Meet the Fall 2020 Women in Leadership
Cohort 4: Southern California

We’re thrilled to announce our fourth WIL Southern California cohort!

Alyson Austin
Gaffney Austin, LLC
Alyson Austin, co-founder of Gaffney Austin, LLC, a boutique public relations firm serving real estate, mortgage, and fintech clients. For more than 30-years Alyson has provided first-rate strategic communications counsel to clients that must speak with clarity and purpose. She is a seasoned spokesperson with media and public relations expertise gained during a career that spans non-profit organizations, federal government agencies, public and private companies. Throughout her professional life Alyson has developed a reputation for creating winning strategies to drive media attention and top-tier coverage of unique data, acquisitions, startup funding, leadership and senior-level managers, company reputation and innovative products. Her extensive experience coupled with her ability to handle key decision-makers and stakeholders has enabled her to produce measurable results for clients. By participating in the Women in Leadership program Alyson intends to advance the agenda for safe and affordable housing in the State of California and across the nation.

Camille Camello-Zendejas
Manager of Volunteer Services
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Camille Camello-Zendejas is the manager of the Volunteer Services department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center which boasts over 2,500 volunteers. She has utilized her knowledge in volunteerism to develop and enhance the use of volunteers in the inpatient and outpatient setting. Camille has been able to create many innovative and diverse programs that enhance the use of volunteers that help improve the experience of patients and visitors. Camille has provided support, mentorship and training to volunteers that interact and support patients in oncology, infectious disease, pediatrics, ICU and various outreach community programs. Camille takes pride in the success of the volunteer programs and the success of the volunteer department, which is one of the largest volunteer departments affiliated with a health system, nationwide. Camille is hoping to gain knowledge on developing competencies in managing organizational complexity, strategic thinking and acting credibility while managing up and across the organization.

Mairin Chesney
Software Engineer
Mairin Chesney is a software engineer at Google. As the reliability lead for Google Maps on the Web, Mairin is responsible for building and overseeing processes to ensure the safe delivery of Google Maps to those who rely on it. Mairin is passionate about working with youth. She previously served as a member of the Junior Board of Girlventures – an organization that works to inspire girls to lead through outdoor adventure. Throughout her career, Mairin has built outreach and recruitment programs at colleges and universities not traditionally targeted by large tech companies. With the Coro Women in Leadership Program, Mairin hopes to emerge with a re-invigorated sense of who she is and can be as a leader and to support and be supported by the other WIL women. New to Los Angeles, Mairin enjoys spending time getting to know the city by running through it.

Tina Chinakarn, MPH
Program Officer
First 5 LA
Tina Chinakarn is a public health professional with extensive non-profit, public and philanthropic sector experience. She has dedicated a majority of her career leading innovative initiatives impacting young children and families in Los Angeles County. Tina has cultivated meaningful relationships with county departments, health plans and community organizations to address children’s health insurance coverage, health disparities and trauma-informed care. With a passion to support vulnerable communities and address systemic racism, Tina has been a Board member of the Thai Community Development Center and is an active member of her local Palms Neighborhood Council Racial & Social Justice Committee. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and her Masters in Public Health from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Tina looks forward to developing a kinship with strong and ambitious women in different fields to advance her professional growth and evolve her personal mission.

Katrina Forbes
Civil Engineer/Project Manager
City of Los Angeles-Bureau of Engineering
Katrina Forbes has 10 years of experience and serves as a Civil Engineer/Project Manager for the City of  Los Angeles. She serves as a core member on major capital projects representing the Bureau of  Engineering. She currently manages capital improvement projects at the City’s four water reclamation plants estimated at $60M. Ms. Forbes is a registered Professional Engineer, holds a Master of Business  Administration (MBA) and is certified as a Envision Sustainability Professional. Ms. Forbes is currently serving as the first Racial Equity Officer for the Bureau of Engineering. She is passionate to become a voice for the advancement of equality in all areas within the City. Ms. Forbes is excited about joining the Coro  Women in Leadership training to establish networking with women from other industries going forward. The experience transfer with other women on how to confront and manage difficult challenges within her organization is essential for success.

Vida Gholami
Project Manager-Enterprise Asset Management 
Southern California Gas Company
Vida Gholami is a Project Manager working in Enterprise Asset management team at Southern California Gas Company. Vida has 10 years of broad experience in petroleum/reservoir engineering and advanced data analytics, working as a Research Associate, Reservoir Engineer/ Consultant and Storage Field Engineer. She has a B.Sc, M.Sc and a Ph.D in petroleum engineering, and is currently enrolled for an M.Sc in Data analytics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. While she enjoys dealing with technical problems, she is passionate about growing her leadership capabilities. She is looking forward to attending the Women in Leadership program to gain insights on how to enhance her leadership skills, make a network of powerful women and learn from a diverse group’s experience and leverage it in her professional life.

