Benjamin Jackson was born and raised in Oakland ca. He is the Center's 1st Wellness Services Coordinator and is committed to linking our LGBTQ community to resources. A major focus of his work is to help improve health outcomes for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, with a special emphasis on those at the highest risk for contracting HIV and those living with HIV. He provides community members with information for housing assistance, food resources, education and training, addiction and recovery support & resources, health screenings, HIV testing, linkages to treatment and other wellness services. Benjamin has worked with a variety of patients in different healthcare settings and in 2014, he discovered his passion for Public Health as an AAHU fellow with the Black AIDS Institute in collaboration with UCLA. When Benjamin is not at the center, he enjoys cooking, maintaining his health and fitness, listening to music, attending concerts, shopping, and traveling with friends.
Christopher J. Palominos was born in Modesto California and raised by his mother in a small town in Michoacan Mexico. Christopher credits his mother with helping to shape his personality and was a huge inspiration for him in every aspect of his life. At the age of 18, he moved back to the United States to learn English and to pursue his dreams. Chris worked in the financial industry helping clients to reach and exceed their personal financial goals. In the course of working as a Service Advisor, Chris became increasingly interested in community service. During his search for community service work , he learned about the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center and realized that it was the perfect opportunity to transfer the skills that he learned helping his clients reach their goals into helping community members and the Center to reach its goals. In his free time Chris enjoys traveling, meeting new people, exploring cultures and their cuisines. His favorite quote: " Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it because you can't know. You can't ever really know the meaning of your life. And you don't need to. Every life has a meaning, whether it lasts one hundred years or one hundred seconds." Ghandi
Jessie Ray Spivey is a Sacramento native and transplant to Oakland, who spent his previous years in public service and volunteering in the community. Jessie serves as Operations Manager at The Oakland LGBTQ Center and Co-Facilitator of Black Connect, a support group for Queer Black cis and trans masculine men. He is also the creator and founder of The Doudad, a full circle birth Doula practice that amplifies the voices of men in birthwork.
Joe Hawkins is a noted, Oakland California based community organizer, LGBTQ advocate, non-profit executive, event producer, and social entrepreneur. Joe was named by Business Equality Magazine as one of America's Top 50 over 50 LGBTQ Legacy Leaders for 2019 and the San Francisco Business Times honored him with the 2022, Selisse Berry - Leadership Legacy Award. Joe first came to national prominence as one of the first gay men to ever appear as a guest on the iconic Oprah Winfrey talk show during the early 90's, defending his right to parent his son as an out gay man. He was one of the many early HIV/AIDS activist and appeared on numerous talk shows to include Geraldo Rivera and the PBS documentary series Frontline, to highlight the often overlooked, intersectional issues experienced by Black LGBTQ people, to a national audience. Among his many accomplishments, Joe is a co-founder and former co-chair of Oakland Pride and was voted Grand Marshall of both the San Francisco and Oakland Pride Parades. He worked as a founding program member and CEO of OpNet Community Ventures, one America's first high-tech training programs, launched in 1995, for low income youth and youth of color in San Francisco. Joe served as Regional Director for Innovative Housing, a shared housing non-profit for low income families and individuals in Marin County. He worked as the Director of Administration at AIDS Project of the East Bay (APEB), served on the Ryan White Planning Council and was a founding organizer of the East Bay AIDS Walk. Joe also created California’s largest and longest running Black LGBTQ Film Festival and produced California’s longest running LGBTQ Hip-Hop event that lasted 25 years. He produces Blatino Oasis, California’s largest and longest running gay and bisexual men of color getaway retreat, held annually in Palm Springs, California. In 2017, Joe co-founded and is the CEO of the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, Oakland's first all inclusive, intergenerational, LGBTQ service center and a new model for service provision in Oakland. A military veteran, Joe’s service to the community has been recognized with numerous awards, including proclamations from 7 mayors of 3 cities and 4 governors in the state of California. His work with youth technology training programs was recognized by the White House and featured on Good Morning America and in numerous publications including USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. In 2014, the City of Oakland presented Joe with the Mayor's Proclamation, naming a day in his honor and in 2017, the Northern California chapter of the ACLU honored him with the Grover Dye award, their highest award for community activism. In 2018, his vision for LGBTQ wellness programming resulted in the LGBTQ center receiving the American Psychological Association's Presidential Citation Award. Joe loves living in Oakland and the Bay Area and spending his free with his husband Nico, camping on the beach, touring California and spending time with his son and three beautiful grandchildren.
Awards & Features
click on links to view videos and articles
Johanna Holden grew up in the occupied Ohlone community of Huichin (Berkeley, California), where she skillfully avoided her bullies by playing in the mud, climbing trees, and dancing. A proud Jew, transgender woman, dyke, she sees her work as Development Director as part of the proud legacy of building economic, political, and cultural independence for people of color-led community organizations in Oakland. She is overjoyed to be part of the thriving community that has sprung up around the Oakland LGBTQ Center, and when not writing grants, talking to donors, and finding ways to make non-profits serve the people, she co-facilitates the center’s White Allyship and Accountability Group and the Trans Women and Trans Femmes’ Support Circle. In her free time, she studies decolonized herbalism at Oakland’s Ancestral Apothecary, snuggles her cats, and cooks, dreams, laughs, and dances the revolution into being with her chosen family.
