The Board of Directors

David is a first generation Mexican-American. He attended Palomar College and transferred and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Development with an emphasis in Counseling from California State University, San Marcos. While earning his undergraduate degree, David began working in programs such as GEAR UP, Upward Bound, Encuentros Leadership and CAL-Soap. It was through his work in the field of education that David knew he had found his passion of helping others. He continued to work in similar programs after graduation where he could impact the life of youth in his community of North County San Diego. In 2018, he also completed a Masters degree in Youth Development from Michigan State University.

His joy of helping youth achieve their academic and personal goals is dear to him because he did not have that type of support from similar programs when he was a youth. He currently works for the Simon Scholars Program, a college-access program that helps underrepresented youth with a monetary scholarship, college coaching, SAT prep, and leadership development.

Outside of work, David loves to spend time with his four-year old son David, two-year old daughter Isabella, 6 month old daughter Sofia , his wife Alicia and his two dogs Xavi and Luna. The four of them like being outdoors and enjoy being out and about in the world. He enjoys reading books, lifting weights, soccer, and watching soccer and football on TV.

Mark Evilsizer is a founding board member of Encuentros Leadership helping to establish the organization in 2003 and has served in a variety of board leadership roles. He earned his BS degree at the University of Redlands, and his Master’s degree at the Claremont Graduate University, Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management. Mark retired from Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Division in 2017 after a long career in the aerospace/defense industry.

Mr. Evilsizer is a Governing Board Member at the Palomar Community College District. He was first elected to serve in 2002, and was re-elected to serve his 5th term in 2018. Mark also serves on the board of the California Association of Latino Community College Trustees and Administrators (CALCCTA), and presently serves as the Treasurer. Mark also serves the Community College League of California as a member of the Advisory Council of Education Services (ACES), and is an advisor with the San Diego County Office of Education Latino Advisory Council.

Mark lives in Vista, CA with his wife Alicia. They have 2 adult children and 4 grandchildren.

Juan first got involved with Encuentros Leadership when he attended their first ever Career Exploration Conference as a middle school student in 2003. He would eventually attend their Leadership Academy in 2009 and has since become a Team Leader at each subsequent summer academy and is now the active President and CEO of Encuentros Leadership.

Juan is a first-generation college student and he received his B.A. in Psychology from UC San Diego, his M.S. from San Diego State University in Counseling and is currently completing his PhD in Education. Juan has been working in various educational settings, spanning work with pre-school children to college seniors.

His current research is on Latino male teachers and understanding why so few are motivated to pursue a career in teaching and why so many choose not to do so. This interest has led to the development of the curriculum for the Encuentros Teacher Academy and his position as the director of the academy.

Juan enjoys nature and spending time outside whether that be by playing soccer, hiking with his dogs, going on a run or gardening. He also considers himself an environmental advocate. Juan also enjoys finding serene locations for meditating and practicing yoga. When not outside, Juan enjoys watching films, reading and is a big fan of anime/manga.


John J. Halcón, past Secretary of the California Faculty Association, retired Professor of Education at CSU San Marcos, specializing in bilingual/multicultural education and program organization, racism in education, and the education of ‘at risk’ kids. He is co-author of ‘The Best for Our Children: Critical Perspectives on Literacy for Latino Students’ (Maria de la Luz Reyes, 2000). Halcón received his PhD in Educational Administration, Program of Organizations and Policy and Bilingual Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He earned his M.Ed. in Inner City Education and B.A. in Chicano Studies/Sociology from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. Halcón has published in the Harvard Educational Review, the Urban Review, the Bilingual Review Press, the Journal of The National Association for Bilingual Education, Bordos, Hispanic Outlook, and the Journal of Latinos and Education.

Dr. Renzo Lara was born in San Diego, California and raised in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. At the age of 10, he moved with his mother to the United States and has called Chula Vista,California his home. Dr. Lara’s upbringing between the international border of Mexico and United States provided life experiences related to transborder identities. Additionally, Dr. Lara is a first generation college student and has overcome societal as well collegial barriers. Dr. Lara’s cultural upbringing and life experiences has led to his passion which lies in assisting Latin@/x students and family members achieve holistic success. 
Dr. Lara transferred from Southwestern College and earned his B.A., M.A., and Ed.D. from San Diego State University. Dr. Lara has over a decade of experience in: educational programming, event planning, research and assessment, inclusive excellence curriculum design, multicultural community work and higher education collaborative partnership building. In addition, Dr. Lara is passionate about social justice advocacy and higher educational equity for underrepresented students and marginalized students of color. In his spare time, Dr. Lara likes to spend quality time with his three daughters and partner, enjoys watching soccer games,and loves to engage in dialogue related to the sci-fi genre or star wars.

