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Black Power Network

the-california-black-power-network

WHO WE ARE

The California Black Power Network is a united ecosystem of Black grassroots organizations working together to change the lived conditions of Black Californians by dismantling systemic and anti-Black racism.

Our theory of change

By protecting and building Black political power through policy development, civic participation, organizing, direct action, and uplifting Black culture, and narrative, we will improve the living conditions of Black Californians.

black-people-political-power
We welcome opportunities to work together to create systemic and social change, in solidarity with Indigenous and POC allies.
- cbpn

Our origin story

The CA Black Power Network is built on the work of the California Black Census and Redistricting Hub and the African American Civic Engagement Project, both projects of California Calls, a multiracial statewide alliance of 31 grassroots, community-based organizations spanning urban, rural and suburban counties across the state. Recognizing the need to have strong Black power-building in the State, California Calls incubated the Black Power Network in its infancy. Through the work of AACEP and the Black Hub, we grew the network from 12 to 35+ organizations, served as the State’s Black census outreach contractor, and engaged over 1.3 million residents through phoning door knocking, and digital organizing (My Black Counts) to motivate them to vote and complete the census.

We also engaged nearly 500 community leaders and residents in 51 community conversations to identify key Black communities of interest during the state’s redistricting process and acted as a leading voice for Black representation and political power throughout the California Citizens Redistricting Commission process through 2020 and 2021. Our current coalition covers 13 counties across 6 regions of the State (including the Bay Area, Sacramento Valley, Central Valley, Inland Empire, Los Angeles, and San Diego).

Now we are embarking on a long-term endeavor to ensure Black Californians have the resources, policies, supports, and living conditions needed to thrive! We are the California Black Power Network.

Join the movement

Join our movement to help all Black Californians thrive! Join us to build Black futures in a California that works for everyone!

Meet the squad

Luke Blackburn
Luke Blackburn
Special Projects Coordinators
Kevin Cosney
Kevin Cosney
co-founder & Associate Director
Christina Griffin Jones
Christina Griffin-Jones
Organizing & Training Manager
marcus headshot image
Marcus Jones
COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
Jahnna Morehouse
Jahnna Morehouse
Policy Associate
Ashton
Ashton Morris
Regional Organizer
Adije Nelson
Adije Nelson
Accountant
Kristin Nimmers
Kristin Nimmers
Policy & Campaigns Manager
Lanae Norwood
lanae norwood
Strategic Communications Consultant
Tanya Headshot
Tanya Payne
Operations Specialist
Amber Tolbert
Amber Tolbert
Director of Operations
James Woodson
James Woodson
co-founder & Executive Director

Meet the network

California Black Power Network
in the News

Luke Blackburn

Luke Blackburn serves as one of CBPN’s Special Projects Coordinators. He primarily aims to build up the support systems of local organizations as part of the Organizing and Training Team. Since working with local organizers and public officials in the Orange County area, Luke has been fully focused on the betterment of his community.

Luke served his community through multiple liaison roles focused on improvements to the quality of life of Black students on Public University campuses throughout Southern California.

Additionally, Luke partnered with the OCJI and multiple Santa Ana city council-members to power build towards a stronger, more unified direct-action coalition in Santa Ana and the surrounding areas of
Orange County.

He earned a Bachelors and a Masters in Political Science from California State University Fullerton. During his time at the university, he served as the Black Student Union President for the CSUF
student body.

“If you dare to struggle, you dare to win. If you dare not to struggle, you don’t deserve to win.”
– Fred Hampton

kevin cosney

Kevin Cosney is the Associate Director and Co-Founder of the California Black Power Network (CBPN), where he supports an amazing team of organizers, policy experts, and communicators to build the Black political power needed to transform living conditions for Black Californians. 

Prior to launching CBPN, as a Project Manager at California Calls, Kevin worked with numerous grassroots organizations and a diverse range of communities throughout California to build multi-racial, multi-generational, and multi-issue coalitions. Kevin helped lead the California Black Census and Redistricting Hub, a coalition of 30+ Black-led and Black-serving organizations across the state focused on maximizing Black communities’ participation in the census and redistricting process. Between 2016-2018, Kevin managed the African American Civic Engagement Project focused on strengthening and scaling up the leadership, civic engagement, and base-building capacities of Black-led, grassroots organizations in California. He also helped launch and manage a collaborative project with California Calls, PICO CA, and The California Endowment to develop the civic engagement capacities of members of The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities network. Prior to this role, Kevin worked as an Organizing Coordinator, working with regional anchor groups to build grassroots power and transform the electorate in order to win policy reforms, such as Prop 30, Prop 47, and Prop 57.

