Staff

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.

Katie Jang

Health Justice Intern

Katie Jang is the Health Justice Intern for The Praxis Project. Katie is currently a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in Conservation and Resource Studies with a minor in Public Policy. As the health justice intern, Katie hopes to gain experience in health justice policy and public health training to empower communities. Furthermore, she looks forward to carrying out Praxis’ Project as a values-driven, partnership-centered organization. Her experience working with UC Berkeley’s Public Service Center as an intern in Washington DC solidified her passion for civic engagement and collaboration. She believes that giving back to the community through equitable policies is a meaningful way to bring justice to those most vulnerable and to be a better ally. Katie’s goal while working at Praxis is to gain real-world experience in applying interdisciplinary solutions to the most pressing public health issues today.

Aliza Kazmi, MPP

Policy Coordinator

Aliza Kazmi is the Policy Coordinator at The Praxis Project.  Aliza has multi-issue and intersectional policy experience through coalition-building and educational advocacy work within civil society and governmental arenas.  She applies a lens of race and social justice to her work and is committed to supporting grassroots networks of community change agents, considering her lived experience as a person of color, daughter of immigrants and American Muslim.  A native of the Bay Area, Aliza attended UC Berkeley to earn her undergraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution (with an emphasis on human rights) and Gender and Women’s Studies: including a focus on community organizing in the context of local housing justice and national Occupy Wall Street movements.  She went on to teach secondary social studies in a rural southeast New Mexico community, when she was compelled to continue building her skills to address root challenges of poverty and inequality facing her students and their families.  Alizathen pursued a Master of Public Policy degree at the University of Michigan Ford School, where she investigated and strategized policy recommendations with partners from Wayne County, Michigan all the way to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – including on issues of economic development and human security.  Upon completion of her degree program, developed her social and public health policy practice through her role as Policy Specialist at the statewide domestic violence and sexual assault coalition in Alaska.  There, she worked with member programs to facilitate and carry out state legislative advocacy while also serving as a liaison within ongoing state and federal level work to end intimate partner violence.  In her spare time,  enjoys being outdoors, spicy food, live music, reading and listening to podcasts.

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

Adrian Mahlstede is the Communications Coordinator for The Praxis Project.  Adrian was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in a family of teachers and football coaches.  He works out of Praxis’ Oakland office, where you’re likely to find him managing this website or creating a short film to highlight another organization’s hard work.  Adrian’s goal is to apply his communications and multimedia production knowledge to work in collaboration with Praxis’ partners and allies to build power in communities and to achieve health justice.  He has wanted to be a reporter since childhood and studied for his BA degree in Journalism at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School and for his MA in Specialized Journalism at USC Annenberg, where his areas of focus included: money in politics, access to education, journalism ethics and gender/race studies in mass media.  He is proud to contribute to The Praxis Project’s mission of cultivating social justice solutions!

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.

Hunter Scott

Sponsored Projects & Training Intern

Hunter A. Scott is a well-respected philanthropist and young professional that works to build wealth for communities and individuals.  With four years of practical experience in environmental health, Hunter has collaborated with national and local organizations on projects that seek to improve the health of communities and the quality of life for residents.  While using her voice and platform to promote solutions, Hunter has presented at national conferences on the topics of: food access, health disparities, social inequalities and youth leadership.  She is skilled in facilitation, critical-thinking, relationship-building and public-speaking.  Hunter is also a certified Lead Risk Assessor for the State of Ohio and a Healthy Homes Rating System Practitioner.  In closing, Hunter appreciates her support system and partners who have championed and inspired her to continue building opportunities for future generations.

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.