Diana Rodriguez Ross is the Executive Director at the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network (Mid-City CAN) in the San Diego, California community of City Heights. Mid-City CAN is a community collaborative of thousands of residents of City Heights and non-resident allies in the fields of nonprofit, government, and faith. Mid-City CAN focuses on building community power and developing resident leaders to advocate for change. Under Diana’s leadership Mid-City CAN has executed successful community organizing campaigns to establish the San Diego Region’s first no-cost youth bus pass, increase recreation through Skate Parks, improve school lunch nutrition, and restorative justice programs to provide alternatives to the incarceration and punitive discipline practice affecting Black and Latino youth. Diana is routinely cited by mainstream local and national media, including but not limited to: KPBS, Univision, UT San Diego, Voice of San Diego, Network Television, and Healthy California.
Prior to Mid-City CAN Diana led collaboratives and coalitions in the communities of Southern California and Mexico. She worked with the Los Angeles Refugee Immigrant Training Employment program in Los Angeles, US-Mexico Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (a bi-national anti-human trafficking collaborative), and the San Diego Refugee Forum. In addition to her work with collaboratives, she is the former Director of Refugee Employment Services in City Heights and began her career in multi-country medical camps with Rotary International’s Polio Plus program in Ethiopia and Nigeria.
Diana has college honors and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in Sociology and International Development where she was also awarded the prestigious Riordan Fellowship at UCLA’s Andersen School of Management. Diana has a master’s degree from the University of San Diego in Nonprofit Leadership and Management. She is a former Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. In 2010 she received the Springfield College School of Human Services Community Service Award for demonstrating leadership in service to humanity and was recognized in 2012 by the California State Assembly for her work on legislation promoting health equity and improving women’s lives. She is a National City native who speaks fluent English, Arabic, and Spanish.Contact Diana Ross | Executive Director
Ester Herrera is originally from Manila, Philippines. She completed her B.A. at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, majoring in Sociology because she has always wanted to understand how global economic systems perpetuate poverty in developing nations, such as the Philippines. Her eventual migration to the US brought her to San Diego where she began her career in the nonprofit sector, starting out as a case manager in a Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention program serving newly arrived immigrants in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. She then worked at Catholic Charities of San Diego for more than a decade, initially as an employment case manager for the CalWORKs Welfare-to-Work program, then eventually assumed various leadership roles: Quality Assurance Supervisor, Program Manager, Director of Employment Services, and Operations Manager of Refugee Services. She worked towards her master’s degree in Sociology at San Diego State University while keeping a fulltime job, an experience she found equal parts challenging and exhilarating. She also briefly taught a Human Diversity course at the Azusa Pacific University. Her interest in socio-economic justice led her to the East Coast where she lived in Hyde Park, New York for six years to work in a social enterprise that is part of a project called Economy of Communion. For Ester one of the amazing things about working at Mid-City CAN is seeing how institutional and systemic change is made possible when a community rises up as one and realizes its power. Another is the opportunity to work with a team of passionate and committed people who also are fun and funny! In her free time, Ester likes to spend time with family and friends, travel, and read.Contact Ester Herrera | Associate Executive Director
Chloe joined Mid-City CAN in October 2018 as the Director of Development launching the organization’s first formal fundraising and stewardship efforts. As a member of our leadership team, Chloe is keenly focused on growing the organization’s support base and elevating its position within the philanthropic sector. In addition, she encourages local and national foundations and donors to take advantage of their unique position by taking a leadership role on important societal issues.
With almost two decades of experience working with nonprofits, and a BS in Organizational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University, Chloe’s career goal is to be a social change agent, empowering others through the act of giving, while working to create a happier healthier society for generations to come.
During her free time, she enjoys spending quality time with her husband and being a goofy mom to her two daughters, Ava and Belle.
Contact Chloe about ways to financially support our mission and community projects, partnership opportunities, and press inquiries.Contact Chloe Petcharaporn | Development Director
Ariana was born and raised in Southeast San Diego. Being a child of immigrant parents has influenced her passion for human rights, social justice, and community advocacy. In grade school, Ariana learned more about complexities about the institutional injustices that her community faces every day, which is why she decided to dedicate her career to social change. Ariana received a B.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies and Politics from the University of California Santa Cruz. At UCSC, she was part of the Chicano Latino Resource Center and student-led organizations that served Chicano and Latino populations through programming efforts to raise awareness of the social, political, economic, historical, and cultural realities of our community. Ariana was an Oakland Fellow with Students for Education Reform (SFER) Action Network where she worked on civic engagement efforts and research for educational grassroot campaigns. Ariana came back to San Diego in 2017 to give back to her community. Before becoming Organizing Director, she was a Lead Organizer and Youth Organizer, and supported Youth Council with the passage of Measure B, a charter amendment charter amendment that establishes an independent community-led Commission on Police Practices (CPP) for the City of San Diego. Ariana was also a Team Lead under Mid-City CAN’s Civic Engagement Team and Domestic Violence Counselor at the YWCA of San Diego County. In her spare time, Ariana likes to travel and go to music festivals.
