Alison De Lucca
Alison’s passion for higher education attainment was sparked as child growing up in an agricultural region. Her mother was an independent counselor who provided college guidance services to those who could afford it, while offering pro bono support to those who couldn’t – namely the children of migrant workers. Over the course of a decade, she witnessed how her peers and community were transformed by the increase in college degrees.
As the Executive Director of SoCal CAN, Alison works with more than 70 organizations to expand college access and completion for low-income students in the region. The network plays an important role in the field by bringing together direct service organizations to exchange effective practices, address existing service gaps, and weigh in on policies and practices that help or hinder students’ ability to smoothly reach their goal of college graduation.
Alison has worked on social change issues in both the United States and Central America for more than 20 years. She’s worked in the women’s, environmental, and immigrant rights fields. Prior to joining SoCal CAN, she worked as Program Officer for the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative, Program Director for Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Campaign Director for Friends of the Earth International, and Women’s Micro-enterprise Developer for the Costa Rican Ecologist Association.
Alison graduated from University of California, San Diego (UCSD) with a B.A. in International Development and received her M.A. in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA ). She is bilingual in English and Spanish and has served as an appointed member of the UCLA Department of Urban Planning Advisory Committee, an emeritus board member of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, and a fellow with the Women’s Policy Institute and the City Scholars Foundation. Most recently she became a board member of BlacklistLA and was selected to be a fellow with the California Education Policy Fellowship. Connect with Alison on LinkedIn.
Director of Learning and Collaboration
Saru brings her deep commitment to social justice, educational equity, and to college access and success to the SoCal CAN team. Her professional expertise centers around finding innovative models to pursue social missions and her passion lies in identifying and addressing the systemic roots of inequality. Prior to joining SoCal CAN, Saru worked with a network partner providing services to college access programs across the region. She also serves on the Board of Directors for member organization College Access Plan in Pasadena.
Born in Canada and raised in Ohio, Saru earned her BA in English Literature from The Ohio State University in 2006. After volunteering with a grassroots international organization in Nepal, she took a position with the US federal government before returning to oversee projects at an orphanage in Kathmandu. From there, Saru took a direct-service position in children’s mental health, working with adolescents on the Autism Spectrum in a residential environment.
In 2009, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her Masters degree in Public Administration, with a focus in nonprofit management. In Southern California, Saru found her community, and here she refined her interests in child welfare, social justice, and in educational equity. After beginning her board service, she entered the field of college access and success, which she sees as a truly intersectional landscape with great potential to demonstrate social impact. While there is much work to be done, she is beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with such a dynamic and supportive community in service of such a valuable mission. Connect with Saru on LinkedIn
Level Up Program Manager
Rudy’s passion for college access work began after his first year of college, when he realized how difficult it was to be successful there. Not only did he feel unprepared for the academic rigor, but he also struggled to find a sense of belonging. For Rudy, the distinctions between himself and his peers were plain to see — they were bred for possibility while students like himself were set up to fail.
While at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, Rudy capitalized on what little resources he had at his disposal. He found outside support from a number of community-based organizations and academic-enrichment programs that provided him with opportunities that drastically shaped his trajectory. But even with the help of a village at his side, nothing was set in place for him to survive college after arriving there. The divides between Rudy and his classmates and the challenges those divides presented are what drew him to the field of college access. Because it isn’t just about getting in anymore — it’s about finishing.
Rudy went on to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Brown University, graduating with honors. While there, he served as a Latino Student Initiatives Co-coordinator and a Minority Peer Counselor, creating a sense of inclusion for students experiencing challenges transitioning academically, socially, and culturally into the college dynamic. His work with students of color sparked his passion for understanding how legacies of inequality impact lower socioeconomic communities, particularly within the realm of secondary and higher education.
Before joining SoCal CAN, Rudy worked for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund as a legal intern, taught mathematics as a middle school teacher with Breakthrough Collaborative, and volunteered with Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) as a mentor working with low-income, first-generation students of color. Most recently, Rudy served as the interim Director of Alumni Relations at College Match, where he developed an extensive internship, scholarship, fellowship, and job database for alumni while providing personalized advising to students seeking opportunity. Connect with Rudy on LinkedIn.
Project Soar Education Navigator
Stephanie received her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration from Syracuse University in 2015. Her passion is to increase the support for disadvantaged students, especially those of first-generation and low-income, by guiding them to pursue higher education. “As an Education Navigator, I would like to support our youth and provide as much support, resources, and create inclusive college access and avenues of affordability for the students.” Assigned Site: William Mead Homes and Ramona Gardens Contact: Stephanie@socalcan.org
Project Soar Education Navigator
Enrique is currently pursuing his Masters of Arts in Education in California State University, Long Beach. His goal is to increase the number of students from underrepresented communities to go to college and equip them with the tools and information they need to enhance their success. “I’m thrilled to serve Nickerson Gardens as the Education Navigator to support students in their pursuit of higher education and highlight the talent and potential the community has to prosper.” Assigned Site: Nickerson Gardens Contact: Enrique@socalcan.org
Project Soar Education Navigator
Maria grew up in Avalon Gardens. After graduating from Smith College, she is back in her community to help HACLA implement the Project SOAR Program. “It’s fulfilling coming back to my community through Project SOAR. I am excited because I know the services we will provide are invaluable and tailored to every student’s needs.” Assigned Site: Avalon Garden and Gonzaque Village Contact: email@example.com
Level Up Intern
Omar graduated from Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in 2017 and is currently a first-year student Cal State Northridge. He was a member of college access programs Gear Up 4 LA and Kid City during his time in high school before joining Level Up. He is passionate about social justice and a firm believer in the opportunities available through the postsecondary school. Now, he helps support other students on their path to higher education as an intern with Level Up at SoCal CAN. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org