Meet the 2024 Local Host Committee

Brianna Borunda

Brianna Borunda is a Media Specialist at the City of Menifee, one of the top 10 boomtowns in the nation, with five years of digital communications experience in the public sector.  

In her current role, Brianna manages the organization’s digital presence on social media and website and the development of the City’s seasonal magazines and annual report. Her other responsibilities include assisting the Public Information Officer with crisis communications, strategic planning, branding, and more.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing from California State University Monterey Bay in 2017, followed by a master’s degree in organizational leadership from California Baptist University in 2019, and is currently pursuing a certification in graphic design from the University of California, Riverside.

Brianna has been a member of the Government Social Media Network for four years, is an avid follower on the GSM Facebook page, and can’t wait to reunite with her fellow social govies at GSMCON 2024!

When she gets a break from communicating, Brianna enjoys baking treats, indulging in delicious cuisines, traveling to new sites, making memories with family and friends, and of course, visiting the happiest place on earth – Disneyland!

Sophia Champieux

Sophia Champieux is part of the Communications team at the Orange County Fire Authority in Southern California. With a wealth of experience spanning both private and public sectors, Sophia spearheads the Authority's award-winning engagement efforts, connecting with approximately 2 million residents of Orange County through various communication channels

As a true storyteller at heart, Sophia possesses a passion for sharing the remarkable achievements of the Authority, weaving these stories into media releases, captivating videos, impactful social media campaigns, and innovative safety initiatives.

Silvia Ferrer

Silvia Ferrer (she/her/ella) is a University of California, Riverside alumni and Recycling Specialist for the Riverside County Department of Waste Resources. Her main responsibilities includes managing the department’s official online platforms and creating social media content to provide education and resources on sustainability and waste reduction. Previously, she worked as a Public Service Fellow for the City of Temecula, where she assisted in planning a regional economic development event and crafted outreach and media materials for the Office of the City Manager. While at UCR, Silvia was the Managing Editor for The Highlander newspaper, where she covered university news, oversaw the entire production of The Highlander through composition to publication, and designed and published social media content. When she’s not watching TikToks, Silvia can be found in a spin class or listening to Taylor Swift.

Josh Leith  

Meet Josh Leith, the dynamic communicator shaping the Newport Beach Fire Department's online presence and public outreach. Josh enhances NBFD’s emergency response capabilities by spearheading the department’s drone program through his knowledge in crisis communication and digital media. 

Having previously served 12 years in NBFD's Lifeguard Operation's Division, Josh brings invaluable experience. His proficiency in social media, media relations, and emergency operations is now channeled into Fire Operations as the PIO. He also champions various projects and contributes to the NBFD Technology Committee.

Josh is also the CERT Program Manager and Community Coordinator. Beyond social media, Josh has skillsets in editing software, Canon and GoPro cameras, and holds an FAA drone pilot license. Josh recently received the 'Type 3 All Hazards Incident Management Teams' certification at the National Fire Academy and is working to become a PIO3 with the NWCG and FEMA.

Connect with Josh on Instagram (@newportbeachfd) or find him on LinkedIn. He eagerly awaits opportunities to connect and collaborate with you.

C.L Lopez

C.L. Lopez leads Riverside County Public Social Services' Office of Communications which serves Adult, Children’s, and Self-Sufficiency Services divisions. She is a California Association of Public Information Officials past president and Public Relations Society of America Inland Empire chapter board member. She has a BA and MA in Public Relations from California Baptist University, where she's now a doctoral candidate. Her dissertation will address post-crisis resiliency in the public information officer.

Risseth Lora

As the hub of communications for the City of Coachella, Mrs. Lora utilizes her expertise in bilingual marketing to guide and evaluate a comprehensive and ongoing communications, marketing and community relations program for the city both internally with staff, and externally to residents, stakeholders and audiences throughout and beyond the Coachella Valley. Her outreach efforts are diverse, and dialed in specifically to each audience and end purpose, always with accuracy and timeliness at the core of each tactic.

