Karen Díaz is a student and advocate on issues of food justice and outdoor equity. She is pursuing a dual Masters of Urban and Regional Planning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs and a Masters of Public Health at the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California Los Angeles. As part of her praxis in community building, Karen draws from her experience as a community organizer, urban gardener, and researcher. As a garden school teacher in New Mexico, she was charged with creating an engaging and culturally appropriate curriculum that connected students from K-12 to healthy eating, sustainable gardening practices, and food justice. Her classroom was a school garden where lessons were largely centered on addressing pertinent scholastic standards in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) through outdoor education, healthy eating, ancestral farming, and the pillars of the Mesoamerican diet. Karen recently completed an Urban Greening Fellowship the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) where her work focused on helping to develop strategic recommendations that will guide RTCA's efforts to expand and enhance access to close-to-home green spaces in areas with limited parks, natural areas, and safe pathways in the California Central Valley.
Karen earned a B.A. in Design and minored Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from California State University Long Beach. At UCLA, her efforts focus on enhancing food literacy, reducing food insecurity, and offering nutritious and sustainable food choice to the UCLA community by supporting innovative projects led by students, staff, and faculty across campus ranging from sustainable urban gardens, to food-focused courses, to cooking and life-skill workshops. Through her community organizing, research, teaching, and advocacy work, Karen envisions a visionary future by transforming the conversation of equity, the outdoors, and food to be more inclusive and truly representative of the diverse communities in her beloved Los Angeles.
Fellow at a Glance
UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative
Environmental & Public Health
Land, Open Space, Smart Growth
Natural Resource Management
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Policy