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New Leaders Council

Suzanne Vyborney, Co-Director, New Leaders Council Oakland

Suzanne Vyborney currently works as a philanthropy coordinator at the national land conservation non-profit The Trust for Public Land, which works to preserve natural lands and build city parks so that all may have access to nature and green spaces. Growing up in the conservative environment of the Central Valley as a transracial Korean adoptee where racism was as ubiquitous as pesticide drift, this was the perfect setting for Suzanne's future interest in environmental justice and racial justice.  

In addition to her role in NLC, Suzanne also writes grants related to prison reform, restorative justice as well as Korean adoptee mental health advocacy. Suzanne is forever grateful to have the Oakland community with whom to explore her intersectionality and to fight the good fight. When left to her own devices, you can find her ranting about the patriarchy, working on standup comedy and probably eating kimchi.


Laksmi Lagares, Co-Director, New Leaders Council Oakland

Passionate about working with organizations and leaders who meet populations where they are, Laksmi's purpose is to help people realize they are more than their environment. Raised in East Oakland, CA, Ms. Lagares is inspired by a variety of progressive leaders. Local heroes like family friend Carmen Flores, an original member of the Community Service Organization; training ground for Cesar Chavez. And well-known leaders like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers. Laksmi is the owner of Lagares Consulting. Her career includes; 15yrs experience in all aspects of Business Development and Public Relations within: Tech, Finance, Advertising, Marketing, Education, Social Impact and Philanthropy. Experience in overcoming the odds, combined with a successful and diverse professional background; enables her to communicate across cultural and socio economic divides, creating positive impact by translating needs and developing strategy to support mutual wins.

A former foster youth and first in her family to go to college, she attended Sonoma State University, majoring in Communications. After three years she was recruited to work in the technology industry. Laksmi returned to school as a working adult while raising her daughter, Maliha. She graduated from DeVry University with a Bachelor of Science in Business and began her MBA program Spring, 2015. Laksmi volunteers with and sponsors a variety of community organizations and NPO's throughout California.

Laksmi has sat on various boards and committees including the City of Benicia General Plan oversight Committee and is a former Board Director for the Prescott Joseph Center for Community Enhancement.


Michael Chavez, Deputy Director, New Leaders Council Oakland

Michael W. Chavez grew up in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Along with his parents, Michael immigrated to the United States when he was 10 years old. Soon after settling in Lynwood, California, he realized that higher education was the only way to achieve the American Dream of socio-economic upward mobility.

Michael's hard work and dedication resulted in an impressive academic record, which earned him a full scholarship to attend UC Berkeley. Michael attained his Bachelors of Arts in Political Economy in May 2013. During his time as an undergraduate, Michael connected with students from similar upbringings. He learned the skills to become a leader and give back to the community, in order to provide other low-income and immigrant children the opportunity to attain a higher education. As a member of MECHXA and Brother of Gamma Zeta Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, Michael became an active leader within the RAZA and Multicultural Greek communities on campus.

Immediately after graduating from UC Berkeley Michael became the Chapter Advisor for his fraternity, Gamma Zeta Alpha. Additionally, he was invited to serve on the RAZA Center's Advisory Board where he continued providing support and mentoring to undergraduate students at the university.

Michael's early work experience includes interning for Oakland Councilmember Abel Guillen and Oakland's Centro Legal de la Raza. Michael is currently a licensed Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley. On his free time, Michael continues to give back through volunteering and service on various boards. Michael considers himself an educator and an advocate for financial literacy.

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