By Allison Don
Charlie Gillig and Jessica Nare of the San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA) 2013 Class have been appointed to the City of San Diego’s Human Relation’s Commission, which, among other activities, works to ensure that all city residents have equal access to economic, political and educational opportunities and equal access to service protection and accommodation in all businesses and public agencies.Read more
Skadden Fellow/Staff Attorney, Casa Cornelia Law Center
Charlie Gillig is a Skadden Fellow at Casa Cornelia Law Center, a legal non-profit that provides free representation to immigrant victims of abuse. At Casa Cornelia, Charlie founded and serves as director of Casa Cornelia’s satellite office in the low income, high immigrant neighborhood of City Heights. In this capacity Charlie has a caseload of asylum seekers, victims of domestic violence and unaccompanied children. He also provides community education on legal rights and serves as the Asylum Task Force Chair at the San Diego Refugee Forum.
Before moving to San Diego, Charlie lived in Washington, D.C., graduating with a dual degree in law from Georgetown University Law Center and in international relations from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Upon graduation at Georgetown, Charlie received the Jeffrey Crandall Award, given to the graduating student that most exemplifies a commitment to public interest law.
Charlie is a native of Los Angeles and a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont. After college, Charlie worked as a journalist in Hong Kong and as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, West Africa.
Policy Advocate, Environmental Health Coalition
Kayla Race has been working to protect the environment and public health for four years, most recently with Environmental Health Coalition (EHC). As a Policy Advocate with EHC’s Green Energy/Green Jobs Campaign, Kayla works to advance a green economy that will benefit all communities in San Diego region, with a focus on low-income communities of color.
Prior to joining EHC in 2011, Kayla worked for a local environmental remediation government contractor. She also spent nearly two years working for the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a Policy Research Analyst for the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, where she worked to advance legislation on energy efficiency, clean energy, climate change, water, electronic waste, and transportation.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Kayla earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College in Vermont.
When she’s not actively promoting policies and other solutions to protect our environment and health, Kayla enjoys running and bicycling in San Diego’s beautiful outdoors, and dabbling in various artistic endeavors. She is a member of Progressive Speakers, a local Toastmasters club of members sharing progressive values.
Kayla was featured in Patch.com’s 30 Under 30 Leaders in San Diego County for 2012.
Public Policy Assistant,Collaborative Services, Inc.
Rebekah Hook has Midwest roots, grew up in Tucson, Arizona and attended Western Washington University.
While at Western, she majored in Political Science with an emphasis in American politics, environmental studies and environmental policy. Highly active in student and local politics, Rebekah founded and was President of Students For Hillary, a grassroots organization focused on gaining support on Western’s campus for Hillary R. Clinton to secure the presidential nomination. She also held leadership positions at the Queer Resource Center (formerly the LGBTA) and in the Office of Sustainability, supporting and furthering the diversity and sustainability goals of the university. Rebekah had the privilege to work as a District Intern for Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-2). An lifelong athlete, she also competed in varsity NCAA Division II Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field ⎯ Go Vikings!
After earning her Bachelor’s Degree, Rebekah obtained her Master’s Degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies, with a focus on public policy, stakeholder engagement and environmental land use. While in graduate school, Rebekah worked as the Deputy Campaign Director on the Jean Melious for County Council campaign and was a member of The National Political Science Honor Society.
Currently, Rebekah Hook is a Public Policy Assistant at Collaborative Services, Inc., a public outreach firm in San Diego. Through her role, she contributes to the firm’s success as it works with, and for, public agencies and local and regional political figures on projects ranging from transportation, to urban planning, to natural resource management. Rebekah works to ensure that the public’s communication, outreach and community involvement needs are consistently met. She continues to cultivate new partnerships with aligning organizations, companies and political leaders to enhance existing and future programs. Whether she is researching policy information or interacting with stakeholders, her support helps ensure that projects run smoothly and finish successfully.
