About Us


Talented, hard-working, dedicated, caring — these are just a few of the rock-solid qualities the people of 826 possess. Portraits by the wonderfully generous volunteer photographers Stephanie Theune of Schmootography, Malcolm Eaton of Malcolm Eaton Photography, and Katherine Yao.


Bita Nazarian, Executive DirectorBita NazarianExecutive Director, earned her BA in English and her MA in Education from UC Berkeley. She has been an educator in SFUSD for eighteen years, serving as a teacher, leader, and administrator. She currently supports new school administrators by facilitating a class for UC Berkeley’s Leadership Support Program. Bita fell in love with 826 when the organization established its first Writers’ Room at Everett MS in 2003, and then was ecstatic to build a second Writers’ Room at James Lick MS, where she was principal. Bita joined 826 Valencia’s Board in 2006 and served for five years, three of them as President. She was recently recognized as a Superbowl 5o Fund’s Playmaker and as one of 7×7 magazine’s 2015 Hot 20. Photo by Malcolm Eaton.
Brad AmorosinoBrad AmorosinoDesign Director, grew up in a snoozy town called Unionville in central Connecticut, where he developed a habit of drawing cartoons and the back of people’s heads while attending church. In 2003, he graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BFA in Graphic Design and a love of color and type. An explorer himself, he left the East Coast seasons behind in 2010 to work in the vibrant Bay Area as an illustrator and designer. He is very excited to work for 826 Valencia, a company with a gold-hearted mission. Photo by Katherine Yao.
Alyssa Aninag, Volunteer CoordinatorAlyssa Aninag, Volunteer Coordinator, was raised in Stockton, California, the Asparagus Capital of the World. (We’re spear-it-ed!) She studied English and Media Communications at the University of San Diego, and from there headed to the magical city by the bay where she earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco. She joined 826 in summer 2014 as a volunteer, continued as an AmeriCorps VISTA Associate, and is honored to be staying on to support the volunteer outreach efforts. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Dana Belott, Programs AssociateDana Belott, Programs Coordinator, is a Jersey native, and spent four years studying creative writing and religious studies at Oberlin College in Ohio before continuing her trek out west to California. Two years later, she can still be found raving to locals and tourists alike about the incredible views in the Bay Area. Originally joining 826 as an intern and then serving a one-year term as an Americorps member, she is thrilled to continue supporting students as a staff member. If she isn’t working, she is likely running up hills, postin’ up in a bookstore, or pressuring people to join her on an elaborate road trip. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Nicole BrownNicole Brown, Individual Philanthropy Officer, is a California native who was raised in Ohio but went to college in Virginia. She moved with her family to Sun Valley, Idaho and is now thrilled to be back among her outdoor-loving (and sea-faring) people in Northern California. After nearly 20 years working in advertising and publishing, including five years working for The New Yorker magazine, Nicole took a cue from a lifetime of fundraising side gigs and transitioned to a second career. She cut her development chops at GLIDE as the Institutional Giving Director and as a self-proclaimed “Warrior for Equity” is honored to be working as part of a dynamic, creative, ambitious and visionary team dedicated to helping young people write their own stories. Photo by Katherine Yao
Elaina Bruna, Development CoordinatorElaina BrunaDevelopment Coordinator, first showcased her own collection of stories at her third-grade hobby fair, complete with glitter-glue-decorated titles. She received her creative writing degree from Gonzaga University in 2013 alongside a semester-long project encouraging elementary and high school students to write. She is originally from South Dakota, but now has become an SF secret cupcake connoisseur, volleyball player, and muni-expert. Elaina was a development intern with 826 National prior to joining 826 Valencia and is delighted to have the opportunity to help in the expansion process. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Ricardo Cruz Chong, Programs CoordinatorRicardo Cruz Chong, Programs Associate, was raised in the most popular border city in the world—Tijuana. Seeking new adventures after finishing high school in San Diego, he couldn’t get enough of the different cultures, so he moved to San Francisco to attend SF State. While studying media arts in the BECA department, he interned with Ben Manilla Productions where he first got a taste of editing podcasts. He later joined BAYCAT as an intern and became employed as a video editor. When not working, Ricardo spends his time chasing his childhood dreams of either playing soccer in Europe or playing drums in the corner of a restaurant. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Precediha Dangerfield, Programs CoordinatorPrecediha DangerfieldPrograms Coordinator, believes her experience as an 826 Valencia intern in 2009 inspired her to pursue a career in education. She is a proud Oakland native with a love for music that works harmoniously with her love for education. A graduate of California State University, East Bay, Precediha believes that every child deserves the tools to meet their learning goals because she has experienced firsthand how it feels to receive nurturing educational support. Precediha was an Intervention Specialist with Oakland Unified School District for four years. She now sings the praises of coming full circle and is thrilled to support the amazing programs that 826 Valencia provides its students. Photo by Katherine Yao.
