Our dedicated staff and board are committed to serving San Francisco's foster youth, ensuring that every child has a voice that's heard.
Renee Espinoza, Executive Director
Renee joined the SFCASA team in February 2013. She brings more than twenty years of experience in nonprofit management, with specific expertise in strategic planning, volunteer and program management, operations, and 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, where she oversaw a staff of 25 and a $2.6 million annual budget focused on teacher development, community engagement, and increased 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 organizers to serve more than 5,000 San Francisco youth and 500 volunteers annually. Renee graduated from UC San Diego with a BA in Sociology.
Amy DiBenedetto, Controller and Operations Director
Amy comes to her role at SFCASA with over 10 years of experience in nonprofit management, with an emphasis on development and finance. She completed her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and also holds a Master's Degree from Stanford in education, specializing in policy, organization, and leadership studies. Amy's past experiences include working as a Development Officer for a nonprofit think-tank in Washington, D.C., acting as Assistant Director of Advising at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and serving as the Director of Finance and Administration at the San Francisco Education Fund. Also an accomplished mixologist, Amy lives with her partner, daughters, and crazy Australian Shepherd in the Castro.
Erika Dirkse, Program Director
Prior to her appointment as Program Director in 2011, Erika served for three years as a Case Supervisor, focusing her work on supporting volunteers working with adolescents. Erika is particularly interested in supporting older youth in foster care and is a founder of the San Francisco AB12 Local Workgroup. Additional interests include resiliency in foster youth, access to public benefits, and improvements to the bridge between services for juveniles and adults. Outside of SFCASA, Erika is a member of the Program Quality and Compliance Committee at the Lincoln Child Center in Oakland. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and holds doctoral candidacy status in the history of social sciences. Erika is also a committed bike-commuting mom who loves to be outdoors.
Paul Knudsen, Director of Development & Communications
Paul joined SFCASA in early 2013 and has raised more than $20 million in his 21 years of development work, including positions at Project Open Hand, the American Conservatory Theater, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and the San Francisco Education Fund. An avid traveler, Paul has lived in Barcelona, Madrid, and Tokyo. He is always planning his next trip. Paul has a BA in mathematics from Williams College and a Masters of International Marketing from ESMA Escola Universitaria in Barcelona.
Maggie Swanson, Annual Fund and Development Operations Manager
Maggie joined SFCASA in 2016 as the Annual Fund and Development Operations Manager after working with CASA as an event volunteer for three years. She has a background in marketing, specializing in digital communication and event management, and previously worked in the technology sector. Maggie graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in Political Science. She is a North Bay native, a life-long fan of the Golden State Warriors, and always takes a book with her wherever she goes.
Judy Rutherford, Case Supervision Manager
Judy has been with San Francisco CASA for seven years. She has a BA in Social Welfare from Sacramento State University and a Masters in Gerontology from San Francisco State University. Before coming to SFCASA, Judy worked in cardio and neurological technology in healthcare. Now, Judy is doing what she truly enjoys--working with a great team to support amazing volunteers who change lives.
Brittni arrived at SFCASA in 2015, after several years of providing direct service around education, employment, and life skills to young people experiencing homelessness. With over ten years of experience in youth development, and extensive expertise in education, Brittni is excited to use their knowledge and love of the law to support volunteers advocating for young people in care. Brittni graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Psychology and Physical Anthropology, with minors in LGBTQ studies and English. When there is a free moment, Brittni enjoys taking trips up the coast and researching random facts.
Naomi Irvine, Training Specialist
Naomi came to SFCASA in 2014 after two years at the San Francisco Independent Living Skills Program, where she provided direct-service educational, employment, and transitional living skills support to current and former foster youth. Prior to her work at SFILSP, Naomi served for nearly five years as a Volunteer Coordinator and a Lead Outreach Counselor with At the Crossroads, building relationships with homeless youth through outreach and one-on-one counseling. Naomi's experience gives her a rich understanding of the issues facing current foster youth in San Francisco and knowledge of best practices for strong advocacy.
Tom Prado, Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Coordinator
Tom is a dedicated advocate for social justice and has worked in social services for many years, most recently as a Client Advocate for survivors of intimate partner violence at CORA (Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse) in San Mateo. He has also supported and collaborated with volunteers in a variety of capacities including at the Grand Canyon Trust and other national and state parks.
