Alberto Retana

TED X: Creating Change

Alberto Retana is the President and CEO of Community Coalition, a nonprofit organization based in South Los Angeles that empowers residents to transform their communities, improve education, and reimagine public safety.  As President and CEO, Alberto has developed initiatives to build Community Coalition into a mass based community organization that involves thousands of South Los Angeles residents in the practice of creating change.

Under his leadership, Community Coalition most recently created the People First Platform, a comprehensive policy agenda informed by over 4200 adults and youth, to equitably move resources to the highest need communities, re-imagine our criminal justice system, and transform the built environment in South Los Angeles.  Community Coalition is also working to build a center to serve as a national hub for community organizing training and racial justice activism.

Alberto’s leadership has broken new ground for Community Coalition.  He has built the organization’s cultural arm, including: PowerFest—South LA’s premier political concert drawing thousands of South LA residents; People Power Convention—an annual convening that engages residents through plenary sessions and workshops; and Re-Imagine Justice—a living art and people’s exhibit marking the 25th anniversary of the 1992 LA Uprising—featured in the New York Times and Los Angeles Weekly.  In 2018, Community Coalition was selected by the City of Los Angeles to organize embRACE LA inaugural dinner series, and successfully mobilized over 1200 Angelinos across the city to discuss race and equity in Los Angeles.

Alberto was introduced to organizing at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he graduated with a degree in Political Science. As a student activist, he joined with his peers across the country to lead campaigns to defend affirmative action, lower student fees, and advance racial justice.

He joined Community Coalition in 1998, as a youth organizer and played various leadership roles within the organization. His accomplishments include winning key public policy victories, developing a mass civic engagement strategy organizing over 190,000 African American and Latino voters in various state and local elections, and leading an initiative to enroll 6,000 South Los Angeles families into Obamacare.

From 2009 to 2011, Alberto worked for the Obama administration in the U.S. Department of Education as Director of Community Outreach. During his time in D.C., he organized the Department’s first National Youth Summit, and worked with thousands of community leaders across the country on turning around the nation’s “push-out” crisis.

Alberto’s leadership has resulted in his recognition by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of LA’s 500 Most Influential People, and ACLU’s Educational Equity Award. He is currently on the Advancement Project California Board of Directors.  Alberto has also completed two prestigious fellowships: Rockwood’s “Leading from the Inside Out” fellowship in 2017 and the Atlantic Fellowship for Racial Equity in 2018.

Alberto is the son of Mexican and Costa Rican immigrants.  He currently lives in South Los Angeles with his wife, Jennifer Arceneaux, and their two children, Emile and Kahlo.