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Meet the Office of Civic Innovation

The City of Long Beach has assembled a team of local, regional and national talent with a unique and comprehensive set of skills to advance its innovation projects. 


Tracy Colunga - Director
Tracy Colunga is the Director for the City of Long Beach Office of Civic Innovation. Under her leadership, the Office of Civic Innovation worked closely with the Long Beach Police Department to understand trends and patterns of people cycling in and out of the justice system. The City of Long Beach recently launched the Long Beach Justice Lab as a culmination of recommendations stemming from that research. Currently, the Office of Civic Innovation is partnering with departments on several projects including Smart Cities, the Long Beach Airport user experience, police recruitment, and reducing illegal dumping and blight. She has focused her career around community improvement. She holds a master’s degree from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Luskin School of Public Policy and a bachelor’s Degree from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN. She is a part-time lecturer at California State University Long Beach (CSULB). Tracy and her family reside in Long Beach, CA.

Heather Barker - Design Lead
Heather Barker  is our Design Lead. Heather works with interdisciplinary teams developing design strategies that leverage existing competencies and assets into innovative, systemic solutions. She consults, holds workshops, publishes, teaches, and advises internationally on this work. As a scholar and practitioner, Ms. Barker combines theory and practice through an innovation methodology that synthesizes design thinking, gamification, data-analysis andphenomenology. Her design+deliver collaborative process leverages the tools of both physical and virtual space while generating customized, human-centered, technology-augmented, solutions to complex problems. This path to innovation supports both business and civic organizations in efforts to develop novel solutions to personal interface, space, sustainable architectural and urban challenges.

Steven Chaparro - Design Strategist
Steven serves as a design strategy consultant with the Office of Civic Innovation. With an undergraduate studies at the USC School of Architecture and graduate studies at the Parsons School of Design, he brings over twenty years of experience in multiple industries including architecture, real estate development, financial services and non-profit. His passion is to help creative organizations transform workplace culture through co-creative design. He has spoken at multiple conferences through the country and is passionate about facilitating workshops and coaching executives to lead change. He believes that in order for organizations and institutions to transform how they work, the leaders need to embrace personal change.

Adelita Lopez-project manager
Adelita Lopez recently graduated from the USC Masters in Business Administration for Veterans program. She is a first-generation immigrant. Her parents worked as farm laborers, picking grapes and various other fruits and vegetables in Weedpatch, CA. Adelita understood at an early age the importance of sacrifice, determination, and resilience. She enlisted in the United States Navy as Logistics Specialist for the United States Ship Pearl Harbor. After her four-year term, Adelita pursued her BA degree from UC Santa Barbara. She majored in Accounting and Economics. She also attended DiQiuCun Global Village School in Beijing, China. Through her life experiences, Adelita worked hard to achieve her goals. She became a tax consultant for top accounting firms in the country. She worked at PwC as a Corporate Tax Associate and at KPMG as a Corporate Tax Consultant.

Vanessa Barbosa - DesignerVanessa Barbosa is Civic Designer for the Long Beach Office of Civic Innovation. She holds a BA in Studio Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design and User Experience from California State University Long Beach (CSULB). Being an artist at heart and having been trained in the design process has allowed her to wear many hats and contribute creative ideas. Her role in the Office of Civic Innovation includes conducting research with her team using a human-centered design process, prototyping solutions and outgoing communications such as infographics, PowerPoints, and front end website re-design. With a new found love for human-centered design and its ability to foster social innovation, Vanessa plans to further expand her career in the City of Long Beach and take on future projects.

Nischal Chaudhary - data scienceNishchal is a multidisciplinary data scientist with several years of engineering experience designing and developing complex systems in corporate, non-profit and startup environments. He complements his technology experience with strategic problem solving, and product management skills through the lens of human centered design”. His past experiences include Co-Founder at Give a Day Global and at Xper, Staff engineer at Qualcomm-Atheros, and Engineer at Arraycomm. Nishchal holds a post master’s certificate in Entrepreneurship from Stanford graduate school of business, A Master’s degree in engineering science from university of Mississippi, and  a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Telecommunication from Madhav Institute of Technology in India.