CLass of 2018

Join us in welcoming the twentieth HOPE Leadership Institute (HLI) Class - 24 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 2018.

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Daisy Alfaro

Assistant Professor, California State University, Los Angeles | Greater Los Angeles

Dr. Daisy D. Alfaro is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Applied and Advanced Studies at the California State University, Los Angeles. Her research and teaching focus on the contexts that promote equity, access, and success of underrepresented students in higher education. Her research has focused largely on identifying the protective factors that influenced the P-20 trajectories of low-income, first-generation college, urban, Latino students to the top law schools in the country. In recognition of her scholarship and service, Dr. Alfaro received the 2013 Woman of Distinction Award in Education by the California State Assembly and most recently, received the Los Angeles La Opinión Newspaper 2014 Mujeres Destacadas Award in Education. Dr. Alfaro earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington, Seattle. She credits her scholarly accomplishments to her advisors, mentors, peers, CSU Long Beach Upward Bound and the UCEA Barbara L. Jackson Scholars Network, the city Lynwood, and above all, her familia.

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Viviana Becerra

Legislative Director, Assemblymember Rob Bonta | Northern California

Viviana Becerra is the Legislative Director to Assemblymember Rob Bonta. Her responsibilities include managing the legislator's bill package and overseeing a variety of policy areas including, but not limited to the environment, local government, public safety, and the state budget. Before returning to the Capitol she worked as a Legislative Advocate at Gonzalez, Quintana, Hunter & Cruz, LLC, a minority and woman owned bipartisan government relations firm in Sacramento. Viviana's major accomplishments include securing $20 million for human trafficking victim services in the California budget, the largest allocation in the nation. She was one of the lead lobbyists who helped pass the historic End of Life Option Act and was also influential in expanding overtime pay for farmworkers. Prior to joining the lobbying sector, Viviana was selected to participate in the highly competitive and prestigious Senate Fellowship program working for Senator Loni Hancock. She graduated with honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in English. Viviana is from Sacramento and serves on the board of the California Latino Capitol Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the advancement of Latinos in and around the Capitol.

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Kathleen Bolts

Senior Advisor, Tides | Bay Area

Kathleen Bolts has a 20 year track record in nonprofit administration, international development and community organizing. Her lifelong passion is to advocate for marginalized communities, strengthen nonprofit leadership and impact social change. In 2007 Kathleen Bolts joined Tides and since then has supported over 60 fiscally sponsored projects in capacity building and organizational sustainability to accelerate impact in their own communities. She coaches directors on a myriad of issues including fundraising, governance and organizational development. Kathleen also partners with philanthropists to achieve their social impact goals. Previous to Tides, Kathleen served as Foundations and Religious Orders Director at the SHARE Foundation, an international solidarity organization that provides grants to small grass roots organizations in El Salvador, where she was responsible for developing long-term fundraising strategies. She also worked as an organizer for small businesses around land use zoning issues and the environmental impact of rapid development in San Francisco. Kathleen holds a Bachelor degree in Sociology and Spanish from the University of California at Davis and an MA in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University. She currently serves as the Board Chair of the Mission YMCA SF and sits on the steering committee of the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors.

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Jennifer Bustamante

President and Founder, The B Factor | San Diego

Born in Mexico City and raised in Chula Vista, Jennifer Bustamante has dedicated her career to the San Diego region in various leadership roles. She worked as Senior Council Aide for Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan in the City of Chula Vista, Business Liaison for the City of Chula Vista Economic Development Department, and she currently sits on the City of Chula Vista Housing Advisory Commission. In 2017 she launched The B Factor, Public Relations Firm. She serves on the South County Economic Development Council Board of Directors and the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Donovan Correctional Facility. She is a member of MANA de San Diego, and a RISE San Diego Fellow. Jennifer is the Editor-In-Chief of the new magazine Celebrando Latinas Magazine, where she contributes her years of experience with the Hispanic community to highlight the diverse interests of the Latina Woman. She also helped launch the Binational Series for Entrepreneurial Women forums designed for Latina businesswomen to provide information and resources that address their needs. Jennifer enjoys running marathons, hiking and reading. She has three children with whom she lives in Chula Vista.

