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Mira Manickam-shirley, co-Founder & Executive director emeritus 

Mira Manickam-Shirley is the Executive Director Emeritus 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, Interim Executive Director

Maya is a surfer, scientist, and educator who joined Brown Girl Surf as the Interim Executive Director in January 2018. Before coming to California, Maya 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 husband and their ocean-loving 2 year old. 

Marley Reynosa, Program & Events Manager, Lead Surf Instructor

Marley is the Program and Events Manager and Lead Surf Instructor at Brown Girl Surf. She 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. Due to her passion for the organization’s mission statement, she was thrilled to take on her current role as the planner and leader of the organization’s community events. 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.


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 ofBrown 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.

Advisors & rising leaders mentors: 

Rising Leader Mentors 2017:

Shannon Brown, Salomeh Ghorban, Alisa Serio, Sarah Warhaftig


BGS Surf Instructors, Transport team, & Admin Team 2017:

Jessica Baer, Kirstina Bolton, Natasha Brown, Kristi Chan, Mercy Cormier, Ginger Cuevas, Camila Fernandez, Anastasia Gomes, Jackie Newton, Janice Staab, Suzanne Turrell, Connie Yang


Youth Rising Leaders Team 2017:

Justine Courtenay-Huang, Sayre Hiebling-Frye, Leila Jahouach, Jessica Knox, Bella Maroon, Zuni Moon, Morgan Nok, Nakiya Stewart