Board of Directors

Meet the board members of the San Diego Leadership Alliance.

Co-Presidents: Caryl Montero-Adams & Maria Gpe. Bojorquez-Gomez
Secretary: Margaret Mimie Rattanachane
Treasurer: Katie Penninga

Committee Chairs
Alumni, Membership, Programming and Development:  Alex Southard & Ashley Rodriguez
Communications:  Jaque Hess & Eric Henson
Institute: Joe Fejeran & Caryl Montero-Adams
Mentorship, Outreach, and Selections Team: Albert Velazquez & Katie Penninga


Javier Gómez
Senior Advisor of Policy and Council Affairs, City of San Diego
Javier Gómez is the Senior Advisor of Policy and Council Affairs for Mayor Todd Gloria at the City of San Diego. As a four-year member of Gloria's assembly office and key member of his mayoral campaign, Gómez has been a vital part of Gloria’s Administration. In his previous work within the assembly office, Gómez organized community outreach events within Assembly District 78, supervised various communities and led on priority issues including homelessness, immigration, and LGBTQ issues. As the Field Director, he led the city-wide grassroots efforts for Gloria's mayoral campaign and successfully built a robust field program powered by hundreds of volunteers that assisted in sealing Gloria's historic victory.
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. Gómez currently serves as the President of San Diego County Young Democrats. He joined the SDLA board to give back to the progressive community and ensure we are building continuity in progressive leadership. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, playing tennis, hiking and the theater. 

Eric Henson
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.

Katie Penninga
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.

Joe Fejeran
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.

Jaqueline Hess
Program Manager, San Diego Hunger Coalition

Jaqueline Hess is the CalFresh Program Manager for the San Diego Hunger Coalition working to eliminate barriers and increase access to food assistance in San Diego County. She has an extensive background in hunger and poverty relief and is dedicated to serving her community. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from San Diego State University, she served one year of national service as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Hunger Free America. This experience reaffirmed her passion and commitment to public service and social justice. 

Jaqueline was a 2019 Fellow of the San Diego Leadership Alliance Institute and a 2019 Graduate of Mid City CAN's Board and Commissions Training Program. She serves as the Board Chair of HandsOn San Diego helping to strengthen San Diego communities through volunteer action and leadership development. She is dedicated to making a difference by empowering others and working on community issues related to hunger, housing and poverty. In her free time, Jaqueline enjoys spending time with her adopted dog, Milly, trying new foods, and reading psychological thrillers.

Alex Southard
Promise Zone Coordinator, Economic Development Department, City of San Diego 

Alex Southard currently serves as the Promise Zone Coordinator with the Economic Development Department at the City of San Diego. She works with a small team to bring stakeholders together to collaborate on projects and funding opportunities directed to some of the City's most underserved communities. She previously held positions in fundraising at the San Diego Natural History Museum and the Museum of Us in Balboa Park. After several years in the museum field, she shifted to a career directly focused on her passion to advance economic justice and equity. 


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 and fundraising 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.

Daniel Carrillo 
Senior Internship Counselor, Academic Internship Program at UC San Diego

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.

Maria Gpe. Bojorquez-Gomez 
Confidential Executive Assistant to the Mayor, City of San Diego

Maria currently serves as Confidential Executive Assistant for Mayor Todd Gloria in the City of San Diego. Previously, Maria was the district scheduler for Congresswoman Susan A. Davis, for whom she also handled immigration, postal and veterans’ casework and represented various communities in meetings and events.

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 at 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, she worked with the Office of Multicultural Affairs for four years and was part of student government for two years. In both positions, she coordinated with student organizations, implemented programs, and collaborated with administration for campus-wide projects.

Emily headshotEmily Wier
Policy Advisor, San Diego County Board of Supervisors

Emily is a Policy Advisor for San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, and focuses on environmental and climate policy. She has nearly a decade of environment and energy policy experience. She notably served in the Obama Administration's Office of Energy and Climate Change, where she advised on electric vehicle and renewable energy policy, and was also a 2014 fellow with the San Diego Leadership Alliance. She received her master’s degree in Environmental Management from Yale.

Caryl Montero-Adams
Director, Student Life & Leadership, 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 in 2011, Caryl serves as the Director of Student Life & Leadership at San Diego State University. In her role, she leads the areas of Student Organizations & Activities, Fraternity & Sorority Life, the Glazer Center for Leadership & Service, and Commuter Life. Prior to her role as Director, she served as an 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 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 central San Diego, where she and her partner Luis are raising their child Remington.

Erin Hogeboom
Director, San Diego for Every Child

 Erin Hogeboom is Director of San Diego for Every Child, the Coalition to End Child Poverty. In addition to being the co-president of the San Diego Leadership Alliance, she is the Community Service Director for San Diego County Young Democrats. 

Erin holds a master's degree in Global Affairs from New York University and received her bachelor's degree in International Security and Conflict Resolution from San Diego State University. Previously she was the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP), an education non-profit encouraging girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Before NGCP, Erin managed the Feeding Kids program at Feeding San Diego. She is a 2015 alumna of the San Diego Leadership Alliance Institute, and a former volunteer mediator for the New York Peace Institute. 

Erin Hogeboom is committed to a more equitable San Diego. She enjoys adventuring, cooking, gardening, hiking, and climbing, and lives in Azalea Park with her wife, father, and two cats.




Krista Leigh Stellmacher
Director of Resource Developmen
t, San Diego Mesa College Foundation, Inc.

Krista believes in and strives for a balance between an open, compassionate heart and a strong, analytical mind. She is a fourth-generation Californian originally from Cupertino in the Silicon Valley. Before attending college, Krista took a gap year to work and travel abroad in countries including Poland, Sweden, Spain, and Italy. This formative experience broadened her perspective and served as a foundation for her values and sense of community. She then returned to the United States, where she graduated from the University of California, San Diego Cum Laude with a bachelor's in Literature/Writing.

Krista joined Community HousingWorks in 2010 and serves as Director of Advancement. With a strong track record securing grants, she now oversees all of CHW's fundraising and communications activities, bringing in $2.33 million of contributed revenue to support CHW's mission and serving on the organization's Senior Leadership team to inform and drive strategy. Fueled by a passion for social justice and a dedication to her community, she is grateful to find purpose in her work. She lives in Southeast San Diego and rescued a very sweet pit bull named Savannah.

Jay EstradaAnsermio 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.


Alberto.jpgAlberto Velasquez
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.

20170725_3419_(1).jpgAshley Rodriguez
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.

Marco Briones
Senior Organizer, Center on Policy Initiatives 

At San Diego City College, he was one of the first members to join Bringing Education and Activism Together (BEAT). That experience introduced him to social and economic justice issues and motivated him to look for ways to help better his community and the lives of working families. He joined the staff of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, where he served as a Field Organizer.

After the November 2012 elections and subsequent special elections, he took a position in the District Office of California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, as a Field Representative, representing the 80th Assembly District. In the 2016 primary and general elections, Marco served as Campaign Manager for Lorena Gonzalez for Assembly, and also worked as Campaign Manager for Mara Elliott, who became the first female and non-white San Diego City Attorney.

Marco was a 2014 Fellow in the San Diego Leadership Alliance Institute and has since served on the institute’s Board of Directors. He also serves on the board of the Border View YMCA in his neighborhood of Otay Mesa in south San Diego. Marco is studying political science at City and Southwestern Colleges.



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