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Meet the Office of Civic Innovation

The City of Long Beach has assembled a team of local, regional and national talent with a unique and comprehensive set of skills to advance its innovation projects. 

Tracy Colunga is the Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Long Beach Office of Civic Innovation. Under her leadership, the Office of Civic Innovation worked closely with the Long Beach Police Department to understand trends and patterns of people cycling in and out of the justice system. The City of Long Beach recently launched the Long Beach Justice Lab as a culmination of recommendations stemming from that research. Currently, the Office of Civic Innovation is partnering with departments on several projects including Smart Cities, the Long Beach Airport user experience, police recruitment, and reducing illegal dumping and blight. She has focused her career around community improvement. She holds a master’s degree from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Luskin School of Public Policy and a bachelor’s Degree from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN. She is a part-time lecturer at California State University Long Beach (CSULB). Tracy and her family reside in Long Beach, CA.

Vanessa Barbosa - Designer
Vanessa Barbosa is Civic Designer for the Long Beach Office of Civic Innovation. She holds a BA in Studio Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design and User Experience from California State University Long Beach (CSULB). Being an artist at heart and having been trained in the design process has allowed her to wear many hats and contribute creative ideas. Her role in the Office of Civic Innovation includes conducting research with her team using a human-centered design process, prototyping solutions and outgoing communications such as infographics, PowerPoints, and front end website re-design. With a new found love for human-centered design and its ability to foster social innovation, Vanessa plans to further expand her career in the City of Long Beach and take on future projects.

Marisel Herrera is the Civic Innovation Assistant for the Office of Civic Innovation. Born and raised on the Westside of Long Beach, a Cabrillo High School and CSULB Alumni. Upon graduating from Cabrillo High School in 2014, she experienced the loss of her younger sister that battled AML Leukemia. Through it all, she was determined to pursue a college education to inspire others that with hardship comes perspective, strength and bravery. In 2018, she graduated from Long Beach City College with an Associate Degree in Communications, trasferred to California State University, Long Beach where she received a Bachelor's Degree in Communications, May 2020. As the first in her family to go to college, graduate, and intern with the City of Long Beach, she has co-founded The Michelle Obama Project. A project that introduces students from Cabrillo High School to Women Directors and Women Leaders across the City of Long Beach. With a passion for helping the youth and the City of Long Beach, she aspires to be the 'big sister' to our future leaders.

Cindy González is an intern for the Long Beach Office of Civic Innovation. She will be assissting with various projects throughout her term, including the establishment of the Latino Cultural Center. Cindy has numerous years of case management experience working with communities who are low income, are facing food insecurity, homelessness, and severe mental health disabilities. She holds a B.S. in Nutritional Science from San Jose State University As a current Master's in Social Work student at CSULB, Cindy aims to continue dedicating her career towards social justice efforts through a macro level approach in hopes of creating systemic change. Cindy is looking foward to gaining invaluable experience and mentorship in the City of Long Beach.

Outside of an internship with the City of Long Beach until May, Josh is studying social work at Long Beach State and working as the executive director of a multi-service center and older adult residence serving the South Bay region. Josh volunteers with a hospice care group and serves on the LA County Commission for Older Adults. At home, he is a single dad with three kids, a singing, songwriting guitar player, and a pretty good cook. 

Heather Barker - Design Lead
Heather Barker  is our Design Lead. Heather works with interdisciplinary teams developing design strategies that leverage existing competencies and assets into innovative, systemic solutions. She consults, holds workshops, publishes, teaches, and advises internationally on this work. As a scholar and practitioner, Ms. Barker combines theory and practice through an innovation methodology that synthesizes design thinking, gamification, data-analysis and phenomenology. Her design+deliver collaborative process leverages the tools of both physical and virtual space while generating customized, human-centered, technology-augmented, solutions to complex problems. This path to innovation supports both business and civic organizations in efforts to develop novel solutions to personal interface, space, sustainable architectural and urban challenges.

Steven Chaparro - Design Strategist
Steven serves as a design strategy consultant with the Office of Civic Innovation. With an undergraduate studies at the USC School of Architecture and graduate studies at the Parsons School of Design, he brings over twenty years of experience in multiple industries including architecture, real estate development, financial services and non-profit. His passion is to help creative organizations transform workplace culture through co-creative design. He has spoken at multiple conferences through the country and is passionate about facilitating workshops and coaching executives to lead change. He believes that in order for organizations and institutions to transform how they work, the leaders need to embrace personal change.