Zeara Alvarez-Verdugo is Housing Manager at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition’s first housing initiative. Zeara previously held a similar position with the Orange County Conservation Corps where she case-managed at-risk youth, oversaw the AmeriCorps College Scholarship Program, and managed supportive services for members. Approaching her professional work with extensive personal experience, Zeara is focused on meeting each member where they are in their personal journey. Due to the hardships she has overcome, including gang involvement, teen pregnancy, and parents who were addicted to drugs, she is especially in-tune with the underlying needs of many members of ARC.
As a teenager, determined to give her daughter a better life, Zeara moved away from the gang-infested area of Los Angeles during a time when gang related death tolls were at their peak. She transformed her life through different routes of education, spiritual practices, and with the assistance of several mentors over the years. In order to give back to others, Zeara has mentored dozens of young women and men, volunteered with gang intervention programs while developing her leadership skills through obtaining certifications and formal education. As a single mother of two daughters, she set out to pursue a college degree, obtaining an Associate of Arts degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Communication Studies. While in school Zeara completed an internship at a domestic violence shelter, and a second internship she created a position for, which involved interviewing and collecting oral records of minority experiences in a university that had few people of color.
Committed to using her experience to help with the transformation of people’s lives, Zeara also shares her story through speaking engagements and has served as a consultant to other organizations. She is an advocate for those who are sometimes unheard, and feels an obligation to bridge the gap between service providers and members.