The San Francisco Foundation Selects MEDA’s Dairo Romero as Koshland Fellow

Christopher Gil
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Mission Economic Development Agency
(415) 282-3334 ext. 152

June 30, 2017

The San Francisco Foundation Selects MEDA’s Dairo Romero as Koshland Fellow
Prestigious honor aims to foster leadership qualities

San Francisco, Calif. — The San Francisco Foundation has announced that Community Planning Manager Dairo Romero of the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) has been selected as a Koshland Fellow. This prestigious, five-year development fellowship was awarded to 12 Mission District leaders.  Each of these individuals have a strong track record of service and vision for the Mission — and a commitment to make that vision happen.

Dairo was the first in his family to go to college. He studied engineering during the 1980s, a time of political strife in his homeland, during which friends received death threats for their work as union organizers and student/human rights’ defenders. After working as an engineer for a year, Dairo decided he had to get involved, and started directing a nonprofit which sent thousands of students to small towns to develop water and electricity systems, create housing and help farmers find alternatives to illegal crops.

After five years in that role, Dairo left his human rights career to move to the Mission, starting over and learning English at City College. He eventually found his way back to nonprofit work through CSU East Bay’s Nonprofit Management Certificate Program, and later their Masters in Public Policy, where he spent six years studying, unable to get a student loan. Like many immigrants, Dairo worked as a janitor and at a restaurant, taking any job he could find to sustain himself while studying evenings and weekends, all while paying international student tuition.

Upon graduating, Dairo was offered a community-organizing job at MEDA and has worked in the Mission ever since, living in the same apartment in the neighborhood for 17 years, and knowing the community well.

In his decade at MEDA, Dairo has worn many hats, working as a community organizer, program director and planning manager. He has helped to implement the Mission Rezoning Plan, which brought 778 new affordable-housing units to the neighborhood; he also brought the VITA tax preparation program to MEDA, now the largest such program in the Bay Area.

Dairo is a connector and guide who people go to for resources in the Mission. Because of his history, Dairo feels a connection with other immigrants, and is driven to help them overcome obstacles. After 10 years at MEDA, he is excited to see clients start a small business, obtain affordable housing or head off to college.

Outside of work, Dairo helps families with taxes and FAFSAs, and travels the world with his wife. He values honesty, hard work, family and commitment. “When I commit to something,” Dairo says, “it’s ‘til the end.”

Congratulations to all of the Koshland Fellowhip recipients:

Chirag Bhakta
Community Engagement Coordinator
Mission Housing

Nadia Conrad
Teen Programs Coordinator
Jamestown Community Center

Eric Cuentos
Director of Parent Partner Program
Mission Graduates

Marilyn Duran
Community Organizer

Marisela Esparza
Program Manager
San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network

Jon Jacobo
Land Use Committee Member
Calle 24 Latino Cultural District

Lara Kiswani
Executive Director
Arab Resource & Organizing Center

Celina Lucero
Executive Director

Lorena Melgarejo
Coordinator of Parish Organizing
Archdiocese of San Francisco

Diana Martinez
Mission SRO Collaborative Manager
Dolores Street Community Services

Sandra Sandoval
Lifelong Missionera


About Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA)
Rooted in the Mission and focused on San Francisco, MEDA’s mission is to strengthen low- and moderate-income Latino families by promoting economic equity and social justice through asset building and community development.

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