Women in Leadership
SoCal Cohort 5

We’re thrilled to announce our 5th Women in Leadership SoCal Cohort!

Shendel Bernal
Principal Business Analyst
Southern California Gas Company
Shendel Bernal is currently the Principal Business Analyst for the Emissions Reduction Program within Southern California Gas Company.  Shendel is responsible for the financial planning, forecasting, budgeting, and accounting assignments for the $400 million natural gas emissions reduction program which main objective is to reduce greenhouse emissions by 20% by the year 2025.  In her current role, she has worked diligently with her team to develop the program’s cost tracking mechanism, project control strategies, and program governance.  Through her 13-year career at SoCalGas, Shendel has worked in project & asset accounting, business planning & budgets for gas distribution operations, and in customer services as a Customer Contact Center supervisor. Shendel holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from California State University, San Bernardino.  As a Coro Women in Leadership program participant, Shendel looks forward to networking with other women from diverse experiences and organizations as well as to build upon her leadership skills to support women in her organization.

Lauren Chang
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, LLP
Lauren Chang helps her clients build livable and sustainable cities in Southern California.  As a land use attorney at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, LLP, Lauren counsels property owners, private and public developers, and non-profit organizations on real estate developments, including transit-oriented, multi-family residential, affordable housing, mixed-use, and park projects on urban infill sites.  Lauren has special expertise in projects that adaptively reuse and integrate existing buildings on sites, especially those with eligible and designated historic resources.  Lauren double majored in Art History and Political Science at the University of California Davis and received her Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law.  Lauren is thrilled to be part of CORO’s Women in Leadership Program, and looks forward to making connections with other professional women from various sectors and diverse backgrounds.

Adrienne Dellinger, Ph.D.
Partner, Senior Researcher
Vital Research
Adrienne is a Partner and Senior Researcher at Vital Research, a private research and evaluation consulting firm based in Los Angeles. For over 13 years, she has worked in different research and evaluation capacities in universities and the private sector. In her current role, she is focused on developing partnerships with organizations, designing and implementing evaluations, and using mixed methods and data visualization to provide real-time, actionable results for nonprofit organizations. Adrienne is trained in social research methods with specific expertise in evaluation including design, logic models, instrument design, and dissemination. She has her Ph.D. in Social Research Methodology with a focus in program evaluation from the University of California, Los Angeles, and holds an MPH from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Community Health Sciences with a concentration in Women’s Health and a BA in Psychology. She is excited to expand her network and develop creative leadership skills through the Coro program.

Evette Ellis
Co Founder & Chief Workforce Officer
Charger Help Inc.
Evette Ellis is co-founder, and chief workforce development officer at Charger Help Inc. Evette is dedicated to empowering decision-makers to take massive action towards impactful, equitable and lasting change through the lens of workforce development. Her ten-year career with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps where she served as a career transition and outreach specialist has allowed both an internal and external understanding of how to develop workforce alongside actual work, specifically for people of color.  Evette is an impactful, thought provoking and candid industry expert, now focused on technology, innovation, and eco-conscious workforce development. Evette is most excited to broaden her knowledge and self-awareness.  Evette is committed to life-long learning and exploring other leadership ideas and practices outside of her own hoping to better lead those she serves. Evette is thrilled to participate in Coro’s Women in Leadership, she is confident she will grow as a result.

Katherine Fuentes
Assistant City Manager
City of Pico Rivera
Katherine Fuentes is the Assistant City Manager for the City of Pico Rivera. In her time at the City, she has focused on developing people to ultimately improve systems and processes throughout the organization. As the previous General Manager of the Pico Rivera Innovative Municipal Energy (PRIME) Program, Katherine administered a $14M budget, managed new and ongoing program development, oversaw all customer service operations, and planned strategic long-term capital investment. As the Assistant City Manager, Katherine has refocused her efforts from managing projects to empowering, motivating, and mentoring people. She believes that true leadership is about helping others reach their full potential and is excited at the prospect of refining her skills with the CORO WIL Cohort. In addition to meeting other fabulous, courageous women, Katherine looks forward to the deep exploration and discovery that awaits.

