List of Board members and length of service on the Board:
Erin Kilmer Neel, Board Director since 2006
Erin Kilmer Neel is passionate about supporting local independent businesses and artists as a powerful way to improve the economic health and quality of life of our communities. To that end, she founded Oakland Unwrapped!—an e-commerce site for
Oakland’s independent businesses and artists--and created the Oakland Indie Awards to
celebrate and educate consumers about them. Erin now runs these programs through the One California Foundation where she is a Program Officer.
Erin also serves on the national board of directors for the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), is an active member of BALLE, as a member of the board of directors and chair of the Marketing Committee of the Oakland BALLE network (The Oakland Merchant Leadership Forum).
Erin is a graduate of MIT's Master of City Planning program, where she focused on community economic development. Before MIT, Erin spent several years working in technology training, instructional design and graphic design, most recently as Manager of Web Information Design at Oracle Corporation. There, she managed a team responsible for developing technology training for Oracle's sales force. She also worked in Oracle's Media Training Solutions group as a Project Manager. Prior to Oracle, Erin was a Software Trainer and an Instructional and Graphic Designer.
Her passion for community development arose out of the juxtaposition of her life in Northern California and the lives she observed in her travels through southeast Asia. Her ardent belief in the social, economic, social, and political impact of community ownership and control of resources strengthened during her time as a volunteer in Thailand, where she helped build grassroots, community-owned eco-tourism villages.
She is head over heels in love with Oakland, her work, and most of all, her kick-ass husband Beau.
Karen King, Board Director since May 2009
Karen King is an entrepreneur of 25 years starting a business in Stockton California in 1985. Moving the business to Oakland and reopening in 2001 was a wake up call of beginning again.
Karen is an advocate for small businesses always utilizing the services of independent businesses circulating dollars locally for many years.
Karen has always sought opportunities to network and spread information of help to businesses and connecting one to each other, via the barter system or circulating dollars. Karen has assisted many businesses with bookkeeping support and inventory control. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur Karen was in the banking industry and used the same similar rules of the banking experience in her business.
Karen partners with Youth Employment Preparation YEP training interns in customer service, counting money and creative skills with flowers, technical training and email advertising, accounting; cashiering; inventory and sales.
Karen is president of the East MacArthur Merchants Association formally the Heartlands Merchants Association: a member of the board of OMLF. Also Karen is a member of the Oakland Grown marketing committee.
Karen holds Associate Degrees in Humanities and General Education, a certificate in Floriculture and continued studies in Horticulture and Human Rights.
Tina Ramos, Board Director since May 2009.
Tina "Tamale" Ramos is a third generation co-owner and spokesperson of her family's business, La Borinqueña Mex-icatessen, in operation since 1944 in Oakland. Tina’s
family is deeply grounded by a strong work ethic and appreciation of personal family as well as neighborhood history. The family has bees dishing out delicious Mexican-American foods, specialty grocery items and stories going on 65 years. Tina is a native resident and merchant of Old Oakland as well as an indie business and community advocate. Tina is currently a board member and social coordinator of Old Oakland Neighbors, a volunteer grassroots community group; acting chair of the Old Oakland Businesses committee; an ambassador of 10,000 Steps, an urban park stewardship and history project; a board member the Oakland Merchants' Leadership Forum (OMLF). She is a content manager for the Oakland Grown/OMLF marketing campaign supporting independent businesses and artists, is active with the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies (BALLE) and is an elected member of the Oakland District 3 Community Development Block Grant Board which distributes federal funds to local community development projects. Tina is also a partner in a new micro-business, N Fokus Kards, a line of locally produced note cards capturing everyday scenes in Oakland neighborhoods.
Tina can be found in real life exploring everything her culturally rich and diverse community has to offer. Tina truly understands what it means to be hyperlocal while working and playing having the opportunity to taste and see the world found on her doorstep. Tina feels very fortunate to find many of her creature comforts and necessities literally down the street in many directions. Online she can be found at TinaTamale.com and other social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Tina and her family have been highlighted in history issues of the East Bay Express, Oakland Magazine and most recently the San Francisco Chronicle Insight section. Tina refers to Oakland as her favorite corner of the Universe and cordially invites you to stop by for a tasty tamale if you are ever in her neighborhood.
Stu Sweetow, Board Director since 2006 (3.5 years)
Stu owns the storefront video production studio AV Consultants on upper Grand Avenue. He is an award-winning video producer specializing in corporate training videos and online videos for small business. He previously taught video production at UC Berkeley Extension and has written over 100 articles for professional video production magazines.
