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© 2009-2018 Hispanas Organized for Political Equality–California.

Join us in welcoming the eightieth HOPE Leadership Institute (HLI) Class - 25 Latina leaders from Sacramento to San Diego who have made their mark in academia, political engagement, government, law, and the non-profit and private sectors. This exchange between Latina professionals is what will inform the potential to increase Latina representation in the years to come. 

Meet the HLI Class of 2016.

Patricia Alarcon

Partner, The AP Group | Greater Los Angeles

Patricia Alarcón is a partner with The AP Group, a consulting group specializing in Community Relations, Government Relations, Event Management, Project Management and Fundraising. Prior to The AP Group, she was the East Area Representative for the Office of the Mayor Eric Garcetti. In addition, and prior to joining the Office of the Mayor, she worked for the Office of USC Local Government Relations and the USC Specific Plan Team that led the civic engagement components for the $1 Billion USC Village construction project that created millions of dollars of annual revenue for the city in addition to 12,000 new jobs. Most recently she followed her dream to pursue her higher education and presently attends Azusa Pacific University. Patricia was appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to the East Los Angeles Area Planning Commission and confirmed as Commissioner on September 9th, 2015 by the Los Angeles City Council. Previously, she was appointed by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez and served as a delegate to represent AD 51.   

Revekka Balancier

Marketing and Communications Manager, Port of San Diego | San Diego

Revekka Balancier is a San Diego native, educated in Denver, CO where she began her career in the private sector as a marketing intern for Walt Disney Pictures. She spent 10 years specializing in entertainment publicity at advertising agencies before transferring to the public sector. During her time with the City & County of Denver she worked on major projects including speechwriting for the Mayor during the Democratic National Convention of 2008 and writing the Strategic Plan for Denver Human Services. She then went on to serve in the State Capitol as the Director of Communications for the Lt. Governor. She was part of the Latinos for Hickenlooper team to re-elect Gov. Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Garcia in Colorado before returning home to California to join the Port of San Diego. She is a graduate of Denver’s Circle of Latina Leadership and has served as a mentor to both youth and business women. However, Revekka says her greatest success is being a role model to two very independent, intelligent and vocal daughters.

Gabriela Castaneda-Vivanco

District Representative, State Senator Andy Vidak | Central Valley

Gabriela Castaneda-Vivanco is a District Representative for California State Senator Andy Vidak, where she works closely with organizations, chamber of commerce, school districts, and cities in Kern County. She has worked for various elected officials and has been highly active in campaigning and the local political process since 2010. She attended Bakersfield College and California State University of Bakersfield. Gabriela volunteers for a number of nonprofit organizations in Kern County and currently lives in Bakersfield, California.

Leticia Cazares

Director of Outreach, San Ysidro Health Center | San Diego

As Director of Outreach for the San Ysidro Health Center, a community health center located in the border region of San Diego, Leticia is responsible for outreach and education, advocacy, partnership development and marketing. Currently, she has oversight of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation for SYHC’s network of 12 clinics and 23 program sites, a responsibility she does not take lightly. Leticia sits on the Outreach Advisory Board for Covered CA where she helps inform policy and strategy around ACA outreach and enrollment efforts in the State. In addition, she serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the San Diego-Imperial Counties ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) where she is able to further carry-out her deep passion for civil liberties and social justice issues including immigration rights and criminal justice reforms. She most recently was sworn in to the Chula Vista Cultural Arts Commission. Leticia received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Ethnic Studies degree from San Francisco State University, and in 2007 earned a Master of Public Health degree from San Diego State University.