Khin Khin Gyi
Private Practice
Khin Khin Gyi is a neurologist in private practice with a background in Functional Medicine. She was born  in Mandalay, Burma, now known as Myanmar. Her journey began when she came to this country as an  immigrant with her parents after which they all became naturalized US citizens. She grew up in a small  town called Lewiston, Maine where her father taught political science at the local college, Bates College.  Khin Khin attended Bates College and then Georgetown University where she received her Ph.D. She  then attended University of Vermont, where she received her M.D. After finishing her neurology residency  at USC and then her neuroimmunology fellowship at UCLA, she worked for Kaiser Permanente where  she eventually was appointed founding chief of neurology at Kaiser Baldwin Park. Since 2005, she has  been in private practice formatting her practice as a concierge neurology practice and lately as a  telemedicine practice. She hopes to infuse equity, inclusivity and diversity into her practice with training  from CORO.

Jillian Hegedus
Vice President for Client Services
JCI Worldwide
Jillian Hegedus is the Vice President for Client Services at JCI Worldwide, a public affairs, government affairs, and political consulting firm based in Santa Monica. She is passionate about grassroots coalition building, educational equity, and making local political involvement accessible for everyone. She currently works to manage the JCI team, client engagement, and campaign creation & execution. Before working in her current role, she taught 7th & 8th grade English and 8th grade U.S. History in Houston, Texas for three years with Teach for America. Jillian earned a B.A. in Middle Eastern Media & Communications from Texas A&M University and a Master’s in Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California. She looks forward to learning from the other women in this cohort and refining her leadership skills.

Teree Henderson
Senior Manager
Partnership for Public Service
Teree Henderson is a Senior Manager at the Partnership for Public Service. In this role, she is responsible for the organization’s West Coast portfolio which includes designing programs that improve federal government effectiveness and building relationships with leaders in government, education, and the private sector. Prior to joining the Partnership, Teree worked for over a decade at the Environmental Protection Agency where she led various initiatives that assisted minority and woman-owned small businesses in the federal contracting process. Born and raised in the DC area, Teree graduated magna cum laude with a B.B.A in Business Marketing from Howard University. By participating in the CORO Women in Leadership Program, she hopes to develop a stronger leadership presence and build her network in California.

Gabriela Herrera
Director of Compliance and Risk
Para Los Niños
Gabby serves as the Director of Compliance and Risk for Para Los Niños (PLN), where she has been instrumental in mitigating PLN’s risk by reviewing all contracts and ensuring that policies and procedures are created and upheld.  Under Gabby’s purview and responsibility, she renews, manages and maintains multiple insurance policies for the agency and works closely with government agencies and community partners in making sure that PLN adheres to all contractual obligations. Besides having to develop strong relationships with brokers, carriers and auditors, she also works very closely with internal programs to certify compliance with all mandated trainings and regulations set in place by various entities.  Gabby currently serves as the Compliance Officer for the Covid-19 Task Force and has ensured that PLN is and continues to be a safe workplace and agency throughout this pandemic. In her 10-year tenure at PLN, she continues to be passionate about the work of serving low-income students, families and communities through mission-driven, exceptional leadership, resiliency and cultural awareness.  As part of CORO Women in Leadership, Gabby looks forward to making new lasting connections with other strong women who have a passion for their careers and the dedication to achieve anything they set their minds to.

Julia Lippe-Klein
Local Planning Program Manager
Southern California Association of Governments
Julia Lippe-Klein (she/her). As the Local Planning Program Manager at the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), Julia has been developing strategic, creative programs for more than 11 years. She currently manages SCAG’s nationally recognized Go Human program, an award-winning active transportation and community engagement program. She also manages SCAG’s Sustainable Communities Program, a $15M grant program in support of implementation of the Regional Transportation Plan & Sustainable Communities Strategy. As a collaborative leader, Julia is deeply anchored in participatory planning and relational organizing, guided by care, healing, justice, accountability, connection and repair. Through the Coro Women in Leadership program, she hopes to build meaningful systems of support and explore thoughtful new leadership strategies. Julia has a BA from Brown University and her MA from the University of California, Los Angeles in Urban and Regional Planning.