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Diana Coronado

Director of Government Affairs, Buidling Industry Association – Los Angeles/Ventura | Greater Los Angeles

Diana Victoria Coronado works as the Director of Government Affairs for the Building Industry Association of Southern California- Los Angeles/ Ventura Chapter (BIA-LAV). As the Director ofGovernment Affairs, Diana lobbies and advocates for housing, residential building, and development throughout Los Angeles County. Diana currently sits on the California Women’s Leadership Association Board of Directors, the California State University Fullerton Alumni Board, and the Cal State University D.C. Scholars Board. Prior to her work in housing, Diana served as the Legislative Affairs Director and In-House Lobbyist for the Association of California Cities – Orange County, representing the interests of local government. Before moving back to Southern California, Diana spent four years working in Sacramento as a Legislative Director in the State Assembly. During her time in Sacramento, she sat on the Board of Directors for the California Latino Capitol Association, where she helped plan the annual Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project “Capitol Day”. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Cal State Fullerton and is an alumnae of the Sacramento State Capital Fellows Program. Diana got her start in politics during her collegiate internship in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill. She continues to be passionate about public policy, mentoring youth, and encouraging the advancement of women.


Serina Correa

Communications Operations Manager, Public Policy Institute of California | Northern California

Serina Correa is communications operations manager at the Public Policy Institute of California. She is responsible for project timelines, performance monitoring, and budgeting for publications and events. She has extensive experience in program management, operations, and stakeholder cultivation. Before joining PPIC, she worked in public affairs at Alza Media and previously as operations and grants manager at the Latino Community Foundation. She is a founding member and chair of the Sacramento Latino Giving Circle and she also sits on California's LGC network leadership council. She is a member of South Sacramento's LGBTQ coalition and sits on the LGBTQ Center's speaker panel. She holds an MS in community development from the University of California, Davis where her thesis focused on risk, resiliency & protective factors amongst youth in the community where she grew up in South Sacramento. She holds a BS from California State University, Sacramento.

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Marlene Gaucin

Paralegal, Law Offices of Michael K. Mehr | Bay Area

Marlene Gaucin is a Paralegal for the Law Offices of Michael K. Mehr in Santa Cruz, California. Her work focuses on removal and deportation defense, family based immigration, and post- conviction relief. Marlene is a graduate of the Master of Public Administration Program at San Jose State University. Her graduate research included a program evaluation of section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for several counties in California. In 2007, she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice Studies at San Francisco State University. She is a fellow of the Hispanic Foundation Leadership Academy of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. She serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network and formerly as Treasurer. She also serves as Co-chair for the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley, with whom she previously served as a Treasurer and Chair for their Professional Development Committee. She is involved in her hometown of Gilroy as a cohort member of the Gilroy Leadership and Education Foundation and a resident appointee of the Housing Advisory Committee. She has served as president of her student body associations and as member of the planning committee of the Municipal Management Association of Northern California Women's Leadership Summit.

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Angelica Gonzalez

Director of Government Relations, Kaiser Permanente | Northern California

Angelica Gonzalez has worked for Kaiser Permanente for over 6 years, first as Senior Legislative Representative and next as Director of State Government Relations. Angelica manages KP's policy positions on a variety of issues including mental health and wellness, health personnel, pharmacy operations, environmental issues and workers' compensation. Prior to her tenure at KP, she worked for the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis during its inaugural year and spent 3 years as a lobbyist for Anthem Blue Cross. Angelica also worked for several years in the California State Assembly. Angelica is currently a board member for the California Center for Civic Participation and has previously served on the boards for Capitol Network and the California Latino Capitol Association. Angelica has a BA in American Literature & Culture from UCLA and a Masters in Public Administration from USC. A native Californian, Angelica was born and raised in Fresno and has lived in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, but has made the Sacramento area her home. Angelica loves exploring new places with her husband Todd and her three children - Alejandro, Sophia, and Selena.

