LeadersUp is currently working in 3 markets to create innovation hubs where we collect insights to influence systems change and impact across the nation
Jeffery T.D. Wallace is a Next Gen social entrepreneur uniquely equipped to fulfill the dual roles of visionary and architect to find a sustainable solution to any social issue. He is president and CEO of LeadersUp, a nonprofit that bridges the gap between the untapped potential of young people and the business challenge of finding and keeping the best talent.
With Wallace, LeadersUp has established best practices by facilitating employer-led solutions that are demand-driven and human-centered to tackle high youth unemployment in Chicago, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. He gets in front of the issues that fuel educational and economic inequities, and unites people around shared goals to achieve disruptive and transformative change. He is also a fellow of the Presidio Institute and is a Metropolitan Non-Resident Fellow of the Brookings Institution.
Suzanne Soto is a systematizing organizational management professional with over 21 years of extensive experience in the entertainment, retail, recruiting, government and nonprofit industries. She has expertise in scheduling, event planning, board management, vendor management, fund development, as well as expense and budget management and serves as Special Assistant to the President for the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity, Suzanne also handles office operations and facilities management.
Prior to LeadersUp, Suzanne was an entrepreneur in high fashion retail, a production assistant for Robert Townsend’s production company, an executive recruiter for Top Performers, and a held a number of positions at the Los Angeles Urban League. Suzanne attended California College of Art in Oakland California where she earned a B.F.A in General Fine Art. Soto’s foremost passion is reading and spurring others to read on a regular basis, something she’s tried to promote in her years in nonprofit organizations. She is a rare native of Los Angeles and currently resides in South Pasadena, CA with her son Zachary.
Helen Han serves as the National Director Operations and Fund Development at LeadersUp where she is part of the core leadership team that formulates, develops and implements operational systems and sustainable strategies that takes the organization to its next level of success. She is a seasoned and effective organizational development expert with a proven track record of delivering extraordinary results that bring about long-term growth at every organization that she serves.
Prior to LeadersUp, Helen served more than a decade in nonprofit executive roles that included President & CEO of the LA Junior Chamber of Commerce, President & CEO of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and CEO of the NAWBO-Los Angeles Chapter. Previously, Helen served as a leader of an interdisciplinary service, research and training team at the Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management where she ran executive education programs for business and nonprofit leaders. Throughout her professional life, Helen has been dedicated to finding ways to forge the connection between the economic, social and political spheres of influence to create a better future for the next generation. Helen is a first generation immigrant from South Korea and a product of the Los Angeles public school system. She received her degree in Business Management with concentrations in Organizational Development and Marketing from the California State University, Northridge.
Andrew Vidales is a dedicated and passionate community development professional with expertise in labor relations, community service, and program management. He serves as the Director of Operations & Organizational Effectiveness for the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity, he works closely with the Director of Impact in interdepartmental project management of three key departments: Impact, Communications and Programs. He also provides management of project plans and production schedule.
Prior to LeadersUp, Andrew Vidales worked as a consultant on a $6.2 billion construction project for the Los Angeles Community College District. He graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a bachelor’s degree in media and cultural studies and anthropology, where his research focused on the effects of mass media in economically disadvantaged markets. Currently, Andrew Vidales is pursuing a master’s degree in leadership and organizational studies from Azusa Pacific University. A native of Los Angeles, Andrew is extremely interested in public policy and community economic development and hopes that the experiences he has in community service, workforce development and outreach continue to fuel his passion for serving at-risk individuals in underserved communities.
Suzanne Brown is an enthusiastic non-profit social services professional with over 9 years of experience in family engagement, community outreach and expertise in the design and implementation of social programs. Suzanne serves as the Talent Solutions National Director for the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity, Suzanne is responsible for working to advance program initiatives within each market and interfaces with the impact, communications and executive teams to direct programs and public affairs representation against market-specific goals. S/he leads regional programs team to source opportunity youth from workforce providers and nonprofit organizations, train them against employer demand for specific career pathways, and galvanize resources to support their success upon employment.
