2023 Outstanding Recent Alumni Award recipient

The Outstanding Recent Alumni Award honors alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years and who are recognized for their notable achievements. This year’s winner is applauded for his extraordinary professional achievements and his significant contributions to society. He reflects the values and mission of UCSC.

Abel Pineda (Oakes ’14, sociology)

Abel Pineda

(Oakes ’14, sociology)

As a first-generation college graduate, Abel has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to using his education and life experiences to improve society.

Abel’s path to public service was significantly shaped by a tragic event in 2007, when he lost his best friend to gang violence. Motivated by mentors who recognized his potential, he channeled his personal experiences into advocating for informed and impactful public policy changes. While at Richmond High School, Abel was elected by his peers to serve on the school site council. He played a pivotal role in establishing both the City of San Pablo and the West Contra Costa Unified School District Youth Commission, highlighting his early dedication to community involvement.

Abel served Assembly District 15 as a principal field representative for former State Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, spanning two terms in the state legislature. His political acumen became evident in 2017 when he ran for California Democratic Party delegate, emerging as the youngest candidate. Subsequently, he continued his public service with State Assemblyman Rob Bonta in 2019, focusing on crucial issues such as public safety, education, health, insurance, social services, and transportation.

In 2019, Abel made history as City of San Pablo’s youngest elected official at age 26, later becoming vice mayor at age 29, and, at age 30, assuming the role as mayor. He stands among the youngest mayors ever to serve in California and the United States. He is dedicated to championing the cause of the city’s most vulnerable populations, driving improved outcomes, enhancing the overall quality of life for all residents, and fostering partnerships that facilitate easier access to essential resources and opportunities.

In 2020, Abel reached another milestone in his career by being sworn in as the Northern California regional field liaison for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. This role enables him to make an impact on education policies and initiatives across the state.

Abel’s transformation from a dedicated student leader to public servant is a powerful testament to his passion for uplifting his community and forging a brighter future for all. He is committed to effecting positive change.

Last modified: Apr 17, 2024