita Elementary School

Tuesdays from 2:00 – 4:00 PM

E14th Eatery + Kitchen

Thursdays from 1:00 – 3:00 PM

West Oakland Library

Fridays from 1:00 – 3:00 PM


E14th Eatery + Kitchen

With a commercial kitchen on-site, E14th incubates three food businesses operated by entrepreneurs of color, hosts workshops for local entrepreneurs and community members, serves as a pick-up site for our CSA boxes, and serves as a community produce stand site.


The Food Business Pathways Program

Mandela Partners’ Food Business Pathways Program started in 2013 in response to the fact that pathways for Black entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color were missing in limitedresource East Bay neighborhoods.

Existing support for small businesses tended to focus on “downtown” Oakland, rather than neighborhoods that had been systemically disinvested in. Many technical resources lacked cultural relevance and weren’t tailored to each entrepreneur’s background, finances, or skillset.

Instead, our Food Business Pathways Program provides accessible workshops created with the whole, early-stage entrepreneur in mind; flexible and goal-oriented 1:1 coaching; and access to capital and low-barrier loans, sales channels, and relevant technical assistance.


The Culinary Employment Pathways Program

California’s food industry is an economic powerhouse! Our Culinary Employment Pathways program (formerly the ReGenerate Opportunity Program) is driving equitable economic development.

This 13-week training program offers hands-on kitchen and culinary training, internships at local food businesses, and job placement for community members facing barriers to employment –prioritizing individuals returning home from incarceration. All participants receive $21/hr (the local living wage) throughout the training.


Our Holistic Wellness Programming

Our Wellness Program is rooted in an understanding that working towards a healthier food system means more than just eating healthier food.

Our program expands on traditional definitions of health in the food system, centers diverse cultures and lived experiences, and emphasizes: emotional wellness, encouraging positive relationships with food; intellectual wellness, fostering critical thinking about broader food

implications; physical wellness, promoting healthy habits; social wellness, building a supportive community; and environmental wellness, envisioning spaces that are safe and welcoming.

Over the years, our Wellness Programming has brought hundreds of workshops, classes, and popups to affordable housing communities, elementary schools, community produce stands, E14th, and our Culinary Employment Pathways program.


Reimagining Health Looking AheadLooking Ahead

Mandela Partners’ Regenerative Plan (2024-2027)

Mandela Partners has weathered two decades of change and challenge in Oakland and the East Bay. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic – which we responded to with quick program pivots and added workload to meet urgent community needs – we are excited to deepen and strengthen our work through our new Regenerative Plan.

We use the term Regenerative Plan because this work goes beyond a traditional Strategic Plan –it will allow us to regenerate and grow our work so our organization, programs, and community can remain in the East Bay for decades to come.

“ “

As a fourth-generation West Oaklander and the first Black woman to lead our organization, I carry the torch of diversity, resilience, and empowerment. Together, we will ignite a future where voices are heard, talent is valued, and dreams are achievable. With passion, determination, and unwavering vision, we will break barriers, create new pathways, and propel our organization to unprecedented heights of inclusivity and success. The future of Mandela Partners is bright. Join us as we build community resources, wealth, and empowerment for generations to come.

Pictured with West Oakland's Councilmember Carroll Fife (left)

For the next three years, Mandela Partners will focus on bringing our programs, operations, and team under one roof – securing a long-term home to regenerate and grow together after the turbulence of COVID-19 and organizational growth. Our plan centers on five interlocking priorities: two focus on strengthening community relationships and growing initiatives rooted in our vision and values; the final three serve to develop internal systems that will ensure we have the capacity and funding to work alongside our community for years to come.

Our Vision

We envision a time when communities of color across the East Bay have access to all they need and more – food and economic stability; jobs and business opportunities that build long-term family and community wealth; and economic investment that centers and listens to legacy residents and allows those who have been here to stay here.

Our Values


• Community

• Food is Fundamental

• Equity

• Transformative Change

• Team Solidarity


Regenerative Plan Priorities

Accountable Community Relationships

We will deepen and expand authentic relationships and partnerships – rooted in mutual accountability – with those who share our vision and are working for lasting, community-driven change.

Transformative Resource Mobilization

We will diversify and increase the resources backing our community and work – increasing financial and social support from those who also have a lens of systems change, equity, and empowering Black communities and communities of color.

Strong & Unified Operations

We will grow and optimize our organization’s capacity, systems, processes, and protocols for greater internal alignment and overall efficiency.

Team Growth & Development

We will foster a sustainable and balanced organizational culture that centers diversity, belonging, wellness, continuous learning, and advancement.

Lasting & Meaningful Impacts

We will create and grow programs and initiatives that are catalyzed by our vision, rooted in our values, and achieve equity-centered impacts that are driven by, seen by, and felt by our community.


Join Us!

Everything we do, we do for and with community. And that incudes you! Whether you’re looking to invest in our work or engage with more of our programs, we have something for you.

One Time Donation

Make a tax-deductible donation – gifts of all sizes have a huge impact.

Monthly Member

Give monthly to support our work across the years.

Buy a Produce Box

Get fresh, delicious produce grown by local farmers of color.

Visit the Eatery

Support small food businesses by visiting E14th Eatery + Kitchen.


Recommend Us to Local Food Businesses

Spread the word that we provide wholesale fruits and vegetables for purchase.

Company Match

See if your employer has ways to support community organizations like ours.

Resource Circles

Find out how you can pool resources with your peers to support Mandela Partners.

