Lateefah Simon is a nationally recognized advocate for civil rights and racial justice in Oakland and the Bay Area. She has been the President of Akonadi Foundation since 2016. That same year—driven by the death of Oscar Grant—she was elected to the Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors; she now serves as President. Lateefah is also a member of California State University’s Board of Trustees, and state officials often turn to her for strategic advice on policy matters related to racial justice. Lateefah received the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award in 2003—making her at the time the youngest women to receive the award —in recognition of her work as Executive Director of the Young Women’s Freedom Center.
Lateefah previously served as Program Director at the Rosenberg Foundation, where she launched the Leading Edge Fund to seed, incubate, and accelerate bold ideas from the next generation of progressive movement leaders in California. She also held the position of Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she launched successful community-based initiatives, including the Second Chance Legal Services Clinic. Lateefah spearheaded San Francisco’s first reentry anti-recidivism youth services division, under the leadership of then-District Attorney Kamala Harris. Before serving in this role, Lateefah became—at the age of 19—the Executive Director of the Center for Young Women’s Development (now named the Young Women’s Freedom Center), a position she held for 11 years.
Lateefah’s other numerous awards include the California State Assembly’s “Woman of the Year”; The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “40 Under 40: Young Leaders Who Are Solving the Problems of Today and Tomorrow”; the Jefferson Award for Extraordinary Public Service, and Inside Philanthropy’s “Most Promising New Foundation President.” Lateefah’s additional awards Lateefah include those from the Ford Foundation, the National Organization for Women, Lifetime Television, and O Magazine.
Among numerous media that have profiled Lateefah are Philanthropy News Digest, San Jose Mercury News, KQED, and SF Weekly’s 2018 list, alongside Colin Kaepernick, of “Five Local, Black Activists to Thank This MLK Day.”
Lateefah lives in Oakland and is the single mother of two daughters.