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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.

  • Tremale Berger
    Chair
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    Project Manager, DPR Construction
    Co-Founder, Gentlemen’s Agenda Foundation

    Rob Friedman
    Vice Chair
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    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.

    Jaye Toellner Rogovin
    Vice Chair
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    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!

    Clare Yorkison
    Treasurer
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    Certified Public Accountant

    Nadine Schiff-Rosen
    Secretary
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    Board Trustee, the Sundance Institute
    Circle of Friends of The Help Group
    Board Member, Maria Shriver’s Women’s Nation
    Member of Pacific Council

    Preston Brooks
    General Counsel
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    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

    Aida Berduo Berry
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    Aida Berry’s professional career expands over two decades.   She has worked mainly in the government and non-profit sector.  She joined Metro Los Angeles in late 2018 and is currently the Senior Manager of Civil Rights Programs (Title VI) in the Office of Civil Rights. She previously served as the Regulatory Compliance and Civil Rights Officer for Long Beach Transit and as a Civil Rights Program Analyst for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights as a contractor based in Austin, Texas.  In this capacity, Aida presented a variety of Civil Rights topics at Tribal Workshops for Oklahoma Department of Transportation in coordination with South West Transit Association (SWTA). She is highly regarded by her peers in the area of civil rights program compliance.

    She began her career in public service with Central & West Basin Municipal Water Districts; member agencies of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  She focused on public outreach to the minority community in Los Angeles County. While in Texas, she had the opportunity to work in Texas government and researched policy at the Texas House of Representatives as well as the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce where she worked closely with the minority business community.

    Aida went on to join the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the public transportation agency in Austin, Texas in 1999.  Over her 15-year tenure, she served as the agency’s Manager for the Office of Diversity overseeing all of the federal civil rights compliance programs serving as the DBE, EEO as well as Title VI Officer.  She oversaw the compliance of federal civil rights programs; the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, the Title VI Program (including Environmental Justice), Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Program and American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance as well as employee cultural awareness for the agency.

    Aida also served on a special assignment with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) from 2011-2013 as the Interim Civil Rights Officer for Region VI. She monitored five states and was responsible for civil rights program compliance of over 100 grantees and worked closely with FTA’s Office of Civil Rights in Washington DC. She served on several DBE compliance reviews and provided guidance to grantees on improving their DBE Program.  Aida was also part of the FTA team that led the Service and Fare Equity Analyses reviews to provide technical assistance to grantees when requested. She also led the webinar training for changes on the revised FTA Title VI Circular 4702.1B.

    Aida has been an Adjunct Instructor for the National Transit Institute (NTI) at Rutgers University since 2014.  She has provided training in the areas of Title VI and Environmental Justice (EJ). She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California State University Dominguez Hills and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Texas State University -San Marcos.

    Carolyn Blackwood
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    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.

    Scott Canales
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    Scott is a 27 – year veteran in the Insurance Risk Management Consulting industry. His career started 34 years ago at General Dynamics as a Cost Account Manager for the MD-11 fuselage program. From there, Scott moved into the construction industry holding the Controller and VP of Finance positions at a large general engineering firm in California – Granite Construction with annual revenues then exceeding $1B. Currently, Mr. Canales is an Executive Vice President at Lockton, the largest privately held insurance brokerage house in the world, working out of their downtown Los Angeles office. For the past 17 years Scott has specialized in three different industry verticals -private equity, construction/development and transportation/logistics – placing risk management programs for companies/projects ranging from $50 million to $5 billion in revenues/valuations. At Lockton, Scott leads client designated resource groups ultimately responsible for ensuring the team delivers on every commitment including insurance program design, marketing, and strategic negotiations with selected carriers. Overseeing the coordinating of the risk control needs of the client post insurance program placement falls under Scott’s responsibility as well. It should be noted that a large portion of Scott’s book of business have been clients for over 10 years with many over 20 years. Client retention has never dipped below 98%.

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

    Judy Billings
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    Board Member, the Theodore Forstmann Foundation

    John Campisi
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    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.

    Mitchell Evall, Esq.
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    Partner, Venable LLP
    I have had the privilege of being involved with UFC for over twenty-five years, and throughout that time, I have always been humbled by the caring and gifted group of people at UFC who have devoted themselves to the plight of foster youth, and I have consistently been amazed by the resilience and strength of the youth we strive to serve.

