Seeing the work of young people in our community is such a thrill! Here are some examples of rising leaders in the next generation who have influenced 2015 SDLA Fellows. Join us for a celebration of progressive work in San Diego on May 19th at Generations of Progress - an event for the ages!
Keiara Auzenne is the San Diego County Director for the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). Keiara joined CEO in 2011 to manage all aspects of CEO's first wholly owned and operated office in California, providing comprehensive employment services to individuals returning home from incarceration.
Keiara also co-founded and organizes a monthly Clean Slate Clinic to assist formerly incarcerated individuals expunge their criminal records. She also hopes to establish the Clean Slate Clinic as a non-profit and take it to the next level in terms of organizational sustainability, financial resources, and community engagement and advocacy.
She is the Chair of the Reentry Roundtable and Co-Chair of the Roundtable's Employment Subcommittee. She is also a member of the California Bar, ABA, San Diego Lawyer’s Club, and San Diego Chapters of the ACLU and the NAACP.
Keiara obtained her JD from UCLA (specialization in Critical Race Studies). She also holds an MBA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and BAs in Political Science and Business Economics from UC Santa Barbara.
Cassie Purdy joined the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council in 2014 as the Executive Assistant and Affiliate Coordinator. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Point Loma Nazarene University, where she learned to think critically about the social and economic justice issues facing our community today. As a student, she worked with the International Rescue Committee’s Fresh Fund program in City Heights and San Marcos, and with the the Center on Policy Initiatives as a Students for Economic Justice intern. She also worked for most of her college years at her university’s Sustainability Department, working to create a more environmentally sustainable campus and environmentally conscious student body.
After graduating in 2012, Cassie spent a year developing her community organizing skills with the Gamaliel National Foundation and Pilgrim UCC in North County San Diego. She went on to put those skills to practice during San Diego’s special mayoral campaign and the June Primary Midterm elections, working field campaigns for progressive, pro-labor candidates.
Cassie is proud to be an Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education Facilitator for her faith community. She enjoys sewing, baking, reading liberation theology, and taking part in the occasional musical performance.
Kristen Aster is the Manager of the Hunger Advocacy Network (HAN), a collaborative of 21 San Diego organizations working together to reduce hunger in San Diego by shaping state policy. In her role Kristen works to guide the network's annual crafting and implementation of a collaborative advocacy agenda, create opportunities to educate elected officials and the public about hunger in San Diego, and increase the advocacy capacity of network partners.
Kristen previously served as Associate Director of Refugee Council USA in Washington, DC, a national coalition of refugee-serving organizations seeking to affect national and international refugee and asylum policy. Previously she worked in External Relations for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and as a Fulbright Scholar researching refugee and migration issues in Morocco.
She earned a B.A. in International Relations with a Minor in French from Point Loma Nazarene University and a Master of Public Policy and Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies from Georgetown University. Kristen is a native of Portland, Oregon and is an avid traveler, cook, and Francophile.
Chevelle Newell works as a Field Representative for the Honorable California Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins. In the 78th Assembly District Office, Chevelle manages the constituent management system, resolutions, and proudly represents Speaker Atkins across the 78th district communities. Some of her policy area assignments are higher education, youth, homelessness, and she also leads in any Employment Development Department casework.
Chevelle previously worked at LeSar Development Consultants as a Research Analyst. She provided administrative support to the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego and the philanthropic group Funders Together to End Homelessness San Diego. Chevelle was exposed to affordable housing and all its phases of development by the California Coalition for Rural Housing Internship Program where she spent over a year as an Affordable Housing and Real Estate Development Intern at the award-winning Community HousingWorks.
A first generation college student, Chevelle earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Development and minor in Communication from U.C. San Diego. There she served on the board of the University of California Student Association (UCSA) as the Campus Action Committee Chair among other student organizations such as the Black Student Union and the Hughes Scholars Program.
Chevelle had humble beginnings on the island of Jamaica and is forever grateful for all her experiences which have led her to this point as a SDLA Fellow. She looks forward to advancing progressive values in San Diego!
Timothy Caudill was transplanted to San Diego from Charlotte North Carolina via the United States Marine Corps. He is currently in a fellowship sponsored by the Wounded Warrior program as a Congressional Staffer for Congressman Scott Peters acting as a Field representative and caseworker in the issue areas of veterans, military personal, and the LGBT communities here in San Diego. As Tim’s two-year fellowship draws to an end, he is pursuing a degree in business while also developing a profession in Real Estate.
