Board & Staff

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

  • Kara Allen Soldati, MSW, Ed.D.
    President + CEO
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    I’ve dedicated my world to developing people and organizations committed to fulfilling the needs of children and communities in historically under-resourced areas. Though my career began in the classroom in Oakland, I have experience in both the public and private sectors and in local and international service delivery. I’m a current NextGen Fellow with the Aspen–Pahara Institute and live in Northeast Los Angeles with my husband and two little ladies (a fierce daughter and a rescue dog)!

    Denny Luria, Ph.D
    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.

    Clare Yorkison
    Chief Financial Officer
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    Certified Public Accountant

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

    Dara Kay Barker, Esq.
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    Member, Everychild Foundation
    Co-Chair, Everychild Public Policy Committee

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

    Judy Billings
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    Board Member, the Theodore Forstmann Foundation

    Carol Oughton Biondi
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    Member, California State Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
    Commissioner, L.A. County Commission for Children and Families
    Board Member, Children’s Defense Fund
    Advisory Committee, California Community Foundation Black Men and Boys Initiative (BLOOM)
    Member, The Leadership Council of the Advancement Project
    Board Member, Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC)
    Former member of the California Corrections Standards Authority
    Former member of the Homeboy Industries, Inc. Board of Directors

    Preston Brooks
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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

    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.

    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

    Kimberly Marteau Emerson
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    I’m a lawyer, civic leader and human rights advocate, currently involved in promoting integration efforts in Germany, where I live, and also address the role of gender there by creating conversations around bringing women to the economic and political decision-making table. I’m an avid tennis player, skier and runner, love California Cabernets and German Rieslings, read whatever I can get my hands on and, when time permits, binge watch Homeland, House of Cards, Game of Thrones and Orange is the New Black.

    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.

    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

    Marianna Fisher
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    Chairperson, Westside Children’s Center

    Rob Friedman
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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.

    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

    Jaye Toellner Rogovin
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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!

    Nadine Schiff-Rosen
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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

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

    Toni Schulman
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    Board Member, Alliance for Children’s Rights
    Board Member, Wilshire Blvd Temple

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

    Kiko Washington
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    Executive Vice President, Worldwide Human Resources, Warner Bros. Entertainment

    My first impression and exposure to UFC was through attending a Brass Ring Dinner. One of the speakers was a college readiness alumni who was a sophomore film and tv major.  She was incredibly impressive and passionate about her dream, to work at a major studio! Fortunately for me, I was able to get to her with an offer before other studio attendees, and she began working at Warner Bros. the next summer. That night, and the subsequent summer, led me to helping to expand the UFC/WB partnership, and I was lucky enough to be asked to join the UFC Board a few years later.

  • Angela Carter-Blackshear, MSW
    Director, Housing Programs
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    Working within the field of human services and nonprofits for over fifteen years, Angela has extensive managerial experience in the non-profit sector and a record of success in getting initiatives off the ground and flourishing. She is currently working as the Director of Housing at United Friends of the Children, a nonprofit organization that provides housing and support services for youth transitioning out of the foster care system.

    Throughout the numerous leadership positions she has held throughout her career, she has been blessed with a variety of opportunities to help support the development of communities, organizations and individuals. B ’Empowered Consulting is an agency that Angela co-founded that specializes in nonprofit development with small to midsize nonprofits. Her experience within the field of nonprofit development extends from front-line case management to executive level leadership. She has experience in fund development, organizational management, in addition to program development and evaluation.

    Angela has extensive experience as a grant reviewer and evaluator of programs. Serving in the role of peer reviewer for the federal government, she has reviewed over one hundred (100+) grant proposals; including: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquent Programs (OJJDP), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Department of Justice (DOJ).

    Her career has been dedicated to organizations and initiatives that have worked to provide innovative, evidence-based programming and services for underserved and highly at-risk populations. 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).