Prior to joining LeadersUp Suzanne was the Director, Parent Engagement and Parent Academy at the Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL). In her role at LAUL, Suzanne oversaw the first Parent Engagement initiative of LAUL, a two-year pilot with the mission of raising parent engagement among African American and other minority parents, while empowering them to demand the most cutting edge opportunities for their children’s education in partnership with local Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) and schools across the Los Angeles County. Suzanne began her career in the Non-profit sector working as a Family Services Worker (FSW) within the Head Start and State Preschool program at LAUL She specialized in developing family service plans to address the needs of parents and children. Other responsibilities included, counseling and serving as a parent advocate while assessing services and working with other agencies such as mental health providers, courts and schools. Suzanne went on to become an Administrative Coordinator before transitioning to the role of Project Manager, where she managed a portfolio of 6 projects at a time. In this role, Suzanne was responsible for the planning, execution and implementation of various workforce projects while serving as a thought partner and strategist to the Workforce leadership team and other LAUL program disciplines in the areas of early education, public health, and public safety. Suzanne states her recipe for success is “not taking myself too seriously, because life is a gift, so live it.” During her free time, Suzanne works with family and friends facilitating what she calls her “Career Café,” which provides assistance with resume building and brand development for individual employment searches. Suzanne holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in African American Studies from California State University, Northridge and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach.
Joanna Martinez is an intuitive leader and a youth professional developer at heart, with expertise in trauma-responsive pedagogy and non-profit leadership. Joanna, a first generation college graduate and daughter of a Mexican immigrant mother, obtained her Bachelors degree in Sociology and African American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Organizational Leadership at the University of San Francisco’s School of Education. Joanna serves as the Talent Solutions Manager - Bay Area, for the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity, she works closely with the Talent Solutions Director - Bay Area and National Director of Talent Solutions in managing the development of engaging programming and training to opportunity youth (youth ages 18-24 who are not working and not in school) across the greater San Francisco/Bay Area to connect them to career pathways with various employer partners. Joanna also champions employer engagement, supporting a community of practice model for employer feedback, talent intermediation and pilot design functions with the National Director of Impact. She also facilitates strategic partnerships with government, private and non-government systems and providers and maintains key relationships.
Prior to joining the LeadersUp team, Joanna served as the Program Manager for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency’s (BOSS) Career Training and Employment Center (CTEC). In her time at BOSS, Joanna oversaw three major workforce development county and city contracts focusing on formerly incarcerated adults and high-risk young adults; designed and facilitated work readiness trainings for 600 individuals annually; introduced and operationalized the Sanctuary Model rooted in Trauma-Responsive Care; trained her team on leveraging available technology to improve tracking/reporting methodology and build team efficiency; brokered relationships with various businesses to fulfill hiring needs; created CBO partnerships to enhance programming and leverage shared resources; and built a secondary education model (Career Pathways) intentionally embedded within the programmatic structure of CTEC in partnership with adult-serving educational institutions and the Peralta Community College District. Joanna is passionate about leveraging education as a means for liberation and advancement in communities of color. She plans to obtain her Doctorate degree and continue her private practice in educational consultation in the Bay Area to facilitate the development of healthy and wealthy communities by enhancing educational practices both in the classroom and in people-serving institutions at large.
Lisa Hampton is an employment and workforce professional with nearly three decades of experience providing direct services and designing programs. She has expertise in reentry, transitional, and youth employment and education and serves as a Talent Solutions Director - Chicagoland for the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity, she utilizes her policy and program expertise to build relationships with government, education leaders, employers and other key stakeholders to advance opportunities for youth through talent development and training opportunities.
Prior to LeadersUp, Lisa’s former roles includes eight years with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice and Illinois Department of Corrections as a Senior Program Service Administrator working on employment and education opportunities for offenders and five years as a Senior Policy Associate at the Chicago Jobs Council focusing on workforce development issues such as race and hiring practices and employment barriers for ex-offenders. Ms. Hampton holds a BS in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University and a Master's from the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration. Lisa believes the two major keys to success for youth are building relationships and power of effective communication. She believes that effective communication between employers and youth can lead to widen opportunities for youth to see themselves as value add to an employer as well as address any racial, ethnic and sexual bias or stereotypes that youth and employers often times bring to the workplace. What makes her excited about working for LeadersUp is the ability to see change immediately with youth and how that impacts their communities and families. To give youth tools to change their lives, build habits and self-confidence is the key to changing the outcomes for youth across the nation.