Marie Deleris, Board Director since April 2009
Marie Deleris is the owner of Influences LLC DBA Entrez! Open House, a gift, house ware and furniture boutique concept specialized in European, Modern, and Colorful designs.
Marie was born and raised in Paris, France. She graduated from Law School with 2 masters in International Law. After getting her Bar Exam, she practiced business law for 3 years in a small Parisian practice. Travelling around the world from Chile, to India, through Europe, North America, Tibet and China, opened Marie’s eyes on the world around us, the importance of diversity, acceptance, and sustainability. In 2003, she came in California to study English and fell head over heels for the Bay Area. She sensed Oakland will be the perfect location for her first business venture, and particularly the Uptown District. Opened since May 2006, the Oakland location has become a local anchor to the blooming neighborhood. The boutique earned the Uptown Neighborhood dynamo award at eh first Oakland Indie Award in 2007.
Feleciai Favroth, Board Director since January 2010
Feleciai Favroth is the owner of Skincare by Feleciai, manufacturer of natural
handmade soaps and creams headquartered in Oakland, CA. She combines an artistic vision with a passion for high quality bath related products and concern for the environment to produce Skincare by Feleciai.
She is also a Real Estate Broker, licensed hair stylist and worked in consumer marketing for such companies as Pepsi Cola, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, African Pride Hair Care Products and Brown Forman Beverages prior to launching her current business. A resident of Oakland since 2001 she is originally from Fremont, CA and lived more than 15 years on East Coast.
Feleciai has a strong educational background in marketing and business management. She received her Bachelor of Science from Cornell University and her Masters of Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She is on the board of the San Francisco chapter of National Association of Business Women Owner, the Handcrafted Soapmaker Guild and is very active in Business Network International. Feleciai is also is the owner of Next Level Real Estate Sales and Investments in Oakland, CA.
Aziz Khatri, Founding Board member since 1991
Aziz Khatri: I have been a Real Estate Investment Consultant for most of my professional life and have a strong business and customer service background. I have successfully started retail and service businesses and have 10+ years of professional experience in business development and management. I have developed and implemented strategies for businesses to help them achieve their goals.
My focus is commercial real estate with an emphasis on multi-unit properties as well as
retail. I work with a large network of investors and am able to put buyers and sellers together. Some of the ventures I have worked on include a 72 unit property, a 13 unit mixed used retail/residential space and a 3 unit Retail/office. I earned my Real Estate license from the California Department of Real Estate in 1989. I have business degrees from the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business and a Master of Business Administration from Golden Gate University. I am also a member of several professional Real Estate Associations and am active in many of them on the local and state levels.
Lupe Martinez, Board of Director since February 2010
Lupe Martinez is a long-time Oakland resident and recently started a business enterprise based in Oakland with two friends, N Fokus Kards, locally produced greeting cards displaying everyday scenes in the diverse Oakland neighborhoods.
A desire to participate in a non-profit organization which supports independent businesses and artists, Lupe Martinez decided to become a member of the Financial Management Committee of the Oakland Merchants’ Leadership Forum (OMLF) in December 2009.
Lupe Martinez has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley with emphases in finance and economic analysis and policy. She began her career working as a portfolio analyst for a commercial real estate firm and later worked as an accountant for a national bank. In order to advance in her career as well as to acquire new skills, she obtained a Master of Business Administration degree from the Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Davis with emphases in finance and marketing. She has continued her career in finance working for a retail company, a national financial institution as well as an international oil company.
To maintain a balance in her life, Lupe Martinez enjoys to travel and has been to more than ten countries and counting. Exposure to other cultures has made Lupe appreciate the rich diversity that defines the city of Oakland.
Chus Ebako, Board Director since 2007
Chus Ebako is the founder and CEO of Gente Bella Salon & Spa. It has been my aspiration to create a salon and spa environment that expresses my international heritage and my love of people. I was born and spent my first years in the island portion of a small African nation called Equatorial Guinea, then a Spanish colony. When I was still young, my family moved to Madrid, Spain. There, I grew up proud of my African origin and embracing the European cosmopolitan culture. In the early 1990’s, I traveled between Madrid, London and the Bay Area. In London, I studied hair styling at Alan D. International School. Here, I focused on my broad educational goals in the beauty profession and made Oakland my home.
Gente Bella (Beautiful People) is a reflection of my personality. I strive to make the salon
a warm, welcoming environment that embraces the individual differences of our multi-
cultural environment. I love beauty, fashion, figure body building and, most of all, people
and I want to share these passions with my guests.