Announcing the 2019-2020 Shinnyo Fellows!

October 4, 2019

Each year the Shinnyo Fellows immerse themselves in a year-long Fellowship in local, national and global communities. The Shinnyo Fellowship Program continues to collaborate with Chapman University, George Mason University, Seattle University, University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University and Redwood City 2020.

On August 8th, all of the Shinnyo Fellows came together with their respective supervisors and mentors from their universities and a partner organization for the Shinnyo Fellows’ Orientation at the Foundation office in San Bruno, CA. They learned more about what it meant for them to be Shinnyo Fellows along with the Foundation’s mission and the peace initiative, “Infinite Paths to Peace.” They were encouraged to discover and realize that they have a unique opportunity to actualize their passion for peace during their fellowship.

In addition, the Shinnyo Fellows prepared for their leadership role as the Home Group co-facilitators at the Foundation’s Annual Retreat. Their preparation to be effective facilitators continued to the Home Group Facilitators’ Orientation at the Bear Valley Visitor Center near Pt. Reyes Station on August 9. Joined by their partner co-facilitators, they took time to learn about the retreat activities, in particular, Home Group discussions and activities. It was the time for the Shinnyo Fellows to meet their partner facilitators, most of who were high school students, and learn about their leadership skills and experiences for the first time.

Please learn about the Shinnyo Fellows’ background and paths to peace by reading their short bios along with their photos below. The photos from the Shinnyo Fellows’ Orientation, the Home Group Facilitators’ Orientation, and Annual Retreat are all available at this link here.

We look forward to sharing about the Shinnyo Fellows’ great work in the near future!


Alexis Sutterman

(Post-Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Alexis is a recent graduate from Chapman University with a major in Political Science. In the past few years, she has been involved in several efforts to pursue peace in her local and global communities. As a research assistant at Chapman’s Earl Babbie Research Center, Alexis has worked closely with two professors on their research on development assistance in post-conflict societies in East-Central Africa and indigenous environmental movements in Latin America. In addition, Alexis has been very engaged in Orange County politics. As a NextGen California fellow, Fund Her intern, and the president of Chapman University Young Democrats, Alexis has registered young people to vote, informed others about local measures, and worked on several campaigns to help progressive candidates get elected into office. On campus, she has organized a Rock the Vote concert event, a walkout against gun violence, and a march to city council to protect CA SB-54 bill (sanctuary city status in Orange). Alexis has also traveled to Israel/Palestine as a member of the Olive Tree Initiative organization to practice conflict analysis/resolution and international peace-building. Inspired by this trip, she wrote her senior thesis on the crisis in Gaza, and used decolonial theory to envision a peaceful future for Palestinians in the region. During her Shinnyo Fellowship, Alexis plans to explore opportunities to pursue climate justice in both an individual and societal context. Blending the frameworks of deep ecology and decolonial theory, she seeks to learn strategies of developing ecological consciousness in oneself, and encouraging this in others within her community. Alexis has hope that this will enable humans to enact a different world-view that puts us back into harmony with the planet.


Oumou Ly

(Post-Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Oumou Ly is a recent graduate of George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, concentrating in Justice and Reconciliation, and minoring in sociology. As a woman of color, and daughter of Senegalese immigrants, Oumou has developed on, and advocated for, her intersectional identities while pursuing her degree. Over the course of her time at Mason, Oumou has had the opportunity to research and engage with a multitude of interests, including migration dynamics in Europe, disproportionate incarceration rates among African Americans, colorism among women in the U.S, and Central African conflict. Bridging her interests with advocacy efforts, she has served as the President of the African Student Association, co-chair of the Conflict Free Campus Initiative Task Force, and as the Enough Projects’ Student Upstander. In her final year, through her government relations internship and Peacebuilding Fellowship, Oumou dedicated her studies to learning about our current public health crisis. Through research and community engagement, Oumou began to digest the ongoing problem of public and reproductive health within the U.S., including disproportionate access to quality health services and high mortality rates, mostly among lower income, women of color. As a Shinnyo Fellow, Oumou seeks to work within her own community to better serve as an advocate in addressing health disparities. In her spare time, Oumou enjoys watching true-crime documentaries and sampling international foods.



