fbpx

Board & Staff

United Friends' widely diverse team of staff and board members are qualified, caring people who connect with the youth and maintain the highest quality service levels.

  • Jaye Toellner Rogovin
    Co-Chair
    View Bio

    I enjoy working on the UFC Board because the Members are incredibly talented and committed. I also am wowed by the capable and dedicated staff, and inspired every day by the kids of UFC! I love spending time with my family – husband John and two daughters, Hattie and Eva; I have minor obsessions with my dogs, travel, crossword puzzles, and reading. I have a major obsession with Hamilton! The Musical. Who knew I’d take to hip-hop in my 50s!

    Preston Brooks
    Co-Chair
    View Bio

    Partner, Cox, Castle & Nicholson
    Green Advisory Council, California League of Conservation Voters
    Board of Directors, GreenWish
    National Brownfields Association
    National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP)
    California Building Industry Association (CBIA)
    Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable Alicemarie H. Stotler of the United States District Court, Central District of California

    Rob Friedman
    Vice Chair
    View Bio

    Entertainment Media Executive

    One of my passions is bridging the entertainment and nonprofit worlds; I founded two programs at Lionsgate, Lionshares and Impact Day, which allow employees to give back and connect more deeply with their communities. In my off time, you can find me engaged in any number of outdoor sports, skiing and fishing in Sun Valley and scuba diving any chance I get. I’ve been diving since I was 18 and have logged over 80 excursions.

    Wendy Greuel
    Treasurer
    View Bio

    A working mom and lifelong Angeleno, Wendy attended LA public schools and graduated from UCLA. Wendy started her career in public service working for her mentor, former Mayor Tom Bradley, where for ten years she worked on a wide range of public policy issues including child care, senior care homelessness, housing, public health and education. While in Mayor Bradley’s office, Wendy was a leader in the creation of LA’s BEST, a nationally recognized after school program that provides a safe and supervised environment for children after school, and helped found the city’s first childcare center. Wendy’s commitment to affordable housing led her to Washington D.C., where she served in President Clinton’s administration as the Deputy Director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness and later as the Southern California Regional Director at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 1997, Wendy transitioned into the private sector, working for five years in the film industry as an executive at DreamWorks SKG. She provided strategic guidance in their civic and philanthropic efforts in the Los Angeles Region. In 2002, Wendy was elected to the Los Angeles City Council and quickly developed an impressive record of accomplishment by creating jobs, preserving open space and reducing traffic congestion. In 2009, Wendy was elected City Controller, becoming only the second woman in LA’s history elected to citywide office. As Controller, she brought a laser focus to examining government finances ensuring our taxpayer dollars were spent efficiently and she brought greater transparency to government. In 2013, Wendy was engaged by the Orange County Discovery Science Center to help open their new facility, Discovery Cube LA, in the San Fernando Valley. She is providing strategic advice on Board development, fundraising and civic engagement for Discovery Cube L.A. In addition, in 2016, Wendy was appointed as an Executive in Residence and Strategic Advisor at the California State University Northridge Nazarian College of Business and Economics. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the LAHSA Commission working on homeless issues, as Co-Chair of the LAUSD Task Force, as a member of the Women And Girls Initiative Governing Council, and on the boards of Emily’s List, Emerge CA, East Valley YMCA, Oakwood School, Discovery Cube L.A., Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project, CAUSE, ABODE, Pico Union Project, Homeland Security Advisory Council, and on the L.A. Kings Business Advisory Board. Wendy and her husband Dean are the proud parents of Thomas, who is a high school freshman.

    Demonte “Tray” Thompson
    Secretary
    View Bio

    Born and raised in Compton, California, Demonte “Tray” Thompson is one of 12 siblings. As a foster youth, Tray found his education to be a safe haven from the trouble in his family and community. Tray earned his B.S. in Finance from Cal State Northridge, where he served as the founding president for the Black Male Initiative organization that aimed to improve black males’ academic, social, and career success.

    With a passion for money management, Tray started his career within CSUN’s Financial Aid Department, where he grew the Financial Literacy Program and presented to hundreds of his fellow Matadors about credit reports, loans, and budgeting. A er his stint at CSUN, Tray secured the position of Regional Marketing Associate at AIG. Staying active at AIG, he is the active President of the Los Angeles Young Professionals employee resource group, providing networking, volunteering, and community outreach events to members.

    Mr. Thompson continues to support organizations and causes that give black men, foster youth, and members of his community the opportunity and inspiration to seek a higher education. Currently, he sits on the board of directors for Cal State Northridge’s Alumni Association. Tray has goals to obtain his MBA and take a larger stage to advocate for foster youth and first generation college students.

    Tremale Delano
    Past Chair
    View Bio

    Project Manager, DPR Construction
    Co-Founder, Gentlemen’s Agenda Foundation

    Carolyn Blackwood
    View Bio

    Carolyn Blackwood is President and Chief Content Officer of New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment. In addition to playing a lead role in the strategic direction for the division, Blackwood oversees the company’s operations, with hands-on involvement in all production, business and legal matters. Blackwood also serves as the liaison with the marketing, distribution, home entertainment, interactive, consumer products and cable and SVOD sales divisions of Warner Bros. on behalf of all New Line films. In recent years, her duties have expanded to encompass leadership of film acquisitions and managerial oversight of Warner Bros.

    Theatre Ventures, the live stage play division of Warner Bros. Entertainment.

    Blackwood joined New Line Cinema in 1999 as a production attorney and rose through the ranks to Senior Vice President of Business Affairs. Later, as Executive Vice President of Business Affairs and Co-Productions, she specialized in film acquisitions, co-productions and co-financing ventures. In 2005, she played a key role in the launch of Picturehouse, New Line’s joint-venture specialty label with HBO, and spearheaded Picturehouse’s business and legal affairs team. Over the next 10 years, Blackwood’s role at New Line expanded to Executive Vice President of Strategy and Operations before being named President, Operations & Content Strategy in 2015.

    Blackwood oversaw production on all three films in The Hobbit Trilogy, for which she served as executive producer. She played a critical role in working with the New Zealand government and continued to serve as chief liaison with the New Zealand government for the length of the production. With the contributions of Blackwood’s ongoing cross-divisional involvement and leadership in safeguarding the brand, The Hobbit Trilogy has become one of the most successful film franchises in history.

    Prior to joining New Line Cinema, Blackwood served as a business affairs and legal executive for independent production and sales company MDP Worldwide. She is a graduate of Fordham University, where she studied American Studies and Fine Arts, and earned a law degree at Pepperdine University.

    John Campisi
    View Bio

    Agent, Creative Artists Agency
    UFC holds a special place in my heart, as I was at Nancy Daly’s kitchen table as a 12-year old boy when UFC was created. Having been an agent at CAA for the past 25 years, it was my relationship with Nancy’s son, Bobby, that officially brought be back into the UFC family.  A native of Los Angeles, I currently live in Santa Monica with my son, Sam.

    Robert A. Daly, Jr.
    View Bio

    Morgan Stanley
    Founding Member, the Junior Committee for the Stephen D Hassenfeld Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders

    Alexander Kadish
    View Bio

    Alexander Kadish is a Managing Director – Investments and Private Wealth Advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors in Beverly Hills, CA.

    Prior to joining Wells Fargo Advisors in 2023, Mr. Kadish was a Managing Director and Private Wealth Advisor at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. He began his career in financial services at Banc of America in 2001. He worked at Citigroup Smith Barney and later joined Jefferies & Company as a Senior Vice President. Before joining Morgan Stanley in 2016, Mr. Kadish was an Executive Director at J.P. Morgan Securities.

    Mr. Kadish focuses his practice on developing strategies for his clients’ investment, estate planning, philanthropic, and lending needs, while taking a multigenerational approach. He creates wealth for individuals and families in the public and private eye.

    Active in his local community, Mr. Kadish is a member of the Finance Committee for United Friends of the Children, a nonprofit organization that focuses on empowering current and former foster youth on their journey to self-sufficiency. He is also on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the College of Arts and Sciences for Syracuse University. He likes to spend time in both California and Colorado with his two boys, Ryan and Jamie.

    Mr. Kadish earned his Bachelor of Arts in economics from Syracuse University.