In addition, Kevin has been involved in the abolitionist movement since 2008, as one of the founding members of Active Students Against Prisons and Policing (ASAPP) at UCR and one of the founding members of Justice For Trayvon Martin Los Angeles (#J4TMLA), now Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.

Prior to California Calls, he spent four years working throughout the Inland Valley Region as an Organizer, College Access Mentor and Advocate, Case Manager, and Youth Program Coordinator. Kevin graduated from UC Riverside with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Ethnic Studies and Sociology and a B.S. in Business Administration and Marketing. He enjoys spending his free time with his two daughters, family members, and friends, enjoying the arts, music, spoken word, laughing, and traveling.

“The power is in the people and politics we address”
~ Tupac Amaru Shakur

Christina Griffin Jones

Christina Griffin-Jones serves as CBPN’s Organizing and Training Manager. In this role, she collaborates with Black individuals who are deeply committed to their respective Black grassroots communities, connecting them with tools that empower Black power building.

Christina’s dedication to helping others and fostering a more equitable world has been at the core of her community-organizing work. With over 15 years of diverse experience in organizing, both paid and unpaid, Christina has collaborated with various social justice and labor organizations, including the United Domestic Workers of America, ACLU, UNITE HERE, PICO, March for Black Womxn San Diego, Dede McClure Memorial Community Bail Fund, and Black Lives Matter. Her vision for Black liberation encompasses a world where Black individuals, particularly Black trans women, and non-binary individuals, are centered, loved, protected, celebrated, and our agency respected.

On a lighter note, Christina holds the distinction of being a Blue Belt in jiu-jitsu and proudly represented the United States at the 2022 World Games in women’s middleweight Sumo wrestling. Currently residing in sunny Southern California, Christina thrives alongside her partner, their dog, two cats, and two turtles.

“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
~ Lilla Watson

Marcus Jones

Marcus Jones serves as the Communications Director for the California Black Power Network (CBPN), collaborating with a dedicated team of experts to develop and implement strategic communications aimed at building Black political power.

Before joining CBPN, Marcus spent 13 years in higher education, last serving as the Associate Director of Communications and Data Analytics. He has also been involved in coalitions that successfully advocated for minimum wage ordinances and for public institutions to divest from private prison corporations.

His vision for Black liberation involves creating a society where all Black individuals and their identities are embraced, celebrated, and valued.

Marcus earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles, and both a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from California State University, Long Beach. He enjoys spending his free time taking shelter dogs out on field trips.

Jahnna Morehouse

Jahnna Morehouse serves as the Policy Associate for the California Black Power Network (CBPN) and supports multiple aspects of our policy work. She has over 15 years of grassroots community organizing experience spanning across multiple regions of California. She is passionate about Black liberation. Her work has centered around restorative justice/mediation, abolitionist ideologies, and intersectional feminist praxis. She emphasizes the interconnectedness of various movements for liberation and firmly believes true justice and equity for Black folks means true justice and equity for all folks, in California and far beyond.

Jahnna earned a B.A. in Critical Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, with a minor in Sociology from Cal Poly Humboldt. She was awarded Student of the Year for exemplary co-integration between academic pursuits and on-campus organizing/activism. One of her proudest moments was coordinating a presentation about the prison industrial complex, given by the one and only Angela Davis. She also earned a Master of Legal Studies, with a concentration in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine University.

What brings her joy: dancing, laughing, sharing space with like-minded community working towards collective liberation, and she really loves dogs.

“A people’s r/evolution can’t be stopped. we need to be weapons of mass construction. weapons of mass love. it’s not enough just to change the system. we need to change ourselves.”
~ Assata Shakur

Ashton Morris

Ashton Morris serves as CBPN’s Regional Organizer. Before working at CBPN, Ashton worked at the National Domestic Workers Alliance, PA Democratic Party, Color of Change PAC, American Federation of Teachers & Working America

Ashton wants to see true Black equity and racial justice for all Black people. He also would like to see more housing equity for Black Californians.

Ashton is a lifelong athlete. When he’s not working, he travels the world competing in International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments.

Ashton has a daughter that he shares with my ex-wife. She splits her time between being a Los Angeles and Houston kid.

Adije Nelson

Adije Nelson (pronouns: She/Her/Hers) is the Accountant for CBPN and handles the organization’s day-to-day finance, accounting, and bookkeeping functions. Adije recognizes that a key component to Black liberation is financial health and literacy, which drives her work in supporting CBPN’s Operations team.

With almost 20 years of Accounting experience behind her, prior to joining CBPN Adije worked as an Accountant for Foothill AIDS Project, a non-profit social service agency supporting those in the community who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. She is an Alumna of California Baptist University and holds a B.S. in Accounting and an MBA with Management emphasis.

