Blake Alexander Deering is the Senior Contracts Manager focusing on contracts, grants and interagency agreements for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC), Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), and Transformative Climate and Communities (TCC) programs. He is responsible for managing assignments that encompass the planning, development, evaluation, and execution of those contracts. Prior to his appointment with SGC, Blake worked as a Grant Program Specialist in the Outreach and Sales Division’s Navigator Grant Program with the Health Benefit Exchange, also known as Covered California. He served as the liaison between Covered California and regional grantees, who targeted disadvantaged communities to enroll into healthcare. Blake’s performance comprised of grant management, compliance monitoring, outreach and education, and technical assistance. Prior to working for Covered California, Blake was a training instructor for the California Procurement and Contracting Academy (Cal-PCA) with the Department of General Services. Alongside his colleagues, Blake aided in the development and delivery of classroom and web-based learning to state workers who were in a contracting role. Blake was born and raised in Salinas, California and is passionate about fishing, camping, and traveling. Blake earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Studies from the California State University of Sacramento in 2012.
Coral Abbott brings three years of experience developing and implementing programs at Strategic Growth Council to her role with the Regional Climate Collaboratives Program (RCC). Before joining the RCC team, Coral led outreach and technical assistance efforts for Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHCS); her work focused on building capacity and forming key intraregional partnerships in under-invested areas of California. Prior to her work on the AHSC team, Coral was an Executive Fellow at SGC, assisting with projects and initiatives across the organization. She also worked as a Research Assistant at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project where she conducted archival research on Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.
Coral received a Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems with a minor in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University.
Doug serves as Staff Counsel to the Strategic Growth Council where he advises on legal matters. Prior to his appointment with SGC, Doug served as the City of Stockton’s Real Property Manager, where he worked with state, regional, and local governmental and non-governmental entities to develop contracts, grant agreements, program guidelines, and internal policies. This work included preparing and administering a USEPA Brownfields Assessment Coalition award for the City and due diligence responsibilities for the purchase and relocation of City Hall. He previously practiced transactional real estate law and general litigation with one of the oldest law firms in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta region. Doug earned his Juris Doctor from UC Davis School of Law and Bachelors of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Economics and Global Environmental Politics from American University in Washington, D.C.
Jessica (Jessie) Buendia has fourteen years of experience in the foundation, government, and nonprofit sectors advancing progressive public policy and social impact programs.
Currently, Jessie is the Deputy Director of the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC). SGC promotes sustainability, health, and equity across the state by helping California achieve its climate change goals through place based and community driven programming.
Prior to joining SGC, Jessie was the Community Benefits and Social Responsibility Manager at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. She was responsible for implementing the agency’s landmark community benefits and environmental justice policies across its Water, Power, and Sewer Enterprises, directing its social impact program, and leading its participation in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity. She has held positions at the San Francisco Foundation, Health Access Foundation, California State Legislature, City of Newark, Urban Habitat, and the Greenlining Institute. She has also lived and worked in Mexico, France, India, and South Africa.
Jessie has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Princeton University, an Advanced Project Management Certificate from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Macalester College. She is also a certified life coach with a focus on building transformational leadership within the social justice sector.
Dr. Dennis Grossman is the Senior Advisor for Environmental Science and Policy at the Strategic Growth Council. He comes to the Strategic Growth Council after providing science and policy leadership in non-profit conservation organizations for the past 25 years. These NGO positions included Senior Scientist at the Conservation Biology Institute, Senior Environmental Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy, Vice President for Science at NatureServe, and Chief Ecologist at The Nature Conservancy.
Dr. Grossman is a recognized authority on biodiversity assessments, conservation planning, and impact evaluation. He has made significant contributions to the classification and mapping of terrestrial, freshwater and coastal/marine ecosystems, and improved the effectiveness of conservation and resource management decision-making through the integration of ecosystem approaches. Dr. Grossman has improved the effectiveness of international sustainable development and conservation efforts using available scientific knowledge with customized decision support systems. He has advanced the environmental assessment capabilities of multi-lateral financial institutions, development agencies and corporations through the application of these approaches, and currently serves as co-chair of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Section of the International Association for Impact Assessment. Dr. Grossman earned his Ph.D. in Plant Ecology from the University of Hawaii through the East-West Center Environment and Policy Center. He completed M.S. and B.S. degrees in Botany at the University of Wisconsin Madison.
