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Festival Panelists 2020

Allison Arieff is SPUR’s editorial director. A contributing columnist to The New York Times since 2006, Allison writes about architecture, design and cities for numerous publications including California Sunday, the MIT Technology Review, Dialogue and CityLab. She is a former editor-at-large for GOOD and Sunset magazines and from 2006–2008 was senior content lead for the global design and innovation firm IDEO. She was editor-in-chief of Dwell (and was the magazine’s founding senior editor) until 2006; Dwell won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2005 under her tenure. Allison is the author of the books Prefab and Trailer Travel: A Visual History of Mobile America and has contributed to and/or edited numerous books on architecture, design and sustainability including Airstream: The History of the Land Yacht, Hatch Show Print: History of a Great American Poster Shop, Block by Block: Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York and Urban Farms. She has a BA in history, an MA in art history and completed her PhD coursework in American studies at New York University.

Megan Abell is the Director of Advocacy and Organizing at TechEquity Collaborative. Megan brings extensive experience in building novel organizing programs from the ground up. Previously, Megan was an early employee of Airbnb’s Public Policy team where she co-founded their first organizing and mobilization program. A unique initiative to deploy traditional grassroots organizing tactics within a tech company, her initial organizing model in San Francisco has now been replicated by Airbnb in markets globally. That work builds on her years of experience as an organizer and campaign operative for unions, issue advocacy campaigns, non-profits, and candidates.

Marie Alarcón is a multi-medium artist with a focus on experimental non-fiction filmmaking and performance. Alarcon has worked as a community media educator and producer in Philadelphia since 2009. Their experimental documentary WITNESS was an official selection at Blackstar Film Festival and has been shown across Philadelphia as part of multiple public screening programs meant to bring local films to local communities. Alarcon performs and exhibits work both as a solo artist and in collaboration with various artists at institutions including the ICA Philadelphia, Asian Arts Initiative, Icebox Project Space, The Print Center Philadelphia, Franz Josephs Kai 3, Vienna, and the In>Time Performance Festival, Chicago. Alarcon is a 2018 CFEVA Fellow, 2010 Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow, 2009 and 2018 Leeway Art and Change Grant recipient, and has participated in numerous artist-in-residence programs internationally.

David Chiu As a member of the California State Legislature, Assemblymember David Chiu represents the 17th Assembly District, which encompasses a half million constituents who live in eastern San Francisco.  During his first 5 years in the Legislature, Chiu has authored 59 new laws addressing a wide spectrum of issues, including housing, homelessness, transportation, education, environment, health, public safety, and civil rights.  As Chair of the Assembly Housing & Community Development Committee, he authored the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, described as the strongest statewide renter protections in the country; in addition to championing record increases to state affordable housing funding, he also authored laws to promote housing development around BART stations and to bring a regional Bay Area approach to affordable housing; he also serves as Chair of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.  Before public office, Chiu served as Democratic Counsel to the US Senate Constitution Subcommittee, a criminal prosecutor, and a civil rights attorney.

Alex Yong Kang Chow

Jason Cohn is a writer, producer and director who has worked in print, radio, television and film. He is the Peabody Award-winning director of EAMES: The Architect and the Painter and The First Angry Man, which traces the roots of the American Tax Revolt to a California ballot initiative. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone Magazine.

Cathy Cormier moved to San Francisco in January 1986 and thankfully lives here ever since. Cathy is a librarian with the City of San Francisco Public Library and the program manager of The Mixt at SFPL, a digital media learning lab designed by and for teens where they can freely access tools, technology, and people to build skills toward successful adult futures.

Kathleen Coll is a political anthropologist whose research and teaching focuses on immigration politics and policies, cultural citizenship, and grassroots community organizing in the US, and in particular, San Francisco. Her books include Remaking Citizenship: Latina Immigrants and New American Politics (Stanford University Press, 2010), Disputing Citizenship (with Clarke, Dagnino & Neveu, Policy Press, 2014) and Gendered Citizenships (with Caldwell, Fisher, Ramirez & Siu, Palgrave Press, 2009). Prior to joining USF’s Department of Politics in Fall 2014, she lectured at Stanford, Harvard and CCSF, and received fellowships from Radcliffe Institute, Social Science Research Council, and Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme.