    Marianna Fisher
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    Chairperson, Westside Children’s Center

    David Fisher
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    Chairman Emeritus, Capital Group International, Inc.
    Trustee Emeritus, J. Paul Getty Trust
    Board of Trustees, Alliance for College Ready Public Schools, Alternative Living for the Aging, California Institute for the Arts, Lowe Institute, and Harvard-Westlake School
    Advisory Board Member, UCLA School of Public Policy, International Monetary Fund Retirement Plan and Monetary Authority of Singapore

    Wendy Greuel
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    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.

    Derric J. Johnson
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    He serves as a member of the senior administrative team at Crossroads and is founding director of the Equity & Justice Institute.

    Under his leadership, the Institute oversees social justice advocacy and equity education on campus, in collaboration with School and community stakeholders, to make an impact on local, national and global issues.

    Prior to this position, Derric was senior deputy of public safety and justice for the Office of Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. During his tenure, Derric’s numerous legislative achievements include: establishing the Civilian Oversight Commission of the Sheriff’s Department to increase transparency and policing accountability and to decrease officer-involved shootings; leading the efforts to reform the largest probation department in the United States; advancing policy initiatives to improve deficiencies in cultural competency and systemic implicit biases; instituting the Fair Chance Ordinance for LA County that would eliminate restrictions on employment opportunities based solely on criminal convictions; and attaining a $30 million increase in state allocations for court-appointed dependency counsel to improve protections for foster youth in California. He also procured $5 million from the state’s Juvenile Justice and Crime Prevention funds to support restorative justice and community-based programs to divert youth from the juvenile justice system.

     

    Derric was appointed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to represent the Second District as a commissioner for the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission; he was recently elected vice president. The 15-member 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.

    He serves as a board member for 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 and homeless veterans. In addition, Derric is an executive council member of the Children’s Defense Fund California, a historic child advocacy organization chartered to ensure that every child is lifted out of poverty, protected from abuse/neglect and given access to health care, quality education and a moral foundation. Derric is also on the alumni board of his alma mater, Pitzer College.

    Recently Derric became a Board member for the MLK Health and Wellness Community Development Corporation, which was created to facilitate the revitalization of the MLK Medical Campus in South Los Angeles. MLK CDC’s development strategies support community health and wellness education, resource access and opportunities specific to the needs of underserved populations in South LA.

    As a National Urban Fellow, Derric earned his secondary master’s in public administration from Baruch College-City University of New York, completed a master’s in business management from Azusa Pacific University and earned his bachelor’s from Pitzer College.

     

    Jarred Kennedy
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    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
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    Laura Jane Kessner is a dedicated community volunteer who has extensive experience serving on nonprofit boards and is well-trained on issues of board governance.  Laura Jane graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Arts in History.  She received her Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles where she was a member of the Loyola Law Review.  Laura Jane Kessner currently serves as the Director of Central Operations for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

    Laura Jane is passionate about improving the lives of foster children and is committed to the mission of United Friends of the Children.  She first learned about this organization as a long-time member of the Junior League of Los Angeles (JLLA).  Laura Jane previously served on JLLA’s board of directors and chaired the Board Fellows Committee and Appointments to Boards and Commissions Institute, training dozens of women to effectively serve on nonprofit boards and commissions.  She also co-chaired the Donor Cultivation Committee and completed training through JLLA’s Development and Leadership Development Institutes.  She served as a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and led the plan subcommittee to draft a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan for JLLA.  She recently attended JLLA’s Civic Leadership Forum which focused on ways to improve the lives of foster youth in Los Angeles.

    Laura Jane has worked to improve the lives of women and girls for over two decades.  Laura Jane is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts and started two diverse Girl Scout troops consisting of over 30 girls.  Laura Jane is a member of the Girl Scout Gold Award Committee, where she interviews and mentors prospective Gold Award Applicants.  Laura Jane also served on GSGLA’s Bylaw Revision Committee.

    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 also active with the Los Angeles County Bar Association, serving as a member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession, State Appellate Judicial Evaluation Committee and as a Delegate to the Conference of California Bar Associations.

    In her spare time, Laura Jane spends time with her husband, children and cats, practices yoga, reads books, and dreams of becoming fluent in French.

    Denny Luria, Ph.D
    Former Chair
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    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.

