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
Ismael Díaz Herrera is OCED interim executive director. He serves as the director of the San Joaquin Valley Rural Development Center (SJVRDC), an OCED initiative. SJVRDC connects rural communities to a wide range of services, resources, expertise and training to ensure the needs of their residents are met efficiently, effectively, and affordably. SJVRDC leverages assets of the university and regional partners in response to these needs. As an OCED team member, Ismael contributes to development of university-led community and economic development activities, specifically assisting with grant writing efforts which align Fresno State’s assets to regional initiatives aimed at improving the competitiveness and prosperity of the Valley. Ismael serves on the Mendota Unified School District Board of Trustees and is chairman of the board of directors for Young Emerging Latino Leaders of the San Joaquin Valley, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing young Latino professionals into regional civic leaders. Ismael received a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and Chicano/Latino studies from University of California, Irvine and a Master of Arts in education policy and management from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Ismael is a proud resident of Kerman.
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
Erik Cherkaski is a project manager for OCED. In this capacity, Erik oversees initiatives focused on manufacturing and industry development, including the Central Valley AgPLUS Food and Beverage Manufacturing Consortium, an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) designated area. Erik also provides support in the coordination of clean energy sponsored projects and works with the finance director in maintaining various fiscal activities for the organization.
Erik originally hails from the East Coast, living in New York City and New Hampshire before moving to the Valley to attend college. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 2011, and a Master of Public Administration in 2013, both from California State University, Fresno. Prior to joining the OCED team, Erik volunteered as an office assistant for the City of Clovis Finance Department, and was a California State Assembly intern for the 31st district 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
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
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.
Emily Pasquareli, Office Coordinator
Emily Pasquarelli is the office coordinator for OCED. Emily returned to her native Fresno after working in Los Angeles in the film production industry for more than 20 years. She has extensive expertise managing offices and creating more efficient and functional work environments. In her role at OCED, she is responsible for supporting executives, overseeing special projects, managing and streamlining office procedures, planning and executing events and conferences and acting as a liaison between staff, vendors and community partners.
Emily is learning about wines made from throughout the San Joaquin Valley joining a group of friends every month to taste and compare. A subgroup of the monthly wine connoisseurs is venturing out on the Valley circuit of locally owned restaurants. Emily earned a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication and journalism, with an emphasis in radio, television and film, from California State University, Fresno.
Felipe Perez Perez, Project Coordinator
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.
David Vazquez, Project Assistant
David Vazquez 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. He graduated in 2013 from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications. Prior to working at OCED, David was an account coordinator at Univision Communications Inc. assisting account executives in program support. David has extensive experience in leadership development and media production.
Elisa Villanueva, Student Assistant - Communications & Event Planning