San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center Adds Three to Team

Grant Writing, Engineering, Project Management Expertise Added to Local Nonprofit; Seeks New Vice President, Chief Policy & Strategy Officer

SAN DIEGO (Dec. 22, 2022) – The San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center (PIC) – a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping solve the region’s biggest problems through equity-centered research, policy analysis and collaboration-building among regional leaders and stakeholders – announced today the addition of three new team members: Audra Hermann-Hayes, Rachel Lozano Castro and Clint Smith.

“Identifying our region’s biggest needs and opportunities for change is a multi-step process that greatly benefits from the experience of Audra, Rachel and Clint,” said PIC President and CEO Susan Guinn. “We are fortunate to have these skilled individuals join our team as we work to unlock the region’s potential and address the intractable issues that can only be solved with cross-sector, multi-jurisdictional collaborations.”

Guinn added that PIC is also actively searching for a new Vice President, Chief Policy & Strategy Officer (CPSO) to serve as a core member of the organization’s leadership team. For more information on the open position, visit

Serving as director of government grants, Audra Hermann-Hayes adds nearly 20 years of experience creating solutions for nonprofit organizational funding diversification, stability, program sustainability and expertise. Hermann-Hayes brings expertise in federal and state grants – including the U.S. Department of Housing, U.S. Department of Labor, USAID, EPA, EDA, NSF, DOE, ESG, DOT, DOJ, CAL OES, CalTrans, and Tribal grants – to the PIC team. She also previously served as CEO of her own company, Salang Grant Writing and Nonprofit Solutions, where she held an 80% grant procurement success rate while raising millions in funding for clients in 2021.

Hermann-Hayes is pursuing her doctorate in business administration at Capella University, where she also earned her master's degree in psychology. She received her bachelor’s in sociology from the University of California, Riverside.

Rachel Lozano Castro is senior officer of programs and impact, focused on leading a pilot launchpad to identify, attract, and scale innovative technology to increase climate resilience, and support a robust, sustainable, and inclusive region. Prior to PIC, Lozano Castro served as director of the Brink Small Business Development Center at the University of San Diego, where she assisted over 1,000 entrepreneurs in growing their businesses. Lozano Castro also helped startups raise $250 million dollars in angel investments and non-dilutive capital as well as government grants, leading the center to be named one of 10 “Inclusive Innovation Hubs” nationwide.

Lozano Castro is a graduate of San Diego State University with a master’s in public administration with a focus in Latin American studies. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Point Loma Nazarene University.

Clint Smith joins PIC as a project engineer, bringing his expertise in civil construction with focuses on nuclear energy and infrastructure. In his role as resident engineer for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Smith was responsible for the project and design management of large-scale projects up to $35 million. Smith also served as an inspector for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for more than five years.

Smith has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with a minor in nuclear power generation systems and a focus in structural engineering from Auburn University.

Since launching in August 2021, PIC has been on a mission to break down silos and build strong working relationships among San Diego’s regional leaders, government agencies, municipalities, and other community stakeholders. By doing so, PIC cultivates cross-sector, multi-jurisdictional collaborations focused on developing effective, research-informed solutions to key issues in the region and securing the federal and state funding needed to implement those solutions.

To learn more, visit

About the San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center
The San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center (PIC) is a partnership between the San Diego Foundation, the County of San Diego, and the world’s leading think tank – The Brookings Institution – to conduct research and policy analysis and help solve the region’s biggest problems. Over the next few years, PIC will continue building strong and diverse partnerships among the leaders of the region; use equity-centered research to identify the region’s biggest needs and best opportunities for change; secure funding for future solutions; challenge systemic inequities; and develop a pipeline of potential projects and pilots that improve the lives of all San Diegans. For more information, visit