Nina Woodruff-Walker, M.A.
Nina Woodruff-Walker, MOCHA's Executive Director, is an Oakland native and became a “MOCHA kid” in 1989 when she connected through the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC). When Oakland schools removed art programming from the curriculum, MOCHA became an art-making space and welcoming refuge during her teenage years. She found delight in identifying different ways to use art to create, express, shape and influence, even getting her first experience in giving back as a MOCHA youth board member. This cemented her passion for community service. Nina is a poet who loves visual arts and understands the value of providing a platform for children to express, create, and teach.
She entered the tech industry in 2000 – with a focus in project management which opened doors to a successful 10-year career in technology sales. During her master’s seminars at CSUEB, she studied Afrofuturism; she spearheaded an Afrofuturist exhibition and curriculum at MOCHA in 2020. Her master’s thesis was a Critical Discourse Analysis of the Framing of White Terrorism; this research has informed her practice and commitment to youth development. Her motto is, "Ideas are only great when we have the courage to give birth to them."
Roxanne Padgett, MOCHA's Creative Director is responsible for Professional Development and Curriculum Development for the entire organization. Roxanne is a Visual Artist, Arts Educator, and an Executive Administrator bringing more than 30 years experience in multiple youth service, and arts educational nonprofit organizations. She brings a combination of arts education practices, management experience, leadership ability and a passion for the arts. The past 25 of those years have been spent working for MOCHA in a variety of capacities: Senior Teaching Artist, Program Manager, Curriculum Developer/Writer, Professional Development Coach, Director of Educational Programs, Director of Programs and Roxanne is certified arts integration coach, holds a teaching credential in visual art, and received a fellowship to attend Harvard’s Project Zero on arts education. Additionally, Roxanne’s artwork and articles have been published in several visual art periodicals. Roxanne is the author of “Acrylic Techniques in Mixed Media,” published by North Light Books, Arts Division.
Director of Curation and Culture Keeping
Founding Teaching Artist
Kaya Fortune, MOCHA's Founding Teaching Artists has been a teaching artist in the Bay Area for over 30 years. He is a visual artist who exhibits his work nationally, a fashion designer with his own menswear line, and the co-founder of an artist collective called Soul Salon 10. Kaya Fortune moved to the Bay Area 1982 to pursue an academic teaching career. He was drawn to the Bay Area because of its art scene which he saw as a creative environment where he could pursue his own art career. He later focused on art education and became a teaching artist at MOCHA in 1988. He wanted to inspire children by using the visual arts as a vehicle to give them the voice to be creative spirits. He has shown his work during the last 25 years throughout the Bay Area.
Minister of Youth Leadership & Development
Monika Brooks, MOCHA's Youth Leadership & Development Administrator is a community member and advocate for literacy, racial diversity and autism awareness in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Executive Director of the Mocha Autism Network in which she works to spread awareness of autism within communities of color. She has appeared regularly on This Week in Blackness, Altruistic Leadership’s “Take a Lesson: Uncovering Hidden Mentors for Diverse Leaders. As a writer, Monika has been featured on the Classy Black Girl, Altruistic Leadership, and Educated Hood Chicks Websites.
A member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Monika holds a Bachelors Degree in the Area of Black Studies from San Francisco State University’s College of Ethnic Studies. She is currently working towards an advanced degree in Educational Leadership, and is a board member at East Oakland Youth Development Center.
Ashley Aaron, M.A.
Community Arts Library Program Supervisor
Ashley Aaron, MOCHA's Community Arts Library Program Supervisor, is an educator, art enthusiast, self-proclaimed bibliophile, and mother of two wondrous little humans. A Berkeley, CA native, Ashley brings over a decade of work in Oakland and other local community based organizations and schools to her role here at MOCHA. She holds a bachelors degree from Mills College in Art History, and a master's in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University.
An avid reader and lover of both the arts and the written word, Ashley curates literacy and art rich environments for children and young people, where they see themselves and their communities mirrored in the curriculum, and as windows to the world and possibilities around them. She believes deeply that the arts should be accessible to all, and that providing children and young people with these types of experiences can be life changing. At MOCHA, Ashley develops community centered art programming for children, young adults, and families in partnership with local Bay Area libraries.
Marcel Ramos, MOCHA's Operations Manager is a Beekeeper, Artist, Nature Enthusiast, and Community Member. As an East Bay native, Marcel is passionate about the rich cultural history of the Bay Area, from the arts to its local politics. With a B.S. in Environmental Science, Marcel has worked in spaces focused on social and environmental justice, and is an advocate for community resilience and empowerment. In his free time, you can find Marcel beekeeping with friends, trying new foods, and appreciating the art and natural beauty around Oakland, CA.
Nia Moten, MOCHA's Program Assistant, is a Howard University student from Oakland, CA pursuing a degree in Psychology. She joined MOCHA in 2014 as a volunteer and now provides administrative support for the organization's School Program department and regularly communicates with Teaching Artists and school site staff.
Museum & Community Programs Associate
Ying Yu, MOCHA's Museum Coordinator is a Laney College student born in China, and raised in Oakland, CA. She is a graduate of Oakland Technical High School, a former MOCHA intern, and a Laney College Student. A mixed media artist, she is interested in theatre, oil painting and sketching. Ying plans to transfer to San Francisco State University, where she will major in Fine Arts or Technical Theatre. In addition to interning at MOCHA, she also interned as a mural artist with the Arc Youth Fest with Bobby Arte, and at East Bay Asian Youth Center, as an intern working with young children. She enjoys rock climbing, video games, and volunteering at St. Vincent’s de Paul preparing and serving food to the unhoused. Ying provides administrative and facilities support for the organization's Museum Programs department, and regularly supports exhibitions and youth interns.
Art & Media Coordinator
Layeelah Muhammad, MOCHA's Arts & Media Coordinator, is a digital illustrator, photographer, and visual artist. She is currently studying psychology with an emphasis in child and adolescent development at Southern New Hampshire University, and has worked as a Digital Arts Assistant and Graphic Designer at Loyola Marymount University. With connecting interests of art, psychology, and human development, Layeelah believes creative expression is essential for a healthy life.
In addition to her current role as the Arts & Media Coordinator, she works as a Teaching Artist providing digital and visual art curriculum for youth of all ages, specializing in both community programs and in-school residencies. Layeelah enjoys spending her free time roller skating, crocheting, learning languages, admiring art, and resting.