Meet Our Team

riKu Matsuda

Grassroots Organizing Institute Coach

My name is riKu Matsuda and I’m from Southern California. I was born in Garden Grove, California (Orange County) and raised in the Antelope Valley in the Mojave Desert of north LA County. I grew up isolated as a mixed Japanese kid with white privilege who was pretty queer and gender non-conforming. I did two things every day: played basketball and fantasized about people who shared my identities. My high school mascot was a confederate soldier. Well, it was until my senior year when a coalition of students of color won a campaign to remove it. That campaign marked my first racial justice campaign and the start of my identity as an activist.

At community college and university, I grew my activism working on campaigns for educational justice, economic justice and worker’s rights, LGBTQ rights and ending racial discrimination in higher education. In 2000, I started organizing at a reproductive justice organization centering Cambodian young women. There I worked as a youth organizer on a campaign to end sexual harassment in Long Beach Unified School District and a national campaign against deportation. I was also privileged to participate on a number of local, statewide and national coalitions for reproductive and sexual rights including the Ford Foundation’s Women of Color Initiative.

My commitment to reproductive justice remained steadfast with a shift in focus from cisgender to transgender bodies after I came out as a transgender man of color. I was part of a small group starting a radical multi-issue organizing collective of queer and trans youth of color called qteam. I organized with qteam and worked as a substitute teacher before starting my current position with the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. Once I aged out of qteam, I began to focus on youth leadership development and violence prevention at a county level.

For over a decade, I’ve been committed to “trans justice” and “trans rights” issues that include reproductive justice, gender justice, racial and economic justice, disability justice and broadly, social justice. Campaigns have involved fighting the prison industrial complex, immigration system, healthcare system, state violence, street harassment and domestic violence.

Applying a holistic and intersectional lens to this work is both exciting and important to me! And lastly, I’m really looking forward to working with all of you! Go team! <3 Coach profile: Creative and fun; Positive and solutions-focused emoji-user; Listens for understanding before asking questions; Trained in community mediation and crisis management; Strong commitment to grassroots social justice organizing; Creates affirming environment to be challenged and succeed.