Conversations with the Courageous (CwC) was formed in San Francisco in August 2019 to raise awareness of and garner international support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. CwC’s organizers and volunteers frequent public spaces in San Francisco to start conversations about with locals about Hong Kong. Our hope is to use personal interactions to shed light on the humanity, resilience and courage of freedom fighters in Hong Kong, provide a safe space for international audiences to ask questions and share ideas, as well as provide immediate ways for international audiences to show support for and stand with Hong Kong. Our team has been facilitating conversations in a variety of ways in public spaces, including leafleting, distributing stickers and pins, guerilla projections, information booths and an online game based on true events during the pro-democracy movement.

Joe Eskenazi  was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. He has been the managing editor of Mission Local since summer of 2018. Previously, he was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Marin Magazine; and elsewhere. In 2019, the Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the Journalist of the Year.

Azalina Eusope a fifth-generation street food vendor, moved to San Francisco a decade ago. The only thing that could comfort her in the early days settling in and learning English was the food she grew up eating, so the pasty-trained chef cooked for herself, family and friends often. Word got out about her home-cooked meals and in 2009 Bon Apetit magazine named Eusope one of “10 Top Upcoming Chefs” for 2010. The next year she turned her hobby into a business. She has also been honored by Women’s Initiative for Self Improvement for being an “Enterprising Woman on the Rise” in 2012. She’s even catered food for President Obama!

Tenoch Flores is a strategic communications consultant with two decades of experience in advocacy and campaign communications. From 2009 to 2015, he led communications strategy for the California Democratic Partyduring three of the most successful election cycles in the Party’s history, helping Democrats sweep all statewide constitutional offices twice(2010 and 2014). Previously, Tenoch was the media relations manager for the <span style=”font-weight: 400″>ACLU of Southern Californiaand was a Press Assistant in Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) communications office in Washington, D.C.  He also teaches courses in political communications at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of San Francisco.

Cynthia Gómez is a Senior Research Analyst with Unite Here Local 2, the union of hospitality workers. She taught elementary school for five years before moving to the field of union research. She has lived in the Bay Area for more than 35 years, and currently lives in the East Bay, where she writes scary stories in her spare time.

Chelsea Hernandez is a Mexican-American filmmaker based in Austin, Texas, recently named as one of Texas Monthly Magazine’s “10 Filmmakers on the Rise.” She is an 8-time Emmy winning director, producer and editor in the Texas region. Chelsea started her career in media at the ripe age of nine, hosting and co-producing a local children’s educational TV program with her mother (think Martha Stewart show but for kids!). Chelsea received a B.S. from the University of Texas, the first in her Latino family to achieve a college degree. She began her documentary career right out of college, as Associate Producer and Assistant Editor on PBS national broadcast special, Fixing the Future, hosted by David Brancaccio of NPR’s Marketplace, directed by Ellen Spiro (Body of War, Troop 1500) and national 6-part series Ancient Roads from Christ to Constantine directed by Hector Galan (Children of Giant, Chicano). From 2013 to 2016 Chelsea was the primary editor and co-producer of Arts In Context, a documentary series produced at KLRU-TV, Austin PBS and distributed by NETA. Chelsea has directed and produced various documentary films including See the Dirt (Austin Film Festival Short Documentary Winner) and most recently, An Uncertain Future (SXSW Texas Jury Winner, AspenShorts Youth Jury Winner, CineFestival Short Winner). Chelsea is a NALIP Latino Media Market fellow, Firelight Media Doc Lab Fellow, Tribeca Storylab Fellow, Tribeca All Access Recipient and BAVC National Mediamaker Fellow.

Peter Hirshberg  has served as an innovation advisor to cities and companies. He has created two centers of urban innovation from scratch: Maker City Project and Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. Most recently, he served as an advisor to TransLOC in its sale to Ford Motor Company. He has served as CEO of Elemental Software (sold to Adobe), (Estee Lauder). During a nine-year tenure at Apple Computer, Hirshberg headed Enterprise Marketing, where he grew Apple’s large business and government revenue to $1 billion annually. His board and advisor positions have included Active Video Networks, Technorati, Build Public, The Computer History Museum, & Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. He is a Senior Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy and a Henry Crown fellow of the Aspen Institute.

