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New Leaders Council

2017 Fellows

Viviann Anguiano | Taylor Bazley | Melissa Candell |  Ben Creed | Wade Dean | Zuhey Espinoza | Michaela Ferrari | Juan Gavida | Yordanos Grebretatios | Marcia Goodson | Ray Lopez-Chang | Tulsi Patel | Roque Pech | Shane Phillips | Cat Plein | Christina Prejean | Rabiah Rahman | Alex Serna | Sam Sukaton | Lourdes Teh | Fermin Vasquez

Viviann Anguiano, Manager of Parent Advocacy at Partnership for LA Schools

Anguiano_NLCLosAngeles.jpgViviann Anguiano is from Chicago, where she led community outreach efforts to increase college access for low-income students of color across the city. Viviann is currently the Manager of Parent Advocacy at the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. She formerly interned with the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino civil rights organization, where she conducted analyses on the potential effects of the Every Student Succeeds Act on students in high poverty schools.

Prior to NCLR, she was the Founding Assistant Director of Admissions at Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago, where she spearheaded the admission efforts of the new two-year college. She has also worked as a Community Outreach Worker for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission in which she assisted students attending high need Chicago Public Schools to achieve their postsecondary aspirations across 3 Chicago neighborhoods.

She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago and a Master in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Taylor Bazley, Deputy to City Councilperson Mike Bonin

Bazley_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgTaylor Bazley is a Deputy to Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin. His role is to manage relationships with constituents and organizations of Venice as well as steward major initiatives in Venice. Taylor’s work has a particular focus on homelessness and he takes a lead on homelessness initiatives in the 11th Council District including storage, showers, bathrooms, and developments.

Prior to working for the City of Los Angeles, Taylor was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs based in their St. Louis office. Taylor was in St. Louis when the entire nation’s gaze focused on Ferguson. He was struck by the steep divide that existed between the region’s black and white communities - separated by nothing more than a street but seemingly worlds away in terms of crime, opportunity, and income. In addition to the profound experience of being in St. Louis at that time, Taylor also worked first hand in sectors ranging from labor, public health, education, and more. Taylor is an activist in the LGBTQ community serving on the board of the Stonewall Democratic Club and the Equality Council of EQCA. He also previously served on the board for the LGBTQ caucus of the California Young Democrats and the LGBT Leadership Council at UCLA.

Taylor holds a B.A. in political science with a minor in globalization studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. While at UCLA, Taylor ran a progressive political think tank, founded a student political party, and organized students to volunteer in local political contests. Taylor grew up in San Diego, California and enjoys exploring all the different neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

Melissa Candell, Policy Advocate

Candell_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgMelissa Candell is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she transferred from Mt. San Antonio College and received a Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies.

While in community college, she served as the Southern Region Coordinator for the California Dream Network and tirelessly dedicated herself to helping undocumented parents and students understand how laws and policies affect them. As a transfer student, Melissa devoted herself to co-facilitating a student-led course and service trip that exposed eleven college students to the effects of xenophobic policies on the immigrant communities of Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. And most recently, Ms. Candell completed the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) program at Princeton University, where she learned about intricacies of the policy making process. Melissa has devoted herself to this work because she strongly believes that addressing the concerns of the immigrant population requires persistence, meticulousness, thoughtful thinking, and listening to a population’s needs.

In her spare time, Melissa enjoys watching Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, and listening to music by J. Cole, Beyoncé, and Ana Tijux.

Ben Creed, Asst. Project Manager at West Hollywood Community Housing Corp.

Creed_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgBen Creed is Assistant Project Manager at West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, a nonprofit affordable-housing developer serving low-income residents in the cities of West Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Glendale. He supports all areas of the development process, including site selection and feasibility analysis, financing and entitlements, design and construction, and lease-up. Ben is a member of the 2016-2017 class of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Housing Development Training Institute. Having grown up in affordable housing in New York City, Ben understands its far-reaching benefits for individuals, families, neighborhoods, and cities.

A bicycle commuter, Ben is an advocate for sustainable transportation and safe streets, currently volunteering with the West Hollywood chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and formerly with the Queens Activist Committee of Transportation Alternatives in New York. His past volunteer work also includes helping Spanish speakers prepare for their citizenship exams at Make the Road New York, a community-based organization.

