2014 NLC Fellows: Silicon Valley

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Richard Alexander, County Childcare Assessment Project Coordinator, Working Partnerships USA

 	Richard	Alexander	Born and raised in the Bay Area of California, I have had the privilege of growing up in an incredibly diverse and dynamic region. I attended public schools and received a great education that has propelled me toward my personal and professional goals. I graduated Woodside High School as a valedictorian in the Class of 2005. I attended Santa Clara University and was very active as a student leader on campus. I organized political campaigns (including “No on Proposition 8″ and President Obama’s first presidential campaign) and mobilized students to advocate in solidarity with hundreds of campus workers for a fair contract. I studied abroad in 8 countries and enjoyed learning about a variety of cultures around the world. I graduated with academic honors in the Class of 2009. Following college, I participated in the Global Fellows Program and volunteered at a rural village library in Tanzania.

Upon my return to the United States, I became a Community Organizer and Policy Researcher with a local anti-poverty non-profit organization in San Jose. I organized hundreds of immigrants, tenants, senior citizens, and working poor families with the goal of public policy changes that would benefit marginalized communities. We succeeded in passing a Payday Lending Ordinance in San Jose, winning a County-wide Civil Detainer Policy, instituting a $10 per hour minimum wage in San Jose, and terminating Operation Community Shield (a program that could have led to the separation of immigrant families). When the Supreme Court paved the way for the demise of Proposition 8, my husband and I were able to get married. We live in San Mateo and enjoy quality time with family, being in Nature, cooking healthy meals, and juicing.

Arleen Càrdenas, Program Manager, ALearn

Arleen	CardenasBorn and raised in San Jose, Arleen is the third eldest of seven children and the first from her family to go to college. She graduated with a bachelorÍs degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Civil Engineering and also received her single subject Math credential from National Hispanic University.

Arleen currently works at ALearn, an educational non-profit that helps underrepresented students achieve proficiency in Math and raises their motivation to go to college. Her role is to manage programs that occur throughout the school year and summer at different school sites. She decided to pursue her passion for educational opportunity because she is a product of an outreach mentoring program, GetSET (Science, Engineering and Technology), whose goal is to expose and motivate young minority women to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers. Since graduating from the program, she has volunteered her time for past 12 years as the Director of Student Recruitment and Registration. Before working at ALearn, she taught middle school math in Gilroy which was one of her most rewarding ventures thus far. She is grateful for all of these experiences because it has brought her to this point in her life where she is excited with the direction of her professional path.

She believes strongly that individuals do not necessarily have to be the wealthiest or the brightest to go to college, but by working hard they will be able to receive support along their path for a higher education. It is pressing for her to help narrow the opportunity gaps that exist amongst students in communities around the Bay Area. She believes that education is one of the most powerful weapons which individuals can use to change the world.

Arleen values and esteems her family tremendously. Her passion and motivation in life stems from the support and genuine love that she receives from them. She enjoys listening to underground Hip-Hop music, playing volleyball and learning about new technology. She is very excited about being a NLC fellow.

Madeleine Case, Northern California Regional Coordinator, Building Skills Partnership

 	Madeleine	Case	Madeleine is the Northern California Regional Coordinator for the nonprofit Building Skills Partnership, which brings together SEIU and responsible businesses to improve the quality of life of low-wage property service workers and their families. Madeleine oversees all current programming, program expansion and program staff in Northern California. She is passionate about BSP’s work because it provides immigrant and working families access to convenient educational and career advancement opportunities at their worksites and in their union halls.

Her interest in improving adult education delivery to serve the needs of working adults with lower literacy or limited English levels has inspired her work on the Steering Committee for the South Bay Consortium for Adult Education and on the Advisory Board for the Mountain View Adult School. She is also an ardent supporter of immigrant rights, campaign finance reform and other community groups and public policies that advance the idea that “we all do better when we all do better.”

Madeleine is a graduate of Swarthmore College where she received a B.A. in History with a focus on understanding the historical underpinnings of social injustice and inequality. In 2009 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English at La Universidad Tecnológica y Pedagógica de Colombia in Tunja, Colombia. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and camping, dancing to all types of music from Latin America, playing volleyball and spending time with her beloved family and friends.

