CCAEJ Board of Directors
A committed water quality and compliance professional, Gracie Torres serves as the Board President for Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.
In 2019, Gracie was awarded an “IMPACT Award” by the Pick Group of Riverside for Civic Impact and recognized as “35 under 35” in 2020 by Young Elected Officials Network. In 2018, Gracie Torres became the first Latina elected to serve on Western Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors, where she aims to dedicate her service on transparency, water quality, and conservation.
President Torres is a longtime Riverside resident and a proud product of Riverside Unified School District schools as well as Riverside Community College. Her passion for water quality and environmental science developed when she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry/Biochemistry and a Master's in Earth and Environmental Sciences from California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). She is currently working on a Doctorate in Public Administration at Cal Baptist University (CBU).
Professionally, Gracie is a chemistry professor at CSUSB and is a planner for Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. She is the first Latina elected to Western Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors.
Kareem Gongora is a communications professional who has devoted his career to serving others. Kareem has worked within hard-to-reach communities coordinating after-school programs for at-risk youth, developing asset-building programs and tax credit awareness campaigns, as well as overseeing self-sufficiency grants and contracts to support families.
In 2014, Kareem was honored as “Young Leader of the Year” by the Inland Empire Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and recognized as a “30 under 30” in 2017 by Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes. In 2018, he was appointed by the Speaker of the California Assembly to the California State Bar Committee of Bar Examiners, overseeing the bar exam, first-year law exam, as well as the state’s accredited, registered, and unaccredited law schools.
Kareem holds a BA in English from UC Riverside, MA in Management from the University of Redlands, and is currently attending California Baptist University to earn his Doctorate in Public Administration. He works for the County of Riverside as a public information officer and also serves as a member of the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Committee on School District Organization.
Carlos Castellanos, Jr.
Carlos Castellanos, Jr. is a California Attorney from Riverside, CA. Carlos is a double alumni from UCLA, having graduated from law school in 2019 and undergrad in 2013. Prior to UCLA, Carlos graduated from Norte Vista High School in Riverside, CA, where he was awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship. He is also the eldest of three boys born to Mexican immigrants.
While at UCLA, Carlos was a founding member of the Gates Millennium Scholars Association at UCLA organization, which now has over 200 members. He was also a part of IDEAS at UCLA, the nation’s first student-run, student-led, organization advocating for undocumented students. Through his work with IDEAS at UCLA, Carlos was able to help host a DACA clinic in the Inland Empire with over 1,000 attendees during the summer of 2012. He also created and continues to support the Norte Vista Boys Soccer Alumni Association benefitting his old high school.
Carlos is passionate about social and racial justice in its various forms, having been drawn to UCLA School of Law due to its renowned Critical Race Studies (CRS) program. He carried this critical lens throughout his summer law clerk experiences with the Riverside County Public Defender’s Office, as well as with Al Otro Lado, where he learned crimmigration under the tutelage of now Riverside County Public Defender, Andrea J. Garcia. He now seeks to use his (CRS) skills and training to aid in the fight against environmental injustice in the I.E.
Carlos enjoys playing competitive soccer across Southern California and finding the best taco stands in the I.E. as well as LA.
Chief Operating Officer and Consultant
Marla A. Matime is the founder and CEO of MAR.M Artistry & Consulting, a PR and marketing consulting firm in Southern California. Key services provided are strategic communication consulting, media and marketing planning, copywriting, editing, and vocal services such as, lead vocals, background vocals, and writing services.
Marla, serves as the Chief Operating and Communications Officer for Voice Media Ventures, a multi-media communications firm in Riverside, that is home of the IE VOICE and the Black Voice News, a legacy publication.
Passionate about the condition of our communities, she assists in covering stories to bring awareness to what is happening in the world around those of the community. The experience and knowledge that she brings to CCAEJ is expansive.
Marla has extensive experience in team building and management and has been successful in building a communications team that delivers weekly news and information through video content, interviews, short docs, and social media engagement. In 2018, she successfully led two political media-buy campaigns simultaneously through Black publications throughout the state of California for the primary and general elections.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism from the University of Phoenix.
Mitzi Archer has over 30 years of experience in the mortgage and banking industries. She currently serves as the Director of real Estate Origination at the Firefighters First Credit Union. Since joining the Credit Union, she has built a team that brings in eighty-percent (80%) of its current revenue, exceeding the department’s 2020 goal of $282 million so far within the first half of the year.
Mitzi’s experience and wisdom in leadership and management has brought her a multi-faceted approach to handling teams and organizations, to best deliver on expected outcomes with excellence. She is a well-decorated executive, receiving awards and recognitions in every position that she has taken the helm.
Mitzi currently holds a Green belt in Six Sigma and a Bachelor’s in Science in Psychology from California Southern University. She also holds certifications in Organizational Change, Creating High-Performance teams, Shaping Corporate Culture, Leading versus Managing, Influencing Others, Enhanced Business Performance, How Leaders Inspire, Influence and produce results, and Executive Leadership.
She is a newly inducted board member of CCAEJ.
She is the wife of the late Thomas Winbush, who served the Inland Empire and San Diego as an IT professional, and is the mother of three adult children; Ryan, Sydney, and Thomas Jr.
Mitzi is a Southern California native, born and raised in Los Angeles, and has lived in Moreno Valley for over 30 years.