Prior to joining WHCHC, Ben worked in philanthropy at The California Wellness Foundation in Los Angeles and the Charles H. Revson Foundation in New York. His main roles were in finance and operations, and at Revson he also worked on grants supporting affordable-housing initiatives. Ben has been a Spanish translator for the policy magazine Americas Quarterly, a Spanish interpreter for the New York City Board of Elections, and an English teacher at Changzhou University in China. He received his M.A. in Spanish Language and Translation from NYU Madrid and his B.A. in Urban Studies and Hispanic Studies from Vassar College, where he led an all-whistling a cappella group.

Wade Dean, PhD candidate in Department of Musicology at UCLA

Dean_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgA Eugene V. Cota Robles Fellow, Wade Dean is currently a PhD candidate in the department of Musicology at the University of California Los Angeles. His work explores the intersection between Black expressive and socio-political culture. Specifically, he interrogates the ways that Soul, during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, assisted in the construction and organization of Black individuals into discursive collectives (or publics). As a junior scholar of Black music, he is constantly imagining the ways that music as practice, or what Christopher Small calls “musicking,” informs lived experience. Indeed, this concern has played a profound role in his development prior to and during his years of graduate study.

Wade received his undergraduate degree in music education from the University of South Carolina. After a year teaching elementary music in the Memphis City School system, he was accepted into the graduate jazz studies program at the University of the Arts. Following graduation he accepted the position of Director of Jazz at the University of Pennsylvania.

Apart from his academic and performing life, Wade also serves on the West Adams Neighborhood Council (WANC). As education chair of (WANC), he assists the families & schools within the West Adams Community in establishing a culture of scholastic achievement. Specifically, this includes establishing, shaping, and maintaining an agenda that affords every resident of West Adams the opportunity to reap the benefits of a thriving scholarly community.

Zuhey Espinoza, Deputy Director of Policy at Cal State LA

Espinoza_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgZuhey Espinoza is committed to addressing inequality through higher education policy and economic development. She is the Deputy Director of Policy at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA), where she lobbies for access and resources on behalf of the university at the local, state and federal level.

Zuhey is also a project lead for LA BioSpace - a life science business incubator spurring economic development in the heart of East Los Angeles. In this capacity, she has helped secure $4 million in federal funding for the construction and development of LA BioSpace.

Prior to her work at Cal State LA, she was a Field Deputy to LA County Board Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, where she provided constituent services and outreach in the West Valley and Mountain Communities. She completed a year-long Coro Fellowship in Los Angeles, during which she worked with a variety of organizations and businesses that impact public affairs. Those organizations included the UCLA Labor Center, Southern California Gas Company, American Diabetes Association, State Senator Carol Liu, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) and the Port of Los Angeles. An avid traveler she has had the opportunity to visit 25 countries, teach English in Taiwan, conduct research in Mexico City, and study in China, Canada and Sweden. She is a founding member of the Wise Latina Network, a multi-generational group of women empowering one another and their communities.

She holds a B.A. in Humanities and Chicano Studies from Loyola Marymount University and an M.A. in Public and International Affairs from the University of Ottawa in Canada. In her spare time, she enjoys running, hiking and attending Zocalo Public Square events around town. Zuhey is a proud Angeleno.

Michaela Ferrari, Policy Analyst at LA Babies Best Network

Ferrari_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgMichaela Ferrari is currently a Policy Analyst at the LA Best Babies Network (LABBN) and the Coordinator of the LA County Perinatal and Early Childhood Home Visitation Consortium. The Consortium is a network of 50 different community-based organizations, government agencies, advocacy organizations, and foundations working to support, advocate for, and collect data on perinatal and early childhood home visiting programs across the County. In addition to pursuing the objectives of its five-year strategic plan, the Consortium is also currently working with other stakeholders to develop a plan to strengthen and expand home visiting services for children and families as part of a LA County Board of Supervisors motion passed in December 2016.

Prior to her role at LABBN, Michaela worked as a Research Analyst and Project Manager at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research in the Health Economics and Evaluation Research (HEER) program, designing and conducting evaluations and facilitating redesigns of publicly-funded insurance programs, including the Low Income Health Program (LIHP) and California Children’s Services. Michaela spent several years researching women’s access to abortion – and what happens when they are denied one – as the Coordinator of the Turnaway Study at UC San Francisco’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) research program. She also designed and conducted her own study of attitudes toward and access to abortion in the republic of Georgia as a Fulbright Fellow. Michaela earned her MPH in Maternal and Child Health from UC Berkeley, with an emphasis on health policy and health care reform. At UC Berkeley, she worked as the Affordable Care Act Coordinator for the Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco, helping prepare the Clinic and its predominantly under- and uninsured clients for the rollout of health care reform. Ensuring health care access for all, and especially women’s access to full-scope reproductive care, continues to be Michaela’s passion and motivation.

