Meet the 2017 Silicon Valley Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)
Lochan Alagh, Program Manager, Minerva Ventures
Lochan Alagh was born and raised in India, a country largely suffering from over-exploitation of resources, water scarcity and poverty. Her continual desire to conserve environment and preserve natural resources made her pursue Masters in Environmental Management from Indian Institute of Technology. She worked as a Research Officer in Ministry of Water Resources, India for conservation of River Ganges where she worked on several policy matters related to industrial pollution abatement and sewage treatment. After moving to California in 2014, which was then affected by Major Drought, she started working at Sustainable Silicon Valley in water team to promote onsite water recycling in commercial buildings. She now works as Program Manager at Minerva Ventures, a startup working on Climate Adaptation and Mitigation. She also works for Overseas Volunteers for Better India water team for rejuvenation of rivers in water deficit states of India. During her free time, she enjoys dancing, yoga and cooking.
Jennifer Briscoe, Program Manager, The Bill Wilson Center
Jennifer G. Briscoe is an experienced program administrator, evaluator, and facilitator of process improvement. She has been employed with non-profits organizations in the Bay Area and south bay for 20 years which included Head Start programs in Fremont and Oakland. She has held management positions vital to the success of at-risk children, 3-5 years of age, and families by ensuring that no child goes without adequate health care, dental services, mental health or sufficient day care services. At the Oakland Head Start program, she successfully implemented on-site flu clinics for pre-school children, which was the first of its kind on the west coast and the third in the nation. Jennifer also successfully built strong collaborations between Oakland Head Start and local nursing programs such as Samuel Merritt University, San Francisco State University and University of San Francisco to provide clinical nursing programs to provide on-site sensory screenings to the Head Start classroom. She successful built community collaborations with the Native American Health Center and Prevent Blindness Northern California to bring pediatric dental providers and optometrists on-site to perform dental exams and vision exams at Oakland Head Start every year. Jenniferís ability to bring health care services to the Head Start program has had a positive impact on children and families in the Head Start program. Jennifer was a Program Manager at the Health Trust and is currently a Program Manager at The Bill Wilson Center for the Youth & Family Mental Health Division in San Jose. Jennifer has operated a private practice internship in Oakland providing mental health counseling to Victims of Crime for 5 years collecting over 3,000 clinical hours towards licensure. Jennifer is also an appointed Commissioner for Santa Clara County's Commission on the Status of Women and she is an advisor for L.E.A.D. Filipino in San Jose. Jennifer holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Health Sciences with a minor in Human Biology from California State University, Hayward. Jennifer also has a Masters of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University and a Doctor of Education degree in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University.
Dany Ceseña, Deputy Director, Mural Music & Arts Project
Dany Ceseña was born and raised in the South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA, an area reflective of the environment in which he currently works. After receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy from UCLA, Dany moved to South Korea to work as an English teacher and perform with a theatre troupe. After returning to the U.S., Dany relocated to the Bay Area to participate in Americorps' social justice oriented Public Allies fellowship and partnered with the Mural Music & Arts Project (MMAP) in the role of Social Justice Program Coordinator. Dany was promoted to Director of Partner Relations, and subsequently Deputy Director. Dany has led many of MMAP's programs, including Health Education through Art (HEArt), History through Hip Hop (HHH), Teen Mural Program (TMP), Youth Leadership Academy (YLA), Gateway to Science, and is currently leading Public Art Consulting (PAC) projects installing community designed murals with community members, youth, municipalities, local business leaders, and organizations. Because of Danyís deep involvement with youth and community, he consistently participates in city task forces, consults for law enforcement agencies and youth-serving nonprofits, serves on the Oxford Day Academy's Board of Directors, and speaks at national conferences about his work with MMAP and the East Palo Alto Police Departmentís anti-violence and public health initiatives, FIT Zones and CLEAN Zones.