    Tracey Calderon
    Development Assistant
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    With passion, Tracey has dedicated her time and efforts to learning about and working closely with underserved communities, including populations in homelessness or prison, migrants, and refugees. Her life-transformative experiences in India and Haiti drove her to earn a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Bryn Mawr College. Believing in United Friends of the Children’s vital work and mission, Tracey is excited to join UFC to advance the organization’s zealous commitment to foster youth. Tracey enjoys the quiet of early mornings, the diverse scenery of long runs, and the element of scrumptious surprise when tasting different cuisines.

    Kara Allen Soldati, MSW, Ed.D.
    President + CEO
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    I’ve dedicated my world to developing people and organizations committed to fulfilling the needs of children and communities in historically under-resourced areas. Though my career began in the classroom in Oakland, I have experience in both the public and private sectors and in local and international service delivery. I’m a current NextGen Fellow with the Aspen–Pahara Institute and live in Northeast Los Angeles with my husband and two little ladies (a fierce daughter and a rescue dog)!

    Eda Acevedo
    Receptionist
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    I have been the receptionist at United Friends of the Children for about a year and a half now and am fortunate to be able to welcome our youth. Often they come in with a smile upside down, and with time I see them walk back in with so much excitement and confidence as their goals are met and exceeded!

    Allyson Brannon
    Property Management + Housing Coordinator
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    I’m originally from Atlanta, Georgia and moved to Los Angeles in 2014 after working as a Chicago-based United Airlines flight attendant for two years. Prior to joining UFC, I was an Assistant Manager for a 257 unit property in Whittier, CA.  Although I enjoyed the job, I wanted to pursue more meaningful work in line with my experience, passion and education background (B.A. Communications/ Sociology) and knew UFC was the perfect place to pursue my goals.  I enjoy concerts, camping, the beach, and traveling. My favorite movie is “The Burbs” and my favorite food is seafood.

    Michael Brooks, M.Ed.
    Senior College Counselor
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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.

    Essie Calderon, M.A.
    Advocacy Counselor
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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!

    Monique Cardona
    College Counselor
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    I’ve just celebrated my first full year at UFC and couldn’t be happier about it. I love what I do and am grateful for the chance to work with so many inspiring youth and their families. When I’m not trying to leave the world in better shape than I found it, I enjoy the beach, playing with my dogs, and ice cream.

    Cassandre Castanon, M.L.I.S.
    Logistics Coordinator
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    I’ve worked for UFC for 4 ½ 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.

    Martha Castillo, M.S. Ed.
    College Counselor
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    I’m inspired everyday by the students I work with at UFC. Their resilience and tenacity, in the face of the challenges they’ve faced in their lives, gives me the drive to continue to provide them with the support and guidance needed to reach their academic goals. It’s a privilege to work with students in the community I grew up in and helping them work through similar academic challenges and fears I had at their age. I learn more from them than they do from me.

    Susanna De Mari, LMFT
    Assistant Director/Clinical Supervisor, Housing Programs
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    I look up to the population we serve as they’ve helped me through my professional and personal growth. I feel  fortunate and value my work with the amazing staff at Pathways.

    Carolina Diaz
    College Counselor
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    I joined UFC in the summer of 2011 as the first Outreach and Recruitment Coordinator for the Education Programs. I was recently promoted to College Readiness Counselor and I am excited to provide direct services to our foster youth! I am currently in grad school earning my Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology, which will be completed in 2017. Before joining UFC, I was volunteering with the Peace Corps in Peru where I worked as a Youth Development Volunteer. I enjoy eating Peruvian food, being outdoors with family and friends as well as spending time with my PAWesome cats!

    Christine Do
    Systems + Database Coordinator
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    Although I was born and raised in SoCal, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many cities and find my true passion for improving the lives of others in any shape or form. I am currently in my last semester at CSULB pursuing my Masters in Public Administration, with an emphasis in Urban Affairs. In my free time, you can find me running, hiking, camping, baking, and eating.