    Wealth Management Experience: Since 2001

    Investment and Insurance Products are:

    • Not Insured by the FDIC or Any Federal Government Agency
    • Not a Deposit or Other Obligation of, or Guaranteed by, the Bank or Any Bank Affiliate
    • Subject to Investment Risks, Including Possible Loss of the Principal Amount Invested

    Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. PM-12272025-6743619.1.1

    Bridget Gless Keller
    View Bio

    Bridget Gless Keller, a jewelry designer, philanthropist, and fifth-generation Angelena, has spent the better part of the last decade volunteering at the Children’s Institute (CII), which brings early childhood education, therapy services, family support groups, youth activities, and crisis relief—in 2020 it provided food, laptops, and more—to its more than 30,000 clients.

    As Chair of the Frank Gehry designed campus in Watts, she spearheaded the funding and development of a new campus for the organization. Construction broke ground on January 30, 2020, of the new 20,000 square foot state-of-the-art community facility in Watts.  She delivered it with construction on schedule and $2.3 million dollars underbudget.  This new 20-million-dollar facility will provide holistic, integrated services for at-risk children, youth and families. It is expected to serve approximately 2,000 low-income individuals annually, with programs and services focused on mental health, early care and education, youth development, and family support services.

    Bridget is also involved in The CHIPS, The Colleagues, and The Diadames, women-run organizations that support various charities for children in Los Angeles. She is a twenty year member of USC’s Board of Counselors for the Libraries. She and her husband, Paul, divide their time between Los Angeles and Oceanside, CA.

    Jarred Kennedy
    View Bio

    Jarred Kennedy is the Chief Operating Officer at Wave. Previously, he was the co-head of Global esports at Riot Games. Jarred started his career at McKinsey & Company where he created strategies for consumer, technology, and media companies in the US and Europe. Since then, he has held several entrepreneurial positions across a range of businesses, including Encompass Digital Media, where he played a key role in scaling Encompass from a US-based startup into a global technology services company, and most recently Riot’s global merchandise business, which he launched. Jarred is a married father of 3, a lifelong gamer, and a huge LA Lakers fan. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

    Laura Jane Kessner
    View Bio

    Laura Jane Kessner currently serves as the Director for Central Operations for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. In that role, she supervises line operations in the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, including the Mental Health Division,

    Pre-Filing Diversion Program and half of the Bureau of Branch and Area Operations, Region I. She is the chair of the Misdemeanor Steering Committee and has led the effort to reimagine misdemeanor prosecution for Los Angeles County. As a member of the District Attorney’s Office for over twenty-seven years, Laura Jane specialized in the prosecution of sex crimes and has responded to habeas corpus petitions and appeals in both state and federal courts. Laura Jane has improved office efficiency through technology, expanded the use of electronic subpoenas and helped create an electronic document repository and filing system.

    Laura Jane graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in History. She received her J.D. from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and was a member of the Loyola Law Review.

    Laura Jane is currently a member of the Board of Governors for the Women Lawyers of Los Angeles, serving as co-chair for the Career Development and Life Balance Committee. She is active in the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA), serving on the State Appellate Judicial Evaluation Committee and in that role, has led committees vetting prospective Court of Appeal justices. She is a member of LACBA’s President’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession (PAC) and has contributed to PAC’s Oral History Project, documenting stories of gender bias from prominent women in the legal profession.

    In addition to her legal work, Laura Jane has been active in the community. She is the chair of the Governance and Nominating Committee for the United Friends of the Children, a nonprofit providing housing and educational opportunities for local foster youth. Laura Jane is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles and started two Girl Scout troops consisting of 30 girls. She is a member of the Girl Scout Gold Award Committee and interviews and mentors prospective Gold Award applicants. Laura Jane previously served for two years as Co-President for the Marlborough School Parents’ Association, serving on the Equity, Education and Enrollment Committee and as an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees. She is also a sustaining member of the Junior League of Los Angeles and helped draft a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan that was adopted by the organization.

    In her spare time, Laura Jane enjoys practicing yoga, reading books and spending time with her husband, children and cats, and dreams of becoming fluent in French.

    Denny Luria, Ph.D
    View Bio

    I am a psychologist focused on helping girls and women develop their own voices and a stronger sense of self. I am proud to be part of UFC because we provide the relationships necessary to help our girls (and boys) do just that – grow into sturdy, resilient young adults.

    Brooke Marrujo
    View Bio

    Brooke Marrujo leads the client segment business and national accounts business development team for the independent broker dealer channel at Capital Group, home of American Funds. She has 27 years of investment industry experience and has been with Capital Group for 22 years. Earlier in her career at Capital, Brooke established and led the sales operations function for North American Distribution. Before that, she focused on various roles within the institutional business, including business strategy and development for Capital’s defined benefit and defined contribution businesses, consultant relationships, and marketing. Prior to joining Capital, she was a retirement support services director at AIM Management, Inc. working with financial advisors and investors on their retirement accounts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas A&M University, and is Series 7, 24, and 63 licensed. Brooke is based in Los Angeles.

    Deborah Martin
    View Bio

    Deborah Martin has been a fixture in the entertainment industry for more than three decades, shaping the style and image, through strategy, of what has moved pop culture, primarily through the music industry but also in visual mediums. Her understanding of market demand and appeal has made her a sought after advisor for celebrities, companies and brands across the globe. Entering the world of sport, through football (world soccer) in 2010, her reach broadened and positioned her with greater international influence and activities. Based in Europe for well over a decennium, as one of very few woman and Americans in an executive position in world soccer, Deborah created change and brokered ground breaking deals and strategies – also championing and campaigning for the successful bid for the 2026 World Cup to be held in the US, Canada and Mexico. Through her global work and travels, Deborah saw the opportunity through sport and entertainment to unite the world by giving its youth a real look at it, guided by their peers. Creating a docu-series named Project SAM, Deborah and her daughter, Sophie, relocated to Los Angeles from Italy in 2018. Project SAM unites – showing our world and its youth that we are more alike than we are different, while bringing people and places together. Community service and education are key elements of Project SAM and are things Deborah values greatly. Deborah is thrilled to work with the youth of her local community with UFC as she continues her work with children around the world.

    Dinesh Moorjani
    View Bio

    Dinesh Moorjani is a technology executive, CEO and investor. He is a Managing Director and head of the Los Angeles office for Comcast Ventures. Dinesh was the founder & CEO of Hatch Labs, where he co-founded numerous mobile enterprise software and consumer companies from the ground up. Dinesh co-founded Tinder in 2012. He has held leadership roles at IAC/ InterActiveCorp and Samsung Electronics in the US & Asia. He co-founded Saffronart, a Sequoia Capital-backed global fine art marketplace and auction house, where he continues to serve on the board. Dinesh is an active faculty member and adjunct professor at both UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and USC Annenberg. He sits on the advisory boards for Harvard’s California Research Center and Northwestern University’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship. Dinesh is an advisor to American Express, Assurant, and Warburg Pincus, the global private equity firm. He serves as an independent board director at numerous companies, including Alight. Dinesh earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University and his MBA from Harvard.

    Ande Rosenblum
    View Bio

    Board Member, University of Southern California School of Social Work
    Member, EveryChild Foundation

    Susie Sheinberg
    Jevonne Shepherd
    View Bio

    Jevonne Shepherd is a CPA and trusted advisor to clients in a variety of industries and sectors. She holds a BA from UCLA, an MBA from California State University, Northridge, and a JD from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law. Jevonne was previously a Foster Mother to her then-Foster Daughter, a Senior in High School, who went through UFC’s program, subsequently graduating from UCLA in 2020. Jevonne is active in diversity organizations such as the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), National Society of Black CPAs (NSBCPAs), and Black Women Lawyers of Los Angeles (BWL-LA). She has served as the President of the National Black MBA Association-Los Angeles Chapter and represented the organization at the White House and Capitol Hill in 2023. Additionally, she serves on the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance Foundation National Board and mentors young women pursuing a career in Finance and Accounting. Jevonne lives with her family in the San Fernando Valley and is passionate about being impactful in the lives of others.

    David Subar
    View Bio

    My first memory is seeing Armstrong set foot on the moon. I was in my stepmother’s parents’ house in Westchester County. I remember the TV and the room. That moment started me on my journey to want to work with technology.

    I started my career in research and development at a military-owned think tank in Washington, DC, where I learned that I had confused science with engineering. The last thing I wanted to do was write papers on science that may only be reviewed by a couple of hundred people and never have any impact. What I wanted to do was use technology to create products that matter, that change markets, and change people’s lives. I became a developer, and then ran teams of engineers, became CTO of companies and then CPO. On that journey, I learned that by integrating those departments and building effective teams I was able to build great products, and fulfill my goal of building products that matter. Interna embodies everything I love about the tech industry: working alongside people and aligning focus to create better products faster. We have built a company that provides leverage for tech-enabled companies to move markets and provide value. Instead of writing research papers, we are invested in making moonshots work.