Edgar Chavez, Director of College Success, Downtown College Prep
Edgar Chavez is the Director of College Success at Downtown College Prep (DCP), a growing charter school network in San Josè, California. DCP operates four campuses that serve primarily Latino, low-income students in middle and high school who are preparing to be the first in their families to attend and complete a college education. Chavez leads and manages DCPís college success programming across all DCP campuses, where he leads a team of counselors and coordinators who engage with students and families on their journey to and through college. He also works closely with administrators and teachers to sustain a college-going environment through partnerships and professional development activities. His work at DCP has allowed him to present at national conferences and seminars including the College Board Prep·rate Conference and Education Writers Association. As a San Francisco Bay Area native, first-generation immigrant from Mexico and first-generation college graduate, Chavez is personally invested in supporting undocumented students to prepare for college. He began his work in college guidance in 2009 as a program director at the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University, where he oversaw academic enrichment programming for low-income, first-generation youth from East Palo Alto and engaged Stanford undergraduates as program leaders. Beyond his college guidance work, Chavez also works on environmental and diversity issues through his work at Hidden Villa, a historic non-profit in Los Altos, Ca, where he is completing his second term as a Board Trustee. He loves to travel and will find him hiking with his dog on the East Bay Hills every weekend. Chavez received his bachelorís degree with honors in comparative studies in race and ethnicity from Stanford University and was recognized with the Cecilia and Tony Burciaga Community Development Award in 2009.
Lily Cheng, Business Analyst, McKinsey & Company
Lily calls California home, having grown up in southern California and then moved to the SF Bay Area to attend the UC Berkeley. With experience in nonprofits, government, and business, she believes in the power of cross-sector collaboration to effectively engage and serve the community. As an undergrad, she started the Berkeley chapter of Peer Health Exchange, training students to become health educators in Oakland's high schools. She also founded Berkeley VITA, where she trained students to be IRS-certified volunteer income tax assistants and provide free tax preparation for low-income families all around the Bay. Lily gained insight into the world of policy through interning at the White House as part of the first intern class in the Obama administration in 2009 and with former Secretary Hillary Clinton's Global Hunger and Food Security initiative at the U.S. Department of State in 2010. She then moved to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Beijing, China. While in China, Lily developed her passion for entrepreneurship by starting Reach!, a nonprofit that gives Tibetan girls the tools and resources to graduate high school and college. She later joined the founding team of another start-up nonprofit called Matriculate, which provides free college advising to high-achieving, low-income students all across the United States, as their program manager. She now works with McKinsey & Company as a Business Analyst, primarily serving Fortune 500 high tech clients. Lily has been part of ground-breaking work at McKinsey to advise tech clients on implementing diversity strategy and leads the Silicon Valley Women's Initiative. She continues to serve as a volunteer income tax assistant with United Way of the Bay Area and is an active member of Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. Lily graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a B.A. in history.
Giana Gallo, Outreach Coordinator/Communications Manager, East Side Union High School
Giana Gallo manages the communications and outreach for the East Side Union High School District Measures G, E, I, Tech I and Z Bond Program in East San Jose. She enjoys living and working in the South Bay, but is also very involved with her family, friends and community in Oakland. Giana graduated from Stanford University and received her degrees in Communication and International Relations. In her sophomore year, Giana was a Public Relations Intern at the Port of Oakland, and later worked as Communications Associate for Stanford Humanities. Giana was interested in studying the science behind communication and understanding how methods of communication can impact the message and interpretation. Following graduation from Stanford, Giana co-founded Al Cielo Media, a social media consulting company, with her freshman roommate. In addition to managing and developing social media platforms for clients, she developed workshops and held trainings for small businesses and public agencies on the use of social media as a method of information dispersal and strategic communication. In 2012, Giana managed the voter outreach and digital communications for a successful city council campaign. She organized the volunteer recruitment, neighborhood canvassing, and phone banking while developing and managing campaignís website, email outreach and social media platforms. Giana has managed the communication efforts and bond program events for East Side for the past 3 yaers. She is avid traveler and is always planning her next trip, whether it be exploring the next national park or flying abroad to learn about our fellow citizens of the world. Giana is interested in being involved in programs that develop educational opportunities for students to achieve their highest educational goals. She believes in building environments for students to have equal access to opportunities to pursue their education.
Carla Hernandez, Special Educator, East Side Union High School District
Carla Hernandez is a Special Educator at Independence High School in East San Jose in the subject areas of integrated science and study skills. These classes deeply reflect Carla's passion and advocacy for college and career readiness, STEM outreach and support, and mental health advocacy especially to students of diverse abilities and backgrounds. Carla has built curriculum for integrated science to include neuroscience and psychology allowing students to explore how each of their brains is different- a foundation for growth mindset. She is also leading efforts for mental health advocacy for the entire school as the first sponsor of the IHS chapter of Bring Change to Mind (BC2M). These efforts to support students as a whole person developed from Carla's own experiences throughout her educational and personal journey. Carla is a first-generation American and first-generation college student from a low-income single mother family that navigated new and challenging spaces. Carlaís intense desire to learn and serve her communities allowed her to receive a full scholarship to attend the University of Pennsylvania where she received her bachelorís degree in cognitive neuroscience along with minors in Psychology and Italian. During her time at Penn, Carla studied with Deena Weisbergís cognition and development lab investigating how young children understand science, interned at the New York Center for Autism Charter School learning the basics of applied behavioral analysis, was co-president for Penn Speaks for Autism, board member of Penn for Immigrant Rights, and became a member of the Cipactli Latino Honor Society. Her time at Penn magnified her identities as her experience confirmed the very different education preparation students received based on income and it also solidified her passion for service. Following graduation, Carla joined Teach for America, which facilitated her current career working with students every day to grow their minds and build a community of loving and empathetic leaders. Outside of the class, Carla is on the academic affairs team as a tutor with College Track, a member of the Latino Community Foundation, interned at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, and is currently completing her masterís in special education with Loyola Marymount University. Carla enjoys music, spending time with loved ones and meeting new people, and the beach.
