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Staff Profile: Government Affairs Officer Ruel Nolledo

April 16, 2012
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When First 5 LA staff wants to know how young children and their families are faring in Sacramento, Government Affairs Officer Ruel Nolledo usually has the latest information. Keeping tabs on state budget and legislative issues that affect children 0 to 5, educating elected officials on how certain bills could impact children and families and communicating with stakeholders about policy priorities can be challenging, but Nolledo handles the responsibility with ease and good humor.

Nolledo, who came to First 5 LA in 2009, said he was drawn to the job because he wanted to put his advocacy skills and experience to work in a way that would benefit children. The First 5 LA Commission last week approved the Policy Department's list of state bills that focus on this legislative session. Like in previous years, Nolledo will help educate stakeholders and track the potential new laws. He has worked on legislation related to everything from healthy beverages for kids in child care to hospital infant feeding and maternity care practices.

Nolledo said researching and deciding which bills to support is an interesting part of the job. "First 5 LA's Policy Department is always looking for bills that support our policy goals," he said.

It's not without reason that education plays a major role in Nolledo's professional career - both when it comes to teaching others about important early childhood-related legislative issues and working to ensure Los Angeles County's children and their families have the tools for healthy, safe and successful lives in accordance with First 5 LA's strategic goals. His parents always made education a priority - especially writing and communication - and instilled a love of reading in him at an early age. (Nolledo is also a contributor to the Monday Morning Report.)

Nolledo, who has a younger brother and two older sisters, was born in Iowa. The family moved back to the Philippines when he was 4. Despite the initial culture shock ("I didn't know a single word of Tagalog at first!"), he quickly adapted to Filipino life.

He attended a Jesuit high school that placed a lot of emphasis on education and community service, giving him a first and lasting taste of working for the greater good.

Nolledo returned to the U.S. when he was a teenager and settled down in California, where he earned his bachelor's degrees in English and psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. One of his first jobs was with the Central American Resource Center, where he wrote, researched and handled grant applications for the organization that helps Central American families.

In 2003, he became the manager of state and local affairs for AIDS Project Los Angeles. It was his first real taste of advocacy work, and he enjoyed it. The job was also personally satisfying, as he knew he was helping many friends. "It was more than just a job, it was a commitment to something I was very passionate about," he added. In 2010, he was the recipient of the Community Activist Award by the Communities Advocating Emergency AIDS Relief Coalition.

Nolledo lives in Pasadena with his partner, Patrick, and their black Labrador, Finnegan. He enjoys reading, gardening, all things "geek" and pop culture trivia.

On the Spot: First 5 LA staffers tell us a little more about themselves. 


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