Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute 2019
Iddo Gelle is a first-generation Somali American who grew up in City Heights. She has a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University in international security and conflict resolution. Her academic course work trained her to play an important role as a mediator to advocate changes in her community. She has strong ties to City Heights and lived there ever since her family left war-ravaged Somalia. Her mother and father made a commitment that their children would succeed and have the opportunities that they never had. Her mother is a community leader and in many ways she has shaped Iddo’s zeal and passion to be a community advocate. Very early on, Iddo decided that she would devote her time and effort in her community offering her expertise to youth who needed the extra help. She volunteered many hours as a mentor/tutor at the Horn of Africa. The experience there was invaluable. It helped to jumpstart her career as a community leader in which she cofounded Youth Empowerment Focus in 2008 while she was completing her undergraduate degree. Youth Empowerment Focus was a grassroots community-based organization that served the youth of City Heights who shared common experiences as she did. With the assistance of other members of Youth Empowerment Focus, she created different opportunities for the youth of City Heights to learn, share, and empower themselves to rise above stereotypes and other bias that are often cast at youth of underserved communities. Her eight years of experience as a community organizer and managing a community-based organization in City Heights gave her passion for creating social change and empowering youth in her communities to be leaders and change agents. Currently she wears two different hats that still focus on supporting youth and residents in City Heights, the first being her full-time position as a resident services coordinator with City Heights Community Development Corporation and the other being a restorative practices facilitator and consultant at the National Conflict Resolution Center.