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Palmira Hernandez

Regulatory Analyst, California Resources Corporation | Central Valley

Palmira Hernandez is a Regulatory Analyst at the California Resources Corporation where she leads efforts for regulatory interpretation, cost-effective permitting, process development, and innovative project solutions. She is the point person for complex industrial projects with tight deadlines. Palmira is passionate about creating programs that help Latino youth achieve their goals and increase their civic engagement. She is intent on making an impact in the Central Valley community through mentoring and as the Director of Youth Activities for the League of Latin United American Citizens. Additionally, she mentors at-risk youth it at Taft Oil- Technology Academy, motivating them to broaden their career goals, pursue new interests, and establish organizational habits. Palmira obtained a philosophy degree with a pre-law concentration from California State University, Bakersfield.

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Alma Martinez

Community Relations Specialist, Community Medical Centers | Central Valley

Alma Martinez is the Community Relations Specialist at Community Medical Centers. Ms. Martinez serves as a liaison between multi-ethnic, diverse community-based organizations and Community, the Central Valley region's largest health care provider. She was previously a reporter and program host for Radio Bilingüe in Fresno, where she focused on issues facing Latino, immigrant and farm worker communities. Radio Bilingüe is a community news and cultural network that broadcasts in Spanish, English, Mixteco, and Hmong to more than 100 U.S. affiliates. Ms. Martinez has reported extensively on environmental health, farm worker-labor issues, the uninsured and education in California's Central Valley. Born in Mexico, Ms. Martinez attended Los Banos High School and California State University, Fresno. She began her broadcast career at local television station KMSG in Fresno, where she produced a 30-minute documentary on the life of a farm worker family from Soledad, CA. In June 2002, she joined the National Latino Public Radio Network, Radio Bilingüe, as associate producer of the news talk show “Línea Abierta.” Ms. Martinez developed a training guide that aids community leaders in effectively engaging the media in advocacy efforts.

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Adriana Melgoza

Clinic Manager, Watsonville Law Center | Central Coast

Adriana Melgoza currently works for the Watsonville Law Center as their Clinic Manager, coordinating WLC's community-based legal services and helps recruit and train WLC volunteers. Her position with the Watsonville Law Center consists of bringing supportive services to immigrant families like her own and works to empower rural areas. She also works part time with the American Civil Liberties Union as a Field Fellow developing leaders in her community by engaging in community outreach, providing trainings and public education, and connecting the broader networks in her community to deepen the impact litigation, advocacy, and media strategies. She has worked in the past for Immigration Action Group as a community organizer educating, advocating and organizing for immigrant justice. Apart from her career, her experience extends to racial and migratory justice. She is part of different organizations in her community who work for rights and justice for all. She currently serves as an elected and appointed official in her home town. She graduated from California State University, Monterey Bay with a degree in Human Communications and is working towards her applications for law school.

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Jessica Mier

Deputy District Director, Office of Congresswoman Susan A. Davis | San Diego

Jessica Mier, a native of the San Fernando Valley, is an active member of the San Diego community since moving there in 2008. Mrs. Mier is the Deputy District Director for Congresswoman Susan A. Davis, where she oversees staff training and field operations in the district. Jessica also serves as the Congresswoman's Campaign Manager where she handles the day-to-day operations and advises the Congresswoman on campaign priorities. Mrs. Mier has over 15 years of public service experience, previously working for the late California State Assemblymember Jenny Oropeza, for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, as a Senior Field Representative for the 51st Congressional District and as Protocol Officer for the City of San Diego. Mrs. Mier also assisted small business owners during her time with the South County Economic Development Council and assisted two California State University Presidents. Jessica is involved with various political organizations and civic causes in the San Diego region, including MANA de San Diego, the American Civil Liberties Union and the local Democratic Party. Mrs. Mier is a graduate of Sacramento State University and is fluent in Spanish. During her personal time, Jessica enjoys spending time with her husband, David, and their cat, Lady Kitty Bumpkin.