As Health and Equity Program Analyst, Bo Chung staffs the California HiAP Task Force, leads the implementation of the organization-wide California Strategic Growth Council Racial Equity Action Plan, and integrates health and equity into SGC policies and programs.
Prior to joining SGC, Bo worked as an evaluation consultant on projects ranging from a transitional housing program for formerly incarcerated people to the implementation of the Home Visiting Program for families on Medi-Cal. Bo has significant experience working with social justice and equity issues in the San Francisco Bay Area. During his time with the Dellums Institute for Social Justice, he collaborated with homeless advocates to co-author a report on implementing innovative solutions and policy measures to house 2,000 of Oakland’s unhoused people within the six months. Bo also has extensive experience in community engagement. As a steering committee member for the implementation of AB 617 in West Oakland, he applied his academic background and local community knowledge to co-create environmental interventions to alleviate the disproportionate impact of pollution on people of color in the community. Bo is an immigrant and first-generation college graduate with Masters Degrees in Public Health, City Planning, and China Development Studies.
Colin Gutierrez, MPH, is a Program Associate with the Public Health Institute supporting the California Health in All Policies (HiAP) Task Force at the Strategic Growth Council. He works to promote safe and healthy communities, providing research and project management support to the Task Force’s Action Plan to Promote Violence-Free and Resilient Communities. Colin assists with other facets of the HiAP team by providing administrative support and event coordination. Prior to joining the council, Colin completed an internship on international development in Cameroon and worked as a Compensation Analyst for Jackson National Life. Colin earned both his MPH and BS degree from Michigan State University.
Liz serves as a Senior Planner focusing on Climate Change, Adaptation and Resiliency for the Strategic Growth Council. She currently works on engaging local government and regional agency grantees who have been awarded Proposition 84 Sustainable Communities Planning Grants and Incentives Program funding, coordinating the Council's planning and monitoring program, and convening SGC member organizations on sustainable infrastructure issues. Prior to working for the Council, Liz spent 25 years at the University of California, Davis where she managed the Institute of Transportation Studies & Urban Land Use and Transportation Center, served as an analyst at the Road Ecology Center and the Information Center for the Environment, and directed University Extension's Land Use and Natural Resources program. She has created and coordinated education, outreach, and professional development programs for over 20 years, in the areas of land use, transportation, public finance, fire ecology, road ecology, environmental policy, and Integrated Modeling and Forecasting.
Emily Tibbott joined the Strategic Growth Council in November 2015, to develop and implement strategies focused on the integration of conservation priorities within the context of development planning, with specific attention to the California High Speed Rail system. Prior to her appointment, she directed US policy and funding for The Nature Conservancy’s Asia Pacific Region, developing high level political and programmatic strategies to advance multi-national conservation priorities. In the early 2000’s, Emily pioneered development of the Conservancy’s transportation program at the California and national levels, including the negotiation of millions of dollars in Caltrans’ mitigation funding for conservation. Emily is a proven conservation professional with more than twenty years of experience at the state, national and international levels, with particular expertise in the design and implementation of large-scale programs, policy development, and funding mobilization. She earned an M.S. in Resource Policy and Planning from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. in Religion from Wesleyan University.
Judith Hinh brings over 20 years of housing experience to current role as the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Housing Analyst at the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC). Before joining the SGC team, Judith served as a Senior Program Representative for the California Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD). During Judith’s tenure at HCD, she worked under the Climate Change Initiative, in which she assisted with program outreach, organized and presented at public workshops, prepared Notices of Funding Availability and worked on routing, researching, developing, updating and publishing guidelines for the AHSC Program, the Infill Infrastructure Grant (IIG) Program, and the Transit Oriented Development Housing (TOD) Program.
Judith’s housing initiatives and expertise includes affordable and multi-family housing financing, policy research, project compliance monitoring, underwriting, operations management, developing and implementing housing guidelines in both the private and public sectors.
As Health and Equity Program Associate, Michael Jimenez provides communication and administrative support to the HEP program and staffs activities of the multi-agency California Health in All Policies Task Force. In addition, he works to integrate health and equity research and evaluation across SGC and HiAP Task Force priorities.
