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 came to her role at SFCASA in 2013 with over 10 years of experience in nonprofit management, with an emphasis on development and finance. She completed her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College and 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 $25 million in his 26 years of development and marketing work, including positions at Project Open Hand, American Conservatory Theater, 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.
Jamie Coronato, Case Supervision Manager
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.
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.
Sophia Smart, Community Engagement Specialist
Sophia joined San Francisco CASA in 2018 as the Community Engagement Specialist. Sophia comes to their role with 9 years of experience working with nonprofits, community partners and volunteers to support educational attainments for youth and adults in underserved communities. As a two time Americorps Alum, Sophia has also worked as a canvasser, program coordinator and volunteer recruiter in their home state of New York and briefly in Texas. They earned a B.A. in Sociology at the University at Albany and recently completed their masters in Education Policy from King’s College of London. Sophia loves community organizing, trees and cold applesauce.
Jackie Moncada, Volunteer Recruitment Program Coordinator
Jackie joined the SFCASA team in 2019 as the Volunteer Recruitment Program Coordinator. Jackie is a San Francisco native who grew up in the Mission! She studied at UC Santa Cruz, where she received her B.A. in Psychology and minor in Education. She enjoys hikes, listening to music and hanging out at the KitTea Cat café.
Ashley Murphy, Case Supervisor
Ashley joined SFCASA in 2017 as a Case Supervisor. She previously spent four years as the Program Officer at Philanthropic Ventures Foundation managing a variety of grant programs, including one for CASA volunteers. She is excited to now work with CASAs in a closer capacity, utilizing her background in program management, advocacy, and mentoring. Ashley holds a B.A. in International Studies with a focus on Conflict Resolution from American University, and she is currently pursuing a Trauma Prevention and Recovery Certificate at the City College of San Francisco. You can often find Ashley reading, volunteering, and daydreaming about her next trip.
Janey Kemp, Case Supervisor & Data Specialist
Janey has worked with San Francisco CASA for seven years. They earned their B.A. in Sociology at Loyola University-New Orleans and their M.A. in International Studies at the University of San Francisco. They takes pride in their two rescue Yorkies, who annoy everyone but them.
Mia Ragent, Case Supervisor and Educational Advocacy Specialist
Mia, an East Bay native, joined SFCASA in 2018. She received her B.A. from UC Santa Cruz and her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law. While in law school, Mia worked in juvenile criminal defense before focusing on special education and school discipline advocacy. Prior to law school, Mia completed a year of AmeriCorps service at Kennedy High School in Richmond, CA. Mia is especially passionate about hot sauce, the San Francisco Giants, and Tilden Regional Park.
Jess Vaughn-Jansen, Case Supervisor
Jess joined SFCASA in 2019 as a Case Supervisor. She previously worked as the Advocate Coordinator at a rape crisis center, where she served as an advocate and managed the volunteer advocates who staffed the 24/7 crisis hotline and responded 24/7 to provide in-person advocacy at sexual assault exams across seven counties of New Mexico. This experience, as well as her time spent managing a gender-based discrimination legal services helpline and working in immigration legal services in the Bay Area, has made her passionate about the importance of providing trauma-informed, relationship-based advocacy to individuals navigating complex institutions and systems. Jess received her B.A. from Houghton College in New York state. She is obsessed with her Cocker Spaniel rescue, Todd, and can often be found napping in the sun with him.
Gabby Bayol, Juvenile Justice Coordinator and Case Supervisor
Gabby, a San Francisco native, joined the SFCASA team in 2019 as the Juvenile Justice Coordinator and Case Supervisor. She received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from San Francisco State University. She is currently working toward her Masters of Legal and Forensic Psychology through the University of California, Irvine. Gabby loves to travel and go on adventures with her Australian Cattle Dog, November.
Victoria Rennie, Executive Assistant
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Tory served as a volunteer advocate for SFCASA. In college she served as a mentor to first generation college students, and previously worked in the legal field. She graduated from Colby-Sawyer College with a B.S. in Public Health and believes everyone should have access to affordable healthcare. Tory loves to travel, and once spent three days in the Costa Rican rain forest.
Christina Lee, Program Assistant
Christina joined the SFCASA team in 2019 as the Program Assistant. She is a South Bay native and studied at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, where she earned her B.A. in Sociology and Spanish. Prior to joining the SFCASA team, Christina worked with high school students as a tutor in East San Jose and administrator at a small educational company in the South Bay. She is excited to support the CASAs and foster youth. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, spending time with family and friends, and exploring new cities.
Nemo, Courthouse Dog
Nemo is a four year old black lab who serves as SFCASA's Court Dog. He came to CASA in 2017 from Canine Companions for Independence and is a calming, supportive influence for children and families in court. Nemo can be requested to attend court proceedings that could use a little extra support. In his spare time Nemo enjoys head scratches, chasing a ball, and cuddling.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Board of Directors is a dedicated group of community volunteers with a broad range of talents and professional backgrounds. They provide SFCASA with exceptional governance, fiscal oversight, compliance, and accountability.
Lisa Pearson, Chair - Attorney
Aji Oliyide, Vice Chair - Program Manager, Google
Jeffrey Davidson, Treasurer - Partner, Covington & Burling LLP
James SanMarco, Secretary - Enterprise Account Manager, LinkedIn
Allison Eisenhardt, Chair Emeritus - Attorney and Former SFCASA Volunteer
Laura Bisesto - Director of State Government Affairs, Oath, Inc.
Elizabeth Carey - VP and CFO, The Oregon Community Foundation
Katy Hope - Former CASA Volunteer
Margaret Keane - Partner, DLA Piper US LLP
Elizabeth Foster Lippert - Partner, Bain & Company and Former SFCASA Volunteer
Brynly Llyr - General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Ripple Labs, Inc.
Jennifer Young Perlman - Director, Social Impact, Pearson
Matthew S. Rechtin - Vice President, Wells Fargo Securities
Lisa Spinali - Nonprofit Strategy Consultant
Sally Stocks - Senior Director, Invesco Real Estate
Jennifer Taylor - Head of Products, Cloudflare, Inc.
Vicki Valandra - Realtor, Zephyr Real Estate