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Expansion to Support Community Involvement and Leadership

October 30, 2017- San Diego – For the first time in its over 20 year history, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation (JCNI) Board will include non-family, community board members. Three trustees representing Southeastern San Diego were selected after an intensive selection process.

“The JCNI board expansion process will bring community voice at the highest level of the organization and ultimately a Board of Directors, ready and able to carry out the ongoing mission of JCNI beyond the family’s involvement,” explained Board Member Andrew Hapke.

“We are now at a crossroads for JCNI and the community. With the proposed Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation Town Center Master Plan in place and a series of real estate projects on the way, the vision of a revitalized community owned and managed by the community is crystalizing. We are excited that as we begin the shift towards a transition of governance from the family to the community, we have strong community leadership coming on board to develop and drive these efforts,” he added.

The new trustees are:
Laila Aziz, Director of Operations, Metro United Methodist Urban Ministry
Elizabeth Bustos, Director of Community Engagement, Be There San Diego
Michael Brunker, Executive Director of Jackie Robinson YMCA

JCNI’s board, with assistance from Community Democracy Workshop, developed a Board Expansion Ad-hoc Committee comprised of five key stakeholders from Southeastern San Diego communities. The goal of the committee was to design and implement a process to bring up to three new community board members onto the JCNI board at the annual meeting on December 15th, 2017. The Board Expansion Committee included: Ken Malbrough, Elizabeth Bustos, Narri Cooper, Norma Chapa, and Khalid Alexander. These committee members have been involved with JCNIs work over a number of years, a few of them for a decade or longer.

The committee sought board members with leadership, integrity, talent, a commitment to Southeastern San Diego, and a belief in the mission of JCNI.  Additionally, the committee established selection criteria for potential board members including community knowledge, relevant expertise and diversity.

Based on these criteria, 19 names were submitted for consideration by the committee. Candidates were invited for interviews and following committee deliberation, three new community members were selected to join the JCNI board. Seating of the new board members will be at the December 2017 board meeting.

“We believe strongly that these three candidates are passionate, committed, reflect the community and will represent it well. Their history of service and experience will be a great asset to the organization and the community as a whole. We are proud to welcome these well respected leaders to our team and look forward to working with them on our new board,” added Board Member Valerie Jacobs Hapke.

Meet the New Board Members

Laila Aziz
Laila Aziz is the Director of Operations at Metro United Methodists Urban Ministry. Laila has been with Metro for over 15 years, serving in various capacities and raising over 5 million dollars in grants. Born in Long Island, New York, Laila grew up in Southeastern San Diego, attending Valencia Park Elementary School, O’Farrell Charter (formerly known as the School of Performing Arts), Morse High School, and Serra High School. With a passion for violence intervention and prevention, Laila utilized her workforce, federal regulations, and youth offender expertise to advocate for policy changes on legislation that disproportionally impacts youth and communities of color. In addition to now serving on JCNI’s board, Laila is also a board member for Pillars of the Community, Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March, and Moms of Black Boys United.

Michael Brunker
Michael Brunker serves as the Executive Director of the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA. Michael was born as raised in Detroit, but moved to San Diego to pursue an assistant basketball coach position at San Diego State in 1980. Prior to joining the YMCA, Michael founded the San Diego Regional Police Athletic League, now known as STAR/PAL. Michael received his B.A in Political Science and Certificate in Secondary Education from the University of Detroit, as well as completed Harvard’s Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management program. Michael has received numerous certificates, including Fundraising Management  and the YMCA Organizational Leader certificate. He serves his community in various capacities, including Board Member of San Diego Rotary Club 33 and President of Amateur Athletic Union of The United States. Michael’s ability to form strategic collaborations and attract others to support common goals is exemplified in his new and improved YMCA 50,000 square foot-facility. Well known as a role model in the community, Michael discovers areas of need and seeks to provide support and develop programs that address those needs.

Elizabeth Bustos
Elizabeth Bustos holds the position of Director of Community Engagement for Be There San Diego, a coalition of patients, communities, healthcare systems and others working together to prevent heart attacks and strokes in the Southeastern San Diego Community. Elizabeth received her B.A in Social Work from San Diego State University. Elizabeth also serves on the boards of Mental Health America San Diego, San Diego Small Bankers CDC, and is a member of MANA de San Diego, and Live Well San Diego Task Force. Elizabeth co-founded Southeastern San Diego Community Advisory Committee. Elizabeth has a deep commitment to advancing Health Equity as critical Civil Rights and Social Justice issues. This commitment is exemplified in all aspects of her professional and personal life. She develops and implements culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies to engage all segments of the community in decision-making for health promotion and disease prevention.

Community Democracy Workshop (CDW) is a national program of Philanthropy Northwest, located in Seattle, WA. The purpose of the Community Democracy Workshop is for people and their institutions to understand why and how the work of community building and problem solving must be led by community members themselves, and to understand how this hard work happens.

 About JCNI
The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation was founded in 1995 by Dr. Joe and Vi Jacobs, founders of Jacobs Engineering Group in Pasadena, California. As creative catalyst and incubator, The Jacobs Center partners with residents, local leaders and organizations, and regional and national investors to revitalize 60 acres in Southeastern San Diego’s Diamond Neighborhoods and focus on developing a culturally-diverse area into a vibrant and economically sustainable destination. The Jacobs Center’s work is deeply rooted in community engagement and creative placemaking. The vision for the community was created in partnership with residents and local community organizations.


Media Contact: Toni Robin

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