Her integrated strategy encompasses both digital and traditional tactics, all with consistent and purposeful messaging intended to both engage and inform.  She is responsible for generating interest and driving attendance to all community events, engaging with local media for added exposure, collaboration with Directors on staff to generate written communication on their behalf, and working to continue building equity in the Coachella brand. As Coachella’s first official PIO, she has worked diligently over the past 18+ months to grow the city’s captive audience, and on social media alone, has grown the number of followers organically 21% on  Facebook, 146% on Instagram and 209% on LinkedIn. She also launched Nuestra Vos, a digital e-Newsletter for the City that continues holding strong engagement through clicks and open rates.

Prior to joining Coachella, Risseth assumed the role of Vice President of Branding and Strategy for JNS Next Creative & Media Hub. In this role, her key focus was branding and content development for the agency and its clients, as well as overseeing all services in the creative division.

Risseth holds a BA in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations from California State University Fullerton and holds a certificate of translation from University of California, Riverside.  She currently resides in Indio with her husband Jose and their three children – Ethan, Mia and Lili. She has been a member of the Executive Board of Directors for YMCA of the Desert going on five years, overseeing all of their public relations and marketing activity.

Yesenia Mendoza-Menchaca

Yesenia Mendoza-Menchaca is the digital communications manager for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. A social worker at heart, Yesenia harnesses the power of digital media to share unique opportunities, elevate underrepresented voices and demystify child welfare. 

Her expertise includes social network platform management, content creation for digital media and web site administration.  A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Yesenia holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California.  

When she’s not crafting social media campaigns or designing eye-catching graphics, Yesenia may be found hanging out with her husband, two kids, three cats or looking after their five chickens.

Joseph Riser

After many years managing corporate public relations and marketing accounts at Los Angeles PR agencies, Joseph Riser became “institutionalized” -- making the move to government-related public information assignments.

Restarting his career, first as the social media and online manager for the Political Science department at UCLA, last year he dove even deeper into government by becoming the sole public information practitioner for the Emergency Management Department (EMD) of the West’s largest city -- Los Angeles. 

Timing is everything. Joseph’s first foray into municipal government communications corresponded with the final year of the COVID pandemic: working at home, while still getting up-to-speed on the vast array of “things that can go wrong” in an area that scored "100" on FEMA's 2023 National Risk Index.

As EMD’s PIO, he is tasked with managing public information efforts on all fronts and assisting with outreach for a concerted in-person public engagement program.  Joseph creates and directs traditional and social media to advance the goals of a City agency that promotes preparation for, response to, and recovery from emergencies and disasters.

Currently, he likes his job!

Andrea Stein

Andrea Stein joined the City of San Ramon in 2015 in the Finance Department, where she was in charge of reviewing accounting reports, resolving accounting discrepancies, and preparing weekly check runs. In 2021, she traded balancing books and calculators in the Finance Department for personnel recruitment and review of personnel requirements, review of department policies and procedures and facility access management in the Public Works Department. Andrea fills many roles at once for Public Works, including brand development, content creation and communication engagement in social media for the Public Works Social Media Team. Andrea is also part of the City of San Ramon’s Core Social Media Team and works with the City’s Engagement and Communications Analyst. Andrea holds a master’s degree in communication from Arizona State University. Andrea is a California native, who currently lives in San Ramon with her husband, two boys and dog and often spends time at their family cabin. Andrea is on a mission to help San Ramon Public Works translate their stories to improve public perception and sentiment of the department.

Yvonne Varela 

Yvonne Varela is a 24 year employee of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office. She currently works as a Senior Public Information Specialist and oversees the department’s social media program which includes over 50 social media pages across various platforms. Yvonne was instrumental in creating the social media program for the department, by implementing departmental procedures and training and initiating the need for law enforcement to utilize social media. 

Yvonne has a masters degree in Strategic Communications and a bachelors degree in Graphic Design and Marketing. 

Yvonne serves as a Public Safety Commissioner for the city of Eastvale and she is also a member of the Eastvale Kiwanis. 

Yvonne enjoys spending time with her husband Mike and two daughters and resides in the city of Eastvale.


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