CEN Leaders Institute Class XIII

Meet the amazing nonprofit leaders of CEN's 13th Leaders Institute class! The group gathered for the first time in September 2019 for an overnight kick-off retreat at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos and will continue to meet monthly until April 2020.


Adoubou Traore | African Advocacy Network 

About the Organization (www.aansf.org): The mission of the African Advocacy Network is to provide immigration legal services and case management to African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants in a culturally and linguistically competent environment to equip them with the tools they need to lead independent, productive, and dignified lives.

About Adoubou: Adoubou was born and raised in the Ivory Coast, where he taught English for Specific Purposes (ESP) at the college level before moving to the US in 2000. His first-hand immigrant experience in the United States allows him to have a unique approach in his daily work and the way he perceives and understands the issues that affect the community, he has dedicated himself to serving. A co-founder of the African Advocacy Network (AAN), Adoubou has worked with the organization since its creation on June 15, 2009 in different positions (project manager, program, and executive director). Prior to this, from 2006 to 2009, he was the Executive Director of the African Immigrant and Refugee Resource Center (AIRRC), where he had served respectively as a volunteer, an ESL/Basic Computer skills instructor, and a volunteer coordinator. With a Fulbright scholarship, Adoubou obtained a M.A. in English with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at San Francisco State University in 2002.


Caryn Cranston | SEEDS Outreach

About the Organization (www.myseeds.org): The mission of SEEDS Outreach Services is to end the cycle of youth homelessness. In partnership with local and regional social service and faith agencies, SEEDS provides immediate, life-saving care to unhoused and street youth living throughout Northern California. SEEDS Outreach Services offers direct access to critical resources and delivery of services necessary for youth experiencing homelessness to move from surviving the streets and onto transforming their lives.

About Caryn: Caryn Cranston has over 25 years of experience serving both the public and private, as well as the non-profit sectors as an award-winning teacher, performance coach and national trainer. After teaching English for eight years, for the past 18 years Caryn has served as a Director of Tennis in Los Gatos, as well as a NorCal HITS and Net Generation National Trainer for the United States Tennis Association. More recently, Caryn became a commissioned Stephen Lay Minister and this past year, in partnership with the global non-profit Ashoka, participated as a Fellow in the Changemaker Initiative. During this time, at the intersection of her collective experience as an professional educator and faith community leader, coupled with her passion for social justice, and in-particular working with marginalized youth, Caryn founded and now serves as the Executive Director for SEEDS Outreach Services which supports unhoused youth throughout Northern California. In addition, Caryn currently serves on the Board of Directors with UCCM at Stanford University. Caryn holds a bachelor’s degree from Pitzer College in both English Literature and Psychology and her master’s degree in Education from the Claremont Graduate University.


Colsaria Henderson | CORA

About the Organization (www.corasupport.org): Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA) is the only agency in San Mateo County solely dedicated to helping those affected by intimate partner abuse. From counseling, to emergency housing, to legal assistance, our services are designed to provide safety, support, and healing. 

About Colsaria: Colsaria has a Master’s in Social Work with a specification in Administration and Planning. She is from the South and considers her social justice training buried in the roots of activist parents, who dedicated their early lives to the civil rights movement.  She began working in the field in the 1990s and began her official career in anti-gender based violence work as a Sexual Assault Counselor in Atlanta, Georgia.  She later finished a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work while working in a dual Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault advocacy agency.  Since moving to California, she has held leadership roles in multiple Bay Area anti-violence organizations. Over the last many years, Colsaria has focused her work at the macro level, enjoying leadership and program development, survivor and community based evaluation and advocacy, and state-wide policy change. She is currently focused in areas of intersection between gender-based violence movements and reproductive justice, racial justice, LGBTQ and immigrant rights. Colsaria has completed several leadership and advocacy programs including the Women’s Policy Institute through the Women’s Foundation of California and the Strong Field Leadership program sponsored by Blue Shield of California Foundation. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.


Deborah Weinstein | Los Gatos Education Foundation

About the Organization (www.lgef.org): The Los Gatos Education Foundation raises over $1M a year to provide essential funding for teachers and staff, that the state and property tax funding does not provide.  Our mission is to ensure that the students of Los Gatos Union School district receive high quality programs and resources vital to their education.  LGEF supports essential teachers and staff in Art, Literacy, Math, Music, Library, PE and Health Clerks for all Elementary Students, and the Middle School Electives program in STEAM, Dance and Music, and Counseling, Health Clerks and Noon-Time Sports.