In her free time she likes to run, bake, do the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzles, and help her friends navigate their insurance plans (really).

Juan Gavida, Clinical Therapist

Gavidia_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgJuan Gavidia is excited to join the NLC Los Angeles fellowship and plans to combine his passion for the mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse fields with an innovative and fresh perspective. He believes that becoming a change agent starts with knowledge, understanding, self-awareness and empathy for the experiences of people from marginalized communities.

After emigrating to the U.S. from El Salvador as a child, Juan grew up dreaming of obtaining the highest levels of education and work in a career that takes advantage his natural talents. Over the past six years, Juan has worked his way up in the field of mental health from counselor to a clinical therapist. He understands that success has as much to do with his own hard work as with the sacrifice of his family, and the people that have put their heart and soul into the progressive movement. He wants to honor those that have made this country great, continue their work, and inspire the next generation to create positive change.

Juan earned his BA in Psychology from Cal State University Long Beach (CSULB), MA in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles (AULA) and is currently a doctoral candidate at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles. In addition, Juan completed master’s level specialization training focusing on Applied Community Psychology (e.g., program development, program evaluation) at AULA. Over the past six years, he has provided mental health services to low-income children, families and people suffering from severe mental health conditions (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, prodromal psychosis). Furthermore, Juan hopes to advocate for access to quality mental health services for people from marginalized communities.

Yordanos Grebretatios, Community Clinic Specialist at LA Health Care Plan

Gebretatios_NLC_LosAngeles.jpg Yordanos Gebretatios is a public health practitioner with five years experience in community health programs. She is currently the Community Clinic Specialist at L.A. Care Health Plan and previously managed health programs at the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association. Yordanos has also worked as a family planning counselor and conducted research on the effect of HIV disclosure on condom use, partner HIV testing, and infant feeding choice. Yordanos is a firm supporter of harm reduction approaches to public health.

She previously volunteered as an outreach worker with HIPS DC, an organization that uses a harm reduction to address the impact that HIV/AIDS, STIs, poverty, violence and drug use have on the lives of people engaging in sex work.

Yordanos received her Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her Bachelor’s degree from Rice University.


Marcia Goodson, Therapeutic Nutrition Specialist

Goodson_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgMarcia Goodson is a registered dietitian working as a Therapeutic Nutrition Specialist for Abbott Nutrition. The leadership role challenges her to partner with key hospital and institution stakeholders in the community to provide comprehensive knowledge regarding process and product solutions for the patient care environment. Additionally, she raises awareness to the economic benefits to both the patient and the establishment, through the implementation of the proposed solutions, to achieve key initiatives in the healthcare landscape. Marcia’s investment in the health, wellness, and positive treatment experience of patients in her community is evident in her work history.

Prior to joining Abbott Nutrition, she worked as a Food Service Director responsible for the management and direction of a multi-location food service contract. In this role Marcia advocated for quality food services, consumer awareness, and quality patient care. She led the implementation of new programs and systems resulting in improved efficiency, reduced cost, and reduced waste improving the quality of care provided. Marcia is the president elect for the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Inland District Chapter. The organization strives to optimize the state of California’s health by shaping public policy and regulations that protect consumers of nutrition services. Marcia works with leaders in the nutrition field to ensure and promote informed food decisions by the public. She is passionate about her field of work and dedicates time each month to ensuring equitable food security for under-resourced populations by volunteering at local food banks and other community service organizations in partnership with the Junior League of Los Angeles.

Marcia holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Texas Women’s University and a B.A in Human Nutrition and Food from Michigan State University. Marcia enjoys running, reading, traveling abroad and exploring National Parks.

Ray Lopez-Chang, Field Deputy to LAUSD Board Member Ref Rodriguez

Lopez_Chang_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgRay comes from a diverse family of an immigrant Nicaraguan-Chinese mother and Salvadorian-Spanish father. Having been raised by community members of Northeast Los Angeles’ Cypress Park, he has spent the course of his life building his awareness of the world and developing his understanding of social inequities. In 2010, he was elected to the Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council and was recognized as the youngest elected Board Member of a Neighborhood Council in California. His campaign team was comprised of various student leaders, youth advocates, and community partners. Through his efforts organizing stakeholders, he cultivated and built his passion for advocacy and education.

