ABFE Panel Bios


Creating Space & Standing Our Ground: Black Arts & Culture in Oakland

Randolph Belle
Principal, RBA Creative
As a veteran of the arts and community development in Oakland, Randolph Belle has experience as a working artist, entrepreneur, project manager and communications professional. In close to 25 years in Oakland, he has worked tirelessly to bridge the arts, economic and community development. Through his consultancy, RBA Creative, Randolph utilizes his creative talents and organizational management experiences to provide innovative solutions to pressing problems, and practical efficiency to complex campaigns.

Sheena Johnson
Program Officer, Akonadi Foundation
Sheena Johnson joined Akonadi Foundation as Program Officer for the Beloved Community Fund. Sheena brings a decade of experience working at the intersection of arts and social justice as both an accomplished artist-activist and effective non-profit administrator. Before joining Akonadi Foundation, Sheena was the inaugural Program Fellow with the Performing Arts Program at the Hewlett Foundation. Sheena is passionate about the critical role artists and cultural work can play in improving social outcomes for communities of color in Oakland and beyond. She has a deep love for Oakland and in addition to being a proud resident for over 8 years, she serves as the co-chair of the City of Oakland Cultural Funding Advisory Committee. In her free time she loves to imagine a world where everyone can feel safe and at home, and spend quality time with her amazing preschooler. Sheena holds a BA from Swarthmore College in political science and peace and conflict studies, and a MFA from Mills College in dance emphasis choreography.

Denise Pate
City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program Coordinator
Denise is passionate about helping artists and nonprofit arts organizations build stability and long-term sustainability, so that they may create at their highest level. She achieves this mission through her dual role as a grantmaker and as an arts management consultant.

Trevor Parham
Founder and owner, Oakstop
Trevor Parham is an artist, educator, and entrepreneur. He is the founder and director of Oakstop, a shared working environment, event space, and art gallery that fosters collaboration, professional development, and economic sustainability for creative entrepreneurs and small businesses.



Emmett D. Carson, Ph. D.
President & CEO, Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D. is the founding CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. An international thought leader in the field of philanthropy, in 2006 he led the unprecedented merger of two community foundations, creating SVCF. With a growth in assets from $1.4 billion to over $7.3 billion, SVCF is the nation’s largest community foundation. SVCF’s 2,000 family and corporate donor funds support a wide range of causes in the Bay Area, across the nation and around the world.

Before this, Emmett had a distinguished 12-year career as CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation and, prior to that oversaw the Ford Foundation’s U.S. and global grantmaking program on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. Emmett has published more than 100 works on philanthropy and is an authority on issues of social justice, public accountability and African American giving. He is consistently recognized as one of the most influential nonprofit leaders in the U.S. and has honorary degrees from Indiana University, Morehouse College and The National Hispanic University. Emmett received both his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in public and international affairs from Princeton University and his bachelor’s degree in economics, Phi Beta Kappa, from Morehouse College.

#HackingWhileBlack: Building Our Presence, Maintaining Our Community


Idalin Bobe
IT Consultant, Thoughtworks
Idalin Bobé is an IT consultant at ThoughtWorks and a tech activist. Her passion is in bridging the digital divide among hard-to-reach populations and creating more technical community-driven leaders. Originally from the North Side of Philadelphia, Idalin has impacted thousands of men, women and children globally with her work in tech literacy and empowerment. Her work includes spearheading tech initiatives within organizations like Hands Up United, India Rise, Black Girls CODE, Qeyno Labs Hackathons, and #YesWeCode. Still under 35, Idalin is a rising social entrepreneur, whose work has positioned her at the forefront as an innovative leader in technology, activism and community development. https://about.me/AbbyBobe

Zachary McRae
Program Associate, The San Francisco Foundation
At The San Francisco Foundation, Zach leads and coordinates areas of expanding access to careers in technology for all Bay Area residents, Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs), criminal justice reform, education equity, anti-displacement and affordable housing strategies, and supporting small business development. As one of two Associates at The San Francisco Foundation, Zach’s responsibilities range from assisting senior staff in the strategy development of program initiatives and/or special projects, conducting research and evaluation for funding opportunities and provide recommendations for funding opportunities, to serving as a liaison with community partners and key stakeholders.

Brandon Nicholson
Executive Director, The Hidden Genius Project
An Oakland native, Brandon Nicholson is founding Executive Director of The Hidden Genius Project.  He has dedicated his life to promoting equity in the public realm, particularly in the education space.  In his previous stint as a senior evaluator and consultant, Brandon conducted research, evaluation, and consulted on a range of projects related to intersections of education policy and workforce and economic development.  It was there that he began to recognize the potential for technology to bolster the domestic and global economy as underrepresented populations gain more equitable access to growth sectors.  Brandon has conducted substantial research in the areas of education and youth development, with a particular focus on issues of equity and access in K-12 education for underserved populations.  He has considerable experience investigating linkages among race, class, and youth development. Brandon serves on the Board of Trustees/Directors of: Marin Academy (San Rafael, CA); the San Francisco 49ers Academy (East Palo Alto, CA); Great Oakland Public Schools; the Lorenzo Alexander ACES Foundation (Oakland, CA); the GreenLight Fund (Oakland, CA), and Aim High (San Francisco, CA).

Justin Steele
Principal, Google.org
In his current role, Justin leads giving portfolios focused on Racial Justice nationally and on socially and economically excluded communities in the Bay Area locally. Prior to joining Google.org, Justin served as Deputy Director of the Washington D.C. site of job training nonprofit Year Up, and he began his career as a management consultant at Bain & Co. and The Bridgespan Group creating strategic plans for companies and social sector organizations. Justin received an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Virginia and earned a dual MBA/MPA master’s degree from Harvard with a concentration in nonprofit management and urban social policy.  He lives in Oakland with his wife and their three daughters.