Vy Hoang, Administrative Assistant, Asian American Recovery Services, a Program of HealthRIGHT360
Raised from the vibrant, Vietnamese refugee and immigrant neighborhoods of San Jose Vy Hoang aims to bring her experience of civil rights and health access advocacy across immigrant and refugee Asian American communities, Queer/LGBTQ people, and other historically marginalized populations into the NLC institute and beyond. Vy currently works as the LGBTQ Safe Zone Committee Chair and Administrative Assistant at Asian American Recovery Services (AARS), a Program of HealthRIGHT360. Appointed by the Director as the LGBTQ Safe Zone Committee Chair, she coordinates LGBTQ cultural competency staff trainings and co-develops LGBTQ affirming programming plus clinical documentation across substance use disorder recovery and mental health services. Outside of AARS, Vy serves as the Community Countywide Co-chair for Santa Clara County Public Healthís Menthol & Flavored Tobacco Prevention Project where she is the forefront community organizer with Santa Clara Countyís recent passing of the Comprehensive Menthol Flavored Tobacco Ban and previously San Joseís 2011 passing of the Tobacco Retail License. Prior to working in San Jose, Vy worked as a Program Associate for UC-Berkeleyís Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies (AAADS) Programís 50th Anniversary Five Year Fundraising Dinner Campaign Steering Committee. Within the first year of the campaign, she and the committeeís department faculty and staff achieved their fundraising goal of $100,000 toward long-term department sustainability. During her time in undergrad, where she earned her double Bachelor of Arts in Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies and Sociology from UC-Berkeley, Vy was elected by 20+ LGBTQ student organization representatives to lead UC-Berkeleyís LGBTQ campus community as the Queer Alliance Resource Centerís (QARC) Board Director alongside eight designated QARC Board Officers. There she revitalized Queer/LGBTQ campus programming and services with LGBTQ student services staff, campus faculty, student government elected officials, and LGBTQ student organization representatives. Vy further combine her duties as QARC Board Director with her program intern position at UC-Berkeleyís Asian Pacific American Student Development (APASD) Office. There she initiated UC Berkeleyís first Sexual Health Education Program and APASD Sexual Health and Sexuality Workshop Series Collaboration to campus Asian American organizations. In her free time, Vy enjoys taking long runs, catching up on intersectional feminist writings and documentaries on contemporary social justice issues, and watching plus learning from her loved ones cook traditional Vietnamese dishes.
Tara Misra, Violence Prevention Education Coordinator, University of California at Santa Cruz
Tara has been on the front lines of public health as a health educator since 1996. Before turning her professional focus to addressing violence on campuses, Tara worked extensively in HIV prevention, with a focus on syringe exchange, homeless populations, and sex worker outreach in New Mexico. She has assisted individuals in crisis on suicide prevention hotlines, offered HIV counseling/testing, facilitated support groups and provided medical advocacy for women navigating crisis pregnancies. Since completing an M.S. in Community Health Education at UNM in 2011, Tara has offered support to students, staff and faculty impacted by violence and abuse. She is not only committed to responding to the diverse needs of survivors, but also working to prevent violence through collaboration with engaged campus partners, advising a robust peer education program, and offering innovative presentations emphasizing media literacy. Tara is particularly focused on outreach to underrepresented communities, including first-generation students, undocumented students, LGBTQIA-identified students, and international students.