Carolina Morera
Vice President – Relationship Manager
1st Century Bank
Carolina Morera is a Vice President – Relationship Manager for 1st Century Bank. She is responsible for representing commercial banking clients and assisting them with their lending and banking needs. She has more than 20 years of banking expertise, making her well versed in commercial, asset-based and cash flow lending solutions to privately held companies. Throughout her carrier she has sourced, negotiated, and closed over $320 million in commercial loans. Carolina earned a B.S. degree in Finance, with an emphasis in International Trade, graduated with honors at the Sergio Arboleda University in Bogota- Colombia where she is originally from. An avid volunteer and philanthropist, Carolina serves on the Board of Directors of The Westside Food Bank – a social services organization in Santa Monica California that provides nutritious food for local people facing hunger and food insecurity. Over the last year Westside Food Bank was able to distribute nearly 4.5 million pounds of nutritious food to member agencies in support of their social service missions. Two years ago she joined the founding committee of motivated women that launched 1st Century Bank’s Women’s Connection- an educational discussion group that brings awareness to issues women face in their personal and professional development. It promotes an inclusive environment where women feel safe to share their experiences, strengthening the strategic relationships between senior and junior women, and building a community where women at 1CB can find practical solutions for defining their individual vision of success. She looks forward to growing her leadership skills while engaging in a network that empowers women.

Maya Mouawad
Best Best & Krieger LLP
Maya is an attorney with BB&K’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources practice group, primarily focused on water rights matters and California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). She is on the team handling the Las Posas Valley Basin groundwater adjudication, the first adjudication intersecting SGMA, and the water rights litigation in the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin. Maya previously served as assistant general counsel for the Palmdale Water District and special counsel for the Carson Reclamation Authority. Maya held externships with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the California Appellate Court while attending Loyola Law School. She also holds an MBA degree and is experienced in complex transactional commercial real estate matters, which build on her pre-law, 15-year career as a housing market analyst with national real estate brokerage and housing market research firms. Maya is looking forward to refining her leadership skills and learning from others’ experiences.

Paige O’Donnell
Senior Development Manager
Century Affordable Development, Inc. (CADI)
Paige O’Donnell is a Senior Development Manager at CADI, the real estate development division of Century Housing Corporation. With an educational background in architecture and a commitment to housing as a fundamental human right, Paige pursued a career in building affordable housing communities.  Over the past decade, Paige has worked in both the for-profit and non-profit sector, securing over $450 million to finance 1,300+ new units of high-quality affordable housing for families, seniors and formerly homeless households. Paige is excited to join the Coro Women in Leadership cohort to refine her leadership skills and learn from the experiences of a diverse group of women working across different industries. Her ultimate goal is to become an inspirational leader that can successfully attract, grow and retain talent in the affordable housing industry to address both the homelessness crisis and housing shortage in Southern California.

Sofia Peralta
System Components Coordinator
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority
Sofia Peralta is a System Components Coordinator at the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, where she oversees the Interim Housing portfolio. Her role is to develop, design, and implement both City and County of Los Angeles Interim Housing programs. Some of the projects include A Bridge Home, Enhanced Bridge Housing for Women and Older Adults, and most recently Project Homekey. Sofia received her undergraduate degree from California State University of Los Angeles where she majored in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. She then went onto California State University of Long Beach for her Master of Science in Criminal Justice. Sofia has over ten years of experience in academics and research, working in vulnerable populations including youth and adults. Sofia is excited to foster relationships among women leaders within different fields and to expand my perspective and understand different viewpoints thereby allowing her to create positive change in her community.

Diana Rodriguez
Operations Coordinator
Para Los Niños
Diana Rodriguez has worked in the field of education for almost 20 years. She has had different roles between two school districts and is currently the Operations Coordinator for three charter schools operated by Para Los Niños (PLN), a non-profit organization in the heart of Los Angeles. Working closely with people in different leadership roles has allowed Diana to learn and grow professionally and on a personal level. While her current role involves the organization and compliance components of the charter schools, Diana is inspired to execute her tasks in the most efficient way possible knowing that what she does plays a role in improving the lives of the children and families that PLN serves. Through Women in Leadership, she hopes to hone in on her leadership skills and gain confidence to be the best version of herself. 

Lorena M. Sanchez
Senior Director of Development and Communication
Downtown Women’s Center (DWC)
Lorena leads DWC’s advocacy, development, communication, and community engagement activities including generating ten million in annual giving and grants, and the recruitment and training of over 5,000 volunteers. Prior to joining DWC, Lorena served for three years as Director of Admission for USC’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. She previously worked for seven years as a communication officer at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France, overseeing a web-based civic engagement platform covering 40 countries in seven languages. Lorena holds a dual Bachelor of Arts in journalism and international relations and a Master’s of Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California. She is excited to connect with women who want to develop themselves, their organization, and mentor the next generation of community leaders.