Visit a Produce Stand

Support local farmers of color and visit our weekly produce stands.

Stay Connected

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for our emails to learn more about our work.


Our Team

Executive Leadership Team

Over the course of 20 years, Mandela Partners has been shaped and guided by many individuals who have given their time, energy, and expertise to our work.

This includes current and past staff and Board members, program participants, neighborhood residents, farmers, and community partners. Those featured on these pages represent our current staff and Board of Directors.

90% people of color. of our staff and 86% of our Board of Directors are

Monique Brown

she/her Executive Director

Christine Kuo

Brigitte Schwartz CEO

she/her Finance & Administration Director

Ana Sloan

Brigitte Schwartz CEO

she/her Business Development Director

Brigitte Schwartz CEO

Sara Draper-Zivetz

she/her Food E uity Director


Our Team


Erick Ismael Sanchez de Leon he/him Food u perations Manager



Monique Brown (she/her), Executive Director

Christine Kuo (she/her), Finance & Administration Director

Mimi Lim she/her Finance and ice Manager

Ana Sloan (she/her), Business Development Director

Sara Draper-Zivetz (she/her), Food Equity Director

Brigitte Schwartz CEO

Sean Brekke-Miesner he/him Culinary Education Manager

Monique Brown (she/her), Executive Director

Erick Ismael Sanchez de Leon (he/him), Food Hub Operations Manager

Sean Brekke-Miesner (he/him), Culinary Education Manager

Nina Arrocena (she/her), Food Access Program Manager

Brigitte Schwartz CEO

Christine Kuo (she/her), Finance & Administration Director

Ana Sloan (she/her), Business Development Director

Aliyah Bey she/her Wellness Manager

Sabine Dabady (they/them), Entrepreneurship Development Manager

Sara Draper-Zivetz (she/her), Food Equity Director

Mimi Lim (she/her), Finance and Office Manager

Brigitte Schwartz CEO

Nina Arrocena she/her Food Access rogram Manager

Sabine Dabady

Brigitte Schwartz CEO

they/them Entrepreneurs ip Development Manager

Aliyah Bey (she/her), Wellness Manager

Ray Stubblefield-Tave (they/she), Fund Development Manager

Yuro Chavez (he/him), Sourcing & Warehouse Operations Coordinator

Natasha Nazer (she/her), Workforce Development Coordinator

Brigitte Schwartz CEO

Ray Stubblefield-Tave

they/she Fund Development Manager

Rya O’Rourke (she/they), Neighborhood Engagement & Communications Coordinator

Javi Palacios (he/they), Culinary Education Coordinator

Loren Johnson (they/them), Entrepreneur Incubation Coordinator

Stephanie Flores (she/her), Delivery and Operations Associate

Silvia Guzman (she/her), Community Outreach Associate

Sourcing & Ware ouse perations Coordinator

Brigitte Schwartz CEO Yuro Chavez he/him

June Espinoza (they/them), Wellness Associate Board of Directors


Erick Ismael Sanchez de Leon (he/him), Food Hub Operations Manager

Sean Brekke-Miesner (he/him), Culinary Education Manager

Nina Arrocena (she/her), Food Access Program Manager

Sabine Dabady (they/them), Entrepreneurship Development Manager

Mimi Lim (she/her), Finance and Office Manager

Thomas Mills (he/him), Board Chair, Formerly Community & Economic Development for the City of Richmond

Aliyah Bey (she/her), Wellness Manager

Natasha Nazer

Cort Gross (he/him), Board Treasurer, Formerly JPMorgan Chase Community Development Bank

Stephanie Flores

Ray Stubblefield-Tave (they/she), Fund Development Manager

Yuro Chavez (he/him), Sourcing & Warehouse Operations Coordinator

she/her Workforce Development Coordinator

Jose Adonnis Jimenez (he/him), Board Secretary, Mission Neighborhood Health Center

Patti Chang (she/her), Feed the Hunger Foundation

Latoya Reed-Adjei (she/her), Alameda County Workforce Development Board

Raminder K. Somal (she/her), American Airlines

Brigitte Schwartz

Rya O'Rourke

Daniel Aderaw Yeshiwas (he/him), Brundo Spice Company & Cafe Colucci

Community En a ement Coordinator


Javi Palacios

Brigitte Schwartz CEO

he/they Culinary Education Coordinator

Loren Johnson

Brigitte Schwartz CEO

Entrepreneur Incubation Coordinator

Brigitte Schwartz

she/her Delivery and Operations Associate

Silvia Guzman

she/her Community Outreac Associate

June Espinoza

Brigitte Schwartz CEO

they/them Wellness Associate


Board of Directors

Brigitte Schwartz CEO Brigitte Schwartz CEO he/him Board Member Board Member Thomas Mills he/him Board C air Cort Gross he/him Board reasurer Jose Adonnis Jimenez he/him Board ecretary she/her Latoya Reed-Adjei Raminder K. Somal she/her Board Member Daniel Aderaw Yeshiwas Patti Chang she/her Board Member


Thank you to all who make this amazing work possible – our staff, Board of Directors, program participants, funders, donors, and community partners. We especially want to thank those who shared their stories and media for this report (in order of appearance):

Nancy Chang


Sierra Young


Mama Wellness Program Participant & Community Leader Flōr Haus

Mandela is a 501(c)3 organization. All donations are tax-deductible.

EIN 11-3754129

@2024 Mandela Partners

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