    Kathy Vanderziel
    View Bio

    Kathleen Vanderziel is currently Senior Vice President, Senior Counsel for The Capital Group Companies, Inc., home of the American Funds family of mutual funds. She specializes in employment law and litigation management. She also works on a variety of other matters including privacy, intellectual property, contract review and review of marketing materials for compliance with FINRA and SEC regulations.

     

    Prior to joining Capital Group, Ms. Vanderziel was Assistant General Counsel for Dole Food Company, Inc., where she was the sole employment lawyer for Dole and its various U.S. divisions as well as division general counsel for Dole Fresh Flowers, at the time one of the largest importers of fresh cut flowers in the United States. Prior to Dole, Ms. Vanderziel was a labor and employment associate at the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles, where she had extensive employment litigation experience, including jury trials in Los Angeles and Orange County Superior Courts.

    Ms. Vanderziel graduated with distinction from the University of California at Berkeley with a bachelor of arts degree in rhetoric and received her law degree, magna cum laude and Order of the Coif from Boston College Law School. After graduation, she clerked for Ruggero J. Aldisert, senior United States Circuit Court Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

    From 2008 to 2022, Ms. Vanderziel served as a member of the Board of Directors for Children’s Institute Inc., a nonprofit organization working to transform the lives of children exposed to adversity and poverty in Los Angeles. During her tenure on the Board, she served as Vice Chairman as well as chairing multiple committees including Early Childhood Services and the Audit Committee.

  • Cathleen Cull
    Co-Chair
    View Bio

    Cathleen Cull joined the NextGen Board in January 2023 after serving as an active volunteer and leader with the Junior League of Los Angeles for 14 years. It was Junior League’s community impact, specifically those initiatives focused on transitional age foster youth, that most inspired her. She is passionate about service and making a difference in others’ lives. Cathleen has worked with organizations such as Aviva Family Services, Mar Vista Family Center and Heart of Los Angeles, and is passionate about the opportunity to continue that meaningful community service work and impact with UFC.

    Cathleen graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. After a successful 18-year advertising career with magazines like People and Martha Stewart Living, Cathleen shifted her career to Real Estate where her dedication to service impacts her clients in a personal way. Cathleen is a top-producing Realtor with Rodeo Realty. In her free time, she teaches Pilates, rides horses, and enjoys traveling, cooking and spending time with family and friends.

    Kimberly Rosenblum
    Co-Chair
    View Bio

    Kimberly Rosenblum is Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at ITV Studios America and has been recognized by TV Week in its “40 Under 40 Class” (2022). A graduate of Stanford University and The University of Southern California Gould School of Law, Rosenblum spent almost five years working as an Associate for Weintraub Tobin prior to joining ITV Studios America.

    Kimberly has served on the NextGen Board of United Friends of Children since its inception and is one of the founding board members. She is passionate about giving back to the Los Angeles community and supporting foster youth.

    A third-generation Los Angeles native, Kimberly loves Stanford football, the Augustan Era of Rome, and trying as many new restaurants as possible. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

    Alex Caruso
    View Bio

    Alex Caruso has been actively involved with United Friends of the Children since 2019, when he joined the United Friends NextGen Board as an inaugural member. Philanthropy and civic engagement are core values for Alex and he is especially passionate about supporting foster youth.

    Alex is an attorney at Cox, Castle and Nicholson in Century City. Alex handles a wide variety of real estate transactions, including commercial development and environmental matters.

    Alex received his J.D. from Pepperdine University in May 2017. During law school, Alex served as President of the Student Bar Association. He received his B.S. in Public Policy and Management with an emphasis in Real Estate Development from USC’s Price School of Public Policy in May 2013.

    In his personal life, Alex enjoys playing tennis, traveling, and learning about the history of different architectural styles in Los Angeles.

    Amy Ruiz
    View Bio

    Amy Ruiz has been involved with UFC since 2019, volunteering at several events before officially joining the UFC NextGen board. She’s passionate about helping children achieve their greatest potential, which is what drove her to this organization. Prior to getting involved with UFC, Amy was part of The Glow Effect, a non-profit organization that helps empower women all over the world. As part of the organization, she helped fundraise money to help build a women’s center in Uganda, giving women of the community a chance to learn new skills and build a sustainable life in order to provide a better life for their children.

    Amy graduated from California State University, Northridge with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing. Since graduating, she has been working in advertising for over 12 years across multiple entertainment accounts. She is currently the Director of Strategy on the WB Theatrical account at Hearts & Science, building strategic media recommendations for WB’s film releases.

    When Amy is not busy working, she enjoys traveling, going to concerts, watching movies, and spending time with her family, friends, fiancé and her dog Russell.

    Candi Marie
    View Bio

    Candi Marie is a creative visionary whose star is rising and shining bright as a dynamic new multi-hyphenate talent. She is a Meisner trained actress, TV Producer, and Chief Creative Officer of her own media company Candi’s Creative. Hailing from Jacksonville, FL., her southern charm and hard work have earned her opportunities she could only imagine. Candi’s creative mind and storytelling have garnered her amazing opportunities to work with several giants in the business. From foster care to Hollywood, she is proof that where you come from doesn’t dictate where you’re going!

    Hattie Rogovin
    View Bio
    Hattie Rogovin is honored to be a new member of the UFC NextGen Board. She has always been inspired by the monumental work the organization has accomplished and has been attending the Brass Ring Gala since 2013.
    Hattie graduated from Columbia University in May 2023, receiving her B.A. in Art History and Sociology. At Columbia, she was the Newsletter Editor and Film & Music Columnist for The Wednesday Zine as well as a Literary Fiction Critic for the campus publication In the Margins.
    Growing up a competitive pianist, Hattie still enjoys playing the piano in her free time; she also loves to read, watch movies, and cook. Having just moved back to Los Angeles, Hattie hopes to pursue a career in comedy TV development.
    Jade Tran
    View Bio

    Jade Tran has been a member of the NextGen Board since 2020, and began her work with foster youth in 2016, as a mentor to young women in the Bay Area. She is also passionate about animal rescue and has worked with a number of LA-based organizations to help dogs find their forever homes.

    Jade has spent the majority of her career working with technology startups – first in venture capital, then in operating roles, and now as a Senior Vice President in Pacific West Bank’s Venture Banking group.

    Originally from Bexley, Ohio, Jade received her Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees in Art History from The Ohio State University (O-H!). She now lives in Santa Monica with her rescue dog, Cricket, and surfs as much as she possibly can.

    Jhamasa Lewis-Adams
    View Bio

    Jhamasa was born in Orange, California April 24, 1990. She was raised in Los Angeles, CA, and spent most of her childhood in care. She has many siblings (biological + foster) and considers herself a part of a large community that is seen as family. She received her B.A. in Entrepreneurship from Jackson State University in 2013. She earned her MSW from the University of Southern California in 2021. Jhamasa is a United Friends of the Children alum and has been a NextGen Board member since its inception.

    Jorey Worb
    View Bio

    Jorey Worb was born in Toronto, Canada, but calls Los Angeles home. A Berklee College of Music Graduate, Jorey got her start at Record Plant Recording Studio, then worked on Netflix’s comedy-music feature “The After-Party” and was Jennifer Lopez’s brand manager. In 2020, Jorey sold a TV show called GROUP, the story of how she met her husband in group therapy, to WBTV.

    After marrying her love of music and film as a music video director, in 2023, she wrapped production on her first short film entitled BITE starring Troian Bellisario. After shadowing a director on GOOD TROUBLE, Jorey’s next directing project goes into production in June 2023. She is repped at Circle of Confusion and has a slate of TV/Film projects committed to telling hidden stories of resilience: anyone who overcomes mental health or trauma or adversity — is a superhero disguised as an everyman.

    Jorey is also a board member of City of Hope’s Future Hope – a committee of young entertainment executives who activate altruism and fundraising in the upcoming generation, and she co-founded Grads Go Global, a charity concert that benefits Amani Children’s Home in Tanzania. She also sits on the junior board of MusicCares, advocating for mental health resources for musicians. In 2022, Jorey joined the United Friends of the Children NextGen Board, where she gets to act on her passion for serving youth and raising awareness about early childhood mental health treatment.

    In her spare time, Jorey studies spirituality and global music. Jorey has two dogs, Arya and Charlie, with her husband, Alex.