    Anika Fernandez
    Manager, College Readiness Program
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    UFC’s focus on the hopes and dreams of young people is what brought me here.  What I bring is a deep belief in our scholars, our staff and creating spaces to build and leverage networks to support our scholars and team. I am a California native and have lived in four states because people let me dream, I have an amazing nephew who serves as an incredible personal assistant and a relatively happy co-existing dog and cat.

    Karla Fernandez
    College Counselor
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    I’ve been an educator for over five years and am passionate about innovation in learning and teaching, having taught literacy at Chicago Public Schools and the Noble Network of Charter Schools. While I am a native of Los Angeles, I am an alumna of the University of Chicago and lived in the windy city for many years prior to joining UFC in 2015. When I am not out in the community and in schools meeting with my scholars and their caregivers, I am reading literature, practicing yoga, or watching sci-fi movies.

    Dan Gallagher
    College Counselor
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    I recently joined the College Readiness team, but one of my favorite things about working at UFC has been getting to know all of the wonderful staff, youth, and families. Outside of work, I enjoy exploring LA, hiking, and going to the beach.

    Stacey Gallaher
    Accounts Payable + Payroll Clerk
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    I’ve been working in the accounting field for 10+ years and am enjoy working for an organization that supports such an amazing cause. I’m Central American (from Belize) so have been blessed with exposure to different cultures and people from different walks of life, so I can appreciate diversity and need.

    Noah Gan, MSW
    Advocacy Counselor
    Carol Gillard
    Controller
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    I’ve been at UFC for 11 years and each day has proved to be more rewarding than the day before. I truly enjoy being a part of an organization that is so impactful to the lives of foster youth in Los Angeles county.  My job involves spending a lot of time in my office, so I look forward to weekends when I can take long relaxing walks at the beach enjoying the fresh ocean air.

    Frank Hoang, M.S., PPS
    Manager, College Readiness Program
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    I first started at UFC as a College Counselor and I now have the honor of managing the service area I started in with an amazing team. I have lived in Los Angeles for the last 13 years and I get to share my experiences with my wife and puppy. I love to travel, I love my family, and I love what I do.

    Kita Hutchins
    Executive Assistant + Office Manager
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    For 13 years I have been at UFC, the first non-profit organization that I’ve worked for and it has been a great and rewarding experience.  In my free time I enjoy reading John Grisham books – one of my favorite is “The Racketeer”.

    Charmaine Jackson, MSW
    Alumni Coordinator
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    As a UFC staff member for over three years now, I have had the pleasure to work with some amazingly dedicated and selfless people. One of the things I love about my job is building strong supportive relationships with the young people we all serve. When I’m not at work, I enjoy long walks on the beach with my dog Oliver and doing Karaoke!

    Elsa Jaimes
    Career + Education Counselor
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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 UFC. I love spending time with loved ones, watching my nephew/godson grow up, and anything sweet I can get my hands on.

    Joe Jones, MFTI
    Advocacy Counselor
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    I have been employed at UFC for four years. I am blessed to work with such great young people and a terrific team/staff. I am married with a 16 year old son and 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.

    Elizabeth Kesner, M.A.
    Talent Manager
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    Supporting our youth and staff members over the past 8 years has been a huge growth experience and continues to fill me with inspiration and joy. As a West Virginia native, I enjoy living the year-round sunshine dream in Los Angeles with my amazing spouse and two delightful, mischievous cats.

    Megan Levitan
    Director, Education Programs
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    I feel honored to have seen our scholars’ journey from middle school through college graduation over the past ten years. When I’m not at work getting inspiration from the amazing students we serve and the incredible staff that support them, I keep busy hiking the trails of Debs Park in my neighborhood, cultivating a California native plant garden, and trying to build a relationship with two cats that I’m fostering.

    Maria Mendoza
    College Counselor
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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 UFC 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.

    Janeth Monzon
    College Counselor
    Danielle Morgan, MA
    Director, Outcomes + Evaluation
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    As the Director of Outcomes and Evaluation, I have the pleasure of collaborating with staff, leadership, and stakeholders. I joined the UFC team because of the emphasis on relationships as the key to positive outcomes and am passionate about closing the gap between research and practice and advancing strategies that increase impact for foster youth. I love logic models and data visualizations….and hiking.