About Deborah: Deborah is in her fifth year as Executive Director of Los Gatos Education Foundation (LGEF); previously she served on the LGEF Board as Co-Chair of the LGEF Major Donor Group and as a Campus Captain.  Deborah has been serving the Town of Los Gatos and raising funds for years, including: Co-Chair of Community Campaign for the Capital Campaign for the Los Gatos Library, Fundraising Chair for Los Gatos Parent Nursery School Board, Member of Los Gatos General Plan Update Committee, and Member of North 40 Specific Site Plan Committee. Deborah spearheaded many successful campaigns for public office, supporting candidates for Los Gatos Town Council as Campaign Manager and Treasurer, and Santa Clara County District Attorney as Finance Manager.  Deborah graduated from Leadership Los Gatos, Leadership Oakland, and Emerge California.   Prior to her shift to community and political work, Deborah spent 15 years in Strategic Planning, Marketing Research, Product Development, Media Relations and Crisis Communications for some of the world's largest investment management businesses.  Fluent in both Spanish and French, her true passion is traveling and hiking the world with her two children, a son who attends middle school in the district she supports, and a high school daughter!


Edward Choudhry | Hacker Dojo

About the Organization (www.hackerdojo.com): Hacker Dojo is a tech community that supports STEAM education and workforce development. We have existed for 10 years serving the South Bay area with a 24/7 365 space that acts as an event space, maker space, and coworking. We are starting a new program in 2020 to host low-income individuals to transition to jobs in technology called the Transition to Tech 2020 program. Applications open during the 10 year anniversary celebration 10/05 &10/06. The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats through science and outreach.

About Edward: Edward (Ed) Choudhry is originally from Brooklyn, NY and made his way to California 7 years ago. Ed graduated from the City University of New York with a B.S., International Business and Psychology. He a self-taught coder with 3 startups under his belt. He was able to teach himself to code at the Hacker Dojo with the support of the community and has a deep relationship with the organization. He has been a member since 2014, joining the Board Member in 2016 and finally transitioning to the Executive Director role in 2018, Ed's primary focus is on program development and growth for the organization. Ed's earliest work in the non-profit space involved volunteering for El Puente Beacon, Williamsburg Brooklyn, teaching youth breakdancing. 


Jennifer Rider | Peninsula Family YMCA

About the Organization (www.ymcasf.org): The YMCA of San Francisco builds strong kids, strong families and strong communities by enriching the lives of all people in spirit, mind and body. Our strategic vision is that the healthiest children in America will live in the Bay Area, building the skills and habits for a healthy life, being empowered to reach their highest potential. As a leading nonprofit organization, the Y offers programs that foster youth development, promote healthy living and advance social responsibility. The Y offers a safe, nurturing and supportive environment for people from all backgrounds and walks of life to come together to bring about meaningful change not just within themselves, but in their community as well. The Y builds stronger communities by connecting families and neighbors in a place where they can learn, grow and thrive together.

About Jennifer: Jennifer Rider is an award-winning social-impact leader known for delivering results, scaling organizations for growth, and building high-performing teams. With more than 20 years management experience, Jennifer brings expertise across multiple disciplines including financial management, program and fund development, impact measurement, and strategic partnership development. Jennifer’s track record of success makes her a natural choice to lead large-scale, cross-functional organizations and initiatives that require innovative solutions and an entrepreneurial mindset. Jennifer currently serves as the Senior Executive Director for the Peninsula Family YMCA, a $10M annual operation focused on strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Previously, Jennifer served as the Vice-President of Development for Junior Achievement of Northern California, led a nonprofit consulting firm focused on strengthening organizations’ abilities to achieve their visions, and spent six years as the Chief Executive Officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida, where she led the organization to national recognition and received the Gold Star Award for financial and programmatic growth year-over-year. Earlier in her career, Jennifer led child welfare programs in New York City where she played an integral role in the transformation of the City’s foster care and adoption system as well as family homeless service reform and inclusionary services for medically fragile and intellectually disabled youth. Jennifer further served the needs of children by leading the disaster recovery and treatment programs for the World Trade Center’s Permanency Project after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Jennifer has an MBA, with a focus on entrepreneurship, from Rollins College, a Master of Science degree in Education and Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science degree from Alfred University. She is an avid traveler, a voracious reader, an outdoor enthusiast, a lover of pets, and a dedicated single mother.


