SFVYD 2023-2024 Board members
Mayra Valadez- President
Mayra was born and raised in Pacoima in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. She serves as President and has previously served as Vice President and Political Director of SFVYD. Mayra is a political and communications professional with expertise in coalition-building, policy analysis, and outreach. During the last redistricting cycle, her work at the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) helped draw Latino opportunity districts across the state at different levels of government.
Mayra is a graduate of the Cornell University of Industrial and Labor Relations. She serves on the Boards of the Mid-Valley YMCA, New Directions for Youth, and the Latinas Lead California Young Professionals Council. Passionate about representation and voter mobilization, Mayra hopes to one day found a nonprofit focused on civic engagement in the San Fernando Valley. She lives in North Hollywood with her chihuahua, Kiwi, and loves cycling the Chandler bike path in her free time.
Veronica De Lara- Vice President
Veronica De Lara serves as the Vice President of the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats and was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. Veronica is currently the Senior Political Organizer of SEIU United Service Workers West. She leads USWW local electoral campaigns and runs civic engagement campaigns among members to increase participation in political activities, union contract campaigns, and legislative process. In addition, Veronica serves on the Board of Directors for two non-profit organizations, Alcohol Justice and Pueblo y Salud, Inc. Alcohol Justice and Pueblo y Salud, nonprofits advocate for public health social justice informed policies that address the health disparities in communities of color.
Veronica is also involved in the Democratic Party, and she was voted in this past primary presidential election as a member of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party Central Committee. She is also an At Large member of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley. Her educational background includes a Master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University of Los Angeles (CalStateLA) and received three Bachelor of Arts from the University of California Davis (UC Davis).
Mirna Ezquivel- Treasurer
Mirna Ezquivel serves as the Treasurer of the Board for the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats. Mirna is currently the San Fernando Valley Field Deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath. She is dedicated to advocating for constituents and community-based organizations, ensuring they have proper representation and equitable access to resources. She is a voting member of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, sitting on the Political Action Committee.
Mirna is an active member of La Comisión Femenil, she plays an important role in her community by bringing essential services to young Latinos. Previously, Mirna served as the Canoga Park Field and Economic Development Deputy for Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. During her time with the Councilmember, she co-founded the Bob Community Action Team, bringing awareness and resources to individuals experiencing intimate partner violence. As a Field Organizer, Mirna's role was to unite various democratic clubs and lead door-to-door canvassing efforts to support the campaigns of Governor Gavin Newsom and Ricardo Lara. This experience exposed Mirna to the inner workings of a political campaign and she quickly developed valuable skills in grassroots organizing and campaign mobilization.
Communications Director- Teodora Reyes
Teodora E. Reyes serves as the Communications Director for the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats. She was raised in Pacoima by her single mother and lived throughout the San Fernando Valley, where she faced and overcame hardships as a first-generation student. Teodora pursued her undergraduate career at the University of California Berkeley and received an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resources Studies with a Minor in Public Policy. During her academic years, Teodora devoted her time to mentoring prospected students, volunteering for the Basic Needs Center, and examining the ethical implications/obstacles arising from the digital divide in underserved communities like her own, which often bear the brunt of environmental injustices intensified by climate change.
This experience ignited her passion for giving back to the strong community that nurtures and supports her. Today, she serves as a Policy Associate and Community Organizer with Pacoima Beautiful's Policy Team. She is a lead organizer for the Shutdown Whiteman Airport Campaign and Coalition. Teodora holds her ongoing commitment to working with her community to advance public health and sustainable contributions within the San Fernando Valley. As a growing Policy Advocate and Community Organizer, Teodora seizes opportunities to increase community civic engagement in the unique intersections of Community Organizing and Policy.
Political Director- Emely Pineda
Emely Pineda is a proud Angeleno and Cal State Northridge alumni who studied political science. She has worked with various nonprofits and elected officials since the beginning of her career. Upon earning her bachelor's degree, she worked as a District Representative for the State legislature. Now she currently works in Government Affairs for a community health center. Emely’s passions lie in economic justice and health equity. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and exploring new restaurants in the city.
Legislative Director- Brandon Whalen-Castellanos
Brandon Whalen-Castellanos (he/him) is the Legislative Director for the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats. Professionally, Brandon is an environmental planner specializing in land use planning and housing development. He works with project applicants and local government to bring critical environmental clearance necessary for construction projects. Originally from Orange County, he volunteered during the 2018 Blue Wave, helping flip all four historically conservative seats with the Orange County Young Democrats. Brandon is also a housing advocate organizing with Abundant Housing LA as the Valley Chapter Leader. He was elected in 2023 as an Assembly District Delegate for the California Democratic Party, representing the 44th Assembly District. He also serves as the Stonewall Young Democrats Club Representative for the Democratic Party of San Fernando Valley.
