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© 2009-2020 Hispanas Organized for Political Equality–California.

Join us in welcoming the Twenty-second HOPE Leadership Institute (HLI) Class - 26 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 2020

Violeta Aguilar-Wyrick

Principal, Xara Public Affairs | Inland Empire

Violeta Aguilar-Wyrick is a political and public relations professional with local, state and national experience. She recently started her own public affairs firm, Xara Public Affairs, LLC, in her hometown of Riverside California. During the 2019 general election cycle she successfully led Gaby Plascencia’s city council campaign in the City of Riverside to victory. Gaby’s campaign broke barriers as the first Latina being elected in the Riverside City Council.  Prior to that, her work and clients have included SEIU 121RN, SEIU-UHW, Opportunity PAC, California State legislature, and others. She works with clients on developing political, legislative, and new business development strategies in the Inland Empire and throughout Southern California. Her work has resulted in over $50 million of contract victories.

Sofia Andrade

Consultant, Human Resources & Health Equity, Common Spirit Health | Bay Area

Sofia is passionate about reducing health disparities and increasing access to high-quality healthcare for underserved communities. She holds a MPH in Health Policy and Management from the University of California, Berkeley, and BA in International Studies from the University of San Francisco. Sofia recently completed an Administrative Fellowship at Dignity Health, and had the opportunity to work with executive leadership in Human Resources and Community Health. Sofia will be staying on with Dignity Health, now Common Spirit Health, as a Consultant in Human Resources and Health Equity. Prior to graduate school, Sofia worked in the California State Legislature as a Legislative Aide.

Lucero Chavez Ramirez

Field Representative, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez | San Diego Area

Lucero Chavez is a Representative for Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. Her policy responsibilities include the following issue areas: environment, education, housing, business, transportation and immigration. Lucero is a first generation college student who attended the University of San Diego on a full-ride merit scholarship and graduated with honors with a degree in International Relations and Sociology. Lucero served as Vice-President of USD’s Student Outreach and Recruitment Club, engaging other low-income, first generation students like herself. Lucero graduated Hilltop High School in 2013 as her class’ Valedictorian. Lucero grew up in Chula Vista with her family.

Sarah D’Avella

Operations Engineer, California Resources Corporation (CRC) | Orange County

Sarah D’Avella is an Operations Engineer for California Resources Corporation. She oversees various OPEX and CAPEX well work projects including ESP and rod pump changes, producer and injector add pays, and wellbore repairs such as cement squeezes, casing sleeves, and inner liner installations in the LA Basin. Prior to her role as an Operations Engineer, she worked as a Facilities Project Manager in the LA Basin and as a Pipeline Mechanical Integrity Engineer in the Ventura Basin. Sarah is active in employee resource groups, serving as the president of the Early Career Network and as a steering committee member of the Women’s Interest Network (WIN), and she was honored as a “WIN Champion” at the 2019 WIN Conference. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from California State University Long Beach where she served as president of the mechanical engineering honor society Pi Tau Sigma.

Ashley Fumiko Dominguez

Assistant Director, Federal Relations, UCLA | Greater Los Angeles  

Ashley Fumiko Dominguez serves as an Assistant Director of Federal Relations within UCLA’s Government & Community Relations department. Ashley leverages her expertise in immigration, education, national security, international affairs and government to assist UCLA in building a strong and robust relationship with the federal government. Prior to joining UCLA, Ashley served in the district office of Congressman Ted Lieu as his Special Projects & Events Supervisor, in the district office and leadership office of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in multiple roles including Personal Correspondent and District Scheduler / Special Assistant, and in the state office of Senator Feinstein as a Constituent Services Representative. Ashley holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree in International Relations from San Francisco State University.

Marina Espinoza

Legislative Analyst, California State Association of Counties | Northern California

Marina Espinoza is the Legislative Analyst in the policy area of Housing, Land Use, and Transportation at the California State Association of Counties (CSAC). Prior to joining CSAC, Marina was a Legislative Aide and an Assembly Fellow in the Office of Assembly Member Kevin Mullin. Before that, she was a Research Analyst at LeSar Development Consultants, where she worked with local jurisdictions on various housing plans. Marina has also completed internships with the San Diego Housing Federation and the Center for Healthy Eating and Activity Research at the UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics. In her spare time, Marina has been involved with various organizations, including the Sacramento Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar, SheShares, California Latino Capitol Association, and San Diego American Planning Association. Marina received her bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Planning from UC San Diego.

