Urban Habitat’s Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) trains the next generation of leaders. Since 2010, BCLI has been training leaders from underrepresented Bay Area communities to serve on decision-making bodies. The program empowers residents to lead on the issues that most directly impact their neighborhoods, including transportation, housing, and jobs. BCLI alumni have won more than 40 seats on city councils, priority boards, and commissions, including planning commissions, housing authorities, and rent boards. The program has been replicated in other metros, including the Twin Cities and Sacramento. Learn more.
“ “I didn't want to be an elected official, but I was motivated to run for office because I just didn't see anybody in the race who was going to be willing to have values radical enough to do what residents actually needed to be done.””
Antioch City Councilmember Tamisha Torres-Walker had no political ambition — an admission of her own. However, she ran for office because she felt that none of the other candidates reflected the values and lived experiences of the city’s communities of color. People of color account for 73 percent of Antioch’s total population, but only 45 percent of elected officials representing the city, which includes Contra Costa County electeds, are people of color. When Councilmember Torres-Walker won her first term in 2020, she became the first Black Latina to join the five-member city council. She stepped into office clear on her priorities: to uplift and support communities of color. During her tenure, she has helped pass progressive policies like rent stabilization, guided the creation of a mobile mental health crisis team, and secured funding for transitional housing and violence prevention. Learn more.
Photo: Felix Uribe