Northern California Organizer
Melika Panbehchi is the Northern California Organizer at the California Immigrant Policy Center. Based in Oakland, her mission is to develop partnerships with organizations and coalitions in the Bay Area and beyond with the intent to enhance and expand CIPC’s presence in the Northern California region.
Melika is a skilled facilitator and a passionate lifelong organizer for immigrant, refugee, and other marginalized communities. An immigrant herself, she first found her love for advocacy through her transformative experience at the International Rescue Committee’s Oakland office. Melika used her native tongue, Farsi and Dari, to help secure affordable housing and navigate resettlement processes for incoming Afghan and Iranian refugees. She later furthered her work at the National Iranian American Council in Washington D.C where she became a Digital Communications Fellow. In the midst of the tensions with Iran and its resulting sanctions, she used digital platforms to mobilize the Iranian-American community to fight anti-Iran and anti-immigrant policies, most particularly the Muslim Ban, on Capitol Hill.
Born in Tehran, Iran, and immigrating to the Bay Area at 13, Melika has now spent half of her life in each place. With the lived experience of two cultures, Melika’s perspective provides unique insight into the collective nature of the global struggle for liberation and strengthens her ability to organize across differences in her communities. Experiencing first-hand the material impacts of xenophobia, islamophobia, and surveillance, Melika chose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. She authored an honors thesis on the effects of white/western standards of beauty on Iranian women of the diaspora. While at Cal, Melika became a pillar of the Berkeley Student Cooperative; a collection of houses that aim to center the needs of low-income student residents. In an effort to foster a greater community for its LGBTQ+ and BIPOC residents, she took charge of leading and facilitating hundreds of consent, anti-oppression, Know Your Rights, and identity-based workshops throughout all 20 houses. As a professional facilitator, she is skilled in creating safe but radically challenging spaces where members can build a more intersectional and inclusive community. When she is not working, you can find her reading poetry, cooking very elaborate meals, swimming in open waters, organizing listening parties, or curating spaces she’s envisioned and has never seen come to fruition before.