Jeff Hou is Professor of Landscape Architecture and Director of Urban Commons Lab at the University of Washington, Seattle. In a career that spans across the Pacific, he has worked with indigenous tribes, farmers, and fishers in Taiwan, neighborhood residents in Japan, villagers in China, and inner-city immigrant youths and elders in North America. Hou is recognized for his work on guerrilla urbanism and bottom-up placemaking through publications including “Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities” (2010) and “City Unsilenced: Urban Resistance and Public Space in the Age of Shrinking” (2017).

Tim Iglesias is a Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco School of Law. Prior to teaching, he was Deputy Director of the Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California.  Governor Brown and appointed him to serve on California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council implementing California’s antidiscrimination laws. Governor Newsom reappointed him in 2019. He is currently working on a book applying social constructionism to housing law and policy.  He earned a bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University (magna cum laude), a bachelor’s degree and an honorary master’s from Oxford University, and his J.D. from Stanford Law School with distinction.

Melinda James is a Black/Thai filmmaker with a primary focus in cinematography. Her aesthetic embodies a visual style that is minimal and intimate. Her personal work is centered around women and QTPOC communities and extends to other marginalized experiences. Over the years she’s shaped a body of work that puts these underrepresented communities at the forefront, as keepers of their own images. Her work has screened online and festivals nationally, including Blackstar Film Festival, Frameline, New Orleans Film Festival, Outfest, The Root, Essence, NPR Music, Participant Media and Oklahoma Contemporary.

Divali Magnus is the Director of Housing Development and Policy for Young Community Developers, Inc (YCD) overseeing affordable housing development, anti-displacement policy and advocacy work throughout San Francisco with a focus on District 10 and 11.  Before joining YCD, she worked at the County of San Mateo Department of Housing as a Housing Specialist. She graduated with a B.A in Political Science from the University of California Los Angeles and obtained a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California Berkeley. 

Myrna Melgar is the Executive Director of the Jamestown Community Center, a Mission District based nonprofit serving low income and at-risk children, youth and their families.  Myrna is the President of the San Francisco City Planning Commission, appointed by Mayor London N. Breed. Prior to her work at Jamestown, Myrna served as the Deputy Director of the Mission Economic Development Agency, and previous to that position, was Director of Homeownership Programs at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing during the Newsom administration.  Myrna immigrated to the Mission District as a teenager with her family during the 1980’s from El Salvador, during that country’s civil war. She attended San Francisco State University, and then obtained a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning with a concentration in housing development from Columbia University in the City of New York. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and three daughters.

Teresa Moore is an associate professor of media studies at the University of San Francisco. A former San Francisco Chronicle reporter, Moore specializes in journalism, civic media and Black cinema.

Paige Miller serves as Senior Communications Manager at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. She is dedicated to engaging the public around environmental issues, and previously worked in communications roles at NextGen America, Stanford, and the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Paige keeps involved with her local community and previously served as Chair of the GoGeary transportation advocacy group and as a board member with the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Environmental Network. A proud banana slug, Paige holds a degree in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz.

Scott Oshima (they/them) is the Sustainable Little Tokyo (SLT) Program Director at Japanese American Cultural & Community Center since 2017—but in acknowledging the lineage of arts-based activism, Scott has been fighting for LA’s historic Japantown for 135 years. They are a yonsei/fourth-generation Japanese Chinese American artist, arts organizer, and community activist, born and raised in Los Angeles. As Program Director for the SLT creative placekeeping initiative, they use community-driven and arts-based strategies to advocate for the cultural sustainability and equitable development of Little Tokyo. Scott has presented at national conferences and convenings, such as People & Places, ArtPlace Summit, Western Arts Alliance, and Arts for LA’s State of the Arts Summit, and has written for Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Journal, Capital & Main, Orlando, X-TRA, and more.

Brian Ng is a poet and tech worker born and raised in Hong Kong, currently based in the SF Bay Area. He edits for Lausan

Scott Oshima (they/them) is the Sustainable Little Tokyo (SLT) Program Director at Japanese American Cultural & Community Center since 2017—but in acknowledging the lineage of arts-based activism, Scott has been fighting for LA’s historic Japantown for 135 years. They are a yonsei/fourth-generation Japanese Chinese American artist, arts organizer, and community activist, born and raised in Los Angeles. As Program Director for the SLT creative placekeeping initiative, they use community-driven and arts-based strategies to advocate for the cultural sustainability and equitable development of Little Tokyo. Scott has presented at national conferences and convenings, such as People & Places, ArtPlace Summit, Western Arts Alliance, and Arts for LA’s State of the Arts Summit, and has written for Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Journal, Capital & Main, Orlando, X-TRA, and more.