President Emeritus + Membership Director- Michael Menjivar
Michael has served on the SFVYD Board since 2018, spending time as Membership Director, Treasurer, RFK Awards Co-Chair, and most recently, as President. After completing his term as President, he transitioned back into the role of Membership Director.
Michael is the Vice President of Government Relations, in Southern California, for Strategies 360, a national public affairs firm. Previously, he was the Director of Strategic Relations for the Central City Association of Los Angeles, the premier advocacy organization for Downtown LA. Prior, he served as Deputy Director of Community Engagement for LAUSD Board President Kelly Gonez. Michael also previously worked as the Public Policy Organizer for the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH), where he organized and led campaign efforts toward housing affordability in LA. Michael also serves on the board of Abundant Housing LA and the board of the LA chapter of the New Leaders Council, the premier leadership, professional, and political advancement program for young professionals.
RFK Chair- Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright
Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright is a social impact consultant who provides philanthropic and political strategy for leading creatives and brands. Previously, Wright was the Executive Director of Emmy Award-winning Lena Waithe's Hillman Grad Foundation, working to expand opportunities for creatives from marginalized communities. Prior to that, she was the Associate Director of BLD PWR, actor and activist Kendrick Sampson’s nonprofit initiative to mobilize the entertainment industry in support of grassroots organizations.
Trained in politics, she’s an alum of Randall Woodfin for Birmingham Mayor, Jon Ossoff for Senate, Joe Biden for President, and Kamala Harris for the People campaigns. Wright is currently a member of the Asian American Women's Political Initiative Advisory Board, InsideOUT Writers Board, Covenant House California’s Special Advisory Committee, and board chair of nonprofit newsroom The Objective. In 2022, she was named Variety Magazine’s New Leaders of Hollywood.
Public Relations Director- Juan Solorio Jr.
Since 2020, Juan has served in various roles on the board, initially assuming responsibilities as the Legislative Director before transitioning to the position of Political Director. Currently, he is pursuing a Master’s in Regional and Urban Planning at UCLA. Concurrently, Juan is a part-time graduate student researcher with the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies where he is researching public perception of public safety in the City of Los Angeles.
Most recently, Juan dedicated six years to various roles in the Office of Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez. Starting as a Field Deputy, then transitioning to Area Director, and culminating in his role as Council Aide. As Council Aide, he spearheaded local business development initiatives, reviewed local development projects, and vetted conditional use permits.
Juan's dedication to civic engagement extends beyond his professional roles. He has been elected as a delegate to both the Los Angeles Democratic County Central Committee and the California Democratic State Central Committee, representing Assembly District 39th (currently the 43rd Assembly District) in 2020 and 2019. He also serves on the Los Angeles County Young Democrats as an At-Large Member.
Community Outreach Director- Mary Solorio
Maria Elena Solorio “Mary” is a proud first-generation Mexican American, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. Mary serves her community as a Councilmember for The City of San Fernando and is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. She has extensive experience working in Behavioral and Mental Health working as a Clinical Supervisor/Director and Case Manager.
Mary is completing her doctorate in Applied Clinical Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She received her Master’s in Teaching with a Specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis from National University, San Diego, and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from California State University, Northridge. Aside from her full-time career and serving the community as a Councilmember, Mary interns with Luminarias Institute where she provides bilingual and multicultural mental health services to underserved populations in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. Mary serves as a Board member for The San Fernando Valley Young Democrats, a member of Comision Femenil of the San Fernando Valley a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the Latina, dedicated to economically and politically empowering Chicana women in the United States and is a member of Latinas Lead California (LLCA) a non-partisan political action committee dedicated to amplifying the political voice and lived experience of Latinas by increasing the number of Latinas.
Mobilization Director- Alberto Vargas
Alberto Vargas serves as this year's Mobilization Director for the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats. Alberto is a first-year Master in Public Policy candidate for the Luskin School of Public Affairs and a Policy Fellow within the UCLA Latino Politics and Policy Institute Research Department.
Before starting at UCLA, Alberto worked for four years in California State Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel’s Office in the San Fernando Valley. Through his role as a Field Representative in the office, Alberto managed the Latino issues in the district and healthcare and labor policy issues. Alberto is also a board member for the nonprofit Alliance for Community Empowerment (ACE) where they work with children and adults who have been justice system allowing them to re-enter civilian life. He is also part of the Young Alumni Council for his alma mater UC Irvine, where he chairs the Social and Spirit Committee.
Alberto is a native of the San Fernando Valley and a proud son of immigrant parents from Mexico. He is a proud alumnus of the University of California, Irvine where he double majored in Political Science and International Studies. During his free time, he loves to spend time playing basketball and training horses with his dad.
