Denise Luna

Director of Higher Education Policy

Denise Luna (she/her/hers) is the Director of Higher Education Policy at EdTrust-West. As a daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico and the first in her family to graduate college, Denise is passionate about educational equity and racial justice. Denise brings a decade of experience in higher education policy advocacy, teaching, research, data analysis, and community organizing. Before joining EdTrust-West, Denise was the Program Coordinator/Interim Director for Students Making A Change (SMAC). She supervised SMAC’s fellowship program, developed the leadership of students of color, managed policy and advocacy efforts, and monitored campaign goals to institutionalize equity in California Community Colleges. Before that, Denise worked for the University of California, Merced, where she taught undergraduate Sociology courses. Denise also conducted quantitative research and co-conducted research on racial health disparities, racism, and social movements as a graduate research assistant at the University of California, Merced. From an early age, Denise knew her calling was to mentor youth of color and first-generation college students while working for Mission Graduates and Mission Girls. Denise holds a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Merced.


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  • Oakland, CA
Higher Ed
College Access
Community College and Transfer Support
College Access

Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.