Staff



Leonardo Vilchis, Co-Executive Director

Mr. Vilchis is a co-founder of the Union de Vecinos, a resident of Boyle Heights and has worked in the community since 1987.  He has over 30 years of experience as a community organizer. He worked at the UFW as a Political Organizing Coordinator and at ACORN as Political Organizer. In the early nineties he worked at Dolores Mission with Christian Base Communities and was their lead organizer.  He was trained in liberation theology in Costa Rica, is a popular educator, and conducted nonviolence trainings with Pace e Bene in Colombia and in various cities within the United States.  He served as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Maywood and on various other boards. He is a member of the international artist collective Ultrared. He gives various lectures and panel discussion on community organizing, popular education methodology and various other topics.

Elizabeth Blaney, Co-Executive Director

Ms. Blaney is also a co-founder of the Union de Vecinos.  She is a former CPA, became a community organizer in 1996 and has over 20 years of community organizing experience. In the 90’s she worked at Coopers & Lybrand, Proyecto Pastoral and SAJE. She is also trained in liberation theology and is a popular educator. She conducts tenant rights workshops and trains leaders in the housing inspection process. She previously served on the Adelante Eastside PAC of the Community Redevelopment Agency, as a member of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, and on various other non-profit boards. She is also a member of the international artist collective Ultrared.

Ofelia Platon, Community Organizer

Ofelia has been a leader and member of Union de Vecinos since 2004. She just recently joined our staff at the end of April 2104 as a community organizer. She is a leader of one of our neighborhood committees and has been highly active in all levels of our organization. She is responsible for working with our neighborhood committees and with our housing leadership committee.

Jose Estrada, Community Organizer

Jose has 20 years of community organizing experience. He a was an organizer working with cooperatives in Honduras, has studied in Spain, and has spent the last few years organizing with ACUSLA in South Central. He is responsible for organizing and maintaining several of our neighborhood committees and working with local businesses.

Trinidad Ruiz, Director of Storytelling & Sustainability

Trinidad is a Chicano, visual artist, avid cyclist, community organizer, educator, programmer, and collaborator who is passionate about creativity and community activism. He was previously Programs Director at Watts House Project where he managed programs and projects that re-interpreted the ecology in Watts through partnerships between creative professionals and residents.  In 2013, he project managed the Villegas house designs as part of the Virtual Redevelopment project which won a prestigious Merit Award in the Next|LA category at the Annual AIA Awards for Architecture. Prior to to joining Watts House Project, Trinidad served as Public Programs Coordinator at Otis College of Art & Design where he collaborated with Department Chairs and Communications to brand and launch Otis Speaks, a series of lectures, readings, performances, screenings, discussions, and exhibitions.  He also served as Education Assistant at the UCLA Hammer Museum where he helped organize nearly 200 programs ranging from lectures to screenings to performances to readings and exhibition-related events.  While at the Hammer, he helped launch a new student advisory committee to serve as an outreach arm to the UCLA campus.  He has had several exhibitions in Los Angeles and continues to make work. 

Steve Cancian, Community Organizer and Project Coordinator

Steve joined our organization in 2012 as a project coordinator and community organizer. He has over 20 years of community organizing experience working at Coalition LA and ACCION Westlake. He is also a landscape architect and coordinates with our neighborhood committees on their neighborhood improvement projects.