Leticia Corona

Community Advocacy Director, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability | Central Valley

Leticia Corona is the Community Advocacy Director with Leadership Counsel in the San Joaquin Valley. Leticia received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double-majored in Social-Cultural Anthropology and Chicano Studies. She also completed a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of San Diego. Before joining Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, Leticia worked for The International Foundation, The Whitaker and Peace and Development Initiative and UNESCO in Tijuana, Mexico, where she contributed to the development and on-the-ground program implementation of the Foundation's program—the Harmonizer Program and activities in Tijuana. Leticia leads local organizing campaigns in the City of Fresno and the County of Fresno, related to land use, housing, water, climate change, infrastructure, and services.

Yadira De La Cruz

Regional Network Manager, Accountable Healthcare IPA | Greater Los Angeles

Yadira Tovar De La Cruz currently serves as a Regional Network Manager for Accountable Healthcare IPA. Accountable Healthcare IPA provider network includes over 450 primary and 1700 specialty care physicians, eight community and regional hospital medical centers that provide quality health care services to more than 180,000 members of seven federally qualified health plans and multiple product lines, including Medi-Cal, Commercial, Medicare and Healthy Families. Mrs. De La Cruz grew up in the heart of East Los Angeles, she attended California State University Long Beach and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Chicano/a Studies. She was admitted to the prestigious Sally Casanova Pre-Doctorate Scholars at UCLA under Dr. Lorie Frazier in the Political Science Department. Mrs. De La Cruz was also spokesperson for Chiva Girls USA, Clean & Clear Johnson and Johnson, and Her Energy Drink. She holds a regional title for International Elite Model Management and was an ambassador to Senorita Mexico De Los Angeles.

Paula De La Riva

Program Officer, First 5 Kern | Central Valley

Paula De La Riva-Barrera was raised in Arvin and has lived in Bakersfield, California since 2008. She is first generation American; both her parents are from Zacatecas Mexico along with her older sister. She is the first in her family to graduate from college and obtain a Bachelor’s degree and is in the process of completing her Master’s in Public Administration. She has worked for First 5 Kern as a Program Officer for the last six years. She is a board member of the League of Women Voters -Kern County and Latina Leaders of Kern County (LLKC). Under LLKC she is the Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee.

Iris Duran

Community Investment Manager, Time Warner Cable | Greater Los Angeles

Iris Duran works as a Community Investment Manager for Time Warner Cable where she has served for over 14 years. She received her Bachelor degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas at El Paso and a Master in Business Administration from New Mexico State University. She is a proud Latina born in Los Angeles, California and raised in El Paso, Texas by a single mother from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Iris is the oldest of three children and the only girl, the first college graduate in her family. She currently lives and works in her dream city of Los Angeles. Through her current role she works with many nonprofits that serve minority children, especially Latinos. At Time Warner Cable she is the president of HOLA, an employee network that supports and empowers Latinos to move up in their career. Iris is very passionate about issues that affect Latinos today and aspires to be a role model for young students to show them that you can be anything you want regardless of your current circumstances

Norma Fernandez

Regional Manager, EveryoneOn | Greater Los Angeles

Norma E. Fernandez serves as the Regional Manager in California for EveryoneOn, a national nonprofit dedicated to eliminating the digital divide. In this capacity, Norma is responsible for implementing strategies that link “unconnected” communities to the power of the Internet and technology. Norma has extensive experience in the nonprofit and public sectors implementing community development programs, engaging diverse stakeholders and building strategic partnerships. She volunteers with several organizations and sits on the board of directors of the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project, Inc. Norma was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended UCLA where she earned a B.A. in Sociology and a M.A. in Urban Planning.

Priscilla Fuentes

Government Partnerships Officer, American Red Cross | Greater Los Angeles

Priscilla Fuentes is currently the Government Partnerships Officer at the American Red Cross Los Angeles where she manages government grant projects and builds strategic public partnerships. She received her BA in Psychology from Whitworth University; after which she returned to her hometown in California to complete her Master of Science in Public Administration from California State University, Los Angeles. With over ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Priscilla is passionate about the sector and believes it is where people can truly make a difference in the world.

