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San Diego Leadership Alliance Introduces 2016 Fellows

San Diego County CA— The San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA) is pleased to announce the seventh class of twenty fellows in the SDLA Institute. The program equips progressive young professionals with the skills, opportunities, and relationship to make change in San Diego and has graduated more than 100 leaders who have gone on to run for office, lead commissions and run San Diego businesses. The program is designed to provide fellows with the tools they need to take the next step in their careers.

Over the course of six months, fellows will focus on a core curriculum of personal leadership development, communications, fundraising, political strategy, traditional and new media, and public speaking. In a symposium setting, the participants spend time in conversation with state and local lead­ers from across sectors, and are paired with career mentors.

The SDLA will host a series of events to connect the 2016 fellows to organizations and individuals they may not already know. SDLA encourages community partners, prospective funders and potential applicants to check the Alliance’s website in the coming months for more information.

Sarah Abshear is an attorney whose practice covers business and complex commercial litigation across multiple industries. She has experience with all stages of case development, from initial claim assessment to post-trial motions and appeals, in federal, California, and other state courts. Sarah has represented a variety of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, classes of plaintiffs, individual plaintiffs and defendants, and government entities.

Jeremy Bloom is the Donor Relations Manager with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. Jeremy joined the ACLU in 2014 and is responsible for managing a midlevel fundraising portfolio including annual and planned giving, with a focus on identifying donors and strengthening their relationship with the ACLU.

Khalisa Bolling is passionate about building healthy communities and improving people’s quality of life. She earned a Masters of Public Health from SDSU, and began her career at the City of National City. There, she managed a Lead Hazard Control Program and a Healthy Homes Program. She served as the Director of Programs for Outdoor Outreach, a nonprofit that connects youth to the transformative power of the outdoors.

Nate Fairman has spent the last decade of his life developing his skills as a Journeyman Lineman constructing and maintaining high-voltage power lines. At the age of nineteen, he began a four-year apprenticeship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers which included 8,000 hours of on the job training in one of the most dangerous fields of work. He sits on the Executive Board of IBEW LU 465 and has founded an IBEW Young Worker group focused on volunteer work and building community-labor partnerships.

Rosa Flores is Vista Community Clinic’s Health Resource Advocate where her work centers primarily on connecting historically underrepresented communities to resources through comprehensive outreach, coalition building, leadership development, and community organizing. Her goal is to promote and ensure all North County San Diego residents choose health.

Erin Tsurumoto Grassi works as a Human Rights Coordinator for Alliance San Diego, where she helps support and organize the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium. Prior to joining Alliance San Diego, Erin was a community organizer with Justice Overcoming Boundaries and the Gamaliel, where she worked with leaders on a variety of issues, including transportation, housing and immigration

James Halliday is a native San Diegan. He attended public K12 schools, completed the International Baccalaureate Diploma program at San Diego HS in 1999, and had the privilege of being an Aaron Price Fellow, where the connection between civic engagement and public leadership first took root. He is currently Program Director at the Education Synergy Alliance, and actively involved in shaping the impact economy for the greater San Diego region through his work with ImpactSD and the local chapter of EPIP.

Malieka Johnson is a humanitarian, artist and healer. As a general and adult special needs dentist, she firmly believes in a patient-centered approach to oral health care. She earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2011. Dr. Johnson completed a general practice residency at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, California where she received specialized training in treating people with special needs, spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. She is a board member for the San Diego Dental Health Foundation as well as a member of the Editorial Board for the San Diego County Dental Society. Dr. Johnson is an alumnus of the American Dental Association Institute for Diversity in Leadership.

David Lin works as an attorney for a plaintiffs’ law firm with an emphasis on securities, antitrust, and derivative shareholder class action suits. Outside of work, David volunteers with Casa Cornelia, representing asylum applicants in immigration court, and with the California Innocence Project. The common thread throughout David’s work has been the use of the justice system to protect people against abuses of power by those in positions of authority.

Mehry Mohseni is a family law attorney with the firm Cage & Miles, LLP. A native San Diegan, Mehry grew up in Encinitas and graduated from Carlsbad High School. She then graduated magna cum laude from California State University, Long Beach where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and a minor in Child Development and Family Studies.

Lucia Napolez grew up in Yuma, Arizona with her immediate family. She is proud to say that her grandparents and parents come from the seasonal migrant worker’s camps laid out from Yuma, AZ all the way to Fresno, CA. She is the first in her family to attend a four year university, and has received two professional degrees. Since joining Rescue Social Change Group nearly a year ago, Lucia has moved internally within the company to her current position as an acting liaison for both Client Services and Creative Operations.

Kenyatta Parker is currently the Lead Health Planner for the San Diego HIV Planning Group, formerly know as the San Diego HIV Health Services Planning Council. As an employee of The San Diego LGBT Community Center out-stationed at the County of San Diego HIV, STD and Hepatitis Branch she and a small, dedicated staff coordinate a variety of planning functions related to care and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS and in support of the San Diego HIV Planning Group.

Ashley Rodriguez works as the Development Coordinator for the Center on Policy Initiatives. Ashley has extensive experience in grants management, social media, community engagement and event planning. Ashley helped to organize a statewide coalition that advocated around public transit to provide free transit passes to students.

Isabel Schechter moved to San Diego in 2014. She has worked as an event manager for almost 20 years. Prior to moving to San Diego, Isabel was very active in the Chicago sustainability community, including outreach to underserved communities. She served as a board member for Faith in Place, an environmental nonprofit working with faith communities on environmental issues, and a Steering Committee member for Women in Green, a women’s sustainability group.

Caryn Sumek has dedicated 14 years to working in nonprofit leadership to address social determinants of health and enhance self-sufficiency among the diverse, underserved communities of San Diego. Since 2010, Caryn has worked at San Ysidro Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center servicing Central and South San Diego. She currently serves as the Outreach & Eligibility Manager overseeing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, she is an Adjunct Professor at San Diego State University mentoring the next generation of Masters of Public Health students through the thesis process and serving as a guest lecturer.

Mark Tran is a Program Associate at The California Endowment. He joined TCE in January of 2016, and provides support in grant making, grant monitoring, assisting grantees with grant proposals, analytical and research support, and providing consultation, technical assistance, information, and other support to strengthen capacity of community partners to engage in collaborative community-led change strategies.

Gabriel Urias currently focuses on the implementation of the landmark class action lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson. Before working at the ACLU Urias was an associate at Kraus Law Corporation where he focused on Immigration Law and removal defense. Throughout his legal career, Urias has committed himself to serving underrepresented immigrant communities with the care, compassion, and dignity they deserve.

Alberto Velasquez became the Senior Policy Advisor for Mayor Mary Casillas Salas, the first Latina elected Mayor in the history of San Diego County in 2014. In that capacity he is the Mayor’s primary advisor on issues ranging from Economic Development, Infrastructure, Transportation, the Environment to Bi-national Affairs. He is also the primary contact in regards to these issues for the Mayor’s office.

Wilda Wong is a communications professional specializing in telling stories for various causes in the public sector, having done work for the Government Accountability Office, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, San Diego Workforce Partnership, with additional volunteer experiences with Amnesty International, International Rescue Committee, Tam Tam Mandingue, and Pacific Arts Movement, where she helps program its annual San Diego Asian Film Festival.