About Us

Our Team

SFCASA Leadership Team >
SFCASA Board of Directors >
SFCASA Staff >

Leadership Team

Renée Espinoza, Executive Director
Renée joined the SFCASA team in February 2013. She brings to SFCASA more than twenty years experience in non-profit management with specific expertise in strategic planning, volunteer and program management, operations, resource and staff development. Having started her career at CASA in Orange County, she is the former Executive Director of the San Francisco Education Fund and in that position had oversight of a staff of 25 with a $2.6 million annual budget focused on teacher professional development, community engagement and the overall goal of increasing post-secondary success. She has also served as Program Director of School Volunteers and the Executive Director of the San Francisco Police Activities League where she collaborated with community organizations to serve more than 5,000 San Francisco youth and 500 volunteers annually. Renée is a graduate of UC San Diego with a BA in Sociology.

Erika Dirkse, Program Director
Prior to her August 2011 appointment as Program Director, Erika served SFCASA for three years as a Case Supervisor. Erika is a graduate of Michigan State University and a doctoral candidate in the history of science.

Currently Erika is working to expand CASA advocacy and mentorship services to pre-emancipation and emancipation-age clients in the context of the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB12).  Together with other members of the dependency community, including First Place for Youth, California Youth Connection, SF ILSP, San Francisco Human Services Agency-Family and Children’s Services, the John Burton Foundation, and members of the dependency attorney panel, Erika is part of a vibrant local workgroup committed to strengthening countywide interagency collaboration among service providers, consumers and advocates to promote a clear, mutual understanding of Extended Foster Care and best practices, improved accessibility and consumer experiences, and shared accountability.  Their objective is to better understand the strengths and needs of emerging adults in foster care and provide for greater opportunities and facilitate better outcomes for these young adults. In collaboration with Seneca Family of Agencies, HSA-FCS, and Casey Family Programs, Erika is also focused to maximize the impact of a CASA volunteer to improve identification and cultivation of permanent, supportive kin- and non-kin adult connections for youth both in foster care and preparing to exit foster care.

Paul Knudsen, Director of Development
Paul has 22 years of experience in nonprofit development, with extensive experience in major gifts, event planning, institutional partnerships, campaigns and planned giving. Paul was most recently Director of Development at San Francisco Education Fund and Associate Director of Development at American Conservatory Theater, where he managed a department of nine. Paul has a BA in mathematics from Williams College and a Master of International Marketing from ESMA Escola Universitaria in Barcelona.

2014-2015 Board of Directors*

The SFCASA Board of Directors, a dedicated group of community volunteers with a broad range of talents and professional backgrounds, provides the San Francisco CASA Program with a high level of governance, fiscal oversight, compliance, and accountability.

Executive Committee

Lisa Spinali, Chair
Nonprofit Strategy Consultant

Jeremy K. Strauss, Vice Chair
Assistant General Counsel, NEC Corp of America

Elizabeth Carey, Treasurer
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer The Oregon Community Foundation

Matthew S. Rechtin, Secretary
Associate, Lazard Freres & Co.



Allison Eisenhardt
Attorney, Former Volunteer CASA

Cori English
Commercial Real Estate
CB Richard Ellis

Julia Francis
Regional Director of Sales
Forrester Research

Mikhail Hess
Vice President, Financial Advisor
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Margaret Keane

Ryan Miller
Vice President, Digital Channels Group
Bank of the West

Puneh Sohrabpour
Pilates ProWorks

Joanne Squire
Registered Nurse
California Pacific Medical Center

Jennifer Young
Program Director, Corporate Affairs

*Board members may be contacted via the SFCASA Office at 415.398.8001


Juan Ascensio, Case Supervisor,  x112

Soyeon Davis, Program Assistant,  x100

Amy DiBenedetto, Controller and Operations Director, x107

Erika Dirkse, Program Director,  x106

Renée Espinoza , Executive Director  x110

Naomi Irvine, Recruitment and Training Specialist x101

Janey Kemp, Case Supervisor, x104

Paul Knudsen, Director of Development, x108

Nora Landis-Shack,  Development and Executive Assistant x109

Hannah Nerenhausen, Case Supervisor, x102

Judy Rutherford, Case Supervisor, x103

Alexandra Stanley, Case Supervisor, x105


©2013 SFCASA.org. All Rights Reserved. | NEW ADDRESS: 2535 Mission Street | San Francisco, CA 94110 | 415.398.8001 | Email
Court Appointed Special Advocates and CASA are registered trademarks of the National CASA Association