Prior to joining SGC, Michael served as a CivicSpark AmeriCorps Fellow at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, where he coordinated stakeholder engagement on policy initiatives to reduce the health impacts of climate change. Michael received a Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Environmental Policy and Spanish Studies from Occidental College.
Kirin Kumar joins SGC as the Regional Climate Collaboratives Program Manager with over five years of experience in the nonprofit and local government sectors working to advance climate justice and grow resident capacity to engage in the decision-making processes that shape communities. As the Executive Director of WALKSacramento, Kirin worked to build collaboration between public health and community development professionals in the Sacramento region to inform strategies that improve quality of life and access to opportunity in historically disadvantaged communities. Kirin has implemented technical assistance programs that support local agencies enacting community participatory planning practices, developing environmental justice policy, and addressing chronic disease prevention through the built environment. Kirin specializes in building productive relationships between community residents and local government. Kirin has a Bachelor in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from University of California, Davis.
As Chief External Affairs Officer, Sandra Lupien harnesses the power of stories and partnerships to maximize the reach and impact of Strategic Growth Council’s community-driven programs and investments.
With over two decades of diverse leadership experience in the non-profit, public, and private sectors, Sandra brings expertise across the climate, resilience, natural resource, community development, health, and social justice topics core to SGC’s mission.
Before joining SGC, Sandra’s consulting practice focused primarily on access to water and sanitation by Californians experiencing homelessness, and on the intersection of forest resilience and value-added wood product development—research she began while earning a mid-career Master of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. Here, Sandra also researched sea-level rise preparedness for Climate Readiness Institute under a grant from California Ocean Protection Council to implement AB 2516—the sea-level rise database is now hosted at ResilientCA.org, developed by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.
Earlier, Sandra led regional communications and campaign strategy at a national environmental non-profit; developed and implemented a community-driven communications and outreach plan for a County of Sonoma agency; and served as Outreach Director at Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition where she led collaborative communications and advocacy efforts that helped win campaigns and hundreds of millions of dollars for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
Sandra also worked in public radio as a news anchor and public affairs producer, and her first career was in theater. In addition to her Master’s Degree, Sandra holds a Bachelor’s degree from University of San Francisco.
Ena leads SGC's California Climate Investments Technical Assistance Program, which helps create a more equitable playing field for under-resourced applicants looking to access the funds to transition to climate-smart communities. In this role, she manages a broad range of capacity building activities for applicants to cap-and-trade grant funded programs, including workshops, trainings, and direct application assistance. Prior to her appointment at the Strategic Growth Council, Ena completed her Master’s degree at UC Davis, where she focused her research on equitable and inclusive policies for investment in under-resourced communities. Ena also has varied experiences working in education and communications for organizations in France, India and the US.
Ena holds a Master of Science in Community Development from UC Davis and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, French, and Environmental Studies from Colby College in Maine
Julia Caplan is a Program Director at the Public Health Institute (PHI) for the California Health in All Policies Task Force, which is a collaborative project between the California Strategic Growth Council and the California Department of Public Health. In this capacity, Ms. Caplan facilitates a multi-agency process that brings together over twenty state agencies, departments, and offices to build collaborative partnerships and incorporate health, equity, and environmental sustainability considerations into decision-making and government operations across policy areas as diverse as transportation, land use, education, agriculture, and social services. Ms. Caplan also provides Health in All Policies workshops for local governments and local health departments and co-authored Health in All Policies: A Guide for State and Local Governments in 2013. Ms. Caplan has twenty years’ experience in community building, social change, and public policy leadership, and holds masters’ degrees in public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley.
Leah Fisher serves as the Senior Research Advisor to the Strategic Growth Council, co-managing implementation of the Climate Change Research Program. In this role, Leah supports grant recipients and advises the solicitation and review process, while also working with State partners to connect SGC’s research investments to other State programs, policies, and research, including the State’s Climate Change Research Plan and California Climate Change Assessments.
Leah has worked to bridge climate change science and policy at both the state and federal level. Leah joined SGC from the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR), where her work focused on climate change policy and research, international partnerships, transportation policy, and land use planning. Prior to joining OPR, Leah worked on sustainable transportation technology with the U.S. Department of Energy, and served as the Climate Change Coordinator for NOAA’s National Ocean Service. Leah received a B.S. in Biology from Duke University and M.S. in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston.