Cameron Payne

(Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Cameron is a rising senior at Seattle University working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Coming from a Palestinian and Jewish background, the values of peace and resilience have been instilled in her since birth. Through her time at the Center for Community Engagement and the Social Work Program at Seattle University, Cameron has found her passion working with youth and families from under resourced communities. She has been working as an academic mentor at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School for the last three years and a one-on-one mentor at Washington Middle School for the last two years. Additionally, she has worked as a Serve Local Ambassador at the Center in order to encourage more students to get involved with their community. She believes that helping to guide youth is the best way to show them how to create change by keeping true to their vision and aligned with their own values in the work they do. Cameron hopes to spend her future empowering youth of color through art and poetry, and staying grounded in organizing and activism that advocates for the groups who are marginalized.

Mariana Renteria Hernandez

(Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Mariana is a senior at Seattle University (SU) where she is a double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice. She has a passion for addressing issues at the intersection of mental health, trauma, youth, and the criminal justice system. Mariana interns for the Seattle University Immigration Clinic through which she interviews detainees in immigration detention centers in order to assist a legal team and psychologist in creating petitions for asylum. Mariana also interns for Obsidian Forensics and assists in creating psychological evaluations that seek to support the behavioral, academic, and emotional needs for youths with trauma. Throughout her undergraduate career Mariana has worked heavily at her university’s Center for Community Engagement, having volunteered with youth in academic settings and served as a Serve Local Ambassador and Summer Fellow. Throughout the upcoming year as a Shinnyo Fellow, she hopes to develop strong bonds with youth facing adversity and determine how youth with trauma wish and need to be supported in order to heal and thrive.


Cynthia Solis Ramirez

(Post-Undergraduate BUILD Equity/Shinnyo Fellow)

Cynthia Solis Ramirez is a first generation college student who recently graduated from Cal with an undergraduate degree in Environmental Economics and Policy, and a minor in Education.  This coming year she will be serving as the Berkeley United in Literacy Development (BUILD) Equity Fellow. BUILD is one of the largest reading programs in the East Bay with 215 UC Berkeley student mentors providing one to one literacy support to 850 youth at 20 location in Oakland and Berkeley.


Robael Gizachew

(Post-Undergraduate Berkeley 2020 Vision/Shinnyo Fellow)

Robael is the Berkeley Vision/Shinnyo Fellow. He will be working to support Berkeley’s 2020 Vision, a collaborative, city-wide effort to end the racial opportunity gap for Berkeley youth. Robael is a former student of Berkeley public schools, having attended King Middle School, Berkeley High School, and Berkeley City College. He recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Social Welfare and a Minor in Global Poverty. As a student leader, one of his many roles on campus was serving as the Transfer Coordinator for the Black Recruitment and Retention Center. In this role, he organized and supported recruiting and retention events for Black transfer students ranging from admission presentations and financial aid/scholarship presentations to community-building events such as the first Black transfer retreat. Through his role, Robael was able to support almost a thousand students at UC Berkeley both transfer and traditional students. As a Shinnyo Fellow, he is excited to return to support students at his former high school through the dual enrollment program, a partnership with Berkeley High School and Berkeley City College that increases access to higher education, and to coordinate a math mentoring program operating at all Berkeley middle schools.

The John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at STANFORD

UNIVERSITY and Redwood City 2020

Shannon Chiu

(Post-undergraduate Shinnyo Community Impact Fellow)

Shannon is a recent graduate of Stanford University, where she majored in chemistry and is originally from Sunnyvale, California. Shannon developed her passion for addressing health disparities by performing volunteer work through service in vulnerable communities. She volunteered as a Spanish and Mandarin interpreter at the Cardinal Free Clinics which primarily serves low-income immigrant patients regardless of insurance or documentation status. In addition to interpreting, Shannon led a project as a Hepatology Clinic coordinator in which she explored health care barriers faced by Asian-American patients with hepatitis B. Later, in a qualitative research project with Stanford’s Pediatric Advocacy Program, she investigated how disparities in school readiness impact low-income immigrant children. Through the Shinnyo Fellowship partnering with Redwood City 2020 and the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, Shannon is excited to continue working to empower underserved families, both through direct community engagement and research. She is grateful for this opportunity to learn how to enact institutional change to combat social inequity, which she hopes to one day apply to her aspirations of becoming a physician and public health advocate.