Maria is the Oakland Catholic Worker’s volunteer coordinator, the co-coordinator of the hot meals and grocery distribution programs, and assists with the accompaniment program. She is also responsible for our website and does some of the financial record keeping. Maria recently graduated from Creighton University with a bachelor’s degree in theology and American studies, and has experience with immigration advocacy and leading groups of student volunteers. She introduced the Catholic Worker to its official pet, water kefir.
José Luis Gomez
José Luis supports the accompaniment and ESL programs at the Oakland Catholic Worker and is excited to help with our outreach efforts. He recently graduated from Pomona College, where he studied Public Policy Analysis & Sociology. He has experience working with immigrant day laborers and advocating for housing and employment rights for low-wage workers. José Luis is personally acquainted with more New York Times crossword puzzle writers than the rest of the staff combined.
Marissa Ramirez Zweiger
Marissa joined the Oakland Catholic Worker as an ESL teacher in 2014 and now serves as our treasurer. She graduated in 2015 from the University of California, Berkeley with a BA in Mathematics and is now back at Berkeley working towards her PhD in Nuclear Engineering and Computational Science with the hopes of being a professor one day. In addition to advocating for the rights of immigrants, she is involved in a number of issues facing the Latino community, most notably mass incarceration and equal access to education. Marissa serves as a math instructor for the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison and mentors first generation, underrepresented college students in the STEM fields.
Bob is the vice-chair of the board and a member of the fundraising committee. He helped found the third incarnation of the Oakland Catholic Worker in early 1987, and recently served as it's interim director.. Bob has the good fortune to be married to Lynn Lassalle-Klein, and they consider themselves lucky to be the parents of Kate, Rose, and Peter. Bob is professor of Religious Studies at Holy Names University and recently published Blood and Ink: Ignacio Ellacuría, Jon Sobrino, and the Jesuit Martyrs of the University of Central America (Orbis 2014). Current projects include The Spiritual Writings of Jon Sobrino, S.J., (Orbis) and Jesus the Immigrant: Contextual Christology and the Signs of the Times, based on what he has learned from 30 years with Latin American migrants in and around the OCW!
Chepe is the chair of the Oakland Catholic Worker board and also helps repair our building. He lived in the Catholic Worker for several months after coming to the United States from El Salvador as a refugee in the late ’80s, and he has been involved as a volunteer ever since. Since 1999, he has worked for Habitat for Humanity East Bay and Silicon Valley, constructing houses for low-income families. Chepe considers the Catholic Worker a place where people can share, help others, and gather as community to celebrate mass and cultural events.
Ivana coordinates the English as a Second Language program at the Oakland Catholic Worker, which includes designing the curriculum, teaching some of the classes, and supervising our volunteer teachers. She also helps with outreach, such as our monthly newsletter. Ivana recently graduated from Boise State University with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics, and is currently working on her master’s degree in Biblical Languages at the Jesuit School of Theology. She is quickly adding Spanish to the long list of languages that she speaks. Ivana turns into a pumpkin every night at 9pm.
Victoria focuses on the Oakland Catholic Worker’s accompaniment program, helping guests set goals, find resources, and navigate systems. After graduating from Seattle University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Victoria spent a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, serving as a legal assistant for the Immigration Practice and the Clean Slate Practice with the East Bay Community Law Center. She has also worked as a restorative justice volunteer at a jail in San Luis Obispo. Victoria has visited an open prison in Denmark, chased goats in Chile, and performed casually as an instrument-less trumpet player.
Julie is a board member of the Oakland Catholic Worker and works as the Assistant Principal of Student Life at Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda. Julie has a B.A. in in Liberal Studies from Holy Names University and an M.A. in Education from the University of San Francisco. She has taught history at Saint Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco, and served as the women’s basketball coach at both St. Ignatius and St. Joseph Notre Dame. She enjoys outdoor activities, especially hiking, traveling, and basketball.
Luly is a board member of the Oakland Catholic Worker. She has been a volunteer teacher for our English as a Second Language program since 2014 and works as the business manager for her husband’s dental practice. Luly has a degree in Relaciones Industriales from the Instituto Tecnologico de Chihuahua, and worked HR jobs in Mexico for several years before moving to the United States. She has one daughter, is a board member for the Lakeshore Business Improvement District, and volunteers at various organizations.
Obrero Católico de Oakland
Oakland Catholic Worker
Tom serves as our development and social outreach coordinator. This includes arranging parish presentations, writing grants and appeals, keeping the extended community informed of various programs, planning events, advocacy, and forming relationships with other organizations. He also finds donations, does our weekly shopping trip, and helps keep the house in good repair. Tom is the most experienced full-time staff member, having spent over two years at the Catholic Worker. He holds graduate degrees in theology, formative spirituality, and pastoral studies. Tom has also taught in several Catholic high schools, and served as a lay pastoral associate and a non-profit administrator. Currently, he is a regular contributor to the Oakland Voices Project of the Oakland Tribune. Tom has an uncanny talent for finding things we need on Freecycle.
Barbara serves as our house manager, living at the Oakland Catholic Worker in order to take care of the guests and the house, even after the other staff people have gone home for the night. She also co-coordinates the Thursday food distribution, and often helps with the hot meals program. Barbara has been a part of the Oakland Catholic Worker extended community since she arrived in the United States from El Salvador 25 years ago, and has also worked as a cook and kitchen manager at the Jesuit School of Theology. She is still trying to train the non-Salvadoran guests and staff members to stop eating pupusas with a fork.
Staff and Board Members
Mary Ellen Waite
Mary Ellen is the secretary of the Oakland Catholic Worker board. She worked in the older adult program of the Oakland Adult School for many years, teaching tai chi and ESL, mainly in the Fruitvale neighborhood. She has two master's degrees, one in Spanish Literature from SFSU and one in Pastoral Ministry from Holy Names University. She is a Maryknoll affiliate and is dedicated to intercultural understanding.
Amber serves as the Oakland Catholic Worker’s director, a position she accepted in August 2016 after spending over a year working closely with guests in our accompaniment program and overseeing our accompaniment, food, and ESL programs as our program coordinator. Amber holds a bachelor’s degree in Media Studies from the University of San Francisco and a master’s degree in International Peace Studies from Notre Dame. She also has experience working with immigrants and refugees through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. One of Amber’s proudest accomplishments at the OCW is teaching a 1-year-old how to high five.
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