Zach and ron
Zach and Ron are Co-Directors of Camp Common Ground. They met at Camp Galileo Oakland, where Ron was the Assistant Director and Zach was a Lead Outdoor Instructor, and have been close ever since. Ron has been a teacher for 10 years, and is currently a 6th grade math and science teacher for Gateway Public Schools in San Francisco. Zach is a 6th grade math teacher at Oakland SOL (School of Language), a new dual language district school in Oakland.
Towns (his first name is Ron, but he goes by his last name,Towns) has a B.A. in Statistics and Secondary Education from Columbia University, and a Masters of Education and Teacher Leadership from Elmhurst College. Ron has been a teacher for nine years, as a Fulbright Bilingual Program Instructor in Spain, as the Mathematics Department Chair at Christian Fenger Academy High School in Chicago, the Mathematics Department Chair at Envision Academy in Oakland, an Academic Dean and 9th grade Math Teacher at Leadership Public Schools in Oakland, and now as a 6th grade Math and Science Teacher at Gateway Public Schools in San Francisco. While in Chicago, Ron co-founded and acted as COO for the UPlift Project, which aided ex-juvenile offenders in transitioning to higher education and employment. Last summer, Ron served as the Assistant Camp Director of Camp Galileo Oakland, a day camp that served 200 campers weekly. Ron was awarded a Truman Scholarship for his leadership at Columbia University and a Golden Apple Scholar Finalist award for excellence in teaching in Illinois. He lives by Lake Merritt and loves to try new restaurants and cafes in his neighborhood.
Zach is a 6th and 7th grade math teacher at Oakland SOL, a dual language (English and Spanish) public middle school in Oakland Unified School District. At SOL, he also runs a boy's "brotherhood" group through the nonprofit Ever Forward Club, is the basketball coach, and union rep. Zach earned his multiple subject teaching credential through the BATTI Teacher Residency Program, and his M.A. in Education at the University of the Pacific. He previously was the 6th and 7th grade assistant math teacher at Julia Morgan School for Girls in Oakland, a 7th grade humanities resident teacher at Lazear Charter Academy in East Oakland, and after school director at Urban Montessori Charter School. Zach has a B.A. in Urban Studies, minor in Environmental Studies, from the University of Pennsylvania, with his thesis work on game-based learning for moral development. He became interested in using summer camps to bridge the urban-suburban divide in college, and has since worked in business and education to gain the skills to realize that dream. Zach worked as a freelance journalist, covering student debt movements in New York City and Quebec and the aftermath of the Occupy Wall Street movement. He co-founded Youngist.org, an online magazine for young artists and activists. Zach joined Bain & Co. as an associate consultant, working on cases in grocery, healthcare, and education. Zach moved to Oakland as an Education Pioneers Analyst Fellow and worked in business development at Kidaptive, an education tech start-up that builds digital games to cultivate social and emotional skills. Zach grew up attending, working, and loving Camp Ramah New England (and has helped out with the new Camp Ramah NorCal), and has since visited, volunteered, and been inspired by a number of social justice camps, including Bridge Builders, YEA Camp, Camp Imagineerz, Camp Hawkeye, Camp Phoenix, and Seeds of Peace.
Board of Directors
Our Board of Directors is made up of six people: Amy, Anina, Rachel, and Sean (bios below), and Ron and Zach (bios above). We are proud to have such an amazing and dedicated group of individuals serving as a Board members!
Amy has a B.A. in Sociology, a B.S. in Business Administration, and an M.B.A., all from the University of California - Berkeley. During the MBA program, she co-created a full-time MBA course on Large-Scale Social Change, was a Berkeley Board Fellow at 826 Valencia, and was a founding member of the Race Inclusion Initiative. She was an Education Pioneers Graduate Student Fellow at Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. She currently works at Clever, an EdTech startup that aims to make it easier to bring technology into K-12 classrooms. Amy is a NYC native and currently resides in Oakland, where she can be found checking out books from the public library or throwing a Frisbee on a grassy field.
Anina is a social sector advocate with a diverse career spanning gender equality, educational opportunity, affordable housing, and community health. She is currently a Business Development Manager at Living Goods—a social enterprise working to improve child and maternal health in East Africa. Previously, Anina served as Development and Communications Officer at the Low Income Investment Fund, working to channel increased investment into low-income communities throughout the United States. Anina is passionate about working with children and youth and has served as an educator at a women’s university in Bangladesh, a summer camp counselor, and a mentor to high school students in Oakland. In her free time, Anina volunteers with Full Circle Fund – an engaged philanthropy network focused on strengthening non-profits throughout the Bay Area. She can be found dancing the night away at live music venues, hiking the many trails the Bay Area has to offer, and eating her way through Oakland’s food scene.
Rachel's career has been focused around social impact, with a particular emphasis on education for equity. She has spent the last two decades loving camp -- as a participant and as a counselor -- as well as learning about and taking action around racial justice. She is thrilled to be of service to both of these efforts at once as a Camp Common Ground board member. Rachel lives in Oakland with her wife Jessica and dog Miri -- together they pass lots of time exploring the ocean and redwoods of Northern California.