Adije is a long-time resident of the Inland Empire and the proud Mom of a “spicy Princess”. She enjoys communing near bodies of water, feels in her soul that “music is life”, and tries to dust off her passport as often as she can.

“Strength is for service, not status.”
~ Israel Houghton

 

Kristin Nimmers

Kristin Nimmers serves as a Policy and Campaign Manager with the California Black Power Network leading and coordinating policy analysis, legislative advocacy and coalition-building.

During Census & Redistricting, she worked with organizations across the state to engage Black communities in the redistricting process and ensure political districts were drawn fairly and equitably.

Prior to joining the Network, Kristin completed the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in San Francisco. During her year with Coro, she worked on high level consulting projects for campaigns, political nonprofits, NGOs and government agencies across the Bay. Some of her work included national policy research on chronic absenteeism and its connection to state budgets, analyzing SFPD recruitment and hiring practices to provide recommendations on increasing diversity, community organizing around workers’ rights in Oakland and lobbying in Sacramento for policies around affordable housing and extending STEM programs for K-12 students.

Kristin earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communication from Humboldt State University, and a Juris Doctor from the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento with concentration in Capital Lawyering and Public Policy. 

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.”
~ Angela Davis

 

Lanae Norwood

Lanae Norwood is founding Prinicpal of L. Norwood & Associates, a boutique movement building firm.  She currently serves as Strategic Communications Consultant for CBPN and previously developed and led communications for the CA Black Census and Redistricitng Hub and My Black Counts. Lanae and her team support various nonprofits, funders, and political initiatives with capacity building, communications, and digital services that support racial equity initiatives.

“What we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe.”
~ bell hooks

Tanya Payne

Tanya Payne has joined CBPN as our Operations Specialist. In this role, she works closely with the Director of Operations to streamline communication and support the overall organizational staff.

She has worked in the entertainment industry, education, and non-profit sectors, consistently collaborating to bring about progress and positive outcomes throughout. This attitude continues as she works with our ecosystem of Black organizations in California to help move our communities forward toward economic growth and justice.

Other specific passions that Tanya advocates for include mental health, wellness, reparations, foster care, housing, and work-life balance.

This Philly native bleeds Eagles green, and you may find her at many yoga and Black wellness events.

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

-Shirley Chisholm

Amber Tolbert

Amber Tolbert is the Director of Operations, working closely with the accountant and administrative coordinator to ensure CBPN runs smoothly and efficiently. Before coming to CBPN, she served as the Chief Operating Officer of a non-profit organization that supported six workforce development programs. Most of Amber’s professional career was in higher education, focusing on enrollment management and multi-campus operations. Amber earned her Bachelor of Science in Business and Sociology from Wichita State University. She also earned her Master of Business Administration from Baker University. 

Amber is passionate about working to eliminate systemic and anti-black racism that affects the black individuals of California and throughout our country. She firmly believes that by equipping our network with the resources, policies, and support to be impactful and drive social change, we all can be empowered and thrive as a collective. It is for these reasons and more that she is proud to be a part of the CBPN team.

In Amber’s downtime, she likes interior design, dancing, listening to music, volunteering in her community, and spending time with her family. 

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them”
~ Maya Angelou

James Woodson

James Woodson, Esq. is the Executive Director and a co-founder of the California Black Power Network. Previously, James served as the Redistricting Lead and Policy Director of the California Black Census and Redistricting Hub, a coalition of over 30 Black-led and Black-serving organizations across the state focused on maximizing participation in the census and redistricting process among hard to count Black communities. He also served as Policy and Strategic Projects Manager at California Calls Education Fund where he managed work around the 2020 census, redistricting, and the Voters Choice Act (VCA). He is a former member of the California Secretary of State’s VCA Task Force and the Voters Choice Los Angeles Steering Committee. James began at California Calls as an Organizing Coordinator in 2016, where he worked on the African American Civic Engagement Project, coordinating civic engagement programs and providing support and assistance to the founding cohort. 

Before moving to California, James served as the Director of Programs for the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, NJ and in a variety of capacities within the Democratic National Committee, the NJ Democratic State Committee, Obama For America, and the NJ Health Care for America Now campaign. James is a licensed attorney in the states of New Jersey and New York and a proud alum of Rutgers Law School. He served as co-Counsel for the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission in 2011 and 2012. In addition, James was the Founding Director of the Friendship Development Corporation, where he led the effort to create an outreach center that provides food, clothing, and other services to thousands of low-income families in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

He currently resides in the Los Angeles area.

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; fight for the rights of widows.”
~ Isaiah 1:17