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Hello Oakland!

Published on October 30th, 2019

Peer Health Exchange’s new national headquarters are now in Oakland. Read below to learn why we’ve moved.

Have you heard the news? Peer Health Exchange’s National and Bay Area offices are now in Oakland’s historic Jack London Square. We opened our new doors in September, and we’re already loving it! Read below to learn why we’ve moved. 

When it came time to find a new home for Peer Health Exchange’s National Headquarters and Bay Area work, of the many considerations in front of us one thing was clear ⁠— young folx would be at the heart of our decision-making.

It was important we find a centrally-located space that would be more accessible to the young people we serve, as well as to our volunteer health educators. Now in Oakland we’re no longer separated by a bridge from our biggest local partner colleges at the University of California, Berkeley and at California State University, East Bay. And as our partnerships in East Bay continues to grow, we hope to become a place where young people from area schools feel welcomed. 

To celebrate the move, Kavita Shah and Babak Motie break a coconut for luck, success and prosperity

As the Bay Area’s needs shift and our staff continues to grow, this was also a great opportunity to reflect on our organization’s plans and goals.

“One of the things we’re working on this year is a youth advisory board,” said Osayuware (Tina) Enagbare, Vice President of Talent and Equity. “Now that our office is based in Oakland, it can be the place where they meet so they can engage with us outside of their classrooms in more organic ways and hopefully feel more comfortable being in our space.”

Broken coconut!

Many of our dedicated staff are also from the Oakland community. Having the office here allows us to focus on our core mission, do more creative work, and find new ways to get involved. This includes working alongside organizations in the area that are aligned with our vision of health equity. Our Bay team has already partnered with one of our new neighbors, Playworks, to host a volunteer retreat.

“It was a convenient location for us and, a part from that, the organization is amazing and I love what they do,” said Vanessa Sarmiento, Bay Program Coordinator. Vanessa added that working out of Oakland has not only helped her team members see each other in the office more often but has already started drawing in volunteers, “We saw a much more consistent turnaround for folks attending the retreat compared to the number of people we have in our roster.” 

“It was a very grassroots, bottom-up approach to defining what our needs are financially and from a space perspective,” said Chief Financial Officer, Babak Motie, whose team led the way on this holistic process. “We wanted to make sure our different needs and priorities were considered by hearing from as many staff identities, levels, and roles as possible.”

The program year is just getting started. As Peer Health Exchange grows, and with our national and site staff increasingly working together across the country, Babak said he’s looking forward to sharing lessons learned with others across our network, “From an equity perspective, we’re hoping that being able to open up our Oakland office to young people and our volunteers will become a model as our other sites need to look for new spaces.”

Staff celebrating the move to 100 Webster Street

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