Trustee-to-be plans to be involved, “accessible” leader
October 2, 2020
By Luke Wrin Piper, News Editor
Dyana Delfín Polk is a Berkeley resident and UC Berkeley graduate running unopposed for the Area 6 seat on the Peralta District Board of Trustees. The seat was previously held by Karen Weinstein, who was elected in 2016.
“I know Karen through my work with the Alameda County Democratic Party, that’s how I met her. She’s going to be stepping off but she’s supporting me, which is great,” Delfín Polk said. “I have really big shoes to fill with her because she’s done such amazing work.”
Delfín Polk stated her desire to be a kinetic and visible representative of the community and wants to participate and take tours of campuses, learn about people and processes, as well as reach out to underserved student communities.
“I want to focus on undocumented students and ensuring that we are really facilitating their success at Peralta in terms of funding, in terms of protection, and in terms of advancing the technology gap,” she said.
Delfín Polk is a third-generation Mexican American who wants to help facilitate an increase in Latinx enrollment at Peralta. She has a background in politics and community outreach, which she plans to apply to her upcoming role on the board. Currently, she is the associate executive director for a nonprofit in San Francisco called HOMEY.
“We work with system-impacted street-identified Black and Brown youth in the inner city of the Mission District in San Francisco,” Delfín Polk said.
HOMEY (Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth) was founded in 1997-1999 by “active gang members, formerly incarcerated youth, organizers, and community members interested in combating mass incarceration and youth violence,” as stated on their website. Since then they have weathered the many challenges the Mission community has faced and continue to act on their values of “community before politics.”
Despite spending the large majority of her career in urban centers of the Bay Area, Delfín Polk grew up in Merced as a part of a military family and worked as a policy intern for congressmember Dennis Cardoza, specifically representing his office at events throughout Delfín Polk’s hometown.
After receiving an associate’s degree in history and transfer studies from Merced College — where she was a student senator and member of the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society — she went on to UC Berkeley and received a bachelor’s degree in Chicano studies and history.
Delfín Polk said that she faced difficulties as a transfer student. As a board member, she plans to be “vocal in being pro-transfer student, in trying to get more resources for people like me.” After a trying undergrad experience, she finally earned a master’s degree in public policy with an emphasis in economics from Mills College in 2012.
Delfín Polk expressed interest in helping Peralta adopt the “best practices” of neighboring college districts. “DeAnza has a really great training program for some of their union students. They have actual agreements with labor unions and apprenticeship programs to get them guaranteed job placement once they graduate the program. I really want to look at that and see if we can bring that to Peralta. There’s no reason why we can’t have that.”
No conversation about the future is complete without taking the pandemic into consideration, especially upon learning the spring 2021 semester will be held remotely. “I would want my goal to be to improve student enrollment during this time,” said Delfín Polk. “I think distance learning provides a really key opportunity for us to increase our capacity to have more students enrolled at Peralta.”
Above all, Delfín Polk stressed her desire to make sure that trustees are using students as their North Star.
“That’s something that I really want to keep in mind,” Delfín Polk said.
To learn more about Dyana Delfin Polk, visit her website: www.dyanaforperalta.com