As President & CEO of OneFuture Coachella Valley, Sheila Thornton is guided by its mission to assure all students succeed in college, career and life – expanding and enhancing the local workforce so that our youth and economy thrive. Prior to the formation of OneFuture Coachella Valley, Sheila served as Vice President of Workforce Excellence for the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP), where she led coalition-building, fundraising and program development for that division. In March, 2017, she spearheaded the transition from Workforce Excellence to OneFuture Coachella Valley, a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose purpose is to advance a regional effort to align educational attainment with economic development. Sheila serves on the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus Advancement Board as President, the Growing Inland Achievement board of directors, the national leadership team for the Ford Motor Company Fund Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) Initiative and the national advisory committee for Health Career Connection. She is a former board member of the Linked Learning Alliance in California, and the California Future Health Workforce Commission. Sheila received a B.S. degree in Applied Math from Loyola Marymount University. Her early career as an analyst and project manager for an economic research and consulting firm and as Director of Community Services for a non-profit hospital has established a solid foundation for her current work – building and leading an organization that uses strong coalitions to guide the region's students and future leaders toward success.
Vice President of College Success
Ernie was recruited by the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership in 2009 to help design and launch the regional Pathways to Success scholarship initiative, which formed the foundation for OneFuture’s current scholarship and student support services structure. Ernie was born in the Coachella Valley and raised in the community of Thermal, where he currently serves on the Thermal Community Council. After graduating from Coachella Valley High School, he attended College of the Desert, transferred to UCLA and graduated with degrees in Film Production, History and Political Science. While in Los Angeles, Ernie worked within the Music Video industry, LATV, and the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. After returning to the valley, he completed his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at the Richard J. Heckmann International Center for Entrepreneurial Management at the University of California at Riverside, Palm Desert Campus. Ernie is passionate about supporting young entrepreneurs, and has provided consulting services to start-ups, including the formation of a small business service provider collaborative focused on supporting Latino business owners / entrepreneurs for many years.
Vice President of Regional Strategy
Kim’s leadership has influenced college and career pipeline development across the region since 2005, when she launched the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership’s Career Pathways Initiative. As OneFuture’s Vice President of Regional Strategy, Kim is responsible for building workforce, education and community partnerships to further implementation of the Regional Plan, including providing staff support for the region’s Alignment Team Network and overseeing OneFuture's marketing and communications outreach. Kim currently serves as a Co-Chair of the Coachella Valley Behavioral Health Collective Workforce Development working group, member of the California Opportunity Youth Network (COYN) Steering Committee and the National Leadership Council for the Ford Motor Company Fund’s Next Generation Learning Network (Ford NGL). Locally, she serves as Secretary of the Palm Springs Historical Society Board of Directors, the St. Theresa Catholic Church Parish Council and as a Regent for Xavier College Preparatory High School, which she helped to found. Her prior experience includes 20 years in professional services and destination marketing management – ten years of that as the as Film Commissioner for the desert resort communities through the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. As Film Commissioner, she served on the Marketing Committee for the California Film Commission’s Film Liaisons In California Statewide (FLICS) and co-founded the California On Location Awards (COLA) event. Kim also served on the Desert Healthcare District’s Program Committee for nine years. She is a native of Palm Springs, California, and graduated cum laude from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
Vice President, Finance and Operations
Jacqui Tricco has over a decade of sales and marketing expertise in the financial banking and pharmaceutical industries. Previously, Jacqui served first as an OFCV industry council coordinator overseeing the structure and facilitation of the three councils (Healthcare, Advanced Technology and Arts, Media & Entertainment). Now as the OFCV Business and Finance Manager, Jacqui oversees the multimillion dollar operational and scholarship budgets and provides HR expertise. Jacqui holds a BA in Communications and a Business Certificate with an emphasis in Business Law from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.
Senior Director of Programs & Instruction
Cristina serves as the Senior Director of Programs & Instruction for OneFuture Coachella Valley (OFCV) where she oversees the academic success and leadership development of OFCV scholars. She has over 20 years of experience working for private and public higher education institutions and nonprofits that support first generations students to achieve college access and completion. Cristina was raised in the Coachella Valley and graduated from Indio High School. She went on to attend the University of San Diego (USD) where she obtained a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Communication Studies with an emphasis in Speech. She holds a Master’s Degree in English from National University and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from University of California Riverside Extensions. Cristina and her husband are enjoying raising their children and traveling. She also enjoys sharing her time with community organizations that help create a positive change.
Senior Program Coordinator
Fatima serves as Senior Program Coordinator for OneFuture Coachella Valley’s (OFCV) team. She is a proud alumni and recipient of the OFCV Scholarship, which she received during the four years of her undergraduate career.