Ana Gonzalez

Business Development Associate, California Consulting | Orange County

Ana has served on various non-profit organizations and found her home with Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County (NHSOC). During her service with NHSOC Ana built the foundation for their prevailing housing preservation program and became a founding member of the Orange County Housing Collaborative. Ana also served the private sector as the Assistant Vice President of the Office of Community Affairs for U.S. Bank. Focusing on Housing Initiatives, Ana successfully managed programs, grant administration, and served as a government relations liaison for housing related legislation across a 25 state footprint. Ana currently serves various community based, non-profit organizations and was a contributing member to the Housing Initiatives Taskforce led by Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. Her commitment to her community was recognized in 2014 when she received the Woman Making a Difference Award, representing the 34th District of Orange County. Ana holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Chapman University majoring in Pre-Law. An Orange County Native, Ana is a proud mother of two and happily resides in Santa Ana.

Lauren Greenwood

Legislative Analyst, California Cable & Telecommunications Assoc. | Northern California

Lauren Greenwood is currently the Legislative Analyst for the California Cable & Telecommunications Association (CCTA) which serves members such as Comcast Cable, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications and Cox Communications. Lauren completed the California Executive Fellowship Program at the California Energy Commission before joining CCTA. Lauren focused on the state’s pressing energy and transportation issues through website content development, supporting public private partnerships, driving stakeholder engagement, and participating in legislative and public comment work. Prior to her state government experience, Lauren was a former associate at the Dewey Square Group. In this role, Lauren gained state and federal social services and health care policy knowledge as well as experience working with a large variety of local communities throughout California as well as Illinois. Lauren also aided in the production of high profile events and messaging for clients in a range of places including Greece and South Korea.

Rosa Hernandez

Latino Outreach, Registrar of Voters Latino Outreach | San Diego

As the daughter of immigrants from Mexico with less than a middle school education Rosa Maria Hernandez was determined to pave the way and make a difference in her San Diego Community. The first of five sisters to venture into higher education, Hernandez graduated from San Diego State University in 2005 with two bachelor’s degrees — in psychology and in Chicano studies. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree and intends to get her doctorate in education. Some of her personal and professional accomplishments include being nominated to serve on various executive boards, which include the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) as Outreach Chair in San Diego. Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. National Recruitment Committee, in addition to Founding her chapter, Gamma Psi, at San Diego State University. Lastly she’s also a Founding Member of the Mexican American National Association (MANA) Latina Success Leadership Program where she continues to be part of continuous advocacy by mentors and Executive Leadership.

Araceli Leyva

Human Resources Director/Administrative Services, Santa Catarina House | Bay Area

Araceli Leyva is a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and hard worker. For the past 25 years, San Pablo/Richmond, California has been her home. She was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, and is a first generation college graduate. Her parent's struggles have ignited her passion to learn and succeed. She measures success by her ability to help people in need. Growing up in this country she has learned that education is key. She has dreamt of attending law school since she was in preschool. She currently holds a position as a Human Resources Director at a mental startup company in Berkeley, CA. She is currently pursuing her MBA through her employer and will eventually add the missing JD component. Her main goal is to be an excellent role model for her daughter.

Sonia Lopez

Field Representative, Office of Senator Holly Mitchell | Greater Los Angeles

Sonia Lopez currently serves as the Vice-President of Compton Community College District – Board of Trustees. First elected in 2013 at the age of 30, to represent Area 3 which covers portions of South Gate, Lynwood, Paramount, and Downey. Lopez comes from the Office of Senator Holly Mitchell where she addresses several issues among them higher education on behalf of constituents in the 30th Senate District. Lopez is a resident of the City of South Gate. She sits on the Advisory Board for LAtinas and Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation RBI Advisory Committee, and is an active member in YEO and NALEO.

