2016 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient JC De Vera, MPP '17

JC De Vera is an Associate Director at Hirsch Philanthropy Partners, where he collaborates with philanthropists to develop impactful solutions to issues ranging from basic needs to democracy. JC previously served as Nurturing Equity Movements Fellow at theSan Francisco Foundation, where he led the Rapid Response Fund for Movement Building, granting over $1M to grassroots organizations in the Bay Area advancing racial and economic equity. He has advanced policy change through community engagement and communications as a David Bohnett Policy Fellow for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and as Communications Manager at The Greenlining Institute, a leading California nonprofit in racial and economic justice policy.

JC currently serves as Co-Chair for the Bay Area chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, and is the Chairperson for Lacuna Giving Circle, a group of queer Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) pooling resources together to democratize philanthropy and helpfill in resource gaps to organizations serving AAPI and LGBTQ+ communities. He is an alum of the Justice Funders Harmony Initiative, New Leaders Council San Francisco, and Front Line Leaders Academy. A proud Double Bruin, he holds a B.A. in Sociology and Asian American Studies from UCLA and a Master of Public Policy from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

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

2017 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Estefania Zavala, MPP '18

Estefania Zavala is currently the Project Lead for Digital Engagement in the City of Long Beach’s Technology and Innovation Department where she works on projects that improve the City’s digital service delivery to residents. She graduated with a Master of Public Policy degree from UCLA Luskin in 2018. In graduate school, she was the Outreach Co-Chair for Policy Professionals for Diversity and Equity,Diversity, Disparities, and Differences (D3) Project Manager, and interned for the City of Santa Monica.She’s focused on building a collaborative, innovative form of local governance that engages and empowers its communities. She is passionate about: data storytelling, equitable policymaking, and Long Beach coffee shops.

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

2018 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Marissa Ayala, MPP '19

Marissa is currently a policy fellow with the Los Angeles County’s Women and Girls Initiative, helping develop county-wide policy recommendations with a specific emphasis on low-income girls of color.

She graduated from Luskin in 2019, where she focused heavily on environmental policy and its impacts on marginalized communities. Her APP team worked with SCOPE, a CBO focused on environmental justice, to analyze how the state can best use cap-and-trade funds to reduce environmental burdens and create economic opportunity in low-income areas. As a student she served as co-chair of Outreach for Policy Professionals for Diversity and Equity (PPDE), facilitating programs to recruit and retain historically underrepresented students to the MPP program. She continues to work with current students as a member of the PPDE alumni committee. While at Luskin she developed a focus on using R to analyze large datasets and visualize data, and loved her time as a TA for public affairs undergraduates.

Prior to joining Luskin, she earned a degree in International Relations and a minor in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from the University of California, Davis, where she enjoyed long naps on the quad and searching for the elusive arboretum otter.

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

2018 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Robert Gamboa, MPP '19

Robert Gamboa, MPP 2019, is currently Co-Chair of the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board (LGAB) for the City of West Hollywood and a Senior Policy Analyst for the Los Angeles LGBT Center. He has served on LGAB for 8 years as an appointed city official working to advance policy and programming initiatives for the LGBTQ community in West Hollywood. Since July of 2019, Robert has been working in the Public Policy Department at the Los Angeles LGBT Center focusing on homelessness, housing, infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and COVID-19, and working with his team on other pressing issues such as immigration, seniors, youth, civil rights, the census and so much more.

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

2018 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Gabriela Solis, MPP/MSW '19

Gabriela Solis is a Government Innovation Fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab (GPL). She is currently based in Houston, Texas and works with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to strengthen the County’s pre-arrest diversion strategies to reduce jail usage and subsequent justice system involvement. Gabriela recently earned a Master of Social Welfare and Master of Public Policy from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. While at UCLA Luskin, Gabriela worked with the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative to conduct data research to help advance advocacy efforts pertaining to critical domestic policy issues affecting communities of color and served as Co-Director of Case Management for Bruin Shelter, a shelter for college students experiencing homelessness. Gabriela also holds a BA in Gender Studies and Sociology from UCLA.