Katherine Casado-Jaquez is a passionate human services non-profit professional with expertise in youth development, community outreach, and strategic planning. With experience in program design and youth advocacy, she serves as the Talent Solutions Manager - Los Angeles at the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity, she recruits and connects young adults to career pathways, develops strong partnerships with youth-serving organizations, and empowers young people to nurture their leadership, maximize their potential, and create community impact. She also provides administrative and volunteer outreach support. Katherine received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Women’s Studies from the State University of New York – Purchase College, where her research focused on the complexities and beauty within the lived experiences of women of color.
` to migrating to Los Angeles from the South Bronx, Katherine was dedicated to creating safe spaces and providing a continuum of care for LGBTQ youth and young women experiencing homelessness and healing from trauma. A native of New York City, Katherine is committed to social justice and public service, and aims to open the doors of access and opportunity for those in greatest need. She hopes that the experiences she has in connecting young adults to employment opportunities and building a network of community partners continue to fuel her passion for urban youth empowerment, community economic development, and the liberation of marginalized and underserved communities.
Denny Esquivel is a dedicated and passionate individual with expertise in youth development, curriculum development, and facilitating. He serves as the Senior Talent Solutions Specialist in the Chicago team for the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity, and works closely with Lisa Hampton, Director of Talent Solutions — Chicago in managing the maker and building key partnerships. Denny leads facilitation of labs for employers seeking to hire young adults, presentations to community partners, and assists in the development of the Winning in the Workplace curriculum.
Prior to LeadersUp, Denny worked at After School Matters where he managed dozens of programs for high school youth and the instructors of those programs. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign with a Master of Education in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership. Prior to attending the University of Illinois, Denny graduated from Northeastern Illinois University where he earned Bachelor of Science in Business Management. A native of Chicago, Denny is extremely interested in social justice and education and hopes that the experiences he has in youth development and workforce development continue to fuel his passion of advocating for and mentoring young people.
Katie Ho is a dedicated and hard worker with expertise in youth workforce development, school-based therapy, and building community resources for children and families. She serves as the Talent Solutions Specialist for the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity, she works closely with the Director of Talent Solutions in enhancing the user experience and engagement of our young adult participants and partner organizations. She also provides research for job development trainings and assists with career readiness trainings.
Prior to LeadersUp, Katie graduated from California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) with a Masters degree in Social Work, where she research focused on community mental health and clinical therapy. Prior to attending CSUEB, Katie graduated from University of California, Berkeley where she earned a Bachelors Degree in International Development Studies (the study of global poverty). A native Canton, Ohio and planted in the Bay Area for over fifteen years, Katie is extremely interested in social justice and developing youth leadership and hopes that the experiences she has in social work and workforce development will continue to fuel her passion for expanding opportunities for underserved youth.
Emmanuel Kashimbiri is a Talent Solutions Specialist for the Los Angeles region. His work at LeadersUp entails working closely with young adult job seekers to provide advice around career and professional development, and creating curricula to help them succeed. A proud native of South Los Angeles, Emmanuel has worked in analog camera reconstruction, semi-professional photographer, retail, and more. His diverse set of work experience contributes greatly to his work in guiding young adults with their career in a relatable way.
In his spare time, he creates living history through his photography, by “capturing the moments we forget.” Emmanuel loves to travel and has visited four continents, twelve countries, and eighteen states. His passion for reading has led to his aspiration of becoming a librarian specializing in photographic archival storage, blending his interests into a career for the ages. Emmanuel is also a 7-year member of Toastmasters International, where he continues to cultivate his public speaking and leadership skills.
Erica Mosley is a passionate and driven young professional with expertise in persuasive writing and working with young adults. She serves as a Talent Solutions Specialist for the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity, she works closely with the Talent Solutions team in managing the complex demands of job-seeking young people. She does this by providing quality professional development support and guidance to aspiring young professionals.
Prior to LeadersUp, Erica graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s in Rhetoric and Writing Studies where she focused on strengthening her writing skills across a multitude of genres. Additionally, Erica worked as a Writing Tutor helping writers from different backgrounds develop their skills and find their unique voices. A native of Los Angeles, Erica is extremely interested in community advocacy and obtaining her JD. She hopes that the experience she gains working with LeadersUp combined with her future achievements will fuel her passion for empowering young people to pursue their desired career pathways.
