Staff

Monica joined the Foundation in December 2017. As president and CEO she works in partnership with organizations and leaders around the state to ensure education pathways are aligned seamlessly for college attainment. She is committed to the vision that California’s low-income students and students of color should have equitable access to bachelor’s degrees and a better life.

 

Before coming to College Futures, Monica spent thirty years in media as editor and publisher of La Opinión, the largest Spanish language newspaper in the country, and then as chairman and CEO of the parent company, ImpreMedia. Monica has been very active in education, especially at the institutional governance level. She served as chair of the California State Board of Education and the Board of Regents of the University of California, spent more than 20 years as a trustee of the University of Southern California, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education. She is on the Advisory Council of the Public Policy Insitute of California’s Higher Education Center.

 

Monica has also been active in philanthropy and the non-profit sector, including as chair of the Weingart Foundation Board of Trustees, a former member the board of the Rockefeller Foundation, and co-founder of the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program.

Elizabeth González

Elizabeth González is a long-time philanthropy professional working for national, state, and regional foundations in support of advancing intergenerational mobility and public-sector systems change strategies. She joined College Futures Foundation in 2019. As chief program & strategy officer, Elizabeth works closely with the CEO to manage the development and implementation of the Foundation’s strategy.

 

Previously, Elizabeth was a portfolio director at The James Irvine Foundation, where she oversaw education and workforce portfolio – the Better Careers initiative, postsecondary success grantmaking, and Linked Learning, Irvine’s effort to integrate academic and career-technical education for better student outcomes in high schools throughout California. Prior to her work at the Irvine Foundation, González was a postsecondary success program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation overseeing a national portfolio of municipal partnerships for college success.

 

A first-generation college graduate, Elizabeth earned a B.A. from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a focus on poverty, social labor market inequality and social policy. She currently serves on the board of Grantmakers for Education.

 

Connect with Elizabeth on Twitter:
Elizabeth4CollegeFutures, @Dr_E_Gonzalez

Maureen Carew

Maureen joined College Futures Foundation in 2018. As a senior program officer, she leads the development and implementation of the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy in the transition from K-12 to higher education, under the Pipeline to Degree initiative.

 

Maureen has worked for and with K-12 institutions for more than 15 years. Most recently she held the position of senior community engagement associate at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University where she led research partnerships with school districts and community organizations. Maureen previously worked for San Francisco Unified School District where she launched their postsecondary success department and developed partnerships with the Mayor’s Office, San Francisco City College, and San Francisco State University to use data to drive equity goals. Maureen’s prior work includes serving as executive director for San Francisco nonprofits including Leadership High School, an equity-focused charter school.

 

A first-generation college graduate, Maureen earned her B.A. from Franklin Pierce University and her M.P.A. from San Francisco State University. Maureen served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, and her two children are currently California State University students.

Alyssa Pine

Alyssa Pine joined College Futures Foundation in 2020. As a program associate, she provides grant management and administrative support to the Foundation’s program and evaluation and learning teams and helps facilitate the grantmaking and grants-monitoring processes.

 

A new resident of the Bay Area, Alyssa previously worked at Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City, where she assisted with their adult education department and Synagogue programming.

 

Originally from Golden, Colorado, Alyssa took a gap year before college and worked as an au pair in Paris, France. She earned a B.A in Political Science with minors in Media Studies and French Language from Colorado State University.

Joanna Saracino

Joanna joined the Foundation in June 2012. As project manager, she supports oversight of the Program functions of the foundation, including managing the programmatic budget and related processes, coordinating annual budget planning, and supporting the team’s strategic learning related to grantmaking. In her former role as associate program officer, she managed the foundation’s Community Philanthropy Initiative and previous scholarship grantmaking portfolio.

 

With several years of experience in San Francisco schools and nonprofit educational organizations, Joanna is committed to improving the lives of low-income youth through increased opportunities for college. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a high school Special Education and English teacher in San Francisco. She also brings with her experience in the legal field, primarily tax and employment law and in legal publishing. Joanna has volunteered with various literacy programs and community-based organizations dedicated to improving educational outcomes for low-income youth in San Francisco.

