External Relations

 

Lucero Chavez, Director of Policy and Partnerships

Lucero Chavez serves as the Director of Policy and Partnerships in the External Relations Department at the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE), leading policy, advocacy, and partnership development for PIQE. As Director, she is responsible for developing and driving proactive state and regional policy change within the parameters of PIQE’s Policy Platform. Working with a wide range of stakeholders, the director builds engagement and support of family engagement initiatives and supports investment at regional, state, and national levels. Previously, she served as Policy Associate for PIQE.

Prior to PIQE, Lucero Chavez most recently worked for the State of California as a District Field representative in the California State Assembly. Her policy responsibilities included education, environment, housing, business, transportation, and immigration, among others. She was also the lead on their Legislative Internship Program, constituent casework and communication, administrative management, and other district-wide initiatives. As a fluent Spanish speaker, she also took the lead in serving Spanish-speaking constituents through constituent services and the translation of legislative documents and information.

Outside of her professional life, Lucero is involved in multiple community groups. She is a member of MANA de San Diego’s Advocacy Committee, an Hermanitas Mentor, and a graduate of their Latina Success Leadership Program; she is a member of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) and a graduate of their HOPE Leadership Institute; she trained as part of the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) “Know Your Rights Ambassador Program” to provide groups with information on their immigration rights; she has also been a member of San Diego Border Dreamers, Latina Giving Circle, and other organizations.

Lucero is a first-generation college student who attended the University of San Diego on a full-ride merit scholarship and graduated with honors with a degree in International Relations and Sociology; in addition, she received recognitions including the Departmental Award in International Relations, membership into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society, and the “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges” Recognition. Lucero served as Vice-President of USD’s Student Outreach and Recruitment Club and the Link Peer Mentoring Program, engaging and supporting other low-income, first-generation college students like herself in navigating university life and academics. Lucero is also passionate about intercultural communication, a skill she acquired through her tenure as President of the International Student Organization, Chair of the International Orientation Team, and mastering Spanish, English, French and Italian languages.

Lucero graduated Hilltop High School as her class’s Valedictorian, all while navigating homelessness and life as a DACA recipient. Lucero grew up in Chula Vista, California with her family, and was born in the City of Guadalajara, Mexico.

 

Sade Williams, Engagement and Strategic Initiative Associate

I was born in the Bay area, but I was raised here in Central Valley in the small town of Mendota, California, with a population of 8,000. I am Bi-racial – half Jamaican and half Mexican. l represent my hometown with pride and honor. I have a passion for community involvement. At the age of 14, I started volunteering for different organizations to tutor and support other youth and loved working with youth in the community and it kind of progressed from there.  

To give back, support, encourage, and see people strive for their passions and ambitions is a fire that burns within me. Over the years I’ve had opportunities to do so many wonderful things. I worked for the United Methodist Church for about seven years as a youth pastor, and as director for Christian education. Years after I left, changed careers, and became a mother, what gives me a sense of fulfillment is my kids [that I taught] still reaching out to me and letting me know the value of that time and support. I always called them “my kids.” My dad used to tell me, “Your word is your life. If you’re saying one thing and doing something different, you don’t have any sense of self-worth and there’s no reason for you to be trusted.” I wanted to teach them the value of what we are doing in our lives, and that you need to have that integrity. 

As the Engagement and Strategic Initiative Associate for PIQE, Parent Institute for Quality Education I work to support the families through strategic initiatives and partnerships throughout the Central Valley as well as PIQE’s expanded advocacy efforts in this region of California. The overall goal is to get our parents involved and give them the tools, resources, and support that they need to be encouraged to utilize their own voice and their passion to see whatever they would like to see manifest within Central Valley and the state of California. I’m working alongside other organizations and CBOs [Community Based Organizations] that have like-minded goals for their families and the diversity of Central Valley.  

By putting God first, I have been able to feel confident and comfortable going forward and supporting the causes that I’m involved in, which ultimately gets rid of the fear to take on challenges too. My faith grounds me and gives me the strength to follow my passions. There’s always going to be highs and lows in life and it’s our response to those hard times that allow us to appreciate the good times.  

I lived in Sacramento for about 10 years.  I saw the severity of the homelessness and mental health challenges there and helped support those suffering to overcome barriers and stigmas. I just moved back to the Central Valley. My family has always been here, so I was constantly coming back. I wanted my son to experience what I experienced – the closeness of our family network and growing up with close friends. There might not be certain things like we see in major metropolitan cities, but we value what we have. At the core, Central Valley has a lot to offer, and I just want to continue to have people embrace that.   

There are many families who have migrated due to hardships in their homelands- hard-working men and women out in the fields, single moms, grandparents with youth, and foster youth. I’m all about advocating for our rural small towns, and there are so many that get overlooked quite often. I want to change that. The vast majority of what we see in the Central Valley is the beauty of the human race. There is so much history for people of color, taking pride in their cultural background and giving of themselves to help others, especially having been involved in the evolution [and cultivation] of our land.  By sharing our stories, our voices and history, it has empowered people and encouraged them to share of themselves. 

I never like to put individuals, people, or locations in silos because, for me, it was never like that. Being an extremely diverse person myself, I believe we’re so beautiful in our uniqueness. The diversity is endless. Why not uplift that? Why not shine a light on that beauty? 

 

Shai Garcia-Mays, Communication Specialist 

A graduate of California State University San Marcos with a bachelor’s in Communication, Shai has experience in uplifting, engaging, and supporting various communities. During her time at California State University San Marcos, she held various leadership positions which included supporting the transition into college for many incoming students. She helped families understand the transition process and how to support their students in furthering their education. She also was held a leadership position with the University Student Union, in which she planned interactive events for students to enjoy around campus.  

Shai also has experience with local non-profits supporting their marketing and awareness efforts. She has launched marketing/social media campaigns to increase engagement and overall support. Shai has experience inside the classroom serving as an aide in the Special Education Department. She has seen the direct impact of the importance of ensuring parents play an active role in their child’s education.

In her current role serving as a Communication Specialist for the Parent Institute for Quality Education, she oversees internal communications for all 7 regional offices in California. She assists in the development of any promotional material, flyers, graphic designs, and printed collateral. She also manages our internal PIQE APP and ensures our families and staff are onboarded.