2019 MPP Alumnus of the Year Nelson Esparza, MPP 2015

Fresno City Councilmember Nelson Esparza is a 2015 MPP Alumnus of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. He was elected to the Fresno City Council in November of 2018, and prior to that he served his community as an elected representative on the Fresno County Board of Education, where he was elected in 2016. On the City Council, Nelson serves as Chairman of both the Finance & Audit Committee and the School Liaison Subcommittee. Outside of Fresno City Hall: Nelson continues to teach Economics part-time at Fresno City College, he is the PAC Chair of his faculty union (State Center Federation of Teachers, Local 1533), he serves as the Political Director of the Fresno County Young Democrats, and is a Delegate to the California Democratic Party. In addition to attending the UCLA Luskin School, Nelson received his BA in Economics (Cum Laude) with a minor in Public Policy at UC Riverside, and is an alumnus of the PPIA Fellowship Program at UC Berkeley.

Employer: City of Fresno, District 7
Profile: linkedin.com/in/nelson-esparza-949b7881/
Twitter: @Esparza_Nelson
Media: GV Wire, Zócalo Public Square, The Business Journal, UCLA Luskin, Fresno Bee

2020 MPP Alumnus of the Year Max Gomberg, MPP 2007

Max Gomberg is the water conservation and climate change manager at the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) where he leads development of water conservation, water affordability, and climate change policies across the water sector. Under his leadership, the Water Board developed a statewide plan for low-income water rate assistance, adopted a comprehensive climate change mitigation and adaptation policy, and implemented regulations to reduce urban water use during California’s severe drought. Mr. Gomberg often serves as an expert spokesperson on water conservation and climate change, and is regularly quoted by regional and national media. Previously, he was a senior analyst for the Office of Ratepayer Advocates at the California Public Utilities Commission where he worked on a range of water and energy proceedings. Mr. Gomberg holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from UCLA and a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Chicago.

Employer: California Water Boards
Profile: linkedin.com/in/max-gomberg-85a7523
Twitter: @MaxGomberg
Media: Sacramento Bee, Orange County Register, Youtube, ABC10, Fox40, KCRW, News Deeply, New York Times,

2018 MPP Alumna of the Year Jaime Nack, MPP 2002

Jaime Nack is a double Bruin who is the President of Three Squares Inc. (TSI) – an award-winning sustainability consulting firm specializing in creating strategies for corporations, events, and communities. Nack is one of the nation’s most prominent environmental experts and has advised many Fortune 500 companies, cities, and large-scale events. Most notably, Nack served as the Director of Sustainability for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, marking the first time in history where measures were taken to reduce the environmental impact of the event on the host city. In 2011, Nack was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. She also received an appointment under the Obama administration to serve on the National Women’s Business Council, an advisory council to the President, Congress and the SBA on economic issues of importance to women business owners. In 2013, Nack was named the “Environmental Conservator of the Year” by the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce. Nack speaks to audiences around the world about the business case for sustainability and its impact on the future of the global marketplace. Nack has a Master’s in Public Policy from UCLA, where she also earned her Bachelor’s in International Economics, with a specialization in Latin America.

Nack credits UCLA with helping her meld her interests and foster her career. “I always knew I wanted to focus on ‘impact’ and figuring out a way to effect change around the landscape around me, and public policy felt like the best place where I could actually explore those interests,” she said. “Whether it be transportation or housing or social welfare, all of the pieces that I was interested in my impact puzzle I found at Luskin, I found in public policy.”

Employer: Three Squares, Inc., Women in Green Forum
Profile:  linkedin.com/in/jaimenack
Twitter: @jaimenack, @threesquaresinc, @WomenGreenForum
Media:   YouTube: FutureTalks, UCLA Magazine, World Economic Forum, EcoWatch, Sustainable Brands
Wikipedia: Jaime Nack

2013 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Janine N'jie David, MPP '14

Janine N’jie David is Deputy Director of the Global Lab for Research in Action, an active UCLA research institute that pursues evidence-based solutions to critical health, education and economic challenges faced by children, adolescents and women around the world.

Janine has over a decade of experience as a non-profit leader, specializing in cross-sector partnerships with a special interest in equality for women and girls globally. Areas of expertise include strategic planning, board governance, philanthropy, talent acquisition, and corporate social responsibility.

Previously, Janine was Executive Director at Spark in Los Angeles, a national career exploration and mentoring program for middle school students, as well as a Senior Executive at Plan UK, a global organization which works to advance children’s rights and equality for girls in 50 countries. Janine’s work at Plan UK took her to Zambia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and India.

