KGA is excited to bring on 2 new staff members: Sheila Sy, Economic Justice Director, and former volunteer and intern- now Young Men’s Empowerment Program coordinator, Johnny Rodriguez!
Sheila (pronounced Shilla) is a daughter of Long Beach’s Cambodian community. Her commitment to building power in low-income communities of color led Sheila to direct the Khmer Outreach Retention and Education (KORE) program at UCLA, attain a master’s degree in urban planning from UCLA, engage in research on regional equity, support capacity building of homeless service agencies, and serve South Central LA through facilitating community control of land and housing before returning to Long Beach to serve at KGA. Her philosophy on economic justice can be summarized by this quote from (old) Kanye West: “Having money’s not everything, not having it is”. As Economic Justice Director, Sheila supports fundraising, as well as campaigns and programs that achieve economic empowerment. She envisions a future where all young people have access to opportunity and a cooperative economy that meets the needs of people of color and that facilitates investment in one’s self, community, and future.
Johnny is a third-generation Chicano/Mexican-American. His family’s ancestry traces back to Texas long before it became part of the United States. During a large wave of migration, his family moved to California to work in the agricultural industry as farm workers. Johnny has long history of community organizing, from organizing the LGBTQ community in the San Francisco/Daly City area to indigenous people’s struggles in California and the Philippines. He first came to Khmer Girls in Action as a volunteer in 2012 where he helped develop the Young Men’s Empowerment Program (YMEP), which created a much-needed space for young Southeast Asian men to participate in movement building and in 2017 he returned as the program coordinator. During his time with KGA he has participated in statewide efforts to increase opportunities for boys and men of color. Johnny is currently working towards a Master’s in Social Work at CSULB with an emphasis on children, adolescence and gender issues and is looking forward to continuing to build the leadership of young people, so they can create positive change in their communities.