The Basics

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.

Our Story

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.

Our Mission

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.

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.


Shelby Nacino, Legal Fellow


Shelby Nacino is a legal fellow at Brightline and engages in a broad range of Brightline's state and local policy campaigns. While in law school, she was a member of Berkeley Law’s Policy Advocacy Clinic as well as interning at the East Bay Community Law Center in the Community Economic Justice Clinic and the Health and Welfare Practice. In addition to working with the Legal Aid Society of New York’s Housing Development Unit, Shelby has researched and co-authored policy reports, including a report on the role business improvement districts play in the criminalization of homelessness in California. She is committed to combatting the displacement of low-income communities and communities of color.

Shelby received her B.A. and her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

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.

Gina Kotos Brightline copy.jpg

Gina Kotos, Policy Fellow


Gina Kotos is a new Brightline supporter who is passionate about environmental health, improving access to sustainability, and understanding opportunities for change within the law and government processes. Prior to becoming a policy fellow with Brightline Defense, Gina interned with the litigation team at the Center for Environmental Health, researching and defending California's Proposition 65. She also worked with a consumer trial lawyer for four years. Gina will be graduating in August from the University of California, Berkeley.


Claire Bekker, Policy Fellow


As a new Brightline supporter, Claire Bekker is passionate about understanding the relationship between climate change and power and promoting environmental health and justice. As an undergraduate at Brown University, Claire has written about environmental policy, ecology, and public health for the Triple Helix, a student-run organization that publishes science writing. Claire is also a member of Queer People and Allies for the Advancement of Medicine, where they have created LGBTQ+ mental health resources for students. Prior to joining Brightline Defense, Claire taught speech and debate to elementary and middle school students. They intend to study Geology-Biology and Science and Society at Brown.


Joshua Cabrera, Intern

Joshua Cabrera is an intern at Brightline and is currently enrolled at Balboa High School.  While participating in Mock Trial, Joshua has also volunteered at Heritage on the Marina, SF Marin Food Bank, and Faith Bible Church to better his community.  He is part of SFUSD's Summer Fellowship program, which is aligned with the Youth Jobs+ initiative.  Developed by the late Mayor Ed Lee, this initiative seeks to create meaningful work experiences and career exploration opportunities for San Francisco youth.


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. Clients include The California Endowment, the Sierra Health Foundation, the Liberty Hill Foundation, 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 has formerly been a board member on the California Public Utilities Commission’s Low Income Oversight Board. 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 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.

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 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.