Shelby Dale DeWeeseShelby Dale DeWeesePrograms Coordinator, spent her early years on her family’s farm in the rural southeast, but always loved reading and dreaming about big cities. While a student at the University of Southern California, she co-founded a literary magazine, served as chief copy editor of the campus newspaper, and taught creative writing workshops to students in LA and in Germany. She also discovered 826LA & the Time Travel Mart, where she became involved as a volunteer, intern, and AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate. She then voyaged north to pursue an MFA in Writing at the University of San Francisco. After a year of interning for 826 Valencia, Shelby is thrilled to be officially aboard the good ship 826! Photo by Malcolm Eaton.
Allyson Halpern, Development DirectorAllyson Halpern, Development Director, hails from MA, and can still drop her “r”s on request. A career fundraiser, she is most inspired by organizations with a local focus on arts, education and community building. Allyson has an undergrad degree in writing and a graduate degree in nonprofit management, both from Carnegie Mellon, where she also taught business writing to actors, artists, and musicians. When not at 826, you can find her hanging out with her husband and two daughters or sneaking Scrabble turns on her iPhone. She loves coming to work, and is thrilled to be part of a team that sets the standard for wit, style, and positive change. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Virdell HickmanVirdell Hickman, Operations Manager, is a native of the Bay Area, who earned her BA in Studio Art from Mills College and her MA in Transformative Art from John F. Kennedy University. While in college, she worked as a youth art program director developing material for people of all ages. She also volunteered for three years as a facilitator for weekly support groups for women in recovery. Virdell has over 20+ years of experience in both corporate and nonprofit sectors in operations, business and program management, and art education. In her spare time, she enjoys discovering themes of identity and transformation through the creative process of painting. Photo by Katherine Yao.
Caroline Kangas, Stores ManagerCaroline Kangas, Stores Manager, was drawn to 826 Valencia and San Francisco from a different kind of gray in her hometown of Seattle. Here she still spends a lot of time in coffee shops, wears a lot of layers, and talks about the weather more than is really necessary. The University of San Francisco built upon her foundation of life experiences to create a well-educated person who loves to chat about community gardens, Borges, summer camp, thrifting for the color pink, travel, french bulldogs, Sarah Ruhl, leftovers, and fierce lady pirates. Or anything, really. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Kona Lai, Programs CoordinatorKona Lai, Programs Coordinator, grew up flying between Taiwan and her hometown in sunny southern California. In between brief flings with the east coast during which she drank too much bubble tea and received a degree in Spanish from Wellesley College and an MA in International Education from NYU, she travelled around the world and worked with youth in France, China, and Ghana. She recently completed both the Camino de Santiago and the Kumano Kodō, two historical pilgrimage routes on opposite ends of the globe. When she’s not dreaming up new ways to educate and connect with students, she can usually be found folding origami, reading fanfiction, and petting cats at the SFSPCA. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Kiley McLaughlinPrograms and Volunteer Coordinator, was raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, hallowed birthplace of Marshmallow Fluff (look it up!). She studied English and Social Anthropology at Harvard University, and from there traveled to the Midwestern prairie, where she earned her MFA in creative writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and saw her first butter sculpture. After a turn volunteering and interning at 826 Boston’s Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute, Kiley is elated to be braving the high seas with the crew of 826 Valencia. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Molly Parent, Programs and Communications ManagerMolly Parent, Communications and Programs Manager, has been involved with 826 since 2009, as an intern and as a volunteer before joining the staff in 2012. She graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in Literature/Writing. Previously, Molly has co-owned a food co-op, spent summers devising elaborate twists on capture-the-flag in the forests of New Hampshire, and taught babies how to swim. When not at 826, she can usually be found organizing literary events, dreaming up and executing the perfect day-trip, or gesturing wildly about books over tacos. