CalSAC Senior Certified Trainer | since 2008 LDI Fellow | 2012
Central California Chapter Leader
Originally from Bakersfield, CA, Michael Figueroa was born to be an innovator in education, and CalSAC has helped equip and empower him for this work. Michael worked for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools to lead service-learning initiatives for both out-of-school and in-school settings. His service-learning program quickly became a state model and helped him view national service as a key strategy in public education.
"I was working in Kern County when my relationship with CalSAC started. I applied to CalSAC’s training of trainers program and became certified. Shortly after, I became a leader and mentor for new trainers in the network." A few years later, Michael learned about CalSAC's Leadership Development Institute (LDI). He says, "I believed in CalSAC and their mission. Everything I heard aligned well with what I was hoping to do with my career. I ended up becoming part of the inaugural cohort for LDI."
Michael found what he was learning and experiencing in LDI to be crucial for his expanding role in education. Michael says, "The network I was able to build through CalSAC, with people across the state, was a huge benefit to my career. That's one of the things CalSAC focuses on — connections. I went on to help organize CalSAC's Central Valley chapter and through that developed even more relationships."
Michael says, "CalSAC's LDI content was especially helpful. I have never before had an opportunity to be part of something that explicitly helped leaders of color in the field. That enabled me to do something authentic and meaningful for me and my colleagues and led to more strategic thinking about how I engage in the work I do today."
“I find myself constantly raising a voice for equity and looking at how these issues impact young people. CalSAC’s LDI program provided framing, tools, and language to deeply engage in these matters. CalSAC helps people be more open about issues of race. CalSAC has helped me make these conversations and decisions central to the work that I do and less taboo for me.
“CalSAC gives dignity to the work of a youth-development or OST worker. This is critical; we must recognize, develop, and celebrate the professionals in our field at every level. Bringing people together at various levels of an organization helps foster learning. CalSAC does a good job of recognizing this and raising it up.”