Urban Habitat Staff



Ellen Wu

Ellen Wu, Executive Director.  For the past 12 years Ellen Wu has helped lead the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), a statewide health advocacy organization.  In 2012, Ellen led CPEHN’s efforts to pass Assembly Bill 441 which directs the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to create a summary of local transportation projects that promote health and equity in the state’s Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) guidance in an effort to ensure that regional planning incorporates land use, transportation and housing policies and investments that promote public health goals. Ellen also helped establish Having Our Say, a coalition of over 30 community organizations working to ensure communities of color have a voice in health care reform. Prior to joining CPEHN, Ellen was a Program Officer at the Tides Foundation and served as Director of Health Education and Cultural Linguistic Services for the Alameda Alliance for Health. She is an adjunct faculty member at San Francisco State University and serves on numerous boards and advisory committees, including: Senate President pro Tem Steinberg’s appointee to the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board; City of Oakland’s Park and Recreation Commission; the Board of Directors for the California Budget Project; and the Board of Directors of California Association of Nonprofits. She received her Masters in Public Health from UCLA. 


Evvy Stivers“Evvy” Stivers, Director of Development, has worked as a political organizer on environmental, land use and housing issues since 1996 when she graduated from Green Corps, a field school for environmental organizing. Prior to joining Urban Habitat, Evvy worked for the Non-Profit Housing Association on regional initiatives including the Housing Element and Inclusionary Housing campaigns and was the organization’s representative to the Great Communities Collaborative. Earlier in her carrier she directed the Western States Field Office for the US Public Interest Research Group and served as the Livable Communities Associate Director for Greenbelt Alliance. She has served on the boards of TransForm, the League of Conservation Voters for the East Bay, Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County and East Bay Housing Organizations. 



Transportation Justice, Land Use & Planning 

Bob Allen

Bob Allen, Director of Policy and Advocacy Campaigns, Bob has lead the TJ Program at UH since 2007. In 2009 Bob helped lead a successful coalition Civil Rights campaign to stop the use of $70 million in federal stimulus funds for the Oakland Airport Connector project based on civil rights violations. More recently Bob led UH's work supporting the successful Free MUNI for Youth campaign and regional equity campaign through the 6 Wins Network. His background and experience include community planning and policy work both in the United States and internationally with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), labor organizing with UNITE, as well as organizing and advocacy with refugee and immigrant communities. Bob received both his bachelor's degree in Political Science and History and his master's in Public Policy from Rutgers University.  

Tony Roshan SamaraTony Roshan Samara, Senior Program Director of Land Use and Housing. Tony has extensive experience conducting research on urban inequality and the reconfiguration of metropolitan regions. His work focuses on the politics of development and the marginalization of low income communities, with an emphasis on housing, gentrification, and displacement. He has conducted research in South Africa, China, and India, in addition to the United States, and writes regularly for academic, policy, and general audiences. Since 2007 he has worked with the Right to the City Alliance as a resource ally, and currently serves on the Alliance’s national steering committee. Tony has a PHD in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a M.A. from the City University of New York. Before joining Urban Habitat he was an associate professor of sociology at George Mason University. He runs the Cities and Globalization Twitter account at https://twitter.com/CGWG2 and most of his publications are available at http://independent.academia.edu/TonyRoshanSamara
Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute
Uma ViswanathanUma Viswanathan, Director of Leadership Development, is a social entrepreneur and leadership trainer with seven years of experience in national and global strategy and innovation, program design and management of social and environmental ventures focused on leadership development. She graduated with a B.A. and M.A. from Harvard University, focused on psychology. Uma has designed curriculum and facilitated experiential learning engagements for about 1,000 people in secondary and university education, government, community, and NGO settings, totaling 130,000 man-hours of leadership training. In 2008, Uma founded and directed Nouvelle Vie Haiti, a sustainable development program in Haiti that developed 350 Haitian community leaders who have impacted nearly 10,000 Haitians in 4 years. Nouvelle Vie has received recognition from the World Bank, UNICEF, and USAID as one of Haiti's top youth leadership development programs and has been written about in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Triple Pundit, and Care2.
Danielle DeRuiter-WilliamsDanielle DeRuiter-Williams, Senior Program Manager of Leadership Development. Danielle recently received her MBA degree from Mills College in Social Responsible Business with an interest in ensuring equity is the guiding value for organizations, governments and companies. She also holds graduate degrees from UCLA in Afro-American Studies and Urban and Regional Planning where she specialized in economic development through community food production. Previously, Danielle was Policy Associate for the California Center for Public Health Advocacy engaging directly with elected officials and city staff across California to promote obesity prevention policy. Danielle lives in West Oakland. 


Rae Rae: Rae Thomas Image

Rae Thomas, Leadership Development Program Coordinator, has a strong background in working for social justice movements and organizations.  For the past ten years he has worked as an advocate, teacher, community organizer, and writer.  Prior to landing at Urban Habitat, Rae was the Administrative Coordinator at RYSE Youth Center in Richmond. Rae also served as the Program Director at an LGBTQ youth center in Tacoma, Washington. Rae received his Masters in Fine Arts degree in Writing from California College of the Arts and his Bachelor's degree in Humanities and Writing from The Evergreen State College.