Francisco Mata is an accomplished communications professional with over 26 years experience in the media industry. He began his career with The McClatchy Company’s newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, where he built an impressive record of achievements which included Spanish language media.

Nationally recognized for his pioneering work in Spanish language print media, he conceived and launched The McClatchy Company’s first Spanish language newspaper, Vida en el Valle. He continued his newspaper career at The San Diego Union-Tribune, where he served as a member of the executive committee and publisher of Enlace and mienlace.com, Spanish language newspaper and website.

Following his successful media career, Francisco worked with New York Life Insurance Company as Hispanic Marketing Manager in San Diego county. Currently, he is Coordinator of Public Relations and Community Services for the San Ysidro School District.

Francisco also serves on the Board of the Media Arts Center San Diego as Secretary and is a member of the San Diego Community College District Corporate Council. 

Francisco received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism/Advertising from California State University, Fresno. He has been married to his wife, Sherri, for 33 years and has three beautiful children, Marissa, 31, Alycia, 27 and Alek, 22. He is blessed with two wonderful granddaughters, Avery, 2, and Rowan, 1.  

Antonio Mora is the District Advisor for the Assessment, Accountability, and Evaluation Department & the Multilingual Education and Global Achievement Department within the Learning and Leadership Services Division at the San Diego County Office of Education.  He’s the Title III County Office of Education Regional English Learner Specialist for Region 9 (San Diego, Orange & Imperial Counties).  He is a former a site administrator, district English Learner Resource Teacher, ELD Coordinator, middle school teacher and bilingual RSP teacher. 

Tony as known by many, was born in Tijuana, Baja California Mexico.  His family moved to Encinitas, California when he was 3 ½ years old.  He attended public schools in the Encinitas Union Elementary and San Dieguito Union High School Districts.  The oldest son of agriculture workers, Tony struggled with language barriers, but was able to graduate from high school.

Tony did not take a traditional direct route to the university.  He attended community colleges and then transferred to the university.  He attended CSU San Marcos for his undergraduate and graduate programs. 

Tony has always been active in the community.  He’s been a soccer coach in Vista.  Tony was the administrator that piloted the first Encuentros program at Washington Middle School (Vista Unified) back in 2003.  He eventually was selected to be on the Encuentros Board of Directors.  Additionally, he’s a member for the Vista Community Clinic Board of Directors.

“It’s imperative that we give our youth the necessary tools and support in order for them to finish and graduate from high school and then move on to a technical school, community college or a four- year university.  In the words of Cesar Chavez ‘¡Sí se puede!’  I challenge our community not look down on our youth who are struggling but to find ways they can help them.  We must work together to decrease the high school dropout rate and increase the number of underrepresentative students in higher education.”


I am currently a School Social Worker for the Vista Unified School District and I have several years of experience working with young men on probation, living in foster care, group homes, and whose families are homeless. I was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Los Angeles when I was about 1 month old. My father was born and raised in Puerto Rico and my mother was raised from two Salvadorean parents in San Francisco so my roots are  very multi-ethnic. I’ve been very fortunate to grow up in a household with two hard working parents, my mother worked and retired as an elementary teacher for many years, and my father continues working in construction. Strong values, amazing food, and strong family ties is what I grew up with and are just a few examples of what is consistent in so many Latino households. I’ve always had a passion for working with Latino youth and I understand the obstacles and challenges they experience compared to other ethnic backgrounds. 

My goal is to continue to inspire young men and women to follow their dreams despite how societal factors have often shaped who many Latino’s become as adults. Working in education, it is crucial that Latino young men are educating themselves to enter the profession of education either as a teacher, counselor, school social worker, school psychologist, or even administrator. In a profession historically dominated by females, it is important that these young men learn to become future role models in order to help shape and develop future generations of young men to come. It is my privilege to serve on this board with other very knowledgeable and well-rounded individuals and to continue opening up pathways for Latino young men to flourish in a world that discriminates them for being different and for not fitting a specific mold. 

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