 

Joanna holds a master’s degree in education from the University of San Francisco and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

Henry Velasco

Henry Velasco joined the Foundation in 2018.  As grants manager, he is responsible for the management and implementation of the Foundation’s policies and procedures related to grants administration.

 

Previously, Henry was the grants manager at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment in San Francisco.  He has 10 years of grants management experience, and over 7 years of legal administrative experience.

 

Henry received a B.F.A. in Theater from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Shawn Whalen

Shawn joined the College Futures Foundation in September 2015. As program director, he leads the development and implementation of the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy in student-centric practices.

 

Shawn has extensive experience in higher education as both a faculty member and university administrator. Prior to joining the Foundation, he held the position of chief of staff to the president of San Francisco State University, where he served as a member of the senior leadership team, advised the president on academic policy, student achievement, and strategic planning, and facilitated institutional partnerships. Shawn is professor emeritus of Communication Studies at San Francisco State University. As a faculty member, he was active in university governance and served three terms as chair of the Academic Senate. He also directed nationally ranked speech and debate programs at two institutions and is a past president of intercollegiate debate’s national governing body, the Cross Examination Debate Association. Shawn was elected as a public member to the WASC Senior College and University Commission and began his term July 2020.

 

Shawn received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from San Diego State University and completed Ph.D. coursework at the University of Utah.

April Yee

April Yee joined College Futures Foundation in January 2020. As a Senior Program Officer, she leads the development and implementation of grantmaking in student success pathways and holistic student supports, under the Foundation’s Student-centric Practices strategy. She will also work closely with the Foundation’s Program, Learning, and Communications teams in other strategy areas.

 

April has more than 15 years of experience supporting students’ transitions to and through college as a direct service provider, researcher, and funder. Prior to joining the Foundation, Yee served as a program officer at The James Irvine Foundation, where she partnered with non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, and state higher education system offices to help smooth student transitions from high school to college in California. As a researcher at UC Davis’ Center for Poverty Research and the University of Pennsylvania, she examined college student decision-making, focusing on how culture, class, and institutions shape academic and career pathways. Most recently, she helped scale the state’s college guidance platform, CaliforniaColleges.edu, at the California College Guidance Initiative. She began her career serving students as an academic advisor at Prep for Prep and LaGuardia Community College’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP).

 

April earned a B.A. from Smith College, as well as a M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Management and joint Ph.D. in Sociology and Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ria Sengupta Bhatt

Ria joined the Foundation in February 2020. As Director of Public Policy, she is responsible for directing the development and implementation of the foundation’s public policy initiatives, advancing equitable student success policies at state and institutional levels, engaging policymakers, and directing related research and evaluation efforts.

 

Ria previously served as interim executive director and deputy director at California Competes, a policy research and advocacy organization focused on improving higher education and workforce outcomes. She worked as a consultant to clients in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors at strategic learning firm Informing Change, and currently serves on the board. She was a researcher at the Public Policy Institute of California and currently serves on its Higher Education Advisory Council.  Most recently, she consulted to Project Attain, an initiative to improve educational attainment for working-age adults in California’s Capital region. She co-designed and implemented the launch of the initiative, and directed Project Attain’s participation in Degrees When Due, a nationwide project to re-engage adult learners led by the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

 

Ria holds a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University and a B.A. in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Theresa Esparrago Lieu

Theresa Esparrago Lieu joined College Futures Foundation in 2021. As strategic learning officer, she supports staff in prioritizing their learning agendas and develops tools to capture and distill both formal and informal learning to inform strategy refinement, execution, and reflection.

 

Theresa brings over 15 years of experience in the social and education sectors working to support greater equity, access, and opportunity. Most recently, she managed strategic learning engagements for a diverse portfolio of foundation and nonprofit clients at Informing Change. Theresa previously worked at ConnectED: The National Center for College and Career supporting the implementation and scaling of the Linked Learning, providing technical assistance, and facilitating communities of practice to help school districts use data in support of equity, student success, and continuous improvement.