Lexxus Carter is the Program Director of our Civic Engagement team committed to creating an inclusive and equitable community for everyone. Originally from Chicago, IL, she learned at an early age the world cannot see progress without addressing the important political, social, and economic issues that average Americans are facing daily. She believes that social change can only happen when we stand together, united. Lexxus started her justice journey on her high school's student council, motivating her peers to ignite change in the after-school programs lacking diversity for other students of color. Later she continued her fight in university spaces, demanding more opportunities for Black and Brown students in the Health Sciences. Lexxus graduated with her B.S. in Public Health and minor in Spanish language from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. In 2017 she moved to San Diego and began working with the YWCA San Diego as a Domestic Violence Victim Counselor, a Labor Union Organizer/Representative for SEIU Local 221, and is currently a Holistic Birth Doula for Black and Brown parents. She is a precinct captain for her local ACLU chapter, 2020 Mid-City CAN Resident Leadership Academy graduate, and 2021 RunWomenRun Campaign Leader. All of these paths drive her passion for defending and preserving rights and liberties guaranteed to all. In her free time, Lexxus likes to garden, travel, and discover new foods.Contact Lexxus Carter | Civic Engagement, Program Director
Manuel has lived in San Diego all his life, constantly crossing the border to visit his sister, nieces, nephews, cousins, and aunts in Tijuana on the weekends. During summer and winter breaks he would sometimes visit the rest of his extended family in Tepic, Nayarit and Mazatlán, Sinaloa where his parents are from. Having a mixed status family and growing up in a single mother household, he saw stark economic differences from a young age but did not understand them. He always saw everyone around him work hard all the time following the idea that you can "pull yourself by the bootstraps" if you work hard enough in the U.S. So he got his first formal job when he turned 18. After graduating from Chula Vista High School he was lucky to become a first generation college student where he had the privilege to be mentored about social structures and social movements. This also created space for him to reflect on his experiences growing up, his family and community. Getting involved in student organizations at SDSU, then in grassroots community organizations in San Diego led him on a journey of change where he realized that real change comes from the bottom. He is inspired to organize for a better future by everyone who works hard every day to get ahead despite our patriarchal-capitalist society. He is supported by his family that pushes him to break through his own traumas, socialization and strive to be a better person.
Manuel is usually smiling and energized. He enjoys playing soccer, music, sharing space with close friends and relatives. He secretly wants to be a comedian, but has realized overtime he can't really land any jokes.
Manuel ha vivido en San Diego toda su vida, cruzando la frontera los fines de semana desde niño para visitar a su hermana, sobrinxs, primxs y tías en Tijuana. En veces visita al resto de su familia en Tepic, Nayarit y Mazatlán, Sinaloa, de donde son sus padres. De chico miro las diferencias económicas en la frontera y de su familia migrante en su hogar, donde su mama era la provedora principal, pero no entendía porque las cosas son así. Siempre miro a lxs que le rodeaban trabajabar duro, siguiendo la idea de que “si trabajas duro en los Estados Unidos saldrás adelante”. Así que consiguió su primer trabajo formal cuando cumplió 18 años. Después de terminar la preparatoria en Chula Vista, tuvo la suerte de ser el primero en su familia de ir a la universidad, donde tuvo el privilegio de aprender sobre las estructuras sociales y movimientos sociales. Esto también creó un espacio para que él reflexionara sobre sus experiencias de chico, su familia y su comunidad. Comenzó un viaje de cambio cuando se involucró en organizaciones estudiantiles en SDSU, luego en organizaciones comunitarias de base en San Diego. En el proceso se dio cuenta de que el cambio real proviene de abajo. Se inspira para organizar por un futuro mejor por todxs las personas que trabajan duro por salir adelante a pesar de nuestra sociedad patriarcal-capitalista que impone limites. Cuenta con el apoyo de su familia que lo empuja a superar sus propios traumas, socialización y a esforzarse por ser una mejor persona.