    Richard Merkin, M.D.
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    Founder + CEO, Heritage Provider Network
    Founder, Los Angeles Jewish Symphony
    Board of Trustees, California Institute Of Technology
    Board of Directors, The Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools

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

    Erin Mulcahy Stein
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    Partner, SDS NexGen Partners LP
    Board Member, Maria Shriver’s Women’s Nation
    Advisory Committee, Equality Now

    William Temko, Esq.
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    Partner, Munger Tolles & Olson LLP
    Co-Chair, California Committee South of Human Rights Watch

    Demonte “Tray” Thompson
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    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.

  • Matt Strieker
    Chief Executive Officer
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    Matt is the Chief Executive Officer at United Friends of the Children, one of the most successful and admired organizations serving foster youth in Los Angeles. For over forty years, United Friends has helped thousands of youth imagine and actualize independent and fulfilling futures through its housing and education programs.  Looking forward, Matt is charged with setting a new vision and strategic direction for United Friends that both meets the needs of today’s youth and serves to enhance the overall systems of support for foster youth in Los Angeles County.

    A seasoned nonprofit leader and strategist, Matt builds high-impact, sustainable organizations dedicated to enhancing services, legal protections, and educational and economic opportunities for vulnerable or marginalized communities. Prior to joining United Friends, Matt led the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice, a legal advocacy organization in East L.A. As Executive Director, Matt positioned the organization as a statewide leader in legal services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, launching new initiatives and partnerships that expanded legal protections and enhanced access to quality services for survivors. Matt previously 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. In addition to overseeing the Institute’s operations, Matt led development efforts that doubled the Institute’s budget and endowment and communication strategies that integrated Institute research into public discourse and policy debates on marriage equality, anti-discrimination law, and public services for vulnerable LGBTQ communities. As a consultant, Matt has also advised a variety of nonprofits, including youth services organizations, community clinics, and think tanks, on board development, program design, and external relations strategies. Matt 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 and voting rights and conducted research and policy advocacy in support of housing and immigration reform.

    Angela Carter-Blackshear, MSW
    Chief Operating Officer
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    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).

    Carolyn Lumpkin, LCSW
    Vice President of Programs
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    Carolyn Liu Lumpkin, LCSW currently serves as the Vice President of Programs at United Friends of the Children, providing strategic, operational, and clinical leadership for UFC’s signature programs, Pathways Housing and Scholars.  Carolyn previously served as the Director of Clinical Support, joining UFC in March 2019.  Carolyn brings over 18 years of leadership and direct service experience working with diverse populations, including foster youth, probation youth, survivors of human trafficking, refugees, immigrants, youth/families involved in gangs, and incarcerated youth. Prior to United Friends, she most recently served as the Director of Empowerment Programs at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, leading trauma-informed shelters, survivor leadership programs, emergency response, community social services, and the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Taskforce. Carolyn has extensive experience providing trauma-informed clinical services in communities struggling with high rates of poverty and violence, and has implemented mental health programs in South Los Angeles, including an integrated treatment model for adolescents with substance abuse and trauma histories. Carolyn is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of California. Carolyn received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Masters in Social Work degree from California State University, Long Beach.

    Jasmine Avilez
    Director of Housing
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    Jasmine Avilez joined United Friends of the Children in 2018 and became the Director of Housing in 2020. She oversees Pathways housing program direct practice work and property management. Previously, she held the positions of Community Manager (supporting East and South Los Angeles program residents and advocacy counselors) and Impact Manager (supporting intake, aftercare services and property management). Before joining United Friends of the Children, she was the Program Supervisor at the Child Care Resource Center and the Foster Family and Adoption Supervisor for Children’s Way, California Institute of Health and Social Services. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, master’s degree in human services and is currently pursuing her doctorate in human services (specialization in leadership and organizational management). Ms. Avilez professional career includes nealry 15 years’ experience working within the nonprofit sector.

    Guadalupe Arias
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
    Francisco Zamudio
    Director of Education
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    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
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    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!

    Michael Brooks, M.Ed.
    Assistant Manager, Scholars Program
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    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.

    Ryan Burke
    Institutional Giving & Database Assistant
    Essie Calderon, M.A.
    Manager, Scholars Program
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    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!

    Tracey Calderon
    Senior Development Manager
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    With passion, Tracey has dedicated her time and efforts to working closely with underserved communities, including populations in homelessness, prison, migrants, and refugees. Her life-transformative experiences in India, Haiti, and Mexico City drove her to earn a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Bryn Mawr College. Believing in United Friends’ vital mission, Tracey is committed to advancing United Friends’ work with LA County foster youth. Tracey enjoys the quiet of early mornings, the scenery of long runs, and the element of scrumptious surprise when tasting different cuisines.