Maria Vierra, Grant Writer
Maria is a Bay Area native who joined SFCASA in 2016, bringing over a decade of grant writing experience and a passion for social justice advocacy to her role. Previously, she served as Grants Manager at Canal Alliance, a multiservice community agency in San Rafael serving low-income immigrants, and at The Marine Mammal Center, a marine mammal rescue, rehabilitation, and research center in Sausalito. Maria graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Sociology and a graduate certificate in Technical and Professional Writing. Maria is an avid reader and animal lover who enjoys exploring hiking trails with her dog in her free time.
Alexandra Stanley, Case Supervisor
Alexandra Stanley joined SFCASA as a Case Supervisor in 2013 after moving to the Bay Area from Chicago, where she previously worked as a Bilingual Legal Advocate for women and children experiencing domestic violence. She has over seven years of volunteer and professional experience advocating for newcomer and immigrant children and families, including serving as a one-to-one advocate for unaccompanied immigrant minors in shelter care. Alex lived, studied, and conducted research in Spain and Mexico and has full professional fluency in Spanish. She holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. During her free time, Alex enjoys playing and watching soccer and exploring the Bay Area.
Janey Kemp, Case Supervisor
Janey has worked with San Francisco CASA for five years. She earned her B.A. in Sociology at Loyola University-New Orleans and her M.A. in International Studies at the University of San Francisco. She's currently taking Spanish courses at City College and will be pursuing a certificate in database management there in the fall. She takes pride in her two rescue Yorkies, who annoy everyone but her.
Jamie Coronato, Case Supervisor
Jamie arrived at SFCASA in 2016 after five years of working at Seneca Family of Agencies. There she provided direct behavioral and therapeutic support to current and former foster youth, their teams and their families. Jamie is excited to use her knowledge and experience with trauma-informed intervention, permanency-planning and IEP procedures to support volunteers in advocating for foster youth. Jamie holds a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy. Jamie can also be found backpacking and climbing during any free time.
Juan Ascencio, Case Supervisor
Juan has worked with community-based organizations focusing on supporting Latino youth for many years. His desire to work with children and youth with limited access to support and resources led him to both San Francisco CASA and Santa Cruz CASA. Juan received a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California Santa Cruz. He has worked with CASA organizations for eight years, supervising 125 volunteers who have advocated for nearly 140 youth in foster care.
Soyeon Davis, Case Supervisor
Soyeon was born in Seoul, Korea and immigrated to Michigan with her family when she was five. She later graduated from Michigan State University. Prior to her work with SFCASA, she did a tour in the Peace Corps in the Central African Republic, and later served as a counselor for a teenage crisis hotline center in Ann Arbor. Soyeon has lived in San Francisco for nearly 18 years, and first joined SFCASA as our Program Assistant. She is also an avid lover of super spicy ramen.
Victoria Crucena, Program Assistant
Victoria has worked with at-risk and marginalized populations for seven years. Prior to joining SFCASA, she mentored currently and formerly incarcerated individuals transitioning into a four-year university with Project Rebound. In addition to her role here, she works with San Francisco Women Against Rape as a Counselor, supporting survivors of sexual assault on a rape crisis hotline and as a medical advocate. She has a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Human Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University. Victoria is a long-time local and loves to support independently owned stores.
The Board of Directors is a dedicated group of community volunteers with a broad range of talents and professional backgrounds. They provide SFCASA with a high lever of governance, fiscal oversight, compliance, and accountability.
Allison Eisenhardt, Chair - Attorney and Former SFCASA Volunteer
Lisa Pearson, Vice Chair - Attorney
Elizabeth Carey, Treasurer - VP and CFO, The Oregon Community Foundation
Matthew S. Rechtin, Secretary - Vice President, Wells Fargo Securities
Jeffrey Davidson - Partner, Covington & Burling LLP
Shane Douglas - Manager, Product Partnerships, YouTube
Elizabeth Foster Lippert - Partner, Parthenon - EY
Mikhail Hess - VP and Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Katy Hope - Former CASA Volunteer
Margaret Keane - Partner, DLA Piper US LLP
Anthony Lencioni - Vice President, Benefits, Bank of the West
Hector Melendez - Philanthropy Consultant
Ryan Miller - Senior Vice President, Enterprise Innovation Group, Wells Fargo
Aji Oliyide - M&A Finance Integration Manager, Google
James SanMarco - Account Manager, AdRoll
Lisa Spinali, Chair Emeritus - Nonprofit Strategy Consultant
Harry Turner - Principal, Lead Counsel for Technology, IP & Data/Privacy, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Claire Ucovich - Global Talent Lead, Airbnb
Jennifer Young - Director, Social Impact, Pearson