Manuel es energético y suele sonreír. Le gusta jugar fútbol, la música, y compartir espacio con amigos y familia cercanxs. Secretamente, quisiera ser comediante, pero con el tiempo se a dado cuenta que sus bromas no son muy graciosas.
Contact Manuel Enriquez | Community Organizer
Contact Shanti Huynh - Civic Engagement Coordinator
Shanti Huynh (they/them/their) is the Civic Engagement Coordinator at Mid-City CAN. Shanti guides our Team Leads, Neighborhood Captains, and the community in different campaigns that improve the quality of life of City Heights residents. These campaigns include voter education/engagement, COVID-19 and flu vaccine outreach, and more. Shanti loves all kinds of food but has a deep reverence for Vietnamese, Korean and Mexican cuisine. Shanti deeply admires their chosen family of friends who are spread throughout the US. "They give me the love and strength I need to live bravely, confidently, and lovingly in this world." Shanti also admires and is inspired by Angela Davis, Beyonce, and "my bestest sister-friend Makia." Their favorite music genres include 90’s R&B, Neo-soul, Trance, Techno, and Deep House. "If you see me in the community, please don’t hesitate to say hello!"
Belén Hernández García is originally from Oaxaca, Mexico and calls San Diego home since the age of seven. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a dual bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Urban Studies & Planning. As the Policy Advocate, Belen collaborates with local and statewide stakeholders to advance Mid-City CAN’s campaigns and policy priorities.
While studying at UC San Diego, Belén worked for the Raza Resource Centro and Undocumented Student Services. She was also the recipient of three research grants and conducted projects in the United States on the impact of immigration policies and abroad on education equity. She had the opportunity to intern at the U.S. House of Representatives in 2017 and the California State Assembly in 2018. For many years, Belen has also worked with faith-based groups and youth invested in the betterment of their community. In her spare time, Belén enjoys spending time with loved ones, reading, and exploring the outdoors.Contact Belen Hernandez Garcia | Policy Advocate
Contact Victor Ponce | Youth Organizer
Victor Ponce is a first-generation Mexican American born in San Diego. Raised by his mother with the help of a few others, he has come to embody the saying "it takes a village to raise a child." City Heights greatly shaped Victor’s character. With the support of his teachers at Crawford, he was accepted into San Diego State University (SDSU) where he graduated with a degree in Public Administration. While a senior at SDSU interned at Metro Community Ministries. This is where he began his devotion to changing the narrative of underserved youth and the community. While at Metro Community Ministries, he worked with youth impacted by the criminal justice system. He helped the youth achieve self-sufficiency and become contributing members of their respective communities. Currently, Victor works within the City Heights community as a Neighborhood Captain at Mid-City CAN. He also works with Mid-City CAN’s Youth Council helping them push forward their campaign. In his free time, Victor enjoys watching the latest movies with his friends as well as attending Lowrider car shows.
Guadalupe was born in Tijuana, Mexico and has considered California her home since 1999. While completing her B.A. in History at Cal Poly Pomona, she was determined to become a history teacher and work in low-income communities. However, after getting involved in academic and extracurricular activities in Washington D.C., she became fascinated with the world of politics and diplomacy. For three years she joined the Model Organization of American States, where she researched and proposed solutions to political, social, and economic issues. Since then, she developed an interest in policymaking and realized she could make a better impact to society. After graduating from Cal Poly Pomona, she had the opportunity to intern with the Library of Congress in Fall 2019. While living in Washington D.C., Lupe learned more about her interests and her potential. She came across endless opportunities and found a new purpose in life: To help protect the environment and empower disadvantaged communities.
Guadalupe was recently admitted to UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy. She wishes to obtain a master’s degree in Public Policy (MPP) that will enable her to contribute to protecting the environment and helping the underrepresented sectors of society combat the challenges of the future. Upon completing graduate studies, she intends to pursue a career with a federal agency that focuses on environmental protection and sustainability.
She joined Mid-City CAN in September 2021. Joining a non-profit organization is new to Lupe, but she is ready to learn and accept new challenges. She believes this organization will equip her with the skills needed to become an effective professional prior to pursuing her MPP. During her free time you can catch her in Hemet, Tijuana, Pomona, or L.A. where she enjoys family barbecues and endless conversations with her friends.
Contact Guadalupe Rojas | Transportation Justice Community Organizer