Sean Darling-Hammond is a PhD student at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy. There, he combines his backgrounds in psychology, sociology, law, policy, and statistics to identify education policies that can help students of all backgrounds thrive; and help people of all backgrounds connect across stale social divides. His current research projects include 1) identifying the causal impact of intergroup contact in workplaces on reducing bias and 2) identifying restorative justice programs that can vastly improve school climates. Before matriculating at Goldman, he earned his BA in Sociology at Harvard ('06), spent five years as the Director of Research at Hattaway Communications (a mission driven firm in Washington DC), earned his JD from UC Berkeley ('14), clerked for the District Court for the District of Maryland, and worked in education law and policy for Hogan Lovells and Education Counsel. He and his wife, Valentina, are looking forward to welcoming their first child in May, 2019. In his free time, he trains for, and competes in, American Ninja Warrior competitions, where he appears as "The Giving Ninja," devoted to donating every dollar he wins to nonprofits that expand opportunity.
Evan Diamond is a middle school teacher with six years of teaching experience. He is currently the 6th grade science teacher at PUC Community Charter Middle School, where he has been continuing to grow his craft as an educator for the past four years. Evan holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies with minors in International Studies and Psychology from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. In college, he started his teaching journey with an environmentally focused arts education project at a primary school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. After graduating, Evan began his professional teaching career in Boston for two years before bringing his passion for environmental justice and scientific literacy towards the sunnier weather in southern California. In addition to his love for science, Evan is energized to help his students excel by challenging them to engage in ongoing social and environmental equity issues that continue to affect their own communities. Evan lives in the Northeast San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles and loves skiing, running, and hiking.
Saniya Ibrahim just completed her first year teaching 2nd Grade at New Horizon School Los Angeles. She has a B.A. in Psychology and Child and Adolescent Development from California State University, Northridge. For the last four years, Saniya has been the Youth Outreach Coordinator at New Vision Partners, a nonprofit that focuses on interfaith leadership development for high school students in Los Angeles and Orange County. Saniya has helped plan interfaith boot camps for high school students by coordinating visits to different houses of worship and facilitating interactive workshops on topics such as privilege, prejudice and discrimination, and how to mobilize as young leaders. Her activism and her passion for social justice work was inspired by her mentor, Lori, and her 2015 summer trip to Washington D.C. Saniya currently lives in Burbank with her hamster, Cream Puff, and enjoys cooking, sketching, photography, playing with small humans, and smashing the patriarchy.
Melvin Tamoro was born in the Philippines and raised in the Bay Area, and now resides in Richmond California with his fiancee and two year old toddler. In 2014 he began his journey as an aspiring educator, gaining experience as an extended day program art instructor at Sankofa Academy in Oakland, California. In 2015 he moved forward as a transitional kindergarten reader tutor and currently works as a noon supervisor, ensuring the safety of the youth ranging from kindergarteners to junior high students. In April of 2017 the Seeds program in conjunction with the Rainin Foundation gave him the oppurtunity to star in a short breakthrough film highlighting his work with the youth. Focused and family-oriented at the age of 27 his goals consist of attending college to earn a degree in Business. He continues his passion to work with the youth as a camp counselor and wishes to inspire others to spread Unity through education and empathy.
Diana Arbas teaches 11th grade American Literature at Port of Los Angeles High School in San Pedro, CA. The essential questions that drive her teaching are "What is the American Dream?" and "Who has access to that dream?" Her students use literary and nonfiction texts to explore the impact of race, class, gender, and more on equity and agency in America. Diana's school does not offer a music program, so she created Guitar Club, where students raise money for guitars and teach each other chords and other basics. Diana has been studying classical guitar as a serious hobby for four years herself and is now auditioning for Suzuki guitar teacher certification. She lives in San Pedro and enjoys coaxing blooms out of her houseplants and wandering through museums by herself. Diana has a Creative Writing B.A. and Journalism minor from Mills College.
Julie Hoang can usually be found on the playground teaching and learning through direct experience (and getting dirty!) As the big sister, Julie has been caregiver, boo-boo kisser and school liason, setting her on the path to work with children. After realizing that youth are the most genuine, hilarious and kind people, she studied early childhood education and immersed herself in community organizations to deepen her impact. In the past 5 years, she has led agricultural tours at Centennial Farms, served as counselor at Girls Rock Camp OC, and helped youth build, fix, and ride bikes at The Bicycle Tree. She hopes to continue working with children all her life through summer camps, community care, and print media. Long live the youth!
Erasmo Martinez is a Guest Teacher in San Francisco. Before working in education, he received a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from San Francisco State University and freelanced for several news organizations. His reporting focused on social justice and labor issues within the Bay Area. Often, racial injustice and hate crimes happened right in front of him. As a journalist, he was asked to do nothing about it. Now, as an aspiring educator, he wants to prevent them by working with the youth. Erasmo is a Bay Area native who currently lives in San Francisco’s ethnically diverse Excelsior District. He loves jamming out on drums and going to Salsa Sundays with his girlfriend.