Jennifer Haro
Gas Scheduling Team Lead in Gas Control and System Planning
Southern California Gas Company
Jennifer Haro is a Gas Scheduling Team Lead in Gas Control and System Planning for SoCalGas. Jennifer brings 17 years of diverse background, leadership and experience in her various roles with the utility. Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from California State University San Bernardino and is working towards her Master’s Degree in Organizational Management from Ashford University, which she is a member of the Golden Key International Honors Society. Jennifer hopes CORO WIL will bring robust perspectives, enhance partnerships to collaborate across all sectors, and bring about positive change to our communities.

Erica Jaramillo
Policy Supervisor
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority
Erica Jaramillo is a Policy Supervisor at the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, where she is focused on issues of equity, accessibility, and community engagement in the policymaking process. Erica also has ten years of experience in education, working in underserved communities as a teacher in public schools and as an academic program manager for a nonprofit. Erica has a lifelong commitment to volunteering in the communities in which she lives, and currently serves as a commissioner on Pasadena’s Human Services Commission. Erica earned her bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University and her master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Erica is excited to learn from and engage with women from across Southern California and ultimately strengthen her leadership skills to advance the mission of her organization.

Vicki P. Klopsch
Executive Director, Laspa Center for Leadership 
Scripps College
Vicki Klopsch earned her MA in organizational and multicultural communication from DePaul University and specializes in communication, strategic planning, and program assessment. She has held positions in advertising, social services, cultural institutions, and education. She is currently the executive director of the Laspa Center for Leadership at Scripps College. Under Vicki’s leadership in a previous role at Scripps, the career center was twice recognized as a top 20 career center by The Princeton Review. During that time, she also led an overhaul of student employment that incorporated new standards and classifications still in use. Prior to joining Scripps, Vicki managed a nationally recognized mentoring program. She is a frequent speaker and conference presenter. Vicki is a member of the Board of Directors for DC-based Public Leadership Education Network and serves as annual fund chair for a local public school. A cancer survivor, Vicki lives in Pasadena, CA with her partner and two daughters.

Bonnie Lee
Software Team Lead
Southern California Gas Company
Bonnie Lee has been a software team lead at SoCalGas for fifteen years. She is committed to expanding her professional network. She is looking forward to learning from the experiences and insights of others. She hopes to leverage the program to increase her leadership effectiveness.

Melissa S. Lee
Director for Planning & Community Engagement and West Coast Division Lead
Melissa S. Lee is the Director for Planning & Community Engagement and West Coast Division Lead for Concordia, a boutique architect and planning firm dedicated to the creation of harmonious spaces. She leads an integrated team of planners, designers, and technical experts. Melissa has over 20 years of experience as a public servant, community organizer, and urban planner shepherding socially innovative programs from inception to completion across several U.S. cities. She received a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Redlands and an M.P.A from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. Through the Coro Women in Leadership Fellowship, Melissa looks forward to building cross-sector relationships to create planning processes that are more responsive to the quality of life demands of all populations, developing new tools to dissipate racial and socioeconomic disparities, and diversifying the planning arena.

Dorothy Le Suchkova
Senior Regional Planner, Active Transportation and Special Programs Department
Southern California Association of Governments
Dorothy Le Suchkova is a Senior Regional Planner in the Active Transportation and Special Programs Department with the Southern California Association of Governments. Previously she worked as a Program Manager of Place-Based Strategies for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. She has worked in many capacities at the intersection of equity, active transportation, advocacy, policy and community engagement. She has a Masters of City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University and received her bachelor’s degree from UCLA.

Katherine Lin
Senior Energy Carbon and Trading Advisor
Southern California Gas Company
Katherine Lin is a Senior Energy Carbon and Trading Advisor for Southern California Gas Company and has worked there since 2003. In her current role, Katherine trades carbon allowances, Low Carbon Fuel Standards credits, and interacts with RNG and carbon offset suppliers. Her responsibilities include building and maintaining relationships with California offset developers and regulatory agencies, overseeing risk management activities in trading, and assisting financial natural gas hedging activities. Through Coro Women in Leadership she hopes to build on her strengths and push herself to learn how to creatively build sustained partnerships, effectively communicate, influence and inspire trust, broaden her knowledge in leadership, and more effectively navigate workplace politics to facilitate collaboration. Katherine has a degree in Environmental Sciences from University California of Irvine and a MBA from California State University in Fullerton.  She is certified in Energy Risk Management from Princeton. 

