Making workplaces more inclusive, one partnership at a time

RISE@Work begins with a recognition that the diversity in our country and in the workforce, is rapidly changing. This diversity is a wonderful thing, particularly given the projected shifts and needs in our workforce. While wonderful, increased diversity also creates challenges that must be addressed to flourish.  We also recognize this change is occurring at the same time a new, 21st century style of leadership is required to meet these changes. Over the past three years, RISE San Diego has fostered the leadership of emerging leaders of all ages seeking to solve the complex challenges of urban neighborhoods in the San Diego region. The effects couldn’t be greater.

As our model has proven to be highly transformative for our fellows, we recognized an opportunity to apply this expertise in support of organizations of all types to tackle the challenges of our rapidly changing world. This was where RISE@Work was born.

Our elite diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) leadership learning experience — RISE @ Work — is built on a three-tiered approach, informed by:

  1. The Adaptive Leadership technique developed by renowned academics at Harvard’s Kennedy School;
  2. A team of highly qualified consultants and coaches thoroughly trained in depth over the course of a year in partnership with the University of San Diego’s School of Leadership & Education Sciences; and
  3. Fun, interactive, team-oriented proprietary learning modules and activities.

OUR TEAM

ceo dwayne crenshaw headshot

Dwayne
Crenshaw, JD

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Dwayne is a native San Diegan and lifelong resident of southeastern San Diego. His deep knowledge of San Diego’s neighborhoods and his community activism, which began at the age of thirteen, are invaluable in his role as a nonprofit and community leader. As CEO of RISE San Diego, Dwayne Crenshaw is responsible for the organization’s effective management and operation on a day-to-day basis. He previously served as the executive director of San Diego LGBT Pride from 2011 to 2013 and the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils from 2005 to 2009, where he advanced issues of community development and social justice. From 2000 to 2004, he promoted resident ownership of neighborhood change in southeastern San Diego as the director of community ownership at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.

Prior to his roles in nonprofit management, Dwayne Crenshaw had eight years of government experience as an aide to state and local elected officials, including former California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. Dwayne Crenshaw began his public service career as one of eighteen James M. Unruh Assembly Fellows who are chosen from hundreds of applicants each year to serve in the California state capitol. Dwayne Crenshaw’s community service includes his current membership on the Union-Tribune Community Advisory Board, the San Diego Community College District Trustee’s Advisory Board and recent service with the Encanto Neighborhoods Community Planning Group, Police Chief’s Community Advisory Board, Southeast Rotary Club, Torrey Pines Bank’s Community Reinvestment Board, and the advisory board for Lincoln and High Tech High schools. San Diego Metropolitan Magazine named Dwayne Crenshaw as one of “San Diego’s Smartest Young Professionals – 40 under 40” in 2007.

He graduated from San Diego State University in 1994 where he majored in elementary education and was elected student body president of the 35,000-student campus. While working in the state capitol, he completed the coursework for a master’s in government from California State University, Sacramento. In 2011, he received his juris doctorate from California Western School of Law, where he twice earned the highly-coveted Distinguished Advocate recognition.
Dwayne Crenshaw resides in the Encanto community of southeastern San Diego. He is the proud and active uncle of five nieces, four nephews, and two great-nieces and enjoys regular dinners with his entire immediate family at his parent’s home.

andrew simmerman headshot

Andrew
Simmerman

VICE PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Andrew Simmerman believes in the notion of work as a pilgrimage of identity. He’s a non-profit leader, educator, entrepreneur and communications professional currently serving as Vice President of Business Development for RISE@Work. Prior to joining the R@W team, he held the roles of Communications and Project Development Manager at the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education at the University of San Diego and Head of Partnerships at Teach For America – San Diego where he was responsible for building school, district, and community partnerships while also supporting in alumni affairs and resource development. As part of the Teach For America - San Diego launch team, Andrew played an integral role in building an inclusive organizational environment and was a leader in issues of allyship and listening to understand.

Andrew earned a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising from Pepperdine University in 2008 and, knowing that he wanted to seek justice in his career after working with then-startup TOMS Shoes, he moved to New York City to join Teach For America as a corps member. He taught 9th and 10th grade English at a small bilingual high school in the South Bronx. A proud San Diego native, Andrew returned to his hometown after four years of teaching and earning his Master’s in Education to become an instructor with Reality Changers, working with low-income high school seniors throughout the entire college application process. He was part of the inaugural cohort of the RISE San Diego Urban Leadership Fellows Program and is a 2015 graduate of LEAD San Diego IMPACT where he consulted on a community project with Cygnet Theatre to increase programming for low-income and military populations. When not working, Andrew enjoys spending time exploring Tijuana, playing basketball, attending concerts, and reading at coffee shops.

edgar alaniz

Edgar
Alaniz

PROGRAM ASSISTANT/INTERN

Edgar Alaniz is a first-generation college student. He was born and raised in San Diego, but more specifically in the Barrio Logan area. He attended and graduated from San Diego High School. With the help of Barrio Logan College Institute, a non-profit that promotes the pursuit of higher education for students who are traditionally underrepresented in college, Edgar is currently attending San Diego State University with a major in Psychology and minor in Economics & Leadership. He's also the co-wwner of two family businesses that are based in San Diego California and is excited to join the RISE@Work team!
grace bagunu phd rise at work headshot

Grace
Bagunu,
PhD

ON THE RISE FOUNDER & CONSULTANT

Grace has been a higher education professional for sixteen years and is currently the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. 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.
jose cruz edd rise at work headshot

