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 2003, 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
Bruce Nye, President & Board Chair
Bruce Nye, a life-long resident of the Bay Area and a thirty-eight year resident of Oakland, is one of the founders of Make Oakland Better Now! He raised his three children in Oakland, where all attended Oakland Public Schools. He is a trial lawyer with with a national practice, 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 in Oakland.
Jim Blachman, Secretary
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.
Nathan Stalnaker, Chief Financial Officer
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, the president of the board of Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere, and a member of the Coalition for Police Accountability. She has lived in Oakland for 25 years.
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, Chair of the steering committee of OpenOakland and Chair of the Greater Rockridge Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council.
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.
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.
Jay Ashford has been a resident of Oakland for 12 years, and a resident of the Bay area for 27. He has served on the City of Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission, the Budget Advisory Committee, and the Community Policing Advisory Board. As the founder and principal of ATS Partners, he advises organizations on how to automate, streamline and improve their business processes through the use of cloud-based technologies. He lives with his family in the Dimond district.
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.
Bruce currently works as the Legislation Manager for the Oakland Police Department, where he works with the City’s Office of the City Attorney, Controller’s Bureau and City Administration to pass legislation in support of contracts, MOUs, budget priorities policing and public safety strategies. He writes City Council reports, legislation and grants, and supports diverse communication and partnership efforts. Previously, he worked as a policy analyst and community liaison for Councilmember (now Mayor) Libby Schaaf. In that role he provided analysis and proposals for several City of Oakland fiscal budgets and new pension liability rules and wrote new laws on infrastructure zoning, waste and recycling contracts, traffic safety, open data and budget transparency. He led the strategy, public engagement, and development of Oakland’s first market-based parking benefit district. He has a M.P.P. from UCLA, and before that served as a teacher and mentor for the Los Angeles Unified School District.