The role of Chief Learning Officer is a crucial one to Circles USA. Our CLO unites our 80+ chapter community of practice through a shared learning agenda, coaching and support calls, and embedding chapter innovations and improvements into the national model. 

Here, incoming CLO Yvette Trujillo discusses her values, shares her thoughts on belonging and community, and tells us why Circles USA already feels like home to her two- and four-legged family members.

Welcome, Yvette! What brings you to Circles USA?

What brings me to Circles is the hope in humanity that this work gives me: the actual lived, up-close opportunity to make a real difference in the world. In these times, it is often challenging to pull myself out of the drama that is flashing on the television screen and in my newsfeed, to see the truth… that there are a lot of people out there helping one another, having a huge impact. The reality of this moment has more than one side to it. Circles gives me more than an opportunity to see it and to soak in the hope it provides; now I actually get to stand side-by-side with the amazing human beings who are making a real difference. We are setting an example for what is possible. Not a quick fix but rather slow-and-steady, permanent transformation. 

What are you most looking forward to in your CLO role?

I’m most looking forward to the opportunity to get to know and support folks doing this important work. I hope that I’m able to make their boots-on-the-ground lives easier with tools, clarity, and support. I can’t wait to be a part of the cheering squad when things are movin’ and groovin’, and a voice in the choir of encouragement when things get tough. Being a part of this wonderful nationwide team is what I most look forward to.

How does the Circles model of poverty alleviation speak to you, your values, and your experiences with “surviving” & “thriving” in the U.S.?

I believe that one of the great gifts we have here on this planet is to love and support one another. The relationships we have with ourselves and each other are the vehicles we get to help us learn and grow. The greatest wish I have for my own life—and for the lives of all my companions on this journey—is that we all get to live in committed, loving community, sharing compassion and kindness wherever we go. I personally want to know that someone has my back. I want the blessing to have someone else’s. I think that when we experience true and deep belonging, we can begin to confidently take risks and learn that so much more is possible when we do the work of living cooperatively. It’s in this cooperation that loving kindness and compassion thrive. The work of Circles intentionally creates this very dynamic. I’m so humbled to have the opportunity to contribute to this endeavor in a meaningful way. 

Will you share some fun facts about where you come from, who is in your community, and what you love to do?

I’m originally from New Mexico, but I lived in Washington state for a little over 20 years. I moved back home to New Mexico and landed in Albuquerque just over five years ago. 

I am a Licensed Spiritual Practitioner and am currently working toward becoming a minister through the Emerson Institute. I am a musician (vocalist) and consider music to be my ministry. No matter what I’m singing about, music has the power to open the heart. 

I am also a total homebody! I love the work and creativity of making my home my sanctuary— bit by bit, paint can by paint can.  I love being at home with my wife Belinda and my dogs Piñon, Willow, and Ginger Grant. We love opening our home to our friends and family to break bread and love on each other. 

I am my greatest work of art. I work very hard at understanding the mystery of me. I get my heart broken on this project all the time, but there is nothing more worthwhile. I believe that loving myself is the greatest gift I can give the world. 

The work of Diversity, Equity and Belonging (often referred to as inclusion) is some of the most challenging work of my life. The last 15 years in particular have been my season of waking up to the truth of my own experience as a marginalized individual. I’m passionate about facilitating the work of waking people up to the truth that we all have so much to offer, so much richness to share, and that we all lose out when anyone is marginalized.

Contact Chief Learning Officer Yvette Trujillo at