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Mira Manickam-shirley, co-Founder & Executive director

Mira Manickam-Shirley is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Brown Girl Surf.  She is a long time environmental educator and artist in the San Francisco Bay area, former Youth Program Coordinator at NatureBridge, and a recipient of an Open Circle artist grant, and an Audobon Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship for her innovative work with youth in nature. She holds a degree in Environmental Studies from Brown University and a Master of Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry.  She is the author of the book Just Enough, available through the University of Washington press. 


Maya Yamato, Director of operations

Maya joined Brown Girl Surf in January 2018 as the Interim Executive Director, before transitioning to the Director of Operations in 2019. Maya is a surfer, scientist, and educator. Before coming to California, she was a devoted year-round surfer in New England. She has a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, as well as a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University. As a scientist, Maya studied hearing in whales and the effects of human-made noise on marine mammals. She has served on the Scientific Committee of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, and was a Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. When she is not with Brown Girl Surf, Maya teaches Oceanography at Diablo Valley College and spends time with her family. 

Marlim (aka Marley) Reynosa, Program coordinator / Lead Surf Instructor

Marley is an avid surfer who has competed in national surf contests in her home country, the Dominican Republic. Following her completion of the International Surfing Association Level I Surf Instructor program in March 2017, she joined the surf instructor volunteer crew at Brown Girl Surf. Her experiences as a female surfer in the Dominican Republic and as a Latina in the U.S. fuel her dedication to empowering women of color through outdoor recreation. Marley loves music and arts and is trained in opera and classical vocal performance. She holds a degree in French Studies from Chapman University with a minor in Music. She resides in Oakland, CA, and you can find her prancing around in nature or humming tunes in between sets of waves.


ginger cuevas, interim program and events manager

Ginger Cuevas joined Brown Girl Surf as a volunteer in 2017 and transitioned to the team as Interim Program and Events Manager in May 2019. Ginger is an Afro Puerto Rican mom of one daughter plus several fur children, a surfer, Hip-Hop artist, composer, life-long Bomba student and singer/drummer with Taller Bombalele. Originally from Brooklyn, NY and proudly residing in East Oakland, CA, she has called the Bay Area her home for the past 14 years. When she is not with Brown Girl Surf she is taking her years of professional experience in the tech industry and Computer Science education to workshops for local artists. Ginger loves reading as many books as possible, going on road trips and old school video games. You can find her riding waves at the Princeton Jetty.

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Celeste West, Brown Girl surf / Berkeley Public Service Intern

Celeste West is originally from Bakersfield, CA, has 2 older sisters, and loves to paint. She is a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in Sociology and is on the Cal Women’s Basketball Team. Celeste loves to work with kids in the community and bond through creative outlets. Brown Girl Surf inspires her to be more conscious of her relationship with the environment and to hopefully start a non-profit organization of her own in the future.


Farhana Huq, founder

Farhana is an award-winning, visionary, social entrepreneur and professional coach.  She’s done everything from being a member of the U.S. National Karate team in her youth, to creating educational soap operas to help low-income immigrant women start their own businesses in America. She began volunteering when she was 14, and eventually worked on issues of homelessness and housing, dance arts programs for youth and anti-war activism for Congo.

At the age of 24, she founded C.E.O. Women, a non-profit dedicated to helping low-income immigrant and refugee women become entrepreneurs. Farhana ran the organization for 11 years and helped over 2,000 women in the process.  In 2008 she founded Bay Area Friends of the Congo, an all volunteer group led currently by Congolese-American activists, dedicated to raising awareness and ending the mineral conflict in Congo.   She went on to start Brown Girl Surf in 2011.  Currently she runs Surf Life Executive Coaching TM, where she coaches game changing leaders and entrepreneurs towards a business and life they love using a creative mix of applied neuroscience, surfing, walking and coaching.  In early 2016 she stepped away from being Executive Director of Brown Girl Surf and now acts as an advisor and volunteer for the organization.    

 Farhana loves to dance and drum, and is trained in the North Indian classical and Tahitian Ori traditions. She also has a natural wanderlust, and has traveled to almost 40 countries.  Her travels, commitment to the empowerment of women and girls, and her love for surf, art, dance and the planet inspired the vision for Brown Girl Surf TM.  Farhana resides in Oakland, California and enjoys surfing all types of waves on California’s Northern and Central coasts.  To learn more about Farhana and her other work, visit her personal website:  www.farhanahuq.com.


Rising Leader Mentors 2019:

Erin Morgan, Jamila Hubbard, Madoka Hara, Reina Cabezas, Rebecca Sandidge


Youth Rising Leaders Team 2019:

Masai'a Abrams, Justine Courtenay-Huang, Jessica Knox, Lotus Stanton-Pearl, Soleil Warner, Shaunti Williams


BGS Surf Instructors, Transport team, & Admin Team:

Kirstina Bolton, Cristine Blanco, Shannon Brown, Natalia Carballo, Jen Chen, Alex Chan, Momo Chang, Serena Chen, Reina Cabezas, Kristi Chan, Ginger Cuevas, Camila Fernandez, Nikila Flagg, Anastasia Gomes, Madoka Hara, Jamila Hubbard, Rowena Kamo, Shalini Kannan, Megan Leppla, Miriam Morris, Jackie Newton, Karen Nga, Evette Padilla, Daranee Petsod, Tiffany Refuerzo, Grecia Rojas, Z Sabah, Liz Santos, Alisa Serio, Stephanie Somersille, Alene Spindel, Janice Staab, Suzanne Turrell, Michaela Vatcheva, Emily Wheeler, Connie Yang