Meet our instructors

April was born and raised in Los Angeles, and has always loved working with community-based organizations. Since graduating from Cal State Long Beach, with a B.A in Geography, April has been committed to connecting people to resources and advocating for environmental health. She has over five years of experience working in underserved communities and has helped implement pilot projects, such as the Water LA program, to help communities become more climate-resilient through the power of nature based solutions and community advocacy. Currently, April serves the North East Los Angeles area by assisting in the implementation of waste prevention techniques and guiding the community on proper recycling and food rescue practices. When April is not out exploring new food in her community she enjoys taking weekend camping trips to disconnect from the busy bustle of city life.

Jhonatan Gonzalez holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Southern Illinois School of Law. He has a track record as a reliable and diligent professional. He possesses over 15 years of program management, law, and development. Having served as a Development and Communications Director within the academic sector, Jhonatan has built an extensive background in providing strategic direction, managing stakeholders, and implementing fundraising and communications plans to build market awareness and expand client portfolios. In addition to his profound expertise, he is extremely passionate about leading teams and coaching individuals to reach their full potential. On a personal note, Jhonatan, as a first-generation college graduate, understands the family, culture, and economic barriers that minorities face, and he has witnessed firsthand the positive effect that the right mentor had on his life, and he wants to pass this positive change to others. Jhonatan is committed and excited to be part of this great initiative to help many others reach their full potential and bring more diversity to the non-profit sector. He wants to make a difference in other young entrepreneurs achieving their dreams that may seem as far away as his dreams appeared to him twenty years ago.

Lilian Medina Romero is a passionate human rights advocate with more than a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector. In 2020 Lilian started The Bridge Sisters, a consulting firm that supports nonprofit organizations with bilingual communications, outreach and development services to maximize the impact of their work. They serve progresive organizations that provide advocacy, public policy and direct services to support women’s rights. Since 2015, Lilian has also been a Lead Trainer for the Entrepreneurship Training for Success program at Empowered Women International and The Latino Economic Development Center. Previously, she served as Co-Executive Director of Operations and Outreach at Mil Mujeres and Executive Director at Contigo International. Lilian is originally from Colombia, where she earned a Law degree. She has a Master of Laws degree in International Law and Human Rights with special focus on gender issues from American University. Lilian is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Public Policy at George Mason University.

Patrick Salazar brings more than 30 years experience in executive search, nonprofit senior management, and private consulting, specializing in fundraising, program development, evaluation, and communications. His consulting has helped many nonprofit organizations build organizational capacity and successfully navigate start-up and turnaround operations.

From 2016 to 2021 Salazar was a principal consultant with m/Oppenheim Associates, a national executive search firm that exclusively serves the nonprofit industry. Salazar co-led searches that resulted in placing the CEO at Heal the Bay (Santa Monica, CA), the CEO at Discovery Children’s Museum (Las Vegas), the Director of the Annenberg Space for Photography (Los Angeles), and the CEO at Episcopal Community Services (San Francisco).

Salazar has held a broad range of senior staff and consulting roles with Latino-serving and other nonprofit organizations, including UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza), National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Hispana Leadership Institute, Latino USA, Harry Truman Scholarship Foundation, Antioch University, University of Utah, Pierce College, and the Latino Donor Collaborative.

Salazar served honorably in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CV-43), and was decorated for meritorious service during the Iranian Hostage Crisis and Operation Eagle Claw, the hostage rescue attempt in 1980.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business (Marketing) from the University of Utah, and an MBA at the University of Texas at Austin.

Salazar has served on the boards of the Chicano Scholarship Fund (Univ. of Utah), Utah Coalition of La Raza (Co-Founder), East LA Classic Theatre, and Santa Monica Alternative School House (VP Fundraising).

Sandra Cruz
About Sandra

Stephanie Gomez
About Stephanie

Sandra Cruz is the Early Learning Program Manager at PBS SoCal | KCET. In her role, she collaborates with community organizations in Los Angeles and Orange County to support family engagement efforts through playful learning experiences. Over the course of her professional experience, she has coordinated, facilitated, and developed a series of bilingual family workshops to model S.T.E.M. learning and media mentorship. Sandra has a bachelor’s degree in child development from San Francisco State University and is an advocate for early literacy, S.T.E.M learning, and community co-design.

Stephanie Gomez has over twelve years of experience working in philanthropy and community-based organizations in Los Angeles. She has been facilitating family workshops on topics including college financial aid and parent advocacy for nearly ten years. Stephanie earned her master’s degree in public policy from the University of Southern California and her bachelor’s degree in sociology from UCLA.