Meet the board members of the San Diego Leadership Alliance.
President: Maria Gpe. Bojorquez-Gomez & Ansermio Estrada
Secretary: Emily Tran
Treasurer: Katie Penninga
Board Compliance and Development Officer: Caryl Montero-Adams
Alumni, Membership, Programming and Development: Alex Southard & Ashley Rodriguez
Communications: Eric Henson & Maria Gpe. Bojorquez-Gomez
Institute: Joe Fejeran
Mentorship, Outreach, and Selections Team: Albert Velazquez & Katie Penninga
Amanda Berry (she/her)
Policy Advisor, Office of San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer
Amanda Berry is passionate about improving social determinants of health through policy and advocacy. She is a Policy Advisor for San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer and advises on Health and Human Services, Public Safety, Food Systems, and Boards and Commissions. Before moving to San Diego in 2018, Amanda worked for UC Davis to bridge research to policy for mental health in California and continues this work as a consultant for research communications and project management. As the Treasurer of the Public Health Social Work section of the American Public Health Association, Amanda promotes integration and intersectionality as the key to healthy communities. Amanda’s interest in the intersection of health and housing began while she worked as a realtor and continued in her academic research on opioid use disorder treatment for people experiencing homelessness.
A strong advocate for underserved populations and implementation of best practices, Amanda combines analytical thought and compassionate leadership to drive change in her community. Originally from the bay area, Amanda holds a BS in Biopsychology from UC Santa Barbara, and masters degrees in public health and social work from San Diego State University. When not working, Amanda can be found on a hiking trail, in the ocean, or at a local event with friends. She is a member of the 2022 SDLA Cohort.
Executive Assistant to the Chair of Medicine, UC San Diego
Margaret Rattanachane is the Executive Assistant to the Chair of Medicine at UC San Diego. She is passionate about connecting people with a vision for an inclusive future. Margaret is the co-chair of the Pan Asian Staff Association, chair of the UCSD API Alumni Council and recent graduate of the Leaders for Equity Advance and Diversity Fellowship Program. In these roles, she brings together professionals from different backgrounds to network and build on collective wisdom. Margaret is a dedicated fundraiser for student scholarships. She was the inaugural UCSD Staff Chair for the Faculty and Staff Giving Council. She is also an affiliate member of the Asian Solidarity Collective and APAPA San Diego Chapter.
Senior Government Relations Analyst, SANDAG
Dike Anyiwo is a first-generation American born and raised in Southern California. Dike attended UC Riverside where he studied Business Economics. After relocating to San Diego in 2012, Dike worked in community relations and human resources roles, before transitioning to marketing, then public relations, public policy and now as a Senior Government Relations Analyst at SANDAG.
An active member of his community, Dike joined the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Board in October 2018 and was subsequently selected by his peers as the group’s representative at the Community Planners Committee.
In 2020 he was unanimously voted as Vice Chair and served as a principal officer for the campaign committee of the victorious Measure E campaign to exempt the Midway District from the archaic 30-ft coastal height limit, and in 2022 Dike was unanimously voted to serve as Chair of the CPG.
Nonprofit Specialist, Writer
Nancy O’Sullivan is a nonprofit specialist and writer with a commitment to creativity, inclusion and integrity. She holds a masters degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego and a Bachelor of Arts from Reed College. Her professional experiences include program development, evaluation and management, fund development, and international education. She has worked in refugee services, community health and international education.
Brett Hall (she/her)
Program Manager, Community Health Improvement Partners
Brett Hall (she/her) is a Program Manager at Community Health Improvement Partners, a non-profit public health organization with a mission to advance long-term solutions to priority health needs through collaboration and community engagement. In her role, she works on several initiatives including the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council, the San Diego Resident Leadership Academy, the CHIP Public Policy Committee, and the CHIP Behavioral Health Work Team.
Prior to this, Brett spent time in various non-profit spaces and gained experience in social emotional development, restorative practices, play therapy, extended learning, school-based suicide prevention, qualitative research, and school social work administration. She is dedicated to serving others and is both a former City Year AmeriCorps Member and Peace Corps Youth Development Volunteer. Brett received both her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology, and Master’s Degree in Social Work with a focus in Administration and Community Development from San Diego State University. While working towards her MSW, Brett also obtained an Advanced Certificate in Social Work Administration, and upon graduation, she was awarded Student Leader of the Year.
Brett is passionate about creating progressive change and recently published a study in the Contemporary Justice Review titled “Confronting the Traditional System: a Qualitative Study on the Challenges to School Based Restorative Practices Policy Implementation”. She is a co-founder of the community organizing group, Social Workers for Equity and Leadership, and is a graduate of the Mid City CAN Resident Leadership Academy. In her free time, Brett enjoys going to the beach, doing yoga, and traveling.
