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, 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. 

Frida Cardoza, Community & Regional Planning Center Coordinator

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Frida Cardoza was born and raised in the unincorporated community of Oro Loma, CA. She moved to Fresno and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Administration with a certificate in Humanics in May 2016, and completed the prerequisites for the Master of Public Health program at Fresno State in May 2017. 

Prior to her current role as Community and Regional Planning Center Coordinator, Frida served as a Student Assistant for Office of Community and Economic Development from 2016-2017. In this role, she relied upon her comprehensive knowledge in recreation administration to assist with all outreach, promotional materials, planning and administrative tasks for: the 2016 San Joaquin Valley Parks Summit, the Sustainable Parks and Recreation Community Initiative, and the 2017 San Joaquin Valley Recreation Summit. In her most recent role, Frida served as Underwriter Administrator for Employers Outsourcing Inc.’s Workers Compensation Department.

As the CRPC Coordinator, Frida is responsible for planning and implementing capacity-building activities for the Community and Regional Planning Center and the San Joaquin Valley Rural Development Center. Frida also provides administrative support to the San Joaquin Valley Housing Collaborative, a regional 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

In her spare time, Frida enjoys music, traveling and collecting stone jewelry pieces. Every season she likes to make it out to a few games at Dodger Stadium with her family and friends.

Cynthia De Leon-Velasco, Communications & Event Planning Assistant




Cynthia De Leon-Velasco has been with OCED since 2018. She started out as a student assistant to the Small Business University. Her job duties as a student assistant ranged from creating marketing materials for the office to working with clients on their business branding. Upon graduation, her job title changed from Student Assistant to Communications & Event Planning Assistant where some of her job duties now include updating the OCED newsletter, posting on OCED social media and helping with event planning.  Originally from Southern California, Cynthia has now made the Central Valley her home. In 2019 she earned her B.F.A in Graphic Design from Fresno State. 

Luz Ezquivel, Call Center Assistant


Shelby Gonzales, Finance Director

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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

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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.

Rodi Hernandez, Student Assistant - BlueTechValley

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Rodimiro Hernandez holds the role of Student Assistant-BlueTechValley at the Office of Community and Economic Development. BlueTech Valley is a business incubator assisting entrepreneurs in the agriculture, energy and water industries to bring forth innovative solutions to the Central Valley. In this role, Rodi assists the Project Manager in connecting with energy and water innovators from disadvantaged communities in the region. He does this by attending workshops, events, and venuturing into rural communities to conduct BlueTechValley outreach. In addition to these duties, he also supports the goal of the Central Valley Energy Innovation Cluster as a leader in the water-energy nexus by maintaining an active social media presence via Twitter and LinkedIn. 

Prior to working at the Office of Community and Economic Development, Rodi was a Starbucks barista where he engaged with people of varying walks of life. It was there where he developed a love for the community in Fresno. Rodi is currently studying Economics at Fresno State. He plans to use what he learns to aid in the development of the Central Valley.

Rodi enjoys traveling, and spending time with his family, friends and pets.

Denise Luna, Student Assistant - Finance

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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, SJV Rural Development Center Assistant

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Nick Martinez,  Student Assistant - Community & Regional Planning Center  

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Nicholas Martinez is the Student Assistant for the Community and Regional Planning Center (CRPC) at the Office of Community and Economic Development at Fresno State. In this role, he assists the CRPC’s Coordinator in promoting the Center and the newly-established Bachelor’s Program in City Planning at the University. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s in City and Regional Planning and hopes to obtain his Master’s in a related field.

Prior to being hired on as a Student Assistant, Nick attended Fresno City College where his love of Anthropology began. His part-time job as a pizza delivery driver led him to the field of Urban Planning where his frustrations with city infrastructure and the disparity between north and south were channeled into action, leading him to City Hall.

Nick enjoys traveling, meeting new people and testing the limits of his comfort zone. He also enjoys spending his time off in the company of friends, family and pets.

Claudia Sanchez, Call Center Assistant


Elisa Villanueva, Communications & Event Planning Assistant

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As the Communications and Event Planning Assistant with OCED, Elisa assists in event planning and communications tasks involving OCED, its initiatives and its partners. She helps with 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.

Elisa has been working closely with OCED since 2016 when she began as a Student Assistant with Fresno State’s Small Business Development Center. She had the opportunity to work as a Branding and Marketing Consultant with several small business in the Fresno county area. In late 2017, she began to work directly with OCED as the Communications Student Assistant. She then graduated from Fresno State in 2018 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree.

Elisa is currently a part-time staff member. During her non-work hours, she stays busy with personal art projects and displays her work in various art shows.