Jose Perez was born in the “eternal spring land” of Guatemala and raised in Oakland California. After working for over 10 years in the financial services industry, helping clients attain the best financial future possible, Jose decided to seek opportunities to use his skills to help members of the LGBTQ Community. His search led him to the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, in 2018, where he offered volunteer personal financial management workshops. Jose has now proudly joined the staff as a Wellness Services Coordinator, to fully devote himself to community service work. In his new role, he will primarily assist community members by helping them navigate a variety of psychosocial, educational, financial, and healthcare service systems, in order to access the support that they need. Jose's services at the Center also include community outreach, support group facilitation and health awareness presentations, to meet the holistic needs of our LGBTQ+ community. Jose’s favorite quote: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world “ ~Mahatma Gandhi. ln his free time, Jose enjoys the gym, trying new foods, nature hikes, writing and interior design.
Power X is a Latino/Latinx Affinity group
Learn more about our group, click here
When Kayla was a little girl, she would dream of one day becoming a doctor. "I always had a passion for helping people in any capacity." Although her life took a different path, she grew into a stronger, wiser individual in ways many are not. While surviving on the streets and engaging in sex work, Kayla says she remembered asking GOD "Was this the plan you have for me, is this the only thing that I am good for?" Then a second later, she received a phone call from a friend who offered her an opportunity that would change her life forever. "I felt as if my dreams were really coming true." Kayla started volunteering as a peer advocate at Tri-City Health Center in Fremont, and was eventually offered a full-time position for one of their programs called Transvision. The program was created to offer medical services to include hormone therapy, labs, linkage to care & treatment, mental health support, and substance abuse counseling, to people of trans-experience. After 5 years, Kayla was blessed with another opportunity at an organization called CalPep in Oakland. While there, she learned to strengthen her case management skills, conduct street outreach and HIV testing to people who are among the most marginalized and often overlooked, simply because of the color of there skin or how they identify. Kayla believes that the fight for a seat at the table for gender equality and inclusivity amongst black and brown people of trans-experience in the workplace is just getting started and said "I’m strapped up ready for war." Kayla currently works as a Wellness Services Coordinator, helping LGBTQ people learn how to access and utilize the support that they need in order to live healthier lives.
Lania Watkins is a West Oakland Native who’s work in Oakland has been primarily with youth and adults from all walks of life. Her experiences have been working with community members engaged in sex work, current and former foster care youth, the re-entry population, MSM and the un-housed community. Lania has spoken nationally on various panels and podcast on the topics such as : Aging out of sex work and cisgendered Woman & PrEP. She is a river guide and volunteers providing river trips to people living with HIV. Her passion has been to build appropriate programming for community members. “ I believe that people of LGBTQ community are creative, resourceful & whole. People can thrive through many of life’s challenges when they feel connected through love, consistency with a variety of resources that promote wellness, self sufficiency and resilience.
Maurice Tobin is the Center's Director of Prevention Services and has worked with non-profits in Oakland for over 14 years. He is a licensed phlebotomist, certified sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing counselor and community health educator. Maurice came to the Center from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, where he worked as a Disease Control Investigator. His commitment to helping reduce the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C and STI’s, allowed him to work with organizations both locally and nationwide.
Tim Nguyen is a practicing Physicians Assistant (PA) at the Glenn Burke Wellness Clinic (GBWC), a project of the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center. He has an undergraduate background in molecular and cell biology and health sciences from the University of California Berkeley. Tim completed his masters degree in kinesiology at SF State University, studying the effects of exercise on the immune system. He went on to complete his graduate training, obtaining a double masters in physician assistant studies and public health at Touro University California. While practicing primary care, he completed additional specialty certifications in HIV medicine with the AAHIVM and psychiatry, with the National PA Board. Clinically, Tim has been practicing primary care for the past eight years, with a clinical focus on psychiatry, HIV medicine, and LGBTQ health. Tim's hobbies include reading, drumming, gardening, hiking, and traveling.
Winter is a California native with familial Georgia roots who grew up in a large predominately Latin family in Salinas, CA. While attending CSU Sacramento in pursuit of a degree in Journalism with a minor in Ethnic Studies, she developed an awareness to the privileges of some, while also being confronted with the realities and disadvantages of under-served communities. Spending her teenage years to mid 20’s experiencing all the culture the Bay Area has to offer, Winter decided to plant roots in Oakland in 2014. Since then, she has worked with the LGBTQ community, the service industry and in the health and wellness sector. She has over 10 plus years of customer service experience and has managed and been an integral part of various team efforts and has a knack for aiding businesses to move more efficiently and increase productivity. She brings her knowledge and love of the community to the Center and works to help people access the resources that they need, in order to thrive. She attributes her strong work ethic, empathy, and desire for learning new cultures to her mother who has constantly supported every personal endeavor. In her downtime she is in school and studying to obtain her real estate license, learning about holistic wellness including herbalism, voicing her strong stance in regards to current and past social unrest and economic disparities to those who need to hear it, bartending private parties/events, and of course binge shopping the most adorable sweaters for her four-legged child (a small terrier mix with the attitude of a grumpy elderly socialite) Marvin.
Volunteer Web Admin
Nicholas D. Clemente
Peer Group Facilitators