    Kate Berg
    View Bio

    Kate Berg spent 15 years working in marketing and strategic partnerships across categories from fashion, to food & CPG, to health and wellness. From Diane Von Furstenberg to Thrive Market, she has a passion for brands that support women and widening her access.

    In 2019, Kate brought this passion to ByHeart, a next generation infant nutrition company focused on delivering best-in-class infant nutrition to babies and supporting parents throughout their feeding journey. Kate was able to experience this first hand when her son Oscar was born months before ByHeart came to market.

    Kate created the UCLA Lab Party, an annual fundraiser to support next-generation research for UCLA’s department of Neurosurgery, of which she sits on the Board. Kate graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Mar Vista with her husband Mikey and Oskie.

    Lauren Fujiu
    Founding Co-Chair Emeritus
    View Bio
    Lauren Fujiu is Vice President, Business Affairs at 20th Television, a division of The Walt Disney Company.  Prior to moving in-house, Lauren was an attorney at an AmLaw 20 law firm in Los Angeles.  While she specialized in corporate insolvency and financial restructuring, Lauren committed thousands of hours to pro bono work including as a member of the trial team that challenged the constitutionality of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and as part of the legal team that investigated allegations of excessive use of force in Los Angeles County jails and drafted the 2012 Report of the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence.  She received her law degree from Loyola Law School and her Bachelor of Arts in History and French from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
    Lauren is passionate about serving her community.  In addition to being the Founding Co-Chair Emeritus of the United Friends of the Children NextGen Board, she is the Chair of the UCLA Lab School Advisory Board.  She has previously served on the board of the Junior League of Los Angeles and was a Southern California Leadership Network, Leadership LA Fellow.  A fourth-generation Southern California native, Lauren lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Josh, and two children.
    Leo Meza
    View Bio

    Leo Meza is a UFC alumni where he learned the importance of education and professional development. It is very exciting for him in this full circle moment where can take part in the NextGen board.

    Leo has studied computer science and economics from various institutes and currently works in tech but is also an aspiring screenwriter. He has had several projects produced, written, and directed.

    Leo lives in South Bay and loves cooking delicious meals for his friends and family.

    Michael Koenig
    View Bio

    Mike has been involved with United Friends of the Children since January 2021, initially serving as an observing member of the board of directors through UCLA Anderson’s board fellows’ program. Apart from United Friends of the Children, Mike has also been involved in volunteering with several nonprofits in the Los Angeles Area.

    Currently, Mike is a Consultant with L.E.K. Consulting and works on a variety of strategy engagements across the tech and media, consumer, industrials, and healthcare sectors. Mike received an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in finance from the University of Colorado Boulder.

    In his free time, Mike enjoys traveling, hiking, and enjoying live music with friends in the Los Angeles area.

    Maurice James
    View Bio

    Maurice James has been a part of the United Friends family for almost 20 years and is proud to serve on the NexGen Board. He also volunteers with Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) helping teaching entrepreneurship to underserved youth.

    Maurice graduated from Columbia University with a degree in A.I. Computer Science and also holds an MFA from the Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.

    Maurice currently is the Head of Development and Strategy at the LA Times Studios, and just recently started doing stand-up comedy because we all pandemic differently.

    Raquelle Stevens
    View Bio

    Raquelle Stevens is an author, producer, and host based in Los Angeles, California. Her most recent work includes producing and starring in the Apple documentary Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, and the HBO Max Emmy nominated series Selena + Chef. This year she released her best selling book The Sunshine Mind, a 100 day spiritual journey to help readers prioritize their inner life and in return gain more hope and joy in their day to day life. Raquelle’s focus is to continue to align herself with projects and individuals that make a difference and move humanity forward with hope and love.

    Sarah Christian
    Founding Co-Chair Emeritus
    View Bio
    Sarah Christian has loved supporting United Friends of the Children as a Founding Co-Chair Emeritus of the NextGen Board since 2019. She is also a volunteer and Past President of the Junior League of Los Angeles, among other various philanthropic interests and commitments.
    Sarah attended the University of Texas at Austin for her undergraduate studies, majoring in Political Science. She received her law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law in 2010. Sarah is a partner at Gilbert & Stern LLP, a personal injury law firm in Century City.
    Sarah lives in the Pacific Palisades with her husband Brian and baby girl Penelope. She enjoys attending concerts/musicals and traveling with her family.
    Stephanie Mosley
    View Bio

    Stephanie M. Mosley is a Scholar, Screenwriter, Actor/Singer, Advocate for Survivors of interpersonal violence, and Liberation Activist in Los Angeles, CA, originally from Mobile, AL. She is a Graduate Student at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education & Psychology, with a focus on Social Entrepreneurship & Change.

    Stephanie is a leader who educates the masses about how to infuse Historical Empathy into our society to heal the generational wounds of racial bias within our economy and governance via The Black Alliance Transformation. It is with hope that this unique learning method can provide a stronger foundation for our nation’s morale to be rebuilt upon. As a Survivor Advocate, Stephanie is equally determined to infuse life, hope, joy, resources, and services into survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, and sex trafficking around the nation and world so that they can build a stronger foundation for their individual futures that is full of peace, self-love, hope, and new opportunities. This widespread healing will be shared within a unique event called The Antidote Conference, launching in LA in 2024. Stephanie’s impassioned efforts are also dedicated to markedly enhancing the lives and holistic opportunities of foster youths and unhoused adults.

    Zoe Virant
    View Bio

    Zoe Virant is thrilled to be a new supporter and member of the NextGen Board of United Friends of the Children. She is also a volunteer with Children Mending Hearts and Baby2Baby.
    Zoe graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema & Media Studies. She worked at United Talent Agency after graduation in the Fine Arts Department. Zoe is currently working towards her Masters in Social Welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles.
    Zoe lives in the Pacific Palisades with her partner, Harrison, and their English Bulldog, Gusher. She enjoys ballet, art, reading, and traveling with her family.

    Seymone Khaleghi
    View Bio

    As a newer member of the Next Gen Board, Seymone calls upon her background in Clinical Psychology to anchor her experience with UFC.

    An overgrown kid herself, Seymone appreciates the opportunity to be a part of community work that is so rooted in adding value to the lives of our local youths.

    Most importantly, at a time when our efforts can change the trajectory of a young person’s life so that he/she/they– can one day write one of these bio’s for their entry to the Next Gen Board as a UFC alumna.

    In between passion projects, Seymone is eager to contribute to the UFC mission in all the ways she is capable and grateful to be amongst such poised leaders and new friends on the Next Gen Board.

    Lauren Kolodin
    View Bio

    Lauren Kolodin was born in Potomac, Maryland but made the move to Los Angeles in 2014. She moved 2 weeks out of high school, at 17 years old, to pursue a career in acting but found her way into songwriting. Lauren ended up releasing a few songs under her own artist project in 2018 and charted at number 6 for R&B singles in Malaysia. After living in LA for almost 10 years, Lauren has started screenwriting and is currently developing an episodic script based on the lives of young successful girls in entertainment industry.

    Lauren joined the NextGen Board in August 2023. Prior to joining, she has been an active volunteer for the National Brain Tumor Society for 20 years. As well as a volunteer for Adoptions Together for over 5 years.

    Lauren spends most of her free time outside in nature, helping out at barn in Sun Valley, California.

    Amy Lassere
    View Bio

    Amy Lassere has worked in non-profit development for nearly 20 years. Currently, she is the Senior Director of Development at UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies. In addition, she has also worked as a development officer for the American Red Cross and UCSB’s Arts & Lectures. While her daily job is to support programs, research and events that benefit the community, Amy is also one of the founding members of the United Friends of the Children NextGen Board. Amy is committed to empowering foster youth and loves volunteering with United Friends of the Children. Amy graduated from UCLA with degrees in Art History and French.

    Amy is a Santa Barbara native, and spent two years living in France perfecting her French and exploring Europe. In addition to traveling, Amy loves trying new restaurants, going to concerts and spending time with her two beloved nieces.

    Aiden White
    Jillian Morgan
    Nick Lebherz
  • Matt Strieker
    Chief Executive Officer
    View Bio

    Matt is the Chief Executive Officer at United Friends of the Children (UFC). Established in 1979, UFC is one of the most successful and admired organizations serving foster youth in Los Angeles. A perceptive leader and proven strategist, Matt is known for his ability to guide people and organizations toward imagining and realizing the highest fulfillment of their shared purpose and mission. He brings strong financial stewardship, business acumen, and operational oversight to his leadership and has a successful track record of positioning organizations for long-term sustainability and growth.

