“The Hub for Urban Initiatives is committed to responding to the emerging social needs and critical issues facing our communities today."
Bishop J. Jon Bruno
Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles
President, Board of Directors
Joe Colletti, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
Joe Colletti, PhD is a social reformer who has modeled his life in the tradition of past and contemporary social reformers. Like them, he has dedicated his life to solving social problems that often stem from poverty, prejudice, and parochialism.
He has worked fervently with many cities and counties in California to end homelessness and has helped develop and implement many local jurisdictional plans and programs that have resulted in thousands of homeless people exiting their state of homelessness.
He has also strategized and labored with several jurisdictions in bringing social and economic reinvestment to neighborhoods that have experienced decades of disinvestment and has also worked ardently with non-government and government agencies to end various types of discrimination involving class, disabilities, ethnicity, gender, housing, income, and land use by changing such practices in local jurisdictional ordinances and statutes within their municipal codes.
Much of his teaching and community and economic development experience focuses on the issues of affordable housing, economic development, fair housing, health and mental health care, homelessness, human trafficking, and substance abuse.
He has recently established a Homelessness Solutions Lab that helps students learn and implement evidence-based and best practices to end homelessness among the chronically homeless individuals and families, mentally ill, substance abusers, veterans, and youth.
Sofia Herrera, PhD
Director of Research, Planning, & Policy
Sofia Herrera, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist who is involved in several activities in the field of community psychology. She is a research faculty member at the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary and is also the Director of the seminary’s Office for Urban Initiatives.
Dr. Herrera is also the founder of the Institute for Community Psychology which is one of several community-based and faith-based institutes that partner under the non-profit, non-partisan Institute for Urban Initiatives.
She is a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and an Associate of the Mount Calvary Benedictine Retreat House and Monastery. She is also a passionate follower of the teachings of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and Teresa of Avila.
Grace Roberts Dyrness, PhD
Participatory Research and Development Specialist
Grace Roberts Dyrness is a community development consultant and professor. She has taught at the University of Southern California, Azusa Pacific University, and Fuller Theological Seminary, as well as institutions in Philippines, Indonesia and Kenya, with a focus on public service in an urban setting, social context of planning, community and transformational development, and sustainable tourism. Her approach has been to use advocacy planning and participatory approaches to engage people in communities in order to envision their own future and chart a path towards it.
She has a graduate degree in urban anthropology from the Ateneo de Manila University and a doctorate in urban planning and development studies from the University of Southern California. Her doctoral work focused on the growth of the informal sector of the Los Angeles economy, particularly on a project with the city’s street vendors.
Grace has had many years of experience working in the nonprofit sector in developing nations and inner cities within the United States. For eight years she lived in Manila, Philippines where she lived among urban squatter women in order to better understand how they cope with life at the margins.
For the past 20 years she has been engaged in participatory action research and development in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Djibouti and Philippines. It has been through these international and local experiences that she has gained a deeper understanding of what conditions are needed in order for communities to thrive and forge a sustainable future for the next generation.
Sandi “Mama” Romero, Director of Mama’s Merging Markets
Pat Leslie, Research and Data Analyst
Mary Bruno, Associate for Grants
Marc Kennedy, Director of Marketing and User Experience (UX)
Till Liepmann, Mathematics Advisor
Jared Hyneman, Director of Data Center
Christy Hamilton, Research Project Manager
Thelma Herrera, Web & Graphic Designer
Linda Valdovinos, Business Manager
Anna Heredia, Administrative Coordinator