Make Oakland Better Now! is a grass-roots group of voters, volunteers, and policy advocates working together to make Oakland a safer, more prosperous home for everyone. Founded in 2009, we’ve researched, lobbied, and successfully campaigned for a number of new, impactful policies, including the city’s Rainy Day Fund, Measure Z and Operation Ceasefire.
Our Board Members
Carrie Crespo, President and Board Chair
Carrie Crespo-Dixon has been an Oakland resident since 2012 moving to the Bay Area from NYC in 2009. She’s a communication professional with over two decades of experience working both in house and on the agency side. Carrie is particularly passionate about public safety, tech equity and civic engagement on both locally and nationally. She helped launch the first ever Technology Field Office in San Francisco during the Obama 2012 campaign in addition to working on local government elections in 2014 and 2016.
An east bay native, Jim earned degrees in Economics from UC, Berkeley and lived in Oakland from 1997 to 2016. An interest in data-based public policy and love of Oakland led him join Make Oakland Better Now! as a founding board member. He’s also volunteered with the Coalition of Police Accountability. At Make Oakland Better Now!, Jim focus includes Public Safety Policy, Police Oversight and Unfunded Liabilities. A CFA® charterholder, Jim does product management in financial services.
Ed Gerber has been involved in numerous volunteer activities in Oakland over the last 10 years. He is currently the Chair of the Oakland Budget Advisory Commission. He is a member of the MOBN! Board, the Local School Action group that presents the annual Volunteer Fair and been a member of other volunteer groups. He volunteers in numerous political campaigns. He lives in Montclair and regularly hikes the Oakland hills. Prior to retiring Ed was the CEO of an Association Management and Lobbying firm in Sacramento. His Clients included numerous Counties, Cities and the California Transit Association (CTA). He served as the Executive Director of the CTA. In Sacramento he was involved in numerous civic activities including a City County Consolidation Commission. He also was a Deputy Administrative Officer for the County of San Diego.
Paula Hawthorn, after obtaining her PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley, worked for most of her professional life as the vice-president of software development for startups. After retiring she became active in gun violence prevention, and is now the co-chair of the Oakland/Alameda County Brady Campaign, a member of the board of Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere, and a member of the Coalition for Police Accountability. She serves on the Oakland Services and Safety Oversight Commission and has served on the Community Policing Advisory Board. She has lived in Oakland for 25 years.
Bruce Nye, a life-long resident of the Bay Area and a more than 40 year resident of Oakland, is one of the founders of Make Oakland Better Now! As such, he has been a member since 2003. He and his family have lived in District 1 since the early 1980’s. He and his wife raised his three children in Oakland, where all attended Oakland Public Schools. Historically he was a trial lawyer with a national practice, but now primarily a mediator dealing with helping parties make peace. He is also a nationally politically active activist, an amateur photographer, and a believer in responsible, transparent, accountable and responsive government. He is committed to the morally critical task of eliminating violent crime and homelessness in Oakland, and serves on related MOBN! subcommittees. In the same connection, he is an active member of Oakland Rotary, serving on its Community Service Committee and its Homelessness Committee.
Michael Ubell has retired from a career in development of database and transaction management systems. A 25 year resident of Oakland, he volunteers with groups working to reduce gun violence and crime and to provide access to city data and services through the use of information technology. He is a member of the board of The S.A.V.E. Center for Community Empowerment and Change, Active member and previous chair of the steering committee of OpenOakland and Chair of the Greater Rockridge Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council.
Robert Ogilvie is the Founder of Ogilvie Labs. Robert has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University and throughout his career, he has helped local and regional government and their corporate and non-profit partners do the following:
• build more effective institutional capacity to act in the public good
• engage and mobilize local leaders to advocate for policies to make for healthier and more economically vibrant places
• draft innovative public policies
• develop the resources necessary to implement these policies
Prior to founding Ogilvie Labs Robert was the founder of SPUR’s Oakland office where he brought people from across the political spectrum together to develop solutions to the big problems that Oakland faced. Robert is a passionate advocate for an Oakland where all can live healthy and prosperous lives.
Jim Pugh is a co-director of the Universal Income Project, a nonprofit devoted to the expansion of economic security and human dignity through the implementation of a universal basic income in the United States. He is also a co-founder of The Access Lab, the founder and CEO of ShareProgress, and previously served as the Director of Analytics and Development for President Obama’s Organizing for America. Jim has a Ph.D. in distributed robotics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Mariana Gamez, Treasurer
Mariana has been part of MOBN! since 2018. She loves to give back to the community by helping with what she can and also decided to join MOBN to inform our Latin Community. She owns and operates her own business in the city of Oakland as an insurance agent.
Amanda Gallo is a lifetime resident of Oakland, California. Amanda attended Oakland public schools and earned a Bachelor of Arts, Legal Studies, from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Santa Clara University. She actively participates in serval volunteer activities including, community beautification, public safety advocacy and youth development initiatives. Her community involvement has influenced her public sector career path. She has served as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, where she formulated policies and procedures for Section 8 and affordable housing programs, and in 2018, joined the City of Fremont, City Manager’s Office, where she leads legislative affairs activities, business operations and procedures, oversees three departmental budgets, the City’s redistricting process, and is a liaison for Fremont Library Advisory Committee. In 2021, Amanda was elected to serve a two- year term as an Assembly District 18 Delegate to the California Democratic Party to represent Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro in CA Democratic Party legislative platforms and endorsement procedures.
Members at Large
Scott Hugo is the Housing Justice Attorney an attorney in the Affirmative Litigation, Innovation & Enforcement Division of the City Attorney’s Office. He previously served as an attorney in the Neighborhood Law Corps, an award-winning program that focuses on difficult issues facing neighborhoods including human trafficking, substandard housing and public safety. After graduating from UCLA with a BA in Political Science and History, Scott attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a MPhil in International Relations. He then completed the joint Juris Doctor/Master of Public Policy program at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government.
Sean Maher is a Bay Area native and has previously served as both reporter for the former Oakland Tribune and staffer to the Oakland mayor’s office. He’s seen the cost of violence strike far too many Oakland families and is dedicated to comprehensive safety reform for the city he loves. He is proud of Make Oakland Better Now! because of its fight for effective and accountable police practices that restore trust and build bridges with historically abused communities, its support for equitable opportunities that reach every neighborhood, and its laser focus on governmental accountability to ensure Oaklanders can enjoy responsible and transparent public services.