Young Professionals Council

The mission of The Center’s Young Professionals Council (YPC) is to develop and empower young LGBT professionals and their allies to preserve and grow The San Diego LGBT Community Center for future generations. The YPC endeavors to advance The Center’s twin goals of promoting LGBT health and human rights. The YPC fosters a culture of diversity, service, leadership, advocacy and camaraderie among LGBT and allied San Diegans. YPC collaborates with local business, organizations and community leaders to produce fun and dynamic events in support of The Center’s programs and services.

The YPC is led by a 7-member volunteer executive committee, elected each July by the YPC membership. Support to the program is provided by three Center staff members.

As part of its efforts to develop and empower young LGBT professionals and their allies, the YPC Academy was created in 2012. The YPC Academy helps to expand the ranks of young LGBT leaders that are ready to further equality for our community through board service for a variety of agencies, not-for-profit organizations and government commissions. Approximately 20 participants are selected each year to participate in the program.

For more information about the group, please download the YPC basics here.

Applications for the 2020 class will be open in November, 2019. 

YPC Activites

YPC’s signature program is the 1st Tuesday Series, held on the first Tuesday of each month from 6:30pm – 8pm. The YPC 1st Tuesday Series is a networking opportunity for young LGBTQ professionals ages 21-40 to gather, connect, and learn. Everyone is welcome (although some venues are 21+) each month for a brief program and plenty of time to mix, mingle and learn more about YPC! Check out the Young Professionals Council Facebook page for updates on upcoming mixers, workshops, and events. Everyone is welcome to attend, participate, and learn more.

Besides the regular 1st Tuesday Series, the YPC Executive Committee organizes social events, service projects, fundraising activities and more. Everyone is welcome to participate in these activities. Two of the YPC’s largest endeavors each year include organizing a team for the annual AIDS Walk & Run San Diego, as well as serving as Ambassadors for The Center’s Dining Out For Life fundraiser.

Young Professionals Council Executive Committee


Abrahán Monzón is an educator and leader living and working in North County. Born and raised in the Imperial Valley, they received a B.A. in Feminist Studies from UC Santa Barbara and an M.S. in Educational Leadership from CSU Fullerton. Currently, they oversee the Gender Equity Center at CSU San Marcos, where they also serve as Vice-President of the LGBTQA Faculty Staff Association.  Abrahán is a graduate of the 2017 YPC Academy and previously served as Member-At-Large for the Executive Committee. When they have free time, you can catch Abrahán relaxing at the beach, going on a hike, or spending quality time with friends and family


Nicole Verdes has been living in San Diego and working in the financial services industry since 2002. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Master’s Degree in Sociological Practice, both from Cal State San Marcos. She is the Board Treasurer for Lambda Archives of San Diego, the LGBTQ+ community archives for San Diego and Northern Baja California. Nicole is a classic rock junkie, loves volunteering in the queer community, and travels as often as she possibly can. She lives in Normal Heights with her wife Megan and French Bulldog, Sookie.


Val has been involved with YPC since early 2016, and is a graduate of the 2017 YPC Academy. Born and raised in Escondido and a graduate of the University of California, San Diego, Val is deeply invested in building a more equitable San Diego and a strong queer community within it, especially one that extends beyond the Hillcrest area that she now calls home. As an undergraduate Val was involved in establishing a new queer student organization on campus, and student organizing around educational equity and economic justice. Val also served as the Director of Local Affairs at SPACES, a student-run community center at UCSD dedicated to empowering high school and undergraduate students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. After graduating with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Critical Gender Studies, Val has worked in non-profit, government, and legal support roles, and has volunteered with The Center and San Diego Pride. When not working or volunteering, Val can be found running, hiking, cooking, and nerding out about the impact of policy and law on queer identity and experiences.


