Jennie Carreón is no stranger to advocacy and caring for others. As a child, she grew up in East Los Angeles and often served as the translator and advocate for her family, reading bills and other correspondence for her family and serving as the liaison between her family and the English speaking world. She spent her youth between East Los Angeles and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México.
After graduating from Garfield High School, Jennie attended college, and she participated in the Semester at Sea program where she traveled to 15 different countries around the world.
“Going to China, India, South Africa, and Kenya, this experience blew my mind. I saw first hand how public policy affects the world around us, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively, but that experience studying abroad motivated me to study public policy,” Jennie said.
When she returned from earning her undergraduate degree, Jennie enrolled in graduate school to earn a master’s degree. She received a paid fellowship and ended up working for Governor Gray Davis. This experience working for Governor Davis solidified Jennie’s commitment to working in public policy and to serving the public.
When Davis was recalled, Jennie’s mentor encouraged her to get some campaign experience. She applied for a job at the United Farm Workers (UFW). She ended working for the United Farm Workers organizing farmworkers for arbitration rights. Jennie calls this experience the “most humbling and the hardest work that I have ever done.” In her own family, there are three generations of farm laborers, so the work was very relevant to her personally. With UFW President Arturo Rodriguez and Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee Dolores Huerta, Jennie organized a 150-mile march from the San Joaquin Valley to Sacramento that resulted in the governor signing the historic labor arbitration legislation.
After working with the UFW, Jennie worked as the field director for the East Los Angeles office of Antonio Villaraigosa’s historical mayoral campaign. In this role, she put the campaign and organizing skills that she had learned at the UFW to work. Jennie recruited whole families to phone bank and volunteer for the Villaraigosa campaign. Once he was in office, Jennie went to serve as a senior advisor to Mayor Villaraigosa and was a liaison to environmental officials, business groups, and elected officials at all levels. One of the her accomplishments that she’s most proud of is having overseen the largest open space park initiative in the county.
When Mayor Villaraigosa’s term was over, Jennie contemplated going into lobbying because many professionals with similar experiences often go that route. Because she’s committed to social justice and has her own ideals, Jennie knew that she would never really be satisfied working for a big lobbying firm.
In between the mayoral campaign and working for Mayor Villaraigosa, Jennie had an opportunity to work for Soledad Enrichment Action (SEA) Charter Schools, a charter management organization which started with the school that her grandmother founded in the ‘70s to provide wraparound services for high risk youth. As the Government Relations Director for SEA, Jennie helped to get a bill passed that gave SEA the authority to continue to operate as an independent charter school system. Jennie’s legislative advocacy in working for the charter organization helped her build strong relationships with lawmakers and staff that she relies on to this day.
Jennie had long been aware of a non-profit network of community health clinics in the Southeast Los Angeles region because a decade earlier, her mother was ill and was being treated at AltaMed. AltaMed provided comprehensive health services that were culturally competent, including providing transportation for her mother to and from her appointments. At the time, Jennie was impressed with the services and was thankful that her mother was receiving quality care.
Before learning about AltaMed, Jennie had an interest in health care. When she was sick as a child, her parents would ask, “how sick are you?” to gauge whether they needed to take her to the doctor. As a youngster, Jennie was aware that going to the doctor could break the budget.
Currently, Jennie serves as the Associate Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Foundation Management at AltaMed. In less than a year and a half, she was promoted to the Associate VP role after being hired as the Director of Government Relations. AltaMed is the largest independent Federally Qualified Community Health Center in the U.S. delivering more than 930,000 annual patient visits through its 43 sites in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Jennie also is the Founder and Executive Director of AltaMed’s PAC and oversees fundraising and the endorsement process. In the last election cycle, she was instrumental in helping the Democrats achieve the supermajority in the legislature. Jennie finds her work rewarding because AltaMed is integrated into the community, serving people who are chronically underserved with quality comprehensive medical and social services.
Recently, Jennie was appointed to the board of the Health Professionals Education Foundation by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León. Housed under the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), this non-profit foundation provides scholarships and loan repayment opportunities to health professionals that practice in medically underserved communities.
For her dedication to the community through the years from working with farmworkers to advocating for charter schools that focus on the specific needs of our youth to now fighting for the well-being of our communities, we honor Jennie as a luchadora. As a single mom raising a young daughter, Jennie’s passionate advocacy for healthy communities is both personal and part of her lifelong mission to serve the most under resourced people in our society.
She has worked in the non-profit sector, in the K-12 system, and in higher education in various capacities. When she's not writing stories or working on media projects, Adriana trains instructors to teach online at the University of California, Irvine.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Irvine and a master’s degree in public policy from Claremont Graduate University.
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