Founder & CEO, Urban Alchemy
Lena Miller is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Urban Alchemy, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco. Urban Alchemy was founded to bring a sense of peace and respect to America’s most chaotic urban areas that are struggling with the intersection of extreme poverty, addiction, mental illness, and hopelessness. Urban Alchemy prioritizes employing former long-term offenders who have rededicated their lives to healing and redemption through service. UA currently employs over 700 individuals to provide services to the community through contracts with Los Angeles's and San Francisco’s Department of Public Works, BART, the Department of Human Resources, San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supporting Housing, Hastings Law School, and LightHouse for the Blind.
Lena is the founder and former Director of the Bayshore Navigation Center under 5 Keys Charter School, a 127-bed facility for homeless individuals in San Francisco. She resigned from this position in August of 2019 in order to begin her internship to complete her PsyD degree.
Lena is also the founder and former Executive Director, for over 24 years, of the Hunters Point Family agency and is a life-long resident of the Bayview Hunters Point district of San Francisco. She has over twenty-five years of experience working with at-risk youth in group homes, schools, and camps. She has worked for Hunters Point Family since its inception in 1997.
Through her work at the Hunters Point Family agency, Lena has written, developed, and implemented youth development/leadership programs that serve the African American and Pacific Islander families in 8 public housing communities throughout San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point community. She has also implemented various environmental programs, including community gardens in public housing communities, a Farmers market, and street greening and beautification.
A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, she holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from San Francisco State University, a Masters Degree in Psychology from University of San Francisco, and a Doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) degree from the University of San Francisco.
Prior to her work at HPF, she was a Special Assistant to the Mayor under Mayor Willie L. Brown’s Administration, in the Office of Equity Programs, where she helped to resolve discrimination complaints among City employees and ensured fair participation for Minority and Women Business Enterprises in City contracting. Lena was appointed to San Francisco’s Mental Health Board in 2011 after serving on San Francisco’s Urban Forestry Commission from 2005-2009.
Lena has been an Adjunct Professor for the University of San Francisco’s Masters in Behavioral Health Program. She has provided Crisis Intervention training for the SFPD in the areas of Complex Trauma and Emotional Intelligence and has trained over 600 officers over the last three years. She has also provided this training for over 200 former long-term offenders and over 200 public housing residents.