Marlene De La O
Marlene De La O has a wide-ranging professional background with several years of experience in urban development, federal government contracting, management, and administration. Most recently, she worked as a sustainable urban development and project management specialist for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C. Marlene has managed multi-million dollar contracts funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), spanning issues related to climate adaptation for coastal cities, local economic development and sustainability for small municipalities, as well as urban resilience and violence prevention in large metropolitan areas. She has extensive experience working in a variety of political, social, and cultural contexts within the United States and countries across Latin America. Marlene holds a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in International Development from the University of California—Berkeley.
Coral Abbott aids with the development and administration of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program. Prior to her current role, Coral served as SGC’s Executive Fellow where she assisted with projects and initiatives across SGC, including both AHSC and TCC. She previously 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, in addition to preparing grant proposals and coordinating events that highlighted the work of the Movement. She honed her policy research skills as an intern at the Bill Lane Center for the American West, where she compared the water planning processes of several Western states. Coral received a Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems with a minor in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University.
Daniela Simunovic, helps lead the Transformative Climate Communities Program. She has over 10 years of experience advocating for policies to achieve social, economic and environmental equity. Prior to joining the SGC Daniela served as the Deputy Director of Environmental Health and Justice at the Liberty Hill Foundation. While at Liberty Hill she coordinated a coalition of environmental justice organizations that successfully passed the Clean Up Green Up ordinance in the City of Los Angeles, designating three toxic hotspot neighborhoods as “Green Zones”. As a Research Analyst with Estolano Lesar Perez Advisors, Daniela helped develop an implementation roadmap to revitalize a 110-acre Brownfield in the City Huntington Park with green space, quality housing and economic development.
From 2006-2010, she worked for the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment developing grassroots leaders in rural, low-income, farm worker communities in the San Joaquin Valley. In 2010, she co-founded Communities for a New California, a non-profit organization promoting increased civic engagement of underrepresented communities.Daniela received her Master in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA, and a B.A. in Sociology from St. Mary’s College of California.
Dr. Dennis Grossman is the Senior Advisor for Environmental Science and Policy at the Strategic Growth Council. He comes to SGC 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.
Liz serves as a senior policy analyst 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.
Ena works on research and strategic communications for the Strategic Growth Council. Her responsibilities include researching and writing publications related to land-use policy and urban planning as well as leading communications efforts and press inquiries. Ena’s expertise bridges both land-use policy and communications. Prior to her appointment at the Strategic Growth Council, she completed her Master’s degree at UC Davis, where she focused her research on integrating equity into sustainable housing and transportation policy. Ena also has varied experiences working in communications and publishing 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 the Program Director for the California Health in All Policies Task Force, which is a collaborative project between the California Strategic Growth Council, the California Department of Public Health, and the Public Health Institute. 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.
Julia serves as a Senior Program Analyst for the Transformative Climate Communities program, which aims to transform disadvantaged communities statewide while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other sources of pollution. Julia has significant experience as an advocate and policy analyst working on issues related to urban development, housing, smart growth, community engagement and political participation. Prior to her appointment at the Strategic Growth Council, Julia worked in public sector management consulting for Harvey M. Rose Associates in San Francisco. Clients included the cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and the counties of Imperial, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.
Projects consisted of budget and policy analyses and performance audits to assess the cost and efficiency of proposed legislation and programs. Julia also worked on the development of a strategic plan related to a multi-year STEM education initiative while at the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. She has spent over ten years working for non-profits, government agencies, and elected officials in California, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Julia holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Columbia University.
Karen Ben-Moshe, MPP, MPH, is a Senior Program Associate at the Public Health Institute. She supports the California Health in All Policies Task Force at the Strategic Growth Council, overseeing work to promote healthy communities by increasing access to healthy food, and preventing violence and building resilience. She has worked at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, La Clinica de La Raza (a federally qualified health clinic), and Children Now on a range of policies and programmatic areas. In addition, Ms. Ben-Moshe worked at the University of California, Berkeley Center for Health Leadership, implementing programs and organizing conferences for students and professionals. She is a co-author of a number of publications on the Health in All Policies approach. Ms. Ben-Moshe received her MPH and MPP from the University of California, Berkley and her BA from Wesleyan University.
Kathy Leuterio currently serves as a Senior Administrative Liaison for the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) focused on the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program. Prior to her appointment with SGC, Kathy served as an analyst at the California Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board where she earned the CalEPA Gold Superior Accomplishment Award as part of the team managing the Alternative Fuel Incentive Program.
Prior to her state service Kathy worked in the private sector in various industries ranging from commercial real estate and banking, to biotech. She managed state contracts for Capital Datacorp and Allied Network Solutions in Sacramento. At Genentech, in south San Francisco she was responsible for contracts and conducting campus tours. She was the International Marketing Director at Urban Center Developments and the Public Relations and Marketing Representative at Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate, in San Francisco. She owned and operated Leuterio Photography for 10 years and was a member of the Professional Photographers of America, Professional Photographers of California and served on the Board of Professional Photographers of Sacramento Valley where she earned multiple Print Competition awards.Most importantly, Kathy loves her work and is looking forward to new challenges and being part of the SGC team.