Manuel Castro, Remote Care Coordinator, HELP Practice Management

 	Manuel	Castro	Manuel grew up in Redwood City and as a former first-generation college student, he actively volunteers in his local community to support low-income and under-represented scholars in their quest to graduate from a four-year university. Accordingly, he serves on the Board of Directors of The Peninsula College Fund, which provides students of the Mid-Peninsula with the tools for success in college and beyond.

Additionally, Manuel works as a remote care coordinator at the San Mateo offices of the HELP Program, as well as volunteers as a certified HIV counselor at the UCSF Alliance Health Project. His professional experience also includes time with Peninsula Interfaith Action (PIA) in San Carlos and Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA). In 2010, he received the Wiley W. Manuel Award given by the California Bar Association.

Manuel graduated with a dual B.A. degree from the University of California at Davis in 2011. He will attend Columbia University for graduate school in fall 2014.

Vanessa Compean, Policy Aide, City of San Jose

 	Vanessa	Compean	Vanessa Compean is a result-oriented, high-energy professional with a passion for innovative and progressive solutions to complex problems affecting women in her local community. A Southern California native, Vanessa moved to the Silicon Valley to attend Santa Clara University where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a double minor in Women and Gender Studies and Ethnic Studies. Currently, she is a Policy Aide for San Jose City Councilmember Donald Rocha and staffs him on issues related to public safety, neighborhoods, parks and recreation, libraries, and education.

During her undergraduate career Vanessa spent a semester studying at American University in Washington D.C. where she participated in the Transforming Communities Program. While in the program Vanessa worked with an array of professionals from grassroots nonprofit organizations in Southeast Washington to policy organizations on Capitol Hill in order to identify issues facing marginalized communities across the nation and finding creative solutions to tackle those issues. One such way she worked on advocacy and policy issues was through her work with U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s Federal Advocacy Office on Capitol Hill. While at U.S. PIRG she supported the organization’s Consumer Protection Program by contributing key research to their annual “Trouble in Toyland” report; which has, overtime, led to a number of hazardous toy recalls and federal regulatory action.

Having noticed the large gap in female representation on Capitol Hill and the many gender inequalities in her own life experiences, Vanessa sought out participating in local organizations that support the enhancement of women in all job sectors. She was selected into the Latina Coalition of the Silicon Valley’s ELLA Program, worked with Latinas Contra Cancer’s Young Women and Breast Cancer Campaign, and is a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Silicon Valley. Vanessa has most recently been selected as the Santa Clara County Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Network’s Public Awareness and Advocacy Team Lead where her work is focused on preventing teen pregnancy, helping youth identify healthy relationships, and educating youth on contraception methods.

In her spare time Vanessa Compean enjoys singing and dancing with her family, going on outdoor adventures with friends, cross fitting with her significant other, and curling up with a book and great cup of coffee. Currently her new favorite read is an LSAT prep book.

Jon Hinthorne, Senior Program Manager of School Partnerships, City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley

 	Jon	Hinthorne	I was born on July 22, 1984 in a small town in central Washington to a large, loving family. In 1994, my parents—both educators—decided to move to St. Louis so that we attend a great school called Principia, and my father could teach Math at Principia College. I attended Principia from 4th grade until graduating from Principia College in 2007 with B.A. in History and Hispanic Studies.
Pursuing my profound passion for supporting those around me, I began teaching high school Spanish at Principia Upper School. I spent two wonderful years there, responsible for upper level Spanish and leading a trip of students to Costa Rica. After teaching Spanish, I made the best decision I have made professionally and moved to Boston, MA, where I joined City Year Boston as a Corps Member involved in National Service. I served at a K-8 school in Boston as a tutor, mentor, and developed crucial leadership skills that have been at the heart of who I am as a leader today.

After City Year, I stayed in the national education reform movement and joined Citizen Schools, another national education non-profit similar to City Year, as a National Teaching Fellow serving at the Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School. Led by an impressive monetary grant and the collective determination of 16 partner organizations and schools in Boston, we tirelessly worked to provide the students with the opportunities and education that they deserved. My year at Orchard Gardens showed me that education reform is possible when you strategically focus all efforts around time, people, and resources.

