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Candidates for CHCI-AA Southern California Chapter Board
2021-2022 Term


Fall 2012 Congressional Intern

Brian Lucero-Contreras is a communications consultant with Wells Fargo’s Corporate Communications team in Southern California. Serving as a regional spokesperson for the bank, Brian oversees consumer banking regional communications for Wells Fargo’s San Diego and North County Inland regions. A Southern California native, Brian joined Wells Fargo in January 2018. Prior to that, he worked as senior account executive at Vectis Strategies and Mozaic Media and Communications.

Brian is an alumnus of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s (CHCI) Congressional Internship Program in Washington D.C., and currently serves as President of CHCI’s Alumni Association Southern California Chapter. He is also a graduate of Equality California’s Leadership Academy in Los Angeles. Brian holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication and public relations from California State University, Los Angeles and currently resides in San Diego, CA.

Candidate Statement

Having served on the SoCal Chapter Board since 2013, and most recently as Chapter President, I’ve seen the tremendous progress we have made as a chapter and want to continue building on that progress to help engage CHCI alumni and serve as a resource for their personal and professional development in Southern California and beyond. Since 2018, the SoCal Chapter has successfully hosted events across the region including new program participant send-offs, social and professional networking receptions, and most recently a virtual alumni happy hour. I personally continue to serve as an active alum and mentor for CHCI alumni and hope to continue working with my fellow alumni leaders across the country to elevate the association to new heights as we continue to build a robust network and pipeline for Latinx leaders.

Candidate Video

Vice President

2004-2005 Law-Public Policy Fellow

Wendy Ramirez is sharing her gifts doing what she loves, designing, traveling, teaching, coaching and giving back to her community. Wendy is the founder of INTIMALENA, a fashion brand that promotes Latino culture, creates jobs, and helps indigenous communities in Latin America. She also supports Latina professionals transition careers, discover and share their gifts. Her passion lies with connecting Latinos in the US with their culture, language and with Latin America. She is also the founder of Spanish Sin Pena, a fun and interactive program where Professional Latinos are learning Spanish and traveling to Latin America. Wendy previously served as a program manager for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) in Washington DC where she supported programs in Latin America to strengthen political and civic organizations, safeguard elections, and promote citizen participation. Prior to joining NDI, she served as a Senior Legislative Assistant for former U.S. Congressman Xavier Becerra where she developed legislative proposals and made policy recommendations in the areas of immigration, education, foreign affairs and international trade. Wendy arrived to DC as a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) law fellow. Earlier in her career, she worked in the legal departments of the Children’s Rights Project and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. Wendy was also an elementary school teacher and taught law courses to high school students. She earned her JD from Loyola Law School Los Angeles as a Public Interest Scholar and Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley. Wendy is a native of Los Angeles, CA, has studied abroad in India, Mexico and Spain, participated in professional development and exchange programs in Colombia, Spain, Belgium, Brazil, and Israel. She is fluent in Spanish and English with basic knowledge of Portuguese.

Candidate Statement:

As current VP, I would like to see the work continue in supporting alum to be engaged with CHCI and in our communities.


Spring 2016 Congressional Intern

Jacqueline Perez Valencia currently transitioned to a new position as the Program Manager of the Career Ambassadors program at CD Tech in Los Angeles, CA. She previously served at the Hispanic Heritage Foundation as the Code as a Second Language (CSL) Coordinator, in which she helped introduce and teach young Latina/o students to code. Jacqueline also recently graduated from the Women’s Policy Institute State Fellowship in the Economic Security team for the Women’s Foundation of California where she had the opportunity to learn the legislative process of California state government and was actively supporting bills that helped relieve some of the hardships that under-served communities continue to face. 

Jacqueline grew up in Pico Rivera, CA, and earned a B.S. in Sociology with a minor in Business Administration from the University of La Verne, where she was awarded the Campus Compact 2014 Newman Civic Fellow Award in recognition of her community and civic engagement on campus and in the surrounding areas. Her diverse experience includes working in campaigns for local/state candidates, as an immigrant rights advocate, and coordinator/administrator for non-profits.

Candidate Statement

Having had the amazing opportunity to be a CHCI Congressional Intern opened up many opportunities for me. Through my involvement in the internship, I was able to discover my passion for community and civic engagement. I want to ensure that CHCI reaches more students in the Southern California area and that alumni in this area feel empowered to continue to be civically engaged. At times we can feel a bit disconnected from the DC world but I want to ensure that we are all informed and ready to serve. Since I graduated from the internship I have made sure to always share my experience and encourage my communities to apply to CHCI programs. Some ways I have done this is by hosting a CHCI table where I share flyers of open applications and speak on panels at universities and high schools. I also spent a few years in DC working in civic education and for a consultant firm. While I resided there I was able to attend CHCI events and speak to students that were part of the R2L program.


2011-2012 Secondary Education Graduate Fellow

Gisela Ariza, currently works at LA Promise Fund as a Data & Analytics Manager where she is responsible with helping to implement high-quality data collection and analysis practices across schools that are part of the Network for School Improvement (NSI) initiative.

Prior to this role, she worked at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund in Washington, D.C., as a Senior Education Policy Analyst, where she supported state partners in the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Her work focused on supporting local coalitions to advocate for strong state education plans that advanced educational equity, including robust parent and community engagement, accountability for the achievement of all students, resource equity and access to user-friendly data. Previous to this role, Gisela worked at the College Board where she advised adult learners about pursuing post-secondary educational opportunities and supported the organization’s efforts around college access for underserved students. She is also an alumna of CHCI’s Graduate Fellowship program, where she served as the Secondary Education Graduate Fellow in 2011-2012.

Gisela is originally from the San Fernando Valley, California. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from California State University – Northridge, and completed her master’s degree in Education and School Counseling from the University of Southern California. Gisela is also a certified Kundalini Yoga & Meditation teacher. She believes in the transformative power of a college education and that no matter what, all students deserve access to an equitable education.

Candidate Statement:

I am very interested in continuing in my role as Secretary/Treasurer. Previously I served on the Associate Board of the Latin American Youth Center in D.C. and have some experience with the tasks you outlined in the Secretary/Treasurer position above. In terms of my engagement with CHCI, I’ve reviewed applications and interviewed candidates for the Graduate Fellowships almost every year since I completed the fellowship and have sat in panels during orientation week.