The following year, Ray took his passions north to pursue a B.A. in Sociology with Education and Gender emphases at the University of San Francisco. During his undergraduate experience, Ray served as a mentor and academic literacy coach for students in the elementary, middle, and high school grades. He also worked with the USF School of Law for four years to organize lawyers, judges, and legal leaders to come together for events grounded in social justice. Amidst his responsibilities, Ray spent time as the Co-President of an organization that worked to empower people on issues of race, class, educational access, and gender. Upon completion of his Bachelor’s degree, he returned to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming an indispensable resource to the community he was raised in. Ray now acts as Field Deputy to LAUSD Board Member for District 5, Dr. Ref Rodriguez, serving the schools and communities of Northeast Los Angeles. To enhance his passions, he also serves as an ACTIVATE Fellow in hopes that the arts can be used as a method of advocacy, voice, and empowerment.

When Ray is not engaging in fruitful discussions with his friends and family, he enjoys going on venturous drives in Los Angeles, watching scary movies, and learning about iconic 80s musicians and artists.

Tulsi Patel, Senior Associate at ELP Advisors

Patel_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgTulsi Patel is a Senior Associate with Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors (ELP Advisors), an interdisciplinary urban planning and policy consulting firm based in Los Angeles that aims to create equitable and sustainable cities across Southern California and the country. In this role, Tulsi focuses on furthering equity through community and economic development projects requiring policy research, program development, and stakeholder engagement.

As part of her work with ELP Advisors, Tulsi is the Program Manager for the LA Bioscience Hub, a nonprofit focused on the creation of an inclusive bioscience cluster in East Los Angeles. On behalf of the LA Bioscience Hub, Tulsi most recently secured and utilized a $100,000 My LA2050 Challenge grant to pilot the Biotech Leaders Academy, a summer program that gives community college students entrepreneurship training and connects them with paid biotech industry internships. The program creates new academic and professional opportunities for students with backgrounds underrepresented in the bioscience field.

Outside of work, Tulsi serves on the Board of Directors for People for Parks, a nonprofit that opens up schoolyards as Community School Parks in low-income Los Angeles neighborhoods, and works to further local joint use policies. Tulsi is passionate about public spaces, and this role allows her to advance an innovative and much-need policy solution for addressing the issues of park and health equity. She also learns Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance form, and enjoys exploring Los Angeles.

Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Tulsi worked on comprehensive community development with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in Houston, Texas. Tulsi earned a B.S. in Environmental Economics & Policy from UC Berkeley, and Master of Urban & Regional Planning at UCLA.

Roque Pech, Blended Learning Manager at PowerMyLearning

Pech_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgBorn in Yucatan Mexico and raised in Wilmington, CA, Roque G. Pech feels honored to serve his community. He currently works as a Blended Learning Manager for PowerMyLearning, an educational technology non-profit. Roque works alongside teachers and school leaders to support the integration of technology to foster an environment where personalized learning positively impacts all students. He joined PowerMyLearning after completing Teach For America where he served as a secondary math teacher in low-income communities ranging from East Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley.

Prior to his time as a teacher, Roque drove sales in the financial services industry working at TransFirst and Capital One. In June 2016 Roque was elected as the Treasurer of the Wilmington Neighborhood Council. He played a key role in restructuring the size of the board, updating the bylaws, and removing the council from exhaustive efforts. Roque has also participated in several fellowships including Riordan MBA Fellows, Education Pioneers, and Leadership for Educational Equity.

Roque earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from San Diego State University and his Master’s degree in Digital Learning from Loyola Marymount University. During his personal time Roque enjoys Dj-ing, dancing to Latin music, and visiting national parks with his family.

Shane Phillips, Project Director for Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc.

Phillips_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgShane Phillips works as Project Director for Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc., a non-profit organization partnering with the City of Los Angeles to improve mobility and promote economic revitalization in downtown LA. In addition to his work with LASI, Shane spends much of his free time writing about housing and transportation policy at Better Institutions, serving as Policy Director for the volunteer organization Abundant Housing LA, and working with other passionate Angelenos toward win-win solutions to the region’s affordability crisis.

Originally from Seattle, Shane has an eclectic background including time as a supervisor at UPS and a cable technician at Comcast, and over three years as a tuberculosis research scientist at the University of Washington. Shane moved to Los Angeles to pursue a dual-degree Masters program in Urban Planning and Public Administration, and as a student he worked on the Bringing Back Broadway initiative as an intern in the office of City Councilmember José Huizar, and as an Associate with Urban One, an LA-based real estate and project management consulting firm.

