Brion Oaks is first Chief Equity Officer for the City of Austin. Brion is responsible for working with City leadership and local communities to create an equity framework and facilitate dialogue and organizational practices that support the development and adoption of equity as a shared value. He serves as the technical expert in addressing equity as it is applied to city wide policies, programs, practices, and budget decisions with an overall vision to make Austin the most livable city for ALL.
Prior to his arrival to the City of Austin, Brion served as the Vice President of Health Equity for fourteen years at the American Heart Association’s Southwest Affiliate. In this capacity, he oversaw the affiliate’s department that was dedicated to improving cardiovascular health for vulnerable populations and reducing disparities in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Brion had a celebrated career at the American Heart Association. He was the 2009 recipient of the “Rome Betts in Health Equity” award, and in 2010 was a recipient of the national “Cass Wheeler Integration” award in recognition for his work in collaboration and integration across the American Heart Association.
Brion earned his Bachelor of Science in Political Science from University of Houston and Master of Public Administration from Texas State University. Prior to his career at the American Heart Association, Oaks worked as a legislative assistant for state Rep. Dora Olivo, D-Rosenberg, and as a project coordinator for the Texas Healthy Kids Corporation and the Texas Medical Foundation.
Throughout his career, Brion has focused on improving health outcomes for minority communities and addressing disparities in access to health care services. Oaks is on the Central Texas Diversity Council, Board of the Austin Chapter of the National Association of Healthcare Executives, and KLRU Community Advisory Board.
Mary Ann Ramirez graduated from San Marcos High School in 1976. She has been employed with the City since 2006, and started with the Equity Office in February 2017.
Prior to working at the City, she was employed with Travis County Juvenile Probation Department. Mary Ann has a Secretarial-Clerical Administrative Management certificate from the Office Education Association.
Kellee Coleman has over 18 years of equity and social justice community organizing experience integrating media, and popular education as strategies for social change. In 2008 she co-founded Vibrant Woman/Mama Sana prenatal clinic, a project of Mamas of Color Rising that provides holistic and culturally specific prenatal care, birth companions, midwifery services, prenatal fitness and nutrition services to lower income Black and Latina folks in the Austin area.
In 2013 Kellee facilitated the Austin Public Health Department’s community health workers training focused on health equity issues impacting Black women in Austin, Texas. She has conducted original research on the social determinants of health as they impact Black women locally. She is a member of the national leadership collective of Incite! Women and Trans* People of Color Against Violence. She has consulted with numerous national and local organizations on equity and reproductive issues including the U.S. Midwifery Education, Regulation, & Association, MANA, A National Latina Organization, The University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs, and the Austin Women’s Community Center.
Kellee has three children and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from St. Edwards University in 2015.
Amanda Jasso joins the Equity Office after serving as the Latinx Community Archivist at the Austin History Center, a division of the Austin Public Library. This position allowed her to work with communities who are barred from access to resources in many forms, building upon her goals of pursuing equitable information access and preservation of underdocumented histories and stories.
She holds a Master of Information Science from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania. She has experience working in labor archives, public libraries, and city government. While in graduate school, she partnered with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project to research, compile, and disseminate information resources for persons leaving immigration detention centers. Her research and advocacy includes sustainable practices for serving immigrant communities and undocumented persons and exploring the powerful links between history, memory, identity, and community.
Brandon Kroos, AmeriCorps VISTA Office Coordinator
Brandon Kroos is in the Office as part of the year-long AmeriCorps VISTA Program. He is scheduled to serve with the Equity Office until March 2019. He has been in charge of organizing and supporting the Equity Action Team, the Quality of Life Resource Advisory Commissions budget work group, planning the long-term schedule of the Equity Assessment process, and facilitating the technology use for the Office.
Brandon was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and graduated in 2017 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He studied Journalism and Economics, and uses those skills to effectively communicate with community, City staff, and Directors. He plans to attend graduate school in the future to advance his education in Economics, and hopes to eventually obtain a position promoting socially conscious public policy.
Raaj Pyada is currently an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Biochemistry. As a part of the Polymathic Scholars Honors program, he is pursuing an additional course of studies that emphasizes understanding health disparities, with a particular emphasis on racial, educational, and nutritional inequities that manifest themselves in the form of chronic lifestyle-related conditions such as diabetes mellitus type 2 and obesity. Raaj is interested in analyzing the inequalities present in Austin through quantitative statistical analysis, policy research, and community engagement.
In addition to his work with the Equity Office, Raaj is a part of a Biochemistry research group at The University of Texas which studies the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Raaj has previously served as a 2017 Summer Teaching Fellow/Quarter-Time AmeriCorps Member with the Breakthrough Collaborative’s Central Texas branch.