Lenore Anderson – Executive Director
Lenore is an attorney with extensive experience working to improve our criminal justice system. She is a regular commentator in the media and at events about challenges within our prison and justice system and the smart justice policies and practices that can overcome those challenges.
Lenore was also coauthor and campaign chair of Proposition 47, a California ballot initiative passed by voters in November 2014 that is projected to reduce incarceration and reallocate those savings into mental health, drug treatment, K-12 programs and victim services.
Before launching Californians for Safety and Justice, Lenore was Chief of Policy and Chief of the Alternative Programs Division at the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, where she spearheaded initiatives to reduce recidivism and improve public safety. She also crafted local and state legislation to aid victims of domestic violence, protect violent crime witnesses, reduce elementary school truancy and reduce recidivism among people convicted of nonviolent crimes.
Lenore also served as Director of Public Safety for the Oakland Mayor, overseeing the Mayor’s violence-reduction and police recruitment initiatives, and as Director of the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice. There she oversaw $10 million in violence-prevention grants, advised the Mayor on public safety matters, and launched a citywide gun buy-back program, Community Policing Task Force and Juvenile Justice Task Force.
Previously, Lenore served as the Director of the Books Not Bars campaign at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which contributed to significant declines in youth incarceration in California, and as an adjunct professor of juvenile justice at the University of San Francisco. She also serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Center for Youth Wellness, an initiative to reduce the health impacts of chronic stress and trauma on urban youth.
Lenore, who holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law and a B.A. from UC Berkeley, lives with her family in Oakland.
Milena Blake – Policy Director
Milena has helped to craft and pass into law several smart justice policies for Californians for Safety and Justice. Before joining the organization, Milena served for three years as Committee Counsel to the California Assembly Committee on Public Safety. There she worked on various public safety legislation (prison conditions, the sex offender registry, child abuse prevention, peace officer training, and firearms) and also organized oversight and informational hearings on topics ranging from California’s aging prison population to human trafficking.
Before her time at the State Capitol, Milena worked as a Public Defender in Solano County, where she specialized in juvenile clients. She has also worked as a research analyst at UC San Francisco and interned at the Child Welfare League of America in Washington, D.C.
Milena received a B.A. in History and Political Science from UC San Diego and graduated from the UC Davis School of Law (King Hall) with a Public Interest Certificate. She lives in San Mateo, where her husband works as an economist in the tech industry.
Hillary Blout – Statewide Proposition 47 Implementation Manager
Hillary’s career as a public servant, serving victims and the community, is a natural connection to Safe and Just’s mission. As manager of statewide implementation of Proposition 47, she is working with local partners to ensure that communities, governments and individuals can take advantage of the opportunities offered by this historic reform.
Previously, Hillary spent six years as an Assistant District Attorney in San Francisco where she handled numerous types of cases, with a special focus on domestic violence and traumatic injuries. This included her guiding women and children through the criminal justice process and ensuring that victims of violent crimes were able to receive medical benefits, shelter and other needs. She also worked with police officers on improving the handling of domestic violence cases.
Prior to the District Attorney’s Office, Hillary worked as an associate for Luce Forward Hamilton and Scripps in the Real Estate and Land-Use department. Before law school, Hillary spent seven years working for San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, where she oversaw $13 million in community grants and served as a community liaison for the Bayview-Hunter’s Point neighborhoods.
Hillary received a B.S in Political Science, with a concentration in Poverty and Policy, from San Francisco State and her J.D. from University of San Francisco School of Law, with a concentration in Trial Advocacy. Hillary lives in Oakland with her husband and two sons.
Mike de la Rocha – Los Angeles Strategic Partnerships Director
Mike has more than 16 years experience advancing public policy and empowering community stakeholders. Before joining our team, he spent four years as the Senior Legislative Deputy for then L.A. City Councilmember (and now Congressman) Tony Cárdenas, with an emphasis on public safety and juvenile justice. He played an instrumental role in developing The New Alliance for Public Safety, the country’s first network of officials committed to juvenile justice reform. He also advised the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development.
