2015 Fellows Class

The SDLA posts profiles of our Fellows at the time they are admitted to the SDLA Institute. After graduation, many Fellows change jobs and advance in their careers, which is not reflected in these bios. Accomplishments of SDLA Institute Alum can be found here.

Keiara.jpgKeiara 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.jpgCassie 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.jpgKristen 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.jpgChevelle 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!

Tim.jpgTimothy 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.jpgAlicia 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.

Sean.jpgA 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.jpgMonique 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.jpgMaribel 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.

Dave.jpgDave Beza serves the Scripps Institution of Oceanography as a Fiscal / Contracts & Grants Assistant in the Marine Biology Research Division. His role involves providing Principal Investigators with accounting support, grant management, and financial controls so that his researchers can focus on their groundbreaking works regarding ocean discovery and human health.

He graduated from UCSD with a degree in Ethnic Studies where he served as a Vice President of Finance for the Associated Students and a President for the Asian Pacific-Islander Student Alliance. As a UCSD Alumni, he continues to support APSA, the Cross Cultural Center, and OASIS.

He is currently enrolled in the University of San Diego’s Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program where he has been working on applied projects for nonprofit organizations, such as proposing transportation legislation and designing a community college fellowship program focused on encouraging students into environmental career paths. He plans to graduate later this year.

Outside of his career and continuing education, Dave is an accomplished volleyball coach and professional DJ. He was born in the city of Manila in the Philippines, but considers himself a San Diego native after living all over the city since he was 4 years old.

Gerrlyn.jpgGerrlyn Gacao is a Council Representative for the Office of Councilmember David Alvarez and represents the communities of Egger Highlands, Otay Mesa West, Nestor, and Ocean View Hills. She attended the University of California at San Diego, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning and Economics minor. She initially joined the City of San Diego’s Eighth District team as an intern after graduating.

Beyond working for a political office, Gerrlyn serves on the Board of the San Diego County Young Democrats (SDCYD) as Community Service Chair. She is also the current Treasurer of the San Diego County Asian American Pacific Islander Democratic Club, as well as a member of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum-San Diego. Gerrlyn has held various roles working for several campaigns, including Campaign Manager for SDCYD’s successful UCSD Votes Program in 2012. She was also Outreach Coordinator for David Alvarez for Mayor 2013/2014. Gerrlyn was raised in Stockton, CA.

Gaby.jpgGabriela Dominguez serves as a Council Representative in the office of Councilmember David Alvarez. As council representative she is honored to represent the communities of San Ysidro, Shelltown and Barrio Logan. Prior to joining the Councilmember’s staff full time, Gabriela worked on David Alvarez Mayoral campaign as the volunteer coordinator and phone room supervisor, where she recruited, trained and supervised volunteers.

A native San Diegan, Gabriela was raised in the Barrio Logan community. She attended San Diego State University and earned her Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Political Science with a minor in Sociology.

Gabriela is also the current social chair for the San Diego County Young Democrats and an active member of the Chicano Democratic Association.

Julio.jpgJulio Rivera serves as a Council Representative for Councilmember Marti Emerald in the communities of City Heights and Southeastern San Diego. He is also the Councilmember's Intern Coordinator and handles her ceremonial procedures. Julio is the current treasurer of the Chicano Democratic Association, an organization dedicated to increasing the political participation of Latinos.

A native San Diegan, Julio was raised in East County. He attended San Diego State University where he earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and Latin American Studies. During his studies, Julio interned for Feeding America San Diego where he focused on helping eligible individuals access Calfresh benefits.

In 2011, Julio was chosen for The Center on Policy Initiatives’ Students for Economic Justice program. He later worked on campaigns for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and a California State Assembly race. Julio also spent a year working in Councilmember David Alvarez’s office as his policy fellow where he worked on passage of the Property Value Protection Ordinance. In 2013, Julio was Myrtle Cole’s Field Manager on her successful City Council campaign.

Nate.jpgAs a Biologist with Blackhawk Environmental, a Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, Nate Bazydlo specializes in maximizing efficiency of major energy- industry infrastructure projects through high-level consultation between environmental adherence experts and private contractors.

In addition to his role in the private sector, Nate is an elected Board Member of the Ocean Beach Town Council and is an active advocate for personal health and prosperity through urban garden education. As Chair of Community Events on the Ocean Beach Town Council, Nate is the facilitator of 10 annual events for the benefit, beautification and civic activation of the greater community. In his role as urban garden educator and advocate, he conducts a credited high school internship teaching organic and biodynamic gardening in his own backyard urban garden.

Davin.jpgDavin Widgerow is an environmental lawyer whose work is focused on toxic contamination remediation. He earned his BA (Political Science) from Berkeley, and his JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Davin was admitted to the California Bar in 2011. He began his law career interning for a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and advocating for disabled individuals.

Davin serves on the Steering Committee for Sierra Club San Diego, which is tasked with coordinating Club projects, activities, finances, and administration. He also serves as Chair of the Political Committee, which engages political candidates and environmental activists to further Sierra Club’s conservation efforts.

