OCED staff manages and supports a number of programs and initiatives designed to sustain and improve the San Joaquin Valley and provide a legacy of prosperity for those who call it home, both now and in the future.

Below is an introduction of each staff member who contributes to the overall success of OCED.

Ismael Díaz Herrera, Interim Executive Director

ish Herrera


Ismael D. Herrera, Jr. is Interim Executive Director of the Office of Community and Economic Development at Fresno State. He contributes to the development of university-led activities that align Fresno State’s assets to regional initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life and economic competitiveness of the San Joaquin Valley. Ismael helped launch the nationally-recognized San Joaquin Valley Rural Development Center in 2010 which serves as a “one-stop hub” for rural local governments, nonprofits, school districts, entrepreneurs and small businesses, and residents to access a wide range of technical assistance, training, specialized services, and resources to ensure their needs are met efficiently, effectively, and affordably.

Ismael is currently one of twenty-five people at Fresno State participating in President Joseph I. Castro's inaugural President's Leadership Academy. He is also one of twenty-five people in North America participating in the 2018-2019 Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Local Economy Fellowship.

Ismael formerly served on the Mendota Unified School District Board of Trustees and currently represents rural west Fresno County on the Fresno County Board of Education. He also serves on the City of Kerman's Recreation and Community Services Commission. 

Ismael earned two Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Chicano/Latino Studies from the University of California, Irvine and a Master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Ismael lives in Kerman, CA with his wife and daughter. 

Sara Almaraz, Communications & Event Planning Coordinator



As Communications and Event Planning Coordinator with OCED, Sara is responsible for event planning and communications tasks involving OCED, its initiatives and its partners. She manages marketing efforts and logistical details for events and workshops, maintains OCED's social media presence, and provides updates to the various partners' websites, among other tasks.

Sara brings several years of experience in the nonprofit events and communications arenas to OCED. Most recently, she organized statewide events for CORE Districts, an educational nonprofit based in Sacramento. She also has several years of experience in nonprofit fund development and has held positions with Community Food Bank in Fresno, the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau and the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

Sara graduated from Fresno State with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism, and lives in Clovis with her husband and two children.

Alma Camacho, Student Assistant - Parent University



Erik Cherkaski, Project Manager

Photo of Erik Cherkaski


Erik Cherkaski is a project manager for OCED. Erik oversees all initiatives focused on industry development  and clean energy expansion, including the Central Valley AgPLUS and the offices regional industry cluster partnerships. Erik's works includes managing annual regional conferences and business resources workshops emphasizing workforce, business expansion and retention. 

Erik originally hails from the East Coast before moving to the Valley to attend Fresno State, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Master of Public Administration degree. Prior to joining the OCED team, Erik was a legislative scholar intern through the Kenneth L. Maddy Institute. He has also served as an energy correspondent for a Bay Area based nonprofit, where he studied and reported on energy related issues in Fresno County

Shelby Gonzales, Finance Director

Photo of Shelby Gonzales


Shelby Gonzales is finance director for OCED, overseeing the fiscal and technical activities that support all of OCED’s initiatives and sponsored projects. A San Joaquin Valley native, Shelby was raised in the farming community of Turlock. Prior to joining OCED in 2010, she was a grant accountant at the California State University, Fresno Foundation. Previous positions include associate director of Budget and Planning at San Diego State University, and account analyst in the Extramural Funds Department for the University of California, San Diego and for the University of California, Los Angeles. Shelby earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from California Baptist College (now University) in 1982, and a Graduate Diploma in computer science-applied science from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, in 1998. 

Eduardo González, Fresno State SJVRDC Director

Photo of Eduardo Gonzalez


Eduardo González is the San Joaquin Valley Rural Development Center (SJVRDC) Director. Prior to becoming the SJVRDC director, Eduardo was the Director of the Fresno State Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Through Fresno State SBDC, he provided entrepreneurs with consulting and training services. In addition, Eduardo provides support in planning, developing and facilitating OCED's grant-funded projects and various collaboratives. Prior to joining OCED in 2011, Eduardo served more than 10 years in a variety of community-focused roles in the Valley. He was executive director for Youth Centers of America (YCA) and provided vision and leadership to its programming and staff. Eduardo has well over 15 years’ experience in the non-profit arena, grant writing, and has helped develop adult education, leadership and prevention projects/programming in the most underserved rural communities. He has supervised the implementation of various advocacy projects for social justice and social change throughout rural communities of the San Joaquin Valley.

Denise Luna, Student Assistant - Finance

As OCED's Student Assistant - Finance, Denise is responsible for reviewing, recording and submitting all finance paperwork to the appropriate recipients.

A Mendota High School graduate, Denise enjoys hiking, outdoor activities and traveling. She holds three Associate degrees in Criminology, Liberal Studies and Political Science -- all from West Hills College in Coalinga. Denise is currently a Junior at Fresno State, pursuing her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration - Finance. Once she graduates, she plans to further her educational career by pursuing her MS in Economics.

Karina Macias, Intern, Rural Development Center


Felipe Perez Perez, Project Coordinator

Photo of Felipe Perez Perez


Felipe Perez is a project coordinator for OCED. In this capacity, he is an instructor for Parent University, a program provided by San Joaquin Valley Rural Development Center to Valley elementary school districts; and a Community Garden/Farmers Market coordinator. Felipe comes to OCED with many years' experience teaching leadership and program development. He has a passion for teaching Parent University classes and has a desire for developing sustainable community food systems, implementing new community development projects and adhering to new information technology. Felipe currently serves as a council member for the City of Firebaugh. Prior to working at OCED, Felipe was executive director of Los Promotores, a nonprofit organization that serves the community of Firebaugh and neighboring rural communities.

Elisa Villanueva, Student Assistant - Communications & Event Planning

Rodi Hernandez, Student Assistant - BlueTechValley