Communities of Excellence 2026's San Diego pilot continues to make great progress. Recently, we brought in Janice Luna Reynoso to serve as the pilot region's community coach. Janice joins us through a fellowship from the Foothold Foundation. In addition to supporting a local San Diego collaborative, "Foothold's Fellows benefit from a cohort of peers, professional development, mentorship and a growing network of connections in San Diego’s social sector". Not only do we benefit from Janice's long history living and working in our pilot region, but her passion for her community is contagious. We are very pleased to have Janice on board. Read more about Janice below.
I am a community youth leader and advocate. I am an educator and lifelong learner. Growing up Mexican-American with campesino roots, I was able to benefit from the close ties to family, respect for the land, and celebrate the many blessings of liberty and culture. I am a single mother of three daughters who these days tower over me, a petite Chicana woman. They had the similar experience of overcoming the absence of an addict machista father and the support of a strong independent mother. At a young age I was able to recognize the beauty of this world, the injustices in the community, and the need for action and the preservation of our precious resources. I remember learning about the environment and recycling when I was in middle school and making a decision to reduce and reuse in order to preserve the earth for my future children and generations to come. I grew up in National City and in Shelltown, a barrio of Southeast San Diego where gang violence was prevalent and lost friends and family to violence, drug use, or incarceration. I was influenced by my mother’s stories of marching off of the field with Cesar Chavez and other revolutionary campesinos. Ironically my father was a great influence as well, we camped every other weekend in Baja California listening to music from Bob Marley, bathing in the sun and immersed in nature landscape of the sand dunes, a lagoon, and the ocean. They are my inspiration and the reason for my passion for change.
I am most passionate about celebrating the many victories social change brings. Whether it is a groundbreaking at a community garden, a graduation party launching the first in the family to go to college, or painting a mural along a bicycle trail colorful in culture and rising from a struggle.
What stands out about the COE Framework is the call for collaboration and leaders with integrity with the ability to organize. The questions for the community brings about recognition of their own best practices which should continue in place and the need for strategizing a different approach in other areas. The can then effectively identify their priorities and fulfill their vision of an excellent San Diego community.
I was interested in the COE pilot program because It allows me to impact change in a community that needs change and yet is also progressive with grassroots leadership. As a Community Coach I will be helping bridge the gaps and aligning with established and emerging leaders. I am fortunate to be working in my own community where over the years I have been an active advocate along with many others who have a passion for social justice and quality of life for all.
My vision for a community of excellence is one where there is abundance and collaboration is the tune we all know by heart. Where spirits are thriving, food systems are aligned and at the foundation of health care, people are active and exercising, where economics are constantly improving, higher education is a norm, art and music are everywhere, conscientious land use , and gentrification is prevented by prioritizing the current residents and their ties. A community of excellence listens to the wisdom of the grandmothers and is adaptable with the zeal of our youngest leaders.