Our Staff

Melissa Jones

Melissa Jones, MPA, is the Executive Director of BARHII.   She is passionate about creating the conditions that increase quality of life and makes life more fair for more people.  Her work focuses on the intersection of social determinants of health, social inequity, and well-being.

Her experience includes work in municipal government and non-profits, in the Bay Area’s large and small cities. Melissa is an active community member in Oakland and also serves on the Association of Bay Area Government’s Regional Planning Committee, which advises on regional planning issues.

Before joining BARHII, Melissa served as Senior Program Officer at Boston Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), where she launched and ran Boston LISC’s Resilient Communities Resilient Families (RCRF) Initiative. The initiative works to ensure that residents of Boston’s Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan neighborhoods benefit from the rising tide of transit and other public investments. During her tenure, RCRF engaged several thousand residents and non-profits in neighborhood planning. The program has invested millions of dollars to fund affordable housing, leadership development, Family Financial Opportunity Center programs, and a local entrepreneurship pipeline program to ensure residents’ financial lives are improving. She was awarded the LISC’s President’s award in 2014 for her work on comprehensive community development.

Melissa has additional experience funding and implementing programs focused on community economic development, family financial stability, education, and civic empowerment.  Specifically, she has served in youth empowerment organizations, as Program Specialist for the City of Alameda, and as Program Analyst for the City of Oakland’s Oakland Fund for Children and Youth. Early in her career, she served as Director of Professional Development for Partners in School Innovation where she trained staff to support school reform efforts in San Francisco Unified, San Jose Unified, and Oak Grove Unified school districts.

Maritza Penagos

Maritza is BARHII's Special Projects Director. She has over 18 years of experience working as a consultant and in executive leadership roles in grassroots service agencies, federally qualified health centers, and in large public/community health initiatives such as the Hayward Promise Neighborhood. She worked in the field of HIV for almost 10 years, during 7 of those years serving as a member of the San Francisco HIV Planning Council. Most recently, she has served as an advisor for women-centered organizations such as El/La Para Translatinas and the Women’s Therapy Center, with a focus on peer-based service provision, enhancing organizational infrastructure and leadership development. She earned her MSW & MSPH at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and her Ethnic Studies B.A. at UC Berkeley.

Melanie Newcomb

Melanie Newcomb serves as BARHII’s Membership Liaison. Melanie is the first point of contact for members and partners interested in becoming involved in our policy work and programs. In addition, she manages and often leads BARHII’s General Membership Meetings and is actively involved with the organization’s Communities of Practice. Currently, she’s exploring how to begin new affinity groups for BARHII, hoping to incorporate more LGBTQ and gender issues within BARHII’s work. She also serves as the coordinator of BARHII’s Leading Change Cohort, a leadership program designed to offer practical tools to advance racial equity within public health departments health departments.

Prior to joining BARHII, Melanie worked as a family law paralegal. Outside of her work, she helps transgender individuals update their identification paperwork and speaks to nursing students about transgender issues related to healthcare. Concurrently, she assists at Regional Asthma Management and Prevention, an organization working to reduce the burden of asthma with a focus on health equity. Melanie holds a B.S. Degree in Physiological Sciences from UCLA and lives in Oakland with her wife.

Impact Managers:

Impact Managers are BARHII's Policy Experts. Each Impact Manager leads their program area's policy and capacity building programs.

Asma Day

Asma Day is the Early Childhood and Upstream Prevention Impact Manager at BARHII. Her health-disparities research and program development experience stems from her Community Health Promotion MPH degree. She has worked to develop a local equity platform for an Oakland-based maternity fitness studio to advance racial equity in the fitness industry for mothers and their young children. Asma has extensive experience as a program evaluator and quality improvement manager and brings her passion for equitable access to health and upstream prevention to BARHII along with her expertise in designing and implementing research-based community health programs.

Darris Young

Darris Young is BARHII’s Impact Manager of African Americans and Pacific Islanders. Born in Oakland, he grew up between Berkeley and El Cerrito, California in the mid 60’s and early ’70s, where he witnessed first-hand the Berkeley riots of 1967 and 1971, members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense dressed in their signature black berets and black leather jackets, and police brutality against Black and white demonstrators alike. Those childhood scenes stuck in his mind and would eventually shape his life toward service and activism, first as a police officer and later as a counselor and advocate.


The year 1985 marked a pivotal turning point in Darris’ life. He was hired by the Richmond, California Police Department at age 23, and was voted as Vice President of his police academy class. Six weeks into field training he was unjustly terminated from the department. Shortly after his life morphed into drug addiction and incarceration. His drug addiction eventually led to a 20-year prison sentence in 1998.


Paroling from prison in 2012, Darris completed his Bachelor of Addiction Counseling through the

Association Christian Alcohol and Drug Counselors Institute and received certifications in the domestic violence and youth violence prevention counseling. In 2014, he began his organizing and advocacy career with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights where he championed criminal justice reform. In 2018, he began working for the Urban Strategies Council leading their Boys & Men of Color policy table. Working to prevent youth of color from being caught up in the criminal justice system is his passion.

