MEET OUR BOARD MEMBERS
RUN WOMEN RUN’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS SETS POLICY FOR THE ORGANIZATION.
President: Hilary Nemchik currently serves as Director of Communications for San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott. In this role, she acts as spokesperson for the office and informs the public about its work, which includes removing guns from dangerous owners, providing services to victims of domestic violence, and protecting the environment from polluters. Previously, Hilary worked as Campaign Manager on Council President Pro-Tem Barbara Bry's successful 2016 District 1 City Council race and then as her Director of Communications in the Council Office. Hilary began her career in public service at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office in the City of New York, where she served as chair of the Manhattan Domestic Violence Task Force, among other duties. As chair, Hilary led the office's community outreach efforts, including the annual Shine the Light campaign for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For this annual event, Hilary worked with stakeholders to turn the Empire State Building and Times Square purple and provide domestic violence support resources to the community. Hilary has been a member of Run Women Run since 2014 and began serving on the board in 2015. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Speech Communication and a Master's Degree in Applied Communication from Northern Arizona University. Hilary lives in San Diego with her husband, son, and two dogs.
Vice President: Griselda Ramirez is a Los Angeles native and a graduate of California State University Fullerton, where she earned a degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations. Before joining the Office of Supervisor Vargas, Griselda led the civic engagement work for Mid-City Community Advocacy Network in City Heights, as the Director of Civic Engagement she built a successful grassroots civic engagement program that successfully increased voter turnout in City Heights. Griselda also served as a Commissioner for the Leon L. Williams San Diego County Human Relations Commission. She is an alumnus of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality Leadership Institute, LEAD Advance, RISE San Diego, MANA de San Diego LSLP, and Movement School.
Her mission in life is to bring resources to those who need them and help build a culture of voters in her community. Griselda serves on several non-profit boards including, Run Women Run, Peoples Legal Services and is the President of the Latina Democratic Club. Griselda's inspiration comes from her family and friends, life experiences, and traveling.
Board Member: Toni Duran is a queer Latina who was born in East Los Angeles, raised in St. Louis, and has made San Diego her home for the last fourteen years. It has been her privilege to serve her community as a volunteer and advocate, and for over seven and a half years she has had the honor of working for Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins. As a District Representative in the State Senate (and formerly State Assembly), she has worked on housing issues, as well as issues concerning women, veterans, the LGBTQ+ community, human trafficking, and arts and culture. Her passion is this life of service, standing up for what is right, and bringing more folks to the table to find solutions to the problems that our communities face. Toni lives in North Park with her rescue cat, Benjimen, and enjoys walks in Balboa Park and trying to keep her plants alive.
Board Member: Carol Kim serves as the political director at San Diego Building & Construction Trades Council. The daughter of Korean immigrant parents, she is a UCLA graduate who began her career as a classroom teacher in an inner city school in Los Angeles, where she also coordinated a fine arts program and was the lead teacher of an after-school program for at-risk boys. Her years as a teacher were followed by several more working in HIV prevention, serving high-risk groups that included active and recovering substance users, adolescents in the foster care and judicial systems, LGBT communities, as well as communities of color. Carolalso provided training on HIV and related topics for public health nurses, community service providers, and teacher candidates. This led to eight years as a research associate for an education nonprofit, working with schools and school districts in San Diego and throughout the state of California to provide effective programs that support health, safety, and well-being for students in public schools, and to develop career and technical education opportunities for young people in partnership with community colleges. Carol was a candidate for San Diego City Council, District 6, in 2014.
Board Member: Maryan Osman first aimed to be a biomedical researcher, studying biology and biochemistry at San Diego State University. But through her involvement in health education, she grew frustrated with the health disparities and the structural barriers that produced them. After graduating, she switched routes to the nonprofit sector due to her interest in working directly with the community to create a more just and healthy life for all. In 2017, she started out as a policy intern with Mid-City CAN before transitioning to her present role as a coordinator for Mid-City CAN’s events and leadership programs, where she helps inform and empower leaders in the community. Maryan is also passionate about building electoral power in communities of color and other marginalized groups. She joined a local, successful college board campaign in 2017, primarily working with youth on college campuses for over a year as they organized and engaged neighborhoods across the city of San Diego. She started out as the Field Coordinator and became the Campaign Manager within 6 months. When she’s not delving into the world of electoral politics or building leadership opportunities, you can catch her drinking a chai latte at the beach or in the library obsessing over books (especially that one amazing series called Harry Potter).
