Meet the Team
Casey Bastiaans (she/her) is a lifelong Bay Area resident, certified doula and a housing activist. Inspired by giving birth in a commune, she enjoys promoting sustainable, alternative building construction, espousing the virtues of extended families, communal living and (re)building interdependent community. Casey believes it’s crucial to include societal, political, and climate shifts in our housing work, because no person will truly survive as an island, no person is perfect, and neither is any living situation. She believes that we need to find the beauty in the imperfect to make it through what’s coming…and to read Octavia Butler’s Parable series.
Marissa Ashkar (she/her) was born into a Southwest Asian/North African (SWANA) family in Los Angeles. She has lived in and around Oakland for over 20 years and has been with POCSHN since 2015. She is inspired by the history of black and indigenous cooperatives in the so-called United States of America (see Fannie Lou Hamer's Freedom Farm Cooperative). In her free time, Marissa can be found co-designing a housing community of her own – the Beehive Collective, an urban - rural land project for women and families of color.
Casey Bastiaans (she/her)
Marissa Ashkar (she/her)
Rona Fernandez (she/they) was born and raised in the Bay Area. A Filipina-American daughter of immigrants, she was able to buy her Oakland home with her husband before the real estate market became even more expensive. Rona loves POCSHN because of our focus on supporting truly sustainable and regenerative housing for people of color. She is a fundraising consultant for racial and environmental justice nonprofits as well as a creative writer working on her first novel. As POCSHN’s resource coordinator, she mobilizes funding in the service of POCSHN’s programs and incubated projects and facilitates orientations and other spaces. Rona also loves to dance, garden, walk near the waters of the Bay, and talk about astrology.
Wangui Hymes (she/they) was born and raised on the unceded lands of the Tamien Nation (aka Sunnyvale, CA). After graduating with a degree in Chemistry from Spelman College, they moved back to the Bay to pursue a career in the health-tech industry. Since leaving the industry, she's been steadily embracing the unpredictable journey of 'becoming'. Notable checkpoints include an herbalism and farming apprenticeship at Soul Flower Farm; a year-long residency in a mindful living program at a Tibetan Buddhist center; and, most recently, teaching elementary school kids about the wonders of the land and the magic of food.
Wangũi Hymes (she/they)
Rona Fernandez (she/they)
Tavi Baker (she/her) is a seeker and connector committed to cultivating spaces of joy, justice and belonging within herself and communities of color. She was born and raised in the Muwekma Ohlone Tribal Area, aka Sunnyvale, CA. She co-founded POCSHN with Lailian Huen in 2015; to center the wisdom and experience of Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the current intentional communities movement and to create spaces of freedom in the face of rapid displacement and gentrification.
Lailan Sandra Huen (she/her) is a co-founder of POCSHN, is a member of the Oakland Chinatown Coalition, and stewards an intentional community with radical educators of color in East Lake in East Oakland. Her family first came to SF Chinatown during the Gold Rush, and moved to Oakland Chinatown after the 1906 earthquake. She loves to dance, hike, explore, design, facilitate, do tai chi, and uplift wellness practices and healing for communities of color.
Lailan Sandra Huen
Deseree Fontenot (she/they) is one of the founding organizers of POCSHN. Currently, she is a Co-Director of Movement Generation: Justice and Ecology Project and a board member of the Shelterwood Collective, a newly founded Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ-led community forest and retreat center. As a queer black organizer, farmer, and grassroots ecologist, Deseree’s work is focused on liberating land and queering ecological education.
Brandi Mack (she/her) is a mother, holistic health educator, therapeutic massage therapist, permaculture designer and living systems thought leader. Brandi uses living systems principles to activate, support and guide individuals and communities' connection back to the land and a renewed self. Currently, Brandi is the Director of Community Engagement with Designing Justice Designing Spaces, an Oakland-based non-profit working to end mass incarceration by building infrastructure that addresses its root causes.