Hometown: Blue Lake, CA
Gillen graduated from Brown University in 2019 with a double B.A. in Political Science and Gender & Sexuality Studies, a deepened love of writing, and an overpowering desire to come home.
Raised in Humboldt County, a rural, redwood-wrapped community on California’s North Coast, Gillen returned as a member of Lead For America’s inaugural cohort of Hometown Fellows to serve the City of Arcata. During college summers, Gillen furthered her education through internships on Capitol Hill and with two international development & humanitarian NGOs.
These experiences impressed upon her the importance of locally-driven solutions; from her small hometown tucked away in an expansive congressional district to the region of Northeast Nigeria in which her crisis response team worked, Gillen saw that sustainable change is driven on the ground by the people who live there.
In the Arcata City Manager’s Office, Gillen’s work centered on racial equity as well as strategic arts & culture and emergency preparedness planning. Gillen presently splits her time between co-designing/managing Lead For America’s growing Alumni Network and continuing her work for the City of Arcata.
Besides serving her Humboldt County and LFA communities, Gillen enjoys running, gardening, and backpacking California’s Trinity Alps.
Chase love, spread love, be love