Board of Directors
The Youth-Led Board of Directors provides strategic and valued oversight over GENup. Our Board of Directors draws on their vast experiences in community organizing, grassroots activism, student agency/student voice, and education policy to better direct the growth and development of GENup.
Brenna Pangelinan is a Senior at Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, CA and will be attending Brown University in the fall. Pangelinan is the Student Board Member on the California State Board of Education and was the Student Board Member for the Sweetwater Union High School District from 2018-2019. She is currently the Associated Student Body President of her school, and has been a strong advocate for social emotional learning through the founding of the Eastlake High School Mental Health Task Force. Pangelinan has also been involved in nonprofit work as a Champions Council Member for the Nothing But Nets UN Foundation Campaign, which raises money to send insecticide treated bed nets to malaria endemic countries and advocates for federal support of programs such as the President’s Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund. She is also an outspoken leader and community organizer in her area and often fights for student representation, student voice, and student agency on the California State Board of Education.
Frances Suavillo was born and raised in the Philippines, where she was first exposed to the urgency for equity in education. Ever since she moved to the United States in 2010, she has dedicated her academic journey to fighting for student representation and student voice. She became a student-leader in her community and on her school site, Carson High School. She was the editor-in-chief for her complex yearbook for two years in a row. She was the president of the California Scholarship Federation and Share the Love, a club she founded that helps the homeless in the Los Angeles area. She served as the sole Student Board Member for the Los Angeles Unified School District in her senior year, 2019-2020, representing over 600,000 students. She used her platform to speak up for students and make sure that student voice was present at the table when decisions concerning student life were being made. She was fortunate enough to study at Harvard University for a summer program and saw the need for socio-economic representation in prestigious universities, further fueling her passion for the fight for equity in education. She will be attending Stanford University in the fall.
Zachary Patterson was first elected to represent the students of San Diego Unified School District in October of 2019. He is the first student to ever be elected to the Board of Education, holding the title of Student Board Member. Zachary is currently a sophomore at University City High School in District A. Zachary has been a life-long student of San Diego Unified. He started his education at Curie Elementary, followed by Standley Middle School, and now University City High School. Zachary has always been a student leader serving in student council for three years in elementary school, followed by civic participation and leadership in middle and high school. Zachary’s goal is to ensure that all students feel they have the resources and support necessary to be successful students and individuals in school and beyond. In addition to his work on the Board of Education, Zachary is a cross-country runner who enjoys hanging out with friends. He participates in multiple clubs on campus including California Scholarship Federation, and Casas de Luz- a club which builds houses for impoverished families in Mexico. Zachary is a part of YMCA Youth and Government, and is a frequent representative of San Diego Unified to the Student Advisory Board on Education. He serves as the current student member of the San Diego Unified Council of PTA’s. Zachary hopes to attend a four year university with a major in political science. One day he hopes to again represent the people of San Diego as an elected official.
Zachary invites all education stakeholders to advocate for the change they want to see in their education system.
Gema Quetzal is a proud Salvadoran-Mexican community organizer from East Oakland, CA and current freshman at Stanford University. Gema was the former Student Board Member, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the California State Board of Education (SBE) to represent all 6.2 million students in the state for the term of August 2018- July 2019. Gema served as the sole Student Member on the State Board. Gema is the first Latina Student from Oakland to ever be appointed to this position in California. Gema also served as the Student Director on OUSD’s Board of Education and All City Council Student Union during the 2017-2018 school year. Gema speaks out for justice for all students and has organized students multiple times to participate in student-led marches on immigrant rights and for equitable education for all. In the summer of 2017, Gema was accepted into and attended the ACLU Summer Advocacy Institute. Every summer since, she has stayed involved with the ACLU. Gema plans to continue community organizing in her community and hopes to become a civil rights lawyer in the future. Gema believes in equal and equitable access to opportunities for all California students and has been a righteous champion for education equity throughout her life.
Andre Mirzayan's family was constantly moving from country to country, before they finally found a home in the Golden State. His father was born in Iran, had to flee the country after a revolution, lived in cold-war era West Germany, went to an American military school, in which he constantly dealt with prejudice from other students and teachers because he looked so different from everyone else around him. Because of the history of Andre's family, he feels incredibly lucky to be able to go to a public school in the United States, and grateful for everything he's had growing up. During his upbringing, he didn’t question much of our political system, much of our social structure, or much of our education system. But after joining Youth and Government, a program through his local YMCA, he began to see what activism was, and he began to see what he wanted to fight for. After two years in the program, in his junior year, he decided to run for youth governor, the highest position in the program. Over three separate conferences, he watched as 36 candidates were slowly narrowed down to 6, then 3, then 2, then 1. And in Sacramento, the capitol of our state, he watched a massive jumbo-tron, as three thousand five hundred high school students chose the single person they wanted to represent them, as the face of the program. And he saw his own picture, staring right back at him. Working to improve the lives of others has always been something Andre has strive to do, but in that moment, he realized that this is something much larger than myself. Andre fights for and wants to ensure that we can put in place changes that benefit students, teachers, and the future of California students. He is an advocate and a leader at heart.