Ivette Magdaleno

Associate Attorney, Arata, Swingle, Sodhi & Van Egmond | Central Valley

Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, Ivette grew up in California’s central valley after immigrating to the U.S. with her mother at the age of 7. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis, with double majors in Psychology (Social-Personality emphasis) and Chicano/a Studies (Social-Policy emphasis). She then earned her Juris Doctor degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she distinguished herself as a Criminal Law Fellow, a published scholar on violence against women, and with her work at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., Immigration Center for Women and Children, San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, ABA Immigration Justice Program, and San Diego Superior Court’s criminal division. Ivette also studied International Human Rights and International Family Law in France at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Faculté de Droit et Science Politique. Before pursuing law school, she aided families in need and conducted child abuse investigations in Sacramento County where she won several awards for her efforts in the Latino community. Ivette is an active member of several committees and has co-founded and served as President of numerous organizations. She is currently an Associate Attorney for Arata Swingle Sodhi & Van Egmond, focusing on family law, immigration, and civil litigation.

Amanda Mejia

East/East Valley Area Mayor’s Representative, City of Los Angeles | Greater Los Angeles

Amanda Mejia is the current Area Representative for the East Area. A Boyle Heights native, Amanda is proudly committed to serving the East Area communities in the City of Los Angeles. In August 2014 to August 2015, Amanda served as the Mayor’s representative for the East Valley. Prior to the Mayor’s Office, Amanda worked for the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks for eight years as a Recreational Assistant within parks throughout the East Area. Through community organizing and advocacy, Amanda’s dedication to serving her community led her to organize a local community advocacy group, Boyle Heights Rising. A few projects led by the community group, included community cleanups, a back-pack giveaway, toy drive, and a pumpkin patch. Amanda received her B.A in Sociology: Law and Policy from California State University Los Angeles and her Masters in Social Work (MSW): Community, Organizing, Planning, and Administration from the University of Southern California.

Alba Mercado

Program and Policy Manager, Latino Community Foundation | Bay Area

Alba has over a decade of working on key Latino issues both in the public sector and with community-based organizations throughout the state. Prior to joining LCF, Alba managed the renowned Women’s Policy Institute at the Women’s Foundation of California. During her time at the Women’s Foundation, Alba selected community based women leaders to work on developing and implementing legislative policies on issues spanning economic justice, education, reproductive health and criminal justice. She has held professional positions at the San Francisco Adult Probation Department, Community Action Board, Barrios Unidos and the USDA Forest Service. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Cultural Anthropology and Latino studies. She currently sits on the Board of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, is a graduate of the Women’ Policy Institute and currently participates on planning committees with a numerous organizations in the Bay Area.

Krystal Moreno

Scheduler/Legislative Aide, Office of Assemblymember Tom Daly | Northern CA

Krystal was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska as a third generation Latina. She graduated from Sacramento State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations, which fed her passion for politics. She currently is a Legislative Aide/Scheduler for State Assemblyman Tom Daly. Currently, she has the honor of serving as the first female president of the Hornets Politics and Policy Alumni Association. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering for Street Soccer USA, a non-profit organization designed to promote the growth and development of women facing domestic violence or drug and/or alcohol abuse through participation in a grassroots soccer program to achieve social change.

Karmin Noar

Youth Manager, Special Projects, San Diego Workforce Partnership | San Diego

Karmin Noar is currently a Manager for Youth Programs, Special Projects at the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP). Karmin has more than a decade of volunteer and work experience in the nonprofit sector, working on issues from public health and social justice to education and youth development. Common threads in her work have been the pursuit of increasing access to higher education and serving low-income, underserved communities, and prior to joining SDWP, Karmin worked for a nonprofit research institute committed to understanding and promoting health in disadvantaged populations. Inspired to make a contribution to her community and motivated by her passion for mentoring and empowering youth, Karmin co-founded Be REAL Students, a nonprofit program in development in San Diego County. The program's curriculum is intended to engage participants in learning and skill development activities to promote character building, with an emphasis on the primary REAL skills (Resilience, Empathy, Advocacy, and Leadership).