Being from a much more conservative area, Tim found a sense of comfort in the progressive atmosphere in San Diego. When he separated from the USMC he immediately started volunteering at the LGBT Community Center as often as he could and became an aspiring LGBT activist. With a military background Tim felt compelled be a part of the planning for San Diego Pride’s Military Contingent and now sits on the executive planning committee for the second year in a row. Capitalizing on the experience of the political fellowship, Tim is also on the political subcommittee for the Human Rights campaign helping influence LGBT inclusive policies in San Diego communities.
Before his shift into politics, Tim started his own business as a personal trainer with a focus on stay at home family members and out of shape youth.
Alicia Nichols is a Union Organizer with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 221, a public sector local union that represents nearly 13,000 workers in the San Diego and Imperial Counties. She is responsible for recruiting and developing union member-leaders to fight for justice in their workplaces and communities. While at SEIU Local 221, Alicia has formed two member-organizing committees, the Social Worker Action Team and the SEIU Local 221 Women’s Caucus, both of which integrate a commitment to uniting labor unions and community groups around shared priorities.
Her prior experience includes working as a Legislative Intern at Senator Dianne Feinstein’s San Diego office as well as working as a Graduate Coordinator for SafeZones@SDSU, an organization dedicated to promoting the safety and well-being of LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff at San Diego State University through sensitivity trainings and educational programming.
Alicia is a first generation college student with a Master of Arts degree in Women’s Studies from San Diego State University. While in graduate school, she co-founded the SDSU Student Union for Representation and Justice with the goal of defending access to higher education through organizing against university austerity measures.
A first-generation college student, Sean Elo earned his bachelor’s degree from Chapman University where he studied psychology, sociology, and history. While in school, Sean was an award winning high school swimming and water polo coach. After graduating, Sean served as an English and Special Needs teacher in Peru and worked as environmental preservationist in Ecuador. He then taught English in a rural South Korean community.
Sean subsequently came to San Diego to attend California Western School of Law where he was selected to receive a Creative Problem Solving Scholarship. At Cal Western, he served in multiple leadership roles serving as president of La Raza Student Association and Amnesty International and as a Student Representative. Inspired by his diverse background and belief in the importance of historically disadvantaged communities working together, Sean also worked to strengthen the Student Diversity Coalition. Sean received a Pro Bono and Public Service Honors Society Award for his work with the City Heights Community Law Project.
In 2014, Sean served as a Regional Field Director in the successful effort to reelect Democratic Congressman Scott Peters. Applying his prior experience working with students and passion for encouraging youth participation in politics, Sean led the campaign’s student outreach efforts.
Monique López loves working alongside community members to be empowered to advocate and create the healthy city they envision. She is currently the Transportation Justice Policy Advocate at the Environmental Health Coalition. Prior to joining EHC, she worked on air quality policy issues in environmental justice communities with the American Lung Association in Imperial County and the Coalition for Clean Air in Los Angeles. During her time in Imperial County, she co-authored an environmental health and justice ballot initiative and helped successfully manage the political campaign in which the ballot initiative passed by a super-majority of Imperial County voters.
While in Oregon, Monique worked for the Community Service Center at the University of Oregon where she assisted various cities throughout Oregon in improving their equity and diversity public participation plans and developed policy and planning recommendations for cities to assist Latino small businesses.
Monique has a Master's degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon and a Master's degree in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach. She earned her B.A. in History and Political Science with a minor in Religion from Vanguard University.
Maribel Mckinze Is a Union Organizer at United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 135. UFCW Local 135 is one of the largest unions in San Diego representing workers in retail food, meat, drug stores, packinghouses, food processing plants, pharmacies, laboratories and casinos. Maribel is responsible for improving the lives of the workers by informing workers of their rights and organizing them to achieve a collective bargaining agreement with their employer.
Maribel grew up in southeast San Diego and is first generation. In high school she was active in Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC), president of her Movimento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MECHA) club, and a member of Advancement Via Individual Determination Program (AVID). It was during that time she grew a profound love for education, democracy and advocating for an inclusive democracy despite race, gender, citizenship status, religion, class, and sexual orientation.
Maribel later went to community college to further her goal to become an educator while working as a courtesy clerk at Albertsons. During her time of study and working full time, she quickly became one of the few leaders during the historic 2003-2004 Southern California Grocery strike. Maribel played a pivotal role by overseeing over 100 of her fellow coworkers and pressuring a multibillion dollar corporation to not strip her and her coworkers of their healthcare, retirement and job security. From this strike she gained a further passion for workers’ rights and became determined to always empower those seeking to achieve social economic justice in their workplace.
Maribel will always be on the frontlines by either picketing or canvassing for candidates that are labor friendly, she has been recognized as a young change maker by the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice (ICWJ), UFCW International Walmart Associate Outreach program, San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council and UFCW International Organizing training.