The SDLA posts profiles of our Fellows at the time they are admitted to the SDLA Institute. After graduation, many Fellows change advance in their careers or have other accomplishments, which are not reflected here. Accomplishments of SDLA Institute alumni can be found here.
Valerie Mendoza is a resident of Escondido who is actively working on creating a positive change in her community while learning how to advocate for others. She is currently an account clerk for the County of San Diego with goals of obtaining a degree in Sociology. She enjoys spending much of her time with her family, practicing photography and volunteering within North County as much as she can.
Recently, Valerie served as a Kitchen member and photographer for newly-elected, City-Council Member, Consuelo Martinez’s 2018 campaign. During that time, she learned about social issues within her community and the importance of civic engagement. Valerie is passionate about ending homelessness in her community and has volunteered for The Regional Task Force on the Homeless. She is also passionate about immigrant rights and is an active member of the North County Immigration Task Force. She has also volunteered for The Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) focusing on efforts to educate the Latino community and youth within Escondido on the importance of voting and how to successfully register. Valerie hopes to fully embrace and better support the organizations and resources at her finger-tips while creating a more impactful change in her community.
Melissa is originally from Lynn, Massachusetts and, in 2016, graduated with a B.A. in Cinema from Denison University in Granville, Ohio. After college, she volunteered in the Peace Corps focusing on HIV prevention with youth. In 2018, Melissa moved to Vista, California, where she is currently working on alcohol and tobacco prevention at Vista Community Clinic. Melissa is passionate about immigrant empowerment, public health, education, and policy advocacy to help people and our communities thrive. Melissa also has an interest in healthy and active lifestyles through nutrition, fitness, and accessibility to good healthcare.
Ibrahim Ahmed graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Political Science and shortly after received a Masters Degree in Public Administration. Ahmed is a product of the City Heights area where he has resided for over 20 years. Ahmed is a first-generation Somali-American and has been strongly involved in various communities throughout the City of San Diego. Ahmed believes that it is extremely important to embrace and give back to the community you come from.
A fledgling entrepreneur, Dike Anyiwo is a first-generation American born and raised in Southern California. Dike attended UC Riverside where he initially studied Chemical Engineering before transitioning to Business Economics in pursuit of a career in the soccer industry. After relocating to San Diego in 2012, Dike worked in community relations and human resources roles, before finding his feet in the marketing department of a local, family-owned company, soccerloco. At soccerloco Dike advanced from a Marketing Assistant to Customer Service Manager, to Editor in Chief of the company’s news website, SoccerNation.com, where he specialized in digital content creation across a range of channels, including written content, social media and podcast/video production.
In 2018, Dike founded his first company, Threeke Media Inc and launched The San Diego Chronicle, bringing him closer in tune with civic affairs in San Diego. An active member of his community, Dike joined the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Board in October 2018 and is also a member of the Communications, Education and Marketing sub-committee for the YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County. Dike was also instrumental in the founding of the Manchester United Supporters Club of San Diego and remains active in adult recreational leagues.
Ariana Criste is the Grant Manager for the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, where she assists the organization in fundraising and public relations for its seven Clubhouses and seven specialty programs. Originally from the Sacramento area, she graduated with Honors from UC San Diego with a BA in Political Science and a Minor in International Migration Studies in 2016. While at UCSD, she was involved in the A.S. Office of Local Affairs and wrote for a student-led international affairs journal. As a member of the AmeriCorps JusticeCorps program, Ariana assisted self-represented litigants at the court-based, Family Law Facilitator’s Office in South County.
This experience prompted her to complete UCSD Extension’s Paralegal Program and she worked as a Legal Assistant for a year. In 2017, she reaffirmed her commitment to a career in service and entered into the Boys & Girls Clubs Movement. She is proud to be a part of an organization that turns no child away and that is shaping the next generation of citizens, dreamers, and doers. Ariana is passionate about educational equity, women and children’s issues, food justice, and sustainability. In her free time, she volunteers with the League of Women Voters San Diego and listens to current events podcasts. She is a self-avowed pop-culture lover who enjoys trying new things (currently- improv comedy) and exploring San Diego’s food and beer scene.
