Staff / Board of Directors
Francisco Soto, Programs Manager
Manuel Cota, Facilities
Veronica Del Rio, Associate Director of Operations
Board of Directors
Ashley Rodriguez, President
Ashley Rodriguez is the Donor Engagement Manager at inewsource, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, in-depth and data-driven journalism outlet. A dedicated volunteer in the community, Ashley serves a the Co-President of the San Diego Leadership Alliance and the Vice President of the Sherman Heights Community Center board. Additionally, she serves on the Victory Fund Campaign Board and as a legislative ambassador for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. She is the former Chair, and current member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of San Diego. In 2016, she completed her master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego, she is also a proud graduate of San Diego State University where she studied International Security and Conflict Resolution.
Prior to joining inewsource, Ashley supported resource development for the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI), a local economic justice policy think tank. Before that, she managed community engagement initiatives and grants for KPBS, San Diego’s local public media station. She is believes deeply in the power of nonprofits and is a passionate advocate for equity, access and opportunity. In her “off” time, Ashley’ can be found enjoying a craft beer with her two terriers taking in all things San Diego.
Devonna Almagro, Secretary
Devonna currently serves as Director of Communications and Community Relations for HPLE, Inc., a Pasadena-based construction management firm. Devonna brings close to two decades of extensive experience developing and executing bilingual grassroots communications and community outreach programs, enabling her to ensure successful strategic planning and implementation of her clients’ public affairs programs. Devonna serves as a liaison for the company’s school construction bond programs, facilitating direct dialogue between the construction management team, school boards, faculty and staff, students, parents, and the community-at-large.
Before joining HPLE, Devonna served as Executive Director of the Sherman Heights Community Center where she earned recognition for her leadership and civic engagement by the City of San Diego and by the California Legislature as a 2017 Woman of the Year honoree for the 80th Assembly District.
Originally from the border city of Mexicali, Baja California, Devonna has called San Diego home for the past 22 years and has been active with various organizations throughout the Historic Barrio District for the past decade. Devonna holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies and Spanish, with a minor in Communication Studies from the University of San Diego.
Karina Spilker, Treasurer
Karina is highly experienced in community building, civic engagement, and workforce development. She serves as Director, Community & Economic Engagement at MAAC and has over two decades of experience in the nonprofit social service sector with a focus on community building and workforce development. As a long-time resident of Logan Heights, a board member of the Sherman Heights Community Center, and an active community organizer, Karina has played a leadership role in many important mobilization efforts, including massive organizing initiatives related to immigration and immigrant rights, naturalization drives, voter education and registration initiatives, and living wage campaigns. She is fluent in Spanish, a certified notary public, and a VITA-certified tax preparer.
Zaheen Chowdhury, Member
Zaheen was voted onto the Board of Sherman Heights Community Center in March 2017, serving as Vice Chair since January 2019. In his role on the Board’s facilities committee, Zaheen provides direction to staff on matters relating to the facility, leases and capital projects.
With 10 years of experience in urban planning and affordable housing development, Zaheen currently works as a Project Manager with Trestle Development, a builder of affordable infill housing based in San Diego. In addition to serving on the SHCC Board, Zaheen is on the Board of the City of San Diego’s Consolidated Plan Advisory Board and the Executive Board of the YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County. He holds a BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz and a Masters in Urban Planning from San Jose State University.
Maxín Rivera, Member
Maxín Rivera is a lifelong resident of Sherman Heights and graduate of MANA de San Diego’s Latina Success Leadership Program. A San Diego High School alumni, Maxin studied Chicano Studies at San Diego State University and is passionate about art and social justice. She is driven by her mission to advance socioeconomic equity and representation of underserved communities. She currently works at LightStream, the online lending division of SunTrust Bank. With every loan funded, LightStream plants a tree through American Forests’ reforestation and wildlife protection efforts. In her free time, Maxin enjoys listening to podcasts and organizing to bring positive change to her community.
Rafael Perez, Member
Rafael Perez is a Realtor and Adjunct Faculty at Cuyamaca College. He currently serves as a Commissioner for the City of San Diego on the Citizens’ Equal Opportunity Commission and has previously served on the Board of Directors for the San Diego Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. He has also served in the past as a DIrector for the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors where he has worked on several grants related to diversity and smart growth.
He first volunteered at the Sherman Heights Community Center in 2000 as a Member of Nu Alpha Kappa Fraternity where has has previously served as National President. He has continued to volunteer over the years at the Center through this organization, where he and his NAK brothers have volunteered to work security for the Dia De Los Muertos Procession. He currently serves as a Board Member and is on the facilities committee.
Rafael resides in Sherman Heights with his wife Sharina, daughter Olivia and dog Sake. He enjoys taking his 51 Chevy Lowrider to cruise nights in the Barrio and continues to find ways to encourage civic engagement.
Graciela Ramirez, Member
Gracie is a San Diego native and San Diego High Alumni. She holds a B.S in Advertising from The Art Institute of San Diego and The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. With 15 years experience in the creative Industry Gracie currently works as a freelance Creative Consultant/Art Director where she’s worked with clients like Kaiser Permanente, Toyota, and Bank of America. She looks forward to bringing her creative eye and love for the arts to the community. In her free time she enjoys blogging about food and movies and spending time with her family.