SELA Staff

Dr. Wilma Franco – Executive Director

Dr. Wilma Franco serves as Director of the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative and holds a doctorate degree in Education – Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne.  Dr. Franco successfully defended dissertation was entitled, “Employer’s Perception of Their Role in Student Learning and Skill Development: A Qualitative Case Study.”  Dr. Franco completed her undergraduate work at the University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA) where she earned her B.A in Political Science and Chicana/o Studies with a minor in Public Policy.  During her time at UCLA she worked closely with the NAID Center researching the Economic Impact of immigration post 1986 immigration reform.

Dr. Franco went on to complete her Master’s Degree in Public Policy at the University of Southern California (USC), where she also completed a certificate in Public Management.  Dr. Franco has over ten years of experience in overseeing nonprofits and community based programs and has a solid background in program development, evaluations, partnership development, finance, fundraising and development.  Previously, Dr. Franco spent seven years developing, evaluating, and managing programs at “I Have a Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles; a program that sponsored students in elementary school years and work with the cohort until they graduate high school, and transition to post-secondary education, by providing whole child services.  In collaboration with USC, Dr. Franco launched a mental health programming component at I Have a Dream that continues to service students.  Additionally, Dr. Franco’s collaboration with CSULB as an internship placement partner resulted in her being recognized as the organization of the year two consecutive years.    Dr. Franco is also a part-time lecturer in the Human Development Department at California State University – Long Beach (CSULB) and serves as a Board Member for the D.A.D Project.  Dr. Franco is a proud alumnus of Education Pioneers and the Magnolia Community Initiative Fellowship.  Dr. Franco was inspired to work at SELA Collaborative given its core values and commitment to the Southeast LA region by way of creating a collective approach to serving the region through nonprofit capacity building, civic engagement, and data and research. Send Wilma an email.


Cynthia N. Cortez – Associate Director

With a background in program design, implementation, and evaluation, Cynthia brings expertise in data-informed learning and action. Cynthia understands the process of teaching various stakeholders – board members, leadership, management, front line staff, and youth and families—on how to collect, think about, and use data effectively. Previously, she served at Bresee Foundation leading the organization’s first implementation evaluation assessing program impact using various data systems and tools. Prior to Bresee, Cynthia worked at multiple post-secondary institutions (University of Michigan-Flint, Occidental College, UC Berkeley) promoting college access and success for first generation, underrepresented students and their family members, a passion developed through her own experiences as a participant in college access and success programs.

Cynthia is committed to inclusive, community-led change and understanding it through data. She is excited about joining the SELA Collaborative and strongly aligns with the collaborative’s goal of attaining collective impact. Cynthia holds a MA from UCLA in Social Research Methodology and a BA from UC Berkeley in Peace and Conflict Studies with a focus on Human Rights and Sustainable Economic Development of Latin America. She currently serves as an active member in the American Evaluation Association and is a proud alumnus of UC Berkeley’s Incentive Awards Program, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Project Evident, Education Pioneers, and Destination College Advising Corps. She feels honored and humbled to join the SELA team. Send Cynthia an email

Kerissa Kelly-Slatten – Marketing Manager

Kerissa Kelly-Slatten is the Marketing Manager for the SELA Collaborative. She is responsible for communicating with member organizations and network partners to develop and execute marketing initiatives that help to uplift and engage the Southeast LA Community.

With a degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona and an MBA from California State Long Beach, Kerissa has over 10 years of marketing and communications experience. Her previous work experience included time at Initiative (IPG Media Brands) a digital ad agency in Los Angeles where she executed ad buys and media planning for her clients. In her previous role as Brand Manager at Cardinal Laboratories she was named 2018 Employee of the Year. Kerissa’s training in sustainability allow her to think holistically about the organizations long term strategic plans and its impacts on the SELA Members and community as a whole. Send Kerissa an email.

Alejandra Aleman – Census Coordinator

Alejandra Aleman is the Census Coordinator for the SELA Collaborative. She is responsible for the mapping of Census outreach work regionally using data to assess, monitor and evaluate outreach effectiveness. Her work includes assessing the gaps, and responding to emerging outreach increase the participation of “hard-to-count” populations in the 2020 Census.

With a degree in Business Administration and Management from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Alejandra has experience in the areas of community development, business development, marketing, external affairs and working with underserved and low-to-moderate income populations. In her previous role as Data Manager at Bresee Foundation, she was responsible for overseeing Breese’s database, data driven initiatives and supporting programmatic goals and outcomes with her data skills and evaluation experience.. Alejandra is committed to empowering underrepresented and underserved communities by working to provide needed information and services. Send Alejandra an email.