FLA Staff Members
Eder Gaona-Macedo | Executive Director | [email protected]
Born in Guerrero, Mexico, Eder was brought to Santa Barbara, California at the age of 4 as an undocumented immigrant. Eder believes that being exposed to domestic diversity can help policy leaders better serve marginalized communities. He attended UCLA, where he advocated for immigration reform and educational access for all students. Upon graduation, Eder worked at the UCLA Community Programs Office where he managed the Student Retention Center, working towards 100% student retention.
Gabriela Macias | Ventura County Youth Organizer | [email protected]
Originally from Jalisco, Mexico, Gaby has lived in Califorina since the age of 7 and for the past 10 years has considered Oxnard her home. Her journey to achieve higher education began after migrating to the United States with her family; however as an undocumented student she has encountered many struggles that have shaped her community involvement. She has advocated for the rights of undocumented students and of the greater immigrant community through her involvement with student organizations such as the Oxnard College DREAM Club and IDEAS of UCSB and also through community organizations such as Ventura County CLUE.
As an Alumni Gaby considers FLA to be an instrumental part of her self empowerment and she recognizes the value of building peer networks amongst youth as a source of support but also as a way to strengthen our community. Her biggest source of inspiration are the people in her community who turn their struggle into their strength and she hopes that the youth will also be able to be able to find their inspiration in the prior generations who have fought to lead the way for those to come. She is a recent graduate of UCSB where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies.
Vicente Garcia, Jr. | Santa Barbara Youth Organizer | [email protected]
The FLA program being coordinated by Vicente Garcia, Jr. Vicente started to work for Future Leaders in October 2015. Born and raised in Isla Vista, Vicente understands the importance in teen-prevention programs for Latino/a youth; he himself participated in local programs such as the IV Teen Center and Just Communities. After spending his childhood in the small immigrant community that resides in the college town of Isla Vista, he decided to continue his higher education at Santa Barbara City College where he received an Associate of Arts Degree in Chicana/o Studies and Associate of Science Degree in Automotive Technology. With the guidance of student programs, he then chose to continue his higher education at the California State University at Channel Islands where he graduated with Honors, receiving a Bachelor Degree in Chicana/o Studies and minor in Spanish.
Vicente’s passion for culture and history has developed into a wealth of knowledge for the youth of Future Leaders of America. He states, “As the community has supported me through my educational career, I have chosen to now come back to be at service for my community.” Having seen the struggles of the low-income communities in Santa Barbara, his goals are to guide Santa Barbara youth towards a more positive identity all the while reaching their maximum potentials as human beings. He is currently looking into graduate schools, in hope to set yet another example for his students.