Lianne Dillon, MPH, is a Deputy Program Director with the Public Health Institute (PHI) for California’s Health in All Policies Task Force at the Strategic Growth Council. The Task Force envisions a California government that advances health, equity, and sustainability in all policies. To achieve this vision, staff convene over twenty state agencies, departments, and offices to collaborate on policy development and implementation, with a focus on explicit consideration of health, equity, and environmental sustainability. In her role, Lianne also facilitates Health in All Policies workshops and trainings for local governments and local health departments, provides health and equity consultation to non-health sectors, and has co-authored a number of publications on this work including, Health in All Policies: A Guide for State and Local Governments
Holly Nickel, MPH, is a Racial Equity Program Associate with the Public Health Institute (PHI)’s Health in All Policies (HiAP) team at the Strategic Growth Council. In this role she leads the implementation of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity Capitol Cohort – a racial equity capacity-building program designed to normalize, operationalize, and institutionalize racial equity in California’s state government. Prior to joining PHI, Holly worked at the Safe Routes to School National Partnership assisting communities and organizations across the United States in connecting active transportation and equity. Additionally, at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, she developed and implemented state-level racial equity strategies and worked to increase physical activity and healthy eating opportunities for all Michigan residents.
Ryan serves as the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program Manager at the Strategic Growth Council where he focuses on program planning, implementation, and evaluation. Prior to this role, he was an AmeriCorps CivicSpark Climate Action Fellow at the San Luis Obispo Air Pollution Control District. His work there included coordinating regional climate adaptation efforts, increasing energy efficiency in existing residential building stock through a GHG trading scheme, revising local CEQA enforcement measures, and evaluating smart growth. Ryan continues to contribute research to the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA), particularly with a focus on the connections between urban and rural communities. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics, Finance, and Operations & Technology Management with a certificate in Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Saharnaz is the Manager of the Transformative Climate Communities program, a California Climate Investments program focused on supporting community-driven infrastructure projects in disadvantaged communities. She oversees the implementation of the grants across the State and the development of the program guidelines through multi-agency collaboration.
Saharnaz has over ten years of experience working in the public and private sectors on urban revitalization, urban resiliency, and climate action and adaptation projects. Before joining the SGC, she worked for the City of Thousand Oaks Sustainability Division, supporting the development of the City Municipal Sustainability Plan and Community Climate Action Plan. Saharnaz also worked with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability for more than three years, providing technical assistance to local governments in combating the impact of climate change through local action. As a consultant in the private sector, Saharnaz worked on multiple community revitalization and urban design projects in low-income and disadvantaged communities in Iran.
Saharnaz has a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from University of Colorado Denver, a Master of Urban Design and Planning from Shahid Beheshti University, and a B.A. in Architecture from Iran University of Science and Technology.
As Program Associate, Shepperson Wilbun develops program guidelines, conducts outreach, and provides technical assistance in support of California Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC).
Prior to the SGC team, Shep served as Senior Program Associate with the first Los Angeles Promise Zone, a collaborative Housing and Urban Development initiative which brought together the City of Los Angeles and over 60 local partners, to work toward a holistic approach to community development. He led a team of Americorps VISTA members and interns, while gaining experience with strategic planning, program development, and metrics. Prior to that role, he served as an Americorps VISTA member in Memphis with the community development intermediary Community LIFT. There he helped to develop a community plan through the federally funded Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP).
Additionally, with the City of Memphis, Shep developed alternative transportation-related ordinances, worked on mapping, and researched economic development and housing related issues. He also has experience with the emerging micromobility industry at Lime. Shep holds a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University.
As SGC’s Health and Equity Program Manager, Nanette Star partners with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Public Health Institute (PHI) to convene and facilitate California’s HiAP Task Force, oversee the work of the Health and Equity Program, and provide health and equity expertise to California State agencies.
Nanette specializes in facilitating community-driven solutions for improving the health and equity of populations. A descendant of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Nanette has seven years of experience in public health policy and program management. She has worked in rural counties across California, coordinating with city and Tribal leaders to ensure both general and transportation plans incorporate health. She helped to pass resolutions on Safe Routes to Schools and Health in All Policies, assisted in conducting participatory geospatial research on pesticide exposure of agricultural workers, and served as the lead field researcher for the Rural Latino Project. Nanette spent the past five years working with Tribal Communities across five states, advocating for upstream approaches to improving health through policy, systems, and the built environment. In this capacity she has guided community health assessments and helped implement strategic plans across multiple communities. Nanette has a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Global Health from George Mason University Virginia, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Economics from Humboldt State University California.