    At UFC, Matt worked closely with the Board and senior staff on a strategic plan that established and is now delivering on, a new collective vision for the organization’s future as an innovator and leader in youth development services for children in foster care. To ensure United Friends’ sustainability, he also successfully led an organizational restructure that included strengthening UFC’s financial and revenue functions, programmatic service model, and the Board’s governance policies and practices.

    Previously, Matt led the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice. Initially a community legal aid in East L.A., Matt collaborated with the Board and senior staff to successfully reimagine the organization as a statewide leader in legal services for immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. As Executive Director, Matt built an enterprising and vibrant organization, launching new practice areas, service innovations, cross-sector partnerships, and advocacy efforts that expanded legal protections and services for survivors in Los Angeles and California.

    Earlier in his career, Matt served as the Deputy Director of the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, which is the nation’s leading research center on sexual orientation and gender identity. Serving as a senior strategist, operational lead, and connector, Matt built out multiple internal functions, helped fund and launch new research initiatives and education programs, and collaborated with external partners and stakeholders to integrate the Institute’s research into national and international policy debates during a period of unprecedented and rapid progress on LGBT issues.

    As a consultant, Matt has also advised a variety of nonprofits, including think tanks, community clinics, and youth services organizations on board development, program design, and external relations strategies.

    Throughout his career, Matt has been dedicated to issues of equity and justice. As a nonprofit leader, he has been instrumental in helping translate organizations’ commitment to equity into meaningful, sustainable change in how they lead and serve. He began his career as a civil rights advocate, working as a staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and a research associate at the Institute on Race & Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law School. In these roles, he litigated in the areas of education, employment, and voting rights and conducted research and policy advocacy in support of housing and immigration reform.

    When he’s not at work, Matt spends nearly all of his free time with his children and family. When he gets the chance, he loves to read, hike and is a closet classical musician.

    Angela Carter-Blackshear, MSW
    Chief Operating Officer
    View Bio

    Angela Blackshear currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer at United Friends of the Children. She is responsible for oversight of the administrative, programmatic, evaluative, and HR functions within the organization. Angela joined United Friends in (2017) serving as the Senior Director of Housing where she was responsible for the operational success and development of the Transitional Housing Program (THP) for former foster youth, ages 18-24, experiencing homelessness. Working within the field of human services and nonprofits for nearly two decades, Angela has extensive executive leadership experience in the sector with a record of success in strategically aligning organizational goals with programmatic outcomes. Throughout her career, she has worked with a myriad of vulnerable populations including at-risk youth, transitional-age youth, gang intervention/prevention, human trafficking, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, mental health and has spent the last decade serving individuals experiencing homelessness.

    Prior to joining United Friends, Angela led the affiliate chapter of Back on My Feet as the Executive Director. Under her leadership, the organization became a viable community partner in serving veterans, women, and children experiencing homelessness in the Greater Atlanta Area. She then went on to serve as the Director of Residential and Case Management at Covenant House of GA, where she led the successful implementation of the Youth Coordinated Entry System framework with the emergency shelter and transitional housing programs, serving young adults (18-24 yrs.). Angela holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California (USC) and a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications from California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

    Derric J. Johnson
    Chief Programs and Policy Officer
    View Bio

    United Friends of the Children has hired, Derric J. Johnson, as its newly appointed Chief Programs and Policy Officer, to lead UFC’s policy advocacy and strategic partnerships, as well as provide thought leadership to the sectors impacting current and former foster youth. As UFC enters a new strategic planning period, Derric will be a key strategy partner in identifying opportunities to grow and/or enhance existing programs, as well as launch new initiatives. In addition, Derric will contribute to UFC’s overall organizational management and leadership, provide financial oversight of UFC programs, support oversight of compliance and personnel matters, fundraising and external relations activities. Previously, Derric was the Associate Head of School at Children’s Day, and separately, the Founding
    Director of The Equity and Justice Institute (E&JI) at The Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, while also serving as a member of their senior administrative team. Through his leadership he oversaw social justice advocacy, change management strategies, policy reform, anti-racist education administration, and civic/community engagement.

    Prior, Derric was a Senior Policy Advisor, Public Safety and Justice for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Second District). During his tenure, Derric led legislative efforts to establish the Civilian
    Oversight Commission of the Sheriff’s Department; reformed oversight policies for the largest Probation Department in the United States; advanced initiatives to improve deficiencies in cultural competency and systemic implicit biases; expanded countywide initiative promoting voter education and registration for justice-system involved adults to increase electoral turnout; and instituted the Fair Chance Ordinance for LA County that would eliminate restrictions on employment opportunities based solely on criminal convictions. Derric also attained a $30 million increase in state allocations for court-appointed dependency counsel to improve protections for foster youth in California and procured $5 million from the state’s Juvenile Justice and Crime Prevention funds (JJCPA) to support restorative justice and community-based programs to divert youth from the juvenile justice system. Derric is also a politically appointed Commissioner (representing the Second District) for the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, and was recently re-elected as Vice President. The 15-member County commission is engaged in research and education for the purposes of reducing prejudice based on sex, age, race, religion, national origin or personal handicap and fostering civil peace and intergroup understanding among various communities within the jurisdiction.

    Additionally, Derric serves as a Board Member for several educational and non-profit organizations: MLK Health and Wellness Community Development Corporation and Pitzer College Alumni Board where he was recently appointed the inaugural Race and Justice Chair to support student engagement by identifying and activating the College’s social justice efforts. This role seeks to embed the study of racial violence and justice throughout the campus/curriculum to advance social justice campaigns that foster greater inclusiveness via the alumni, college, and community engagement initiatives. Derric is also an Executive Council Member of the Children’s Defense Fund-CA, and previously held Board appointments with United Friends of the Children, Peace4Kids, and Brilliant Corners, a nonprofit supportive housing agency providing for individuals with developmental disabilities and other special needs in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County, including individuals transitioning from homelessness and institutional settings.

    After being awarded a National Urban Fellowship, Derric earned his secondary Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Baruch College-City University of New York. He also received a Master’s in Business Management from Azusa Pacific University, and a Bachelor’s from Pitzer.

    Iberia Calix
    Director of Housing
    View Bio

    “Hello everyone, my name is Iberia Calix, and I am excited to work alongside you as the Director of Housing. A little about me – I graduated from Cal State Northridge with an M.A. in Clinical Psychology. I have worked at various housing organizations, such as Covenant House and First Place for Youth. I am transitioning from Safe Place for Youth where I was their Housing Director. I enjoy our work in this field, and I am passionate about providing the best services to our young people to support them in attaining self-sufficiency. When I am not working, I like getting sucked into psychological thrillers or detective shows and love strolling around my neighborhood with my son who finds everything fascinating and makes it even more fun. I am looking forward to getting to know everyone!”

    Joe Jones, MFTI
    Director of Clinical Support
    View Bio

    I have been employed at United Friends since February 2012. I am blessed to work with such great young people and a terrific team/staff. I am married and I have a 16 year old son. I enjoy bowling and listening to jazz  music. I am passionate about basketball and have been a coach for over seven years! I also enjoy spending time with family and friends and taking Caribbean vacations.

    Jamila Leander, MSW, LCSW
    Assistant Director of Housing
    View Bio

    I’ve been a part of the UFC family since February 2015 and continue to enjoy the work with the population we serve. Every day, I am inspired by my coworkers’ creativity, intuitiveness and genuine care in all aspects of the job. The continued team work is irreplaceable. In my free time, I enjoy my quiet time and improving my health through weight training, cardio and boot camps.

    Nesli Marin
    Assistant Director of Operations
    Carla Palmer
    Director of Development
    View Bio

    In 2003, Carla Palmer started her journey with United Friends of the Children as a Career Counselor in the Pathways Housing Program. In that role, she supported emancipated homeless foster youth with career guidance, education planning, and job placement support. Skilled in external relationship building and management, Carla was promoted to Career Development Manager where she and her team provided career and education support, extensive work readiness training, job placement, internship opportunities, and life skills workshops to Pathways residents.

    In 2017, Carla transitioned to UFC’s Development Team as Manager of Corporate and Community Engagement where she identified, developed, and maintained relationships in the corporate community that provided financial, in-kind, and volunteer support to UFC’s foster youth.

    In Fall 2020, Carla accepted the role of Assistant Director of Development and in 2021 she was promoted to Director of Development. She oversees the design and execution of the agency’s event fundraising, individual giving, corporate engagement strategies, brand, and celebrity partnerships, along with NextGen Board support. She also supports the organization’s daily communication and marketing efforts.