Christie Davis (she/her)
Business Development Manager, Project HOPE
Christie Davis is a Business Development Manager for Project HOPE, a global health and humanitarian relief nonprofit and NGO. In this role, she works to acquire and expand public sector and large foundation funding for global health programs in the areas of disasters and health crises; infectious diseases; noncommunicable diseases; maternal, neonatal and child health; and health policy. Prior to joining Project HOPE, she was a Senior Proposal Manager for a specialty healthcare and fitness company, handling business development and Requests for Proposals with a focus on providing and expanding programs to Medicare and Special Needs populations.
She is the former President of the Pacific Beach Democratic Club and was previously a member of the San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee and Metro West Caucus. She is an SDLA Institute Fellow for the year 2020, and has served on the Alumni, Membership, Programming & Development (AMPD) Committee for SDLA since 2021. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in History from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Christie grew up in a small town on the front range of Colorado. Post-college, she relocated to San Diego and ultimately decided to make this city her home. She is passionate about policy advocacy and community service, and spends much of her free time volunteering for campaigns and candidates that align with her values. She also enjoys hot yoga, quality time with friends, surfing terribly, anything with caffeine, and tweeting too much.
Policy Advisor, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
Lauren Cazares serves as a Policy Advisor at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, focusing on Environment & Sustainability, Small Business, Economic Development, Cannabis, and Broadband across the Greater San Diego Region.
Prior to her role at the Chamber, Lauren was the Director of Scheduling and Administration for Mayor Todd Gloria and previously served as the Confidential Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff in the Gloria Administration. She has 7 years of experience working in and around politics and a proven history of advocacy, fundraising, and campaign organizing. In 2022, she is supporting candidates in the City of La Mesa and in 2020 she helped elect now-Council President Sean Elo-Rivera and Mayor Todd Gloria for San Diego, and now Vice-Mayor Colin Parent for La Mesa. Outside of government & politics, Lauren was the National Program Manager for WIT: Whatever it Takes! a non-profit focused on youth entrepreneurship and a Guest Professor at the UC San Diego Extension.
Lauren is a life-long resident of the City of La Mesa in East County San Diego and a proud daughter of small business owners in Barrio Logan. Her passion for politics and advocacy began in her teen years and blossomed while earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science & Women’s Studies at Point Loma Nazarene University (Cum Laude). There, she founded Loma After Dark and served on the boards of the Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society, College Democrats, and the ASB Campus Activities Board.
During her free time, you can find Lauren petsitting, coordinating weddings, or engaging with various political clubs and organizations. She is a member of Democrats for Equality, YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County, League of Women Voters San Diego, the Public Leadership Education Network, and Vice Chair of the Normal Heights United Staff Parish Relations Committee in addition to the San Diego Leadership Alliance Board.
Emily Tran (they/she)
Aging Policy Advocate
Emily Tran is a licensed LVN and RCFE administrator since 2012. Their passion for advocating for older adults and their care is one of many driving forces that motivates them to be involved in progressive spaces. Their Vietnamese-American heritage is an evolving identity of theirs that influences their perspective on issues relating to inequality, community building, and civic duty.
Emily moved to San Diego in 2017 and immediately became involved with the San Diego LGBT Center’s Young Professionals Council (YPC). A professional development program that helps local LGBTQ+ and allies network with each other, and teaches its members about local LGBT social justice movements. In 2019, the advocacy and experience with older adults were acknowledged by the Mayor of Chula Vista, Mary Salas, where Emily was sworn in as an official member of the Commission on Aging in Chula Vista, California. In 2021, Emily was nominated by their colleagues to be the Chair of the Commission to the present time. Another organization that Emily is an active member of is Viet Vote SD, a local non-profit dedicated to advancing civic participation in the local Vietnamese-American community. They do advocacy work with the community and in collaboration with other community-based non-profits.
Emily is an undergraduate at San Diego State University majoring in Gerontology and minoring in Asian Studies. They are involved with SDSU’s Social Policy Institute as an intern where they are a part of the “Age-Friendly” conversation happening both on campus and off. Upon completing their undergraduate studies, Emily plans to pursue a Master’s in Public Health and Policy. They aim to be a part of conversations revolving around senior services, access to those services, and creating inclusive policies that center around a culturally sensitive approach for all members of the aging space, including those from the disabled community.
