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The SDLA Announces Eighth Class of Fellows

Continuing its longstanding investment in the next generation of progressive leaders in San Diego, the San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA) has welcomed its newest class of SDLA Institute Fellows. “We are committed to building a strong network of young, progressive professionals from all over the San Diego region,” said SDLA Co-Director John Greenwell, “This talented group of new fellows reflects what our organization’s progressive values are all about.”


After a competitive application and interview process, 20 fellows were selected for the hallmark SDLA Institute. Fellows will engage in an intense five-month training program designed to provide them with the skills and relationships needed to create a positive impact in the San Diego region.

“Interactive SDLA Institute sessions will give fellows hands-on experiences in shaping policy, public speaking, coalition building, fundraising, and other essential skills needed to cultivate future leaders in our community,” says Greenwell. 

At the end of the first session of the 2017 SDLA Institute, 2015 alum and SDLA Institute Co-Chair Sean Elo said, “In a time when good, progressive leadership is essential, I left the first weekend confident that the individuals in the room will become a close-knit team dedicated to and capable of turning their good energy into the collective action our community wants and needs.”

A true reflection of the greater San Diego community, the 2017 SDLA Institute fellows are a diverse group of talented social change agents.


The current cohort represents an array of professional sectors, including education, housing development, city government, health care, law, immigration and refugee advocacy, climate justice, faith-based organizations and community organizing.

“Each year we seek to build a cohort where fellows can learn, not just from our distinguished instructors, but from each other as well,” shares Wyn Furman, SDLA co-director. “The fellows’ unique combination of personal experience and professional expertise ensures every cohort is truly distinct from those that came before.”

Cassie Purdy, a 2015 alum and Institute co-chair, notes that “this year’s class represents exactly what SDLA is about — it's so exciting to see a bunch of new faces in the progressive movement and get to know people who are passionate about becoming more engaged in the San Diego community.” 

With this eighth class of fellows, SDLA will have trained more than 150 emerging professionals in the San Diego region, giving them the tools needed to become progressive leaders. SDLA Institute graduates have a successful history of going on to positively impact the region.

Learn more about the 2017 Institute fellows by reading their bios here.


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SDLA Welcomes New Co-Director and Board Members

John Greenwell and Wyn FurmanAs the San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA) prepares to field its eighth class of Fellows, SDLA is proud to announce that Wyn Furman (2013 Institute alum, The San Diego Foundation) joins John Greenwell (’12, Arroyo Vista Charter School) as Co-Director.

“The San Diego Leadership Alliance has grown tremendously in the last few years”, said John Greenwell. “We’ve launched an exciting membership program in the last year to extend our reach in the San Diego metropolitan area and just successfully graduated our seventh Institute cohort! I’m excited to welcome Wyn Furman as my Co-Director so that we continue cultivating the next generation of young, progressive leaders throughout the county!”

Furman takes the helm from Johanna Schiavoni (’10, Law Offices of Johanna S. Schiavoni), who served on the SDLA Board of Directors for six years, and was instrumental in developing SDLA’s current strategic plan. Schiavoni was recently recognized by the 2016 SDLA Institute Fellows during their annual fundraiser for her contributions to the San Diego Leadership Alliance, and for her leadership in the community.

“I’m honored to have been asked to serve SDLA and San Diego’s progressive community as Co-Director,” said Furman. “As an alumna of the program, I know first hand how effective we are at engaging and activating our region’s up-and-coming leaders. I’m excited to work with John and the SDLA Board of Directors to select a new class of Fellows and to expand our membership in the coming year.”

Furman has served on the SDLA board since 2013 as its Communications Chair and Co-Chair, and is the Manager of Community Scholarships at The San Diego Foundation. In addition to her contributions to SDLA, Furman is involved with Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, Women Give San Diego, Run Women Run, and Animal Rescuers Without Borders. SDLA is thrilled to welcome a Co-Director with Furman’s dedication to the organization, nonprofit management experience, and passion for progressive change in the San Diego community.

“Our Institute Alumni and Board of Directors move on to greater opportunities. We are thrilled that many have chosen to lead other nonprofit boards, community associations, and election campaigns,” Greenwell added. “We encourage all of our young leaders to take on ever-more important positions in the greater San Diego community.”

SDLA also welcomes six new board members: Sarah Borger (’15, University of San Diego), Malieka Johnson (’16, San Ysidro Health Center), Ashley Rodriguez (’16, The Center on Policy Initiatives), Matt Strabone (Strabone Law), Alberto Velasquez (’16, Office of Mayor Mary Salas, City of Chula Vista), and Wilda Wong (’16, San Diego Workforce Partnership).

SDLA is proud of this group of talented individuals who are dedicating their time, energy, and passion toward creating a more progressive San Diego, and looks forward to another great year training future generations of leaders. More information on the SDLA board members can be found here.

The San Diego Leadership Alliance will begin accepting applications on September 15, 2016 for its next Institute class, which will begin in January 2017. Applications close by 9:00 pm on November 11, 2016.  For further information about the Institute, including how to apply or nominate a prospective Fellow, please visit

Wyn Furman can be reached at [email protected] and John Greenwell can be reached at [email protected].

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New Report on SDLA Diversity

Today the San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA) released a report on diversity in our Institute.

This report details several key demographic characteristics self-reported by the 140 Fellows admitted to our program since its inception. Since we are committed to and pride ourselves on training a diverse group of emerging leaders, we want to be sure SDLA's supporters and the general public can see our principles in action by having data on the makeup of the fellows in each year of our Institute.

The complete report, as well as a downloadable PDF version is available here:

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