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Dr. Ana Luz Gonzalez-Vasquez
Project Manager, UCLA Labor Center

Dr. Gonzalez-Vasquez has 17 years of experience conducting quantitative and qualitative research and evaluation projects. In 2010, she co-authored a ground-breaking report on the prevalence of wage theft and workplace violations among low-wage workers in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. She also co-authored the first comprehensive study on transportation network companies in Los Angeles. At the Labor Center, she is leading the expansion of the Labor Center’s workforce development area of work, with a focus on building a high road economy and prosperity for all through research, education, evaluation, and coalition and movement building. Dr. Gonzalez-Vasquez connects the Labor Center’s work to statewide systemic change initiatives making the workforce development system more accessible and easy to navigate for worker organizations serving marginalized communities in California. Recently, she co-led the development and implementation of the HRTP initiative in California, and has co-produced documents on the HRTP framework and model. Prior to joining the Labor Center, Dr. Gonzalez-Vasquez was the Project Coordinator of the UC Irvine Community and Labor Project. At UCI, she conducted a wage theft study on low-wage workers in Orange County and was a lecturer at the Law School. Dr. Gonzalez-Vasquez earned a dual B.A. in Economics and Social Science with a specialization in Public and Community Service and a minor in Spanish from UCI. She earned her Master’s and Ph.D. in Urban Planning from UCLA. 

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Anna Alvarado
Policy Director, California EDGE Coalition

Anna Alvarado is the Policy Director for the California EDGE Coalition. Her work involves policy development and legislative advocacy focused on advancing EDGE’s policy priorities that aim to achieve greater equity and economic mobility for all Californians.

Anna brings with her over ten years of experience in legislative and advocacy work in and around the State Capitol community. Most recently, Anna was a registered lobbyist for Cruz Strategies where she advocated on behalf of local governments, higher education institutions, and non-profit health care organizations on issues relating to homelessness, housing, student financial aid, and mental health.

Prior to lobbying, Anna worked for the California State Senate where she served as a policy analyst for Senator Jim Beall. In this role she staffed numerous bills, committees, and policy areas, including women’s rights, K-12 and higher education, Latino community issues, immigration, veteran affairs, transportation, and health/human services.

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Anne Stanton
President and CEO, Linked Learning Alliance

Anne Stanton, President and CEO of the Linked Learning Alliance, has over 20 years of experience developing and implementing groundbreaking programs and initiatives that promote equitable outcomes for low-income youth and communities.

Anne is the principal architect behind the Linked Learning movement, a coordinated effort at the intersection of education, industry, and community to connect all youth to college, career, and purpose.  Before joining the Alliance, and for over a decade, Anne was The James Irvine Foundation’s Program Director for Youth, where she was the principal architect behind Linked Learning in collaboration with educators, community-based leaders, and industry partners.

Before joining the Foundation, Anne served as the executive director of Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco. During her tenure, she led the organization’s growth from a $3.5 million budget with 50 employees to an $8.7 million budget with a staff of 115, operating 18 programs from 10 sites that served approximately 3,000 homeless and runaway youth each year.  Before her time at Larkin Street, Anne served as associate executive director of Covenant House in New York City. 

Anne was a key member of the California P-16 Council, a statewide assembly of community stakeholders charged with developing strategies to coordinate, integrate, and transform education experiences. Anne also served as the Board Chair of Grantmakers for Education. In addition, Anne played a crucial role in helping disconnected youth as an advisor to the White House Council for Community Solutions work focused on Opportunity Youth and the Leadership Council for The Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund. 

Anne holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a master’s degree in social work from New York University. She is also a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management and the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

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Arcenio J. López
Executive Director, Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) 

Arcenio J. López is a Mixteco native from the village of San Francisco Higos, in Oaxaca, Mexico. When he arrived in Oxnard in 2003, Arcenio worked as a farmworker in the strawberry fields.  In 2006, Arcenio was hired as MICOP’s first Community Organizerand promoted as the first indigenous Executive Director in 2014. Arcenio received his Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Accounting from Cal Lutheran University in 2019.

Arcenio’s work contributed to the creation of key programs of MICOP such as Voz de la Mujer Indígena, Tequio Youth Group, Indigenous Language Interpreting Services and Radio Indigena 94.1FM.  In 2019 he received a Recognition for extraordinary work as guardian and disseminator of the New World cultural Legacy by Mexican Consulate in Oxnard and in 2020 a Certificate of Commendation by Ventura County Behavioral Health Advisory Board in recognition of distinguished service to the residents of Ventura County. 

