Kalesi Budei was born in Lautoka, Fiji before migrating to the Bay Area at the age of 6. Learning the uniqueness of being a Fijian American brought forth new territory for her and her family. However, from an early age, her parents never failed to instill in her the value of an education and the importance of remembering where you came from.
Kalesi went on to graduate from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, where she majored in Political Science. At her time at Cal Poly SLO, she was an NCAA Division I athlete in Track and Field, going as far as NCAA’s in her event of triple jump. She was involved in the Educational Opportunity Program, Black Student Union, Dream Center, as well as the Faithful Christian Athletes in Action.
Upon ending her legislative internship with California State Senator Jim Beall, where she primarily focused on policy research, community outreach, and constituent casework, Kalesi went on to volunteer with Redemption Bay Area, Feed the Block San Jose, and the Citizens Privacy Coalition of Santa Clara County.
Through Redemption Bay Area, Kalesi has become a part of a team that plans and creates events catered to youth development and mentorship through weekly online sessions. With Feed the Block San Jose, she volunteers to pack and store meals for members of the unhoused community and participates in book and blanket drives outside of meal preparation. Being a part of the Citizens Privacy Coalition of Santa Clara County has allowed her to take on a leadership role in combating the lack of oversight and awareness surrounding the state of government and corporate surveillance, specifically in San Jose.
For the DreamSF Fellowship, Kalesi is placed at Dreamers In Tech. At DIT, Kalesi leads projects and research dedicated to the pursuit of tech careers for the undocumented community.Through data, she analyzes and mitigates unforeseen consequences for upcoming projects.
In her spare time, Kalesi enjoys reading sappy romance novels, thrifting, and imagining ways she and J. Cole would’ve met in another lifetime.