During the summer between City Year and Citizen Schools I married my best friend, Jenny, in the central coast of California. We decided to both move from Boston to California so that she could start her MA in Science Education and I could continue my work in national service with City Year as a Program Manager in a middle school in East San Jose.

During the past 2 and a half years in San Jose, I have completed my Masters in Teaching and begun my California Secondary Teaching Certification program at San Jose State University. I am currently still with City Year as a Senior Program Manager of School Partnerships, living in downtown San Jose with my wife, Jenny, and our cat, Molly. We love hiking, camping, movies, music, and spending quality time with our wonderful friends and family.

Andrew Knaack, Volunteer Services Assistant, Ronald McDonald House at Stanford

 	Andrew	Knaack	Andrew Knaack is currently serving a 10-month AmeriCorps term through a social justice based program called Public Allies. Through Public Allies Andrew is working at the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford where he recruits, trains, and supervises the 150 weekly House volunteers.

In August 2012, Andrew graduated from the University of California, San Diego. During his time in San Diego, Andrew dedicated himself to service. Andrew served as the President for the Rotaract Club at UCSD (college level of Rotary International). Additionally, Andrew worked, interned, and volunteered for many nonprofits to expand his fundraising/development skills including UC San Diego Student Affairs Development, Institute for Democratic Education in America, Women’s Empowerment International, OxFam America, and the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund.

After graduation, Andrew was eager to return to the community he loves and grew up in: Silicon Valley. Upon his arrival, Andrew joined Vision New America/Asian Americans for Community Involvement’s Youth Leadership and Civic Engagement Program (YLCE). Through YLCE Andrew expanded his knowledge of local politics with regular training days and an internship with the District Office of Congressman Mike Honda.

Albert Le, Dentist

 	Albert	Le	Albert holds a Doctorate in Dental Surgery from the University of Southern California and BA in Political Science from San Jose State University. Albert is a currently a practicing general dentist, but will be making a return to public service to work on health policy. Albert is also the founder and Executive Director for the Far East Dragon Lion Dance Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit youth group utilizing the Asian Cultural Art of Lion Dancing as a vehicle for youth and gender empowerment.

Charisse Lebron, Government and Public Affairs Professional

 	Charisse	Lebron	Charisse Ma Lebron is a biracial immigrant, who has lived in the Bay Area since 2006. She is a government, public affairs, and corporate responsibility professional, whose 9.5-year career includes working for elected leaders, local government, political campaigns, and the nonprofit realm. She specializes in policy analysis and research, political lobbying, public relations, and grassroots and community organizing. Charisse has extensive knowledge and experience with issues related to public safety, housing, consumer protections, public health, equity, sustainability, smart growth planning, economic development, corporate social responsibility, and civil rights.

Most recently, she served as the District Director for the Office of the California State Assembly Speaker pro Tempore. Her additional professional endeavors in California include serving as the Chief of Staff to San Mateo County Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson, Corporate Responsibility & Advocacy Director for Marin Institute, a leading public health research and advocacy institution, and State Coordinator for California Reinvestment Coalition, a Community Reinvestment Act advocacy organization comprised of more than 300 statewide agencies and nonprofit organizations advancing fair banking and lending practices. Charisse earned her Bachelor’s Degrees in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Rochester.

Charisse currently resides in San Jose with her French Bulldog, enjoys various exotic cuisines, traveling to remote places to scuba dive, and watching documentaries. She serves on the Board of Directors of an organization that focuses on policy advocacy and the prevention of human trafficking. Since her entire family resides in the Philippines, she visits frequently and is exploring opportunities to improve the welfare and livelihood of her fellow Chinese and Filipino community members. Her dream is to one day establish an organization that empowers young women and girls through educational and economic advancement in order to prevent instances of human trafficking in her native homeland. Charisse’s career will continue to focus on advancing policy agendas and initiatives that improve the socioeconomic and political rights of low-income people, communities of color, and underserved populations.