Chris Merrida
Director of Growth & Recruitment, Bitwise Industries

As Director of Growth & Recruitment for the Workforce Training Department, Chris manages the day-to-day recruitment efforts within Bitwise's expansion cities, overseeing a national team of outreach coordinators. Previously, Merrida spent 10+ years in education, managing technical training programs which have gone on to educate over 3,500 at-risk youth within the San Francisco Bay Area, along with providing over 1,000 internship opportunities. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and a master's degree in Public Administration.

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Edgar Ortiz
Economic Justice Policy Analyst, California Immigrant Policy Center

Edgar Ortiz is the Economic Justice Policy Analyst for CIPC. His research and responsibilities focus on workforce development, workers’ rights, and removing systemic barriers preventing immigrants from being able to thrive in the economy. The goal is systems-level changes that result in a more equitable workforce development system that creates economic prosperity for immigrants and other marginalized communities.

Throughout his career, Edgar has gained professional experience in local, state, and federal government, as well as community based organizations and institutions of higher education. Prior to joining CIPC, Edgar worked at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) where he focused on K-12 education issues, including supporting the implementation of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s first ever Community Schools initiative, state legislation increasing transparency around charter schools, and researching increased funding opportunities for public schools. In addition, his research and organizing work has supported successful strategic campaigns for frontline retail workers, including Los Angeles County’s public health councils, hazard pay, collective bargaining, and fair scheduling legislation. While a graduate student, Edgar worked with graduate researchers to assess and advise on veteran employment initiatives in Los Angeles, along with analyzing U.S. – Mexico bilateral initiatives at the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.

Edgar is a proud alum of both the University of La Verne, where he received his B.A. in Political Science, and the University of Southern California, where he received his Masters in Public Policy. 

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Erica Bouris
Director of Economic Empowerment, International Rescue Committee

Erica Bouris, Ph.D. serves as the IRC Director of Economic Empowerment and supports the development, implementation, and evaluation of economic empowerment programs that serve diverse low-income families in nearly 30 communities across the U.S. and across several countries in Europe. In this role, Erica oversees all of IRC’s Economic Empowerment technical team which provides technical assistance to internal (IRC) and external (government, NGO) stakeholders.  Erica brings a particular focus on workforce programming, including programming for youth and adults, career pathway programs, innovative models of vocational ESL, and strategies to effectively serve adults with basic skills deficiencies. In her work, Erica is also leading IRC’s implementation of integrated economic empowerment services that includes evidence-based financial coaching, access to appropriate financial products through IRC’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and small business development including leading a national, SBA-funded initiative to serve disadvantaged business owners.  Erica has provided training, capacity building, and technical assistance to stakeholders at the federal, state and local level, including the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, California Employment Development Department, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the State Department, state and local TANF stakeholders, California State University, Migration Policy Institute, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Workforce Matters, Local Initiative Support Corporation, the States of California, New Jersey, Montana, Kansas, Texas, and many others.  Her expertise is particularly sought out by state and local systems that are working to more effectively serve diverse, low-income populations through evidence-based, integrated services.

Erica currently serves on the Skills for California Leadership Council, hosted by the National Skills Coalition, is an advisory member of the federal Job Quality Measurement Initiative, is co-chair on the board of Workforce Ventures (a non-profit focused on expanding the use of ISAs in public workforce systems), and serves on the board of the San Diego YMCA.  Prior to coming to IRC, Erica held positions with community organizations, higher education, and collaborative public/private partnerships, including working domestically and abroad in the Middle East.  She holds a Ph.D. in International Studies (University of Denver) and is the author of several reports including Low-Income Families and COVID-19: Financial Lives Rife with Volatility Become Even More So, (2020), IRC and CEO Credit Outcomes Study (2020),  Building America’s New Workforce (2019), Skill, Career, and Wage Mobility Among Refugees (2018), and Financial Capability for New Americans (2016)  as well as the book, Complex Political Victims, Kumarian Press (2007).  

Karina Paredes-Arzola
State Network Manager, National Skills Coalition

Karina Paredes-Arzola manages a network of state coalitions in the West, working to advance skills policies that support equity, career pathways, partnerships, job quality, immigrant integration, and investments that build an inclusive economy. She manages this network in collaboration with local coalition leads, NSC staff, and national partners. Karina collaborates with NSC staff to provide state coalitions with customized technical assistance to achieve meaningful policy impacts, including through advocacy, communications, and peer learning strategies. Karina joined NSC in February 2022, and she is based in San Francisco, California. 

