Sandra Figueroa-Villa was born and raised in South Los Angeles and attended public schools. She began her community activism in social justice issues at Huntington Park High School and graduated from Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights. She continued her activism as a student at California State University at Los Angeles.
Ms. Figueroa-Villa has over 40 years experience working in the non-profit sector. She was appointed as the Executive Director of El Centro del Pueblo in 1980. An organization with a $25,000 deficit and two part time staff members. Through her leadership and perseverance, she raised and manages a $7 million dollar budget to provide services that improve the quality of life for children, youth and families in Los Angeles. She is responsible for the accountability of the agency by implementing fiscal audits, personnel policies and procedures set forth by the agency's Board of Directors. She supervises a staff of over 80 professional and paraprofessional employees who provide direct services to families.
In, 2003, Ms. Figueroa-Villa led the agency in a $4.5 million dollar capital campaign to purchase and renovate a 30,000 square foot building. The facility includes a leased public parking lot from the City of Los Angeles that was converted to an outdoor playground area to complement an indoor youth center that offers recreational services to families and enhances El Centro del Pueblo's current service menu.
In 2005, the agency was debt free, allowing the purchase of an 8,000 Sq. ft. building, which houses the Echo Park Family Source Center. She just completed renovating another 10,000 sq. ft. building to house the agency's clinical programs and leases storefront space to private business. Income generated rolls back into service programs.
Ms. Figueroa-Villa has been appointed a number of commissions and boards including the Children, Youth and Family Commission, City of Los Angeles, Redistricting Commission for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Superintendent Search Committee, the Mia St. John Foundation and many others and recently the Los Angeles Police Commission. She has provided capacity building training to other non-profits and volunteers on community advocacy campaigns.
She is married to Jesus Villa. Her daughter Xochitl attends public school where Sandra is active as a parent volunteer.
Robert Aguayo was born and raised in the Temple-Beaudry community near downtown Los Angeles.He attended and graduated from Belmont High School in 1977 where he was a student of Sal Castro.In 1974, at the age of 14, Robert was referred to El Centro Del Pueblo, then known as the “Echo Park Diversion Program”, due to his gang involvement and negative behavior at school and in the community.
Through several years of involvement and mentoring by the counselors of El Centro and Belmont High School, Robert was able to change his attitude, behavior and academic achievement which resulted in his graduation from high school in 1977. Although Robert had never thought of attending college, with the guidance of these counselors and mentors, he was able to graduate from Los Angeles City College and California State University of Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.
During this period, after high school, Robert also began working at El Centro Del Pueblo as a peer counselor with high risk and gang involved youth and their families. This opportunity allow Robert to withdraw from his involvement with the gang and focus on his family and future.
At El Centro, Robert has work in the First Time Offenders Program, Job Training Program, Youth and Family Counseling Programs, Summer Youth Employment Program and the HIV Education and Prevention Program. Robert currently serves as the Deputy Director of El Centro Del Pueblo with over 35 years of experience working with high risk and gang involved youth and their families in the same community that he was raised in.
In addition, from 1982-1983 Robert was appointed by Governor Brown to the California State Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In 1988-1994 he served on the LAUSD Mexican American Education Commission. In November of 1987, Robert Aguayo and El Centro were featured in People Magazine for his work with high risk and gang involved youth. Robert currently serves as a 30 years member of the Padrinos’ Come Together youth mentoring program which has been providing youth conferences in Los Angeles County for over 40 years.
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Chief Financial Officer
Biography coming soon.
Fernando Chacon was born in Faben, Texas on September 8, 1964. He is the middle child of seven children, which includes four brothers and two sisters. Fernando is the older brother of the honorable civic leader Hector Chacon. His mother, Paula Sarinana, raised all seven children on her own. She moved her entire family to California in the late 1960’s to work as a farmworker in the fields of northern California for several years. The Chacon family eventually moved into the Ramona Gardens Housing Projects in Boyle Heights, CA, in the early 1970’s.
Fernando Chacon attended Murchison Street Elementary School, then was bussed to the Valley to attend Mt. Gleason Jr. High School and Verdugo Hills High School in Sunland, Tujunga where he graduated in 1982. Upon graduation, he attended the East Los Angeles Occupational Center, and East Los Angeles Community College where he is pursuing his Associate in Science Degree in Computer Graphics &amp;amp; Design Technology.
Growing up in a neighborhood surrounded by poverty, gangs, and drugs, Fernando overcame adversity and sought to improve his community by choosing to work as a Youth Director for El Centro Del Pueblo, a non-profit organization that has helped youth and families in Los Angeles county since the 1970’s. As a Director, Fernando has allocated resources to needy families, where he has dedicated his life helping keep children away from drugs, gangs and crime for the past 20 years.
Zeyda M. Fernandez, M.A. is the Program Manager for Family Preservation in SPA 4 at El Centro Del Pueblo. Family Preservation is a DCFS contract that provides home based services to the families that have been identified at high risk of child abuse due to issues often related to domestic violence, substance abuse and/or mental health issues. The program is designed to assist families with “whatever it takes”, including but not limited to in home counseling and support, parenting classes, mental health services, substance abuse services, domestic violence classes and support groups as well as housing assistance, employment assistance, Teaching and Demonstrating services such as financial budgeting, housekeeping, and some concrete services as well. The program works closely with DCFS and the community to ensure safety while keeping families together. In addition to Family Preservation, Ms. Fernandez oversees the First 5 L.A. program Partnership for Families (PFF) in collaboration with lead agency, Para los Ninos, providing the home based services to identified families of children 0-5, and focusing more directly on the specific needs of pregnant women and parents of children 0-5 years old. Ms. Fernandez also represents El Centro del Pueblo as one of three leads in SPA 4, the Prevention Initiative Demonstration Project (PIDP) contract, a program designed to engage the community and provide support services and training. In this way strengthening families and preventing child maltreatment by maximizing child safety and well-being in our community.
Ms. Fernandez has also represented El Centro del Pueblo in partnering with NCLR in various projects to educate and support our community. This has brought wonderful programs such as the “Que Rica Vida” nutritional and healthy lifestyle seminars and partnering with General Mills, to assist our families with navigating the educational system via the Boxtops for Education program.
Ms. Fernandez’s work in child welfare has spanned over 20 years and in the early years included experience in Group homes as a counselor and lead therapist, in addition to the roles of social worker, supervisor and regional director in a Foster Care Agency. Before joining before joining the El Centro del Pueblo family in 2006, she spent two years providing mental health services to the homeless adult population with severe mental health and substance abuse issues.
Ms. Fernandez was born and raised in Los Angeles of immigrant parents and received a Bachelor of Arts in French Literature from Loyola Marymount University and a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University.
Biography coming soon.