Lawrence Barriner II

Network Engagement Coordinator – Boston, MA

Lawrence is a communications strategist, connector, and systems nerd. He grew up in the US South and got out as soon as his black, queer body could figure out how. He loves quotes, baking bread, feeding his worms, and cooking food with friends. He has been shaped by Liberation Theology and (despite not being Catholic) hopes to live like a Catholic Worker again someday. He's obsessed with graphic design, self-mastery, podcasts, and helping people (including himself) expand their imagination capacity. He is inspired by Bayard Rustin, Marilyn Nelson, and James Baldwin. He writes daily (usually journal-style but sometimes sci-fi and sometimes poetry), is on the board of RESIST, and is building towards a world where all humans are in right relationship with change and each other.


Anna Couey

Development & Financial Innovation Manager – Oakland, CA

Anna Couey has worked at the intersection of art, communications, information, and social justice for multiple decades to re-imagine and restructure power. During the 1980s-1990s, she helped develop art/artists networks the Art Com Electronic Network and Arts Wire, and organized participatory, cross-cultural communication sculptures. Anna contributed to the creation of a research justice framework at DataCenter to legitimize marginalized voices and forms of knowledge. At Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, she engaged in resource development practices to build power and strengthen the voices of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, and their families working to release incarcerated people, restore human and civil rights and reunify families and communities. In this phase of her social practice, she dreams of weaving story-based strategy and revenue generation to shape a sustainable and inclusive future.

Vandell Jones

Operations Associate - Oakland, CA

Vandell is a southern queer organizer who was brought into community resistance & empowerment work in their youth. Their movement roots instilled the love for storytelling & self-discovery as an act of resistance, their centering of black and indigenous solidarity, and their need to stop and smell the radical roses we’ve been growing. Those roots deepened during their five years of organizing at the Qilombo Community Center, a hub for black land liberation, radical experimentation, & de-gentrification efforts in West Oakland. Here, their energy went towards “the hood saves the hood” self-governance models, community trauma healing, teaching decolonial storytelling, and envisioning new liberated landscapes (like the birth of a community-run district named Afrikatown). During this time, they had the joy of being the Financial Operations Director at The Ruckus Society, continuing independent transformative justice and strategic visioning work, and obtaining their MFA in novel writing. Van’s big loves in life are decolonizing curriculum, queering up spaces, virgo-ing out, and living in a vintage camper trailer with fluffy cats and journals.


Nadia Khastagir

Program Manager – Oakland, CA

After a transformational experience at CSS's Advanced Training, Nadia became a practitioner trainer of Story-based Strategy, and now joins staff managing the training programs. Nadia was a founding member of Design Action Collective for 15 years, providing strategic visual communications for social justice. Nadia is also a member of The Ruckus Society's Creative Resistance/Arts Core, Frailty Myths Advisory Council, and has been involved with Asians 4 Black Lives and San Francisco Women Against Rape. She dreams of winning the battle of the story through strategic campaigns involving creative resistance and resilience, story-based strategy and kick-ass visuals.

Photo by Danielle Coates-Connor. Photo illustration by Angus Maguire.

Angus Maguire

Strategic Communications, Senior Manager – Eugene, OR

Angus Maguire is Communications Manager at Center for Story-based Strategy.  Parent, designer, organizer, facilitator, communications strategist – but master of none – Angus believes deeply in our collective capacity to self-govern. He is also a true believer in story-based strategy, using it for everything from eldercare and parenting, to direct action planning and organizing for futures beyond whiteness. Angus was previously a Communications Organizer with SEIU. He’s spent the last nineteen years creating visual communications with movements for collective liberation across the country. When he’s not on the road with CSS, you can find Angus at home with his family in Eugene, Oregon, organizing to build power with homeless and precariously-housed communities.


Shana McDavis-Conway

Co-Director – Sacramento, CA

Shana has been a social and racial justice activist for 20+ years, working with organizations in California, D.C, and Connecticut. She was a founding member of CSS's Strategy Training and Organizing Resources for Youth (STORY) program and is a trainer on using the power of narrative. Shana was previously the Co-Director of the Emerson National Fellows Program at the Congressional Hunger Center - a leadership development fellowship for people interested in ending hunger, poverty and racism. She was most recently the Program Manager for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program at UC Davis. Shana holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Women Studies from the University of Delaware and currently chairs the Board of NOLOSE. She loves media analysis, genre fiction, and baking metaphors.


Nadia Mohamed

Impact & Evaluation Manager – Jersey City, NJ

Nadia currently serves as the Impact & Evaluation Manager for the Center for Story-based Strategy. She has been shaped by her involvement with organizations like NESRI, Race Forward, The Laundromat Project, Paper Tiger TV, and Deep Dish TV. A multi-hyphenate media maker and educator, she listens, dreams, and creates from a city that sleeps on the Hudson.

Photo by Danielle Coates-Connor. Photo illustration by Angus Maguire.

Felicia Perez

Innovation Director – Reno, NV

Felicia T. Perez is the Innovation Director at the Center for Story-based Strategy. Her previous organizing experience includes work for United Workers Congress, GetEqual, the ACLU of Southern California, No on Proposition 21 campaign, and Californians for Justice. Felicia holds a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction. She is a published author and co-author of social studies curriculum and in anthologies on teaching and performance. Prior to her work in strategic communications, she taught social studies for twelve years in Los Angeles and was a union chapter chair for UTLA.


Melissa Reyes

Training Coordinator – Oakland, CA

Melissa is a facilitator, herbalist, writer, and birthworker based in Ohlone Territory/Oakland, CA. Melissa’s family has roots in Puerto Rico and Poland. She has spent over 18 years working in a variety of social justice, learning, and healing spaces. In 2015, after teaching elementary school for eight years, Melissa published I am Sausal Creek/Soy el Arroyo Sausal, a bilingual English and Spanish picture book about the history of Oakland told through the voice of a local waterway. In addition to her work at CSS, she also teaches classes at Ancestral Apothecary, school of herbal, folk, and indigenous medicine and practices bomba, traditional Afro- Puerto Rican music and dance.  

Photo by Danielle Coates-Connor. Photo illustration by Angus Maguire.

Bernice Julie Shaw

Co-Director – Oakland, CA

Bernice was born and raised in Los Angeles and transitioned to working for the Center for Story-based Strategy (CSS) following on her prior work building & scaling small businesses. She brings over 6 years of organizational management experience to CSS, and is deeply dedicated to the importance of culture-shift in creating social change. Bernice holds a political commitment to anti-oppression and liberation via the arts. In her free time, she enjoys playing the jazz flute and eating Chinese food. Bernice is based in Oakland, CA.

Photo by Danielle Coates-Connor. Photo illustration by Angus Maguire.

Ratema Uch

Operations Manager – Oakland, CA

Born and raised in Oakland, Ratema Uch received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Welfare and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies from UC Berkeley. She has been involved in social justice work since high school as a youth member for organizations such as AYPAL, Forward Together, and The Spot Youth Center and has continued organizing with Southeast Asian communities at Berkeley. Ratema was a fellow with Seeding Change Fellowship for Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) to further her skills and leadership in Asian American movement building in the summer of 2015. Today, Ratema is excited to explore new leadership roles in social change movements in the Bay Area and work with Center for Story-based Strategy.