The two most recently hired San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) employees continue the agency’s long legacy of service to a community where strategic partnerships foster endless possibilities.
“SJCOG continues to build its planning team with two newly recruited assistant regional planners, Stockton native Christine Tran and longtime resident Jay Halva,” said agency Executive Director Diane Nguyen. “Without question, these two are invested in the well-being of San Joaquin County citizens and are ready to build planning relationships within the same community that’s already provided them a ‘boots-on-ground’ education. They are products of the local public school system, San Joaquin Delta College, and University of the Pacific. I am thrilled that they chose to begin their planning career at home because tapping into local talent makes a big difference.”
Tran graduated from Ronald E. McNair High School before attending San Joaquin Delta College and earning a bachelor’s degree in social science at California State University, Stanislaus’ Stockton campus. Tran last year earned a master’s degree in public administration from University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.
“It is important for me to stay in the Stockton area, because this city is part of who I am,” Tran said. “I was born and raised in Stockton, so it has always been home to me. I have witnessed the positive and negative changes Stockton has been through, and my goal is to make a positive impact on my community and more.”
Halva moved to Stockton with his family at a very young age and feels a similar connection to the area.
“Most of my role models in their own way are community leaders in Stockton and San Joaquin County,” said Halva, who graduated from Bear Creek High School and attended Delta College before earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on finance at University of the Pacific’s Eberhardt School of Business. “I’ve learned from them that there can be so much strength and passion in this community. I believe in Stockton, and its diversity and uniqueness have unlimited potential for growth and development.”
Tran will be working on regional housing and climate resiliency projects, a passion that dates to her childhood.
“With the support and financial assistance of affordable housing, my parents were able to make ends meet for our family,” said Tran, whose parents immigrated to the United States. “Affordable housing is an important approach to lifting families, like mine, out of poverty.”
She found a purpose to match that passion while at graduate school where she completed her capstone project by writing a report based on the implementation of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program administered by California Strategic Growth Council (SGC). And later working on affordable housing projects for Visionary Home Builders of California in Stockton.
“I was able to do direct research and analyze (SGC’s) role in successfully creating and executing a new program,” she said. “The implementation report taught me the importance of community outreach, stakeholder relationships, and strategic planning.”
Tran worked closely with Visionary Home Builders of California project managers to help them in developing affordable housing. She learned about the various steps developers must overcome to even begin construction.
Away from her SJCOG duties Tran enjoys yoga and is a “foodie” who travels to try new foods and experience new places.
In many ways, Halva’s drive was honed as a student athlete. He was an athlete while at Bear Creek High School, Delta College and Pacific. While at Pacific, Halva was a member of the university’s highly successful water polo team that ended the 2019 season No. 2 in the nation. Current and past team players regularly play for their respective country’s national teams and in the Olympics.
“I am very thankful for the time and opportunities I had at Pacific,” said Halva. “The water polo team was extremely competitive, and that taught me a lot about time management and work ethic. … The teamwork and communication skills that I gained from that experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
He was also a member of the Eberhardt Student Investment Fund, a highly selective, hands-on financial investment experience that throws students in to “the deep end of equity analysis and portfolio management” by requiring students to use real money for investments. Over the years, SIF has grown from an initial investment of $1 million from Bank of Stockton’s then-Pres. Douglass Eberhardt to nearly $4 million today, all the while returning annual dividends to the university to help fund various programs.
Halva worked at Kevin’s Natural Foods after graduating Pacific. This work gave him insight on the critical role of transportation in goods movement and logistics. It also led him to conclude that he wanted to do more to transform the community in which he lives. Halva will apply his experience in SJCOG’s programs that include the long-range transportation plan, various transportation studies, and the regional transportation impact fee program.
In his off time, Halva stays involved in the local swim and water polo community.