Arlene Campa as early as fifth grade, was student body president of her elementary school and showed State Senator Ed Hernandez around her school, asking for more funding for arts education. She has always felt an emotional attachment to her community and knew it was her job to give back to it. Arlene was raised in a large, Latinx household where her brothers and she were taught to share everything, so she figured that she should use the resources she had to uplift the people who uplifted her when she was younger. Arlene has performed her poetry at the United Nations 73rd General Assembly as an ambassador of the “United Voices of Peace” project which distributed 55,000 physical copies of an artistic zine with her work in it nationwide and implemented a peace curriculum that is taught in over 10 countries to 20,000 youth. She is also the ACLU of Southern California’s inaugural Arts Justice Fellow and worked to ensure that all students across California are receiving an equitable and complete arts education in the mandated sectors: visual arts, dance, music, media arts, and theater. She is practicing visual artist and has taught workshops for various institutions including LACMA, Self Help Graphics, and within her local school district. She is currently a student ambassador for Create CA, the statewide campaign launched by the California Department of Education and other partners to raise awareness and fuel public dialogue around K-12 arts education in California, and a finalist to serve as the 2020-21 Student Board Member on the California State Board of Education. She believes education is the stepping stone for social reform and is extremely excited to sit on GENup’s board of directors and support its efforts in educational advocacy.
Jessica Riestra grew up in Santa Ana, Orange County and is currently attending Sacramento State! She currently serves as the Director of March for Our Lives California. Her prior positions include being the Western Recruiter for College Democrats of America while at the same time serving as the Secretary for the Refugee and Immigrant Caucus at College Dems, the field organizer for the California Democratic Party 2018, President of the Orange Coast College Democratic Club 2018, President of the Inter-Club Council of Orange Coast College, and Vice President of Communications. She has also served as the legislative advocacy field director for the Student Senate for California Community Colleges and the event coordinator for the National Women's Political Cacus of OC.
Jessica is working to pursue her Masters in International Relations while getting a doctorate in Chicano Studies. She is always extremely outspoken and active in whatever community she resides in and knows from firsthand experience the importance of a fair, equitable education system.
Josephine Cureton currently serves as Chair of the San Francisco Youth Commission, where she focuses on justice issues and community engagement. The San Francisco Youth Commission is the oldest youth commission in all of California, and serves as a model commission for all other youth commissions across California. As the Chair, one of her faculty campaigns include Vote16, a historic measure to lower SF's voting age to 16 for all local elections. In her free time, she also volunteers for progressive political campaigns, and is the Western Regional Director for the Empowerment Collective, the youth behind the California Youth Empowerment Act (AB 1858). This historic act will create California's first ever statewide youth commission. Josephine was also the recipient for the prestigious Cameron Impact Scholarship, winning a full-ride scholarship for all four years of her undergraduate career. At Lowell High School, she was involved in her school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Program, serving as Battalion Commander and competing with the Lowell Exhibition Drill Team. She is a product of San Francisco’s public schools and will matriculate at Yale University in Fall 2020.
Jack Greenspan is a senior at Scarsdale High School. He currently serves as the National Chairman for the National High School Democrats of America.
Jack began getting involved in activism in eighth grade, volunteering on the Bernie Sanders campaign. From there, he's been involved in many other political campaigns, from his local mayoral race to the 2020 election. He's been very involved with the High School Democrats of America, starting out as the New York Political Director in his freshman year and ultimately serving as the National Chair of the organization.
In his free time (which there seems to be progressively less of), he enjoys playing the guitar, watching The West Wing and Psych, and taking road trips. He's very passionate about improving the state of public education, and he's excited to serve as a board member for GENup.
Bhargavi Garimella is a freshman at Harvard College, where she concentrates in neuroscience. Bhargavi is particularly passionate about public health and the intersection of social justice and neuroscience. In the past, Bhargavi has collaborated with the Santa Clara County of Education on various education-focused research initatives. She currently serves as a Board Member at Redefy. Prior to that, Bhargavi was a member of Redefy’s Executive Board for two years, garnering extensive experience in building a network of youth activists.
She was a key member of the team that orchestrated the #BurstYourBubble campaign, which reached thousands of young people from Nigeria to the Philippines and inspired them to take action in their communities. Her work on this campaign culminated in the Privilege and Perspective Conference in New York City in collaboration with Eighteenx18, a social justice platform founded by Yara Shahidi. Bhargavi also led the creation of a social justice education workshop in order to create a platform and foundation for social justice and cultural awareness in the classroom –– this has been in collaboration with the National Association for Bilingual Education and the My Name, My Identity Initiative.
All Board related inquiries should be directed to