Calfresh Advocate, Feeding America San Diego
Roberto Alcantar was raised in the South Bay region of San Diego where he has lived for over 23 years of his life. After graduating from Southwest High School, Roberto attended UC Berkeley where he graduated with a Bachelors degree in Political Science and a Minor in Public Policy. Roberto studied abroad for one year at the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia for a year and studied Aboriginal Culture. Roberto was recruited into the U.S. Department of State were he served at the U.S. Consulate in Perth were he was able to work directly with then U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, during her last visit to Australia.
While working in the State Department, Roberto worked on Foreign Policy issues regarding the East Asia Pacific region, led research on strategic use of natural resources and developed outstanding relationships with local Governments abroad. His travels have taken him to the Asia Pacific region.
After college Roberto moved back to San Diego and worked on a project funded by the Department of Justice to battle Human Trafficking in San Diego County and continues to be an active anti Human Trafficking advocate. He has also worked in Higher Education. Roberto is currently the Calfresh Advocate at Feeding America San Diego. As a Calfresh Advocate at Feeding America San Diego, Roberto has advocated on behalf of applicants to the Food Stamp program who have been facing barriers while going through the application process. He has been instrumental in developing an Advocacy strategy for his organization, which included taking Community Organizations to Sacramento to advocate for Hunger issues during Hunger Action Day.
Roberto was invited to present at the 2011 Annual California Association of Food Banks Conference. Roberto has been active in various Political campaigns in the South Bay, continues to advocate for his community and is currently serving his second term as President of the South Bay Democratic Club.
Heather Steiner works in the asset management industry. Before that she taught political economy at UCLA as a visiting assistant professor and at New York University as a doctoral fellow, and also served as a consultant for a non-profit organization dedicated to turning around two failing high schools in South Los Angeles. Heather’s interest in international economic policy – especially in developing countries - led her to complete her Ph.D. in political economy at UCLA in 2010.
While working on her Ph.D., she conducted field research in Argentina and Peru, and remains interested in Latin American politics. In the course of her doctoral work, Heather also became involved in education reform. Through organizations such as Education Pioneers, she has worked to improve public education for underserved populations and to promote school choice in Southern California.
Prior to starting her doctoral work at UCLA, Heather worked in finance in New York City and earned her Master’s degree in international economic policy at Columbia University. She moved to Cardiff-by-the-Sea in 2006, where she currently lives with her husband, Matt, and their dog.
IT Manager, San Diego LGBT Community Center
Vanessa Cosio is the Information Technology Manager at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. The Center’s mission is to enhance and sustain the health and well-being of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV communities. Vanessa maintains The Center’s network and computer equipment, online Exchange server, CRM applications, and oversees the David Bohnett Cyber Center.
Prior to joining the Center, Vanessa worked as a Web Designer and Front-End developer throughout San Diego. She also gained political experience as the Deputy Field Director of San Diego, Riverside & Imperial Counties for the No on Prop 8 campaign and Field Director for Alliance for a Better CA/Jerry Brown for Governor.
Vanessa currently serves on the board of directors for the San Diego Democrats for Equality (formerly San Diego Democratic Club) as the IT Director. She is also a founding member of the Young Professionals Council – A Program of the San Diego LGBT Center and serves as the Secretary/Treasurer.
Vanessa received her Bachelor of Arts in Cinema-Television from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 2005. She returned to her hometown of San Diego to receive her Bachelor of Science in Media Arts from Platt College in 2009.
Community Advocate, Bayside Community Center
Monica currently works at Bayside Community Center as a Community Advocate. In her current position Monica is implementing a Leadership Academy to increase civic engagement among residents. She also runs an educational program targeted towards helping high school students with their post secondary plans. Besides working in the non profit arena Monica has also worked as a Partnership Specialist for the 2010 Census where she worked diligently to engage hard to count communities to participate in the 2010 count.
Monica received her B.A. in American Studies: Identity Politics from the University of California Berkeley and her M.A in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego. She is a native of San Diego and has a family history of involvement at the local level. Monica currently resides in the East County where is involved in the School Site Council and District Advisory Board of her local school. Monica's interests and passion lie in ensuring a quality public education for all students and working towards increasing access to higher education. The students and community members she works with inspire her on a daily basis to continue working for change.
Organizer, Center on Policy Initiatives
Trinh currently works as an Organizer at the Center on Policy Initiatives, a nonprofit research and advocacy center dedicated to the interests of working people in the San Diego region. She previously worked with the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, San Diego Asian Film Foundation, and Little Saigon Foundation before joining CPI.
Trinh graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Sociology and Asian American Studies. As a college student, she was heavily involved with organizations such as the Asian Pacific Coalition, Vietnamese Student Union, and the National Asian American Student Conference. Soon after college, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast where she worked with the Vietnamese community and other low-income communities of color to rebuild and organize after Hurricane Katrina and then also after the BP Oil Spill disaster. Trinh worked for Hope Community Development Agency, organizing local residents to identify key neighborhood issues and empowering them to address those issues.
She supported newly formed Asian American organizations by pushing to advance their local initiatives. After working for three years in the Gulf Coast, she decided that it was time to move back home to build her career in San Diego.
