Southwest Key


  • University of California, Berkeley, Public Policy, Social Media Advocacy and Research courses completed
  • San Francisco State University, MA Interdisciplinary Cross-Cultural Education
  • San Francisco State University, BA Social Psychology
  • San Francisco City College, AA History

Celina Echazarreta brings over 25 years of experience in the fields of education, health and wellness, and public policy to Southwest Key.  Celina has extensive ties to various nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and faith-based organizations.  Her transformational leadership expertise positively impacted community equity-building programs in the United States and abroad. She excelled in leadership roles as she cultivated numerous multilevel relationships and community engagement alliances during her personal and professional journey, to collectively advance social justice principles in all communities. Celina’s compassionate approach in alliance building contributed greatly to helping others during her non-profit career.

Most recently, Celina served as AARP’s California Associate State Director for Community Engagement for over a decade.  She distinguished herself as a leader of social change in strengthening organizational capacity utilizing interdisciplinary coalitions. Her passion for cultivating and achieving win-win relationships among key stakeholders include: federal, state, and local governmental agencies, faith-based organizations, technology experts, and local social media influencers.  The accomplishment of Celina’s tenure at AARP resulted in meaningful partnerships of a dedicated multigenerational volunteer base that was highly instrumental in achieving national legislative policy changes such as health care reform, caregiving, and social security.

Previous to her tenure with AARP, Celina worked at the American Heart Association as Senior Director of Special Programs where she implemented a volunteer-driven faith-based heart-healthy initiative: Taking Care of Your Heart, where over one thousand women were trained as peer-to-peer health educators in their local communities.  Community in Action teams to fight heart disease and stroke were formed to replicate this model in other regions throughout the country.  She has tenaciously promoted collaborations that offer a forum for open dialogue that facilitates public policy discussions to incorporate community best practices at the state and national levels.

While at the University of California, San Francisco, Celina functioned as the manager of community research programs where she conducted and supported research studies funded by the National Institute of Health to advance the knowledge and understanding of health disparities, for the purposes of identifying mechanisms that improve minority health outcomes of underserved populations.  Celina aspired to eliminate health disparities and achieve health in vulnerable communities.

A truly valuable experience for Celina was rooted in her time as a professor at San Francisco State University’s (SFSU) Steps to College, a ground-breaking innovative pilot program and San Francisco’s Corps to College.  These programs dealt with inequalities in education and mitigated fairness and opportunity in education by creating college-level and vocational training opportunities as an alternate and viable career path for historically marginalized youth.

Celina’s combined academic training and extensive experience in educational and health equity laid the foundation for her lifelong commitment to build healthier communities and inspire others to work together to eliminate social justice obstacles in all communities.