Matt Vander Sluis

Matt Vander Sluis, is the Climate Change and Community Resilience Health Equity Impact Manager of BARHII. He is an accomplished community planning expert with a passion for fostering healthy, resilient cities for all. He brings over 15 years of experience shaping inclusive public policies and plans at the local, regional, and state level to address the causes and consequences of climate change. Matt is adept at policy analysis, advocacy strategy, network building, trainings and facilitation, public communications, and non-profit management, with a robust network of relationships with agency leaders, elected officials, NGOs, and community-based organizations across the Bay Area and statewide.

Prior to joining BARHII, Matt held multiple roles at Greenbelt Alliance, where he led the organization’s efforts to promote equitable, sustainable development patterns, ultimately serving as Deputy Director from 2017 to 2019. Matt also managed the climate policy program for the Planning and Conservation League, a statewide nonprofit in Sacramento, where he helped craft state policy and developed a statewide training program to promote climate-smart land use planning.

His work has been covered by a variety of media outlets, including the Atlantic Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and KQED’s QUEST. In 2017, he was named one of the East Bay’s “40 under 40” by Diablo Magazine. Matt graduated from Stanford University in American Studies in 2003. A Bay Area native, he and his wife live in El Cerrito.

Will Dominie

Will Dominie, MURP, is the Impact Manager for Housing Affordability and Equitable Development of BARHII. Will brings a decade of policy experience, helping local health departments and community based organizations create equitable, health promoting communities. His work bridges health, housing, land-use, transportation, and climate change, and focuses on ensuring that working class communities and communities of color play a lead role in building the future of our cities, regions, and state. Will has particular expertise in making technical planning and policy information relevant and accessible so that those most impacted by health disparities can help shape healthier community policies.

Will has spent the last four years as a planner and policy specialist with San Mateo and Contra Costa County Health Systems, and has also been a leader in BARHII’s work on health and the built environment. Will’s research and writing has been published in Progressive Planning, The Informal American City, and by the Labor Community Strategy Center, and has won a top award from the Council of University Transportation Centers. He has developed and facilitated a wide range of popular education workshops for community based organizations, and has led a number of highly successful community planning processes. He also serves as a trainer and organizational development consultant with social justice organizations around the country.

Will has a M.A. in urban planning from UCLA, where he focused on the interactions between transit investment, land use patterns and environmental justice in low-income communities of color.

Operations Team:

BARHII hosts over 50 trainings and capacity building events per year. The Operations Team provides the backbone support for these events.

Tracy Greene

Tracy Greene is BARHII’s Senior Executive Assistant and Office Administrator.  Tracy supports the Executive Director and the staff at BARHII through a variety of tasks that help to ensure efficient, organized, professional delivery of high-quality programs, services, and events. She began her career on the clinical side of healthcare as a CNA and went on to obtain her Practical Nursing license. While working on the clinical side of healthcare, her employers recognized that she had talent on the administrative side of operations, thus beginning her transition to program coordination and project management.   Tracy has worked for over 20 years supporting physicians and executives for organizations such as Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, John Muir Healthcare, and Dignity Healthcare in San Francisco.

A natural born advocate for the underserved, Tracy created a small non-profit organization that helps girls in the community through various means such as facilitating donations to buy school clothes for girls in foster care. Her passion for helping others makes her proud to be a member of the BARHII team. Tracy is currently working towards her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration while also studying for the Project Management Professional Exam to become a Certified Project Manager. She is from San Francisco and lives in the East Bay with her family.

Shivon Sullivan

Shivon Sullivan is BARHII's Project Specialist. She works diligently to handle all scheduling and logistics for BARHII and runs the technical side of things to keep everything running smoothly. Shivon has a background in Communications, and it’s helped her to provide sharp, funny, and insightful contributions to the team. Working at BARHII has helped further develop her admiration for justice and equity for our most vulnerable communities, and she finds joy in being able to make a difference. Prior to joining BARHII, Shivon served as a TSA Agent at San Francisco International Airport and endeavored to help people get to their destination safely. Outside of work, she loves to spend time with her daughter and family.

Andrew Seko

Andrew Seko is BARHII’s Development and Communications Associate, responsible for the organization’s grantwriting and public engagement. He has worked in the non-profit sector for over fifteen years and has a lifelong dedication to social justice, wealth equality, and racial and gender justice.

Prior to working at BARHII, Andrew was the Operations Manager for the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity, California’s statewide microenterprise association representing over two hundred microlenders and business development centers. While there, he oversaw CAMEO’s Microloan Management System, a multi-organization loan underwriting and review platform responsible for over a hundred small and microloans per year totaling over $2.3 million. He has also worked for the Arc of Whatcom County, an organization supporting people and families with developmental disabilities, and the Skagit County Community Action Agency, where he ran the teen GED program.

Andrew has a BA in Mathematics from Grinnell College.

Please reload

Copyright © 2020 BARHII

Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII)

555 12th St., 5th Floor

Oakland, CA 94607