Diana Ross | Executive Director

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 | Associate 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 Petcharaporn | Development 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

Trinh Le | Organizing Director

Trinh Le is one of five children from a Vietnamese refugee family and grew up in a low-income, immigrant, single-parent household. She holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Asian American Studies from UCLA. She has organized in many diverse communities in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast before coming back to San Diego. She has worked for the Little Saigon Foundation, Pacific Arts Movement, ACLU, and the Center on Policy Initiatives before joining Mid-City CAN as the new Organizing Director.

Trinh has been on the board of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) San Diego chapter, Mid-City CAN in City Heights, and the San Diego Leadership Alliance. She is currently on the board of Asian Solidarity Collective and Viet Vote. She received “Most Valuable Organizer of the Year,” award in 2013 by the New Organizing Institute, a commendation by the City of San Diego Human Relations Commission in 2015, and was one of the eight recognized “Present Day San Diego Women Civil Rights Leaders” by Rise San Diego in 2017. She recently earned her Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego. When she has free time, she is either spending it with her family and friends, at the dog beach, tending to her succulent garden, doing yoga, or catching Pokemon

Contact Trinh Le | Organizing Director

Ariana Federico | Lead Organizer/Transportation Justice

Ariana_YC_small.jpgAriana 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 Lead Organizer, Ariana was a 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.

Contact Ariana Federico | Lead Organizer/Transportation Justice

Belen Hernandez Garcia | Policy Advocate

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

Yasmeen Obeid | Youth Organizer

Yasmeen Obeid is a Muslim Palestinian community organizer, advocate, and child of Palestinian immigrants. She was born in Los Angeles, raised in Palestine, and moved back to the US after graduating high school. She recently graduated with a B.A. Honors degree in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego, where she completed a 64-page-long thesis on how student and faculty advocates for Palestine and the Palestinian people are criminalized, radicalized, and marginalized on college campuses. She was recently elected as a delegate for the California Democratic Party representing the 71st Assembly District. Yasmeen currently serves as an Advisory Board member at Borderlands for Equity, a pro-bono civil rights organization, as the Advocacy Coordinator for Majdal: The Arab Resource Center of San Diego, and as the Community Partnerships Chair with the Feminist Front, a youth organization fighting white supremacist patriarchy and all systems of domination. She joined Mid-City CAN as a Neighborhood Captain in 2019 where she ensured City Heights’ residents were informed about the importance of voting as well as filling out the census. Once the pandemic hit, she connected community members to available resources that kept their families safe. Yasmeen is currently the Youth Organizer at Mid-City CAN and has been organizing Black, Indigenous, and youth of color in City Heights youth to build political and community power.

Victor Ponce | Neighborhood Captain

Victor_small2.jpgVictor 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.

Contact Victor Ponce | Neighborhood Captain