Prior to joining NSC, Karina served as Program Manager at the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits), a statewide policy alliance with more than 10,000 organizational members. In this role, she worked to build membership and engagement. Karina also brings a breadth of statewide and local coalition-building, community organizing, and experience working with labor and nonprofits to support economic justice, worker, and immigrant rights. She has also worked in legal rights positions and with policy makers.  

Karina holds a bachelor’s in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Kate Kinder
State Strategies Director (West), National Skills Coalition

Kate Kinder is the State Strategies Director, Western States, where she leads efforts to develop broad based coalitions in Western states to advocate for workforce development and higher education policies and practices that advance an inclusive economy and elevate the voices of students, workers, and employers.

Kate brings more than 15 years of workforce development and community college leadership, where she has led local, state, and national initiatives that advance career and education equity, such as career pathways, SNAP E & T, benefit access, corrections education, work-based learning, two-gen projects, integrated education and training, and collaborative workforce development grants.  Most recently, she served as the dean of Career Pathways and Skills Training at Portland Community College where she led the development and expansion of the nationally-recognized Community College STEP (SNAP 50/50) Consortia amongst all 17 Oregon community colleges, in collaboration with Oregon’s Department of Human Services (ODHS).  Kate also spearheaded and led Oregon’s Pathways to Opportunity and SkillSPAN coalitions to close opportunity gaps and increase economic mobility through developing policy and programs that connect individuals to the benefits and supportive services they need to access skills training, complete college credentials, and move into careers.

In recent years, her work has focused on building coalitions amongst community colleges, human service agencies, employers, community-based organizations, and workforce partners to advance racial equity and rural opportunity by transforming policy, partnerships, and programs. She has provided strategic guidance, helped develop policy agendas, and provided technical assistance to numerous local, state and national entities to replicate and scale effective models that center the needs of adult learners, workers, and those most marginalized.

Kate holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. She is based in Portland, Oregon.

Lexi Lopez
Program Director, California EDGE Coalition

Lexi Lopez is the CA EDGE Coalition’s Program Director.   Lexi has a passion for advocacy and spent four years working to eliminate educational inequities for K-12 students as the Director of Communications and Advocacy at EdVoice where she led the development and implementation of strategic statewide and local communications and advocacy to advance policies in California that improve educational opportunities and outcomes for all students. Prior to that, Lexi spent a few years interning for several politicians and advocacy groups, and for a Central Valley Congressman working to advance policy through bipartisan communication strategies. 

She is committed to removing barriers and joined the NationBuilder team to create a prototype of what would become to allow more constituents to have access to all the documents and dates needed to run for every office they qualify for from Congress to their local Water District Board.  

In addition, she spent seven years volunteering with Guide Dogs for the Blind and as a board member for Mental Health America of California’s California Youth Empowerment Network, which included advocating, engaging in policy discussions, and participating in state level committees to ensure that the youth voice and youth needs were included in all policy decisions focused on  behavioral health services for transitional age youth. 

Lexi is originally from the Central Valley and she graduated from the University of California, Davis in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Communications.

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Assemblymember Mike Fong
California’s 49th Assembly District Representative

Mike Fong was elected in February 2022 to represent California’s 49th Assembly District, which consists of Alhambra, Arcadia, El Monte, Monterey Park, Rosemead, Temple City, San Marino, San Gabriel and parts of Montebello and South El Monte.

Prior to his election to the Assembly, Mike served as Trustee of the Los Angeles Community College District. As the largest community college district in the country, the Los Angeles Community College District is comprised of nine colleges serving approximately 250,000 students with a service area of over 800 square miles and over 5 million residents. Mike served as the Chair of the Legislative & Public Affairs Committee and served on the Facilities Master Planning & Oversight Committee. Mike’s priorities include increasing student success, improving the quality and access to educational opportunities, as well as to expanding workforce education and high-growth sector training programs. Mike has served a member of the Budget and Finance Committee and Institutional Effective & Student Success Committee. Mike also chaired the Jobs and the Economy Ad-Hoc Committee and also serves as Chair of the Chancellor’s Committee on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs Committee. Mike also served on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force for Community College League of California and served as Board Member for the Asian Pacific Islander Trustees & Administrators (APITA) Association.

Mike worked with the Los Angeles Economic & Workforce Development Department on youth employment and education programs including the Hire LA Summer Youth Employment Program, Cash for College, and the Bank on Los Angeles programs. Mike also audited and monitors various YouthSource Center agencies which help youth pursue educational goals and job training programs.