Michael Wilson is the Senior Graphic and User Interface Designer for the Strategic Growth Council (SGC), where he manages SGC’s website as well as designs visual communication pieces such as fact sheets and information graphics. He also serves as the webmaster and designer for the Office of Planning and Research, where he has worked on projects such as the 2017 website redesign as well as the layout and design for the Planning and Investing for a Resilient California guidebook.
Prior to his appointment with SGC, he was the graphic designer and art director for the California Energy Commission. His work at the Commission includes their 2015 logo redesign as well as the campaign collateral for the SaveOurWaterRebates.com and California Cash for Appliances campaigns.
Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design from California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), and has mentored students CSUS’s graphic design program through internship programs at both SGC and the Energy Commission.
Sarah Risher joins SGC as the Regional Climate Collaboratives Assistant Analyst after serving as a CivicSpark Climate Fellow at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services where she focused on the Adaptation Planning Guide update. Sarah conducted preliminary research, stakeholder outreach, and handled an array of project management tasks. Sarah also gained local government and nonprofit experience in waste prevention and diversion through internships with the City of West Sacramento and the California Product Stewardship Council.
Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning with a minor in Professional Writing from the University of California, Davis. At Davis, she volunteered with various campus organizations and chaired the Associated Students’ Environmental Policy and Planning Commission and The Green Initiative Fund, the school’s sustainability grant program.
Egon Terplan is a Senior Advisor for Economic Development and Transportation at the California Governor's Strategic Growth Council and is helping lead the Regions Rise Together initiative for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GOBiz). He is also an adjunct instructor at both Stanford University and the University of San Francisco where he teaches courses in urban and regional planning.
Prior to joining the Governor’s office in April 2019, Egon was the Regional Planning Director at SPUR, the Bay Area’s urban policy think tank. While at SPUR, Egon led dozens of projects on the intersections of economic development, regional planning, workforce preparation, land use, transportation and governance. His published reports include Harnessing High-Speed Rail, The Urban Future of Work, a Bay Area Economic Prosperity Strategy and the first-ever report on the Northern California megaregion. He was a frequent speaker and guest lecturer and also served on the San Francisco Workforce Investment Board, the Regional Planning Committee for the Association of Bay Area Governments and was Vice Chair of the Policy Advisory Council of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
Prior to SPUR, Mr. Terplan managed regional economic development strategy projects at ICF International for public and private sector clients throughout the world. He was also a New York City Urban Fellow working for the Mayor's Office of New York City, a bilingual high school teacher on Riker’s Island, New York and a union organizer and researcher with several labor unions.
Mr. Terplan received a Master of City Planning from UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.
Sophie is a Program Analyst for the Transformative Climate Communities Program. She has eight years of experience working with local governments, businesses, and non-profits on sustainable, equitable development. At the California Department of Conservation, she supported policy and program development for the first two funding rounds of the Transformative Climate Communities Program. Prior, she worked at the California Department of Transportation as an environmental planner on local transportation infrastructure projects. For several years, she also worked as a consultant and researcher on various land use and development projects—she conducted sustainability and feasibility studies, participatory research, and strategic planning for organizations interested in incorporating environmental and social values into their operations.
Sophie holds a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies and Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley. She has taught English and history to young adults in California and China.
As Special Assistant, Fabiha Zaman works closely with SGC’s Executive Director, and is responsible for day-to-day administration of the office including scheduling, meeting preparation, and organizational support. Before working at SGC, Fabiha was an intern at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research where she helped consolidate best practices for climate adaptation in local California communities, led racial equity initiatives within the office, and conducted research on wildfire resiliency. Fabiha has a wide range of experience in State government, as she also interned in the California State Senate and California Department of Justice.
Fabiha holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science-Public Service with a minor in Professional Writing from the University of California, Davis. She also has a certificate from the London School of Economics for Global and International Studies. At Davis, Fabiha previously served as the Legislative Director for the Office of Advocacy and Student Representation where she researched bills pertaining to student interests and maintained relations with legislative offices to relay those interests. She also worked as a reporter for the Davis Vanguard, writing articles on high-profile criminal cases in Yolo County and researching instances of wrongful convictions.