Jose Cruz,
EdD

ON THE RISE FOUNDER & CONSULTANT

Jose is the Chief Executive Office of Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI), a college-prep, out-of-school-time program for disadvantaged youth. Located in the heart of Barrio Logan, where only about a third of residents 25 years of age or older have a high school diploma and less than 3% have a bachelor’s degree, BLCI combats these statistics by ensuring 100% of its high school graduates enroll in college so that they can use their higher education to transform communities. He graduated magna cum laude from San Diego State University with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Spanish and obtained a master of education degree in Adolescent Risk and Prevention from Harvard University. Jose is a 2015 RISE Fellow and developed On the RISE as his Community Action Project as part of the fellowship program. Jose is both a consultant for the On the RISE semester-long program and continues to lead the On the RISE seven-day immersive program in the summer.
dr. jasmine darnell

Jasmine
Darnell, PhD

DEI CONSULTANT

Dr. Jasmine D. Darnell is on a mission to eliminate the barriers that hinder the professional growth of rising and seasoned leaders. Over the past fifteen years, while holding leadership positions in the nonprofit, corporate, local government, and higher education sectors, she has worked diligently to close employability and promotability gaps for underrepresented populations. Dr. Darnell promotes purpose, people, and performance in her work and is a passionate researcher of future workplace learning and leadership. She has successfully given over a dozen presentations at academic conferences across the nation. She holds a BS in human services, an MBA in organizational leadership, an MA in teaching and learning with technology, and a doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University. In addition to her professional pursuits, Dr. Darnell is a connoisseur of açaí and a competitive board game player. She is heavily involved in her church community and thoroughly enjoys watching films with her husband and daughter.
azadeh devari phd rise at work headshot

AzadehDavari, PhD

DEI CONSULTANT

Azadeh is a certified leadership coach with over 10 years of experience in developing and conducting personal and organizational leadership programs with a deep reflective approach to raise consciousness. Awardwinning trainer with a successful record of founding and facilitating over 50 local and international leadership capacity building workshops for professionals in fields of science, technology, engineering, startups, education, and healthcare; and for organizations such as UNICEF, WHO, multinational corporations, NGOs, and universities. She is a researcher with diverse academic background from leading universities in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, with a focus on intercultural understanding and diversity. She received her doctorate in leadership studies from University of San Diego, where her dissertation work was focused on culturally-based leadership perspective. As an organizational consultant and coach, her interest is to create a deeper understanding of self, others, and system to develop intercultural dialogue and collaboration. Her passion is to increasingly attend issues of diversity, inclusion, equality, women empowerment, mindfulness, consciousness, and reflective practices in leadership.
diane forbes berthound phd rise at work headshot

Diane
Forbes
Berthoud,
PhD

DEI & INCLUSIVE LEADERSHIP CONSULTANT

Diane is the assistant vice chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of California, San Diego, where her responsibilities include strategic planning, advancing institutional effectiveness, serving as liaison to human resources, and leading diversity-focused community engagement and campus-wide initiatives. As a member of the vice chancellor’s leadership team, she represents the vice chancellor on high-level task forces, advisory groups, and system-wide work groups.

Diane has over twenty-two years of experience working in higher education, nonprofits, and government and brings a proven record of success in organizational communication and development, strategic planning, and assessment of EDI initiatives. She previously served as director of practicum at Sixth College, where she spearheaded the development, design, and assessment of multiple community-based initiatives and courses. She has planned and implemented three regional conferences hosted at UC San Diego that convened hundreds of participants to dialogue about high impact practices, diversity in education, and social justice. Prior to UC San Diego, she was a lead consultant in a countywide organizational effectiveness and diversity initiative in Montgomery County, Maryland where she led an assessment and planning process to improve organizational effectiveness and strengthen equity, diversity, and inclusion for thousands of employees in the county government. Diane was previously an associate professor and department chair of communication at Trinity University, a visiting professor at George Mason University, and a senior fellow at the University of Maryland, College Park in leadership and public policy. She has been awarded faculty fellowships in the areas of women’s leadership, community-based research, public policy, and dialogue from Georgetown University, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, and the Interactivity Foundation. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in intercultural communication, organizational communication, leadership and discourse, and women’s studies. She also served as an ombudsperson at the US Capitol in the areas of conflict resolution and communication. Diane received her master’s and doctoral degrees in organizational communication and social psychology from Howard University and earned her BA in communication arts and a certificate in Spanish translation and interpretation from Barry University. In 2014, she was awarded the UC San Diego Diversity Award for her outstanding efforts in advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion; for increasing access to international education; for extending community-based courses and initiatives in underserved communities; and for organizing large-scale experiential learning conferences on campus that featured research and best practices in community-based courses and diversity initiatives.

dr zachary gabriel green headshot rise at work

Zachary
Gabriel
Green, PhD

DEI & INCLUSIVE LEADERSHIP CONSULTANT

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.

salina villegas

Salina
Villegas

LEADERSHIP PROGRAM MANAGER

Salina is a mother, transformational leader, and hood scholar raised in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego. She has been an advocate for students in marginalized communities since 2008. After graduating college, she founded the alumni director position at Reality Changers to increase the college retention rates of their first-generation college student graduates and was an academy instructor with their College Apps Academy program, where she worked to demystify the college application and financial aid process while also delivering college survival techniques. She previously worked with Helix Charter High School and at Hamilton College Consulting in her efforts for educational equity and access to higher education. She has been inducted into the San Diego Unified School District Hall of Fame and was recognized by Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins as an Emerging Female Leader. She holds a BA in American studies and rhetoric studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Most recently, she is a graduate of the RISE Fellows program (Cohort III). Salina and her husband, Branden, live in San Diego and have two sons.