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Rise South City is built of a team of staff and volunteers from the Bay Area committed to our community.
Julio Garcia has been a true champion and an environmental justice leader for the Latinx community in San Mateo County and throughout the Bay Area for the past 23 years. Julio Garcia served as the Program Director of Nuestra Casa of East Palo Alto from 2009-2021, I which he created programs that directly benefited BIPOC communities. He led the Environmental and Water Justice program from 2017-2020. During his time leading this program, Nuestra Casa served as one of 13 Outreach Partners selected by the San Francisco Bay Disadvantaged Community and Tribal Engagement Program, which was part of a statewide effort that was funded and administered by the California State Department of Water Resources (DWR). Julio’s leadership goes beyond his role as the executive director of Rise South City. He serves on the Board of Directors table for Ravenswood Medical Center, and he has directly impacted policy change to better serve communities of color. He was part of The Environment Justice Review Team of Representatives from Bay Area equity and social justice organizations that helped develop San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Environmental Justice policies. His work continues today as a Bay Adept’s Leadership Advisory Group member and part of a new group of BCDC EJ Advisors tasked with guiding the agency to implement Environmental Justice Policies.
Francesca Pedraza is the program director of Rise South City. She became involved in the nonprofit sector in 1993, when she participated in Young Latino Leaders in Redwood City, who brought resources to the Latinx community and their youth, with the hope to keep families united and their students out of trouble. Francesca has worked as an educator and family advocate for the Latinx community for more than 20 years, starting with MAAC Head Start, Optimum Behavioral Health, Mira Costa College, Palo Alto University, and Nuestra Casa. Her work has always consisted in advocacy, teaching, outreach and enrichment for communities. “Working with my community to me is an investment, I am investing in my heart, and if I can advocate, and help one family to thrive, this investment is paid off because my heart feels a bit happier”. Francesca Pedraza is free spirited, loves the outdoors, hiking, camping, enjoys walks on the beach and putting her feet in the sand and swimming in the ocean. She believes in the connection with nature as a way of living, as well as sharing special moments with family and her community. Francesca is inspired by people’s willingness to make the world a better place to live in. Although her mother has been her biggest inspiration growing up, she admires her for her courage and persistence through out her life, “Mami raised 12 of us children and gave us an envious education in spite of the challenges of having very limited resources”. She is my hero and will always be the motor that drives me and the work that I do even after being gone for almost 10 years. Francesca Pedraza, de espíritu libre, ama el aire libre, caminar, ir acampar, disfruta de los paseos por la playa, poner los pies en la arena y nadar en el océano. Cree en la conexión con la naturaleza como forma de vida, además de compartir momentos especiales con la familia y su comunidad. Francesca se inspira en la voluntad de las personas de hacer del mundo un lugar mejor para vivir. Aunque su madre ha sido su mayor inspiración mientras crecía, la admira por su coraje y persistencia a lo largo de su vida, “mami crió a 12 de nosotros y nos dio una educación envidiable a pesar de los desafíos de tener recursos muy limitados”. Ella es mi heroína y siempre será el motor que me impulsa y el trabajo que realizo incluso después de casi 10 años de ausencia. Soy la directora del programa de Rise South City, me involucré en el sector sin fines de lucro en 1993, cuando participé en Young Latino Leaders en Redwood City. Era un grupo como su nombre lo dice “Jóvenes Líderes Latinos”, que interactuaba y aportaba recursos a la comunidad Latina y su juventud, con la esperanza de mantener a las familias unidas y a sus estudiantes fuera de problemas. Francesca, ha trabajado como educadora y defensora de la familia para la comunidad Latina durante más de 20 años, comenzando con MAAC Head Start, Optimum Behavioral Health, Mira Costa College, Palo Alto University, Nuestra Casa, etc. Su trabajo siempre ha consistido en abogacía, enseñanza, y enriquecimiento de las comunidades. “Trabajar con mi comunidad para mí es una inversión, estoy invirtiendo en mi corazón, y si puedo abogar y ayudar a una familia a prosperar, esta inversión se ve recompensada porque mi corazón se siente un poco más feliz”.
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