“I am a mom. I am an immigrant. I am a woman of color. I am a wife. I am a neighbor. I am a social change leader. I strive for equity, dignity, and compassion in everything I do. My story is your story.”

Shebreh Kalantari- Johnson is the icon of the ethical leader, imperative for universal well-being today and tomorrow. She holds spaces of co-creative, local strategic action and concrete results that are vital for our nation’s progress. Shebreh transcends polarized divides and conventional activism by engaging in multi-sector, multi-level partnerships in transformative ways . She inspires community, business and policy partners to inquire into, and change in real time, the incongruities of policy and program strategies and action related to inequity and the erosion of our deepest humanity. Shebreh is the leader my grandchildren and I want to work for and work with.

Monica Sharma – Founder of Radical Transformational Leadership

My story starts in Northern Iran just before the revolution. My parents left post-revolution Iran for the U.S. when I was eight years old to find a better life for their two daughters. Our immigration story includes my family being separated for a year, traveling through Turkey and Germany, and making it from the ground up once we finally made it here. My story and my family’s story includes experiences with gender, class, and religious injustices. While I learned the meaning of equity–or simply stated, fairness–at a very young age, I have also had many privileges including education, housing stability, and good health that have led me to my life here in Santa Cruz. 

Shebreh’s first day of school in the US.

Santa Cruz felt like home from the moment I first came here to visit the University. The Santa Cruz mountains reminded me of the Alborz mountains that separated my hometown in Northern Iran from the major metropolitan cities. The Pacific Ocean smelled like the Caspian Sea that I grew up near.

Santa Cruz has been my home and my community since then. Here in Santa Cruz, my husband and I started his integrative bodywork clinic business, I started my consulting business and most importantly, I became the mother of my two boys, 12-year-old Darioush 12 and 10-year-old Shyon.

I am a mom, I am an immigrant, I am a social change leader, and Santa Cruz is my home– Shebreh

My educational background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and French from UC Santa Cruz and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from San Jose State. 

For the last two decades I have dedicated my work to building strong equitable communities.  Through my consulting business, I provide grant writing, program coordination and management, facilitation, organizational development and leadership capacity building in the fields of public health, education and social services.

Shebreh with her mom at the Caspian Sea.
  • Secured over $30 millions in grant funding over the last 15 years for Santa Cruz to address immigration rights, mental health and substance use, and youth homelessness. These dollars translate to increased treatment options; support and services rather than punitive responses for young people; increased housing and work options to help youth get off the streets; legal services to support immigrants; and less chronic disease. 
  • Brought multi-sector partnerships together to address complex social issues such as substance use, mental health, homelessness, immigrant rights, criminal justice reform and more. These partnerships have resulted in local policies and programs that increase healthy options for families and reduce youth access to harmful substances.
  • Led strategic plans for early child care and education, youth homelessness, and substance use prevention.
  • Served as a Leadership Practitioner Coach supporting the training of hundreds of leaders through the Radical Transformational Leadership framework developed by Dr. Monica Sharma, DO.
  • Co-founded Impact Launch, a social enterprise business focused on collaborative and leadership capacity building, project design, and strategic planning.
  • Worked with the city of Santa Cruz to develop and implement Health in All Policies, an approach to policy making that integrates health, equity and sustainability considerations across sectors. 
  • Co-led an emergency response team to support young adults experiencing homelessness secure a safe space to shelter in place.

I have helped support my boys’ school, Pacific Elementary in Davenport, through volunteer grant writing. I have also served on multiple boards and committees that all work towards well-being. These include:

  • Pajaro Valley Health Trust Board, Board Chair (current)
  • Central California Alliance for Health, Commissioner (current)
  • United Way of Santa Cruz County, Community Assessment Project Steering Committee and Community Impact Committee (current)
  • Dignity Health, Community Advisory Board’s Community Giving Committee (current)
  • Dignity Health, Community Advisory Board Chair (past)
  • County of Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee, appointed member (past)

I am a mom. I am an immigrant. I am a woman of color. I am a wife. I am a neighbor. I am a social change leader. I strive for equity, dignity, and compassion in my work and in my every day. My story is your story.