Outside his work and advocacy, Shane can be found reading a book (fantasy and sci-fi, mostly), exploring LA’s neighborhoods on foot or by bike, or catching up on his Netflix queue.

Cat Plein, Founding Director of Pantsuit Nation

Plein_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgCat Plein is a native Virginian who made her way to Los Angeles in 2007 as a community organizer. She currently is responsible for sourcing information technology at Technicolor.

Prior to her work in media she spent eight years managing large, cross-functional teams at Raytheon. She has been committed to advancing social justice through outreach since age six, when her father took her to knock on doors for a neighbor who was running for City Council. Once she saw the spark between voter and volunteer she was hooked on outreach. She received her BA in History and English at the University of South Carolina, where she volunteered as a field operative with the South Carolina Democratic Party.

She currently serves on the leadership team of Pantsuit Nation, an organic, 3.9 million-member movement committed to sparking action through storytelling. Cat tutors homeless and at risk youth at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the American Association of University Women.

Cat lives in Pasadena with her soon-to-be wife and their codependent dog and cat. She is an avid backpacker, amateur photographer, and passionate college football fan. If she is not in Los Angeles you will likely find her chasing perfect light in the High Sierra.

Christina Prejean, Law Clerk, Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman, LLP

Prejean_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgChristina Prejean is a military Veteran, and proudly served in United States Air Force for six years, achieving the rank of Captain. Christina was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan for a year, from 2010 to 2011, and while there, she planned and executed 208 convoy missions, providing secure protection and transportation of 183 Department of Defense VIPs, to include the Secretary of Defense, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While in Afghanistan, Christina saw the desperate need for women’s rights and met with USAID’s Senior Gender Advisor, the Afghan Ministry of Defense, and International Human Rights leaders, to strategize and address critical issues of gender inequality and promoting the advancements for Afghan Women, which led to her appointment as President as the “Women’s History Month” luncheon, which raised $2,000 for the advancement of women, attended by 340 soldiers from 14 nations.

In 2012, Christina returned to her native San Diego to study at the University of San Diego School of Law, where she obtained her Juris Doctor degree in 2016. In law school, she volunteered at the Domestic Violence clinic, as a legal intern and Spanish translator. She also served as a Veteran Advocate at the Veteran Treatment Court for 2 years, aiding veterans in the criminal justice system, through visiting them in prison and attending court hearings with them.Christina received her Masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma and her undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Spanish from Westmont College, a Christian liberal arts school in Santa Barbara. Christina currently works at a civil litigation law firm in San Diego and continues to raise awareness about women’s issues through her articles in the San Diego Union Tribune and through founding “She Is Greater,” which uses social media to educate on issues women face globally.

Rabiah Rahman, Labor and Employment Law Attorney

Rahman_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgRabiah Rahman is a Labor and Employment Law attorney with Strauss & Strauss, APC., defending workers’ rights throughout the State of California. Rabiah is a proud Californian, raised in the Central Valley and currently lives in Ventura County. A voice for social justice since college, she revamped the UCLA Incarcerated Youth Tutorial Project, and has continued to work with incarcerated youth throughout law school and currently through Girls, Inc.

Rabiah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCLA and received her law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. While at Berkeley Law, Rabiah represented her fellow law students as the Boalt Hall Student Association Vice President, and served as the Managing Editor of the Berkeley Journal of African American Law and Policy. During law school, Rabiah represented refugees from Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia who were claiming asylum in Egypt. She also worked for a human rights consulting NGO in The Netherlands, helping Baltic Nations implement international criminal law standards into their domestic prosecution of war crimes. Rabiah remains committed to using her voice to champion social justice and progressive values on the various boards she sits on locally and throughout California.

When Rabiah isn’t fighting for workers’ rights, she enjoys doing improv, hiking, going for long distance bike rides, and karaoke.

Alex Serna, Program Director at Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano

Serna_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgAlex Serna grew up in a predominantly working-class, Latino community in Anaheim. He is the Program Director for Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano, a nonprofit with the dual mission to support highly motivated, but underserved students and to inspire the next generation of educational leaders. Since 2014, he’s worked towards reducing student attrition across the 6-year program, improving parent engagement, and increasing access to college counseling. In the last 2 years, 88% of seniors have applied to college and 63% have matriculated to a 4-year university while maintaining 100% program retention.

