Portraits of Community Action: Making the unseen visible in Silicon Valley

Portraits of Community Action: Making the unseen visible in Silicon Valley.

Because we believe that stories can inspire community action, SVCF strives to amplify the untold stories of local leaders who are Black, Indigenous and/or people of color (BIPOC) and are building agency, voice and power for their communities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

In 2021 we began work on Portraits of Community Action, a collection of portraits and videos featuring stories told by community leaders who are working to build a more vibrant and equitable future for our neighbors.

SVCF invited nine community leaders to share their stories. Our staff listened to each leader while photographer Bryon Malik captured their portraits. Videographers Jeff Arthur and Tony Victor Gauthier also recorded four of the stories on video.

We hope these stories inspire you to join our shared mission to reduce systemic disparities in Silicon Valley.

SVCF designed the Portraits of Community Action series to shed light on issues of inequity, injustice and exclusion – and make sure that the voices of BIPOC leaders creating community-driven solutions to address those challenges are honored and heard.

Mainstream media continuously amplifies the voices of high-profile politicians, of entrepreneurs creating new digital tools, and of celebrities. But the voices of local neighbors, artists and community leaders who are working to shift power to their own communities are seldom recognized for their work. BIPOC communities have struggled with these realities throughout history.

Portraits of Community Action broadcasts the voices and community stories seldom found in newspapers, history books or academic journals. SVCF believes that these voices are critical to make the hidden visible, stimulate relationships, bring people together, invite philanthropic support to local organizations, and spark policy change.

Community voices and stories humanize the economic and social issues affecting our neighborhoods and help us understand why people are willing to give so much of themselves to make a difference. These stories offer community information and value local expertise. They unveil historical trauma and can encourage cultural healing.  These stories of community action link generations, celebrate diversity, and inspire collaboration.

This summer, SVCF is happy and honored to share the Portraits of Community Action. The group of leaders featured are:

  1. Maimona Afzal Berta, special education teacher at Alum Rock School District, San José and school board president with Franklin-McKinley School District, San José, and an alum of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – San Francisco Bay Area Youth Leadership Program
  2. Henrietta  J. Burroughs, journalist, founder and executive director of East Palo Alto Center for Community Media, editor-in-chief of East Palo Alto Today, and producer and host of “Talking with Henrietta”
  3. Perlita R. Dicochea, Ph.D., Communications, events and program coordinator, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), program coordinator for CCSRE’s Mellon Arts Fellowship and Public Writing Fellowship Stanford University, and alum of the Mosaic Journalism Summer Program, San José
  4. Dalena Do, Skyline College student, youth leader with Youth Leadership Institute, Daly City
  5. Franco Imperial, Artistic Director, San Jose Taiko
  6. L. Medina McKinney, Board President, Black Parents Association of the San Mateo Unified High School District
  7. Omar Rodriguez, owner of Kooltura Marketing, cofounder of EASTSIDE Magazine, and marketing partner with the School of Arts and Culture at The Mexican Heritage Plaza, San Jose
  8. Ramon Sanoquin, Farmworker, Catholic catechist and community leader working with Ayudando Latinos A Soñar, Half Moon Bay
  9. Claudia Valencia, school counselor, South Valley Middle School, Gilroy, and a community leader working with Latino Family Fund de Gilroy

Every leader featured is working to make our community a better place for all. SVCF is grateful for their service and honored to share their stories.

If you would like to learn more, please contact Mauricio Palma, SVCF’s director of community-building, who envisioned the Portraits of Community Action and shepherded them to completion.


Thank you to photographer Bryon Malik and videographers Jeff Arthur and Tony Victor Gauthier for bringing SVCF’s vision to life. You can learn more about Bryon’s work here and Jeff and Tony’s work here.