Juliana Serrano ’01 looked for ways to contribute to her community when she was attending Loyola Marymount University and continued that search after graduating. The former member of the Gryphon Circle service organization took to heart the Ignatian creed to be a “woman for others.”
In 2004, Serrano helped found ENCOMPASS, a nonprofit conflict-resolution company that works with schools to promote dialogue, teach respect for diversity and bridge the differences between students and groups that often lead to biases and hate. The company focuses mostly on teenagers, but also works with some young adults. “We get to see the results immediately,” Serrano said. “We see the transformation of their thought processes and feelings. It is amazing to hear teens talk about their biases and to hear them change attitudes. We even have a few kids who stay in touch with us after they leave the program.”
Serrano’s work with ENCOMPASS brought her to the attention of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. She was recommended for a seat on the city’s Relocations Appeals Board. Like most people in Los Angeles, Serrano didn’t know much about the Relocation Appeals Board before she was notified that she was under consideration for an appointment. “I knew that several boards existed to assist the city of L.A.,” Serrano said, “and that volunteer commissioners were appointed to them, but I did not know any specifics.”
The little-known committee, which Serrano was confirmed to in October 2009, is charged with determining that Community Redevelopment Agency protocols were followed in cases of resident appeals of relocation orders made by the city in connection with a public improvement project. “One of the things I was wary of was that I don’t have any legal or housing background,” she said. “What they needed was somebody who is good at following protocol.” The unpaid members of the committee typically meet once a year to hear appeals.
Serrano credits her LMU experience for “everything I am today, as a professional and personally.” What Serrano learned at LMU “led her to the nonprofit sector that changes the world … that’s why I do what I do today.”
Posted Nov. 23, 2009