Under the direction of Dr. Zachary Green, a core faculty of academics and professional coaches offers a wealth of expertise in leadership studies and community change to our Urban Leadership Fellows Program at USD. Together and individually, they work closely with the RISE Fellows as they learn and grow under the program’s adaptive change leadership approach.



G. Bagunu

Grace has been a higher education professional for fourteen years and currently teaches in the Leadership Studies Minor at the University of San Diego. Prior to moving to academic affairs, she worked in student affairs at UC San Diego where she facilitated seminars on communication and leadership skills, and she has also worked in the areas of student activities, governance, and organizations. Grace expanded her work into social media and currently serves as the social media coordinator on the Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education, NASPA Region VI Advisory Board. She has conducted several workshops on the use of social media as a professional communication tool for students and professionals in higher education and has published a chapter on social media and technology for the NASPA monograph, Beginning Your Journey.


Meenakshi received a master’s in public affairs from Princeton University and a doctorate in social anthropology from Cornell University. She has taught at UC San Diego and Princeton and has considerable experience with economic research, grassroots community work, ethnographic research, business entrepreneurship, dialogue training and facilitation, and strategic program development. Prior to joining the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) at the University of San Diego, Meenakshi was vice president for program development at the Public Conversations Project where she worked for thirteen years as a practitioner and in program development and management. She has worked with a wide variety of leaders and communities both nationally and internationally, including U.S. stakeholders on national energy policy, emerging women leaders from transitional countries, and peacebuilders in Burundi.



Alexis is a Harvard-trained conflict resolution practitioner with a background in Person-Centered Approach (PCA) therapy, the hallmarks of which include living in the present rather than the past or future with organismic trust, naturalistic faith in one’s own thoughts and the accuracy in one’s feelings, and responsible acknowledgment of one’s freedom with a view toward participating fully in our world and contributing to other people’s lives. In addition to his practice, Alexis lectures at San Diego State University and is the founder of Notes to Our Sons and Daughters and My Sister’s Voice.


Diane is the director of the Sixth College Practicum program and a lecturer in leadership and public rhetoric at UC San Diego and a graduate adjunct professor of leadership theory and practice at George Washington University. Her extensive training and consultation experience in the areas of strategic planning, leadership development and coaching, conflict resolution, organizational cultural change, team building, and improved communication includes consulting to the Montgomery County government system, serving as an ombudsperson/consultant at the U.S. Capitol, and working as a senior fellow at the University of Maryland’s James McGregor Burns Academy of Leadership. She is a certified associate and group consultant at the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems and the Washington-Baltimore Center for Group Relations, as well as a consulting associate for the Elson Consulting Group. Before moving to California, she served on the faculty of Trinity University and George Mason University. Diane received her doctorate from Howard University with a specialization in organizational communication and social psychology.



Leah has a diverse background that includes small business development, fundraising, and marketing and communications in the areas of cultural, community, and public relations. Her exemplary career in the arts encompasses everything from public arts management, to visual and performing arts program development and consultation, to the creation and implementation of award-winning, community-based public art, art-in-education, and arts-in-hospital programs. Leah is a published writer and poet who believes that the arts are a universal tool for healing.


Zachary is a professor of Practice in Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego and the lead faculty for the RISE Urban Leadership Fellows Program. Trained as a clinical and community psychologist, he received his doctorate from Boston University and completed advanced clinical training at Cambridge Hospital/Harvard Medical School and organizational consultation through the Wharton Center for Applied Research. As an organizational consultant, Zachary’s clients have included multinational corporations, government agencies, university departments, religious institutions, and nonprofit organizations. He is a leadership coach for the World Bank and a co-founder of IMAGO Global Grassroots, an organization using a participatory, co-creative model to address the generational issues of poverty in international development. His career highlights include serving on the dialogue development team for the President’s Commission on Race, conducting leadership training on five continents, and leading a multi-year process for emerging leaders of Northern Ireland in advance of the Good Friday Accord.



Joe is the Western Region Program vice president for Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the country’s largest nonprofit focused on rebuilding and revitalizing neighborhoods and communities, and serves as interim executive director for LISC Los Angeles. Prior to his return to LISC, he served as an independent consultant and advisor focused on the impact, improvement, and innovation of people and place in traditionally less-served neighborhoods and markets. He previously served as vice president of community development at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and executive director of LISC San Diego, and his experience includes university fund development, community leadership, and research analysis. Joe is a devoted husband and father who received a bachelor of science degree in finance and a Community Economic Development Practitioner’s Certificate from San Diego State University.


Carlos is a senior clinical psychologist with the County of San Diego’s Juvenile Forensic Services STAT Team. Tasked with creating and providing innovative, community-based services to youth in detention or who are otherwise involved in the juvenile justice system, he has applied his clinical, group-relations, leadership, and community activist experience to educate, advocate for, and be part of the empowerment of these youth. An adherent to the phrase “faith without works is dead,” he brings committed action to the development of peaceful, loving relationships among all of San Diego’s individuals, families, and communities, with specific interests in gang redirection work, violence intervention, and restorative justice issues among youth. Carlos is a co-creator of Group Relations International and director of its Youth Empowerment Services initiative. He obtained his PhD in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and a BA from the University of California, San Diego. He has been providing community consulting and clinical services in San Diego for twenty-five years.



Adriano is a doctoral student in the University of San Diego (USD) School of Leadership and Education Sciences and a graduate assistant in its Leadership Institute, where he facilitates the leadership workshop series, promotes USD’s global study program in Brazil, and worked on the planning committee for the 2014 ILA Global Conference in San Diego. His passion and involvement in the field of leadership began in the early 1980s when he was appointed as an American Field Service Youth Leader and granted by the European Council to study in Italy with other European peers; since then, the majority of his professional experience has centered on organizational auditing, consulting, training, and coaching of top executive managers. He pioneers and continues to work his executive/life coaching business in Portugal, where he was born and raised, and Spain. Adriano has traveled extensively throughout the world and is fluent in five languages.


JC’s path as a changemaker began after college when he traveled the world for six years while working for a study abroad leadership program. He went on to earn a master’s in communications and organizational change with the intention to focus his career within in the community development field. Over the past fifteen years, JC’s career has evolved into developing curriculum for young adult leadership programs and taking part in grassroots community development initiatives in Mexico, Guatemala, and the U.S. As part of the Changemaker Team at the University of San Diego, JC is inspired every day by the incredible talent, drive, and determination of students who have embraced the practice of being a changemaker.