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Episode 1: Participatory Budgeting

with Kristania De Leon
Co-Executive Director, Participatory Budgeting


Kristania has worked with a range of mission-driven organizations addressing social determinants of health and justice. Her work has focused on public policy, advocacy, community engagement, and capacity building. She currently works with the Participatory Budgeting Project, increasing the adoption, visibility, and impact of Participatory Budgeting across North America. She obtained her BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia and her MA in Social Innovation from the University of San Diego’s Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice. She is currently based in Oakland, CA.

Visit Participatory Budgeting Project to learn more!

​One of the resources uplifted during this podcast episode was Democracy Beyond Elections, a collaborative, national campaign dedicated to transformative democracy rooted in community led decision making.

Episode 2: Reproductive Health Rights and Justice

with Shantay R. Davies-Balch, MBA, CLE, Doula

President and CEO, Black Wellness & Prosperity Center 


Shantay is President and CEO of BLACK Wellness a Prosperity Center, the first CBO in the County of Fresno established to address the Black Maternal Child Health Crisis. She also serves as the Director for the COVID-19 Equity Project, African American Coalition, housed at one of the nation’s largest Community Action Agencies, Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission.

Her career has been dedicated to improving health outcomes for all women and babies and is a certified lactation educator, doula, and certified newborn care specialist, with an expertise in premature birth, infant and maternal mortality, and breastfeeding. Shantay is a Community researcher and a member of the Black Maternal Infant Health Statewide Advisory Board, to develop the first comprehensive statewide report on the status of Black women and babies in California in 30 years. In 2019, Shantay was recognized for her leadership in Black Maternal Health by then-U.S. Senator, Kamala Harris.


Shantay graduated Summa Cum Laude from Fresno Pacific University with a degree in Healthcare Administration and received her Master’s in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University, Carey Business School, with a specialty in Healthcare Management.


Visit Black Wellness & Prosperity Center to learn more!

Resources that were uplifted in this episode include:​

Episode 3: Building a culture of solidarity in public health

with Mojgan (Mo) Sami, PhD, MA

Assistant Professor of Health Equity, CSU Fullerton  


Mojgan Sami, PhD, MA, holds a doctorate in Urban Planning from the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine, with an emphasis on Public Health. She also holds a Master’s degree in International Law and Economics from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She teaches undergraduate courses in health equity and global health. Dr. Sami’s research interests include infrastructure and ecological impacts on health equity and wellbeing.


Dr. Sami is currently the Board Vice President for California Walks, an organization that advocates for people-centered mobility in the state.  She is also an advisor with a special task force on health and environment at the World Health Organization.

Episode 4: The Importance of Promoting Prevention Forward Investments

with Lauren Pennachio

Director of Revenue Strategy and Partnerships with Health Leads

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Lauren Pennachio is the Director of Revenue Strategy and Partnerships at Health
Leads, an organization that runs local and national projects that unearth and address the
roots of racial inequity that impact our health. Leveraging Human Centered Design as a tool to re-design the social safety net to drive towards health equity, Lauren’s work focuses on bringing together the stakeholders necessary to improve community health to make community-anchored decisions and drive community-anchored decisions and drive community-level impact in the state of California. She specifically focuses on developing and supporting increasingly sustainable and just revenue strategies. Her systems level approach can in part be attributed to her degrees in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience and Biology from The Johns Hopkins University.

Episode 5: Equity and Land Conservation

with Shelana deSilva

Policy and Advocacy Strategist

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Shelana deSilva is a writer, organizer, and policy expert who is dedicated to creating a just and resilient society. She has a strong track record helping national and statewide nonprofits develop partnerships, lead campaigns and initiatives, design federal and state-focused legislative strategies, and secure public funding to achieve their missions. The proud daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants, Shelana has established the first government affairs program for a California-based, 100 year-old land trust, co-founded a new regional coalition focused on social equity and climate resilience, and helped secure tens of millions of dollars to steward California's landscapes, build parks, and support climate adaptation. Shelana holds a BA in Sociology, with a minor in Gender Studies from San Francisco State University, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from California College of the Arts. Working at the intersection of storytelling, justice, and land stewardship practice, Shelana is actively decolonizing land conservation in California.

Resources that were uplifted in this episode include:​

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