Brightline is a policy advocacy non-profit that works to empower communities and create sustainable environments. We work to promote sustainable policies that allow low-income residents to remain and work in developing urban communities, focusing on local hiring policies and access to environmental benefits such as solar and energy efficiency. Our team of community-oriented lawyers connects communities most in need to critical policymaking levers at the local and state level, which can be then modeled nationwide.
Brightline was founded on November 22, 2005 and received tax-exempt status as an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) designated public charity on November 8, 2006.
Brightline Defense Project began operation in 2006 as a traditional legal aid organization, but a chance 2007 City Hall meeting with community leader Espanola Jackson (pictured above) led the organization on a path to becoming a strong voice in the advocacy movement to bring environmental justice and quality-of-life improvements to San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point community. A high-profile campaign to close San Francisco's Potrero Power Plant without building new dirty power plants among the city's southeast sector low-income communities of color built Brightline's capacity to promote renewable energy programs in San Francisco and beyond. Subsequent efforts to develop green-collar job opportunities for those historically burdened by power plant pollution led to Brightline's leadership role in working with Supervisor John Avalos and other community advocates to craft San Francisco's local hiring policy for construction, now celebrated as the most successful of its kind in the country.
The evolution from environmental justice activism, to clean energy support, to green job promotion, to local hiring policy development has elevated Brightline’s reputation as a capable advocate for underserved and underrepresented communities.
Brightline’s mandate is simple: empowering communities, sustainable environments. Our mission is to promote sustainability and opportunity in traditionally underserved communities through public policy advocacy and partnerships. Our focus is on three pathways to protect and empower communities in need: advancing environmental justice, ensuring job creation and retention, and advocating for the development of fair, affordable, and sustainable housing.
Eddie Ahn, Executive Director
Eddie Ahn has been engaged in policy and legal advocacy since 2009. Prior to being a nonprofit attorney, he was an AmeriCorps member, serving as an afterschool programmer in Oakland’s Chinatown. While working toward his law degree, he continued to teach art and public speaking workshops for youth and worked on civil justice and environmental issues for the Assembly Judiciary Committee in Sacramento. His workforce development expertise and analysis of federal constitutional law has also assisted multiple municipalities in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.
On October 4, 2017, Eddie was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to the SF Environment Commission, which sets policy for the SF Department of Environment and advises the Mayor and Board of Supervisors on environmental matters. He also serves on the board of Mission Housing Development Corporation, one of the largest nonprofit developers in San Francisco.
Eddie has received his J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law and his B.A. from Brown University. He is also a member of the California State Bar.
Ivan Jimenez, Staff Attorney
Ivan Jimenez engages in Brightline’s renewable energy, workforce development, and housing campaigns through legal and policy advocacy. During law school he served as a legal intern with Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, a law firm specializing in renewable energy, land use, and environmental law. He also served as a legal summer associate for the Greenlining Institute, a policy, research, and leadership institute that advocates on behalf of disadvantaged communities. Prior to law school, he worked with youth in the East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park communities through a college-prep non-profit organization and continues to mentor youth from that area.
Ivan received his J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law and his B.A. from Stanford University. He is also a member of the California State Bar.
Dilini Lankachandra, Policy Counsel
Dilini Lankachandra serves as Brightline’s policy counsel after serving as Brightline’s legal fellow from 2015-2016. Throughout law school, she worked for the Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3) at the East Bay Community Law Center. She has continued to work at GC3 as a legislative advocate promoting worker cooperatives as a vehicle for community-based economic growth. She has also interned at the Center for Food Safety, an environmental nonprofit that promotes the responsible regulation of food production technologies. Her workforce development expertise has specifically benefited multiple municipal jurisdictions in New Jersey.
Dilini has received her J.D. from University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and her B.A. from Columbia University. She is also a member of the New York State Bar and California State Bar.
