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.
In 2017, Eddie was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to the SF Commission on the Environment, which sets policy for the SF Department of Environment and advises the City and County on environmental matters. On April 25, 2018, he was appointed by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to the SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), a state planning and regulatory agency with regional authority over the Bay Area. He also serves on the board of Mission Housing Development Corporation, a nonprofit affordable housing developer.
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.
Victoria Stafford, Bridge Coordinator
Victoria Stafford coordinates Brightline's programs in workforce development and youth education. After working at Brightline in Fall 2018, Victoria Stafford is deeply fascinated by the relationship between environmental issues, political engagement, and social welfare. She is currently studying Environmental Economics and Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and someday she hopes to work on the frontiers of environmental diplomacy and sustainable entrepreneurship. Currently, Victoria is planning an academic course and service experience under the UC Berkeley Public Service Center’s Alternative Breaks program.
This spring, she will be teaching a class of fellow undergraduate students about local environmental justice issues and guiding service initiatives that support the resistance and resilience of environmentally-impacted communities in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco.
Vanessa Suárez, Policy Associate
Supporting Brightline over 2019, Vanessa Suárez is passionately interested in developing comprehensive climate change mitigative and adaptive strategies via the integration of ecology, policy, and social equity. She is currently studying Conservation and Resource Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She aspires to attend law school after graduation and eventually work at the forefront of environmental state-level legislation in California. Vanessa has interned for her local state Senate representative in Fresno and has been an undergraduate auditor of the Environmental Law Clinic at Berkeley Law School. She currently conducts research in the Silver Lab studying how compost additions affect aboveground net primary productivity and soil carbon pools across diverse rangeland ecosystems as a form of climate change mitigation.
Dilini Lankachandra, Policy Counsel
Dilini Lankachandra supports Brightline as policy counsel after serving as Brightline’s legal fellow from 2015-2016. She also works as staff attorney for A Better Balance in the Defending Local Democracy Project. 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. 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 and California State Bars.
Amanda Hinh, Policy Fellow
Amanda Hinh is serving as a policy fellow with Brightline for the duration of Summer 2019. She is currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Science at Brown University with a focus on Air, Climate, and Energy and has recently taken up the role of leading an after-school program for high school students in Providence that aims to provide leadership development, outdoor access, and environmental science / justice workshops. In the past, she has conducted research studying transboundary environmental justice issues pertaining to the U.S.-Mexico border. Amanda hopes to combine her passions for environmental science, social justice, and community work post-graduation.
Isaac Rutiz, Policy Fellow
Isaac Rutiz is serving as a Policy Fellow with Brightline during Summer 2019. He is a rising senior at Brown University pursuing a degree in Public Policy with a focus on Government, Law, and Ethics. In the past, he has volunteered for The Borgen Project, a nonprofit organization that advocates for poverty reducing legislation. Isaac plans to attend law school post-graduation and combine his passions for environmental and social justice.
Ella Harris, Policy Fellow
As one of Brightline’s policy fellows for the summer of 2019, Ella Harris is especially interested in exploring the role of state level legislation as it relates to intersecting social and ecological concerns facing California. A rising sophomore at Brown University, she is currently pursuing majors in both Environmental Studies and Public Policy. Ella is passionate about art and design as well, and in her ongoing role as a committee member for Better World by Design, an annual student-run Providence based conference, she intends to explore the ways in which design thinking can advance sustainability and social equity. Most recently, she has conducted research on inequities within local and federal post-disaster recovery programs.
Megan Zheng, High School Fellow
Megan Zheng is currently a rising senior at Lowell High School. She is on the Asian Pacific-Islander Youth Council (APIYLC) and has worked on promoting voter registration/engagement in her community as well as increasing discussion about social justice topics through leading youth-centered workshops. Megan is also a part of local volunteer organizations such as Red Cross in order to better serve her community. She is excited to gain experience in policy work, with focuses on environmental and social justice.
Guillermo Rodriguez, Director
Guillermo Rodriguez has an extensive background in both business, government, and non-profit management. He was the executive director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute where he has successfully championed local hiring programs and also advocated for 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 Academy, former Director of Policy of the SF Department of Environment, and currently serves as the California State Director for the Trust for Public Land. He is a proud alum from the University of California at Berkeley.
Solomon So, Director
Solomon So was born and raised in the Bay Area and currently serves as the Operations Director at JBR Partners. He has over 8 years of experience in community organizing and providing public relations consulting for public agencies and non-profits. He's enjoyed working on many local transportation, infrastructure, and construction projects that have great impact on Bay Area communities. He likes traveling, sandwiches, fantasy sports, photography, and is the proud owner of Juno the dancing dog.
Maurilio León, Director
Maurilio León currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of Community Housing Opportunities Corporation (CHOC), a community-centered housing developer in a tri-county area (Yolo, Solano, Sacramento). Having worked in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, Mr. León brings a wealth of experience to his community work having previously served as Assemblymember Phil Ting’s District Director in San Francisco and Executive Vice President of the Unity Council in Oakland.
Nick Hardeman, Director
Nick Hardeman is a native of San Francisco and currently serves as Chief of Staff for Senate President Pro Tem 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. He earned a B.A. degree in Politics from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, where he was a leader in a successful living wage campaign, and he has also been part of the California Senate Fellowship Program.
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.