Program Manager La Mesa Verde, Sacred Heart Community Service
Fernando Fernandez Leiva, originally from the Valparaiso region of Chile, currently serves as the Program Manager of La Mesa Verde at Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose, California. La Mesa Verde (LMV) is a leadership network of urban gardeners who build access to healthy food in San Jose. Utilizing popular education methodology and through developing collective leadership among LMV members through producing their own food and organizing for policy change, Fernando believes that they can improve access to good food in San Jose and create a strong, sustainable community committed to food justice. He previously served as a Program Coordinator for the same program. Prior to immigrating to the United States, Fernando served in multiple roles in both the local and regional Chilean government. Fernando served as a Program Manager in a federal governmental program in Chile, implementing new evaluation and measurement tools to generate better opportunities for family small businesses to help improve the family’s economic situation. Fernando also served as the administrator of social programs in the local Chilean government. He gained experience in recruiting and managing a youth organizations network that supported volunteer work in impoverished communities. He also managed the Office of Indigenous Affairs, creating and facilitating sustainable training and practices in leadership and economic entrepreneurship alongside the Indigenous community. Fernando worked to develop and create an environmental department in a municipal government, developing strategic priorities and goals, as well as the technical and budgetary proposal to help to create sustainable environmental change in their city. Fernando has experience working on local campaigns and grassroots organizing in his home country. Fernando is happily married to his wife, Kitzi, who he met in Cochabamba, Bolivia as an international social justice and gardening volunteer. In his free time, Fernando enjoys acting as a radio host for a Chilean radio show centered around politics, playing tennis, gardening, and bodyboarding. Fernando’s favorite authors are Paolo Freire, Peter Tompkins, Christopher Bird, Antonio Gramsci, and Immanuel Wallerstein.