Skip to content

Click here to show your support for a living wage in The Coachella Valley.

Who We Are


Lift to Rise
We are Lift to Rise

Lift to Rise is powered by people driven to make a difference.

Our Story

Founded in 2014, Lift to Rise grew out of the belief that, through collaboration between private and public sector leaders and community advocates, we can create greater impact for our Coachella Valley communities.

Our organization addresses the underlying causes and consequences of inequities in the Coachella Valley by uplifting our region’s story, building local strength, and instigating change.

During one of the early listening sessions we held across the region with residents to better understand immediate needs and prioritize strategic planning, an elder shared the story that inspired our name: “I came here. I work so hard in the fields every day because I believe that the Coachella Valley is a place where when the sun rises, it rises for everyone.” Our name honors this vision of hope and aspiration. We lift, so that everyone can rise.


Our Team

Lift to Rise is powered by people who believe that the Coachella Valley can and should be a place where all residents are healthy, stable, and thriving.

Ian Gabriel Director of Data, Policy & Planning
Ian Gabriel
Azalia Gomez Resident Engagement Manager
Azalia Gomez
Jocelyn Meza Communications Manager
Jocelyn Meza
Josseth Mota Director of Resident Engagement
Josseth Mota
Barrett Newkirk Director of Strategic Communications
Barrett Newkirk
Jessika Pollard Senior Policy Analyst
Jessika Pollard
Natalie Ramirez Operations Manager
Natalie Ramirez
Kenny Rodgers Deputy Market Director, Low Income Investment Fund
Kenny Rodgers
Ariana Rodriguez Resident Engagement Coordinator
Ariana Rodriguez
Heather Vaikona President and CEO
Heather Vaikona
Our Values

Community: We believe that community voice and leadership must be central to planning, implementation, and evaluation of our work.

Racial Equity: We seek and value all types of diversity, and strive to dismantle inequities, including those present in ourselves, our organizations, and our communities.

Innovation: We believe change is possible, are not afraid to try new ways to solve old problems, and take initiative to learn, cross boundaries, and overcome obstacles.

Results: We set bold, clear goals, measure progress, and use data informed by the community to make decisions and hold ourselves and each other accountable.

Servant Leadership: We build trust with partners, step up when others need help, and seek to lift up and support the leadership and actions of others.

Belonging: We create teams and spaces where people are celebrated, feel care and love, practice empathy, and work through differences.

Board of Directors

This dedicated team provides Lift to Rise with governance, expertise, and a deep understanding of the Coachella Valley and the work we’re doing to better it.

Jaime Alonso
Grid Alternatives

Mariela Magaña Ceballos
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Candidate, A.T. Still University

Bea Gonzalez
Coordinator, Expanded Learning Programs, Coachella Valley Unified School District

Matt Horton
Director of State Policy and Initiatives, Accelerator for America, and Senior Advisor, Milken Institute

Chris Kennen
Chief Creative Officer, Brand IQ

Nadia Villagrán
Vice President, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and Director, Rural LISC


Lift to Rise
Stories from Home

“We definitely have a housing crisis, and it affects our community in so many ways. If you don’t have a place to come home to—if you don’t have your basic needs met—your body and your mind cannot rest.”

— Bea Gonzalez, CVUSD Programs Coordinator currently serving as a Lift to Rise board member.

Collaborative Action Network Co-Chairs

Our CAN Co-chairs are selected by Lift to Rise and CAN members and are responsible for facilitating the monthly CAN and workgroup meetings, supporting Lift to Rise staff in engaging CAN members towards the implementation of strategies, and introducing additional stakeholders to the Housing CAN who will lead and contribute to the strategies identified.

Housing CAN Co-chairs

Mike Walsh
Deputy Director, Riverside County Housing Authority





Resident Leadership
Table Co-Chairs

Our Resident Leadership Table (RLT) Co-chairs are selected by Lift to Rise and are responsible for co-facilitating the monthly RLT and workgroup meetings, supporting Lift to Rise staff in engaging RLT members towards the implementation of strategies, and introducing additional stakeholders to the RLT who will lead and contribute to the strategies identified.

Anna Lisa Vargas
Eastern Coachella Valley Lead Community Organizer

Partners And Supporters

Lift to Rise is grateful to receive support and resources from a variety of sources.

Abode Communities
Annenberg Foundation
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Bank of America
California Forward
California State University San Bernardino
Center for Community Investment
Century Housing
Chase Bank
CHOC Housing
City of Palm Desert
City of Rancho Mirage
City of Indio
City of Coachella
City of Palm Springs
City of Indian Wells
City of La Quinta
City of Desert Hot Springs
City of Cathedral City
Coachella Valley Housing Coalition
Coachella Valley Rescue Mission
Coachella Valley Association of Governments
Coachella Valley Water District
Coachella Valley Unified School District
College of the Desert
Communities for a New California
Council of Mexican Federations in North America (COFEM)
DAP Health
Desert Healthcare District
Desert Highland Gateway Estates
Desert Sands Unified School District
Desert Valley Builders Association
ECV for Change
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
First 5 Riverside
First Bank
FIELD Farmworker Institute
Galilee Center
Habitat for Humanity
Hope Through Housing Foundation
Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice
Inland Empire Community Foundation
Inland Equity Partnership
Inland Socal Housing Collective
Inland SoCal United Way
InnerCare (formerly Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo)
Jewish Family Services
Jamboree Housing
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
Low Income Investment Fund
MSA Consulting
National CORE
One Future Coachella Valley
Pacific Western Bank
Palm Creek Ranch
Palm Communities
Palm Springs Black History Committee
Palm Springs Unified School District
Parkview Legacy Foundation
RAP Foundation
Regional Access Project Foundation
Riverside Community Action Partnership
Riverside County Planning Department
Riverside County Housing and Workforce Solutions
Riverside County Economic Development Agency
Riverside County Office of Education
Riverside County Board of Supervisors District 4 V. Manuel Perez
Riverside University Health System
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC)
Rural Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC)
SBX Youth and Family Services
Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH)
The Pacific Companies
United Way of the Desert
Uplift San Bernardino
Urban Housing Communities
Urban Institute
US Bank
USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation
Vision y Compromiso
Wells Fargo Foundation
West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation


Lift to Rise
The Resident Leadership Table

Our Resident Leadership Table (RLT) ensures that community members have a seat at the table in strategic planning, helps to build local advocacy muscles, and provides an opportunity for mutual learning.


Lift to Rise
We Lift: The Coachella Valley’s Housing Catalyst Fund

We Lift is revolutionizing the way affordable housing is financed in our community.


Lift to Rise
Get Involved

We depend on community action, engagement, and involvement to meet our Action Plan goals. Learn how you can support your neighbors today!