Jazmin Ortiz

Policy Analyst, AltaMed Health Services | Greater Los Angeles 

Jazmin Ortiz is a Los Angeles native and has always been dedicated to advocating for the needs of others. Ms. Ortiz currently is a Policy Analyst at AltaMed Health Services, where she works closely with local, state, and federal elected officials in order to increase access to quality healthcare to underserved communities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Prior to working at AltaMed Health Services she worked with at-risk elementary school aged children in underserved areas. Ms. Ortiz received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/International Affairs in 2012 from the University of California, Riverside. Immediately after receiving her B.A., she went on to obtaining her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California, where she concentrated in community organizing, planning and administration.

Janine Ramirez

Executive Director, Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) | Bay Area

Elizabeth Romero is a member of the Riverside County Board of Education (RCBE). Elizabeth also served on the Coachella Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees from 2006-2010 where she was first elected at age 23. Elizabeth is the Treasurer of the California County Boards of Education. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the California Latino School Boards Association. Professionally, Elizabeth is the Director of Community and Government Relations for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest in Riverside County where she works to ensure broad public access to reproductive health care through direct services, education, advocacy and political action. Elizabeth attended College of the Desert then transferred to UC Riverside graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Public Service. She also earned a Master’s of Politics, Economics and Business from Claremont Graduate University.

Aida Rodriguez

Deputy Organizing Director, Parent Revolution | Greater Los Angeles

Aida Rodriguez is the Deputy Organizing Director at Parent Revolution, a non-profit dedicated to transforming underperforming public schools by empowering parents to advocate for what is good for children through grassroots community organizing. Aida had also been instrumental in training parents to advocate on behalf of their children before local school boards, the State Board of Education and the California legislature. Aida earned a Political Science degree from UC Berkeley and a law degree from UC Hastings. During law school, Aida interned at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and later volunteered at the ACLU’s Prisoner’s Rights Project. Aida has served as a Board Member on her neighborhood residents’ association and at an East Los Angeles community center dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for low-income families.

Mariana Sierra

Senior Program Manager, Gas Distribution PG&E | Bay Area

Mariana Sierra is a Sr. Program Manager for PG&E’s Gas Distribution Department based in San Ramon. She joined PG&E as an Entry Engineer and has been at PG&E for over ten years. In this role, she manages and administers an overall budget of $140M for the Reliability program. Mariana‘s career in the Energy industry at PG&E has included managing Solar, Wind, Fuel Cell, back up generation interconnections, Gas & Electric Service Requests for commercial customers, Energy Efficiency projects for the refineries and to most recently managing capital construction projects in Gas Transmission Stations. In 2014, Mariana co-founded PG&E’s Latino Employee Resource group East Bay Chapter, an affinity group that promotes workforce Diversity, Community Outreach and Employee Engagement. Mariana graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research in 2004. She is a certified Project Manager Professional by the Project Management Institute.

Gloria Torres

Intellectual Property Litigation Paralegal, Tensegrity Law Group LLP | Bay Area

Gloria Torres Is a Paralegal at Tensegrity Law Group, In Silicon Valley. She earned a Bachelors in Political Science and Spanish from Santa Clara University; and a Masters in Mexican American Studies from San Jose State University. She is a member of the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley (LCSV), which introduced her to many Latina networks, such as the LCSV Toastmasters group and Lean In Latinas. She is active in several professional associations and sits on various boards. In college, she participated in the Washington Semester program and interned for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). She studied in Mexico City for a summer, focusing on Mexican culture and politics. After her undergraduate studies, she went on to pursue her Masters in Mexican American Studies, focusing her research on how first generation women of Mexican descent, working in the private sector, interpret their workplace experience. She brings with her a diverse perspective and is poised to deliver the perspective that is often muted by misunderstanding.

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For questions or more information on the HOPE Leadership Institute contact:

Belinda Barragan 
Programs and Policy Director 

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