Rebekah is an active member of the San Diego LGBT Community Center’s Young Professionals Council (YPC), continues to volunteer on various political campaigns and enjoys a mildly competitive round of golf.
Veterans Advocate, Interfaith Community Services
Gena Truitt is a Veterans Advocate working with the Veterans Homeless Prevention Demonstration (VHPD) at Interfaith Community Services. As a Veterans Advocate, Gena provides case management services for veterans who are at risk of becoming homeless. Gena processes applications for VHPD while providing case management services for veterans assisting them find suitable housing, increase employment opportunities/income and budgeting.
In 2012, Gena graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with her Masters of Social Work (MSW). While she was as a MSW student she developed two internships as the first MSW intern at both Wolff Canyon Elementary and at U.S. Senator Boxer’s office. While at Wolff Canyon Gena created a “Pride Club” for military children, where these children could strengthen social bonds with other military students and develop an internal support network. The “Pride Club” is now being implemented in multiple military impacted schools.
Gena received recognition for creating this program and had an opportunity to meet Dr. Jill Biden along with other MSW students who had created programs for military children. Gena also helped develop a student leadership role and provided representation for 160 MSW students attending USC, San Diego Academic Center.
Before Gena started her MSW program she served as a military spouse and is a veteran of the Armed Forces. Over the span of about ten years Gena served in the U.S. Navy as an Information System Technician and became a military spouse with two children. Gena had the opportunity to live in England for five years where she was able to immerse herself in a different culture and these years were very impactful. The experiences of living overseas gave Gena an understanding of different education systems and healthcare opportunities.
But, as a military spouse with children stationed in a foreign country, Gena noticed a lack of support for spouses. With the Ombudsman, Gena created and led a Family Readiness Group (FRG) and served as the President. As the FRG President Gena worked to increase attendance to social events and had a tremendous impact on the moral of the spouses who had felt isolated and alone. Through the FRG the spouses had created a support network with other military spouses. It was after serving as an FRG President Gena decided to continue her education and work towards her Masters of Social Work degree when her family was transferred to San Diego in 2009.
Program Associate, The San Diego Foundation
Sadie Brinton is the Program Associate for Regional Outreach at The San Diego Foundation, where she supports the work of seven affiliate foundations. The San Diego Foundation’s affiliate foundation help identify and meet the emerging needs of the diverse communities throughout San Diego County through collective philanthropy and member engagement. Sadie provides grantmaking and marketing coordination, membership management, and operational support to the seven affiliates and more than 200 active volunteers.
Sadie is Co-Chair of the Events Leadership Team of Women Give San Diego, a women’s collective giving organization, a board member of the Duke Club of San Diego, and an active member of the San Diego chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy.
Prior to moving to San Diego in 2011, Sadie was an intern with the White House Office of Public Engagement, where she worked on disability policy and women’s issues. She also volunteered as a legal assistant at CASA de Maryland, a Latino and immigrant advocacy organization, and consulted for the Entertainment Industries Council, a nonprofit that raises awareness of major health and social issues through the entertainment industry and media.
Sadie grew up outside of Washington, D.C. in a Virginia suburb. Active in political campaigns since high school, Sadie most recently volunteered with the 2010 campaign of Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly and the 2012 campaign of San Diego Congressman Scott Peters. Sadie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina
Policy Advocate, Environmental Health Coalition
Carolina Martínez is a Policy Advocate at Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), a social and environmental justice non-profit based in the San Diego/Tijuana border region. Martínez’ work with EHC’s Toxic Free Neighborhoods Campaign focuses on National City. She is responsible for supporting residents in this low-income majority Latino community advocate for land use policies that respect their priorities, improve health, and are consistent with environmental justice principles.
Currently, she is working on the implementation of a comprehensive community plan that includes phasing polluting industries out of a residential neighborhood and creating an affordable housing project. Carolina has an M.A. in Urban Planning and an M.A. in Latin American Studies. Her work experience includes environmental justice policy advocacy in Oxnard, California, collaborating with community groups in Orange County on cultural and social justice campaigns, and researching international labor rights.