Alexandra Gallo serves as the new Program Associate for the Transformative Climate Communities program at the Strategic Growth Council (SGC). Alexandra previously served as SGC’s Executive Fellow through California Capitol Fellows, where she assisted with projects and initiatives across the organization, including analysis of land use, housing, sustainability, and economic development policies. She previously worked as a District Representative for State Senator Bob Wieckowski in the Bay Area, where she provided constituency services, liaised with local governments, coordinated events and helped manage media communications. Alexandra has significant experience working in the Central Valley. She served as a Senator Kenneth L. Maddy Institute Legislative Scholar, where interned in Congressman Jim Costa’s Fresno and Washington DC offices, and served as Coordinator of Touch the Community program, where she supervised eight student teams implement service projects throughout the Central Valley. As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, she conducted quantitative research on voter identification laws across the country. Alexandra is a first-generation college graduate and earned Bachelor Degrees in Political Science and Communication from California State University, Fresno.
Isabel Borbon is a Graphic and User Interface Design Student Assistant for SGC. She assists in designing print publications and website maintenance for both SGC as well as the Office of Planning and Research. Isabel is currently enrolled as a senior in the graphic design program at California State University, Sacramento.
Cristina Echeverría Palencia is SGC’s first California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) Science Fellow. As a member of SGC’s Climate Change Research Program (CCR) team, Cristina is supporting early scoping efforts for the Fifth California Climate Change Assessment and assisting with grant program implementation. In addition, Cristina supports stakeholder and community engagement work via both CCR and SGC’s Regional Climate Collaboratives Program.
Prior to joining SGC, Cristina completed doctoral studies on antibiotic resistance genes and their interaction with public spaces, with her work standing at the nexus of environmental engineering, public health, and public policy.
Cristina is a Guatemalan immigrant and first-generation college graduate. In addition to her academic work, she has been active in the immigrant rights movement both within and, expressly, outside of academia. She is passionate about equity and social justice, and believes that at its most meaningful, science is meant to serve the greater good, the environment, and the most vulnerable.
Cristina received a B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a Eugene V. Cota Robles Fellow, a Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar, and an Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society Inductee.
Jessica Wackenhut Lomeli joined the California Tahoe Conservancy staff in January 2020, where she leads Conservancy’s Tahoe Livable Communities Program in close partnership with the California Strategic Growth Council. Jessica most recently worked in Los Angeles for a national nonprofit, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, focused on grants management, Financial Opportunity Centers, and talent development. Previously, Jessica oversaw the HUD Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant in Hollywood at Youth Policy Institute. She is passionate about developing locally driven strategies to comprehensively address neighborhood revitalization. Jessica is a former Peace Corps Volunteer, is a graduate of University of California Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies and Latin American & Latino Studies, and holds a Master of Planning from the University of Southern California.
Olivia works under the direction of the Chief External Affairs Officer producing content such as the SGC newsletter, program e-blasts, social media posts, program materials, and other cross-programmatic items. She also supports events and other external affairs functions.
Olivia is a fourth-year undergraduate student working toward a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Development at UC Davis. She has a strong background in writing and research in the social sciences and is particularly interested in issues surrounding institutional inequities affecting environmental outcomes, education, and mental health.
Prior to joining SGC, Olivia most recently spent a year as a manager at a café on the UC Davis campus. Eager for professional experience oriented toward her career goal of working in public service to advance equity, Olivia is excited that SGC will help her gain a deeper understanding of California’s approach to this important work.
Sarah Samdin joins SGC as an Executive Fellow through the California Capital Fellows Program. She previously worked as a legislative intern for State Senator Mike McGuire, where she helped draft policy briefs and handled constituent affairs. Sarah has significant research experience. She was a research assistant in the Arnold Lab at the UC Davis Center for Environmental Policy & Behavior, where she analyzed and coded over 200 automobile advertisements from Consumer Reports to identify race and gender roles in American vehicle ads. Sarah analyzed fracking presence in West Virginia to identify key stakeholders and fracking narratives. As a student co-coordinator at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, Sarah supervised 12 student interns who became effective advocates for the environment through public outreach, cultural, and environmental programming. Sarah is a first-generation college graduate and holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from the University of California, Davis.