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 $25 million in his 26 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.
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 during any free time.
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.
Betsy Slate, Training Specialist and Case Supervisor
Betsy joined SFCASA in 2017 as a Training Specialist and Case Supervisor. She comes to SFCASA with a training background in a variety of fields, ranging from academia to religious institutions. Betsy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego and a Master of Social Work and a Master of Theological Studies from Boston University. Betsy enjoys hiking, traveling and sharing deep conversation and endless cups of tea with good friends.
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.
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.
Danny Kirchoff, Case Supervisor
Danny joined SFCASA in 2017 as a Case Supervisor. Danny comes to his role after eight years with the Transgender Law Center (TLC), where he used his legal background to serve as a client advocate, legal helpline manager, and equal justice works fellow. A graduate of Antioch College and City University New York School of Law, Danny has extensive case management experience and has been an active leader in the LGTBQ community. In his free time Danny loves to swim and spend time with his friends.
Janey Kemp, Case Supervisor & Data Specialist
Janey has worked with San Francisco CASA for seven 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.
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.
Ayame joined SFCASA in 2017, soon after graduating with a B.A. in Broadcasting and Communications from San Francisco State University. Previously, she has gained experience working with our partner programs such as API Wellness, ILSP SF, and Larkin Street Youth Services. Ayame also gained the understanding of foster care system back in her county - Ventura, California with their CASA program, Human Services Agency, Casa Pacifica, and CYC. She has a strong passion for working with foster youth, and she loves being near the water, which is where she likes to go in her own time.
Nemo, Court Dog
Nemo is a two 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.
Shane Douglas, Chair - Manager, Product Partnerships, YouTube
Lisa Pearson, Vice Chair - Attorney
Jeffrey Davidson, Treasurer - Partner, Covington & Burling LLP
James SanMarco, Secretary - Enterprise Account Manager, LinkedIn
Laura Bisesto - Director of State Government Affairs, Oath, Inc.
Elizabeth Carey - VP and CFO, The Oregon Community Foundation
Allison Eisenhardt, Chair Emeritus - Attorney and Former SFCASA Volunteer
Katy Hope - Former CASA Volunteer
Margaret Keane - Partner, DLA Piper US LLP
Anthony Lencioni - Vice President, Benefits, Bank of the West
Elizabeth Foster Lippert - Partner, Parthenon - EY and Former SFCASA Volunteer
Aji Oliyide - M&A Finance Integration Manager, Google
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.