Shared Struggle, Shared Dream Part III:

Harnessing Our Political Power

Moderated by Doctor Jon Paul

Tuesday, February 23rd, 20215:30pm

Join us for Part 3 and the last in our series with local community leaders discussing our shared visions and dreams. If there is one thing we can all agree on it is that we need change. Our panelists will be sharing their experience in Organizing, Advocating, and Creating Policy and Change by and for Intersectional Communities in the Inland Region

Moderator: Doctor Jon Paul

Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins (DoctorJonPaul) is a professor national speaker, freelance journalist, thought leader, and media critic who examines the intersections of identity, gender, and race in entertainment. Named Business Equality Magazine’s “Top 40 LGBTQ People Under 40”, their work has been featured on sites like NBC News, Vox, VICE, MTV News, Essence, Out Magazine, TedX, and more. They have worked on several inclusion projects with top brands like Apple, Disney, Instagram, and the NFL and currently teach about diversity and inclusion at the University of Redlands. They hold a doctorate in educational justice and often write and lecture about what liberation means for queer Black people and how we can help them not just survive, but thrive.

Register for Shared Struggle, Shared Dream Part 3 here

Panelist: Robert Armenta, Jr.

For 25 years, Robert Armenta, Jr. has been an outspoken advocate for social change. He’s fought for, defended, and advanced the health and human rights of communities in Southern California and beyond. Robert is a proven leader with a wide breadth of experience in non-profit management, public policy, electoral politics, and lobbying on behalf of progressive issues at all levels of government.

In his current position serving as Senior Vice-President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties (PPOSBC), Robert has helped to ensure that underserved women, men, and teens have access to healthcare and education they need to live healthier lives. Aside from leading the public policy and advocacy work, Robert also oversees the organization’s political action fund established to protect and expand reproductive healthcare and education in California.

Prior to joining the PPOSBC team, Robert worked as Chief of Staff for California State Assemblymember John Longville in San Bernardino County overseeing operations for both the Sacramento and district offices. He served as the Assemblymember’s principal staff advisor on budgetary matters and policy initiatives with an emphasis on education, health, and human rights issues.

Robert worked in Washington, D.C., as Legislative Assistant for the late Congressman George E. Brown Jr. representing cities of San Bernardino County. Robert briefed the Congressman on legislation concerning education, labor, and human rights issues. During this time he served on the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association Executive Board.

Prior to working on Capitol Hill, Robert served as Deputy Director of Casa Ramona, Inc., a social service organization and community center in San Bernardino County providing early childhood education, mental health, and medical services, and senior housing to underserved communities

Currently, Robert chairs the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California’s (PPAC) 2020 Electoral Strategy Workgroup that focuses on winning key state and federal legislative races. Robert’s other statewide service includes PPAC’s Legislative Committee, PPAC’s Social Justice Advisory Committee, and the California School Board Association (CSBA). His local community service includes the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Board of Directors, Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance Board of Directors, Casa Ramona, Inc. Board of Directors, Sinfonia Mexicana Board of Directors, and co-chaired the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Committed to education and public service, Robert was elected to the Colton Joint Unified School District Board of Education in 2001, re-elected in 2005 and 2010. He served as Board President for two terms and was appointed to represent the district on the Colton-Redlands-Yucaipa Regional Occupational Program Board for three terms. While advocating for student achievement in the classroom, Robert also implemented the first rating system for public high school districts’ sex education curriculum in California prior to the passage of the California Healthy Youth Act.

An accomplished political consultant, Robert has directed many successful campaigns. As a hobby, he continues to volunteer his expertise to help elect first-time LGBTQ+ and other community of color candidates committed to building healthier communities.

Robert received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University, San Bernardino, earned a master’s in Public Administration from the University of La Verne, and participated in the CSBA’s Masters in Governance program.

Robert resides in the City of Riverside with his partner Dr. Eric Mooney.

Register for Shared Struggle, Shared Dream Part 3 here

Panelist: Gabriel Maldonado

The Founder and CEO of TruEvolution, Gabriel Maldonado has led the organization's efforts for the past eleven years, introducing new community services such as: comprehensive HIV prevention and care services, a mental health clinic, and emergency supportive housing. A former member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS under President Obama, Gabriel advocates to elevate the representation of minority community-based organizations in state and federal policy priorities. Complimenting his work at TruEvolution, Gabriel continues his advocacy and thought-leadership serving on regional boards, such as Borrego Community Health Foundation –– the 5th largest qualified health foundation in the U.S. –– and global organizations such as the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Gabriel works to advise industry leaders as an advisory board member for ViiV Healthcare, Janssen Therapeutics, and Merck & Co. –– engaging advocacy at multiple levels.

Gabriel believes that the needs and priorities of marginalized populations should be heard in every room and every table impacting those communities. Gabriel is passionately driven by his past experiences –– witnessing the devastating impacts of the industrialization of poor urban communities. Raised in the city of Compton, Gabriel watched not only his health but the health of his family and neighborhood be negatively impacted by the corrosive effects of refineries, smog, logistics, and chemical facilities. Now as a person living with HIV, Gabriel is firmly-rooted in advancing the quality of life and human dignity of people of color in the LGBTQ experience.

Register for Shared Struggle, Shared Dream Part 3 here

Panelist: Love TaShia Asanti

Founder-I Teach Love Institute, award-winning journalist, activist, and author of 7 books.

Love TaShia Asanti is an award-winning poet, activist, journalist, filmmaker, and author of 7 books. Love is the founder and director of I-Teach Love Institute, an educational platform and think tank promoting cultural understanding and community wellness. A speaker on social issues such as racism, homophobia, and disparities in healthcare, Love has made appearances on television and radio to support the healing of humanity and healing the planet. Love is the host of the TV show, The Window on Your World TV, which streams in America and across Africa. More about Love's work and writings can be found at her web site at

Register for Shared Struggle, Shared Dream Part 3 here

Panelist: Jessica Hernandez

Jessica was raised in South Central Los Angeles and is now an Inland Empire community member. She earned a BA in Anthropology and a master’s in Public Policy at University of California- Riverside. During her time in academia, she was inspired by community members and scholars to work on collaborative projects that prioritize community members and their expertise on health and wellness projects. Since then, she has cared for friends, family, and community through food and gardening. She is proud to continue her time with the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice,as a digital organizer for the wellbeing of immigrant communities.

Register for Shared Struggle, Shared Dream Part 3 here

Panelist: Gustavo Hurtado

Gustavo Hurtado Jr has experience in youth organizing, grassroots project management, and LGBTQ+ mental health, in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. They worked as the mental health education and outreach coordinator for the Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance for four years and is the Lead Facilitator for their SOURCE Group. Gustavo grew up in the Inland Empire and has two degrees from the University of California Riverside, a BA in Anthropology and a BA in Biology. Gustavo is a gender non-binary, pansexual taco lover. They use mixed pronouns (he/she/they) and is Latinx.

Register for Shared Struggle, Shared Dream Part 3 here