Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett


Oakland, CA and Oregon


Left-of-center activist and organizer

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Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett is an American left-leaning community organizer and activist who has been involved in various far-left and “democratic socialist” causes, mostly in her hometown of Oakland, California. Tervalon-Garrett has worked for several left-leaning advocacy organizations that promote liberal social and economic policy and liberal politicians, including U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), Obama for America, the Groundswell Fund, and Oakland Rising. 1

Tervalon-Garrett is an advisory board member for the Funders’ Committee For Civic Participation, a left-leaning funding collective of the nation’s most well-known left-leaning groups. 2

Early Career

Tervalon-Garrett was raised in Oakland, California, where she has spent most of her career in labor union organizing and activism. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Mills College in 2002. From 2002 to 2004, she worked as a labor relations representative for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000, one of the largest government worker unions in California. 3

Following her time as a labor organizer for the SEIU, Tervalon-Garrett worked briefly for the People’s Organizing Committee, a community organizing group based in New Orleans around Hurricane Katrina relief. 4

Campaign Work

In 2007, Tervalon-Garrett joined then U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s (D-IL) Campaign for President, serving as the regional field coordinator for Northern California, Later in the same 2008 election cycle, Tervalon Garrett served as the Political Director for Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), a far-left Oakland-based congresswoman. 5

Oakland Rising

Following the 2008 election, Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett was named the first executive director of Oakland Rising, a far-left community organizing arm of the Movement Strategy Center. It developed infrastructure necessary to build left-progressive power in Oakland, including identifying 25% of voters in Oakland and mobilizing them to support progressive policies. Tervalon-Garrett’s work leading Oakland Rising garnered her praise in the progressive movement and she was given several awards including the Redford Center’s Art of Activism Award, the League of Women Voters Oakland’s Democracy Award, and the Alameda Labor Council’s Community Organization of the Year. 6

Groundswell Fund

After leaving Oakland Rising, Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett joined the Groundswell Fund as Chief Strategy Officer. The Groundswell Fund is another far-left group based in Oakland that focuses on abortion rights and claims to fund more pro-abortion groups than any other foundation. 7

While at the Groundswell fund, Tervalon-Garrett grew the scope of issues and voter outreach for the organization through launching two new programs for grassroots organizing and facilitating collaboration among anti-abortion groups on policy issues. 8

Tervalon Garrett left the Groundswell Fund in 2017 to relocate to Oregon and open “Dancing Hearts Ranch, a sustainable agricultural project and rejuvenating retreat space for movement leaders.” 9 Tervalon-Garrett also opened her own consulting firm, Dancing Hearts Consulting. 10


  1. “Meet Esperanza”. Dancing Hearts Consulting. Accessed November 26, 2019.
  2. Rojc, Philip. “Amid Civic Fears, a Democracy Funders Network Is Going Strong.” Inside Philanthropy. Accessed February 15, 2018.
  3. “Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett”. LinkedIn. Accessed November 26, 2019.
  4. “Home” People’s Organizing Committee/ Accessed November 26, 2019.
  5. “Meet Esperanza”. Dancing Hearts Consulting. Accessed November 26, 2019.
  6. “Key Staff Bios” Groundswell Fund. Accessed November 26, 2019.
  7. “Approach” Groundswell Fund. Accessed November 26, 2019.
  8. “A Fond Farewell to Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett” Groundswell Fund. Accessed November 26, 2019.
  9. “A Fond Farewell to Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett” Groundswell Fund. Accessed November 26, 2019.
  10. “Meet Esperanza”. Dancing Hearts Consulting. Accessed November 26, 2019.

Connected Organizations

  1. Dancing Hearts Consulting (For-profit)
    Founder and Chief Executive Officer
  2. Groundswell Fund (Non-profit)
    Former Chief Strategy Officer
  3. Oakland Rising (Non-profit)
    Former Executive Director
  4. Funders Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP) (Non-profit)
    Advisory Board Member
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