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Elizabeth Munguia

Legislative Advocate and Policy Strategist, California Association of School Business Officials | Northern California

Elizabeth Munguia Esquivel is a Legislative Advocate and Policy Strategist for the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO). She reviews and analyzes legislation focused on education to determine the policy and fiscal implications for local educational agencies, testifies in front of the California State Legislature and presents key legislative and budget proposals to its members throughout the state. Prior to working at CASBO, Elizabeth spent several years working at the State Capitol for Assemblymember Bill Dodd and Senator Alex Padilla. She advanced measures in various policy areas including, education, gender pay equity, health, energy, labor, transportation and elections. She has also worked on numerous legislative, statewide and local political campaigns. Before moving to Sacramento, she spent time as an Activities Coordinator for the East Bay Consortium running two college and career centers at high schools in East Oakland. Elizabeth is an appointee to the City of West Sacramento’s Parks, Recreation and Intergenerational Services Commission and the Yolo County Health Council, currently serving as the Vice-Chair. She is also a board member to a couple of nonprofits and is active in the West Sacramento Rotary Club. On her free time, she enjoys mentoring young professionals, helping students become college and career ready and volunteer for community events. Elizabeth grew up in the small town of Waterford, California located in the central valley. She was raised in a single parent household where her mom worked in a cannery before being placed on disability. As a first generation college student, she financed her way by working two jobs and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a double minor in Chicano Studies and Education.

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Naomi Padron

Legislative Advocate, McHugh, Koepke & Associates | Northern California

Naomi has several years of political and public policy experience. She currently works as Legislative Advocate at McHugh, Koepke & Associates, which is a leading Sacramento boutique lobbying firm. Previously, she served as a consultant to the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. In this capacity, she forged consensus on key policies, analyzed proposals before the committee, and provided comprehensive counsel to the Chairman and members of the committee. During this time, she gained a deep understanding of complex issues related to alcohol regulation, the gaming industry, and horse racing in California. Naomi spent over five years as a Capitol staffer in both the Assembly and the Senate. Prior to being a consultant, Naomi was Legislative Director to Assemblymember Marc Levine. She was responsible for managing his legislative agenda and worked on an array of policy areas including labor, public safety, and energy. In 2010, Naomi began her career in public service as a Senate Fellow. Established in 1973, the California Senate Fellows program is one of oldest and most distinguished fellowships in the country. Naomi is currently a member of the Capital Fellows Alumni Association. Along with her state service, Naomi has developed and implemented successful strategies on a number of campaigns at the local, state, and federal level across California. Naomi graduated from the University of La Verne with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Additionally, Naomi is a member of the California Latino Capitol Association, and Capitol Network, a non-profit association committed to promoting women in California politics.

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Vanessa Ramirez

Independent Consultant, Vanessa Ramirez Social Impact Consulting | Inland Empire

Vanessa Ramirez is a life-long advocate of education, with a deep commitment to diversity and social mobility issues. Currently Vanessa is an independent consultant and serves as a talent acquisition strategist for national nonprofits. She also provides individual career coaching to young professionals. Prior to going out on her own, Vanessa worked for several education non-profits including Education Pioneers and College Summit. She also served as a political strategist with the Raben Group, a government affairs firm, where she provided advocacy support for her clients and gained political experience in Washington, DC as a legislative aide to Congressman Joe Baca who represented her hometown. Vanessa is originally from Fontana, California, which is located in San Bernardino County. She obtained a Masters degree in Public Policy and a Political Management Certificate from the University of Southern California and a Bachelors degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Vanessa is committed to empowering her community through education and currently recruits for UC Berkeley while also serving as a Freshman Application Reader and Scholarship Interviewer. She continues to be affiliated with several professional associations including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, UC Berkeley's Chicano Latino Alumni Association and USC's Latino Alumni Association.

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Alexandra Salgado

Policy Consultant, California Senate – Office of Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon | Greater Los Angeles

Alexandra Salgado is a Policy Consultant for President pro Tempore Kevin de León. She began her work for Senator De León in 2011 as Senate Fellow through the Capitol Fellows Program. Ms. Salgado advises the President pro Tem on issues of immigration, transportation, housing, and elections. Her work has contributed to California's historic efforts to fully integrate its immigrant population, facilitating the passage and implementation of policies such as access to driver's licenses for the undocumented and state investments in immigration legal services. Recently, she spearheaded the development of SB 54, The California Values Act, which provides clear standards for local law enforcements' involvement in immigration enforcement. In addition to her work on immigration issues, Ms. Salgado has played a critical role in the development and ultimate passage of key policy proposals, including the Road Repair and Accountability Act that will direct $54 billion over the next decade to transportation infrastructure, and a package of housing bills to address California's housing affordability crisis. Ms. Salgado successfully staffed important firearms control bills and legislation to address sexual assault on college campuses. Ms. Salgado graduated with a BA in Political Science and Minor in History from Stanford University.