Marcos Lira , Founder , Planning Your Core

 	Marcos	Lira	Marcos Lira is the Founder of Planning Your Core – a Personal Finance and Health Blog – focused on spreading awareness about personal financial and health literacy and its influence on one’s Happiness. He does this by writing articles, hosting workshops and presentations, and being actively involved in the FPA of Silicon Valley’s Pro Bono Program. As a Certified Financial Planner ™, he has committed 250 hours of Pro Bono work by working with various non-profit organizations in providing their clients one-on-one counseling.

As a native of San Jose, he has always had an affinity towards helping the city’s underserved communities and progressing them forward. As a result, upon his return from Fullerton, CA where he graduated with a B.A. in Finance from CSUF, he joined Generation-X Education Foundation, a non-profit group of the AGIF that conducts recreational youth programming and coordinates community service projects at the Alma Youth Center, as an Adviser and Mentor.

Marcos is currently highly active in the Latino startup community and when he is not busy with his own projects you can catch him at various conferences, retreats, meetups, and networking events with visionary individuals looking to disrupt the norm.

Lucila Ortiz, Professor, De Anza college

 	Lucila	Ortiz	Lucila Ortiz is an immigrant from Guerrero, Mexico. She came to the United States when she was 11 years of age. Her lack of understanding of the English language, coupled with cultural barriers led her to become extremely shy in school and have low self-esteem. This all changed, however, when she got imvolved with an organization called Californians for Justice. Through this organization, she was able to understand the historical and institutional players that affected her personal life. She developed a deep passion for social justice and quickly became a community organizer. She studied Sociology and Spanish at SJSU and got her master’s degree in the same institution in May of 2013. Currently, Lucila teaches Spanish at De Anza College.

AJ Pascua, Project Manager, Google

 	AJ	Pascua	Throughout his life, AJ Pascua has been driven by a passion to fight for the underprivileged. As a Project Manager at Google, AJ leverages technology to embrace his passion. Within his first years at the company, AJ helped organize a roundtable summit exploring the use of technology for improving security in refugee camps. He has also led projects that empower underperforming, minority-owned businesses to find success online.

Before Google, AJ fought for the underprivileged in New York City. He worked as a community organizer at the non-profit organization, Civitas, while serving as Class President at Columbia University. At Civitas he focused on improving the neighborhood quality of life in East Harlem. This experience motivated AJ to pursue his life-long interest in politics. In 2009, AJ interned for Mayor Bloomberg by helping lead his re-election campaignÍs digital marketing efforts.

A native of the Bay Area, AJ Pascua graduated from James Logan High School in 2006 as captain of its speech and debate team. He graduated Cum Laude from Columbia in 2010, where he studied Political Science, Psychology, and Mandarin. During college he also studied abroad in Beijing, China at the Central University for Nationalities. AJ is thrilled to join the NLC to learn how to fight for the underprivileged on a larger scale.

Dennis Raj, Political Director, South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council

 	Dennis	Raj	As Political Director, Dennis’s responsibilities include helping to formulate campaign strategy, overseeing field campaigns, and representing the labor movement in various political arenas. Dennis made his way to the South Bay Labor Council in August of 2012 to run a variety of campaigns for the General Election. He over saw the successful campaigns of Measure D, the increase in San Jose’s minimum wage, and Measures A and B, a county wide tax for health care and public safety and a parcel tax for water projects. Prior to coming to the Labor Council, Dennis served as assistant to the Managing Director of the California Democratic Party where his responsibilities included managing Party endorsements and statewide voter registration programs. He was also the Deputy Information Technology Director for the Party where he trained and supervised field organizers to use online voter file and volunteer database software to develop and execute field activities in support of statewide Democratic ticket. From 2008-2010, Dennis served as Special Assistant to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. He graduated from the University of California at Davis with a BA in Political Science.

Emily Ramos, Website and Social Media Specialist, The Tech Museum of Innovation

 	Emily	Ramos	Emily is a tinkerer and loves to look at the source code for everything. She finds great joy in exploring uncommon uses for tools and processes. Emily is an optimist and a big Science Fiction fan. She can’t wait for the days of hovercrafts and teleportation devices.