Carolyn Flores-Conrad

Program Coordinator, Youth Leadership Institute | Central Valley

Carolyn Flores-Conrad works at Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) to aid in the growth of unrestricted funding for the organization with an emphasis on strategic marketing and business planning models. She engages in her neighborhood through serving on the board of Lowell Community Development Corporation focusing on fair housing in one of the areas of concentrated poverty in Fresno, CA. Additionally, she serves as a member of the District Advisory Committee for Fresno Unified School District. This committee is a voting body that assesses LCAP funding for the district. Carolyn completed a Master’s degree in Community Leadership and Transformation this past spring.  Through local connections, Carolyn worked for a year at Youth for Christ, USA national office out of Denver leading fourteen different teams across the country to hold a training conference for over 1,000 volunteer leaders.  Carolyn led a team of 13 diverse individuals who worked along with their volunteer leaders to invest in the lives of 3,000 students.

Stella Jimenez

District Director, California State Assembly, 56th District | Inland Empire

Stella Jimenez is an accomplished government and public affairs professional with over ten years of experience working with small businesses, government entities, educators, and non-governmental organizations, specializing in public policy, public affairs, and media relations. She has an extensive track record serving the Counties of Riverside and Imperial, most currently as the District Director for Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, who represents the 56th Assembly District. Prior to this role, Stella was a journalist for a local newspaper The Desert Review and a restaurateur. Born and raised in the City of Torrance, residing in Imperial County since 2006, she obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the United College of Business, Downey.

Tristen Lopez

Senior Accountant, California Resources Corporation | Central Valley

Tristen Lopez is a Senior Accountant at California Resources Corporation in Bakersfield, CA, where she focuses on reporting production and revenue for CRC’s assets in the LA Basin. After spending more than a decade working in the energy industry, she has learned the importance of promoting energy literacy and believes it holds the power to improve the lives of all Californians. A passionate advocate of STEM education, Tristen has spent more than five years volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club, motivated by her desire to provide learning opportunities, resources, and support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Tristen earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting from California State University, Bakersfield. 

Ruth López

Senior Associate, Penn Hill Group | Central Valley

Ruth López is a Senior Associate at Penn Hill Group, a Washington, D.C. based education policy lobbying and consulting firm. She has a strong background in education policy and particular expertise in issues relating to English language learners and disadvantaged communities. López provides policy analysis, research, and coalition support on projects focused on a range of K-12 and higher education issues. Prior to that, López worked for Policy Strategies and Solutions where she played an integral role in complex projects that involved extensive research, coalition building, and policy analysis and development. Prior to that, López worked as a policy analyst at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s National Public Policy Office López holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish with an emphasis on Hispanic languages and bilingual issues and a minor in education from the University of California, Berkeley.

Irais Lopez-Ortega

Owner/Administrator, Cedars Care Home, L&B Care Home for the Elderly | Bay Area

Born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico, Irais is the oldest of sixteen children. She began her career as a special education teacher in Mexico, and worked in the public education system of rural Mexican communities for several years. Irais migrated to the U.S. in 1989, where she began working as a caregiver for the elderly in San Francisco.  She continued her education earning her Certified Nursing Assistance certificate and eventually completing her Medical Assistant Associate Degree from Santa Rose Empire College. Irais continued her career in the health sector by owning and operating two care homes in Calistoga. Irais was appointed to the Calistoga City Council for a 4 year term and was re-elected in 2016.

Stephanie Martinez

Community Relations Manager, Microsoft | Central Valley

Stephanie Martinez is a Community Relations Manager for Microsoft. Her role with Microsoft has allowed her to be active in communities across California, especially in rural and inner cities where the digital divide is most pronounced amongst students of color. Stephanie is the founder of the SoCal Chapter of Microsoft’s Employee Resource Group – Hispanics and Latinx Organizers and Leaders in Action (HOLA). She also serves as an Ambassador for Microsoft’s Diversity and Inclusion council. Prior to her role at Microsoft, Stephanie worked for several non-profits including the YMCA and Alternatives to Domestic Violence Counseling Center. Stephanie pursued a bachelor’s degree of Social Work due to the degree’s heavy emphasis in political advocacy, social justice, and theories of human behavior. She later pursued a master’s degree in Public Administration.

Glenda Monterroza

Learning Evaluation Specialist, The California Endowment | Bay Area

Glenda Monterroza is a philanthropy and public health professional in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her 10+ experience in the philanthropy sector is varied. She is currently working in the Learning & Evaluation department at The California Endowment, a health conversation foundation focused on building people power and funding health broadly, within the spectrum of the social determinants of health. Previously she worked at the Stuart Foundation, a family foundation focused on education systems transformation, and before that worked at Kaiser Permanente in their Community Benefit program, at the local jurisdictional level. She recently graduated from the University of Washington acquiring a Master's in Public Health. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Sociology and Spanish.