 

Theresa earned an M.A. in the sociology of education from New York University, and a B.A. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Regan Douglass

Regan joined the Foundation in 2013. Regan leads communications efforts for College Futures Foundation and its work, including strategy development, messaging, publications, digital content, campaigns, and special initiatives. She is a member of the Foundation’s management team. She has more than ten years of experience as an editor, writer, researcher, and campaign and project manager.

 

Previously, Regan led communications efforts for California Humanities, a state partner of the NEH that funds and works with California’s libraries, universities, teachers, and artists to build empathy, understanding, and civic engagement. She managed California Humanities’ rebranding campaign, which included developing and launching a new visual identity, websites, and publications.

 

Prior to that, Regan managed publication production and communications campaigns at PolicyLink—a public policy think tank focused on equity and opportunity for low-income communities and people of color. While there she edited, produced, and contributed to dozens of publications and grassroots campaigns, and was a co-author of The Covenant with Black America, which topped the New York Times Best Seller list.

 

Regan has provided communications consulting services to numerous clients working for a healthier and more just California, including The California Endowment, UC Berkeley’s Chief Justice Warren Institute, ZeroDivide, World Learning, Scripps College, and the Bay Area Leadership Network of Color. She has also taught writing and literature at George Mason University, headed a women’s resource center, edited two major literary journals, served as board member for a consortium of publications, and run communications trainings for institutions of all sizes.

 

Currently, she is president of ComNetworkSF, a Bay Area-based network for communications professionals doing mission-driven work.

 

Regan graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude from Pomona College with a B.A. in English and holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from George Mason University.

Phuong Ly

Phuong joined the Foundation in 2019. As senior communications officer, she works closely with the director of communications and staff to develop communications strategy and serves as an advisor on messaging for staff and our grantee partners.

 

Phuong has nearly 20 years of experience working at the intersection of media and social justice. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked as an independent communications consultant to nonprofits involved in immigration, education, and health care issues. Previously, she was executive director of the Institute for Justice & Journalism, which provided training for journalists and nonprofits, funded reporting, and developed digital resources. She also has worked as a journalist, specializing in immigration and criminal justice issues. As a reporter for the Washington Post, she wrote award-winning stories about immigrants, and a portfolio of her work was published in an anthology of “Best Newspaper Writing.” She began her career as a reporter for the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina.

 

Phuong was the first person in her family to attend college, earning a B.A. in history and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University.

Valery Vue

Valery joined College Futures Foundation in July 2021. As communications associate, she collaborates with the director of strategic communications to produce and support a range of effective communications efforts to catalyze systemic change for equitable student success—including a focus on digital and project management, audience engagement, marketing campaigns, production processes, and events.

 

Through prior roles with Sonoma State University’s School of Business and Economics (SBE), Valery brings several years of experience in leading, developing, and implementing integrated communications and marketing campaigns that advance student-serving programs and initiatives. In her most recent position as marketing and communications lead for SBE at Sonoma State, her work emphasized promoting social mobility for California’s first-generation students of color, a priority shared by College Futures Foundation as mission critical. Valery began her career in the AmeriCorps, serving the Community HealthCorps program.

 

Valery earned her M.B.A. from Sonoma State University, as well as a B.S. in communications and a B.A. in health science from California State University, Chico.

Phillippe Wallace

Phillippe Wallace joined College Futures in 2010. He oversees the Foundation’s $500 million investment portfolio as well as finance, accounting, information technology, facilities, and non-grantmaking operations. He has served in the CFO and COO roles in philanthropy for almost 20 years. Earlier in his career he focused on investment management, technology investment banking, and private equity.

 

Phillippe has an M.B.A. in Strategy and Finance from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a Fellow in the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and has a Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA Institute. He is active in the sector, serving on the boards of the Foundation Financial Officers Group (FFOG), the member organization of financial and investment officers of large private foundations, and of Community Initiatives, a fiscal sponsor of projects for the benefit of communities in service to social change, and as a trustee of The Christensen Fund, a private foundation supporting and strengthening Indigenous Peoples’ efforts to secure and exercise their rights to their land, territories, resources, and sovereign systems of governance. He has also served as director and treasurer for Hispanics in Philanthropy, and as a member of the Alumni Diversity Council at the Haas School of Business.