Diego Flores is a Marriage and Family Therapy Associate working towards licensing in San Diego. Diego graduated from the YPC Academy in 2017 has been actively participating in fundraising and social events since September 2016. Diego is also involved with research at San Diego State University Research Foundation, focusing on reducing body image concerns in sexual minority men. Diego was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA with a large, blended family. Diego attended CSU Northridge from 2008-2012 and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Family Studies. While at CSUN, Diego participated on the board of the LGBTA student organization as Events Coordinator and Vice President. Diego also helped host the 2012 Queer People of Color Conference and was one of the first employees of The Pride Center as a LGBTQ Peer Mentor. Diego moved to San Diego in July 2013 in order to start school at San Diego State University in the Marriage and Family Therapy program and graduated in 2015. As Membership Chair for 2018-2019, Diego is excited to learn from the members of the Young Professional’s Council about their interests, vision, and preferences for our growing program.

Community Engagement

Adrian Downing-Espinal is originally from New York and came to San Diego in 1999. Adrian graduated from USD in 2003 with a BA in Sociology, and minors in Gender Studies and Leadership, and Certificate for Non-profit Management. Adrian has been involved with LGBTQ activism in San Diego for over 15 years including as a student at the University of San Diego, as a public policy intern at the San Diego LGBT Center, and as a Pride Leadership Academy graduate. Adrian has been on the community outreach committee for She Fest since 2016, seeking to improve visibility, programming, and community for women in the LGBTQ community. Since October 2017, Adrian has served as Director of The Brown Building, which provides a safe gathering space for community building, promoting wellness, and advancing social justice principles, and centers queer and transgender people, people of color, and people with disabilities. Adrian currently serves on the Education and Advocacy Working Group for the LGBTQ+ San Diego: Stories of Struggles + Triumph exhibit at the San Diego History Center, with a focus on giving voice to groups who are missing or underrepresented in historical archives. Adrian graduated from the the YPC Academy in 2018 and is interested in strengthening community relationships in order to expand leadership opportunities for young professionals.


Vanessa is a recent graduate of the 2018 class of the YPC Academy. She has been the proud owner and photographer of [XPOXD] Photography since 2013. She loves to capture the essence of what makes our community unique and beautiful. From drag queens’ performances to pillar moments in our history, she makes sure she collects unforgettable memories on “film”.Vanessa grew up in France and after graduating with a Bachelor of science in Marine Biology in 2001 from the “University de Bretagne Occidentale” she made San Diego her home. She spent her first 13 years working in the field of special needs with adults and children on the autism spectrum. She loved helping each individual and making a difference in the families’ lives. During her free time she started volunteering as a photographer with San Diego Pride for the past 16 years and is very honored to have stepped up to be the coordinator for the photo team for the last 5 years. Vanessa has been involved for over a decade in the LGBTQIA community by capturing our history through her lens. She has worked for sdpix magazine, The Center, the Lambda Archives, The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus and other LGBTQIA organizations throughout the years. She is hoping to help connect people, build strong relationships  and bridge gaps within and outside of our fabulous community.


Maria Rodriguez is a first-generation Mexican-American born and raised in Southeast Los Angeles. Maria is a proud Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), providing a range of services to vulnerable populations throughout San Diego County, a career that is both challenging and filled with possibility. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice/Sociology from San Diego State University (SDSU) and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from California State University San Marcos(CSUSM). Maria is a recipient of the Imperial Court de San Diego Scholarship in 2013, which assisted her in completing her graduate studies. Maria has been a volunteer for Big Brother, Big Sister mentoring program, San Diego Youth Services, and Creciendo Fuerte (Growing Strong) in North County San Diego. Maria has worked with individuals from all walks of life and in a multitude of settings, including LGBTQ+, immigrant, monolingual Spanish speakers, and homeless individuals. Maria is committed to helping empower, advocate, and encourage resiliency in individuals and communities in order to fight injustice and oppression, in all forms. She is dedicated to enhancing the well-being and quality of life of others through the use of self-empowerment and multidimensional collaborative change.

Rick Cervantes, Director of Communications & Marketing [pronouns: he/him/his]: 619-692-2077 ext. 220,

Rebekah Hook-Held, Chief Public Affairs & Civic Engagement Officer [pronouns: she/her/hers]: 619-692-2077, ext. 103,

Check out the YPC Executive Committee position descriptions here.

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