Dr. Genevieve Richards is a seasoned learning architect with extensive education and expertise in designing content, products, and experiences for young people and communities. She serves as the National Director of Product Development for LeadersUp. Gen spearheads the development of curriculum, content, and experiences for a wide range of users across the LeadersUp newly launched hi2HIRED model and its line of POWER products for young adults and and EVOLVE products for all Future@Work partners.
Prior to LeadersUp she served as the Global Excellence and Stature Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg in the Faculty of Education where her research focused on innovative learning practices and content and the practical implications of critical theory in urban education. In 2013, Gen completed her MBA at the University of Oxford. She also holds a doctorate in Educational Psychology (EdD) from the University of Southern California, a Juris Doctorate (JD) from Loyola Law School, and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Using insights collected across more than 18 years of community-anchored practice, Gen has generated a diverse portfolio of impact, content, tools and ventures that build toward a collaborative vision of human-minded development, experience, and innovation powered by the dynamic brilliance of our young people.
Roderick Wheeler is a researcher and social innovator with expertise in criminal justice, education, youth and workforce development, philanthropy, and investing in social enterprises.
He serves as National Director of Insights and Impact for the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity, he works closely with the Director of Impact in managing program evaluation, measuring social impact, return on investment, and providing technical assistance to external stakeholders. He also supports communications by contributing to writing articles and publications and provides social policy advice to the President & CEO.
Prior to LeadersUp, Roderick served in various national and local philanthropic roles including Manager of Community Health for IU Health, Director of Community Impact for Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), and Senior Program Director for Strada Education Network. As a result of serving in the U.S. Army, Roderick earned a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Leadership from Franklin University. Prior to public service, Roderick graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor’s in Sociology and African American Studies and went on to earn a Master’s in Public Affairs with a concentration in Urban Studies and Nonprofit Management.
A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Roderick is passionate about social innovation and investing in strategies that empower people, disrupts flawed social systems that stifle opportunity, and achieves social impact, especially within poor communities of color.
Crissy Chung is a researcher with an expertise on data analytics, public health, and education. She serves as the Director of Impact. In this capacity, she works closely with the National Director of Impact in obtaining and managing data on various projects involving local partners and populations.
Crissy graduated from UCLA with a focus on policy research and quantitative/qualitative methods, where she earned a Master of Public Policy. Prior to UCLA, Crissy completed her BA in Sociology and Political Science at UC Berkeley. As a native of Southern California, she hopes to continually learn about the city’s changing dynamics, especially with respect to at-risk youth and the local economy. Crissy is passionate about providing social context and history to communicate data in a socially responsible way.
John Roberson, III is a nonprofit management and policy professional with half a decade of experience in leading and designing communication, branding and digital media strategies for non-profits, elected officials, philanthropic initiatives and celebrity clients. He has expertise in communication design, brand management, social media growth and analysis, information architecture, collective impact design and serves as the Director of Innovation for the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity he manages the communication and digital infrastructures that amplifies, promotes, standardizes, tracks, and measures engagement, influence, and performance of target audiences across all LeadersUp markets. He also works across teams to develop organizational position on key issues within LeadersUp advocacy portfolio and provides direction into sustained stakeholder engagement.
Prior to LeadersUp, John worked at Reinvent Communications, a social impact firm in Los Angeles where he implemented communication and collective impact strategies to reduce recidivism rates among black male youth in South LA, designed interactive experiences and key messaging for state-wide philanthropic funded initiatives focused on Boys and Men of Color, and provided brand and communication management for elected officials and celebrity clients. Additionally, John's interest in community development has led him to conduct research, landscape analysis, and policy reform focused on opportunity, reentry and transition youth through his experiences at the Coalition for Responsible Community Development and the Los Angeles County Education Foundation. John attended the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California where he received a Master's in Public Policy and a certificate in Public Management. A native of Atlanta, GA, John completed his BA from Emory University in Environmental Science. At 10 years old, John first realized opportunities were limited in his neighborhood because of his zip, which fuels his dedication to building great cities so that “better” becomes “standard” for all zip codes.