Board Member: Mehry Mohseni is a native San Diegan who grew up in Encinitas and graduated from Carlsbad High School. She then graduated magna cum laude from California State University, Long Beach where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Child Development and Family Studies. During her undergraduate degree, Mehry worked as a pre-school Teacher’s Assistant and as a visitation supervisor for families affected by domestic violence. After graduation, Mehry became a Program Assistant for the National Family Justice Center Alliance. In this role, she consulted communities and multi-disciplinary service providers throughout the nation on providing coordinated services for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and elder abuse. Mehry next obtained her Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law. She served as Vice President of the Public Interest Law Foundation, Secretary of the Women’s Law Caucus, and Community Chair of the Child, Family and Elder Law Society. She clerked for San Diego Superior Court, Juvenile Division judges, handling research on various juvenile dependency and delinquency matters. She also clerked for San Diego County Counsel, Juvenile Dependency Division where she represented Child Welfare Services on numerous dependency matters. Mehry was the 2018 recipient of the C. Hugh Friedman New Attorney award from Lawyers Club of San Diego. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the Nominations and Endorsements Committee for Lawyers Club of San Diego and as Secretary on the Board of Directors for local non-profit Free to Thrive. She was a participant of the 2019 Planned Parenthood Power Academy and was a 2016 Fellow of the San Diego Leadership Alliance.
Board Member: Cynthia R. Harris is the director of Tribal Programs and the deputy director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs at the Environmental Law Institute (ELI). Her projects at ELI focus on tribal and Indigenous issues, climate change adaptation and mitigation, water quality and conservation, product life-cycle management, green infrastructure, and forestry management and conservation. Ms. Harris was the leading legal researcher in a multi-year project studying federal/Indigenous co-management of subsistence marine resources in the United States and Canadian Arctic. She additionally headed a study of municipal Green Streets policies, contributed to ELI’s nationwide review of state water conservation measures in partnership with the Alliance for Water Efficiency, and developed a model regulation and bylaws governing operation of Feedback Grievance and Response Mechanism for REDD+ implementation in Liberia. Ms. Harris is Co-Principal Investigator on a two-year project to analyze tribal consultation in the state of California under Assembly Bill 52 and Senate Bill 18 through a health/wellness and Environmental Justice lens. She presently coordinates ELI’s project team administering the Local Government Environmental Assistance Network (LGEAN) a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Compliance Assistance Center. Her background prior to ELI includes several years working in San Diego local government, where she advised on water, wastewater, and infrastructure policy, and served as community liaison to some of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods. She is the current managing editor of Law of Environmental Protection and received her law degree from the New York University School of Law. Ms. Harris is co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Native American Resources Committee.
Director of Operations: Melissa Jones has a BA in History from Sonoma State University and a masters in International Relations from Kingston University in London. Along with working for Run Women Run, Melissa is also the Director of Marketing for the Women's Museum of California, one of only three brick and mortar Women's Museums in the United States. She also organizes an annual women's film festival in San Diego that gives women filmmakers a platform to share their stories. Previously she worked in digital organizing at President Obama’s non-profit grassroots advocacy organization, Organizing for Action (OFA), that mobilizes millions of volunteers around progressive issues.
Katherine McGrath is an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of California. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and earned her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). Katherine is also a member of the Lawyers Club of San Diego, the San Diego Young Democrats, the Welsh Inn of Court, and the Penn Club of San Diego.
Nora E. Vargas serves as the vice president of community & government relations for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. In her role, she is responsible for leading the development and implementation of the vision and strategy for the agency’s Community and Government Relations department. In addition, she oversees the day-to-day operation of the agency’s political organization, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest, including its Issues Campaigns and Political Action Committee.
Nora was appointed and later elected to the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board, the only institution of higher education in the South Bay. Most recently, she was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve on the 12-member California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS). Committed to community service, Vargas also serves as a champion of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), as a boardmember for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO). She continues to be a passionate advocate for women and the Latino community, and ensuring they are included in the public dialogue about important issues like health care access, civic engagement, and education.
Michelle Burton is managing partner of Shoecraft Burton, a civil litigation law firm specializing in complex coverage and insurance litigation. She graduated with distinction from San Diego State University and earned her law degree from California Western School of Law. Ms. Burton is licensed in California and Washington and is also a certified appellate specialist. Ms. Burton is one of the original members of RWR and is passionate about inspiring pro-choice, progressive women to run for political office.