Jethro Patalinghug, Film maker and Associate Artistic Director of Facine

Raquel Redondiez is the Director of SOMA Pilipinas- San Francisco’s Filipino Cultural Heritage District.  Raquel first came to SOMA in 1995 to work on Superflip- a love story of immigrant Filipinos working in the underbelly of San Francisco’s tourist industry.  She has been organizing in the SOMA for over two decades starting as a union organizer in 1996. During the dot-com boom of the late 90’s, she helped lead a community campaign to protect small Filipino owned business that were being displaced by the dot-com offices.  From 2001-2008, serving as a legislative aide for District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly, she worked closely with the community to achieve victories such as the rebuilding of Bessie Carmichael Elementary School, the creation of Victoria Manalo Draves Park, and crafting the landmark $52 million SOMA Stabilization Fund.  

Josue Rojas became executive director at Acción Latina in early 2017. As an artist, educator and Mission native, Rojas brings to the organization more than 20 years of experience in fine arts, community arts, arts leadership, and bilingual and ethnic media in the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout his many endeavors, his work and vision have been characterized by a commitment to San Francisco’s cherished values of community arts and media, civic engagement, social justice and empowerment for migrant communities and marginalized communities at large.

Camille Servan-Schreiber was born in France and has been working in documentary film in the US since 1998. She has produced for American Masters, Frontline, PBS, National Geographic and many other outlets and received numerous honors including a Peabody, a Golden Spire Award from the San Francisco Film Festival and a national Emmy nomination.

Noni D. Session is the Executive Director of the East Bay Real Estate Cooperative, a 3rd generation West Oaklander and Cultural Anthropologist. Her research and organizing work spans national and global arenas. Under the umbrella of the UNDP in Nairobi, Kenya, Noni carried out her doctoral research in international humanitarian strategies and their on-the-ground consequences. After nearly gaining election to the Oakland City Council in 2016, she decided that her community’s best solution to rapid displacement was to develop an independent cooperative economy. Noni is closely engaged with Mandela Grocery Cooperative, a Black led worker-owned cooperative in West Oakland bringing organic produce and local economics to the community, as well as contributing her visionary energy to homeless advocacy groups across West and East Oakland who are building a movement of houseless and volunteers organizing for housing dignity through direct action and policy. Noni can be reached at and; or check out her groundbreaking work at

Jeremy Shaw is an urban planner with the City of San Francisco focusing on transit station area planning and land use policy for Production, Distribution and Repair (PDR) businesses. He has a background in urban design, regional planning and public space activation. Prior to working for the City, he was the founding director of the Mission Community Market, a non-profit that transformed a street into a public space for community arts, events and small businesses in the Mission District.

Grant Sunoo is the Director of Planning for Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC).  He oversees LTSC’s creative placekeeping, community planning, and community organizing efforts.  Through this work, Grant and his team partner with other Little Tokyo stakeholders to advance the community’s vision for their neighborhood. In nearly 20 years of working in Los Angeles’ non-profit sector, he has extensive experience in affordable housing development, coalition building, leadership development, program implementation, and organizational development. Grant earned a Masters of Urban Planning from UCLA.

The Bauhinia Project was founded by an anonymous poet in 2019 to bring Hong Kong’s struggles to the stage of transnational activism through lyric and language. Our primary work has been to render the testimonies of protesters and ordinary people in Hong Kong–some submitted to an encrypted email and others drawn from “found poem” materials–into English-language poems. The Bauhinia Project has been featured in the Georgia Review, on KPFA Radio, and on KTSF News. We have collaborated with the Oakland Public Libraries, student groups at Berkeley Law, and organizers as far as New York, Canada, and Germany.

Eric Young  serves as the Director of Communications for the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, overseeing strategic communications, public outreach and media relations. He oversees a four-person communications team responsible for soliciting public feedback to help shape the agency’s policies and programs. Before joining the Transportation Authority, Eric was a reporter at several newspapers and magazines, covering several topics, including transportation. He holds degrees in Spanish and Political Science from Stanford University.