Joy Chesbrough | Children's Eye Foundation

About the Organization (www.childrenseyefoundation.org): Children's Eye Foundation of AAPOS was founded in 1970. The Children's Eye Foundation of AAPOS is the official foundation for the world's largest physician organization dedicated to children's blindness, eye care and adults with strabismus, the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS).

About Joy: Joy has spent 20 years working as an executive leader and innovator in the nonprofit and for-profit sector. Joy’s strength is in shaping strategy to focus on building sustainable organizations with a strong culture of philanthropy. Joy holds an M.A in Communication from Regent University’s School of Cinematography and an M.A. in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego’s Caster School of Nonprofit Leadership. Working for the world’s largest nonprofits (like World Vision, MAP International, Petsmart Charities, the American Red Cross, Scripps Health Foundation and The Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center in Silicon Valley) has allowed Joy to establish a strong understanding of the complexities that come with running and operating nonprofit organizations. Joy was part of the executive team that raised $500 million-dollars to build a world-class cardiovascular institute for Scripps Health Foundation in La Jolla, California. She also worked with peers on an international campaign for World Vision that raised awareness for clean water, economic and gender inequality, child welfare, and education, while raising over $500 million to reach 10 million more children worldwide. Joy Currently works as the executive director for the Children’s Eye Foundation, which is the largest ophthalmology membership in the world based in San Francisco. Moreover, Joy has served, for the past fifteen years, as a member for the Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and was the chair of the corporate sponsorship committee for the Phoenix Chapter. Overall, Joy is passionate about leveraging her experience to establish a vision for future growth, sustainability and transformation of the nonprofit sector. 


Karen Molinari | Healthy Cities Tutoring

About the Organization (www.healthycitiestutoring.org): Healthy Cities Tutoring helps kids who struggle to succeed in school. Community volunteers provide one-to-one tutoring and mentoring for children to improve their academic performance, engagement in learning, and self-esteem. Healthy Cities Tutoring - Reach a child. Touch a family. Build a community.

About Karen: Karen Molinari joined Healthy Cities Tutoring (HCT) as the Executive Director in September 2018, replacing the organization’s founder Donna Becht. A Bay Area native, Karen is an education advocate, having attended local schools and receiving her bachelor’s degree in Political Science/Public Administration from UC Davis. Her strong belief in public service led to a legislative aide career at the national and state level, before entering the consulting field. Prior to joining HCT, Karen designed and implemented meaningful community engagement, public involvement, and partnership development programs for public and private sector clients throughout the Pacific Northwest, California and the San Francisco Bay Area. Karen is an active community member having served on numerous boards, commissions, and non-profit organizations for 30+ years and understands the critical role they have in addressing community needs. As an alumnus of local public schools, and raised by a single mother, Karen is grateful to the teachers and mentors who made a difference in her life. Their belief in her, and encouragement at critical times, left a lasting impression and helped her grow into a confident, compassionate, and successful person. Karen is thrilled to continue the great work of Healthy Cities Tutoring and share this successful program with our neighboring communities and help children succeed in school and life.


Laura Hawkins | Wildlife Center Silicon Valley

About the Organization (www.wcsv.org): WCSV is dedicated to providing the sick, injured and orphaned wildlife of Santa Clara County with free, high-quality care, rehabilitation, and the opportunity for release.

About Laura: Laura has been involved with animals both wild and domestic as long as she can remember.  She came from a family that took care of animals in need, whether it was a bird that struck a window or a stray dog that needed a home. Rarely has there been a time in Laura’s life that she was without a pet. Laura’s career initially took her to public relations, marketing and investor relations. After nearly 10 years, she decided to go back to what she loved best, working with animals. In 1997, she started San Francisco’s first privately owned dog daycare, K9to5. Even though she worked with domestic animals, her fondness for, and fascination with wildlife was ever-present. Several years later she got the opportunity to work as a project manager for Pacific Animal Initiatives.  Through this, she had the good fortune to work at two different wildlife centers; the California Wildlife Center (CWC) in Malibu, CA and the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley (WCSV) in San Jose, CA.  From there she became Director of Operations for WCSV, and then transitioned into the Executive Director role she holds today. Laura sees her role as a gift, and feels very fortunate to be able to be a steward for wildlife, by furthering the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley’s mission to care for those that are sick, injured or orphaned, and promoting the importance of our peaceful coexistence with the wildlife around us.


