Tori Mullenix-Luna joined the San Diego Diplomacy Council team in early 2021. At the time, SDDC had no in-person programs or interactions to speak of, and very little action in the way of programming as we had previously known it. Since then, we have seen the launch of virtual IVLP, the reintroduction of in-person programs, navigated the complex waters of international travel amidst Covid-19, welcomed a new Executive Director, and grown to become an incredibly close-knit and accomplished team – none of which would have been nearly as successful without Tori’s support.
Tori had her last day as SDDC’s Program Officer last week, and it is with heavy hearts and well wishes that we say goodbye. An integral part of the San Diego Diplomacy Council community, Tori has left a lasting legacy to explore every corner of San Diego, coordinate meeting resources with creativity and gusto, and to be proud of the incredible binational region we call home. Tori we wish you all the best at the Violence, Inequality and Power Lab at the University of San Diego’s Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice!
Read on to hear more about Tori’s role at SDDC, and what she has planned next…
What has been your most memorable programming experience at SDDC?
Although there are so many memories, I would have to say that working on the Young Leader’s of the America’s Initiative (YLAI) this past summer has to be among my favorite memories. I met and learned from such an incredible group of entrepreneurs who were all focused on finding their own ways to make the world a better place. I also had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC for their program closing and meet the rest of the YLAI fellows that were placed in other cities. The whole experience was truly citizen diplomacy at its best: people to people connections and very meaningful relationships.
What is a highlight from your time at SDDC?
Overall, a big highlight was learning deeply about the San Diego-Tijuana area through the work I’ve done at the SDDC. I was born and raised here but I was still able to learn a lot about the vast amount of businesses, organizations, schools, and people that make up this amazing region. It made me very proud to be from here and I loved to be able to share it all with our international visitors.
What led you to your role at SDDC?
I interned at SDDC while I was studying International Security and Conflict Resolution (ISCOR – shout out to my fellow ISCOR students) at SDSU. At the time, I was so intrigued by the SDDC because I didn’t know there was an organization in San Diego focused on international relations in this way. I thought this sort of work only happened in other US cities like Washington DC, New York City or Los Angeles. After my internship, I still followed along to the SDDC’s work and in my last semester of graduate school, I was back in San Diego and looking for employment. It coincided with the SDDC’s hiring of a programmer and I was interested in being able to do international work from where I grew up and add in my own input to our programs.
What impact do you hope your work at SDDC has left?
I hope I was able to broaden the reach of SDDC during my time here. I thing the work that we do should be accessible to everyone in the community and I often focused on finding ways to assure that could happen. I think the organization will continue to work towards that and I’m happy to have been part of encouraging that.
Where are you headed next?
I’m headed to the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. I will be the Coordinator for their Violence, Inequality, and Power Lab. Academically, I focused on peace studies, conflict resolution, international development, and structures of violence therefore I’m excited to have the opportunity to focus on those same themes and issues in this new role.
What will you miss about SDDC?
I’ll miss my wonderful colleagues and working alongside everyone. I’ll also miss the unique experiences that come with programming for our groups- it always kept me on my toes!