Jasmine Mora

Senior Communications Manager, Airbnb | Greater Los Angeles

Jasmine Mora is a Senior Communications Manager at Airbnb. Over the past three years, she's led policy communications for a number of international and domestic markets including Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and the U.S. West Coast. In her current capacity, she directs the company’s communications for diverse communities, ensuring that Airbnb is reaching key constituency groups like African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and LGBTQ people. Prior to Airbnb, Jasmine was the Communications Director for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Washington, D.C. Jasmine is from Wilmington, CA and after graduating from UC Berkeley, taught middle school in Los Angeles while pursuing her Master’s in Education at Loyola Marymount University.

Edith Moreno

Regulatory Case Manager, Southern California Gas Company | Greater Los Angeles

Edith Moreno has worked for Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities for over 6 years.  She currently serves as a Regulatory Case Manager for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) where she manages the development and participation of significant and complex regulatory proceedings before the California Public Utilities Commission and other state agencies.  In her previous roles she was a Senior Environmental Policy Advisor at SoCalGas and a Senior Environmental Specialist at San Diego Gas & Electric. Prior to joining the Sempra Energy family, she worked for two major environmental consulting firms supporting Clean Water Act regulatory compliance projects throughout Southern California.   Edith received her bachelor’s degree in Geological Sciences and Hispanic Literature & Culture from Brown University in Providence, RI and her master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She also holds a certificate in Business Management from the University of California, San Diego Extension. 

Claudia Moreno

Southern CA, Outreach Manager, Small Business Majority | Inland Empire  

Claudia Moreno manages Small Business Majority’s outreach, education and policy efforts in the Inland Empire/Central California regions. Claudia develops relationships with both business partners and small business owners across the region to discuss ways to best help small businesses thrive in their local economies. Claudia also works closely with the California team on statewide policy initiatives. An Inland Empire native herself and the daughter of a small business owner, Claudia understands the importance of giving back to her community and intentionally working to empower underserved entrepreneurs. She previously worked at the White House during the Obama Administration in the Executive Office of Presidential Correspondence.

Sofia Navarro                   

VP of Community & Government Relations, Planned Parenthood | Northern California

Sofia Navarro has over ten years of professional non-profit experience and is currently the VP of Community and Government Relations for Planned Parenthood Northern California (PPNorCal). Sofia is responsible for the oversight, development and implementation of the overall vision and plan for PPNorCal’s Case Management, Education and Public Affairs departments. She also provides oversight of the Planned Parenthood Northern California Action Fund and its state PAC. Sofia works with a team of educators, case managers, public affairs officers and directors, who cover 20 northern counties, and serve over 50,000 youth, teens, parents and adults annually by providing case management and age-appropriate sex education. . She holds a Masters in Leadership and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Saint Mary’s College of California.

Melissa Noriega

Director Sales Enablement, Best Buy | Orange County

Melissa Noriega is a director of sales enablement for Best Buy Inc. She's been with the company 12 years, and is the only Latina Director in Best Buy.  In her former years she worked every job available, from farm labor, flea markets, and food service to tutoring coaching and retail. She was born and raised on the Calexico/Mexicali border. Grew up in a migrant family where part of the year was spent at home in Calexico and the other part in farm fields by the central valley.  Received a B.S. in Business from the University of Redlands, Married her partner of 12 years and with him spends her free time traveling or volunteering in Riverside County. 

Adriana Ramos  

Senior Advisor, Government Relations, Edison | Orange County

Adriana Ramos is a Senior Advisor in Edison International’s Public Affairs unit and provides policy support to Edison's Washington, D.C. and Sacramento offices. Adriana also manages policy support to Edison’s CEO office.  In 2018, Adriana served as the President for Latinos for Engagement, Advancement & Development, an Edison Business Resource Group dedicated to supporting the development and upward mobility of Latino employees. Adriana joined Edison in 2014 as a Local Public Affairs Region Manager. Prior to joining Edison, Adriana practiced law with a municipal law firm, where she advised local government agencies on public policies and litigation strategies.  She served as the Assistant City Attorney for a city in the Inland Empire and as Deputy City Attorney for cities across California.  Adriana earned her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and bachelor’s degrees in Criminology, Law & Society and Psychology & Social Behavior from the University of California, Irvine.

Maria Samaniego

Latinos and Society Program Manager, The Aspen Institute | Greater Los Angeles

María Samaniego is the Program Manager at the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program, a policy studies organization headquartered in Washington, DC. There she focuses on strategy and partnerships to maximize the impact of their economic mobility focused policy work and to increase the representation of Latinos in Aspen Institute programs. Previously, she served as the Sr. Director of Development & Programming at Voto Latino. Maria has held several roles with Occidental College’s Neighborhood Partnership Program and served as field staff to two California State Assembly members. In 2015 she co-founded #DCinLA, a networking event to bridge social sector change makers from DC and LA. María is a Hispanic’s in Philanthropy NGen Líderes Fellow and an alumnus of the Schusterman Foundation’s Reality Program. She holds an M.A. in Education from Michigan State University, an M.A. in Latin American Studies from CSULA and a B.A. in Political Science and Chicano Studies from UC Davis.

