Aishah Abdala

Program Assistant

Aishah Abdala, a member UC Berkeley’s Class of 2017, majored in Public Health with a minor in Public Policy. Aishah began interning with The Praxis Project in the fall of 2016 in our Oakland based office. Aishah grew up in  Tijuana, Mexico throughout most of her early childhood before moving immediately north of the U.S. border to the city of San Ysidro, California at the age of 10. Her multiracial background coming from Mexican and Syrian-Lebanese immigrant families, has made her interested in identity and its influence on interpersonal relationships. Her work at UC Berkeley’s service-based student organization Alternative Breaks as a Break Leader, reflects her commitment to creating opportunities that highlight and uplift the resiliency in marginalized communities and the work they contribute to break the power dynamics that have kept folks out of the decision-making process. From these firsthand experiences she has also developed a deep passion for understanding the intersectionality between the built and natural environment, people, and health within a social justice framework.

Ariel Cohen

Assistant Director

As Assistant Director, Ariel brings deep experience with nonprofit organizational management and fiscal sponsorship to Praxis. Most recently, Ariel was an Advisor with Tides, working closely in partnership with a portfolio of its fiscally-sponsored groups. Ariel has previously worked across a variety of mission areas, including immigrant justice, zero waste, and public policy research. Outside of work, she can most often be found in the ceramics studio, making tableware, sculptures, and lighting. An avid maker, she also enjoys painting, cooking, growing vegetables, fermenting her own hot sauce, and more, and learning woodworking is next. Ariel lives in Oakland, was born and raised in Berkeley, and has strong roots in the Bay Area. She graduated from the University of Chicago with honors, earning her degree in sociology.

Jeremiah Headen

Manager of Field Organizing

Jeremiah Headen is the Manager of Field Organizing at the Praxis Project. A DC metropolitan area resident, he spent five years teaching high school in DC Public Schools. Jeremiah left teaching when he realized that many of the barriers to student achievement exist outside of the classroom. With a devotion to social justice and equality, he has dedicated himself to finding better ways to support families and teachers all around the country. Combining his Political Science degree from American University with his love for people, Jeremiah is a stern advocate for children having equal access to a quality education, quality food, and a decent place to live.  In his free time, Jeremiah is an avid music lover, biker, and animation enthusiast. Jeremiah is the 5th of his parents’ 6 children and thus loves being in groups with a lot of noise.

Jose Jimenez

Health Justice Intern

Jose Jimenez is a 1st year MPH student in Health Policy and Management at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. He is originally from the Los Angeles area and just recently moved to the bay area to obtain his Master’s degree. His personal interests lie in providing access to comprehensive healthcare and health insurance, especially for low-income, communities of color. During his undergraduate and graduate experience, he has learned about the social determinants of health, but with the Praxis Project he hopes to apply his knowledge and learn new skills to better interact with and improve the health of marginalized communities.  In his free time, Jose enjoys jogging along his neighborhood bike path and trying out new food and exploring new areas in the bay area.

Mia Lopez-Zubiri

Health Policy Intern

Mia Lopez-Zubiri is a senior at Georgetown University majoring in Government and minoring in Sociology and Justice and Peace Studies. She is originally from Los Angeles, but has enjoyed getting to know DC by exploring and working in its diverse communities. Her personal, extracurricular, and academic exposure to a variety of social justice issues have heightened her interest in housing inequality and gentrification, identity formation, and intersectional feminism. At the Praxis Project, she hopes to learn more about the social and institutional factors that influence health outcomes in marginalized communities. In her free time, Mia enjoys reading, spending time with friends, and finding new shows to watch on Netflix!

LaTanya Lowe, MA

Program Coordinator

LaTanya Lowe is native to the DC Metropolitan area, where she was raised in Silver Spring, MD. She brings more than 15 years of operations, project and administrative management experience to The Praxis Project.  LaTanya has worked with international and local non-profit organizations, such as the American College of Cardiology as well as The Family Restoration and Healing Center. She earned her undergraduate degree in English with an additional concentration in African Diaspora at the University of Maryland and earned her Master’s Degree in Organizational Management.  LaTanya strives to achieve and continually demonstrate hard working ethics and principles in every aspect of life, which is befitting to the cause for social, medical, economical, and educational justice for communities of color throughout the country.

Adrian Mahlstede

Media and Communications Coordinator

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Adrian is new to the Bay Area.  He is proud to join the Oakland office and contribute to The Praxis Project’s mission of cultivating social justice solutions.  It is his goal to apply his communication and media knowledge to work in collaboration with Praxis’ partners and allies to build power in communities and to achieve health justice.  Adrian specializes in videography and has a background in TV news, sports and commercial production.  He studied journalism at the ASU Walter Cronkite School and USC Annenberg, where his areas of focus were: money in politics, journalism ethics, and world religions.  Adrian is excited to be a part of the Oakland community.

Xavier Morales, Ph.D., MRP

Executive Director

Xavier Morales, Ph.D., MRP, is the executive director of Praxis Project, a national organization dedicated to supporting communities building power for health.  Xavier is a longtime advocate for community-driven initiatives to achieve health equity and environmental justice. Taking an expansive view of what constitutes good health and community wellness, he works in partnership to enable opportunities across the social determinants of health. Xavier currently serves on the board of the Urban Peace Initiative, and was until recently, the Chair of City of Berkeley sugar sweetened beverage tax expert panel. Xavier often provides testimony in legislative arenas and is a frequent speaker at health conferences and health justice gatherings. Xavier, a former Peace Corps volunteer (Hungary), is originally from Sanger, California and studied environmental sciences at the University of California, Berkeley and city and regional planning at Cornell University.

Shayla Spilker, MSPH

Assistant Director

Shayla Spilker, MSPH, has worked to advance health equity and social justice for diverse communities for over a decade. As Assistant Director, she brings a range of expertise to the Praxis Project team, with experience working in international health, health policy advocacy, research and evaluation, and health communications.

Prior to joining Praxis, Shayla conducted community-oriented research for Harder+Company Community Research with an emphasis on early childhood education, the health care industry, and evaluating the work of health-focused philanthropy. She also managed health policy and communications at the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, supporting policies to create healthier and more equitable environments across the state. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley and her Master of Science in Community Health Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. A native of Southern California, Shayla enjoys traveling, eating delicious foods, and all things outdoors, including cycling, the beach, and hiking.