Imán Benét is a local artist and Human Rights, activist. Her introduction to Impact hub Oakland started after an event she held in the space for her for women’s empowerment organization, HerPlaceIsIn. Her Place Is In.. is an organization dedicated to creating social action through art and storytelling with a focus on building community, celebrating diversity and elevating the feminine voice. After such a pleasant experience working with the IHO events team, Iman knew Impact Hub Oakland was the place to be. She quickly became a work trader and felt so inclined to the advancement of the IHO space that soon after, she decided that a more permanent position on the Impact Hub Oakland team was an opportunity she could not pass up.
As a proud Oakland native, Iman’s focus is on bridging the gap between art, business, and sustainability in a way that can effectively activate and empower local communities. Iman is committed to sharing stories, advancing social education, and creating space for conscious conversation that leads to real change.
When not at the hub, you can find Iman painting, writing, learning something new, or exploring new ways to hone her creativity.
MICHELLE ANTOINETTE NELSON
Director of Events and Community Engagement
Michelle Antoinette Nelson aka LOVE the poet is a strategist, organizer, artist, innovator, and cutting-edge thinker that bridges community, creative practice, and equity, exposing the voices of the unheard and underrepresented. She is also the Founder of Brown and Healthy, a global initiative which focuses on community engagement, strategic design, and wellness curation for people of color.
As a multifaceted career creative, for almost 20 years, Michelle has appeared on CNN Live, CBS WJZ-TV, and Fox 45 television. She has moderated thought-provoking panels for Labs at Light City and Afropunk and has been featured in Forbes Magazine for her social justice work. Michelle is also the Founder of BE FREE Fridays, the longest running monthly open mic in Baltimore, lead MC at Summit , and a co-curator and host of The Medicine Show.
EUGENE “ACE” JOHNSON
Events Production Manager
Eugene “Ace” Johnson is an Oakland native who has been intrigued with the power of words since his youth. He has since then developed his craft as a public speaker, spoken word artist and lyricists; creating
a career in teaching individuals the power in discovering, developing and deploying their natural gifts and talents to evoke positive change in the world. Ace Johnson is the founder of Oakland based 501c3 Non
Profit, iVisionary Academy and has developed a variety of curriculum that use the creative arts to teach leadership development and life skills to youth in under-served communities. Ace is passionate about
holistic urban community development that is multi-generational and has developed several programs dedicated to seeing people live out their full potential within these communities. The iVa Talent Tour, The Cre8ive Genius, and The #BetterTogether BLOC Party, just to name a few.
Lean more about these programs and how to get involved at www.iVisionary.Academy
Umbar Kassa is a First Gen Ethiopian-American Social Innovator and Activist working as the Community Manager at Evolve Oakland and the founder and host of the podcast “The Social Butterfly Effect”.
Born in Decatur, Georgia, moved to Maryland and grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland. From there she has lived in PA, DC, Ethiopia, Baltimore, MD, and is now building roots in Oakland, CA.
Umbar believes that changing the world starts with changing how we approach constructive conversations and building a community of healers, movers, and shakers
David Jackson is an Oakland native with a passion for social entrepreneurship and social justice. David has been a lifelong entrepreneur, starting his first business at age nine (a lucrative lemonade stand), and ultimately owning and managing a group of seven independent bookstores for a decade.
He transitioned into nonprofit management after acting as a business development consultant for faith-based nonprofits, to serve as the Director of City Team, a long-standing Oakland nonprofit. There he focused on helping the local community facing homelessness, food insecurity, and drug and alcohol addiction. His early commitment to overcoming challenges led him to believe that although times may be tough, there is always an opportunity to bear fruit.
In his work, Jackson has always maintained a bird’s eye view of the negative social and economic impacts facing children, families and the displaced. “I sought vigorously to implement programs with youth, the homeless, and marginalized groups in Oakland. My goal was to take the big picture and shift these folks away from the systematic downward spiral.”
With over twenty years of experience in entrepreneurship, business development, fundraising, management, and nonprofits, David is excited to serve as the CEO of Evolve Oakland, to continue the advancement of an entrepreneurial community and co-working space that creates solutions that work for all.