Valery Mendoza-Martinez

Born and raised in Southeast Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, Valery was shaped by her family’s values of mutual aid and care for others, as a response to their lived experiences as Mexican immigrants in California. Valery’s experiences as a first generation student of color fueled her desire to make a positive impact on the systems that create barriers for students of color like her to enter spaces of power and privilege. 

Valery served in engaging education (e2 ) –the only student-led, student-initiated center at UC Santa Cruz. Collectively with the leaders of the Latinx, Black, Asian and Pacific Island communities, Valery planned comprehensive and successful social justice campaigns and programs. She mentored hundreds of young people and managed programs and practices based on their requests and interests. In tandem, Valery supported farm working youth and families along the Central Coast at the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County. Through centering relationship building, leadership development and respect for youth, retention of youth of color within programming and events flourished. 

Her experience on the field led her to pursue her Master’s of Social Welfare, with a concentration in Social and Economic Justice at UCLA. While working on her MSW, Valery began to align her passion for facilitating the development of community and leadership of Black and brown residents of Los Angeles, as producers of resources and solutions towards transformative change. She began to intern at Community Coalition through the Luskin Leaders Senior Fellowship, and gratefully stayed on the team once the fellowship ended. Valery supports CoCo’s newest project, the Center for Community Organizing (CCO), through ensuring CoCo members and South LA resident engagement is at the center of the community-led development.

Fun Fact:
Valery’s earring collection is her most prized possession; you will never see her without a pair on, as they reflect her current mood or interests, places she’s visited and the people she loves.