Maria Melo
Policy and Operations Manager
Los Angeles LGBT Center
Maria Melo is a policy and international affairs professional with 20+ years of experience in the government and non-profit sectors in Los Angeles, Washington D.C, and Latin America. Skilled at stakeholder engagement, policy advocacy, and strategy development, Maria has dedicated her life to what she loves doing the most: bridging diverse communities and engaging stakeholders to achieve a greater policy impact. As a former foreign service professional (10+ years in the Colombian diplomatic service), and as a Latina LGBT immigrant woman, Maria is proud to work today as a Policy and Operations Manager at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the largest LGBT organization in the world. On any given day, you will see Maria working side by side with key community and government leaders at the local, state and federal level, as well as building cross-sector coalitions, and advocating passionately for building a better world— a world in which LGBT people can be healthy, equal, and complete members of society.

Setareh Mortazavi
Regulatory Counsel 
Southern California Gas Company
Setareh Mortazavi is Regulatory Counsel for SoCalGas. Setareh launched her career in 2015, when she started as a Legal Research Attorney at SoCalGas. In that role, Setareh handled all facets of personal injury and property defense lawsuits, and worked on various regulatory and commercial matters. Setareh was promoted to Counsel in 2017. Setareh Mortazavi received her B.A. and J.D. from UCLA. Through her participation in this program, Setareh hopes to uncover her own unique leadership style, identify gaps that need to be addressed for her to become a great leader, and to discover her leadership strengths and how she can leverage those strengths.  Setareh also hopes to gain the skills to be able to steer a team through complex situations and effectively make decisions in uncertain situations, creatively build relationships and solve problems, and enhance her ability to affect positive change within her Organization.

Kavita Ravindran
Senior Software Developer
Southern California Gas Company
Kavita Ravindran is a Senior Software Developer at Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) since 2015.  She has over 23 years of work experience in the field of GIS, focusing on developing custom applications using ESRI product and technologies.  In her current role with SoCalGas, she is the lead application developer on several GIS projects and has contributed towards their successful and timely implementation by collaborating with vendors, business clients and delegating and managing work within the team.  Prior to joining SoCalGas, Kavita worked as a GIS consultant with the City of Los Angeles where she was the primary application developer for their online map-based tool that provides information about property zone and land use within the city. With Women in Leadership program, Kavita is looking forward to meeting new leaders, and through the mutual exchange of knowledge and experiences – gain important skills to become a successful leader in the future.

Brenda Salas
Disability Coordinator
Para Los Niños
Brenda Salas attended California State University, Long Beach, where she majored in Psychology. She then went on to Arizona State University to pursue a Master’s Degree in Advanced Studies in Infant and Family Practice. She is currently the Disability Coordinator for Para Los Niños’ Head Starts/Early Head Starts in Los Angeles, CA. She is currently part of a leadership team at her organization and hopes to gain the skills to communicate effectively with different leadership styles.

Beatriz Villarreal
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority
Beatriz is a Coordinator for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. She oversees the transitional housing portfolio with a focus on supporting programs that serve transition age youth and domestic violence survivors. Beatriz has been working with vulnerable populations for over ten years in the LA area. With CORO’s WIL, she is seeking to inform and improve her ability to navigate political spaces to better advocate for programs and participants.

Aza Voskanyan
Legal Plan Administrator and Manager
ALADS Legal Defense Fund
Aza is the legal plan administrator and manager for the legal defense fund of the  Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS). Aza has worked diligently to serve plan participants by streamlining access to invaluable legal services. She has proudly developed and implemented strategies to achieve the customer service goals of her organization. Using her BA degree in sociology she has served her community in the educational and law enforcement field for more than twenty years while always lending a hand to charities she holds near her heart like the Armenian Relief Fund and Hope Heals Hearts.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time gardening and playing chess with her teenage boys. Through the Coro Women in Leadership Fellowship, Aza hopes to expand her breadth of knowledge and further strengthen her mission to provide strong and ethical leadership in her organization. She looks forward to working with other committed individuals to enhance her professional and personal growth.

Christine N. Wood
Best & Krieger LLP
Christine N. Wood leads Best & Krieger LLP’s ARC: Advanced Records Center, which provides support to public agencies for records-related matters, including California Public Records Act requests. An attorney and Certified E-Discovery Specialist, Christine is also an experienced and sought-after trainer and presenter. Before joining BB&K, Christine worked as an assistant general counsel at the Los Angeles Unified School District. Christine received her law degree from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. She earned a Masters of Public Administration from California State University, Northridge, with distinction, and a Bachelor of Science from California State University, Dominguez Hills with concentrations in marketing and advertising. Christine was born and raised in Los Angeles, where she lives with her daughter.