Louis Morrone, Student Enrollment Adviser, West Valley College
Louis A. Morrone was born and raised in San Jose, California, to a Nicaraguan immigrant mother, and an Italian-American father. He graduated from Evergreen Valley High School, where he served as junior and senior class president; first attended West Valley College, where he served on the Student Senate and spent a year as Student Body President; and then, after transferring, graduated in Spring 2015 with a bachelor's degree in Political Science from UC Berkeley. After graduating, he put his education to the test, working for three different political campaigns over the course of a year and a half: Bernie 2016; Josh Barousse for San Jose City Council; and finally, as a Field Director on the Marc Berman for State Assembly campaign. During that time, he also completed an internship at the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender. Currently, Louis works as a Student Enrollment Adviser at West Valley College, where he helps students of all ages and educational backgrounds navigate the college's institutions. He aims to go to law school, and aspires to one day serve the public by affecting change on the issues he cares deeply about-- such as education and campaign finance reform-- and by helping to ensure that resources here in Silicon Valley are made available to those in our community who need them the most.
Virginia Murillo, Transportation Planner, Transportation Agency for Monterey County
Virginia Murillo is a transportation planner at the Transportation Agency for Monterey County. She is the bus transit funding coordinator, and manages the Monterey County Active Transportation Plan, an update to the countyís bike and pedestrian master plan. She started her career in transportation planning as an intern with the San Benito County Local Transportation Authority where she learned about the role of local politics in public transit and transportation infrastructure investments. Virginia is passionate about urban planning, social justice and labor/immigration issues. Virginia is a first-generation college graduate. She graduated from Gavilan College in 2012, and from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy and a minor in City and Regional Planning. Virginia is a Gilroy native, and likes to visit Mezquitic, Jalisco, Mexico, her parentsí hometown in the summers. Virginia lives and works in Salinas. She enjoys going on scenic walks, and eating delicious food with family and friends.
Ricardo Neri, Software Engineer, Intel Corporation
Ricardo is a senior software engineer with Intel Corporation in Santa Clara, CA. His focus is on systems programming for free and open source software. Ricardo was born in Mexico City. He obtained Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees on Electronics Engineering from the Monterrey Technology Institute, Monterrey, Mexico. Ricardo moved to the vibrant and culturally diverse Bay Area to pursue a career in the technology industry. However, Ricardo noticed how few Latin@s are employed in this sector. Ricardo wants to bring more Latin@s to the technology industry. Pursuant to this goal, Ricardo co-chairs the Intel Latino Network. He serves in the communications and outreach committees. Work on this network aims to recruit and retain Latino talent at Intel. Also, he has designed and taught workshops for kids on programming. Ricardo mentors high schools students towards pursuing college education. Ricardo is also interested in the rights of animals. He has collaborated with several animal welfare organizations in Mexico. While in college, Ricardo co-founded a student group to raise awareness among college students. In his free time, Ricardo enjoys walking his two dogs. One of them is a rescue.
Gita Ram was most recently a Presidential Appointee at the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) civil rights office where she led communications efforts for the agency on topics including equal pay, sex discrimination, and LGBT rights. Before working at DOL, Gita worked at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and was responsible for outreach and engagement with civil rights and faith groups. Prior to that, Gita was a Communications Associate at The Pew Charitable Trusts, where her responsibilities included messaging and strategic planning for Pewís advocacy campaigns, including public safety and election administration. As Chair of the Board of Directors of the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) in 2014, Gita expanded the organizationís outreach to more South Asians, women, and LGBT groups. Gita also led the program to place 24 Asian American Pacific Islander interns and scholars in public service roles in order to encourage civic engagement and leadership in the community. Gita was recently recognized as Washington D.C.'s Power 30 Under 30 by the Apex Society for community and professional excellence. She was also named Young Alumna of the Year by University of California, Davis in 2015 for her work in promoting federal legislation affecting Americans worldwide and leading a variety of efforts to serve and represent minority communities. Gita graduated from the New School University with a masters degree in Media Studies, received a certificate in Political Psychology from Stanford University, and graduated from the University of California, Davis with a bachelors degree in Political Science.
Mario Rosas, Budget Analyst, City of San Jose
Mario serves as a Budget Analyst for various city departments and capital programs with the City of San Jose, City Managerís Office. The City Manager's Office provides strategic leadership that supports the Mayor and City Council, and challenges the organization to deliver high quality services that meet the community's needs. Mario is responsible for assisting his assigned departments in the development of their operating and capital budgets. Mario also assists in the preparation of the Annual Report, Mid-Year Budget Review, and Fees and Charges Report; analysis of revenue and expenditure projections; coordination and presentation of budget information to the City Manager as appropriate; and special projects as assigned. Mario previously worked as a program coordinator at the Visitacion Valley Strong Families Collaborative and the Support Training and Employment Program (SF Labor Council) in San Francisco, coordinating and executing a variety of community development, service delivery, and case management activities for low-income and immigrant communities. He has also served as a field director for Democracy Resources and a research assistant for Somos Mayfair, both located in San JosÈ. Mario earned his MPA from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University where he focused his studies on public management and administration. Mario also received B.A. degrees in Political Science and History from the University of California, Berkeley.