Lavinia Branden | AC3 (Asian Cultural Community Center)

About the Organization (www.ac3sv.org): AC3 creates a platform for Bay Area families to connect, learn and grow. Through educational and cultural programs and events, we serve a vital community need by providing a positive solution to: 1) support physical & mental wellness; 2) foster community, diversity, & family; and 3) engage our children & bridge generations.

About Lavinia: Lavinia Branden attended Pepperdine University and received her B.F.A. from Academy of Art College. As Director and Senior Manager at multiple award winning retail design agencies, she led multi-million dollar projects for clients such as: Hewlett-Packard, Sony PlayStation, WalMart, Ariat, Microsoft and Diageo. In managing both national and international programs, Lavinia is most regarded for her ability to transform troubled client relations and improve alliances, and for developing processes and programs to improve efficiency and profitability. In the last 16 years she has started two successful businesses (Studio Kicks Palo Alto & ELLA) and continues to be an active contributor and promoter of Asian culture. Lavinia is the founder of Asian Cultural Community Center (AC3) which supports physical and mental wellness of all children and helps families connect through the power of an inclusive and engaged community.


Linda Prieto | Upward Scholars

About the Organization (www.upwardscholars.org): Upward Scholars empowers low-income adults, mostly immigrants, by providing them financial assistance, academic support, and career development so they can continue their education, get better jobs, and serve as role models and advocates for their children.

About Linda: Dr. Prieto grew up working in the agricultural fields of the central San Joaquin Valley in Reedley, California. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Stanford, a Master’s degree in Education from Harvard, and her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Cultural Studies in Education and a Graduate Portfolio in Mexican American Studies from The University of Texas at Austin. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Upward Scholars in Redwood City, as PTA Treasurer at her child's elementary school in Mountain View and teaches through Chicanx/Latinx Studies at Stanford.


Rose Mukhar | Justice at Last

About the Organization (www.justiceatlast.org): Justice At Last is the only nonprofit law firm in the San Francisco Bay Area exclusively serving the legal needs of survivors of human trafficking. We provide clients with free legal services regardless of their age, gender identity, nationality or type of trafficking.  We emphasize a holistic approach that empowers survivors to seek justice on their own terms.

About Rose: Rose Mukhar is a social justice attorney and in 2015 she founded Justice At Last, a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services and representation to survivors of human trafficking so that they can seek justice on their own terms. Rose earned an LL.M. degree in International Legal Studies, and her J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law, an M.A. in International Relations from the United States International University, and a B.A. in Political Science from Wellesley College.  In January 2019 Rose was awarded the Modern Day Abolitionist Award by the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking and in June 2018 she was awarded the National Crime Victim Law Institute Legal Advocacy Award for her crime victims’ rights representation of trafficked persons.Ms. Stokstad is a nationally recognized executive leader in community media television with more than 15 years of experience managing and building award-winning public and government cable access production centers across the country. Throughout her distinguished career, Ms. Stokstad has been the executive in charge to build and operate numerous award-winning community cable access television studios serving the needs of the public and local governments in cities across the country, including Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts and California. Ms. Stokstad has been a tireless advocate on the national and local levels for free speech, community media, open government and community access cable television programming. Stokstad is a native of Iowa and has a bachelor’s degree in Visual Communications from the University of Iowa. She served as Board Chair from 2014-2016 for the Alliance for Community Media, a premier national organization that represents the interests of cable access organizations. In 2014, Business Life Magazine named her as one of the San Gabriel Valley’s top Women Achievers.


Sarah Poulain | Family Connections

About the Organization (www.familyconnections.org): Family Connections' mission is to create the highest quality family learning community so that underserved parents and children together become the drivers of their own success. Our vision is thriving kids through thriving families.

About Sarah: Sarah Poulain joined Family Connections in June 2017 as Executive Director. Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in the early childhood and family services field in various roles from executive leadership to clinical services and program management. She has developed collaborative partnerships with funders and organizations and is a strong advocate of children and families through her work on committees such as the Childcare Partnership Council, the Watch Me Grow Collaborative and The Big Lift. Sarah has held true to the idea that, when we engage with children and families in the earliest years and meet them where they are in their lives, we are building the foundations of strong and supportive communities. Sarah has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from American Intercontinental University and a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Antioch University, New England Graduate School.