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Estee Sepulveda

External Affairs Representative, Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District | Bay Area

In April 2015, Estee Sepulveda joined AC Transit as an External Affairs Representative where she develops and maintains relationships between the agency and external stakeholders like elected officials, business groups, and community organizations. AC Transit is the third-largest public bus system in California, serving 13 cities and adjacent unincorporated areas in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Estee has extensive legislative experience in federal and California state government. Previously, she spent seven years in Washington D.C., first working on the urban policy portfolio with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, then as an Associate Director at the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee under the direction of U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Estee began her political career as a Field Representative for Congresswoman Karen Bass, then Speaker of the California State Assembly. Estee was born and raised in Los Angeles. She received her Master of Public Policy from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and a B.A. in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach.

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Denise Soria

Water Resource Control Engineer, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board | Central Valley

Denise Soria is a Water Resource Control Engineer with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) a regulatory agency under the California Environmental Protection Agency. She has over 9 years of water quality permitting and regulatory experience working on projects such as domestic wastewater treatment facilities, recycled water facilities, food processing facilities, and power plants in the Central Valley. She routinely provides outreach to and works with disadvantaged communities, often providing translation services, and assists the Environmental Justice Liaison with the Regional Water Board. She holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Civil Engineering from California State University, Fresno. She is the current President for the Society of Women Engineers, San Joaquin Valley Professional Section, a non-profit organization that empowers women to succeed and advance in engineering careers. She has also served as the Vice-President of K-12 Outreach for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Fresno Chapter. She is a strong advocate of empowering women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups to obtain Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers. She actively promotes STEM careers in disadvantaged communities in the Central Valley. In her spare time, she likes to travel and dance.

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Naomi Soto-Steidle

Principal, Umbrex | Inland Empire

Naomi Soto-Steidle is a public policy professional with 10+ years of public and private sector experience. She has a passion for strategic communications and efficient problem solving. Currently, she serves as Principal at Umbrex, the first global community connecting top-tier independent management consultants with one another. Ninety-five percent of members are alums of McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, or Booz. She passionately engages in research and policy opportunities that improve market health inequity, reproductive justice, and gender equality issues. In 2017, Naomi helped facilitate the county's five-year health improvement plan and helped develop the plan's evaluation metrics. For two years, she led a training pilot for Health Corps, which has since replicated the successes throughout the US. Naomi also led the first campaign for the Affordable Care Act campaign in the Coachella Valley, leading to 17,000 individuals enrolling in health insurance. She co-hosts a weekly political podcast, Polilogue with her husband Brendan.

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Lilia Stone

Associate, State Government Relations, California Life Sciences Association | Northern California

Lilia Stone serves as California Life Sciences Association's (CLSA) Associate in State Government Relations. Based in CLSA's Sacramento office, Lilia supports the organization's state advocacy priorities by assisting in the implementation of strategy, member relationship development and overall advancement of initiatives with key state and local policymakers. Prior to joining CLSA, Lilia served as a legislative assistant and scheduler for Assemblymember Marie Waldron, where she managed numerous bills throughout the legislative process. She got her start in the legislature as a fellow in the Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship program. Founded in 1957, the fellowship is one of the oldest and most prestigious legislative fellowship programs in the nation. She gained experience in various levels of government by interning in city council and the U.S Department of Commerce. She received her Bachelor of Science in International Studies- Political Science from the University of California San Diego.