Policy Advisor, Office of Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe
Born and raised in Southeast San Diego, Eric is a Policy Advisor for San Diego Council District 4, which is represented by Council Member Monica Montgomery Steppe. Through his work, he engages the policy areas of land use, transportation, and environmental issues. Aside from his graduate studies in City Planning at SDSU and his undergraduate studies in Urban Studies at UCSD, he attributes a lot of his passion for learning through his student activism at San Diego City College and witnessing the grounded truths of exclusionary development practices in the Central and Southern neighborhoods in San Diego. He joined the SDLA board in 2018, where he seeks with other board members to spread more awareness of San Diego's most overlooked neighborhoods and cities in the region. He joined the SDLA board in 2018, where he seeks with other board members to spread more awareness of San Diego's most overlooked neighborhoods and cities in the region.
Clinical Services Manager, HIV department, San Ysidro Health
Katie Penninga’s passion for serving the underserved has compelled her travels, studies, and career trajectory for nearly two decades. As a health professional and vocal advocate for public heath services in historically oppressed communities, she is committed to improving access to quality care for all in San Diego County, and specifically to creating safe and celebratory spaces for our LGBTQIA+ neighbors.
Originally from Michigan, Katie holds a Master of Social Work degree from Grand Valley State University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a Bachelor of Social Work from Calvin College. In her current role as Clinical Services Manager in the HIV department at San Ysidro Health, she oversees operations for the HIV, Infectious Disease and Gender-Affirming Medicine and Sexual Health (GeMS Health) Clinics. Through the daily management of contracts, federal grants, and research agreements, and overseeing the development and implementation of HIV Research programs that include collaborations with the Center for AIDS Research at UCSD, the CDC, and SDSU, Katie is able to speak from experience to the struggles, victories, and critical needs facing San Diego public health systems.
Katie is a licensed social worker in both California (LCSW) and Michigan (LMSW). Before moving to California, she spent seven years in maternal child health and child development public health programs in Michigan, in addition to a stint living and working abroad in Peru. She was a fellow in the San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA) Institute class of 2018, and joined the SDLA Board the same year, where she serves as Treasurer and Institute Co-Chair. When she isn’t working toward health and wholeness in San Diego, she’s likely finding creative new ways to connect with her nieces and nephews from a distance, or looking forward to the time she can safely travel to a new corner of the world she loves to explore.
Conference Specialist, Housing Dining and Hospitality Division, UCSD
Joe Fejeran (he/him/his) was born and raised on the island of Guam in the South Pacific. In 2004, his family relocated to San Diego County, where he has lived since. Upon graduating high school, Joe began his higher education journey at Grossmont College, where he was a member of the speech and debate team and won two Gold Medal awards from the Phi Rho Pi National Forensics Tournament. He is a proud transfer student and finished his degree program at UC San Diego (TMC, Class of 2011) with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.
In 2010, Joe began working with a local theater company to produce The Vagina Monologues and the MENding Monologues as a fundraising effort for local, San Diego-based social organizations. He believes in the power of Artivism (art as activism) and storytelling as an effective tool to win over hearts and minds. Joe began his professional career in the hospitality industry at the iconic Hotel del Coronado, serving briefly on the board of the San Diego Concierge Association. Seeking a change, he left the hotel in 2015 to return to UC San Diego, where he works as a Conference Specialist in the Housing Dining and Hospitality division. Joe also serves on the board of the LGBT Staff & Faculty Association.
Joe remains passionate about issues around gender-based violence, the LGBTQIA+ community, inclusion, and the CHamoru diasporic identity. Outside of his professional commitments, Joe is an accomplished podcaster and bar trivia host.
Small Business Engagement Specialist, City of San Diego Economic Development Department
Alex Southard serves as the Small Business Engagement Specialist in the Economic Development Department at the City of San Diego. Driven by the desire to increase opportunities for local business operators, she specializes in outreach and engagement to share resources and programs directly to businesses, business districts, and the nonprofit organizations that support them. She helps business owners navigate City requirements and administers grants to business-serving community-based organizations. Prior to her current position in the Economic Development Department, she was the Promise Zone Coordinator and worked directly with partners to advance economic prosperity among businesses within the Southeastern communities. Previously she worked in the arts and culture field in Balboa Park.
Alex holds a B.A. in Women’s Studies and History with a minor in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida and a M.A. in Museum Studies with an emphasis on nonprofit management from San Francisco State University. She also holds a certificate in Business Intelligence from UCSD Extension. She was a 2020 Fellow of the San Diego Leadership Alliance Institute.
Maria Gpe. Bojorquez-Gomez
Account Manager, Strategies 360
Maria is currently Account Manager at the San Diego branch of Strategies 360. Previously, Maria served Mayor Todd Gloria as his Confidential Executive Assistant in the City of San Diego, and former Congresswoman Susan Davis as her district staff assistant, community representative, and scheduler.
Maria completed her two-year Masters in China Studies at Zhejiang University International College in 2018. In Zhejiang, Maria was part of the founding team to create the first legal and independent foreign-only student government in the country. She worked as a consultant for the university, in addition to serving in the Virtual Student Federal Service of the USA Department of State researching disinformation and propaganda for the Global Engagement Center.
