Meet the Los Angeles Action Fellows

ACE will be introducing the 2014-2015 Action Fellows from our regions across the country. Read about the Los Angeles Action Fellows below and make sure to check back later to follow their great work this year.

Maxine Jimenez Maxine Jimenez

Maxine Jimenez

Maxine Jimenez was born in the Philippines and is currently living in Los Angeles, California. She is attending Franklin High School, in Highland Park as a senior. Her passion for environmental activism was ignited and inspired by her school's environmental club advisor, Karla Johnson and ACE's very own Rochelle Younan-Montgomery. Aside from doing work to help make her community and school a more sustainable place, she hopes to inspire others along the way. Her many interests include hiking, working out, yoga, discovering scenic views, reading, singing, and trying new experiences.

She is an active member in her school and community by being involved in Environmental Club, Key Club, ASB (Associated Student Body), and STOP Club; which is a club that focuses on social issues such as discrimination against women, domestic violence, and many other social injustices. Her love for public speaking and passion for making positive changes in her community has given her many leadership roles in these clubs and organizations such as ACE. She is also in her school's volleyball, track, and wrestling team and has accomplished achievements on a city level.

Maxine became a Climate Action Fellow on May 27, 2014 and is looking forward to do more work to make create sustainable solutions to make her school and community a greener place. She is determined to motivate and encourage many people, especially youth, to become more involved with environmental activism.

Diego Zapata Diego Zapata

Diego Zapata

A true Los Angeles native at heart, Diego Zapata is a product of the vicissitudes of the city. He is an experienced gardener, who takes pride in growing his own food, a student of cuisine- learning how to cook through his family’s Mexican roots, a Korean Culture and Language enthusiast, who learned how to read and write Korean independently, and is a devout youth activist of social and environmental issues.

Born in East Los Angeles and later moving to Lincoln Heights at the age of 4, Diego had always led a quaint and sanguine life with a supportive and affectionate family. While he was living in East LA, he often shared afternoons with his grandmother, who often told him stories of her life, and introduced him to one of his perpetual passions- gardening and botany. Living on the bluffs of the Arroyo Seco in Lincoln Heights, Diego enjoyed spending the rest of his childhood by hiking up the oak-lined hills, basking amongst the aromatic black sage, and studying native plants and animals- or by indulging on the grandeur of Downtown LA. He attended the nearby Hillside Elementary School, where he met many of his close friends and Nightingale Middle School, where he was first introduced to Korean culture through the medium that is Korean Pop Music.

Being one of the few to attend Bravo Medical Magnet after middle school, he sought to make new friends while still maintaining his previous relationships. He joined SEACA, the Southeast Asian Community Alliance, with his middle-school friends. Once there, he learned about social issues plaguing the communities of Lincoln Heights and Chinatown, and later became a Youth Organizer who was capable of organizing his community as a united whole, in order to work towards reform to combat the social issues he had previously learned about. He also joined Hands & Paws Club at his new school as a means to meet new people. There he learned about a myriad of environmental issues as well as issues revolving around the abuse of animals. He soon became a devout animal and environmental activist, volunteering with the TreePeople and other non-profit organizations, became an Arroyo Green Team member at the Audubon Center at Debs Park, and even became a vegetarian at 13.

Through his commitment for the environment, he later became the club’s Vice-President for a year and then was voted as the club’s President. He has now taken it upon himself to green Bravo High School- by planning Bravo’s first ever native plant garden set to be planted on October/November 2014, and by advocating for the environment amongst the student body by teaching them about current issues and ways of which they can help.

Contingent to his environmental activism, Diego later applied to become a Climate Action Fellow at the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), where he now hopes to continue his crusade for the protection of the environment at a more global level.

Lilia Pankers Lilia Pankers

Lilia Pankers

Currently living in California, Lilia Pankers is a high school student and environmental advocate for Aveson Global Leadership Academy. Having been passionate about rooftop gardens and tree planting early in her academic career, Lilia has collaborated with the city, green organizations across California, and her community to find simple ways to improve conditions affecting California’s natural habitats. This is her first year as a climate action fellow of the Alliance for Climate Education and is the current President of her school’s Everything Green Team. Lilia also aims to work with neighboring schools and communities to promote environmental awareness and educate the public on prominent environmental issues. Committed to changing her lifestyle and habits in conformation with green goals, she hopes to spread the green love and change LA for the better.


Sofia Menemenlis Sofia Menemenlis

Sofia Menemenlis

Sofia Menemenlis was born in Pasadena, California and now lives in La Cañada, California. After watching the ACE Assembly in middle school, she joined her school’s environmental club and is now president of the La Cañada High School Green Club. A junior in high school, she is working to make her campus more sustainable and spread awareness of environmental issues in her community

Sofia is a competitive level 10 artistic gymnast. Before deciding to focus on gymnastics, she played soccer on a national level. She enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, swimming, and exploring. She can also be found raiding her fridge or practicing self-defense moves on her brother.



Valerie Santana Valerie Santana

Valerie Santana

Valerie was born in Los Angeles, California and is currently living with her mother, two brothers and two sisters in South Central, California. She moved to South Central during her freshmen year and joined the Eco Club to work for a better environment and because her teacher, Robert Jeffers, introduced her to the many reasons we should care about the environment.

The love of nature and smiles it brought to people faces she cared about were life changing. She was motivated to continue making change in her community on an ongoing basis.

Valerie is the ASB president and hosts beautification days on her campuses on Saturdays. She’s also the Soccer captain, an Eco club member, the YES audubon Leader, LA Audubon Restoration leader, LA Audubon Intern, Santa Monica Aquarium volunteer, Golf manager, Student run LA member, and now an Action Fellow with ACE. Juggling all these incredible experiences only grows her love for the work she’s doing. She wants change and awareness to spread throughout her community.

Valerie is a senior, hoping to attend USC in fall 2015. She wants to major in Marine Biology and Minor in Communications. Her long term goal is to be the Mayor of Los Angeles and meet Zac Efron. She loves camping, hiking, tubing, cliff jumping, jumping, swimming, jumping, shopping, EATING, playing soccer, listening to music and lip syncing. She loves animals, long boarding and snapchat.