    Prior to joining United Friends of the Children, Carla worked in Student Affairs in UCLA’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Ph.D. division where she advised Ph.D. students on university policies and degree requirements, supported the university’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion admission and retention efforts, and served as the liaison for major corporations’ job and internship recruitment.

    Carla holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, and member of the UC Berkeley Alumni Association. She is a mom, fitness enthusiast, world traveler, and lover of great food and wine.

    Eric Shamp, MBA
    Director of Institutional Giving
    View Bio

    Eric is the Director of Institutional Giving at United Friends of the Children. He joined United Friends as a counselor and manager in the Education department in 2012. After working directly with youth and managing a team of counselors, he transitioned to the Development team as the Grants and Foundation Relations Manager – an opportunity to raise awareness and private funding for UFC’s programs. Eric now directs and manages United Friends’ private foundation grants and numerous public contracts.

    Before joining United Friends, Eric spent his career as a counselor and manager in youth residential facilities in Orange County. He has a deep dedication to improving the life outcomes of children in the child welfare system.

    Eric earned a bachelor’s degree from Azusa Pacific University (Biblical Studies/Youth Ministry) and a Masters of Business Administration (Non-profit Management) degree from Hope International University. He is a foster-adopt parent of four and enjoys exploring the outdoors with his wife and children.

    Francisco Zamudio
    Director, Education Programs
    View Bio

    Francisco is the Director for Education at United Friends of the Children. Francisco is a first-generation college graduate and his experiences as a college student has shaped his passion for working in education. Francisco joined United Friends as a Program Manager in January of 2017. As a program manager he worked with a dedicated group of college counselors through a program restructure that strengthened United Friends’ ability to provide support and opportunities for youth attending college.

    Before joining United Friends, Francisco spent over a decade working as a Student Affairs professional at universities on both the west and east coast (UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, and Rutgers University).

    As a university staff member Francisco dedicated his energies to supporting programs for first generation college students and enhancing new student orientation and family programs for incoming college students.

    Francisco is a proud graduate of UC Santa Barbara (B.A. in Political Science) and the University of Southern California (Master’s Degree in Post-Secondary Education and Student Affairs). He is native Angeleno having grown up in both East L.A. and the San Fernando Valley. He also has a deep love for his adopted home of New Jersey.

    Eda Acevedo
    Operations Coordinator
    View Bio

    I have been the receptionist at United Friends since February 2015 and am fortunate to be able to welcome our youth. Often they come in with a frown, but with time I see them walk back in with so much excitement and confidence as their goals are met and exceeded!

    Jessica Aceves, MSW
    College Counselor
    View Bio

    “My name is Jessica Aceves, and I am excited to be taking on the role of College Counselor with UFC. I graduated from CSUN with my Master’s Degree in Social Work and my Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies and Civic and Community Engagement. I’ve always been driven to make a difference in the world and hope to continue to pave the way for future generations of youth to feel empowered to create the future they envision with the support they deserve. I have had the opportunity to work with youth of all backgrounds in multiple school settings and have learned so much about what it means to show up for others and hold space for their unique experiences. I really enjoy working with youth and helping them navigate their future and explore their potential. I am also a huge advocate for mental health, wellness, and collective healing. I also enjoy cooking, baking, doing Pilates, and spending time with my dog, Coco.”

    Ra-Neesha Allen
    Advocacy Counselor
    View Bio

    Ra-Neesha is excited to be a part of the United Friends of the Children team. She truly enjoys working in the social services field and has a strong passion for helping individuals achieve their goals. She received her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the “best” HBCU-Grambling State University and is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Her professional philosophy comes from an Oprah Winfrey quote ‘anything you can imagine, you can create’ and ‘I imagine a world where housing is considered as a human right.’

    Fun fact: Ra-Neesha loves Grey’s Anatomy.

    Guadalupe Arias
    Program Manager, Scholars Program (Antelope Valley)
    Michael Brooks, M.Ed.
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
    View Bio

    Growing up in New England, I studied Psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. Upon moving to Southern California, I served as a Correctional Deputy Probation Officer at East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility and understand the power and opportunity education brings to youth. I began serving foster youth at a level 14 group home and was drawn to UFC because of its relationship based model. As part of the UFC family I couldn’t be happier and in my spare time I enjoy listening to music and going to the beach. I’m inspired by creative, passionate individuals who live life to the fullest.

    Essie Calderon, M.A.
    Program Manager, Scholars Program
    View Bio

    I’ve been with UFC for a little over two years and absolutely love and believe in the work we all do. When I’m not working I enjoy taking my dog Max to the beach, hiking, and The Grove!

    Guadalupe Contreras Yescas
    College Counselor
    View Bio

    “Hello! My name is Guadalupe Contreras (Lupe for short) and I am thrilled to be joining the UFC team as a College Counselor! I graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Bachelors in Sociology and received my Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling with a certificate in Higher Education from CSULA. It has always been my passion to create college accessibility and close the gaps for the most marginalized individuals in our society. I am honored to join a team that is committed to creating positive systemic change. I’ve worked with students from Kindergarten to College students and I’ve realized how unique their needs are. When I am not working, I enjoy going to the gym, hanging with family and friends, and exploring new places to eat!”

    Torey Costello
    Advocacy Counselor
    View Bio

    Hello!
    My name is Torey Costello. I have a Masters degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Texas Tech University and I have a Masters degree in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law. I moved to Los Angeles in 2016. I love this city and I love helping people learn the tools that they need to thrive and succeed in their community. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time outdoors and I can often be found in the mountains or at the beaches, exploring the local hiking trails and campsites.

    Gildardo Davalos
    Onsite Maintenance Technician
    Monica Dearing
    Program Manager, Scholars Program
    Roshunda Dorris
    College Counselor TAY E2
    View Bio

    “Hello, my name is Roshunda Dorris, and leveraging my expertise to provoke positive change and unlock the full potential of those I encounter is my passion! 

    With a career spanning over 21 years as a professional development coach and mentor, I’ve had the opportunity to engage in multiple forms of mentorship and professional development initiatives. In 2015, I was able to integrate my mentoring proficiency with my Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, transitioning into roles as a Child Development Specialist and Early Childhood Education Professional Development Coach. My commitment to fostering growth and learning extended further in May 2022, after I earned my MAED (Master of Education) with a specialization in Curriculum Development and Instructional Design. Over the course of two decades, I’ve been able to share my skills and experience with the Antelope Valley community, offering executive, professional, and mentoring services through keynotes, interactive seminars, and more. Joining the UFC team as a College Counselor provides me the opportunity to remain dedicated to unlocking the limitless potential within each individual I encounter. Thank you!”

    Karen Fraggi
    Intake and Assessment Coordinator
    View Bio

    Karen Fraggi obtained her Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Mount St. Mary’s University in 2018. Since then, she has gained clinical experience working with court mandated youth and youth with disabilities. Karen utilized play therapy and CBT with a humanistic, strengths-based approach, as well as integrating trauma-informed care when appropriate. Additionally, Karen has experience working hands on with young adults on the autism spectrum, guiding them to maximize their social and life skills for a more independent, resilient quality of life. She is excited to expand her knowledge and experience to the community of current and former foster youth, empowering them on their journey of self-sufficiency and success.

     

    In college, Karen was a scholar-athlete and played NCAA D1 softball for four years. She enjoys playing and watching all sports. On Karen’s free time, she likes to work-out, listen and make music, and go to the beach. She likes to travel to the outdoors to snowboard and wakeboard. Most importantly, she enjoys being a mother to a teenage boy- Mason, and 2 dogs- Harley Quinn and Joker.

    Stacey Gallaher
    Sr. People + Operations Coordinator
    View Bio

    I am enjoying working for an organization that supports such an amazing cause.  I can relate to the foster youth in that I was adopted, probably for different reasons, but nonetheless, I received the love and support from individuals who cared for me deeply.  I’m Central American (from Belize), so I have been blessed with the exposure to different cultures and to people from different walks of life, so I can appreciate diversity.