Krysten Curtis

Krysten Curtis joined the Foundation in 2010. As the director of Finance and Administration, Krysten is responsible for all finance, accounting, and reporting activities. Additionally, in tandem with the CFO, Krysten is responsible for oversight of Foundation-wide operations, including human resources, as well as oversight of the investment portfolio. Krysten is a member of the management committee and works closely with senior management to enhance operational support of the Program and the Evaluation and Learning departments. She is also involved in the generation and presentation of materials to various committees of the Board of Directors.

 

Previously, Krysten was an audit manager at a large, regional Bay Area accounting firm primarily serving nonprofits and foundations. Earlier in her career in public accounting, she worked with clients ranging from city and local governments to school districts to venture capital firms.

 

Krysten received her B.S., cum laude, in business administration with a concentration in accounting, from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She is also an active Certified Public Accountant in the state of California. When not at work, Krysten enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children, exercising, and following Bay Area sports.

Stefanie Charren

Stefanie Charren joined the Foundation in 2011. As the office manager, Stefanie ensures back office operations and Foundation events are executed to high standards, and as board liaison, supports the scheduling and meeting needs of the Board of Directors.

 

Prior to her current role, Stefanie supported the Foundation’s work in several consulting capacities, from grant administration and selection to coordinating the Foundation’s grantee convenings. Previously, she coordinated the Youth and Scholarship Program at Habitat for Humanity East Bay—a three-year pilot scholarship and college access/success program serving children of Habitat homeowners. Stefanie’s interests and work experiences are informed by a desire to foster effective systems and happy people. From writing a behind-the-scenes column for the San Francisco International Film Festival, teaching college-level English and writing, and crewing for private yachts in the Mediterranean to co-managing a domestic violence shelter, recruiting and managing IBM’s contracted administrative workforce in Northern California, and offering administrative and organizational support to small businesses as an independent consultant—she brings a creative touch to support meaningful learning experiences and sustainable business practices.

 

Stefanie earned a B.A. in American Studies and Women’s Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

David Guzman

David Guzman joined College Futures Foundation in 2006. He is responsible for maintaining the Foundation’s computer hardware, operating systems, servers, and collaboration tools, as well as managing all outside IT support vendors. David also oversees the Foundation’s portfolio of student loan receivables and related servicers.

 

Previously, David was with Chela Education Financing and moved to the Foundation when it was created in 2006. He has over 13 years of experience in consumer lending with institutions in Utah and California. David’s background includes positions at commercial banks and credit unions, where he has managed IT and credit and collections systems, and helped launch electronic banking for credit union members.

Aileen Lui

Aileen Lui joined College Futures Foundation in 2006. As a senior accountant, she monitors the Foundation’s bank account activities, investment transactions, daily cash position, monthly closing, student loans, and other accounting duties.

 

Previously, Aileen was in the accounting department of Chela Education Financing. She has over 20 years of experience in banking industries, including as a customer service representative, running a wire department, and working in international banking.

 

She attended City College of San Francisco and extension courses at San Francisco State University.

Mark Terrell

Mark Terrell joined the Foundation in 2006 as a senior accountant, focusing on accounts payable, benefits administration, and payroll. He also assists with the month-end close process, preparing financial statements and account reconciliations.

 

Mark has over 20 years of experience in the accounting and administration field. Previously, he worked for a variety of businesses including architecture firms, hotel and restaurant management, and nonprofits.

 

Mark was a music major in college. He was a keyboardist and vocalist for a rock band in the late-80s and early-90s, and had the big hair to prove it.

Dana Washington

Dana Washington joined College Futures Foundation in 2019 as executive assistant to the president and CEO.

 

Prior to joining the Foundation, Dana supported the executive leadership and board of directors at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.  She brings more than 15 years of executive assistance experience at both for-profit and non-profit organizations in the Bay Area.

 

Dana earned her A.A.S. in Business Administration, Criminal Justice from Heald College in San Francisco, where she maintained a 4.0 grade average.