Daniel Carrillo is a Senior Internship Counselor with the Academic Internship Program at UC San Diego. In this role, Daniel works with campus and community partners to develop community-based learning opportunities for students. As a first-generation college student, Daniel is passionate about working with students to discover their interests and how to make a positive impact in their communities. Originally from San Bernardino, Daniel began his career at the University of Washington in an early childhood education program that connected college students as mentors in Head Start preschool classrooms.
While living in Seattle, he joined a city commission to work on technology access issues and volunteered with grant-making committees and advocacy organizations to address disparities in all levels of education. Daniel continues to work to improve the campus community on issues of diversity, sustainability, and access. He hopes to apply the knowledge and skills he has gained to advocate for underrepresented communities in the San Diego region.
Jenny Lybeck is the Climate Action Plan Program Manager for the City of La Mesa where she works with the community and regional partners to create a healthier, more sustainable La Mesa. The City’s CAP calls for 100% renewable energy community-wide while cutting emissions in half over the next 15 years.
Jenny started her career in the climate and sustainability space more than 10 years ago at the Port of San Diego where she helped develop and implement one of the first climate action plans for a port. Most recently, Jenny worked at The 11th Hour Project, a Bay Area foundation working to advance progressive climate and social equity efforts.
Last June, Jenny returned to local government after four years in philanthropy. She wanted to bring the bold ideas and concepts she observed while working with climate and clean energy leaders back to her own community, while also being part of the positive change happening within the climate space in the San Diego region. Jenny believes that climate and clean energy work is about more than just reducing greenhouse gas emissions; it can be a powerful mechanism to unite people and build community.
Jenny is a Seattle native who moved to La Mesa more than 10 years ago. She earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of Washington.
Jaqueline Hess is a Development Associate at People Assisting The Homeless (PATH) working to end homelessness in San Diego. She oversees PATH’s kitchen and food service program, volunteer department, community engagement, and donations.
As a San Diego City College student, Jaqueline began volunteering at Feeding San Diego (FSD). During this time, she witnessed the impact she could have on both individuals and the community. She transferred to San Diego State University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Following graduation, she served one year of national service as an AmeriCorps Volunteer In Service To America (VISTA) at Feeding San Diego where she worked to increase access to healthy food for low-income San Diego communities and expanded FSD's internship and outreach programs. Through these opportunities and experiences, she found her passion for community service and social justice.
Jaqueline was born and raised in Upstate New York and moved to San Diego in 2008. She currently resides in North Park and is committed to making a difference in her community by continuing to work on issues related to hunger, housing, and poverty. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, trying new foods, and road trips.
Javier Gòmez works as a Field Representative for the Honorable California Assemblymember Todd Gloria. In the 78th Assembly District Office, Javier manages the constituent management system, is in charge of the internship program, and proudly represents Assemblymember Gloria across the 78th district communities. Some of his policy area assignments are immigration, refugees, California Utilities Commission, insurance and California Energy Commission. Javier previously worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as the Field Director for CA 49 in 2016. There he learned the power of grassroots organizing and the importance of community involvement. As well as the mechanics and foundation for building a grassroots campaign. Getting involved with a political campaign allowed him to get more involved with the San Diego Democratic Party. He is currently the President of the San Diego Young Democrats.
A first-generation college graduate, Javier earned his Bachelor of Science in Political Science from San Diego State University. There he served as the Vice President of External Relations, President of Phi Gamma Delta, Representative of the California State Student Association, Representative on the College Area Community Council and a member of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity. Javier grew up in Ventura County where his parents, two sisters, and brother currently reside. Having been in San Diego for ten years, Javier looks forward to advancing his progressive values. He looks forward to taking what he learns and giving back to the progressive community.