Prior to Breakthrough SJC, Alex created and oversaw a mathematics and critical literacy program for at-promise youth returning to receive their GED after being pushed out from high school with the Youth Policy Institute. Through his work in Pico Union and Pacoima, he expanded the number of youth served from 10 to 60 in 2 years and programming. His determination to support underrepresented communities emerged from his personal experiences of overcoming many obstacles to attain his education. Alex almost dropped out of high school, however, after learning that he was going to be a father at 17 he enrolled at a community college where caring and passionate educators helped place him on the successful college path. Within 3 years he transferred to UC Berkeley where he studied social policy, learning about the many economic, environmental and educational inequities that explained why he and many other first-gen students don’t succeed in schools.

Outside of work and when he’s not having tea parties with his 4 daughters, Alex is a member of Los Amigos of Orange County, a community group that meets to discuss and address issues affecting the Latino/a community. In his spare time, he can be found training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, reading about the history of hip hop or quantum mechanics and looking for the best vegan food in southern California.

Samuel Sukaton, Regional Political Organizer, SEIU UHW

Sukaton_pic_NLCLosAngeles.jpgSam Sukaton lives, works, and believes in California.

Sam works to protect and expand quality healthcare for all with a workers' organization of 90,000 healthcare providers across California. Sam recruits and coaches healthcare workers to lobby decisionmakers, elect healthcare champions, and win healthcare victories at the ballot and in their workplaces. Sam came to UHW after two years at the Sierra Club, where he worked to end dangerous urban oil and gas extraction and elect environmental justice leaders throughout Southern California, most recently Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes in his hometown of San Bernardino.

The son and grandson of Indonesian immigrants and nurses, Sam's commitment to building power with workers in Southern California is rooted in his childhood in the Inland Empire and cutting his teeth as a student organizer at UCLA, where he worked as a student organizer, a writer and assistant page editor for the nationally-recognized Daily Bruin.

Outside of work, Sam serves on the boards of the Power Shift Network, (the hub of the youth climate justice movement) and the California Progress Fund (which builds the bench of young, progressive municipal candidates throughout California) and the LA chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO.

Less seriously, Sam enjoys board games, dancing, other people's pets, and trying to find a place to play saxophone without disturbing others.


Lourdes Teh, Senior Manager at The Walt Disney Company

Teh_NLC_LosAngeles.jpgLourdes Teh holds a B.S. in International Business from USC, an M.S. in Accountancy from the University of Virginia, and is a CPA. Born in the Philippines but raised in Los Angeles, Lourdes now volunteers as an enthusiastic mentor for Minds Matter Los Angeles, where she provides guidance for a high-achieving high schooler from a low-income upbringing. Lourdes has long been passionate about childhood literacy and youth education programs and, in 2016, earned a Volunteer Service Award from the White House for her commitment in these and other service-oriented areas. She frequently offers her time to Reading to Kids, a non-profit dedicated to instilling underserved elementary school students with a love of reading.

A Senior Manager at The Walt Disney Company, Lourdes oversees the financial reporting processes of Disney’s global TV properties. Lourdes has traveled the world on a variety of financial audits and is actively involved in numerous development, diversity, and recruitment initiatives. She is an active member of Ascend, the largest non-profit Pan-Asian organization for business professionals in North America, which aims to elevate the presence and influence of Pan-Asian leaders. In 2016, she was featured as an Executive Speaker at the annual gala of the Los Angeles chapter of Ascend.

As her career has led her from Ernst & Young (EY) to Disney and around the globe, Lourdes has worked to resolve the discrepancy in Asian-American diversity between staff and leadership levels across the professional landscape. She aims not only to align the impact of corporate influence and social good but also to combat Asian-American stereotypes that too often hinder personal and professional progress.

Fermin Vasquez, Head of Social and Digital Media for SEIU Local 2015

Vasquez_NLC_LosAngeles.jpg Fermin Vasquez is the head of social and digital media for SEIU Local 2015, California’s largest labor union. Fermin is a season communicator who harnesses the power of social media, video, political data, strategic communications, web design, and storytelling to win campaigns that change people’s lives.

Fermin has led the communications efforts of some of Los Angeles premier social justice organizations, including Californians for Justice and the Community Coalition of South Los Angeles. As a veteran of political campaigns, Fermin has worked with local and state elected officials, including serving as the data manager for LA Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

A Salvadoran refugee who cut his teeth in undocumented student organizing, he founded Students United to Reach Goals in Education (SURGE), a student-led organization at Cal State LA. Over the years, he has worked closely with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) to advance the rights of immigrants and their families. Fermin received his BA in Political Science from Cal State Los Angeles.

He is a bike enthusiast, loves to play soccer, and fly drones.

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