A progressive approach to civic engagement drives La Mesa man in community endeavors

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San Diego Leadership Alliance is a local progressive organization dedicated to building the next generation of progressive leaders in San Diego. People from all different fields, businesses, backgrounds get together and try to get San Diego more engaged, active, and progressive. It could be political, leaders in the industries, local community organizations, non-profit boards, city commissions anywhere in San Diego County.

San Diego Leadership Alliance is a local progressive organization dedicated to building the next generation of progressive leaders in San Diego. People from all different fields, businesses, backgrounds get together and try to get San Diego more engaged, active, and progressive. It could be political, leaders in the industries, local community organizations, non-profit boards, city commissions anywhere in San Diego County. Its dedication is to develop these leaders and train them with everything they need to serve on a community board, commission, non-profit board and skills that applied to their own employment. Every year, 20 fellows are selected to go into its benchmark program the San Diego Leadership Alliance Institute. Nominated by people in their field, it an extensive screening process in selecting 20 fellows out of a pool of 60 to 100 people.

“It is a very competitive field,” said SDLA Institute Co-Director John Greenwell of La Mesa. “I went through it in 2012.”

Greenwell is a San Diego native who grew up in El Cajon. He graduated from Grossmont High School, and after college moved back to San Diego in 2005, and active in the community since.

“I lot of what I do is in San Diego looking at it in a metropolitan aspect,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of volunteer work with the San Diego LGBT Community Center. I’m a member of its Young Professionals Council. I’m going to be an area supervisor for AIDS Walk San Diego, a resource for the entire metro San Diego area.”

Greenwell’s progressive approach to community engagement does not stop there, with the recent founding of La Mesa Conversations as one of the founding committee members. Its first meeting was to engage the La Mesa community on the future of La Mesa’s water supply. This grass-roots initiative, designed for people interaction within their own community, is one of Greenwell’s venues in getting involved with the community he lives in.

Another organization that Greenwell is passionate about is his role on the Leadership Committee for Gay for Good San Diego, an all LGBT volunteer organization committed to exposing LGBT and allies to different volunteer organizations throughout San Diego. It works with San Diego non-profits like Rescue Mission, Audubon Societies, Surfrider Foundation, Ronald McDonald’s Children’s House, and I Love a Clean San Diego and serves non-profits all throughout San Diego County. Greenwell said it creates opportunities for the LGBT community and their allies to serve on a volunteer basis with different organizations.

“The hope is that people will give back to the greater community, expose them to other organizations that they can choose to become a reoccurring volunteer,” he said. “We’re just a hard working group of people trying to make San Diego a better place.”

Greenwell said like much of his involvement, Gay for Good is designed to get people engaged in the community.

“There is so much that needs to be done in San Diego with organizations itching for volunteers and desperately want people to become aware and engaged in what’s going on,” he said. “We hope that people become passionate and enjoy volunteering with that particular organization. All we ask for is people’s time.”

Gay for Good’s goal is to connect the LGBT community to other people and find intersection, he said. Because of these volunteer opportunities, people begin to break down those barriers and see the human on both sides of the isle

“It’s a wonderful thing to see,” he said. “But is also is very social, giving the LGBT community and their allies a chance to connect.”

Formally, a teacher for a San Diego charter school, teaching 7th and 8th grade science, Greenwell now works in the Chula Vista School District as an academic coach.

“We’re called resource teachers, a teacher that provides resources for other teachers,” he said. “Both have been a lot of fun. I’m learning a lot and continuing to grow as a teacher and as an educator. I’m excited about that too.”

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