The Roots of Alliance4Empowerment are deep within local communities. . .

In 2003, a devastating fire in the rural town of Alpine, California propelled local residents to
setup a 501 C(3) non-profit organization, Friends of Peutz Valley, to provide relief from the
disaster. Once the immediate goals of the non-profit were met and the community was rebuilt,
the Board, represented by Joseph Sterling and Roger Garay transferred leadership of the entity
to John McDonald, a retired attorney, community activist and innovator who, along with local
residents MiMi DeMirjian and Carolyn Mickelson, needed a non-profit mechanism to help bring
sustainable economic growth to the coastal community of Oceanside, California and the
surrounding north San Diego county region.
The renamed non-profit, Partners for Innovative Community, Inc., worked with the community
and the City of Oceanside to creating the plan for an Arts, Technology and Environment District
and a variety of other regional community-based development initiatives. Implementation was
delayed due to the global economic slowdown and with few viable prospects for private-public
development funds over a multi-year period, Executive Director McDonald and Treasurer MiMi
DeMirjian looked to transfer the 501 C(3) to committed community leaders focused on other
empowerment strategies.
At the same time, Naila Hussein Chowdhury, a global management professional from
Bangladesh and Founder of Women4Empowerment (W4E), met Anna Lu, Director of EPTEAM
(Empowerment Through Education And Microfinance) from the University of California at San
Diego (UCSD). Shortly thereafter the two innovative women laid out a plan to bring the
women’s empowerment model of W4E to San Diego, California and to network with San Diego-
based higher education institutions such as UCSD. They realized that a non-profit mechanism
was needed to bring their plans to life. With the unanimous concurrence of all involved, the
leadership of Partners was transferred to the new group. The transfer was smooth and
flawless, with Garay and DeMirjian from the prior non-profits remaining as Board Members to
this day. The new organization, Alliance4Empowerment.org, founded in early 2015, has
developed strong ties within the community, with UCSD, and to several local non-profits.