Karla Castillo joined the IFR board in December 2015. Born in Guatemala, Karla Castillo immigrated to the U.S. when she was 2 years old. She absorbed from her parents the ethics of hard work and making the best of any circumstance. She is a strong believer in the healing power of the arts and the importance of connection to community. Inspired by Raza Studies and Health Education classes at San Francisco State University in the late 80’s, Karla became an activist and devoted community worker in the Latino community in the Mission District of San Francisco. Karla’s primary focus, however, was to bring political and cultural consciousness to brown and black youth in the community.
In the early 1990’s, Karla worked with Latina girls and young women at Mission Girls Services in the Mission District, conducting social emotional/arts-based support groups, as well as craft and photography classes. She co-founded Loco Bloco in 1994, an Afro-Latino cultural arts program for youth of color that provided free, high quality classes in dance, drumming, stilting and theater. With the youth and inspired adult allies, she co-coordinated community events such as International Women’s Day, Carnaval SF as well as youth exchanges to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guatemala.
Karla received her Bachelors degree with a double major in La Raza Studies and Health Education in 1994, and her Masters degree in Counseling in 2006. After working at SFSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services, Karla obtained her license as Marriage Family Therapist in 2012. Her continuing commitment to community is evident by her active involvement in projects and programs at SFSU. Karla currently serves as Faculty Co-chair for the Raza Faculty and Staff Association, a member of the AB 540 Undocumented Student Educational Equity Taskforce and Faculty Advisor to La Raza Student Organization and SalSanFran. She is especially proud of her work to develop the scholarship fund Continue the Dream for Academic Excellence Scholarship that has been providing support for undocumented students since 2011.