Office of the President & CEO
Eloy Ortiz Oakley
Eloy Ortiz Oakley joined the Foundation as President & CEO in August 2022. As president and CEO he works in partnership with organizations and leaders around the state to ensure that more students who reflect California’s diversity can complete their postsecondary journeys, access the opportunity for a better life, and participate in an inclusive and robust economy. Eloy is known as a leading voice on improving equity in higher education and for positioning institutions for global shifts in the workforce and the future of learning.
In 2016, Eloy became Chancellor for the California Community Colleges, the nation’s largest higher education system, serving mostly students of color, many of whom are low-income and the first in their families to attend college. There he has been instrumental in the development and adoption of the Vision for Success, a guiding set of goals and commitments designed to significantly improve the system’s student outcomes.
Previously, Eloy was superintendent and president of the Long Beach Community College District (LBCCD), where he helped launch the Long Beach College Promise Program, a compact that outlined clear pathways from high school to Long Beach Community College and Cal State Long Beach. He also previously worked as LBCCD’s executive vice president of administrative services as well as vice president of college services at Oxnard College.
A forward-looking thought leader on higher education and its connection to the economy, he has served on many boards and committees, including the California Governor’s Council for Post-secondary Education, the California Forward Leadership Council, the PPIC Higher Education Advisory Council, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Economic Summit, and the American Association of Community Colleges 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. He joined the College Futures Foundation board of directors in 2013.
After serving in the U.S. Army from 1984-1988, he began his postsecondary education at Golden West College, then transferred and earned his bachelor’s degree and his MBA from the University of California, Irvine.
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.
Elizabeth González is a long-time philanthropy professional working for national, state, and regional foundations in support of public-sector systems change strategies and the advancement of equitable intergenerational social-economic mobility. She joined College Futures Foundation in 2019. As chief program & strategy officer, Elizabeth leads the development and implementation of the Foundation’s strategy in service of the foundation’s vision and mission.
Previously, Elizabeth was a portfolio director at The James Irvine Foundation, where she oversaw the education and workforce portfolios and teams – the Better Careers initiative, postsecondary success grantmaking, and Linked Learning, Irvine’s signature initiative 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.
Elizabeth is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and a first-generation college student from southeast Los Angeles. She 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, labor market inequality and social policy. Elizabeth currently serves as a member of the KQED board, USC’s Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy advisory board, Center for Effective Philanthropy’s advisory board and the Public Policy Institute of California’s Statewide Leadership Council. She lives in Albany, CA with her husband and son and enjoys hiking, poetry, and the joy of a good cumbia.
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Ria Sengupta Bhatt
Ria Sengupta Bhatt joined College Futures Foundation in 2020 as its founding Director of Public Policy. In this role, Ria directs and implements the Foundation’s public policy strategy, develops and supports networks and coalitions that advance equity-centered policy change, engages policy leaders, and directs related research and strategic learning efforts.
For more than 15 years, Ria has focused her career on improving educational opportunity and equity for California’s diverse students. 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 consulted to clients in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors at strategic learning firm Informing Change, and was an education researcher at the Public Policy Institute of California. Prior to her role at College Futures, Ria consulted to Project Attain, co-designing and launching an initiative to improve educational attainment for working-age adults in California’s Capital region.
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.
Maureen joined College Futures Foundation in 2018. As a senior program officer, she leads the development and implementation of grantmaking strategy in the transition from K-12 to higher education and from community college to university, under the Student Centric Practices Strategy.
Maureen has more than 15 years of experience working for and with K-12 institutions to strengthen the path for students to transition successfully to college. 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, community colleges 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 recent graduates of California State Universities.
Michael joined the Foundation in March of 2022. As grants associate, he works directly with the grants manager to maintain and optimize grantmaking process and procedures, data systems, legal compliance, and overall quality control. He also works closely with program officers and the chief program & strategy officer to support strategic priorities.
Michael is passionate about making the systems used by foundation grantees and staff as user-friendly and efficient as possible. His previous experience includes Fluxx grants management software sales, grants and operations officer for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation based in Little Rock, Arkansas, and six years of higher education operations and finance.
Castens received his B.S. in communications from the University of Arkansas.
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.
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.