Development and Marine Conservation Coordinator, San Diego Coastkeeper
Katelyn Hailey is the development and marine conservation coordinator at San Diego Coastkeeper, a nonprofit environmental organization working to protect and restore fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters in San Diego County. In this role, Katelyn is responsible for securing foundation, corporate, government and major donor support, as well as overseeing marine conservation projects relating to the California Ocean Plan and the Marine Life Protection Act.
Prior to her position at Coastkeeper, Katelyn worked as associate coordinator for the Hansen Summer Institute on Leadership and International Cooperation, which brought together students and young professionals from developing countries for an intensive summer program on conflict mediation, cultural diversity, leadership skills and issues of globalization.
Katelyn holds an M.A. in political science with emphasis in international relations and comparative politics and a B.A. in sociology, both from San Diego State University. She also spent a year studying sociology at the University of Bristol in England. Having grown up in Trabuco Canyon, CA, Katelyn developed her love for the environment at an early age through hiking, camping and exploring in the Cleveland National Forest.
Law Office Manager, Law Offices of Deborah L. Raymond
Consuelo Martinez is a Law Office Manager at a consumer protection law firm in Del Mar, CA. Having worked since the age of 16 and throughout her entire time in college, she has accumulated over a decade’s experience in business administration and the finance industry. When Consuelo is not at her day job, she is advocating for issues surrounding immigrant rights, women’s rights, and civic participation.
In the summer of 2004, Consuelo co-founded the Escondido Human Rights Committee. The organization has played a key role with grassroots organizing and advocacy of immigrant rights in the North San Diego Community. Her community work in Escondido was featured in Poder Escondido, a film produced by local high school students and the Media Arts Center San Diego in 2006. Consuelo has been involved in social justice issues since she was in high school. She has served in various leadership capacities for numerous nonprofit and political organizations in San Diego County. In addition, Consuelo is a former Commissioner for the City of Escondido’s Community Services Commission.
Consuelo currently resides in Escondido, CA. Born in Santa Ana, CA to Mexican immigrant parents, Consuelo was the first in her family to obtain a college degree. She graduated from California State University San Marcos and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Women’s Studies. She is also alumnus of the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) Leadership Institute and Summer Institute for Latino Public Policy.
In the future, Consuelo aspires to become a public interest attorney and run for political office. She also plans to create Escondido’s first cultural & social justice center that will serve the needs of its diverse community.
Public Affairs Database Associate, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest
Rachel works full time in the public affairs department at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW), overseeing their constituent relationship management database and volunteer recruitment and retention for all electoral and educational outreach activities. Her efforts as a volunteer coordinator have made PPPSW's phone banking efforts among the most successful of any other Planned Parenthood affiliate across the country.
Rachel began her career with Planned Parenthood as a volunteer and has assisted in defeating all three parental notification initiatives that have appeared on the California ballot. In addition to her work at PPPSW, Rachel works as an independent makeup artist and CA Board Licensed esthetician. She studied makeup and earned her credentials at Makeup Designory in Burbank, CA and obtained her esthetician's license from Bellus Academy in Poway. She has worked in many different medias including film, TV, print, and runway.
Rachel was born and raised in San Diego and aspires to continue her political involvement within her community in order to help build a stronger progressive movement. She currently resides in La Mesa, a suburb of San Diego, and enjoys traveling, reading, movies, & spending time with her dog.
District Representative, Senator Juan Vargas
Aaron Allen is currently a District Representative for State Senator Juan Vargas. Aaron’s issue areas include the environment, transportation, housing and taxation and the budget. Prior to joining Senator Vargas’ staff, he worked for the Chula Vista City Council and the San Diego World Affairs Council. Aaron is a volunteer mediator for the National Conflict Resolution Center and is a member of the Community Housing Work’s Facelift Planning Committee.
In 2009, Aaron graduated with a double major in Political Science and History from the University of California, Berkeley. Aaron is very active in his community, and sits on a number of community groups and boards: the City Heights Project Area Committee, the City of San Diego Normal Heights Community Planning Group, the United State Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission and the San Diego World Affairs Council Board of Directors.
Aaron is also interested in small business development and microfinancing loans. He has worked with ACCION San Diego and the International Rescue Committee’s Center for Financial Opportunity to help local entrepreneurs develop their businesses. Finally, Aaron is a blogger for the Foreign Policy Association, where he provides his analysis of current international conflicts.
Teacher, KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy
John Greenwell is a Science teacher at KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy in San Diego where he enjoys helping his middle school students grasp a better understanding of the world as they prepare for college. In addition to serving as a grade level and department chair there, he has created and led many educational trips with his students, which include destinations as far away as Ireland, Egypt, and China. John served as the Biology and French instructor at the KIPP STEP program at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts in 2011.
John earned his bachelors degree in Philosophy and French Literature from Fordham University in New York City. As part of his undergraduate work, John studied in a French immersion program in Quebec, Canada as well as in an intensive Arabic program in Fez, Morocco. He then earned his Masters of Science in Education from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.
A native San Diegan, John is an active member of the Young Professionals Council, a philanthropic organization supporting the San Diego LGBT Center. He continues to volunteer for various progressive, community organizations throughout the San Diego region and looks forward to the work he and his NLC Institute fellows will do!