    Vanessa Garcia-Pedroza
    Program Support Coordinator, Housing Program
    View Bio

    “Hello. My name is Vanessa Garcia – Pedroza and I am looking forward to working and collaborating with the United Friends of the Children team as a Program Support Coordinator. I was born in Tijuana, Mexico and immigrated to the US when I was 3 years old. I graduated from University of California, Irvine with a degree in Public Health Policy in 2016. I have lived and worked as a foreign English Teacher in South Korea for about 3 years and 8 months. I am fluent in Spanish and English and know elementary level Korean (TOPIK Level 2). I have worked with the homeless population, elementary students, high school students and college students. Through my various work experiences, I have come to realize that I enjoy working with the high school and college population and my goal is to earn my masters and work in Higher Education. I enjoy reading non-fiction, baking, listening to music and cooking new recipes I find online. If I’m not working, you can find me at the gym weightlifting or at a cute coffee shop. I am a strong advocate of Korean skincare and makeup and wearing sunscreen. I look forward to getting to know everyone.”

    Adrian Giron
    On-site Maintenance Technician
    View Bio

    “Hello, I am Adrian Giron.  Thank you all for this opportunity to join the UFC family.  I graduated from UEI with my heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) certification.  I have worked in customer service for 4 years working security and as a cashier.  I have also worked in the construction field for 3 years and 1 year in maintenance. I have grown to learn different personalities and traits, as well as grow in mine, learning new abilities and habits. On my time off, I enjoy going out to the lake with my dogs, exploring or just staying in and watch movies with my wife.”

    Jose Godoy
    Data Analyst
    Austin Hale
    Property + Facilities Manager
    View Bio

    I’m married with 4 kids and my family is the center of my life. I pride myself on being a present and loving husband and father. I have over 10 years of experience in facility maintenance, and I believe communication is key. My goal is to always be on the same page with my team because it makes everyone’s job easier and less stressful knowing that we are willing to sacrifice for each other and can count on one another in times of need. I have a B.A. in Business Administration from S.N.H.U. I love to play basketball and watch the NBA and I am a life-long Lakers fan. Also, in my spare time I like to write raps expressing my feelings about life in general. That’s me in a nutshell.

    Rigoberto Herrera
    Live-In Onsite Maintenance Technician
    View Bio

    I was born in Guatemala in 1960 and came to the United States in 1989. I received a work permit in 1990 and became a resident in 2007. I am the father of two children and the husband of a loving wife. My inspiration for life is my father, who has shown me the world and taught me how to live in it. Everything I know today started with him. I am a carpenter, plumber and electrician. I have 17 years of experience in apartment complexes to corporate buildings. I have also been gardening for 2 years. I am great with my hands and pay close attention to detail. Plumbing is what I am good at with over 7 years of experience. I find the work satisfying, a sense of accomplishment. I am very passionate about my work and perfection is my goal.

    Alanah Holder
    Advocacy Counselor
    View Bio

    “My name is Alanah Holder. I am excited to join the UFC team as an Advocacy Counselor. I recently moved to LA from the east coast. I am originally from CT where I completed my BA in Psychology at the University of Hartford (2018). I completed my masters in Social Work at Boston University (2020). I have worked with children and adolescents in various settings and capacities. Most recently I was a Clinician working for the MA Department of Youth Services at a Detention Unit. My approach to therapy is strength based and relational. I enjoy the rapport building process and devote significant time to thoroughly get to know clients. I highlight their strengths and identify creative interest and hobbies that can support their goals. My talents include baking and DIY projects. In my free time I also enjoy walking, food, movies/TV, traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends.”

    Tanya Hooper
    Live-In Property Housing Coordinator
    View Bio

    “I have been working since I was 16 years old and so naturally, I have had many jobs. However, of all the jobs I have had, I enjoyed those where I interacted with others; I really love working with people; my experience while attending cosmetology school really made me realize what I wanted do in life and a great part of that includes helping people and mentoring young women. Outside of working, I love traveling and meeting new people with whom I can share different experiences.”

    Yesenia Ibarra
    College Counselor (Antelope Valley)
    View Bio

    My name is Yesenia Ibarra, and I am grateful to have this opportunity to work with foster youth with UFC as the AV College Counselor. I first attended Los Angeles Pierce Community College where I received my A.A. in STEM. I transferred to California Lutheran University (CLU) where I obtained my B.S. in Biology. I was a pre-medical student and took a gap year when I started to work with Upward Bound. I learned that working with first-generation and/or low-income students felt rewarding. Therefore, I decided to obtain my Master’s Degree in Counseling from CLU to learn how to provide better services to students. Later, I started working with GEAR UP to help services students in my community, the San Fernando Valley. I love spending time with my family and my fur baby Bartholomew. I love re-watching Friends, Disney movies, and I am a huge Wisin Y Yandel fan.

    Roshonda Johnson
    Advocacy Counselor
    Stacy Kim
    Program Support Coordinator
    View Bio

    “My name is Stacy Kim and I am excited to join UFC as a Program Support Coordinator. I am a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts where I received a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice, Psychology and Sociology. Prior to my employment at UFC, I worked at Massachusetts Children’s Alliance helping children who have endured traumatic experiences. I’m passionate about helping youths find their voice and empowering them to rewrite their future. After being away for 6 years, I’m happy to be back in LA where I love to visit cafes, explore the city, crochet, and paint!”

    Breeanna Maldonado
    College Counselor
    View Bio

    I am a first-generation college student. I attended California State University Northridge, receiving my Bachelor of Psychology. After completing my undergrad, I earned a Master of Science in Leadership in higher education from Pepperdine University. While at Pepperdine, I created a program for families of children with exceptionalities to help them gain the academic and emotional support to enter higher education. I enjoy creating partnerships with youth in my community to reach their educational and career goals. My passion for supporting students began at Los Angeles Mission College. Working within the Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOP&S), I learned about different resources and programs to support my students’ academic journey and careers.

    Garry Matthews
    Community Manager, Housing Program
    Queana Mckillian
    Intake + Outreach Manager
    View Bio

    My name is Queana Mckillian. I attended Fresno State for my BA and Cal State LA to pursue my masters in social work. I have worked within the homeless population and housing for the majority of my social work career. I enjoy connecting with others and helping in any way I can. My professional philosophy is lead by example and my personal philosophy is always showing up as my best self.

    Interest: I enjoy living a healthy active life, so I workout often and build a community around health.

    Maria Mendoza
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
    View Bio

    As a counselor, I enjoy learning about the future aspirations, discussing college selection, and ultimately working as a team to measure whether we are reaching our goals. My role at United Friends allows me to be a part of a scholar’s academic and personal journey, and I feel honored to reflect and affirm all their strengths.  In my free time, I continue to support the work of my local community center, serve as an active alumna of my fraternity, watch the Dodgers, and enjoy fun dates with my creative and loving niece.

    Norbert Negrea
    Community Impact Manager, Scholars Program
    Miguel Oaks
    Intake + Outreach Coordinator
    Dawn Omori, MS, PPS
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
    View Bio

    Gardena native and Bruin alum! I am passionate about youth and educational advocacy, and I’m inspired daily by the resilience and strength of our United Friends scholars. I enjoy watching the NBA, baking and spending time with my partner and our sweet pup.

    Mackenzie Orr, MPH
    Community Manager, Housing Program
    View Bio

    “Hello! My name is Mackenzie Orr, and I am thrilled to being joining UFC as a Community Manager. I have a passion for working with underserved populations and have been working in the non-profit sector professionally for over 5 years and volunteering with local non-profits for over a decade. In 2019, I graduated from University of California, Riverside with a Bachelor of Arts in English and graduated from California Baptist University in 2021 with a Master of Public Health (MPH). I am a devoted dog mom to my two furry babies: a three-year-old Boxer named Joey and an almost two-year old Rottweiler named Opie. My fiancé and I are planning a November wedding and we are in the process of moving to LA (although we currently live in Temecula). In my free time, I love spending time with my pups, eating all the delicious food, and boxing!”

    Fred Payo
    Advocacy Counselor, Pathways Program
    Angel Perez
    College Counselor
    View Bio

    Hi! My name is Angel Perez and I am extremely excited to join the UFC team as a College Counselor. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from UC Santa Barbara, and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from UC San Diego with a specialization in Inequality and Social Policy. My work as an educator at a preschool for 3 years, high school for 1 year, and university for 1 year has given me a hands-on perspective of the educational journey of others. Over time I have become increasingly interested in being a resource for young students, with an aim to empower them to be able to lead the life they envision for themselves. In my down time I enjoy making hip-hop/r&b music, and most importantly, playing with my 3 dogs who are the best friends I could ever ask for.