Youth Engagement Director- Abby King
Abby King is the Youth Engagement Director for the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats. Professionally, she serves as a Housing Production Policy Analyst in the Office of Mayor Karen Bass. In this role, Abby works alongside various city departments to research and implement policies aimed at streamlining and promoting more affordable housing production throughout the city. Prior to her role with the Mayor’s office, Abby served as a Legislative Manager with the Valley Industry & Commerce Association.
In addition to her work with the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats, Abby also volunteers with Abundant Housing LA as a member of their Southeast San Fernando Valley Chapter steering committee. She also works with the Stonewall Young Democrats, where she serves as an alternate for the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley Representative. She is a proud alum of Whitman College, where she received a BA in Politics.
CSUN Representative Ana Karen Estrada
Ana Karen Estrada proudly serves as the CSUN Representative for the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats. She is a first-generation college student finishing her senior year at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), majoring in Political Science. Ana grew up in the San Fernando Valley in a working-class household and is prideful in her Mexican-American roots. She enjoys performing advocacy and political work that involves uplifting her community and creating spaces to increase youth involvement. She serves on various youth-powered platforms, including serving as President of the Matador Democrats and Political Director of a Youth-led PAC called Project Super Bloom. She formerly interned for various elected officials, including State Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, Rep. Brad Sherman, and Rep. Tony Cardenas. Ana now works for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles County (PPLA) as a Raíz Organizer. In 2023, Ana was recognized as a “Future Political Activist” by HOPE and as Youth Activist of the Year by her State Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel. Ana is ecstatic to continue fulfilling her mission of advocating for youth values while providing opportunities for students to participate in politics.
UCLA Representative/ Labor Liaison- David Ramirez
David Ramirez graduated with two associate’s degrees in Natural Sciences and Social and Behavioral Sciences from Pasadena City College in June 2022. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in Geography/Environmental Studies and Labor Studies. He has been a leader in his community, holding internships with SEIU-Workers United, AFSCME Local 3299, and the Office of U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. He previously served as a student trustee on the Pasadena Area Community College District Board of Trustees from 2020-2022. As a Starbucks barista, he was an organizer with Starbucks Workers United at the Foothill & Arroyo location in Sylmar, running a unionization campaign in 2022. He currently advocates for student issues to the legislature as the government relations chair for the UC Student Association.
At-Large Board Member- Rolando Chavez
Rolando Chavez is currently the Manager of Legislative and Advocacy Affairs at AltaMed. Rolando received his Bachelor's degree in Political science and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from California State University Los Angeles. Rolando served as the Legislative Director for the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats. Rolando has experience working as a field deputy for a member of the United States House of Representatives.
At-Large Boardmember-Tina Vartanian
Tina has served with SFVYD for over four years in various roles. She is currently a Vice President at Actum LLC. Previously, she was the Public Affairs Director at Afriat Consulting Group, where she managed the firm’s advocacy, community outreach, and political, and campaign activities. During her time there, she successfully assisted clients with Request for Proposals (RFP) procurements and the entitlement of controversial development projects, among other things. Before ACG, Tina was a senior policy associate at the Alliance for Children’s Rights, a nonprofit advocating for the rights of vulnerable children, young adults, and families impacted by foster care, where she spearheaded the organization’s policy work in Los Angeles.
Tina holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from California State University, Long Beach, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University, Northridge.
At-Large Board member-Marco Santana
Marco Santana considers himself a true son of the San Fernando Valley. He was born and raised in the 818 and has committed his work to better the lives of others in his community. Marco has been with SFVYD for over 7 years and has held various positions such as mobilization director, RFK Co-Chair, Treasurer, and Vice President. He’s also an active member of DPSFV, having served as an Officer, and sits on various boards in his community, such as the Mid Valley YMCA, ICON CDC, Metro’s Community Advisory Council, and most recently being appointed to LAHSA’s Taskforce on Latinx People Experiencing Homelessness.
Marco is a graduate of CSUN, worked for local electeds such as Congressman Tony Cardenas, and State Senator Bob Hertzberg, and has worked on various campaigns fighting to ensure the Valley gets effective and thoughtful leaders. Outside of politics, Marco has dedicated himself to fighting to better the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors, having worked as a Director of a Local Homeless Nonprofit (LAFH) for 6 years, he now works at the local government focusing on providing strategy and securing funding for homeless initiatives across Los Angeles.
At-Large Boardmember- Gibson Nyambura
Gibson Nyambura is an active member of the board, serving in an At-Large capacity. In his professional capacity, he operates as the Director of Innovation at the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. With his roots in Kenya and upbringing in the San Fernando Valley, Gibson has a long-standing involvement in community initiatives. His experience includes acting as a proxy for the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and holding an executive position with the Los Angeles County Young Democrats. An alumnus of CSUN and Pepperdine University, Gibson holds a master's degree in finance.
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