Victoria Cendejas, Research and Program Manager
Victoria Cendejas currently attends the University of California, Berkeley where she is working towards degrees in Cognitive Science and Legal Studies. In addition to working at Brightline, she is a Program Coordinator at UC Berkeley's Public Service Center, managing the Bridging Berkeley Math Mentoring program. Victoria's volunteer work includes collecting data for the National Housing Law Project in San Francisco, in order to provide resources for families requiring housing assistance and legal support, serving on the advisory committee for UC Berkeley's PSC, and assisting in Visual Neuroscience research for the Silver Lab at Cal. She has also played rugby for the Cal Women's Rugby team throughout her college career. Victoria's passions lie in rugby, neuroscience, and public service.
Aastha Shah, Deputy Ops
Aastha Shah is a returning Brightline supporter who remains passionate about studying the law and understanding the processes of local government. As a former intern at Brightline, Aastha has also served as a youth staff member with the American Red Cross, working with disaster and youth services. Prior to being an intern, Aastha worked with children ranging from ages 6-12, tutoring them in subjects including: English, Math, Life Sciences, and Social Studies. She has interned with the mayor's office of the City of Oakland, and is currently enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley.
Yingmei “Merry” Liang, Intern
Merry Liang is Brightline’s Intern, who is currently attending San Francisco International High School. Merry helps with Brightline’s community and youth outreach, data entry, and policy research around immigration policy. Approximately 2 years ago, she immigrated to the USA and settled in San Francisco. She also volunteers in other nonprofit organizations such as Youth For Community Engagement and Refugee Transition. She is also fluent in both Mandarin and Cantonese.
José Atilio Hernández, Chair
José Atilio Hernández has worked for the past ten years developing and implementing policy solutions at the state and local levels. Currently, José serves as the Founder and President of IDEATE California, a public relations and policy management firm. At IDEATE, he works with a team of consultants to manage policy development for public, private, non-profit, and philanthropic clients as well as build diverse coalitions and networks. Clients include The California Endowment, the Sierra Health Foundation, the Liberty Hill Foundation, TruConnect Mobile, Hyperlink-One, PolicyLink, National Council of La Raza, United Way of Greater LA, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation.
José is also a board member on the California Public Utilities Commission’s Low Income Oversight Board, Chairman the Salvadoran American Leadership Educational Forum, and a board member of Pacoima Beautiful. He has received his bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley.
Guillermo Rodriguez, Director
Guillermo Rodriguez has an extensive background in both business and non-profit management. He was the executive director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute where he has successfully championed local hiring programs and serves as a member of San Francisco’s Solar Task Force which has recommended an innovative incentive program to spur residential and business solar installation using San Franciscans trained as solar installers. Guillermo has been active in many civic and community based organizations, including the Greenlining Institute, the California State Parks Foundation, Meals on Wheels San Francisco, and Latino Issues Forum. He has also been a former director of CityBuild, San Francisco's premiere workforce development system, and now currently serves as the Director of Policy and Communications of the SF Department of Environment.
Kevin Chan, Director
Kevin Chan, CFA, is a Vice President at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He has over 10 years of investment and risk management experience. Kevin has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and received his bachelor degree in Economics from University of California at Berkeley.
Nick Hardeman, Director
Nick Hardeman is a native of San Francisco. He earned a B.A. degreen in Politics from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, where he was a leader in a successful living wage campaign. Upon graduation, he entered the California Senate Fellowship Program. Nick currently serves as Chief of Staff for Senator Toni Atkins. He has previously served as the Capitol Director for Assembly Majority Whip Fiona Ma. Prior to joining Assemblywoman Ma’s office, Nick served as a consultant to the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee. In his years working in the Capitol, Nick has worked on legislation to guarantee all workers paid sick days, to prevent the spread of Wal-Mart Supercenters, and on issues relating to Poverty. Nick is active in the labor movement and is a member of Sign and Display Local Union 510.
Nang-keo Duarte, Director
Nang-keo Duarte has been helping non-profits raise money to pursue their missions for over a decade. Nang-keo is well-versed in building donor networks, event outreach, and large-scale event logistics for non-profits focused on seeking justice through the legal process. She is currently a partner in a fundraising company Parity Events that coordinates annual galas and luncheons for non-profits. In her spare time she loves spending time with her family and enjoys volunteering.