Active in the community, Mike served as Commissioner for the City of Alhambra Transportation Commission. Furthermore, Mike is the past Chair of the PBS Southern California Asian Pacific Islander Community Council. Mike also serves as a Board Member of the White Memorial Medical Center Community Leadership Council. Mike also as a Board Member and Immediate Past President of the Los Angeles City Employees Asian American Association. Mike has also served on the UCLA Alumni Association Board of Directors and was President of the Asian Pacific Alumni chapter of the UCLA Alumni Association. Mike also was on the founding board of the New Leaders Council Los Angeles chapter.

Mike graduated from California State University at Northridge with a Master of Public Administration in Public Sector Management & Leadership and from University of California at Los Angeles with a B.S. in Psychobiology and a minor in Education.

Peter Callstrom
President & CEO, San Diego Workforce Partnership

Peter has led nonprofits in the San Diego region for 30+ years. He joined the SDWP as CEO in 2012. Peter and his team have transformed the SDWP and reimagined workforce development delivery and impact. Peter had team have built a large and very diverse budget from multiple investors (public, private and philanthropy), and deliver varied workforce programs to empower job seekers of all ages. With federal resources, they manage a countywide network of full-service career centers. With an emphasis on underserved populations, but available to all job seekers, the SDWP and its partners reach 50K+ annually. The SDWP created the first and only workforce Income Share Agreement (ISA) fund, an innovative student financing model to access post-secondary skills - students pay back to the fund, creating an ‘evergreen’ fund that empowers future participants. The SDWP utilizes in-depth labor market research and deploys content via K-14 educational materials and ‘MyNextMove’ – a custom online experience to inform and inspire students, teachers and job seekers and the ‘Launch Pad’ with the Cajon Valley School District – an innovative in-person K-12 experience that integrates career exploration with academics. Other innovative projects: TechHire, Cybersecurity career training, Construction Career Jumpstart, Dental Assistant Training, Connect2Careers – youth employment, Reentry for justice-involved, “High Road” Training Partnerships, and more. Recipient of the “WIOA Trailblazer” award (of 550 workforce boards around the country) and USD’s ‘Kaleidoscope’ award for excellent governance, the SDWP is a nationally recognized leader. Peter was named “nonprofit CEO of year” by the San Diego Business Journal and an Aspen Job Quality Fellow.

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Rita Medina
Deputy Director of State Policy and Advocacy, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights

Rita Medina is the Deputy Director of State Policy and Advocacy at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). With nearly a decade of experience in immigration policy and advocacy at all levels, Rita has championed advocacy within federal and state budgets, campaigns to advance immigrant rights including: federal immigration reform, defense of DACA and DAPA, implementation of California’s AB 60 (Immigrant driver licenses) and efforts to reduce and restrict funding for immigration enforcement. Prior to her current position at CHIRLA, Rita was a Chief of Staff in the California State Assembly.

Rita has also worked directly on policy and advocacy in Washington, D.C. at both Community Change and at the Center for American Progress. During her time with Community Change, Rita worked with the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) coalition and coordinated federal advocacy and policy efforts with immigrant rights organizations across the country.

Rita is an alumna of the University of California Riverside and a proud product of the Inland Empire.

Robert M. Sainz
President and Executive Director, New Ways to Work

Robert Sainz is the President and Executive Director of New Ways to Work, a nonprofit focusing on advocacy and technical assistance for the improvement of workforce and education programs and systems serving young adults, especially those from foster, probation and homeless systems.


Robert just recently concluded a 30 year public sector career in the City and County of Los Angeles. In his last position as Assistant General Manager for the City of Los Angeles Economic Development Department, Robert managed over $70 million annually in public agency grant funds. Throughout his career, he has addressed many difficult social problems facing the region’s low-income residents, including the challenges of juvenile delinquency, youth and adult unemployment, and youth disconnection from education and work. Under his leadership, he established the City of Los Angeles YouthSource System, Los Angeles Performance Partnership Pilot (LAP3), and a founding member of LA:RISE - an innovative model serving homeless and re-entry populations. He also established HIRE LA, one of the nation’s largest public-private youth employment initiatives.


Robert was previously the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Youth Opportunity Movement and worked as the Assistant and Interim Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles Commission for Children, Youth and Their Families. He began his career in the Los Angeles County Management Trainee Program in 1990, and later as a Probation Director overseeing the department’s Office of Community Relations and Office of Prevention Services. As a national voice on workforce, Robert served as past President and Trustee in the US Conference of Mayor’s Workforce Development Council, and as an advisory member for the National Dropout Prevention Council. He is also a board member of School & Main; Alliance for a Better Community; and cofounder of the Reconnecting LA’s Youth (RELAY) Institute at California State University, Northridge.