Emily was born in Hayward, raised in Fremont, and attended Notre Dame High School in San Jose. She received her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and 3rd assistant engineer Coast Guard License at the California Maritime Academy. She returned to San Jose to receive her post-graduate education at San Jose State University in the same field. Currently, she develops social media and online communication for The Tech Museum of Innovation.

Emily serves on the executive board of Silicon Valley Young Democrats and the newly revived National Women’s Political Caucus of Silicon Valley. She holds a strong interest in the following issues: internet freedom and privacy, women in technology, and the role and opportunity of technology in politics.

Rachel Ray, Associate Attorney, Law Offices of Daniel Shanfield-Immigration Defense, PC

 	Rachel	Ray	Rachel Ray is an Associate at the Law Offices of Daniel Shanfield-Immigration Defense, PC, where her practice focuses on family-based immigration and deportation defense, as well as U visa, VAWA, and asylum cases. She loves her work and is humbled and inspired by her clients.

Rachel earned her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Davis School of Law (Public Service Law Program Scholar, Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Award Honoree) and her Bachelor of Art History and Visual Culture Studies from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington (Magna Cum Laude, minor in Spanish). During college, Rachel studied abroad in Mendoza, Argentina at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo.

Before law school, Rachel served as an AmeriCorps member in Santa Rosa, CA working as a supervisor in an after school program for elementary school students at risk for retention at their grade levels. She then worked as Project Manager on an environmental campaign (Lights Out San Francisco) and was campaign coordinator for Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane’s first campaign.

While in law school, Rachel was a student advocate at the UC Davis School of Law Immigration Clinic, where she worked on refugee and asylum cases. She spent her summers during law school working as a clerk on federal death penalty defense cases and as a Racial Justice Project Intern at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California in San Francisco. In 2011, Rachel published an article in the Seattle Journal for Social Justice: “Insecure Communities: Examining Local Government Participation in U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement’s ‘Secure Communities’ Program.”

After graduating law school, Rachel was a pro bono attorney at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, a community organizer and documentarian for the ACLU of Northern California on a special immigrants’ rights project in Alabama, an Impact Litigation Attorney Fellow at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, and an associate attorney at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen and Loewy, LLP doing business immigration work.

Rachel is dedicated to pro bono and community work, and is a regular volunteer at American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) pro bono clinics. Rachel is a member of the State Bar of California and AILA.

Neesha Tambe

 	Neesha	Tambe	Neesha A. Tambe graduated from Georgetown University with a dual degree in Government and Sociology with a focus on Responsible Business Development. Neesha currently serves as the PAC Co-Chair for the National Women’s Political Caucus Silicon Valley and a member of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute Steering Committee. Prior to Georgetown, Neesha attended De Anza Community College. At De Anza, Neesha served as the Executive Vice President of the De Anza Student Body Senate, managing a $1.25 million dollar budget. Neesha helped start a National Initiative on Civic Engagement, and served as a Congressional and Legislative Intern in DC.

Neesha hopes to bring progressive values to the private sector, pushing corporations to become more socially responsible.”

Chrystine Villarreal, Managing Directors, Partnerships and Investments, BUILD.org

 	Chrystine	Villarreal	Chrystine has over 15 years experience working in community advocacy, political and fundraising strategies. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and received her B.A. from University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to joining BUILD in 2012, Chrystine worked at Khosla Ventures, a $1.4B fund, with luminaries such as Vinod Khosla, Tony Blair and Gideon Yu. She evaluated entrepreneurs in the technology, media, social media and clean tech sectors. Previously she was a lead negotiator for city, county and state workers in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties and for the State of California. She was responsible for over $17mm in employee contracts in her region. Chrystine also served as the Political Director at South Bay Labor Council where she worked on political strategies that affected working families. Now in her role as Managing Director of Partnerships & Investments, Chrystine establishes relationships with BUILDÍs strongest supporters and is championing BUILDÍs mission to serve more students nationally. Chrystine is the proud mother to four beautiful boys–Carlitos, Joaquin, Daniel and Emiliano–and fortunate wife to her husband, Carlos.