Mike also worked on a number of community-driven efforts, including drafting the nation’s first gang injunction removal process, facilitating the L.A. City Council’s Community Engagement Advisory Committee, and co-founding the Joint City and County Juvenile Justice Task Force in L.A. County. Mike also has served as Policy Advisor for the L.A. Human Relations Commission; Managing Director for Equal Opportunity Productions (a nonprofit arts outreach program); and Program Coordinator for the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center.
Mike is a writer, musician and artist who received a B.A. from UCLA and a M.A. from California State University-Dominguez Hills.
Danny Montes – Los Angeles Government & Community Affairs Manager
Danny oversees the organization’s community engagement and government relations in Los Angeles, bringing more than a decade of local, state and national campaign experience. Previously, he was the Civic Engagement Strategist for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization. There Danny worked with NCLR’s 62 California affiliated nonprofits to increase their capacity, civic engagement and advocacy efforts on issues such as criminal justice, health, housing, immigration and workforce development. Danny also worked with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Washington, D.C., to build investment and advocate for job creation legislation.
Danny is a seasoned trainer in direct actions organizing and communications, starting in 2007 in partnership with the Midwest Academy, Wellstone Action, United States Student Association, and Young People For. He is also a former Public Policy Fellow for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
Suman Murthy – Communications Manager
Suman oversees event management, social media and other key communications strategies for Californians for Safety and Justice. Her background in communications and nonprofit work includes positions at Change Consulting (a firm providing strategic communications solutions to nonprofits) and as the Communications Manager at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. While at the Lawyers’ Committee, she guided the organization’s communications strategies for their racial justice, economic equality and immigrant rights work.
Previously, Suman was the Project Coordinator at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, working to strengthen the leadership and management capacity of nonprofits. She received her B.A. in Community Studies from UC Santa Cruz, with a minor in Sociology, and is completing her M.A. in Communications from San Francisco State University. Suman currently resides in San Francisco.
Caroline Perez – Operations Manager
Caroline oversees operations for Californians for Safety and Justice, bringing 10 years of finance, administration, human resources and technology experience. Previously she worked at Fenton, a public interest communications firm, managing their San Francisco and Los Angeles operations while providing additional expertise to the firm’s New York and Washington, D.C., offices. This included contract negotiations, budgets and reporting requirements for many of the firms largest nonprofit and foundation clients, including The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation and First Five LA. With an interest in creating a positive, inspiring office culture, Caroline does her best to insert some playfulness into the hard work of social change organizations. She has a BA in Politics from Saint Mary's College and currently lives in Oakland, hoping to one day swim in Lake Merritt.
Elizabeth Sanchez – Executive & Administrative Assistant
Elizabeth (Liz) supports Californians for Safety and Justice’s Executive Director, staff and various programmatic work. Previously, Liz provided administrative support for nearly two years at the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), a nonprofit legal clinic that provides free legal services for East Bay residents. While at EBCLC, Liz also served as a temporary Executive Assistant, Spanish interpreter and Legal Assistant for immigration attorneys. She gained a passion for social justice advocacy through her participation in Project WHAT!, a youth group that makes presentations in universities, jails and prisons throughout California about the impact on children when a parent is incarcerated. Liz received a B.A. in Criminal Justice from San Francisco State University, and currently resides in Richmond with her family.
Robert Rooks – Organizing Director
Robert provides leadership for key programs and partners of Californians for Safety and Justice, including our Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and Criminal Justice Advocacy networks, our work with organized labor and more.
Robert joined Safe and Just after three years with the NAACP, where he served as both National Criminal Justice Director and Executive Director of the California State Conference. As National Criminal Justice Director, Robert was the founding director of the program and provided strategic direction, oversight and management of criminal justice activities. He was responsible for launching the “Misplaced Priorities – Educate Not Incarcerate” campaign, where he worked with Right on Crime to recruit conservatives to join NAACP's efforts to reduce state prison populations and reallocate dollars to education.