Robert is married; father of three children, and grandfather of two.

Sean Hughes
Policy Director, California Opportunity Youth Network (COYN)

Sean Hughes is the Policy Director for the California Opportunity Youth Network (COYN). 

Sean has more than two decades of experience working on a broad range of public policy issues with a particular focus on children, youth, and families. As a Congressional staffer, he helped write and pass the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351), which established the federal extended foster care and subsidized guardianship programs. Following his decade on Capitol Hill, Sean served for several years as Director of Congressional Affairs for the Child Welfare League of America before transitioning to consulting.

In 2013, he co-founded the consulting firm Social Change Partners, LLC (SCP). SCP works to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families by advancing policy solutions and supporting the effectiveness of agencies, organizations, and systems serving children, youth and families. SCP works with advocates, public agencies, service providers, coalitions, organizers, and foundations across the workforce development, child welfare, juvenile justice, K-12 and postsecondary education, homelessness and housing, and child and adolescent behavioral health systems. 

Sean also participates in the Aspen Institute Opportunity Youth Forum and serves on the American Bar Association Commission on Youth at Risk.

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Dr. Su Jin Jez
Executive Director, California Competes

Dr. Su Jin Jez serves as Executive Director of California Competes, an organization that develops nonpartisan and financially pragmatic recommendations for improved higher education and workforce policies and practices across California.

Prior to joining California Competes, she served as Associate Professor of Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Sacramento. She also served as the Director of the CSU Student Success Network, Academic Advisor for the California Executive Fellows Program, and Associate Director of the Sacramento State Doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Su Jin is an accomplished researcher whose work appears in a variety of publications including Teachers College Record, Education Policy Analysis Archives, Research in Higher Education, Community College Review, and Michigan Journal of Race & Law. Through her applied research, she has provided guidance to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, the California State University system, and California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. Su Jin led a large scale study of the CCCCO’s Economic and Workforce Development Program and coauthored multiple reports analyzing the role of the California Community Colleges Career Technical Education in the college completion agenda. She has presented across the country and internationally on key issues in higher education and systems change, including economic and workforce development, college readiness and success, student college choice and decision making, and institutional effectiveness.

She currently serves on following boards and councils: California's Cradle-to-Career Data System Governing Board, Tipping Point Community’s Leadership Council, Credential Engine’s Council on Credential Transparency & Equitable Pathways, Transfer, and Recognition of Learning, The Graduate! Network’s Board of Directors, the Every Learner Everywhere Equity Advisory Board, the Public Policy Institute of California's Higher Education Center Advisory Board, the Campaign for College Opportunity's Policy Research Advisory Board, and the West Contra Costa Unified School District's Local Control Accountability Plan Committee.

She holds a PhD in education administration and policy analysis and an MA in economics from Stanford University. She received a BA in statistics and a minor in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Dr. Tammeil Y. Gilkerson
President, Evergreen Valley College

Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson is currently the president of Evergreen Valley College in San José, California. Serving approximately 14,000 students annually, Evergreen has long been responsive to regional workforce development needs in Silicon Valley and the Greater Bay Area by providing pathways to employment through career education and preparation for transfer to four-year colleges and universities. Before her current role, she served as the president of Laney College in Oakland, vice president of academic and student affairs at Contra Costa College, and the first diversity, inclusion, and innovation officer for the Contra Costa Community College District. In addition to her work in community colleges, she served as the Academy and Education Policy Director at The Greenlining Institute and in positions at UC Berkeley in the Office of Student Life and the Early Academic Outreach Program. Dr. Gilkerson’s background and experience in public policy and higher education have provided a unique perspective on building thoughtful and sustainable partnerships with the business community to meet industry needs and address significant issues that impact strong community development and civic engagement. Much of her passion also focuses on how to support greater workforce diversification, equity, and inclusion as strategies for healthy communities.

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Zima Creason
Executive Director, California EDGE Coalition

Zima Creason is the Executive Director of the California EDGE Coalition and the Vice President of the San Juan Unified Board of Education. At EDGE, her work seeks to address workforce shortages in high road industries, create pathways to the middle class, and to advance shared prosperity for all Californians. She is committed to stakeholder empowerment and coalition building to establish and sustain thriving communities. Zima has worked in the policy field since 2001 and much of her work has focused on equity as it relates to mental health policy as well as stakeholder outreach and engagement. She is dedicated to supporting people to avoid crisis outcomes, social justice, and for all Americans to have access and opportunity to achieve the American Dream regardless of their zip code, culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, health/mental health status, gender identification and/or who they love.

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