She attended College of the Desert (COD) where she obtained her Associate of Arts Degree in Communication Studies. During her time at COD she became an active member of both the Alas con Futuro Club and the College of the Desert Alumni Association Scholarship Club where she served as President. In addition, she interned with OFCV where she coordinated the Leadership Team and assisted with the planning of the annual student leadership conference.
Fatima then transferred to Cal State University, Fullerton (CSUF) where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Communication Studies and a minor on Women and Gender Studies. During her two years at CSUF, she became part of the California Dream Network (CDN) steering committee where she worked along students from all over California to mobilize and empower young people addressing issues in the undocumented community. With the help of fellow students, she helped found the student led organization Diversity Resilience Education Access Movement Co-Operation (D.R.E.A.M. Co-Op) to support undocumented students. She served as vice-president for the organization.
Upon completing her undergraduate studies, Fatima spent the following two years’ in Mexico where she worked for Veritiv as a sales support coordinator. This experience allowed her to grow her experience in sales, as well as to provide logistics and packaging products to international corporations such as Amazon and Sanmina. She is happy to be back in the Coachella Valley and be a part of the OFCV team. She looks forward to continuing to learn and gain experience working with college students in higher education. Her goals are to attend graduate school to complete a Master’s Degree in in Higher Education.
Holistic Program Coordinator
Vanessa Moreno was born in Michoacán, México but migrated to the United States with her family at the age of eight. She graduated from Coachella Valley High School in 2012, attended College of the Desert and later transferred to California State University, Fullerton where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a Minor in Human Services in 2017. As an undocumented student, Vanessa became passionate about immigrant rights justice through her experiences and by getting involved in student clubs, centers and non-profit organizations. After graduating college, Vanessa got a position with the Council of Mexican Federations in North America (COFEM), a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering immigrant communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley through immigration, conservation, mental health, and higher education programs. She gained almost six years of experience in program management, community outreach, policy advocacy, event coordinating, grant writing, and much more. Now as the Holistic Program Coordinator at OneFuture, she hopes to continue serving college students and their families in the Coachella Valley. Her next career goal is to receive a Master's Degree in Counseling or Higher Education Policy.
Marlen initially joined the team part-time in June 2021 as a Project Assistant and later transitioned to a full-time role in January 2022. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration with a focus on Management, earned from California State University, San Bernardino in 2020. Marlen's diverse experiences have honed her expertise in her current role. From taking the lead in high school events to her current position at OneFuture, she has developed a valuable skill set. Recently promoted to a new position, Marlen's skills are now put to even better use within the organization. Her unique perspective, having been both a OneFuture Scholar and an employee, enriches her work. What sets Marlen apart is her meticulous attention to detail. She's known for having tasks and assignments drafted almost as soon as they're mentioned, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks. With her dedication and excellent skills, Marlen plays a pivotal role in the success of our operations at OneFuture Coachella Valley.
Director of Development
Paul Olson joined the OneFuture Coachella Valley team as Director of Development in June 2019 and is responsible for fundraising to help students achieve success in their education and career goals through the work of OneFuture. Paul previously served as director of development for Schubert Club in St. Paul, MN (one of the oldest music presenting organizations in the nation), VocalEssence and Greater Twin Cities United Way in Minneapolis, MN, as well as a human resources professional at the world headquarters of Cargill, Inc. in Wayzata, MN. Paul was vice-president of the Arts Partnership development and fundraising team consisting of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Minnesota Opera, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Schubert Club, collaboratively raising money and presenting joint programming in St. Paul. Paul graduated from Waldorf University in Forest City, IA in music education and performance, with further music education and conducting studies at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN.
Marketing & Social Media Coordinator
Ashley McBride serves as the Marketing & Social Media Coordinator for OneFuture Coachella Valley. She joined the team originally as a graphic design intern in May 2019 and began her full-time position in January 2022. Ashley is a first-generation college graduate, earning her Bachelor's Degree in Design Studies (Graphic Design & Marketing) with a minor in Media Studies from California State University, San Bernardino in Spring 2021. She is passionate about education and motivates those around her to pursue their post-secondary education. In her role, Ashley manages OneFuture's social media accounts, creates engaging and educational content, designs marketing materials, maintains our website, and edits informative videos for our YouTube channel. She ensures brand consistency and high-quality work across all channels to solidify OneFuture's brand identity. Ashley brings creativity and dedication to our team, helping us connect with our audience effectively.
