advancing youth and community well-being

Ceres Policy Research - Our Team


our team


Angela Irvine-baker, Ph.D., Founder and Principal consultant

Dr. Irvine has more than 25 years of experience in education and social policy. Raised in Santa Cruz County, CA, Dr. Irvine earned her BA from UC Berkeley in 1988, her secondary teaching credential from St. Mary’s College of California in 1989, and her PhD in sociology from Northwestern University in 2002 while simultaneously serving as a National Science Fellow (NSF) in public policy and program evaluation. Dr. Irvine spent eight years running Ceres Policy Research from 2002 through 2010, four years as research director at the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), and two years as a Vice President at Impact Justice. She has studied housing, education, health, and criminal justice policy. She has served as the principal investigator of a national study of youth deincarceration; a national study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning, gender nonconforming and transgender (LGBQ/GNCT) young people in the youth justice system; a project to improve permanency for LGBT youth and youth of color within the criminal justice and youth justice systems; a survey of every detention hall, ranch, and camp in California to understand statewide pathways into the youth justice system for LGBT young people; a four-county study of the links between school discipline and justice involvement; and two studies to understand the impact of the criminalization of immigration on families and communities.  


aisha canfield-allen, m.p.p., director

Ms. Canfield has worked closely with Dr. Irvine over the past seven years. Her research largely focuses on the disproportionate detention of LGBT/GNC youth, identifying systemic points of disparity, such as contact with child welfare. In addition to her research, Canfield trains juvenile probation departments across the country to implement data collection systems and evaluates community-based providers serving system-involved youth nationally. She is also an expert on the Prison Rape Elimination Act, providing specialized training about the needs of LGBTQ prisoners. Canfield challenges all of these organizations to have an honest dialogue about disproportionality and move towards cultural affirmation.



Justin Brown, CPA, Finance manager

Justin Brown is responsible for Ceres’s overall financial management. Brown began work with Ceres in 2017 and brings more than 10 years of finance and accounting experience. He has specialized knowledge and skill in managing government and foundation grants as well as helping small business build finance and organizational infrastructure. Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Earlham College and a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Southern California. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the state of California. Brown also serves on the board of directors and chairs the Finance Committee for the ACLU of Northern California.




Mr. Foster has over ten years of communications production, strategy, and management experience. As a production assistant at Youth Radio in Oakland, Mr. Foster developed social media strategy and managed social media accounts. From there, Mr. Foster worked as a Strategist and Communications Fellow at Wonder: Strategies for Good where he implemented a digital strategy for the “A Good Hire” campaign to increase employment of formerly incarcerated people.  In addition to working as the Ceres Communications Manager, Kenny is the Digital Manager for Californians for Safety and Justice where he develops and implements digital strategy across all social media networks. Mr. Foster has a Bachelor’s of Art Degree in Communications Studies from San Francisco State University.


crystal farmer, research assistant II

Crystal Farmer graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz in 2019 where she studied Sociology with a minor in Latin American and Latino Studies. She has worked with Ceres Policy Research since September, 2017.  She currently assists with all aspects of the organization, from supporting the finance department to providing research and administrative assistance. As a research assistant, she will be helping with data collection, data analysis, and report writing. She has focused content expertise on the intersections of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.



mitzia martinez, research assistant II

Mitzia Martinez graduated from U.C. Berkeley in 2018 where she studied African American Studies and Legal Studies. While at Cal, she worked as a research assistant in a lab studying police-youth interactions. Her thesis documented anti-blackness, colorism, and ignorance of Afro-Latinidad in the Latinx community. In addition to her previous research, Mitzia also brings important lived experience as a young person whose family has experienced various immigration statuses. As a result, she has played an active role in the immigrant rights movement and has significant knowledge of U.S. immigration law. She is assisting with survey collection, stakeholder interviews, and report writing for research focusing on immigrant communities and our work to end youth incarceration in California.



malachi garza

Malachi Garza has worked with the W. Haywood Burns Institute for the past fifteen years.  He has been the Director of the Community Justice Network for Youth, a group of over 200 community-based organizations that partner with probation departments at Annie E. Casey Foundation-funded Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) sites.  He has also spent many years organizing and coaching LGBTQ organizations. He is a founder of Brown Boi Project, a community of masculine of center womyn, men, two-spirit people, transmen, and allies committed to changing the way that communities of color talk about gender.  He is also on the board of BreakOUT! in New Orleans, an organization that serves transgender people of color. He is an expert on system-community collaboration and provides training and coaching on this topic.  He is leading a research project for Ceres focused on what programming in the youth justice system should look like to meet the needs of youth across the entire gender spectrum. 


shannan wilber, esq.

Shannan Wilber has over two decades of experience leading national efforts to improve outcomes for LGBT youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems as well as youth embroiled in immigration and school discipline proceedings.  Between 2001 and 2012, Shannan served as the Executive Director of Legal Services for Children, a nonprofit law office in San Francisco that represents children in foster care, guardianship, education and immigration proceedings. She has facilitated the Equity Project, a national advisory group of experts on LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system for over ten years. She is currently the Youth Projects Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She provides coaching on the development of anti-discrimination policies and on the development of data protection protocols.

Lynn Wu, Esq.,

Ms. Wu is working with Ceres on the Stanislaus County Probation Department’s Youth Assessment Center to develop, implement, and evaluate a new diversion program to prevent youth from entering the juvenile justice system.  For nearly a decade prior, Wu was a Staff Attorney and Juvenile Justice Policy and Projects Manager at the Prison Law Office. In addition to working for Ceres, Wu is a Staff Attorney at the City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board where she works to advance housing policies to prevent homelessness and displacement.  She is also a lecturer at the Berkeley School of Law where she supervises and mentors field placement students. 



center for juvenile justice reform, georgetown university

Ceres Policy Research is partnering with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University as well as the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLSEN to provide an annual certificate program for youth-serving systems and agencies interested in improving the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning, gender nonconforming and transgender youth in the justice system.