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The Full Story

Melissa Albarenga was raised in East Los Angeles, and as a first generation Mexican American and first generation college student there were many barriers she faced in her educational journey. Her mother moved to the U.S. at the age of fifteen and worked as a seamstress making less than minimum wage and raising four children on her own. Melissa and her family were socioeconomically disadvantaged, she attended the lowest performing public schools in her neighborhood and all of this had an impact on her when it was time for her to navigate the college system. Melissa almost failed out of her first year in college and held multiple jobs at a time to pay for college. Melissa found ways to learn about and leverage campus resources including the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), met often with professors and mentors who supported and guided her. Despite the challenges and with the support of her EOP counselor and amazing mentors, she received her Bachelor's degree in Chicana/o Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2013.

Melissa's personal experience is exactly what sparked her passion and led her to a 10+ year career in public education and community organizing bridging families to schools and community resources.

Her organizing career began in Santa Maria, CA in 2010 working with MILPA (Mexican Immigrant Labor and Producer's Association) working closely with Dr. Figueroa connecting farmworkers to fair trade networks. For over a decade she has held multiple operations and organizing roles and more recently, she served as the Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement at KIPP Public Schools in California. In these roles Melissa built strategic relationships with key stakeholders including school board members, elected official, community based organizations, families and students to bring down barriers that affect student’s ability to learn and be successful. She has also built coalitions of community leaders, led strategic partnership building in order to sustain a multi-tiered system of family support during the pandemic and has led professional development and community of practices for staff leading family engagement on school campuses and student recruitment teams. She is a recognized successful leadership coach who strongly leverages personal story and connection to build long lasting and trusting relationships in support of social change.

Melissa started a program to attain her Masters in Social Work focused on Community Mental Health and is expected to graduate in June 2026.

Now as a consultant, she is working with individuals, nonprofits and philanthropic organizations to continue to build bridges between families, students and communities connecting them to key resources and systems that have the ability to change the trajectory of an individual's life. She is a recognized successful leadership coach who strongly leverages personal story with skill and experience to build long lasting and trusting relationships necessary to drive social change. Melissa leverages her personal story and experience to guide and support other leaders. M. Luna is dedicated to her mother and siblings- Luna is her mother's maiden name and an important part of Melissa's personal story. 

Values

The Bee

The bee represents community, and the deep care that Melissa puts into collaborating with her clients and developing in a reciprocal way. Bees are social beings who are a vital part of a greater ecosystem, just as Melissa’s clients are part of their larger organizations and the world.  

Values

Authenticity 

Growth

Integrity

Community

Compassion (Self and Others)

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