Devon Miner proudly serves as an Impact Manager for Strategic Partnerships. In this capacity, Devon works diligently to build and manage partnerships with post-secondary institutions, community based organizations and employers across the nation to facilitate the process of getting opportunity youth from entry-level positions into employer’s mission critical roles. Devon serves as a strategic intermediate with our partners, encouraging opportunity youth to utilize their employer’s tuition benefits while earning stackable credits/credentials for career advancement. In addition, Devon provides guidance on the curriculum and implementation design of promoting career advancement for opportunity youth. Devon leverages his education, training and transferrable skills to successfully execute the duties and responsibilities in his role.
Prior to joining LeadersUp, Devon worked in the field of education policy, leading campaigns that have resulted in legislative and budget wins for underserved students in California and Pennsylvania. Devon also has an extensive research and practical background in higher education, with a particular emphasis on the factors that help Black & Latino males succeed in school. Devon received his Master’s of Science degree in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania and his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). A native from Inglewood, CA, Devon is extremely passionate for eradicating the barriers that impede upon the upward mobility of historically disenfranchised communities.
Martha is an experienced non-profit professional with over 15 years of work in administration, case management, and workforce development. She has worked with parents, formerly incarcerated individuals, and youth in career development. As the Executive Assistant – Impact for LeadersUp, Martha manages daily administrative needs and ensures grants are managed properly and in a timely manner.
Prior to LeadersUp, Martha worked the LA Urban League for 12 years where she was responsible for assisting and implementing workforce development programs in collaboration with multiple teams. In her free time, Martha loves to spend time with her daughter and considers herself to be a fervent reader.
Kalina Flores has expertise in campaign development and event design. She serves as the Event Strategist for the LeadersUp organization. In this capacity, She works closely with the CEO, National Director of Development and Operations, and Leadership Team in managing the design, marketing strategy, and logistics of the Future at Work Summit and other related company events.
Prior to LeadersUp, Kalina has worked as a program consultant for corporate campaigns, non profit organizations, and education organizations, all of which stemmed from her years working in education where she focused on curriculum, assessments, and program design. Kalina graduated from UCLA with a BA in Sociology and minor in Urban and Regional Studies, and later earned her Master’s Degree in Education from Mount Saint Mary’s University. Her educational background trained her to assess programs and curate research based strategies that will meet desired objectives and organizational goals. A native of Compton, California, Kalina is extremely interested in social justice and entrepreneurship and hopes that the experiences She has in event management and program consulting continue to fuel HER passion for building support systems that allow underserved populations to develop and reach their goals.
Lenée Richards has nearly a decade of strategic communication and stakeholder engagement experience. As the Communications Director for LeadersUp, she leverages her marketing and community mobilization skills towards helping to amplify and implement national initiatives and partnerships.
Prior to joining LeadersUp, Lenée served as a Community Engagement Specialist for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles (PPLA), where she organized grass-root campaigns helping to reach over 300,000 Angelenos. After graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications from Virginia State University, Lenée joined Fenton Communications in Washington, D.C. This awarded her the opportunity to strengthen the impact of a diverse range of non-profit organizations through powerful storytelling and movement building. ln
Nikki Pressley is a creative professional with nearly a decade of experience working in visual communication. Nikki has worked with a variety of organizations from ad agencies, real estate and healthcare corporations before joining LeadersUp. She brings a diverse skill set in design technologies as well as a passion for creative problem solving. Nikki oversees the creative arm of LeadersUp, ensuring brand alignment, in addition to supporting all departments with creative solutions and collateral.
Nikki is also an educator and artist dedicated to enhancing and supporting the dialogue around visual culture. She is a native of Greenville, South Carolina and a graduate of Furman University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and Design. Nikki is also a proud alumnus of California Institute of the Arts where she received a Masters of Fine Art in Studio Art.
Zhen Xie is a creative communicator dedicated to creating visually engaging content. He is a well-versed illustrator with a background in studio arts. In his role as Design Specialist for LeadersUp, Zhen is responsible for designing and creating the visual experience for young adult audiences as they explore and advance in their career. Zhen is passionate about pushing the boundaries of visual design and hopes to add motion graphics to his repertoire.
Prior to his move to California, Zhen had worked at several nonprofits in New York who were committed to the expansion of the arts. Zhen is a proud alum of Fashion Institute of Technology where he earned his BFA.