Prior to NAACP, Robert was a national criminal justice reform expert and labor organizer working on sentencing reform and green jobs. Robert has served in senior leadership roles at A Better Way Foundation (in Connecticut), Justice Strategies and the Institute for Community Research. For several years, Robert was a grant reviewer for California HIV/AIDS Research Programs. Robert also worked with the strategic research program at Change To Win labor federation to organize workers in emerging green industries.
Robert has served as an adjunct professor teaching social movement theory and research methods at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and St. Joseph’s College, and at Central Connecticut State University. Robert lives in Sacramento with his wife and three sons.
Mike Smith – Director of Communications and Administration
Mike joined Californians for Safety and Justice after 10 years at Fenton Communications, a public relations firm that helps nonprofit and public interest campaigns accelerate social change. At Fenton, he provided branding, medial relations and strategic counsel to organizations ranging from The James Irvine Foundation to Green For All to the Public Policy Institute of California. Starting in 2002, he helped the Polly Klaas Foundation launch its Amber Alert Now campaign, which worked with law enforcement agencies and policymakers to create Amber Alerts in California, all remaining states as well as national legislation to coordinate these life-saving systems.
Prior to Fenton, Mike held public relations and marketing positions at the Horn Group, Wetfeet.com, and Odwalla Juice. He also wrote and developed advertising campaigns at the Onion Newspaper.
Mike graduated from Colorado College with a B.A. in English and a minor in African Studies. He and his wife live in Oakland with their grumpy pointer mix Uno and Maybe, their mischievous little pit bull.
Elizabeth Siggins – Director, Local Safety Solutions Project
Elizabeth directs our Local Safety Solutions Project, which provides city and county officials with best practices, training and tools to implement smart justice policies that improve safety and reduce costs.
Previously, Elizabeth spent almost 10 years as an executive with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). As Assistant Secretary of Juvenile Justice Policy at CDCR, she coordinated and drafted many of the major reforms for California’s Division of Juvenile Justice (formerly the California Youth Authority). More recently, as CDCR’s Chief Deputy Secretary and Director of Rehabilitative Programs, Elizabeth oversaw the education, substance abuse treatment and rehabilitative programs for the state’s 33 adult prisons and statewide parole offices.
Elizabeth and her team implemented over $250 million in budget reductions using evidence-based decision-making, and she drafted the state’s plan to reinvest in rehabilitative programs as part of CDCR’s 2012 Blueprint (ultimately adopted and funded by the Legislature). Elizabeth has also worked with the California Legislature, for the Office of the Inspector General, and with several nonprofits, including as the Executive Director of City Youth Now (located in San Francisco’s Youth Guidance Center).
Elizabeth has a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She and her son live in Sacramento.
Ophelia Williams – Networks Manager
Ophelia is leveraging 12 years of experience working with vulnerable populations in her management of our Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice network as well as other collaborative working groups. Previously she served as Director of Finance and Operations for The W. Haywood Burns Institute and as a Development Associate for The Center for Young Women's Development (where she currently serves on the Board of Directors). Ophelia is a native San Franciscan who volunteers with Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth (MISSSEY) and is a member of the Polaris Project Grassroots Network against domestic human trafficking. She is a Certified Community Development Consultant and formerly served as a Commissioner for the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Commission (2006-2007). Ophelia earned an MFA from the California Institute for Integral Studies, a BA from San Francisco State University and an AA from City College of San Francisco.
Dionne Wilson – Survivor Program Associate, Sacramento
In 2005, Dionne’s husband, a police officer in San Leandro, was shot and killed while responding to a disturbance call. Though her husband’s shooter was caught and convicted, the experience changed Dionne's perspective on the justice system. She saw first hand the ineffective and costly results of investing in strategies that respond to harm versus of preventing crime. In 2012, she began volunteering as a survivor advocate for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, joining other victims working to elevate their voices and calls for smarter justice policies. In April 2015, she joined Californians for Safety and Justice as staff, expanding her role as a survivor advocate in Sacramento and throughout the state, as well as helping to elevate the voices of other crime survivors.