    Peter Pwee
    Information Technology Manager
    View Bio

    “I focus on providing a robust information technology environment to support both internal operations and client services. My background in technology allows me to provide solutions to improve the current state or taking on new project initiatives. My previous leadership roles while serving on various committees related to diversity and inclusion and mentoring initiatives allow me with a deep appreciation for the services and programs provided at UFC. I truly enjoy reading the success stories from the graduates and the great impact that the team at UFC has had on their lives. I am excited to be part of the team in continuing the mission at UFC. During my free time, I enjoy watching live sports and spending quality time with my family. A visit to a new dining experience is always a fun time.”

    Joi Pinney
    College Counselor (Antelope Valley)
    View Bio

    My name is Joi Pinney and I am eager to start my journey with UFC, as a College Counselor. I have always been passionate about being of service, especially when it comes to children and youth. My passion has led me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Cal State Northridge in 2007. Since that time, I’ve worked with children, youth and even adults in various capacities. I was an instructional assistant for Westside Union School District for a year. I worked in a Special Day Class, with children who have disabilities Moderate to Severe), as well as in a 3rd and 4th grade combination class. I later worked with the Department of Children and Family services for 5 years, as a Children’s social worker. This was my most challenging role, but I obtained the most growth in this position. My last position, was with NLACRC, as a Consumer Services Coordinator. In that role, I worked with adults with developmental disabilities (Mild to Severe). This position really strengthened my advocacy skills, gave me a lot of insight with regards to mental health and allowed me to better build community connections.

    I feel that all of my jobs have led me to UFC and ultimately back to working with children and youth. I feel encouraged knowing that I will be instrumental in helping provide this population with direction and helping them establish goals for their future. Youth have so much untapped potential and the right person can help bring that out. When I am not working, I enjoy traveling, going to concert/ live events, trying new restaurants and spending time with my friends and family.

    Sarah Reyes
    Senior Development Coordinator
    View Bio

    “Hello, my name is Sarah Reyes. I am a San Fernando Valley native; I like to brag that even my birthday is 818. My journey within the nonprofit field began over 5 years ago while living on the island of Oahu working with an organization for shark conservation efforts. I truly have a passion for nonprofits and believe in using my talents and skills to better our community. I believe that everyone should be celebrated and if it were up to me, our birthdays would be a mandatory holiday. I am a mom and spend my free time curating a life of passion, love and purpose for my daughter and me. I am so thrilled to be a part of this team and begin my journey with such a wonderful organization.” 

    Diana Rivas
    College Counselor (Antelope Valley)
    View Bio

    Here is a quick snippet about Diana: She completed her bachelor’s degree at Cal State University Northridge in Communicative Disorders. Soon after she graduated, she started a job in mental health and have been working with mental health youth and DCFS involved families for 4+ years. She is excited to work for UFC and continue providing support to at-risk youth who many times are in need of guidance. Some interests of hers are that she enjoy outdoors activities like camping, snowboarding (and yes, she does fall A LOT) and she loves Disney!

    Erik Rollins
    Advocacy Counselor
    View Bio

    Erik graduated from the Regionally Accredited Temple University with a Masters of Education Degree, in Counseling Psychology. During his career he has had the opportunity to provide mental health services to students in the Niagara Falls region, New Jersey public schools as well as other community based wraparound services in the Greater Philadelphia area. He has worked closely with families, appointed legal guardians, and other support teams to provide optimal care to those on his caseload. Erik has also worked across multiple populations (ID, Psychosis, individualized care programs, Homeless, LGBTQ+, etc.), and with children with various diagnoses (ADHD, spina bifida, autism, epilepsy, sickle cell anemia, cerebral palsy, etc.). In addition, he has served as one of the lead clinicians at an after school partial/wellness program providing mental health, crisis prevention, and other case management services.

    Erik utilized a client-centered approach to therapy and believed in tailoring the modality of therapy to best fit client needs, whether that be utilizing mindfulness, spiritual, creative, structural or a more cognitive behavior emphasis. He believes in a collaborative, and transparent approach to therapy and work from a physiological and foundational conscious lens. Erik has many unique talents and interests and enjoys dance/movement, music, film, poetic, literary and other artistic arts. Furthermore, he enjoys nature and traveling and domestic/foreign foods.

    David Sandoval
    Live-In Onsite Maintenance Technician
    View Bio

    I’m David Sandoval and I’m a father of one baby girl named Cataleya. I also have a baby boy pending (coming soon)! I recently became engaged to my future wife, Susy. It’s been an exciting year. I enjoy making and developing Sounds / Music (11+yrs of experience). I’ve found music to be very therapeutic, almost like a source of channeling my mind and spirit through music; it’s expressive and personal. Music isn’t the only thing I’m passionate about. I have 5+ years of skilled experience in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical. While maintaining apartment buildings, I have handled light carpentry, electrical, and plumbing work, including emergencies and resolved on going issues to building (exterior/interior). I’m happy to say that I have received positive comments from residents and managers for my due diligence and work ethic. Overall, I’m proud to say, ‘I’m a part of this team and would like to make a difference for everyone on this team, including residents.

    Michael Sansone
    Executive Board Liaison
    View Bio
    Skye Sinyard
    Community Impact Coordinator
    View Bio

    My name is Skye Sinyard and I am thrilled to join UFC as the Community Impact Coordinator! I graduated from Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts where I obtained my degree in public relations and advertising. After graduation, I spent time in both New York City and Los Angeles working at companies such as Apple TV+ and A24 Films. After a few years in the film industry, I felt called to work with the youth in my community and subsequently earned my Master’s Degree in teaching from Pepperdine University. Soon after, I became a fourth-grade teacher here in Los Angeles! I believe in the immense power of forming meaningful bonds with young people and providing them with unwavering support. My passion lies in being able to help children utilize a wide variety of tools to flourish and grow into their authentic selves. I look forward to continuing this with UFC. In my free time, I enjoy playing with my rescue puppy Bocci, watching old movies, and exploring the best foods in Los Angeles!

    Stephanie Striegel
    Manager of Institutional Giving
    View Bio

    Stephanie Striegel is a veteran in film and television development and production.  She has a deep understanding of story-telling across multiple platforms and has worked tirelessly to raise funds for independent filmmaking.  Three years ago she had the life-changing opportunity to be a foster parent and through that experience her connection to foster youth blossomed.  UFC has given her a chance to give back to the foster youth of Los Angeles, every day, through fund-raising, grant writing and connecting with allies and partners who are also passionate about supporting foster youth in Los Angeles.

    Jacqueline Thomas
    Senior Reintegration Coordinator
    View Bio

    Hello all, my name is Jacqueline Thomas, AKA. Jacquie.

    I’m so excited about joining the team here at UFC and looking forward to a wonderful collaborative opportunity. I was born in the Republic of Panama and immigrated with my brother to the U.S.A when I was 11 years old. The first English word I learned was bathroom, as Spanish is my first language. After learning English, my higher educational background began with a BA in child psychology and later followed by an MA in organizational management. My career experience ranges from working with babies, youths, the elderly and everything in between. I enjoy serving youths as they are the community that is mostly misunderstood and in need of support and guidance. When I’m not working, I enjoy cooking, hiking, traveling, and creating fun experiences.

    I’m an avid supporter of Susan G. Komen, Union Rescue Mission, Lupus Foundation and NAMI and throughout the year you can find me participating in their annual walks. I can’t wait to meet and get to know everyone. Thank you for the opportunity!

    Romana Villanueva
    College Counselor
    View Bio

    “My name is Romana Villanueva. A little bit about myself; I am a first-generation college graduate. I received my AA from Chaffey College and went on to receive my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University San Bernardino. I then decided to pursue my Master’s Degree in Education: School Counseling. I was a College Counselor for about 4 ½ years at a community college. Throughout those years, I discovered my passion, which is to help guide and motivate youth towards their dreams. I was also an instructor at the community college level and helped freshman students navigate through their first year of college. During that time, I was able to truly get to know and understand my students, a goal I wish to accomplish with you all. I can’t wait to get to know the team, I am so excited to be a part of the UFC family.”

    Briana Wilson
    Advocacy Counselor
    View Bio

    Hello, my name is Briana Wilson, and I am thrilled to join United Friends of the Children as an Advocacy Counselor. With a Master’s degree in Counseling (MFT) and as a doctoral candidate in Organizational Leadership, I have dedicated my career to supporting high-risk populations and improving systemic approaches. I have always believed in the power of building meaningful relationships and providing a nurturing environment for those in need, and I am excited to make a positive impact on the lives of the youth we work with. When I am not working, I am serving at my church ministry, watching Marvel movies with my husband, or finding time to go to a beach in Orange County!”

LA County is home to 30,000 foster youth
Related Content