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Maryann Tolano-Leveque

Dean of Students, Citrus College | Inland Empire

Dr. Maryann Tolano-Leveque is the Dean of Students at Citrus College where she has led efforts to help students with food insecurity, provided resources for homeless students, and implemented the Class Pass program which provides Citrus College students with unlimited rides on a local bus line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Maryann has oversight of the Veterans Success Center, Student Health Center, Student Life Office, student conduct, and student government operations. She began her career and professional leadership experience in higher education more than 19 years ago at Cal Poly Pomona where she also obtained a bachelor’s degree in communication with an option in journalism and a master’s degree in educational multimedia. She is also a graduate of USC where she earned a doctorate in Educational Psychology. Maryann has spent her entire career in education because she takes great satisfaction in serving students and providing the resources to successfully guide them through their education. Maryann’s parents were born and raised in Mexico; her father had a 3rd grade education and her mother has 6th grade education; her first language was Spanish; and she is a first-generation high school and college graduate. The opportunities that facilitated her student success came from programs that encouraged engagement outside the classroom. She is grateful for those opportunities and feels privileged to be in a position to give back. Maryann was recently appointed to Assemblymember Chris Holden’s Education Committee, which serves in an advisory capacity on education policy and legislation. She also volunteered as the Vice President of Development for the Executive Board of the Southern California Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross. During that time, she significantly increased blood donations among colleges in her region by encouraging students to participate in “out for blood” competitions between various universities and community colleges.

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Linda Vasquez

Regional Affairs Director, Campaign for College Opportunity | Greater Los Angeles

Linda serves as the Regional Affairs Director for the Campaign for College Opportunity, a non-profit advocacy organization focused on shaping California higher education policy, where she leads the organization’s strategic implementation efforts of critical statewide student success policies on college access, affordability, completion and equity. She has thirteen years of experience in higher education and advocacy, with a record of building partnerships and forming alliances with cross-sector organizations to expand the educational opportunities for low-income, first-generation college students like herself. Prior to joining the Campaign, she served as District Manager of Statewide Organizations for ACT, Inc., where she was responsible for overseeing college and career readiness program efforts in 8 states across the Southwestern U.S. As the ACT, Inc. liaison to over 120 senior education and workforce professionals, she worked with them to identify ways they can expand college and career readiness opportunities for students. She credits her foundational understanding of student access and success from working at California State University, Fullerton and Rio Hondo College. Linda is a Board Member for Las Fotos Project, JOYA Scholars, and the USC Rossier Educational Counseling Program and is an alumni of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. She holds a Political Science B.A. from California State University, Fullerton, with minors in Spanish & Chicano/a Studies and an M.A. in Leadership, Policy and Politics from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is originally from Aguascalientes, Mexico and resides in Orange County, CA.


Sharon Velasquez

Economic Equity Program Manager, The Greenlining Institute | Bay Area

Sharon Velasquez is a Chicana born in Los Angeles and raised in the Inland Empire. Currently, Sharon is Economic Equity Manager at The Greenlining Institute, a racial equity and policy advocacy organization advancing economic opportunity for communities of color. She is guided by a mission to bring justice, economic opportunity, and self-investment to the Latino community. Sharon's passion for economic justice is rooted in the ongoing struggles of her immigrant parents, which include living with limited means, racism, and being targets of predatory lending. At Greenlining, Sharon works to increase bank services, homeownership, entrepreneurship, and supportive financial ecosystems in communities of color to close the racial wealth gap. Through her advocacy to financial institutions and federal and state regulators, she hopes to help realize the economic opportunity her parents and community struggle to attain. Sharon is also passionate about advancing the economic well-being of women of color. As such, she serves on the Policy Committee of the national Closing the Women's Wealth Gap Initiative. Sharon is an advocate because she believes power concedes nothing without demands. She lives by the motto, “I can and I will.” She obtained her Bachelor's degree in English Literature and Public Affairs from UCLA.

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Kristan Venegas

Assistant Dean, Strategic Initiatives and Evaluation Professor, University of Southern California | Greater Los Angeles

Kristan Venegas, PhD serves as the Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Evaluation in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California (USC). She is a Professor of Clinical Higher Education and a Research Associate in the USC Pullias Center for Higher Education. Venegas serves as the Board Secretary for the El Monte Promise Foundation which focuses on college access and savings in her community. She was been active in administrative leadership at USC for more than 10 years, including leading the development of her school's strategic plan. In 2013-14, she was selected to be an American Council on Education Fellow, and worked with the president and provost's office at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). During her time at UNLV, she assisted with the developing the first successful application to designate UNLV as a Hispanic Serving Institution. Dr. Venegas' research and advocacy over the last 17 years have focused on low income students, students of college, college access and financial aid. Venegas is a first generation college student and chicana from El Monte, CA. She completed at her bachelor's, master's and PhD at USC.


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

Stephanie Ramírez Zárate
Program Manager