Maria graduated from Haverford College with a B.A. in Political Science, minor in Chinese, and concentration in Peace, Justice, and Human Rights. At Haverford, Maria worked with the Office of Multicultural Affairs for four years and was part of student government for two years as the Officer of Multiculturalism and Co-President. In both positions, she coordinated with student organizations, implemented programs, and collaborated with staff and administration for campus-wide projects.
Assistant Dean of Students for Student Life, San Diego State University
Caryl Montero-Adams is originally from a small town in northeast Ohio. As a first-generation college student, she moved across the state to pursue higher education. While in school, co-curricular involvement introduced her to leadership development, social justice, and community wellness. Caryl’s transformative collegiate experiences sparked a lifelong passion for service and community engagement, which included volunteering on political campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights, lobbying for comprehensive sexuality education, and participating in an intensive experiential learning program centered on issues of diversity and inclusion. Each of these experiences led Caryl to pursue a career in student affairs where she hopes to positively contribute to students’ experiences through co-curricular engagement.
Having established roots in San Diego, CA in 2011, Caryl serves as the Assistant Dean of Students for Student Life at San Diego State University. In her role, she leads the Center for Student Organizations & Activities, the Center for Fraternity & Sorority Life, and the Well-being & Health Promotion department. Prior to her role as Assistant Dean, she served as the Director of Student Life & Leadership, Assistant Director of SLL for Fraternity & Sorority Life, and as a Residence Hall Coordinator at SDSU. Caryl has been honored by the Division of Student Affairs with the Strengthening Connection to SDSU (2020), Excellence in Student Development (2018), and Exceptional New Professional (2014) awards.
Caryl is pursuing her Doctor of Law and Policy degree at Northeastern University. Caryl earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in Health Promotion and Education: Community Health from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Science in Education degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University. Caryl resides in southeast San Diego, where she and her partner Luis are raising their child Remington.
Ansermio Jake Estrada
Co-Director, Office of Assemblymember Chris Ward.
Ansermio Jake is a Co-Director with the office of Assemblymember Chris Ward. In this role, Ansermio coordinates operations at the District Office including staff management, event coordination, constituent services, local legislative initiatives among other responsibilities.
Previously, Ansermio worked as the Communication Manager for former Councilmember Chris Ward. Ansermio has worked on and has managed several campaigns in both the City of San Diego and San Diego County.
Ansermio obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science with a focus on international relations from the University of California, Riverside. He is originally from Bakersfield, California and made San Diego his home in 2013. He enjoys listening to podcasts, getting lost in Twitter and campaigning for progressive candidates.
Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Mayor Mary Salas, City of Chula Vista
In December of 2014, Alberto Velasquez became the Senior Policy Advisor for Mayor Mary Casillas Salas, the first Latina elected Mayor in the history of San Diego County. In that capacity he is the Mayor's primary advisor on issues ranging from Economic Development, Infrastructure, Transportation, the Environment to Binational Affairs. He is also the primary contact in regards to these issues for the Mayor's office.
A near life-long resident of the South Bay of San Diego, Albert has been active in his neighborhood as chair of the Otay Mesa/Nestor Planning Group and as the District Eight representative for the Qualcomm Stadium Advisory Board. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and was named the most outstanding student of political theory of his graduating class.
Prior to joining the Mayor's staff, Albert was a District Field Representative for Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez serving the communities of San Diego, Chula Vista and National City. He was lead policy person in the district on Health Care, Education, the State Budget, Transportation, the Environment and Border Issues.
In his spare time Albert enjoys traveling, reading, and a fan of Manchester United and the San Francisco Giants.
Donor Engagement Manager, inewsource
Ashley Rodriguez manages donor engagement for inewsource, a data-driven investigative nonprofit news outlet. In addition to being the co-president of the San Diego Leadership Alliance, she is the Vice President of the Sherman Heights Community Center Board, and a member of the Victory Fund Campaign Board.
Ashley holds a master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego and completed her bachelor’s at San Diego State University in International Security and Conflict Resolution. Previously she worked at the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI), a local progressive policy think tank, where she managed grants, individual giving, and special events. Before her time with CPI, Ashley worked at KPBS, where she managed grants and led community engagement initiatives. She is a 2016 alumna of the San Diego Leadership Alliance Institute and was the board chair of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of San Diego from 2015-2017. In 2013, she received the San Diego Business Journal honor of "Top 20 in their 20’s".
Ashley Rodriguez is passionate about social justice, equity, and the nonprofit sector. When she's not working or volunteering, you'll likely find her walking around the Normal Heights neighborhood with her two dogs.