As administrative assistant, Vanessa will work closely with the College Futures project manager and provide administrative support for cross-departmental information sharing and coordination related to speaking engagements, convenings, and major report releases.
Vanessa most recently worked as a legal & social services advocate for the Alameda County Public Defender’s office. Prior to that she tracked and managed data for the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Vanessa was a community college student at San Joaquin Delta College before transferring to UC Berkeley, where she was a navigator/mentor for underrepresented students on campus and a summer supervisor for the BUILD literacy program.
Vanessa graduated in 2020 from the University of California, Berkeley, with a B.A. in English and a minor in education. She will start her role in June of 2022.
Joanna joined the Foundation in June 2012. As project manager, she supports oversight of the Program functions of the foundation, including managing and reporting on the programmatic budget and related grantmaking processes, budget forecasting, and coordinating annual budget planning. 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 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 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 joined College Futures Foundation in January 2020. As Senior Program Officer she leads the development and implementation of the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy around community college pathways and holistic student supports.
April brings over twenty years of experience in the education sector supporting young people, their postsecondary educations, and their transitions to careers that enable economic mobility. Previously, April served as a program officer at The James Irvine Foundation where she partnered with non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, and state higher education systems to help smooth student transitions from high school to college and careers in California. As a researcher at the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research and the University of Pennsylvania, April investigated college student decision-making, exploring how cultural identities and institutional contexts shape students’ academic major and career choices. Her research has been published in academic journals and magazines, including The Journal of Higher Education, Sociology of Education, Journal of College Student Development, and Contexts, as well as profiled in international news media. April began her career directly serving students as an academic advisor at Prep for Prep and LaGuardia Community College’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP).
After growing up in rural Ohio, April stopped out of college and eventually transferred to earn bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Studio Art from Smith College. She also earned a master’s degree in Higher Education Management and joint Ph.D. in Sociology and Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in a multi-generational household in the Bay Area with her spouse, two energetic sons, and father.
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.
Sara Kaur Sandhu
Sara Kaur Sandhu joined College Futures Foundation in November 2022. As Senior Communications Officer, she is responsible for a range of institutional, programmatic, and initiative-specific communications, including activities under the areas of: audience engagement, issue framing, messaging, publication and content production, research, media relations, communications grantmaking support, branding, and related projects.
Sara brings ten years of work and service in the field of education to this role, with eight of those years focused on marketing and communications. Most recently, she has been instrumental in shaping GO Public Schools’ policy platform and leading their college affordability work. She previously worked for East Bay College Fund and also held roles at Merritt College and Berkeley City College.
She brings with her a sound understanding of K-12 and higher education policies and practices in California, and experience in advocating for vital education and financial resources for Black, Latinx, and Asian American & Pacific Islander families. She has worked directly with educator communities of practice around guided pathways and dual enrollment, run electoral campaigns, and engaged in movement-building around educational equity.
Sara holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley as well as certificates in microscopy from Merritt College in Oakland.
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.
Finance & Administration
Phillippe Wallace joined College Futures in 2010. He oversees the Foundation’s $600 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 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, on the board of the Foundation Finance Officers Group (FFOG), and as a member of the Alumni Diversity Council at the Haas School of Business.
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.
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 partnership with the COO, Krysten is responsible for oversight of Foundation-wide operations, including human resources, as well as oversight of the investment portfolio. She also develops content for and interfaces with the Audit Committee, Finance and Administration Committee, and Investment Committee of the Board of Directors. Krysten is a member of the Foundation’s leadership team.
Krysten is active in the philanthropic sector. She serves as a subcommittee chair on the Research Committee for the Foundation Financial Officers Group (FFOG), a member organization of financial and investment officers of large private foundations, is an active participant in the Foundation Human Resources Alliance, a national group of private foundation Human Resource professionals, and is a member of the Bay Area Foundation Roundtable group, a regional network of private foundation finance, accounting, and human resource professionals. Additionally, Krysten serves as a non-trustee member of the Audit Committee for the College Preparatory School in Oakland, California and as the Fundraising Co-Chair on the Emerson Elementary School PTA in Berkeley, California.
Previously, Krysten spent six years in public accounting, culminating as 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 children, exercising, and following Bay Area sports.
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 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 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.