Sita Stukes grew up in New York City before moving to Georgia to attend Emory University for her Bachelor of Arts and the University of Georgia for her Masters of Social Work. She moved to the Bay Area in 2015 and considers this the best place she has lived so far, and where she and her family plan to stay indefinitely. Sita has worked solely at community nonprofits since 2010, and since entering the world of social work, primarily in the field of clinical mental health. Her former position as Program Director for Eating Disorders Information Network provided her the opportunity to learn and hone grant writing and event planning skills, and as a clinician she has developed expertise working with special populations such as at-risk youth and clients with HIV/AIDS and substance abuse issues. Throughout her career, she has always been strongly interested in policy and advocacy. A combination of the 2016 election cycle and feeling there was only so much she could do for her clients when many are in a system that is stacked against them, pushed Sita to switch to activism. She is currently an administrator for Together We Will (TWW) San Francisco Bay Area and has a leadership role on the TWW Call 2 Action & Political Strategy Advisory Board. She is very passionate about protecting civil and human rights and that will be a main goal of her work.
Jason Su, Street Life Manager, San Jose Downtown Association
Jason Su is an urban designer and city planner passionate about creating vibrant cities, equitable public spaces, and just economies. Raised in Los Angeles to immigrant parents, he was first exposed to urban and social issues meeting at the intersection of mega-cities, race relations, public space, formal and informal economies, and art. Currently, he is the street manager for the San Jose Downtown Association, where he implements various art, beautification, construction, and advocacy projects and manages downtownís urban tree canopy. In his time, downtown has seen a proliferation of art crosswalks, murals, a pedestrian count program, pop-up dog park, and the 2015 Knight Cities Challenge project for a retail incubator on the ground floor of a parking garage. He has given presentations on the art of placemaking and best practices in urban design and is part of the K880 Emerging City Champions 2016 Fellows class. Previously, he worked in streetscape project management with the City of San Francisco on the award-winning Castro Streetscape Improvement Project, and in strategic planning and research with the City of Oakland and SPUR. He earned his Master of Urban Planning from San Jose State University, Bachelors of Sociology and Business Economics from the UC Irvine, and will complete a Certificate in Landscape Architecture from UC Berkeley Extension.He sits on the local American Planning Association board as their Young Planners Group director and has been involved in a number of social justice organizations in the past throughout the Bay Area.
Lauren Turek, Recruiter, Google
Lauren Turek is a member of Google's leadership staffing team, where she finds talented people to join Google in senior-level roles. She has worked on VP and Director-level searches across Google's sales, marketing, YouTube, policy, people operations, real estate, and technical infrastructure teams. In addition to her core role, Lauren serves as Chief of Staff for Google's Women@ employee resource group for the Bay Area. She assists with coordination and communications for the 3000+ member ERG. She previously served as a Program Manager for Google's Local Leadership program, a week of service where Googlers volunteer with Bay Area nonprofits. Prior to joining Google, Lauren was a Research Associate at Korn Ferry, the world's largest executive search firm. She worked on CEO/C-suite searches across the Nonprofit and Global Education practices, finding leaders for some of the world's most innovative organizations. Lauren earned her B.A. in Political Communication from George Washington University, where she was a member of the University Honors Program. She is passionate about all things related to career development and philanthropy, with a particular focus on women's leadership.
Siavash Zohoori, Community Program Specialist: Digital Storytelling & Photovoice San Mateo County, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Office of Diversity and Equity
With the mission to foster compassionate communities, Siavash ìVashî Zohoori is passionate about his work in mental health advocacy and developing a more empathic sense of masculinity. He is the founder of a University of California Student Association mental health campaign titled, #HowAreYou: A Call to Reform Mental Health Services, geared towards bringing more accessibility, diversity and outreach to mental health services in California. He is also a co-founder of Boys-n-Guns: Masculinity in a Culture of Violence, a project he started in response to his experience at the Isla Vista tragedy. As part of the project, Vash speaks with fraternity men, high school students and other university students about the lessons he's learned as heís healed. He is admired for his vulnerability and his open ears. Now, Vash works as a Digital Storytelling and Photovoice specialist, to help others share their stories. His mission is to do for others, what his mentors did for him, by helping others in owning their stories and sharing them to create change.