Janine holds a Master in Public Policy from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and is a member of their MPP Alumni Council, as well as a Luskin Alumni Career Leader, helping current students prepare for the job market.

Please visit Janine’s LinkedIn to learn more about their professional experience.

2013 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Vernessa Shih, MPP '14

Vernessa Shih is the Senior Director of Story Bank at the Center for American Progress. In this role, Vernessa leads an innovative team seeking to humanize policy and politics through storytelling.

Prior to joining CAP, Vernessa was the digital correspondence manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. She led the team responsible for all inbound digital messages to Secretary Clinton’s campaign. In this role, she empowered those messengers to become storytellers in paid ads, digital assets, policy proposals and features in Secretary Clinton’s campaign speeches. She joined the Clinton team in 2014, interning for the Clinton Foundation, for Chelsea Clinton’s personal office, and then as the executive assistant to the chief of staff for Secretary Clinton’s personal office.

Vernessa was born and raised in Southern California to proud Taiwanese immigrant parents. She attended UCSB for her undergraduate double majors and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs for her masters in public policy. She resides in Washington D.C.

Please visit Vernessa’s LinkedIn to learn more about their professional experience.

2014 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Begoña Guereca, MPP '15

Begoña Guereca is a double Bruin with a B.A. in Political Science and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from UCLA. During her MPP program she focused on issues of disparities in child welfare and the social determinants of health, poverty and inequality.

During her fellowship she worked on child sex trafficking issues for the Los Angeles Commission on Human Relations strategizing the policy and programmatic changes LAC needed to effectively reintegrate 3,000 LAC commercially sex exploited children (CSEC).

Before switching to tech, she worked as a Research and Policy Analyst for the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network. There she worked doing research on the state of child care quality and access in California and drove lobbying support for CA A.B. 273 which ensured that eligible families are able to access child care while they take ESL or GED classes. During her time at the Network she learned python while building GIS maps, she saw the tremendous value of programming and decided to pursue a career in tech.

Begoña currently works as Software Engineer at Microsoft where she builds software that  assists internal Microsoft teams solve DevOps problems at scale. She volunteers helping teach children from lower income areas in Seattle how to code and hopes to one day bring her skillset back to the public sector.

Please visit Begoña’s LinkedIn to learn more about their professional experience.

2014 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Jonathan Slakey, MPP '15

Jonathan Slakey is a Director of Data Analysis and Supports for the California Charter Schools Association. He takes advantage of Stata and Excel skill training (generously provided by Professors Phillips, Reber, Shah, and Yin) every day to increase organization-wide understanding of K-12 enrollment trends and academic outcomes in California. He also supports charter school staff to incorporate data into school decision-making. During his time at Luskin, Jonathan served with the Association of MPP Students and for his summer internship traveled to rural India to evaluate an afterschool tutoring program. His Applied Policy Project team received honors for their project: “Income Supports in Afghanistan.”
Before attending UCLA’s Luskin School for his MPP, Jonathan was an organizer for President Obama’s re-election campaign, an aide in a California Congresswoman’s office, an affordable housing auditor, and a teacher (both of English in Japan and of skiing in Lake Tahoe).

Please visit Jonathan’s LinkedIn to learn more about their professional experience.

2015 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Tae Kang, MPP '16

Tae Kang (UCLA MPP Class of 2016) serves as the Program Manager of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools and was the first full-time employee of the philanthropic initiative. He manages the annual Prize for Teaching Excellence, which awards more than $1 Millionto outstanding skilled trades teachers and programs across the country. Additionally, he collaborates with grant partners and anchors operations and research projects for the organization.

Prior to attending UCLA, Tae was a middle school social studies and math teacher at St. John Chrysostom School in Inglewood, CA.

Tae is passionate about education policy and looks forward to continuing to impact classrooms across America.

Please visit Tae’s LinkedIn to learn more about their professional experience.

2016 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Delara Aharpour, MPP '17

Delara Aharpour (UCLA MPP Class of 2017) is a research analyst within Mathematica’s division of Children, Youth, and Families. Delara’s research is primarily concentrated in family support, with some labor, implementation science, and evidence-based technical assistance. Prior to joining Mathematica, Delara worked with Maryland’s Department of Health to strengthen state-wide implementation of local school wellness policies. Delara graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from UCSD, where she focused on affective science. When she’s not commuting into D.C., Delara can be found exploring Baltimore City’s vibrant culinary scene.

Please visit Delara’s LinkedIn to learn more about their professional experience.