Vanessa Vela Lovelace

Director, Community Development

V Vela Lovelace.png

Vanessa Vela Lovelace is a director of community development with JFF’s Inclusive Regional Economic Development team.

Her skills and areas of expertise include:

  • Nontraditional career pathways
  • Program design, development, and evaluation
  • Asset-based community development
  • Leadership development
  • Race, equity and, inclusion curricula
  • Liberation coaching and anti-oppressive management

Vanessa has worked to empower marginalized communities for more than 20 years, beginning as a human rights facilitator in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles uprisings. She curated and produced Filipino and Asian American arts and culture events for 15 years. She also supported efforts to help South Central Los Angeles residents find careers in community change, operated two AmeriCorps leadership programs focused on nontraditional leaders, developed a curricular pipeline for community change careers by reestablishing community college certificate and degree programs, and served as a program officer for a regional foundation.

For the past few years before joining JFF, she worked for a neighborhood-based organization that supports the economic resilience of largely undocumented and very low income people. During the pandemic, as the number of individuals seeking assistance increased, the organization distributed more than $450,000 directly to people in need.

Vanessa is an adjunct instructor of community planning and economic development in the Labor Studies Department of Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

“My values, experience, and interests are well aligned with JFF’s commitment to advance a fairer and more equitable society,” she says. “I am excited to support the Inclusive Regional Economic Development Team’s innovative efforts.”

Vanessa is a voracious reader of books about economic and political justice, an explorer of liberatory healing practices, and a student of social emotional theory, aqua-scaping, houseplants, and gardening. Together with her partner of 20 years and their three teenagers, she shares a home filled with good food, great music, TikTok, laughter, and memes.