    Hannah Olade, M.A.
    Senior Career & Education Counselor
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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
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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 UFC scholars. I enjoy watching the NBA, baking and spending time with my partner and our sweet pup.

    Brie Ortega, MSW
    College Counselor
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    Helping youth navigate life in college and the transition to adulthood allows me to share the vast amount of things I wish I had known at that stage in life. I love to explore cultural, creative, and social justice spaces in LA and am trying to figure out where to travel to next!

    Carla Palmer
    Manager, Corporate & Community Engagement
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    I’ve been with UFC for 12+ years and I enjoy the work as much as I did the first year I started working here. The strength and resilience exhibited by the young adults in our programs never ceases to amaze me. Things I enjoy most are spending time with my 16 year old son, training for a Spartan Race or half marathon, boxing, hiking, cycling, traveling the world and inspiring former foster youth to live their best life.

    Damaris Pereda, M.Ed.
    College Counselor
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    I am a former teacher, lifelong learner, and usually feel better about life after having a cup of coffee, salsa dancing, or enjoying a great meal and quality time with wonderful people in my life –  including our youth and their families! My favorite time of year is graduation season – it’s such a great time to celebrate all of the hard work and perseverance that propel our youth to a new chapter in their lives. It is a privilege for me to get to work alongside our youth throughout their academic journeys as a counselor at UFC.

    Jamila Russ, MSW
    Advocacy Counselor
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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.

    Nawal Salim, MSW
    College Counselor
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    I’ve been at UFC for a little under two years now. I truly value the unique relationships I get to foster with my students as I support them with their educational visions. When I’m not in counselor mode I enjoy spending time with my family.

    Eric Shamp, MBA
    Manager, Grants and Foundation Relations
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    I’ve enjoyed being with UFC for 4 years and have seen so many of our scholars achieve their college dreams. When I’m not in office, I’m usually enjoying the outdoors with my wife and our 4 young children.

    Jamie Sullivan, M.Ed.
    Chief Development Officer
    Francia Telesford, MSW
    College Counselor
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    I was previously with UFC from 2011-2015 as a Pathways Advocacy Counselor and took time to be home with my new daughter. I recently served as a Student Services Advisor at USC and am thrilled to be back in the UFC community.

    Betty Villarreal
    Compliance and Quality Assurance Coordinator
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    I work closely with my Pathways residents and alumni and appreciate the opportunity to maintain the meaningful relationships established in the program.I love spending time outdoors and meeting friends for all kinds of meals. My work and free time sometimes collide in the best way.

    Maleta Wilson, MSW
    Advocacy Counselor
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    I am a graduate from the USC School of Social Work and am very excited to be part of the UFC team! I am originally from the San Francisco Bay Area but have lived in Los Angeles for the past eight years. I also lived in New York for one year and I absolutely love all three places I have been lucky enough to call home! A few things I like to do for fun are hike different trails in the area or bake different treats. I like to think I hike so much to balance out all the chocolate from my baking!

    Daniel Xavier, MSW
    Senior Advocacy Counselor
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    As an Advocacy Counselor for the past 4 years, I’ve cultivated strong relationships with the youth and still maintain many of those relationships even after the youth have left the program. As a UC Santa Cruz alumnus and proud Banana Slug, I love taking trips up to the central coast to enjoy the laid back atmosphere amongst the beaches and redwood forests. Being an avid soccer fan, I never miss an opportunity to insert into the conversation the latest scores or updates from major tournaments around the world.

    Francisco Zamudio
    College Sponsorship Manager
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    I’m a Los Angeles native, coming to UFC from Rutgers University where I was most recently Director of New Student Orientation and Family Programs. I’m excited to be back in LA and to help UFC lead their college success work.

LA County is home to 30,000 foster youth
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