Local nonprofit Just Communities announces the election of new Board of Director co-chairs Abril Lopez and Mark French.
Their first meeting in their new positions will be April 22.
Other members are Jarrod Schwartz, executive director of Just Communities; Nicole Dinkelacker, Just Communities treasurer; Doug Green, board development officer; and board members Hillary Blackerby, Joshua Moon Johnson, Lucky Lynch, Maria Monjaraz, Viviana Marsano and Jack Rivas.
Lopez first became involved with Just Communities when she participated in the Just Communities summer youth program CommUnity Leadership Institute in 2007 while attending Dos Pueblos High School.
While at Dos Pueblos, she wrote and facilitated a Latino Achievement Survey that aided the Excellence for Equity in Education Committee, which is a part of the school’s PTSA. The survey uncovered several language and access barriers for Latino students at the school, which were then remedied by the PTSA.
Lopez first joined the Just Communities board in January 2011. As the youngest member on the Just Communities board, she provides the unique perspective of not only a youth but also of a recent program graduate. Lopez is attending the Certified Nursing Program at Santa Barbara City College.
“The work that Just Communities does is amazing in many different aspects, whether it’s trying to break down the language barrier that exists in schools or bringing a community together to try and make the place where they live safe,” Lopez said. “That’s why I love working with Just Communities, not only do they address oppression but they bring communities together to work on good causes.”
French graduated from UCSB in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He then obtained a teaching credential at UCSB in 1974 (student teaching at Dos Pueblos High School). While at UCSB, he participated in intercollegiate basketball and baseball. He earned his master’s degree in physical education from the University of the Pacific in 1978. In 1987, he returned to UCSB as the head women’s basketball coach and served in that position for 21 years.
French retired from coaching in 2008 and worked for two years at the UCSB Alumni Association as the director of scholarships and outreach. He serves on the UCSB Alumni Association Board of Directors as the chair of the Awards Committee, is a co-chair of the Just Communities Board of Directors, and is on the Executive Committee of the UCSB Athletic Department’s Gaucho Order. He was recently inducted into the UCSB Athletic Department’s Hall of Fame and the Santa Barbara Athletic Roundtable’s Hall of Fame.
“Serving on the Board of Directors of Just Communities is a challenge and an honor for me,” French said. “A challenge to help this wonderful organization continue its much-needed efforts to make the central coast a safer, more inclusive, and equitable place to live. An honor to be part of a staff of caring professionals whose efforts in programs like our Community Leadership Institute change young people’s lives forever!”
Just Communities is a Santa Barbara-based organization that works to bring together diverse groups of people to build leadership and develop joint solutions for our communities’ challenges. Just Communities programs help build trust across historic divides, foster relationships between diverse community members, and leverage the trust and relationships towards joint action to produce positive social change.
For more information about Just Communities or how to get involved, click here or call 805.966.2063.
— Elizabeth Weinstein is a development associate for Just Communities.