CHCI Alumni Association Launches TWO New Chapters
We are proud to announce the launch of two new regional chapters of the CHCI Alumni Association: Bay Area - Northern California, and Denver, Colorado!
Special thanks to the dedicated alumni leaders who have committed their time and talent toward supporting CHCI's mission of developing the next generation of Latino leaders in their local communities around the Nation!
Bay Area - Northern California
President: Andres Quintero
Andres Quintero is an East San Jose native and lifelong resident. Andres began his educational career at San Antonio Elementary. Upon graduation from Mount Pleasant High School, he enrolled at Evergreen Valley College and subsequently transferred to San Jose State where he earned a BA in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration. Andres’ wide breadth of public policy knowledge is derived from his experience at the City, County, State and Federal level. Andres was selected to be a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Intern in 2003 and worked in the office of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. He has worked as staff to a San Jose City Councilmember, members of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and presently as District Director in the California State Assembly.
Andres’ dedication to his community is evidenced in his commitment to public service. Andres’ demonstrated leadership has led his peers to elect him to lead various organizations. Presently, Andres serves as President of the Alum Rock School Board and as Chair of the San Jose International Airport Commission. He also serves on an oversight committee for the East Side Union High School District and serves on the board of various nonprofit and civic organizations.
Vice President: Verenice Andrade
Raised in California’s Central Valley, Verenice Andrade is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and is the first in her family to graduate college. Her educational journey has taken her to teach English in Brazil, study Arabic in Egypt, and work for historically underrepresented communities here in the U.S. In 2008, Verenice was selected for the CHCI Congressional Internship Program and interned in the office of Congressman Jim Moran.
Currently, Verenice serves as a paralegal for Sundeen Salinas & Pyle, a plaintiff-side law firm in Oakland, California which helps clients with labor violations, wrongful termination, and personal injury matters. Prior to this, she was a paralegal for Catholic Charities of the East Bay where she helped hundreds of East Bay families receive immigration relief. In providing direct legal services, Verenice has seen the impact of laws and policies on the Latino community and other marginalized communities in the U.S. Her personal and professional experience further her commitment to be an advocate for said communities.
Verenice received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 2011. She was a McNair Scholar and conducted research on the presence of Islamophobia in the Latino community. She has volunteered at the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Centro Legal de la Raza, and the Multicultural Institute. Verenice is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and basic in Modern Standard Arabic.
Secretary/Treasurer: Jessica Barajas
Jessica Barajas was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in her parent's native Jalisco, Mexico. She earned her Master’s degree in Policy, Leadership, and Organizational Studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014 and her Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Education with a minor in Latin American Studies from Swarthmore College. In 2008, Jessica was selected as one of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Summer Interns and worked in the office of now-former Congressman Joe Baca.
Jessica’s former professional experience includes working as a research assistant at Stanford’s Understanding Language initiative focused on helping advance educational equity for English Language Learners, as program manager of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Latinos on Fast Track (LOFT), and as a political campaign field organizer in Albuquerque New Mexico. Jessica speaks English and Spanish and is deeply interested in Latin American Studies.
President: Vanessa Quintana
Vanessa Quintana is a Chicana born and raised in East Denver. Despite her high school closing during her freshmen year, Vanessa’s determination led her to become the first in her family to graduate from high school. She later went on to become a Daniel’s Scholar, which gave her the opportunity to attend Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska. Vanessa graduated from Hastings College May 2013 with B.A. in Peace, Justice, and Social Change with a minor in Communications Studies.
Since she has graduated college, Vanessa has completed a nine-month public policy fellowship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Inc. in Washington, D.C. During her fellowship, Vanessa helped congressional staffers move legislation forward while interning on the Hill and contributed to SEIU’s airports campaign with extensive research on the regulation, guidance, and enforcement of the Air Carrier Access Act. Through this experience, Vanessa was inspired to return to home town to work with education policy and impact her community.
As a program consultant with the Department of Education, Vanessa assists the Dropout Prevention and Student Re-engagement Unit and the Migrant Education Program. Vanessa contributes to the Dropout Prevention unit through support with technical assistance for five school districts for their student re-engagement efforts. In addition, she is the project coordinator of the School Emergency Management grant. Vanessa also assists the Migrant Education Program in the capacity of youth initiatives, including but not limited to, coordinating the Summer Migrant Youth Leadership Institute and supporting the Close Up civics project. Through these roles, Vanessa’s goal is to move more first-generation, minority, and low-income students through the educational pipeline so that they can break the cycle of poverty within their respective communities.
Vice President: Guillermo Barriga
Guillermo Barriga is a 2008 CHCI Scholarship recipient. He graduated from Georgetown University in 2011 with a degree in International Politics. After college Guillermo immersed himself in political work but eventually realized that his passion lies in education.
He currently works as a youth advocate for the Metro Migrant Education Program serving migratory agricultural families so that their children can graduate from high school. In his spare time, he likes to ride his bike through town, watch movies and travel.
Secretary/Treasurer: Karolina Villagrana
Karolina Villagrana is an assistant principal at STRIVE Preparatory- Federal, a middle school in the South West Denver community that consist largely of low-income Latino families, where the inequality of education is prevalent. In her role she provides instructional coaching, leads professional development, and maintains a strong student culture to support a rigorous learning environment. Additionally, she works collaboratively with parents through community meetings and parent workshops so they may become active participant in their child’s education.
Prior to STRIVE Preparatory, Karolina was a founding teacher of second and third grade math at Rocketship Education in San Jose, California, served as a Congressional Intern with US Senator Ken Salazar with CHCI in 2008, and a Teach for America Alumni. She was born and raised in Denver, graduated with honors from the University of Colorado – Denver, received her Masters of Education from the University of Missouri, and will receive her Masters of Educational Leadership from Columbia University in 2016. Karolina aims to open an elementary school in South West Denver where she can establish an environment that contributes to the development of teachers and will lead towards students’ academic success.