Rodney K. Nickens, Jr
Program Officer, Policy and Innovation
Why do you do what you do?
I’m the proud product of a working-class, African-American family from Virginia and the first person in my family to earn a college degree. I am also a son, a brother, an uncle, a queer man of color, and a resident of the city of Oakland. My life experiences led me to pursue both graduate and law degrees, as well as a career in social justice advocacy. I see housing and economic justice as one of the fundamental civil rights issues of our time, which has contributed to longstanding and deep levels of wealth and income inequality in the San Francisco Bay Area, and exacerbated the racial wealth gap in the United States. Growing up, I experienced first-hand the impact of housing instability and am determined to advance bold, equitable housing solutions in our region that ensure housing and racial justice for our most vulnerable children, families and essential workers.
What drew you to the foundation?
I was drawn to the San Francisco Foundation to contribute my expertise in affordable housing policy due to the foundation’s holistic approach to grantmaking, civic leadership and social justice advocacy, and longstanding commitment to racial and economic equity and housing justice. The time is now for bold, structural change to address racial injustice in our region and I am thrilled to be a part of a team committed to advocating for the policy changes that are so needed in our communities.
How would you describe your role?
I manage a grantmaking portfolio and contribute policy expertise and advocacy that advances affordable housing systems changes efforts for tenant protections, preservation and production to ensure that Bay Area residents with low incomes have a safe and affordable place to call home and thrive.
Are you involved in any volunteer activities?
I currently serve on the Board of Directors for New Leaders Council Oakland and the Greenlining Institute Academy Alumni Association, where my focus includes leadership and professional development and digital organizing and communications. I also serve on the Regional Planning Committee at the Association of Bay Area Governments.