Karen Hinks, Founder/Director
Karen grew up in the conservative Midwestern town in Indiana. She was deeply influenced by the tumultuous events of the 1960’s. It was a period of history rife with civil & racial unrest, the assassinations of a president, civil rights icons, a presidential candidate and the Vietnam war. It was democracy defining decade which enacted both the Civil and Voting Rights Acts.
Immediately upon graduation she moved to Washington, DC where she worked for her local Congressman. Later her professional career in DC spanned 25 years, where she worked on many federal campaigns and served as Deputy PAC Director and Senior Legislative Representative for a senior citizen advocacy organization.
Karen relocated to Orange County, CA in January 2005 where she has managed and raised funds for multiple campaigns at the federal, state and local levels.
More than five years ago, after participating in many conversations and focus groups, there arose a tremendous need to bring Progressive Democratic women into the Orange County political process. Those conversations launched the creation of Welead OC.
Yenni Diaz, Field/Management
Yenni is a community organizer with over 15 years of experience who as an immigrant woman has dedicated herself to improving her community. Her experience includes civic engagement, coalition building, event planning, and policy and electoral campaigns. Through grassroots organizations, non-profits (C3 & C4), and cultural events Yenni has been working towards social justice and creating a more just world.
Currently she is an AD 69th Delegate to the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC), member of the Anaheim Dem Club, and an Associate Member of the Democratic Party of Orange County (DPOC).
Catherine Hinks, Data Management/Outreach
Catherine (Katie) grew up in a politically active family. She volunteered for the first time at 13 phone banking for a Democratic congressional candidate in Indiana. During the 2008 presidential race, Katie traveled from Chicago to Iowa and Indiana to knock on doors for Barack Obama. She volunteered with Beto O’Rourke’s campaign in 2018 canvassing for the candidate in a heavily GOP supporting Texas district. She is currently volunteering with the group Powered X People to help turn Texas blue. Katie had a 30-year career in the financial industry working on the stock exchanges in San Francisco and Chicago. She left financial services behind in 2016 to enroll at the French Pastry School in Chicago. Katie is excited to join Welead OC and feels fortunate to learn from the Welead OC team
Shayna Lathus, Mentorship Program
Shayna is a teacher and community builder who became involved with
Welead OC as a city council candidate in 2018. Shayna’s long history of service dates back to her time at CSU, Long Beach, where she studied child development and family studies. From there, she earned her master’s degree and has taught for 18 years with the Santa Ana Unified School District. After losing her mother to leukemia in 2002, she joined the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to raise funds to fight blood-related cancers. She also volunteers with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds childhood cancer research. She has shaved her head in solidarity with children fighting cancer eleven times. Shayna resides in Huntington Beach with her husband, Steve, and their son, who recently graduated from High School. She is excited to be part of the next generation of Welead OC.
Christy Rivers, Social Media/Communication
Christy is currently the regional marketing coordinator for a national mortgage lender and has been working in the field with an emphasis on social media for the past twelve years. Seven years prior she worked for an internet filtering and reporting firm where she honed her internet literacy skills and found her knack for picking up proprietary software.
As a volunteer Christy has implemented her acute social media talents for local campaigns and is the Social Media/Communications facilitator for Welead OC Candidate trainings.
Maggie Terry, Program Development
Maggie engages work through a social justice lens. Previously an adjunct professor of Teacher Education at California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) she taught courses in academic language and literacy development as well as Restorative Practices. As an award-winning teacher, Maggie consulted with Public Advocates speaking as a main witness before the California State Senate and Assembly Committees on Education about legislation supporting her emergent bilingual students. With the US Soccer Foundation, she’s walked our nation’s capital, speaking with policy makers about critical funding for sports-based youth development, her experience founding a soccer program for immigrants and refugees in the South Bronx. Currently Maggie organizes virtual restorative circles focused on racial justice and specifically on examining whiteness. Maggie looks forward to collaborating with local progressive leaders, activists and candidates as part of Welead OC’s Team
Dr. Beatriz "Betty" Valencia, Recruitment
Dr. Beatriz “Betty” Valencia is a proponent of education equity and has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership Studies. Currently, she serves as the vice-president of Santiago Canyon College Foundation (SCCF) Board of Directors. As a longtime advocate for criminal justice reform, Betty is currently a H.I.R.E Vice President board member (Hub for Integration, Re-Entry & Employment).
Pushing for representation in local politics, Betty ran for City of Orange City Council and served as past Central Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County. Betty was named (one of several) women of the year for 2019 and most recently named by the OC Register as TOP 100 Influencers in Orange County for 2019. Betty is a motivational speaker on civic engagement, education equity, immigration justice, environmental justice, transformational leadership, and a published author. Betty is the Vice President of Operations in Business & Finance and was born in Mexico City.
Betty is married to her long-time partner Laura Villa and is the youngest of 12 children.
Laura Villa, Recruitment
Laura is a Manager in Finance. A graduate from California State University Fullerton, Laura earned her Anthropology degree with honors. Laura is a powerful community organizer in Orange County. Most recently Laura has shown her skills in management translated well into political organizing. She served as a first-time ever campaign manager, a position held most often by men, for Betty Valencia’s Orange City Council race, who was a largely unknown candidate, coming in third from a field of eight well-known, high-name ID candidates.