Amanda Staples

Community Advocacy Director, American Heart Association | Greater Los Angeles

Amanda Staples is the Community Advocacy Director for the American Heart Association - Greater Los Angeles. Staples was a key leader in the Los Angeles Families Fighting Flavored Tobacco coalition where she successfully championed an ordinance to end the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol cigarettes in unincorporated Los Angeles County. With a passion for health equity, Staples serves on the Community Prevention and Population Health Task Force that makes recommendations to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Health Agency, and Department of Public Health. Staples has extensive experience in budget analysis, policy writing, and advocacy. She worked for a women-led transportation advocacy startup where she researched regional transportation investments. Prior to that, she served in Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s capitol and district offices.

Rebecca Terrazas-Baxter

Intergovernmental Relations Director, County of Imperial | Inland Empire                                                                 

Rebecca Terrazas-Baxter currently works for the County of Imperial in the Executive Office as its Intergovernmental Relations Director, drafting, analyzing and advocating for or against policy proposals on the County’s behalf, serving as the County's voice on state and federal policy. Prior to her service with the County, she has more than ten years of experience working for federal and state legislators, including Congressman Juan Vargas as a Senior Field Representative from April 2013 to November 2015, California State Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez as a Senior Field Representative from January 2009 to April 2013, and United States Senator Barbara Boxer as a Senior Staff Assistant from July 2005 to January 2009.  She is an Imperial County native who graduated from Southwest High School and later received her bachelor’s degree in Criminology, Law and Society from the University of California, Irvine.  

 Alexa Tijerino

Digital and Podcast Specialist, UC Davis | Northern California

Alexa Renee Tijerino is a digital and podcast specialist with Strategic Communications at UC Davis. She is the co-creator of the university's first-ever official podcast, Unfold. Alexa also supports the UC Davis web team with UX research and content creation for the university's website. Before joining UC Davis, Alexa worked in the Sacramento media market in TV news and radio. She co-hosted a 3-time Emmy winning movie panel television show and also worked as an on-air radio host. Alexa also worked behind the scenes, assisting in writing for a local morning news show. Alexa remains fascinated with social media trends and online behaviors and wants to use her professional training in digital communications to make an impact.

Samantha Torres

Genetic Disease Program Specialist III, California Department of Public Health |Northern California

A passionate advocate for equity in health care and public service, Samantha has been a Genetic Disease Program Specialist in the California Prenatal Screening Program with the California Department of Public Health. She works to ensure all pregnant individuals in California have access to high quality prenatal screening and genetics services. Previously, she worked in public health and clinical research in obstetrics and gynecology, occupational and environmental health, as well as Americorps service in Latino-serving community health clinics. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Science in Genetics from University of California, Davis. She was adjunct lecturer for Chican@/Latin@ Health Issues course at the UC Davis and a Health and Environmental Policy Scholar at the UC Center in Sacramento.

Kenia Zamarripa

Director, International Business Affairs, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce | San Diego Area

Kenia Zamarripa serves as Director of International Business Affairs at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, where she is responsible for facilitating business, political, and cultural relationships across the regional business community and advocating for business-friendly legislation that encourages cross-border trade and an improved binational business climate. She leads the Chamber’s team in the organization of annual binational delegation trips to Mexico City to promote cross-border advocacy, and quarterly Cross Border Business Forums that provide business leaders the essential knowledge and resources needed to thrive within the binational marketplace. Zamarripa previously served as Director of Marketing and International Affairs for the Sportfishing Association of California. Zamarripa acquired her BA in Marketing from CETYS Universidad in Tijuana, Mexico in 2009. In 2015, she completed her MSc in Global Marketing Management from the University of Liverpool, UK, where she also received her PG Certificate in Human Resources in 2017.

Jessica Zaragoza

Legislative Director, California State Assembly | Northern California

Jessica Zaragoza is the Legislative Director for State Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (51st District). Prior to this role, Jessica served as a Legislative Aide for State Senator Mike McGuire (2nd District), where she managed legislation relating to data-sharing agreements, developmental services and advised the member on legislation relating to immigration, transportation and housing. Jessica was also formerly a Capitol Senate Fellow. Prior to her legislative work, Jessica helped manage program operations for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) for the Housing Authority for the City of Los Angeles, which provides job opportunities for youth who are enrolled in CalWORKs, low-income households or foster youth. She received a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills with honors. Her honors include a Leon & Sylvia Panetta Congressional Intern.

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

Stephanie Ramírez Zárate
Program Manager 

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