Christine Kehoe made history when she was elected to the San Diego City Council in 1993 as the first out LGBT candidate to win public office in San Diego. Chris went on to serve seven years on the City Council followed by twelve years in the legislature. While a city councilmember, Chris was successful in strengthening neighborhood services, funding programs for The Center and San Diegans living with AIDS, adding grade school classrooms in North Park and Normal Heights, and leading a major redevelopment in City Heights including the completion of the I-15 freeway. Chris was appointed to the California Coastal Commission and the San Diego Association of Governments while on city council. In 1998 Chris ran for Congress in the 49th district and lost a close election to incumbent Brian Bilbray. Two years later she ran for the 76th Assembly district to succeed Susan Davis and won. She was appointed Speaker Pro Tempore, presiding over many raucous Assembly sessions at the height of the energy deregulation crisis. During her four years in the Assembly, Chris authored legislation to establish the San Diego River Conservancy, chaired the Joint Committee on Emergency Services that grew out of the 2003 firestorm in San Diego, and was the founding chair of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Legislative Caucus. Water conservation and efficiency, fire prevention and fire-safe planning as well as local government reforms were addressed in her legislation. Chris was elected to the state Senate in 2004, succeeding Dede Alpert. During her eight years of service in the Senate, Chris chaired key policy committees including four years as chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Her legislation continued to define fire planning, energy and water conservation policy, advance alternative vehicle and fuels, reform local land use, and strengthen LGBT civil rights. Currently, Chris is the executive director of the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative whose members include public and private sector leaders in advancing the adoption of clean EVs to meet California’s economic, energy and environmental goals.
Jamie Quient is the President and Managing Attorney of Free to Thrive, a nonprofit organization that empowers survivors of all forms of human trafficking in their journey to becoming thrivers, while providing hands-on experiential learning opportunities to law and graduate students. Prior to launching Free to Thrive in 2017, Jamie practiced civil litigation for five years at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP. Jamie also worked as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Michael M. Anello in the Federal District Court for United States District Court, the Southern District of California. Jamie received her law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts in political science with a minor in sociology from Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada.
Jamie was the 2016-2017 president of Lawyers Club of San Diego and founded the Lawyers Club Human Trafficking Collaborative. She currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Joan. B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego. Point Loma Nazarene University recognized Jamie’s contribution to the fight against human trafficking, awarding her its inaugural 2016 Hope Rising Award. Jamie also received a commendation from the City of San Diego Human Relations Commission for her leadership in combatting human trafficking of women and girls in San Diego. Jamie has also been named a “San Diego Super Lawyer – Rising Star” 2015 – 2017, San Diego Business Journal “Best of the Bar” 2015 – 2016, and San Diego Metro, 40 Under 40.
Lisa R. Shaffer was elected to the Encinitas City Council in 2012, her first elected office. Her campaign platform was to work hard, tell the truth, and play by the rules. She came in first in a field of nine candidates. Lisa is the Encinitas representative on the SANDAG board of directors and represents the north coastal cities on the SANDAG Transportation Committee. Her career spans 40 years of service, primarily in international environmental science and policy. During 25 years in Washington, DC, Lisa held positions in NASA and NOAA, developing international cooperation in studying the Earth from space. She also worked for five years in strategic planning for a major aerospace company. In 1998 she joined UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she worked in the director’s office, responsible for international relations and policy programs. Lisa moved from Scripps to the main UCSD campus in 2007, where she helped found a campus-wide sustainability program, and then was asked to develop and teach courses on ethics and corporate social responsibility at the Rady School of Management. Lisa retired from UCSD in 2013. She has held many board positions, including at the Center for Sustainable Energy and Kids-vs-Global-Warming, and is currently president of her church congregation. Among her awards, she received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the Climate Champion award from the City of San Diego, the UCSD Sustainability Award, and was one of the inaugural Muir Environmental Fellows at UCSD. She earned a BA in political science from the University of Michigan, a PhD in public policy from the George Washington University, and an MBA from UCSD. Lisa lives in Encinitas with her husband, Steve Bartram. They have four adult daughters.
Alejandra Sotelo-Solis was first elected in 2008 (only the 2nd woman elected to the Council), ten years later Alejandra was proud to receive overwhelming support to become the first Latina Mayor of National City. Regionally, she serves on the SANDAG, Sweetwater Authority and MTS Board.
Mayor Sotelo-Solis is a third generation National City resident, graduate of Sweetwater High School and alumnae of UC San Diego with a degree in Political Science. She is a proud board member of the SUHi Foundation which provides college scholarships to graduates of her alma mater and serves on the NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected Officials) Educational Fund Board of Directors.
Professionally, Alejandra is President/CEO of her consulting company La Pluma Strategies focusing on non-profit advocacy and grant writing and is raising her 3 daughters alongside her husband Arturo, Sweetwater Union High School District Trustee.