Board Bios

Kyra Greene, PhD, President and Executive Director, Center on Policy Initiatives

Dr. Kyra Greene became Executive Director of the Center on Policy Initiatives in June 2017. She also served as CPI’s Deputy Director and Research/Policy Analyst. Before joining CPI, Dr. Greene was an Assistant Professor of Sociology at San Diego State University, where she taught courses on socioeconomic inequality, race, and qualitative research methods. She has served as an instructor in sociological courses on public policy at both Rider University and Stanford University. She was also the Diversity Coordinator for Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (EDGE-SBE) program at Stanford University. Dr. Greene’s past research has focused on social movement messaging/framing, legislative processes, and public policies affecting the lives of people of color and people with disabilities. Dr. Greene earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University. She also holds a B.A. in Social Sciences from Bard College at Simon’s Rock. Pr ...

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Richard Barrera, Chair; Secretary-Treasurer, UFCW Local 135

Richard Barrera is the Secretary-Treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135. Mr. Barrera also serves as President of the San Diego Unified School District, the second largest district in California with 130,000 students in pre-school through grade 12.  A first generation San Diegan whose father immigrated to the United States from Colombia and whose grandparents immigrated through Ellis Island, Mr. Barrera has spent nearly three decades striving to improve the lives of working families in San Diego and throughout the United States – including serving as Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. Currently, Mr. Barrera also serves on the Board of the United Way of San Diego, the San Diego Workforce Investment Board, and the Cesar Chavez Service Club. He is a graduate of El Cajon Valley High School, holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from UCSD, and has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Gov ...

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Sue Reynolds, Secretary; President & CEO of Community Housing Works

Sue Reynolds has led Community HousingWorks as President and CEO since 1997. Under her leadership, the corporation has become a nationally recognized multifamily developer, homeownership lender, and an innovator in community-based programs that strengthen communities and families’ financial independence. Since 1997, CHW has increased its operating budget and the number of apartments it has developed by a factor of six, and initiated after-school, financial education and leadership training programs that reach thousands, and expanded to a countywide area. CHW’s homeownership programs provide first mortgage and down payment loans, realty services, foreclosure prevention and education to thousands of families each year. Sue Reynolds’ thirty years of housing and community development experience include leadership in administering housing programs, policy development and advocacy, tax credit, HUD preservation and financial consulting, training programs for nonprofit housing developers, and ...

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Sid Voorakkara, Senior Business Development Specialist, Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development

Sid Voorakkara is appointed by Governor Brown as the Senior Business Development Specialist for San Diego and Imperial Counties. In this capacity, he works directly with companies to receive credits and incentives from the state for job growth, attraction, expansion and retention. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Voorakkara spent nearly a decade prior as a Program Manager with The California Endowment, the state’s largest private foundation. Additionally, he has ten years of experience as a communication and media specialist in public and private positions. He currently serves on the San Diego City Ethics Commission, is Vice Chair of the San Diego Community College Trustees Advisory Council, and is also a Trustee of the San Diego Museum of Man. ...

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Lowell Waxman, Treasurer, Finance Committee Member; Retired City of San Diego Librarian

Lowell Waxman is a retired librarian with the City of San Diego Public Library. Before that, he worked for the United Workers of America for three years in its formative years. He brings to his service on the CPI board experience gained over 40 years of multi-issue economic and social justice activism in San Diego. Through the Campaign for Economic Democracy, Central America Information Center, Neighbor to Neighbor, Proposition 186, and other campaigns, Mr. Waxman has fought for single payer health in California, affordable housing, good jobs and workers’ rights, divestment from apartheid South Africa, district elections, corporate accountability, and other critical issues. Mr. Waxman studied industrial and labor relations at Cornell, received a B.A. in English from Long Island University in Brooklyn, and earned his M.A. in Librarianship from the University of Denver. ...

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Carlos Mejia, Executive Director, San Diego Education Association

Carlos Mejia is the Executive Director of the San Diego Education Association, the second largest education union in California, representing more than 7000 educators in the San Diego Unified School District. Previously he was a Business Representative for AFSCME District Council 36 in Los Angeles and Political Organizer for AFSCME Local 127, the union representing blue-collar workers of the City of San Diego. Mr. Mejia graduated from San Diego State University with a dual degree in Political Science & International Security and Conflict Resolution. ...

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Alan Gin, PhD, Associate Professor of Economics, University of San Diego

Alan Gin is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of San Diego. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, both in Economics, from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Dr. Gin is one of the affiliated faculty members of the University of San Diego’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate. He is best known for developing and publishing the University of San Diego’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County, a monthly report on the outlook for the local economy. Dr. Gin has given over 1,000 interviews to local and national media sources and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Daily Transcript, the San Diego Business Journal, Newsweek, and other publications. He is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Asian Business Association of San Diego and sits on the Board of ...

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Tom Lemmon, Business Manager of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Counci

Tom Lemmon is the Business Manager for the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council where he advocates on behalf of working people. He was appointed to the State of California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission by the Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins in 2016. Mr. Lemmon has served on numerous non-profit boards such as the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club that promotes youth athletics, the United Way of San Diego County, and the San Diego Workforce Investment Board. He has participated in oversight committees for bond expenditures including chairing the construction committee for San Diego Community College District as well as being a past chair of the Construction Tech Academy at Kearny High School. ...

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Jill Esbenshade, PhD, Professor of Sociology, San Diego State University

Jill Esbenshade is Professor of Sociology at San Diego State University. She is an Affiliated Faculty Member in Latin American Studies, an Associate Graduate Faculty in the Department of Women’s Studies, and an Affiliated Faculty at the Center for Ethnographic Study at San Diego State University. Dr. Esbenshade received a Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley in Comparative Ethnic Studies, M.A. from University of California at Berkeley in Comparative Ethnic Studies, and B.A. from Brown University in American Civilization. She is the author of Monitoring Sweatshops: Workers, Consumers and the Global Apparel Industry and numerous other reports, articles, book chapters on labor and immigration policies, including   She also currently serves on the Executive Board of the Workers Rights Consortium. ...

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Michael Zucchet, General Manager, San Diego Municipal Employees Association

  Michael Zucchet is the General Manager of the San Diego Municipal Employees Association, the City of San Diego’s largest employee union. He was appointed this year to the Board of Port Commissioners this year, representing the City of San Diego. Mr. Zucchet has previously served as City Councilmember for San Diego’s Second District from 2002 to 2005 and as Deputy Mayor in 2005. He has also worked as government affairs director for the San Diego City Fire Fighters Union; as vice president of real estate for the J. Peter Block Companies; and as a renewable energy economist with the U.S. Department of Energy. He also currently serves as Trustee/Secretary for the San Diego City Employees Retiree Medical Trust. Mr. Zucchet has a B.A. in Business Economics and Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara and M.A. in Environmental Economics from Duke University. ...

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