Carolina enjoys working at the intersection of race, culture, gender, civic engagement, environmental issues, health, and city planning in the struggle for environmental justice. She spends her free time playing Son Jarocho and learning to play Bomba.
Organizer, United Food and Commercial Workers – Local 135
Sandy Naranjo is currently an Organizer at the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, a union that represents workers in retail, food, meat, drug stores, packinghouses, pharmacies and laboratories in both San Diego and Imperial Counties. Sandy is responsible for improving the lives of working women and men by developing the workers into effective leaders and organizing them into the union.
Prior to her job with UFCW, she previously worked as a field organizer for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO where she worked to enhance the labor movement by connecting organized labor with the broader community through campaigns and activities such as We Deserve Better, A Better San Diego breakfast series, May Day, Occupy Labor Solidarity and Anti-Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement forums. Her experience in union organizing developed through her internship as an organizer with Service Employees International Union Local 99, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1167, and with the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OURWALMART).
Sandy earned three bachelor degrees in Political Science, Economics, and Political Economy with a minor certificate in Women’s Studies at California State University San Bernardino. Sandy was an active student heavily involved with Feminist causes by raising awareness on reproductive rights, equal pay, and domestic violence. She was also an active member on the Coyote Debate team where she competed in British Parliamentary debate tournaments in Bangkok, Thailand, Antalya, Turkey, Melbourne, Australia, Denver, Colorado, Ithaca, New York, and Portland, Oregon. She was also on the Model United Nations team where she and her team competed and won the Outstanding Delegation for two consecutive years.
One of Sandy’s defining activist moments was organizing a mock-same-sex wedding at her high school. Along with her colleagues from the Gay Straight Alliance, they wanted to highlight the need to legalize same-sex marriage. Despite much criticism, and protest from the local elected officials, churches, and the community, Sandy and her allies were able to garner support from LGBT national organizations and they successfully changed history in their town.
Sandy’s passion for social justice was ingrained in her since birth. She was raised by parents who immigrated to the United States and like many other immigrants faced harsh racism and classism. Her father Joseph A. Naranjo was an Ironworker who taught Sandy into believing that the wedge between poverty and a good life for working people are unions. She owes her union activism and passion to her father.
Program Analyst, San Diego Housing Commission
Pari Ryan is a Program Analyst at the San Diego Housing Commission. Born in Iran at the height of the revolution, Pari’s family immigrated to the United States when she was three, and settled in San Diego.
Pari graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Public Administration, and while completing her degree, received her first taste of local politics in 2003 as an intern in the office of Councilmember Donna Frye. In January 2005 Pari joined the Councilmember’s team full-time where she served as a community liaison, and an analyst for land use and housing issues. During this time, she was also heavily involved in the Councilmember’s mayoral and reelection campaigns, where she learned the art of organizing, from precinct walks and phone banking, to volunteer coordination and getting out the vote.
Coming from a family of small business owners, Pari recognized the potential impact of combining private and public sector best practices to effect positive change. So to balance out her professional experience, in late 2008 she took a position in a small firm in San Diego. There, she helped launch an award-winning green roof and living wall contracting company, the first of its kind in the region. Pari also dove head first into the world of construction, serving as estimator and project manager for the company. She developed a passion for sustainable contracting, which combined with her management responsibilities, gave her insight into the benefits and challenges that face small businesses on a daily basis.
In 2011, Pari recognized an opportunity to apply her professional experience to affordable housing, and joined the San Diego Housing Commission. Here, she combines her skills in community development and private contracting, with those developed in the fields of public relations and long-range planning. Pari looks forward to growing within the organization and, having spent her formative years living in affordable housing, is passionate about helping increase quality, affordable housing in the City.
She and her husband live in North Park, where they enjoy exploring the neighboring communities on their bikes, while planning their next big backpacking trip.