Experienced and Innovative Educator
Dr. Gabriel Buelna is an 18-year member of the faculty at the California State University at Northridge (CSUN). He is currently an adjunct professor, lecturing in history and political science. A pioneer in the fast-growing field of on-line instruction, Dr. Buelna has been tasked by the University with mentoring new faculty members as they develop and teach online courses.
Thousands of LACCD students transfer to the CSU system every year. So Buelna is very familiar with the range of students graduating from the District. He knows first-hand their level of preparation, and the challenges they face at the university level.
Proven Leader in Non-profit Management
For the last decade, Dr. Buelna has been the Executive Director of Plaza Community Services, one of Los Angeles’ oldest and most respected non-profit agencies. Plaza serves hundreds of families and children in East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights and the downtown Los Angeles area. Founded in 1905, Plaza has grown to include four child care sites, domestic violence counseling and the Fathers in the Classroom program. Under Dr. Buelna’s leadership, Plaza’s programs and funding have grown fivefold. Today he oversees an annual budget of $11.5 million, and a staff of more than 100 employees.
Prior to taking the helm at Plaza, Buelna held a similar position at Dolores Mission in Los Angeles, where he was Executive Director of Proyecto Pastoral. He worked with Father Greg Boyle and others to provide a wide range of community programs – from after-school education to homeless services.
Dr. Buelna was also a Sr. Project Consultant with USC’s Doheny Eye Institute. He served for five years as director of outreach for two long-running federally-funded eye studies in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties.
Educational Role Model for Minority Students
Gabriel Buelna grew up in South Los Angeles, the son of Mexican immigrants. His parents worked hard, sent their kids to parochial schools, and studied English at West L.A. Community College – eventually becoming U.S. citizens.
Like many LACCD students today, Gabriel was not a star student in high school. So, when he wanted to go to college, his grades were a problem. Fortunately, he was able to take some classes through West L.A. Community College and improve his transcript enough to be accepted at CSU Northridge.
That was a turning point in Gabriel’s life. He thrived at CSUN, and met his future wife! After graduation, he went on to San Diego State University for his Masters Degree in Social work, and then to Claremont Graduate School where he earned his PhD in Political Science.
Long History of Civic and Community Leadership
In addition to his teaching and management obligations, Dr. Buelna volunteers his time to serve the Los Angeles community in many other ways. He was a co-founder of the Los Angeles County Child Welfare Coalition, served on the Human Relations Commission for the City of Los Angeles, has been a board member for Sacred Heart High School, and is an Advisory Board Member for the Miguel Contreras Foundation. Buelna is also a member of the National Association of Social Work and Rotary International.
Devoted Husband and Father
Pilar and Gabriel Buelna met during their student days at CSUN. They married in 1993, and have three daughters: Paulina (14) and Gema (15) are students at Sacred Heart H.S. Gabriela (18) is a freshman at UC Riverside. The family resides in the Mt. Washington neighborhood.
Pilar Buelna is Director of Social Services for the Salvation Southern California Division, where she oversees services that address homelessness, addiction, mental health, and early education. She holds a Master’s degree in social work from San Diego State University and was recently appointed to the Cultural Heritage Commission for the City of Los Angeles.