LDI Highlight - Araceli Espinoza and Amy Jewett

CalSAC is proud to highlight Araceli Espinoza and Amy Jewett from CalSAC's 2018 Leadership Development Institute 360°/365 fellowship.  Araceli and Amy are leaders who has demonstrated unrivaled commitment to the field and drive for advanced leadership in the out-of-school time and early learning field.


Araceli Espinoza, was born and raised in south east Los Angeles, and has been in youth work for the entirety of her career. She began working in her community as a youth leader while in high school; putting together a Battle of the Bands for the Latino punk bands in the area. In 2009, Araceli started working in literacy at her local library, where she also received literacy support as a young person. In the four years that Araceli worked with the library, she worked with various schools in expanding the Battle of the Books competition among the district.

   Araceli Espinoza, Girls Inc. of Alameda County - Oakland

Araceli Espinoza, Girls Inc. of Alameda County - Oakland

She eventually moved to San Francisco, to study the fine art at the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2015, she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in painting. Through her experience in art school, she made it a point to create art that celebrated the negative stereotypes, and also gave a face to women who are underrepresented in Mexico.

While studying, she stumbled across Girls Inc. of Alameda County in Oakland, CA. She began her career as a program leader in 2014. Going back to her roots of literacy work, Araceli found a way to incorporate art into her lessons, and expanding the curriculum with her young scholars. She found herself in a place to creatively create an art curriculum that touches on literacy, feminism, and cultural representation. Through Girls Inc. training, Araceli found a new love for math through art and music. Araceli presently works as an after school program coordinator at an Oakland elementary school.

Araceli’s fundamental values of giving back comes from being a first generation Mexican American daughter. She was taught to give back to the community in which raised her, to provide a space for young people to thrive in a world where they are seen as a stereotypes and may not be given the opportunities they deserve. Her goal is to build an after school program that improves the literacy skills of elementary students, and also build an enrichment program that provides a space for young scholars to creatively explore their interests. Representation matters in Araceli’s program, and encourages her team to bring their true selves.

Outside of work, Araceli takes care of herself by painting, visiting museums and galleries, hiking around the Bay Area, propagating vegetables, and in the summer enjoying some good old Dodgers beisbol.

I am cultureless because, as a feminist, I challenge the collective cultural/religious male-derived beliefs of Indo-Hispanics and Anglos; yet I am cultured because I am participating in the creation of yet another culture, a new story to explain the world and our participation in it, a new value system with images and symbols that connect us to each other and to the planet.
— Gloria Anzaldua

   Amy Jewett, City of San Jose,   Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services - San Jose

Amy Jewett, City of San Jose, Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services - San Jose

Amy Jewett was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a quintessential Californian. Above all else, Amy is a true optimist and a lover of people, animals, and the environment. As a vegan, Amy lives her life with the intention of making choices that better those around her with the ultimate goal of leaving the planet a better place than she entered it. Amy has an incredible zeal for learning and is on a lifelong quest for knowledge. She received her B.S. in Kinesiology with a minor in Psychology from San José State University, where she focused her education on motivating others to engage in healthy recreation throughout their whole lifespan.

Her passion for altruism began in Kindergarten when she joined the Girl Scouts and continued to evolve through High School as she completed her Silver Award. Through her early exposure to volunteerism, she saw the tremendous benefit in working with others in leveraging resources to help better the community. It was this drive to help and encourage others that led to her studies in Kinesiology, and ultimately to her career with the City of San José.

She has worked in the recreation field for seven years and has been a part of the City of San José’s Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services department for the last four years. Amy began her career as a fitness instructor and is a certified Matter of Balance Coach, a certified Conductorcise instructor, and an Enhance Fitness Master Trainer. Although Amy began her career working with older adults, she has been working in the Citywide Out-of-School Time office for the past 18 months, where she focuses on developing and communicating programmatic best practices and policies, contract management, and staff trainings.

In 2017, through a grant partnership with the Bower’s Institute of the Tech Museum of Innovation, Amy attended an intensive 2-week training to become an Engineering Education Leader. As part of her responsibilities, she now trains staff on best practices for the development and implementation of engineering lessons for youth ages 5 – 17. Amy has continued her professional education in 2018 with her acceptance to CalSAC’s Leadership Development Institute, which has provided her with necessary tools and resources to increase her effectiveness as a leader.

Amy has a thirst for knowledge and loves sharing information and resources with those around her. Throughout her time working with the City of San José, her passion for improving the community has continued to grow. She is committed to being an advocate for youth by providing equitable, quality programs that are accessible to all. In her free time, Amy loves reading, exploring new places, cooking, and exercising her green thumb in her garden.

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
— J.R.R. Tolkien