Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Advocacy



In 2021, LEAP initiated a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy (DEIA) initiative to ensure an organizational culture that respects the unique needs, perspectives, and potential of its staff, volunteers, students, families, and community partners. Everyone deserves to work and live in environments where their needs are met, thoughts respected, and voices included. We believe this investment will increase the organizational impact by fostering and empowering higher degrees of engagement, productivity, innovation, and success. This DEIA initiative is one of the three priorities of LEAP’s 2021-2023 Strategic Plan.


A fifteen-member DEIA committee made up of staff, volunteers, board members, students, alumni, and community members. 

LEAP’s Management Team: Linda Saris, Kayla Dorst, Jesenia Tejada-Perez, Hilary Kopp and John Dudley

LEAP Board: Manny Cruz (also LEAP alumnus), James Rowan, Ellen Galligan

LEAP Staff: Sandra Castillo 

Community Members: Andre Fonseca, Gerda Pasquarello, Vicki Tzortzis, Mary-Lou Breitborde

LEAP Student: Chinma O.

LEAP Alumna: Rosa Alvarez



The DEIA committee is focusing on six areas:

Education & Practice
Grow as a culturally competent, responsive, and anti-racist organization.
LEAP Culture
Build a culture where all LEAP staff live by common values and feel they are included and belong.
Diversify LEAP’s board, staff, and volunteers to be more reflective of students and families served.
Youth Voice
Create a Youth Advisory Council to give youth voice to ongoing policy and program decisions made at LEAP.
Program Design & Culture
Ensure program design, culture, curriculum, and youth skills-development include exploration of social justice and systemic inequities as part of LEAP’s commitment to supporting youth in transitioning to adulthood and the workforce.
Advocate for and alongside our youth community by developing opportunities for youth to build advocacy skills and fully participate in civic engagement, and by using our organizational platforms to express and communicate shared values, beliefs, and actions.

How and When

The DEIA committee met monthly from March, 2021 to December 2021 to create a DEIA plan that was approved by the Board of Directors in January, 2022. LEAP will spend calendar years 2022 and 2023 to complete the plan’s action items, to include, among other objectives, training, revising policies, diversifying our talented staff to reflect the lived experiences of our youth, drafting curriculum, and building our individual and collective voice.  After 2024, LEAP will continue to make DEIA a priority in our programs and culture. 

Updates will be shared on this page.