Shana Peete | Center for Excellence in Nonprofits

About the Organization: CEN's mission is to improve the long-term sustainability of nonprofit leaders and organizations by offering the highest quality programs, consultation, training and community-building networks.

About Shana: Shana Peete served as the first executive director of Partners for Change. She has a Bachelor of Science in international business and a Doctor of Jurisprudence. She practiced law for eight years prior to moving to the Tri-Valley and has professional experience that includes managing a Child Development Center, serving as a program coordinator for Read Aloud America, and managing a 30-person customer fulfillment team for Amazon. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching the game of tennis to students of all ages and using her gifts of communication and connection to bring people together.


Sharon Navarro | Acknowledge Alliance

About the Organization (www.acknowledgealliance.org): Acknowledge Alliance is dedicated to promoting lifelong resilience in children and youth, and strengthening the caring capacity of the adults who influence their lives. We do this through social emotional learning lessons in classrooms for K-8 students, resilience coaching for teachers, and intensive counseling and wraparound services for high school youth at juvenile hall or at risk for incarceration.  

About Sharon: Sharon has more than a decade of experience in nonprofit administration, working on behalf of at risk youth, students and education communities. She is passionate and committed to supporting children and teachers in our community, and is inspired by the opportunity to help every child reach their own potential and be healthy and strong, no matter what challenges life has handed them. She has worked in the nonprofit sector in Sacramento and San Mateo County for over 15 years, and most recently directed the grants programs, fundraising, and board relations for a variety of nonprofits benefiting youth in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Prior to embarking on a career in the nonprofit sector, Sharon oversaw the unemployment insurance appeals department for the state of Massachusetts. She earned a BA in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and has studied communications and media relations at Suffolk University. Since 2018, she has served on the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Silicon Valley Chapter, as the Vice President of Education.


Tuyen Fiack | Silicon Valley FACES

About the Organization (www.svfaces.org): Silicon Valley FACES is a non-profit that has worked with Santa Clara County youth for over 50 years to teach empathy, resiliency, leadership development and enhance the social-emotional intelligence of our youth through experiential learning. Recognizing the importance of delivering a continuum of empathy education – and the urgency of keeping kids in school, rather than relying on expulsion as a disciplinary measure – FACES opened a new chapter in its history with the introduction of restorative practices training for educators and others who work with youth.  FACES is committed to building inclusive communities based on empathy and social equity.

About Tuyen: Tuyen Fiack is the Executive Director of Silicon Valley FACES and brings over 20 years of business development experience and corporate management.  Through Tuyen's leadership, FACES has doubled the number of students served to over 2300 annually and incorporated Restorative Practice into school communities to have a bigger impact on equitable opportunities for student success.  Tuyen’s career started as a Counselor for justice-involved youth at Butte County Juvenile Hall and has since encompassed various industries including government, technology, insurance and healthcare. She brings a wealth of knowledge in strategic partnerships, contract negotiations, operational efficiencies and organizational growth.  With the desire to further support youth in her community, Tuyen also serves as a Board Trustee for Gilroy Unified School District.


Vinney Arora | My Digital TAT2

About the Organization (www.mydigitaltat2.org): My Digital TAT2 is a Silicon Valley nonprofit organization addressing one of the most challenging issues facing families today: how to build healthy habits, critical thinking, and thoughtful online behavior necessary to integrate technology into our lives in a constructive way.

About Vinney: Vinney began his nonprofit career 21 years ago as a preschool teacher at the Peninsula JCC. He is currently the Executive Director of My Digital TAT2 where he works every day to help young people and those that care about them to be safe and kind online. He is also the Founder of The Arora Collective where he works actively with social impact organizations to help realize their growth opportunities by increasing efficiency, visibility, and supporter engagement. In 2014 Vinney co-founded PartyChild.org, a grass roots organization that hosts birthday parties for homeless and low-income children. In 2015, he was awarded the “Young Innovator” award from the Thrive Alliance for his work in leading donor engagement at StarVista. Vinney travels nationally to speak about being a successful introverted leader and has been a life long Silicon Valley resident.