Kelsey Lyles is a Program Coordinator and Equity Specialist at the Public Health Institute (PHI) and staff team member of the California Health in All Policies (HiAP) Program at the Strategic Growth Council. Kelsey manages implementation of the HiAP Equity in Government Practices Action Plan and is the staff lead on the Government Alliance on Race and Equity 2018 Capitol Cohort Pilot, a collaborative project between PHI and Race Forward. Kelsey obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Howard University, and has previously contributed to public policy initiatives for NORC at the University of Chicago as well as the Urban Institute.
Lianne Dillon, MPH, serves as Deputy Program Director 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
Previously, Lianne worked at the Institute for Local Government conducting research and developing policy resources to support California’s cities and counties in responding to local climate change and public health issues. Additionally, Lianne worked for the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, implementing their Childhood Obesity Prevention Plan, providing health consultation on local General Plans and on the Regional Transportation Plan, and developing and implementing strategies for building local health department capacity in these areas. Lianne also has clinical and health education experience from her time with CommuniCare Health Centers, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Yolo County. Lianne received a BA in American Multicultural Studies from Sonoma State University and an MPH in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences from San Diego State University.
Monica joins the SGC as Sustainable Communities Outreach Coordinator, serving as a liaison specifically for SB 535 identified “Disadvantaged Communities” with the goal of ensuring that AHSC and other important California Climate Investments reach these communities. Monica’s background includes community organizing and outreach, program development and implementation, affordable housing advocacy, fundraising, and oral history work. Prior to joining SGC, Monica served as Policy & Programs Specialist at California Coalition for Rural Housing, where she coordinated policy advocacy coalitions including a Rural Smart Growth Task Force and the San Joaquin Valley Housing Collaborative, both critical forums to discuss regional challenges and strategies to address housing and community development issues. She also implemented CCRH's Asset-Building and Financial Capability programming. In her native state of North Carolina, Monica served as managing director at the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, a dynamic public history and community organizing center working towards the preservation of historically African-American neighborhoods in Chapel Hill.Monica received a B.A. in International Studies and Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Rachel serves as a Senior Program Analyst for the Transformative Climate Communities Program which funds the development and implementation of neighborhood-level community plans and projects in disadvantaged communities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote local economic, environmental, and health benefits. Rachel’s background includes project management and policy analysis for affordable housing grant programs, environmental and land use planning, and public health.
Prior to her appointment at the Strategic Growth Council, Rachel worked as a grant manager for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program at the Department of Housing and Community Development where she worked with non-entitlement jurisdictions in central and southern California on affordable housing and housing-related infrastructure projects. She also worked as a Policy Specialist for the California Department of Public Health’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program as a lead for vendor and food policy initiatives, regulations, and legislation. Prior to state service, Rachel spent about a decade working in the private industry as a project manager and environmental planner for transit, roadway, transit-oriented development, healthcare, infrastructure, and housing projects and has expertise in California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation. Her project experience includes environmental analysis for the multiple Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) projects and the California High Speed Rail Project and she also contributed to a number of general and specific plans throughout the state.Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Analysis and Design from the University of California, Irvine.
Suzanne provides leadership to the SGC in developing policy and implementation innovations that foster community prosperity, infill development, and sustainable growth, with a focus on leveraging the State's investment in high-speed rail. Suzanne is an urban planner with over 13 years' experience in community revitalization, housing and real estate development, land use planning, and architectural design.
Suzanne has advised and developed urban revitalization projects in New Orleans, Washington DC, Boston, and Opa-locka, FL, and served as Deputy Project Manager on the national-award winning comprehensive plans for post-Katrina New Orleans and Shreveport, LA. She has worked on federal housing policy in Washington, DC, where she led a national advocacy coalition. Before joining SGC, Suzanne served in the Obama Administration’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative, where she worked out of the Mayor's Office in Fresno, CA to provide technical assistance on land use, development, and downtown revitalization.Suzanne holds a Master of Urban Planning from Harvard University and studied architecture at the Master's level at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. She is certified in affordable housing development and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Ulisses Arzola currently serves as the Executive Assistant to Randall Winston for the California Strategic Growth Council. Prior to his appointment with SGC, Ulisses served as the Internship Program Coordinator and Constituent Affairs Representative at the Office of Governor Jerry Brown from December 2013 to November 2016. He previously interned at the Governor’s Office Appointments Unit and the California Democratic Party in 2012.Ulisses received a Bachelor of Arts in Government from California State University, Sacramento in 2014.
Douglas Burt currently serves as the 2017-2018 Executive Fellow at the Strategic Growth Council. Prior to the fellowship, Doug interned at the Department of Defense, where he conducted data analysis on nuclear weapon systems. In addition, he has previously interned at Erie Insurance Group, where he analyzed geopolitical risk in the Investments Division, and at MSE Enterprises, an internet-based startup. Doug received a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in International Relations and History from Tufts University.