Jonathan Dena is a Gardner Fellow at SV2. The John Gardner Fellowship is a highly competitive fellowship awarded to three Berkeley graduates and three Stanford graduates each year, funding them to work for a public service agency of their choice.
Jonathan is a graduate of UC Berkeley, earning a degree in urban planning with an emphasis in housing & real estate development, and community development. Originating in San Jose, Jonathan’s family struggled with housing instability during childhood, resulting in hazardous living conditions and teenage homelessness. Amid dire circumstances and removed from parental support, Jonathan would consecutively spend his teens and young adult years incarcerated. Jonathan overcame enormous obstacles to become the first in his family to attend college, starting college correspondence courses while in prison, transferring to a community college in Sacramento, and landing at UC Berkeley as a Regents’ & Chancellor’s Scholar. While at Berkeley, Jonathan volunteered for various community impact groups and worked for Alameda County’s Housing and Community Development agency as a policy and programs specialist, collaborating with various Bay Area governments for policy implementation and local community agencies for capacity building. Jonathan was also awarded several housing and real estate development fellowships nationally and across the Bay Area. Jonathan is a Co-Founder of Cre8innovations, an emerging nonprofit providing housing and wrap-around services to UC Berkeley’s most underrepresented students experiencing housing, food, and financial insecurities. Services include subsidized housing, financial literacy, mental health, mentorship, scholarships, internships, and community development – ultimately providing traditional resources to non-traditional students striving for higher education.