    Danielle Cameron
    Outreach + Assessment Coordinator, Housing Program
    Cassandre Castanon, M.L.I.S.
    Community Impact Coordinator
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    I’ve worked for United Friends for 6+ years and have a bachelors in History/Political Science and a Masters in Library and Information Science. I am a history nerd and make sure to incorporate that into any vacation I take. I love books and spend my time spoiling my nieces and nephew.

    Jennifer Cardoza
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
    Monica Dearing
    Assistant Manager, Scholars Program
    Sean Duren
    Community Manager, Housing Program
    Stacey Gallaher
    Sr. People + Operations Coordinator
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    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.

    Jose Godoy
    Systems Design & Evaluation Coordinator
    Elsa Jaimes
    Advocacy Counselor, Housing Program
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    I am incredibly humbled to work with such an inspiring group of people and fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful family here at United Friends. I love spending time with loved ones, watching my nephew/godson grow up, and anything sweet I can get my hands on.

    Porscha Johnson
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
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    I am extremely passionate about social work! However, it can be a stressful career field. An ideal social work agent must possess skills in engaging in strength-based practice. As a social work agent at UFC, in the role of a College Counselor, it is pivotal that I see things from scholar and caregiver perspectives in order to empower them and truly understand their feelings. Consequently, the fact that I have an opportunity to empower and build close relationships with clients, led me to a fulfilling career at UFC. Two fun facts about me: I secretly love singing out loud when I think nobody is around. Also, I am in love with nature and I have a massive interest in human behavior.

    Roshonda Johnson
    Advocacy Counselor
    Joe Jones, MFTI
    Sr. Community Health Manager, Housing Program
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    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.

    Katherine Kasserman, MSW
    Assistant Community Manager, Housing Program
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    I am grateful to work in partnership with the mission driven, smart and caring team members and youth of United Friends.  Our intentional community setting encourages me to develop meaningful connections and to be innovative in creating opportunities for growth.  In my personal time, I enjoy the LA weather, try new food and plan weekend getaways.  I am originally from Chicago and spend all my vacation time flying back to visit my family. 

    Nesli Marin
    Senior Operations Manager
    Joshua Mauldin
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
    Maria Mendoza
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
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    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.

    Antoinette Moreland
    Manager, Scholars Program
    Julio Munguia
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
    Norbert Negrea
    Community Impact Manager, Scholars Program
    Miguel Oaks
    Intake + Outreach Coordinator, Housing Program
    Hannah Olade, M.A.
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
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    I have been with United Friends of the Children since 2006 and I continue to be inspired by our mission and vision to empower foster youth. What makes me tick is seeing others discover their passion, walk in their purpose, and create meaningful, impactful lives. I believe every person regardless of circumstances has something great to contribute to society. My goal is to help them develop their talents and become confident as well as successful in who they are as individuals. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, writing, creating, learning new things, arts and crafts, DIY projects, and following current employment and educational trends.

    Dawn Omori, MS, PPS
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
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    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.

    Stefanie Orea
    Advocacy Counselor, Housing Program
    Sandra Paglinawan
    Advocacy Counselor, Pathways Program
    Carla Palmer
    Assistant Director of Development
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    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 where she oversees corporate partnerships, events, UFC’s NextGen Board, develops and strategically aligns brand and celebrity partnerships, supports the organization’s communication and marketing efforts, and manages all internship partnerships.

    Prior to joining United Friends of the Children, Carla worked in Student Affairs in UCLA’s Chemistry and Biochemistry PhD 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. 

    Fred Payo
    Advocacy Counselor, Pathways Program
    Rafe Perry
    Consulting Chief Finance Officer
    Shauna Reed, LCSW
    Intake + Outreach Manager
    Mariangela Ruiz-Hernandez, MSW
    College Counselor, Scholars Program
    Jamila Russ – Leander, MSW, LCSW
    Sr. Community Manager, Housing Program
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    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.

    Eric Shamp, MBA
    Assistant Director of Institutional Giving
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    I’ve enjoyed being with United Friends for over 6 years and have seen so many of our scholars achieve their college and life dreams. When I’m not in the office, I’m usually enjoying the outdoors with my wife and our 4 kids

    Stephanie Striegel
    Development Associate
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    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 and developing partners who are also passionate about supporting foster youth in Los Angeles.

LA County is home to 30,000 foster youth
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