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

2018 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Caio Velasco, MPP '19

Caio Velasco is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a Mechanical Engineer by training, who graduated in the top 1% of his class at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), a respected university in Brazil.

Notable achievements include: MPP 2019 at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs where he was awarded three fellowships (MPP Alumni Leadership & Service Fellowship, Luskin Graduate Fellowship, and Lemman Fellowship). Founder of MePrepara.com.br, an online learning platform to prepare low-income students for the GRE / GMAT quantitative sections. Founder of PoliOpenCourse, a free online platform that fosters the sharing of open-source content among engineering students. Founder of PreVestibular.org, a free online platform to connect Community Prep Schools with volunteer teachers and low-income prospective college students. Participant at the Global Pre-MBA Leadership Program at Yale School of Management, sponsored by Goldman Sachs. Participant at the Change Course Conference, sponsored by The Club of Rome in Switzerland. Exchange Program at NC State University granted with the CAPES/FIPSE Full-Scholarship, USA. Semifinalist among over 8,000 students in the Inspiring Youth Award at Estudar Foundation, Brazil. Merit-based scholarship from the General Electric Foundation to the top 10 engineering students in Brail (General Electric Foundation Scholar-Leaders Program).

Caio is passionate about Economics, Education, and Health, and hopes to contribute to public policies formulation in Brazil in the future. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student in Economics at Tilburg University (Netherlands), ranked 17th worldwide in Economics & Business byUS News Best Global University, 2020.

Please visit Caio’s LinkedIn to learn more about his professional experience.

2018 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Erica Webster, MPP '19

Erica is a Program Manager at the Los Angeles County Office of Diversion Reentry where she works to strengthen alternatives to incarceration and increase access to permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals with severe mental health disorders. She graduated from UCLA Luskin as a Master of Public Policy in 2019. At Luskin, she was the Communications Chair for Policy Professionals for Diversity and Equity (PPDE), a graduate fellow in Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office, and honored to be part of the APP team to win highest honors for their project “Establishing a Consent Policy for Youth Diversion in Los Angeles County.”

Prior to graduate school, Erica was a policy analyst at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, where she published reports analyzing justice policy and youth incarceration, and organized to elevate the voices of incarcerated people and communities most affected by the criminal legal system.

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

2019 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Irma Castañeda, MPP '20

Irma Castañeda is a second year Master of Public Policy candidate at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her experience as a first-generation college student has driven her passion to advocate for higher education policies that increase college access and affordability for underrepresented students. Irma has conducted research with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to inform program practices that increase community college access and preparation. During her time at Luskin, Irma has been an active member of Policy Professionals for Diversity and Equity, serving as Outreach Co-Chair this year and helping to recruit a diverse MPP cohort. Last year, she participated in student advocacy efforts through her role as Organizing Director with the UCLA Graduate Student Association and volunteering with the First Generation Graduate Student Council.

Prior to graduate school, Irma worked as a case manager for Child and Family Guidance Center where she advocated for clients and linked them to resources in their communities. Irma also has experience as a college advisor, guiding underrepresented students through the college application and financial aid process. In her free time, Irma enjoys trying out all the boba and ice cream places in her neighborhood, latin dancing, and listening to podcasts.

Please visit Irma’s LinkedIn for more on their professional experience.

2019 MPP Alumni Fellowship Recipient Devon Schechinger, MPP '20

Devon Schechinger is a Master of Public Policy candidate at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs where she is an advocate for global health policy and foreign diplomacy. Prior to graduate school, Devon was the program manager for Mission Bit, an education non profit teaching STEM courses to traditionally underrepresented public high school students in San Francisco and East Oakland.

In pursuit of tackling some of the biggest problems we face today, Devon has had some remarkable experiences in direct service; from volunteering on a farm and health clinic in Kenya to providing ski lessons for the mentally and physically disabled in Telluride, Colorado. Since then, she has been able to draw on these experiences as an opportunity to encourage her community, from colleagues to Congressional staffers, to engage in the health policy discussion.

In her spare time, Devon loves to volunteer for organizations including Heal the Bay and Girls on the Run-LA, trail run, climb mountains, and ski!

Please visit Devon’s LinkedIn for more on their professional experience.