Zayda Ortiz

Program Director




I grew up in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles and volunteered heavily with TreePeople, which planted trees throughout the city. I think that set my path in working in the nonprofit field. I received a B.An in Urban Planning from SFSU and worked at the Institution for Community & Civic Engagement (ICCE) and interned with the National Park Service's Sustainability & Planning department. I was very fortunate to work for TheCIL after graduating and have loved working with our Youth consumers and now overseeing our programing.

How did you get involved with the Independent Living Movement?

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at the old age of 16. I didn't have much support and felt very alone during that initial season. I was invited to a camp with other teens with similar experiences. I was amazed to see so many other youths, mostly younger than me, and hear their stories. My heart grew to see the need for support and community during that time. My RA ended up not being RA, but I still have chronic fatigue and pain in multiple joints with an unknown cause. I was only able to move forward with my life with a loving community, and I'm thankful that I now get to give back and look for ways to support and encourage those who need it. 

Fun Facts

  • I love swimming! It's great exercise and easy on the joints. 

  • I played alto saxophone in my high school marching band and still love listening, playing, and studying music. 

  • When I'm not working, I participate in my church's children's ministry and enjoy being able to teach and share the gospel with them.

Zayda Ortiz
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