Senior Project Coordinator
Luis was raised in the city of Coachella. After graduating Coachella Valley High School in 2010, he attended College of the Desert (COD) where he participated in Extended Opportunity Programs and Service and COD Alumni Association Scholarship Club. After completing his Associates of Arts Degree at COD, Luis transferred to California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Luis continues to pursue his goal of continuing education in pursuit of a Master Degree in Counseling and Guidance Program or a Master’s in Education from California State California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus.
Ricardo Ramirez serves as Project Coordinator for OneFuture Coachella Valley. He was born in Michoacán, Mexico and migrated to the United States at a young age where he was raised in the Coachella Valley. Ricardo graduated from Desert Mirage High School (DMHS) in June 2015 where he earned a 4.0. G.P.A. During his high school years, he was an active member for different clubs and sports. Four years later Ricardo became a first generation California State University of San Bernardino Alumni (class of 2019) where he obtained his Bachelor Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management and Finance. During his academic career in college, Ricardo was a Student Ambassador at CSUSB Palm Desert Campus. He became an active member in campus by joining clubs and even becoming one of the founders of DREAMers at PDC. Ricardo has always been passionate in giving back to his community. For three years Ricardo has been a volunteer at SCORE, which is non-profit that offers assistance to small businesses through mentoring and workshops. His next step in life is to continue with his academic career and obtain a Master’s in Business Administration. Eventually, Ricardo plans to become a business and financial consultant.
Gents Alliance Admin Support
Jose Chicas, originally from Desert Hot Springs, California, graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 2020. He is a OneFuture Coachella Valley Scholarship Alum. When asked to describe OneFuture in one word, Jose's immediate response is "family." He acknowledges that it might sound a bit cheesy, but beyond the financial support, OneFuture provided the emotional and familial support he truly needed. While he was in school, he learned about the Gent's Alliance, an initiative dedicated to supporting male scholars. He passionately believes in breaking down the 'machismo' culture within the male Latinx community, emphasizing the importance of fostering a new generation of young men who are committed to their education. Having personally grown up in that 'machismo' culture, the Gent's Alliance played a crucial role in supporting him academically. After completing his education, Jose returned to the Coachella Valley and now dedicates himself full-time to the Gent's Alliance initiative, contributing to a brighter future for young scholars and helping them overcome the barriers they face in pursuit of their educational goals.
Julia I. Lopez
President/CEO, College Futures Foundation
A widely respected leader with broad and deep experience in philanthropy and government, Julia I. Lopez served as the President and CEO of College Futures Foundation (then known as College Access Foundation of California) from 2008 until her retirement in June 2017. Before joining College Futures Foundation, Julia served as senior vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation. In that leadership role, she provided oversight, management and evaluation of the foundation's strategic program grant making, which awarded an average of $150 million per year. In her earlier work for Rockefeller, she served as director of the foundation’s Working Communities program, addressing urban poverty and education in the United States.
Julia has lent her talents to the California Legislature, the New Mexico Department of Criminal Justice, and the Department of Social Services for the City and County of San Francisco where, as general manager, she oversaw programs serving the city’s most disadvantaged residents. She has also served on the Board of Directors of REDF (formerly the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund), and as a commissioner for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities.
Julia currently serves as a member of the Statewide Leadership Council of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), and is a member of the board of KQED, a Northern California public media outlet.
She is a graduate of Newton College of the Sacred Heart (now Boston College) and holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. In June 2018, California State University, San Bernardino awarded her an
honorary doctorate in humane letters in recognition of her work on student success in underserved communities, especially the Inland Empire.
President – Global Student Loan Corporation
Keith Jepsen retired after 13 years as President of Global Student Loan Corporation, a company that specialized in private student loans for distance learners and for international students. He also was an Adjunct Professor of Higher Education at New York University, the largest private not-for-profit university in the country. He taught the NYU graduate course in Financing Higher Education. Dr. Jepsen is also the former National Chairman of Project EASI (Easy Access for Students and Institutions), a collaborative effort among government, business, and education leaders to reengineer the higher education student financial aid delivery system in the United States.
Dr. Jepsen was NYU's Director of Financial Aid for over 11 years, arriving after 8 years with the Illinois state agency (scholarships, grants, loan guarantees, and secondary market) where he was chief operating officer, and 9 years with ACT, where he was AVP and Director of Operations. At ACT, Dr. Jepsen was responsible for the unit now functioning as the Central Processing System for FAFSA processing to determined eligibility for Title IV federal student aid including Pell Grants. Over the years Dr. Jepsen also consulted for a major lender which he helped decide to enter and operate a successful student loan business. It became the second largest student loan lender for Illinois. His over 50 years in higher education finance and student aid delivery at the national, state, and university levels make him uniquely suited to discuss these matters with students or colleagues at any level.