Davin was born and raised in South Africa, where he grew up hiking in the mountains with his grandfather. He remains an active hiker who has hiked in over 18 national parks and monuments across the US, and he has also explored many of San Diego County's hiking trails. Davin has been inspired by John Muir, Edward Abbey, Theodore Roosevelt, and David Brower, and is passionate about devoting his skills and energies to protecting the Earth.

Sarah_B.jpgSarah Borger is an advocate for social justice and mental health accessibility who has worked in the nonprofit sector since 2007. A Minnesota native, Sarah moved to San Diego in 2014 and currently works as the Coordinator for the Independent Living Association (ILA) with Community Health Improvement Partners. In her role with the ILA, Sarah works with community members to ensure high-quality housing options are available for people who would benefit from a shared living environment. Sarah also serves on the Behavioral Health Work Team and the ILA Work Group.

Her recent work in Minneapolis involved co-creating and implementing drop-in support groups at both the Sexual Violence Center and CornerHouse Interagency Child Abuse Evaluation and Training Center. Sarah’s direct service work includes crisis counseling, support group facilitation, and working as an advocate for victim/survivors of sexual violence and their families.

Sarah holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Psychological Services from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts from Augsburg College. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys running, musical theater soundtracks, and losing herself in a great book.

Hilary_copy.jpgHilary Nemchik began her career in public service at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office shortly after receiving her graduate degree in Applied Communication from Northern Arizona University. Starting as a speechwriting intern, she eventually became Director of External Affairs & Events, managing community outreach and public events for the office. Additionally, she was chair of the Borough President’s Domestic Violence Task Force, a citywide coalition of experts on gender based violence that organized to support advocacy initiatives and legislation.

After five years of working in local government and volunteering with progressive political campaigns in New York City, she relocated to San Diego and began working in development for a national lung cancer research nonprofit. Currently, Hilary is a Field Representative for State Senator Marty Block. She serves as a liaison to communities within District 39 and also focuses on health care, women’s issues, housing and other policy areas.

Hilary is on the board of Run Women Run, and is a member of the San Diego County Young Democrats and the Clairemont Town Council. In her spare time she likes to practice yoga on the beach and explore the outdoors with her husband Brian and dog, Ponygirl.

Sarah_F.jpgSarah Fields coordinates Faith Relations and Community Outreach for the San Diego affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. Working closely with diverse faith-based and secular communities across the county to advocate, support, and build affordable homeownership opportunities locally.

Sarah has a history of connecting faith and social justice. As an undergraduate, she was honored with President’s Service Award for bringing Safe Zone Training for LGBT inclusion to the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life. After college, she lived in Tel Aviv, working closely with West African asylum-seeking families and studying at the Bina Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture. In New York, she served as Program Director for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, a grassroots community organization.

While in graduate school, Sarah grew interested in municipal finance, auditing projects at the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services and the NYC Economic Development Corporation. Prior to returning to her native San Diego, Sarah worked to promote the Minority and Women–Owned Business program at the NYC Department of Design and Construction.

Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Metropolitan Studies and Politics from New York University and a Master of Urban Planning from City University of New York, Hunter College.

The SDLA posts profiles of our Fellows at the time they are admitted to the SDLA Institute. After graduation, many Fellows change jobs and advance in their careers, which is not reflected in these bios. Accomplishments of SDLA Institute Alum can be found here.

Erin.jpgAs Programs Manager at Feeding America San Diego, Erin Hogeboom oversees all Kid Programs—delivering over 1.5 million pounds of food annually to more than 8,000 children in San Diego—as well as Federal Programs and the Internship Program. Erin's role at Feeding America San Diego culminates seven years of working on both national and international food security issues.

Erin holds a Master’s of Science in Global Affairs from New York University, specializing in Transnational Security. While at NYU, Erin co-directed the gender working-group, Lysistrata, and provided policy analysis for the UN-affiliated NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. Erin also consulted for the National Girls Collaborative Project, working to advance gender equality in STEM careers. Prior to attending NYU, Erin served for two and a half years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay. There, Erin worked with farmers to sustainably increase their yields and diversify their crops, and co-hosted a public service radio broadcast entitled “Ro’japo Radio.”

Erin is first and foremost a San Diego State University Alumni, where she had the opportunity to serve as an Ambassador, join service-learning trips to South Africa and China, and graduate with a degree in International Security and Conflict Resolution.

RoxyOriginally from Orange County, Roxy Carter has called San Diego home since 2006. She received a BA in Sociology from UC Irvine and a J.D. from the University of San Diego. After graduating and passing the California State Bar in 2008, she travelled throughout Latin America, volunteering as a Pro Bono attorney with environmental and marine conservation organizations in Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.

Upon returning to San Diego, she received a certificate in Marine Biodiversity & Conservation from Scripps Institute of Oceanography and worked for a handful of environmental non-profits focusing on initiatives to protect endangered species ranging from the CA Least Tern to the SoCal Steelhead.

The daughter of a Nurse Practitioner, Roxy eventually found her way to the Legal Aid Society of San Diego to put her law degree to good use helping health consumers obtain and retain access to health care in San Diego County. At LASSD, she also serves as the Health Consumer Alliance Assistant Coordinator and works to facilitate collaboration between 11 partners to address healthcare policy needs of health consumers throughout the state.

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