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Christina V. Perry, Programs DirectorChristina Villaseñor Perry, Director of Education, hails from the sunny South Bay. She ventured east for college, where she studied Social Anthropology at Harvard University. Seeking a more agreeable clime, Christina began her career as a Special Educator in Los Angeles and earned her MA in Special Education. She then taught at Everett Middle School in San Francisco for five years. Christina recently enjoyed a trip to the Caribbean shores of the Yucatan Peninsula, where she swam alongside whale sharks, witnessed nesting sea turtles in the moonlight, and mingled with iguanas amidst Mayan ruins. She is thrilled to be aboard 826 Valencia, while continuing her involvement in local public schools. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Kathleen Rodriguez, Tutoring Programs ManagerKathleen Rodriguez, Tutoring Programs Manager, was born in sunny San Diego where she developed a profound love and appreciation for sea shells, flip flops, and carne asada tacos. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Literature and Writing from Cal State San Marcos, Kathleen worked as a middle school English and history teacher. After three years, she set sale on a voyage to Colombia, where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer and developed education and youth development projects. Kathleen is excited to explore everything the city of San Francisco has to offer, and when she’s not at 826 can probably be found perusing a bookstore, buying cool earrings, or getting lost on some form of public transportation. Photo by Paul Cartier.
Meghan Ryan, Design DirectorMeghan Ryan, Publications Manager, grew a thick skin battling frigid East Coast winters and occasionally oppressive summers. After receiving a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, she headed west to settle in San Francisco, where the summers are frigid, but it’s never muggy. Having spent her professional career working in design and production in higher education, she’s delighted to join a group of spirited pirates, adventurers, and pundits inspiring the next generation of literary geniuses. When not geeking out over found type or brainstorming the next design project, you’ll likely find her out at a local film festival, catching some live music, running through the park, or on a road trip in her tiny car. Photo by Malcolm Eaton.
Leah TarlenLeah Tarlen, Director of Institutional Gifts, like most Bay Area natives, has a penchant for good food, the outdoors, and the just. She earned her BA in History and Spanish and her MA in Museum Studies from the San Francisco State University and has dedicated her career to education and the arts. She worked as an Education Curator at the Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, but missing the urban life, she returned to San Francisco and migrated to the world of fundraising at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. A mother of twins who attend an underserved public middle school in San Francisco and a Board Member of Creativity Explored, Leah is excited to advance 826 Valencia’s mission. Photo by Katherine Yao.
Anton Timms, Volunteer Engagement DirectorAnton Timms, Volunteer Engagement Director, hails from Milwaukee, but moved to San Rafael back in 2013. He’s supported volunteer programs in youth development, education, housing, and for people with functional needs. Prior to working at 826, he was the director for a HandsOn Network affiliate. Anton has led several national capacity-building programs designed to deepen civic engagement, and is passionate about working at the intersection of volunteers, businesses, and our students. He earned a degree from Marquette University in Spanish Language for the Professions and Human Resources. Anton is a coffee enthusiast, renowned buffalo wing cooker (and taster), aspiring bicyclist, hiker/ camper, and a lover of live music. Photo by Malcolm Eaton.
Ashley Varady, Program ManagerAshley Smith, Program Manager, was born in the Bay Area, where she grew up searching for lost pirate treasure. She left to explore life back east, and develop an understanding of all four seasons. After graduating from Middlebury College, she moved to New York City, where she taught middle school English and earned her masters. Missing the views of the Golden Gate, she returned to San Francisco, and spent six years teaching reading and writing at KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy, while also developing a robot to grade student essays. Since returning to the City by the Bay, she has enjoyed tasting her way through the delicious culinary options San Francisco has to offer. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Megan Waring, Intern CoordinatorMegan Waring, Intern Coordinator, is a wayfarer who found herself in California four years ago through an AmeriCorps program. There she fell in love with the gentle weather and the joys of working with youth and volunteers. She continued working as staff with AmeriCorps, where she partnered with 826 Valencia and became captivated with the overflowing wonder and passion she found there. She is thankful to have landed here to work with 826’s talented interns. When the fog rolls in, she fondly dreams of autumn at Virginia Tech, where she received her BA in Creative Writing years ago. Her free time is spent weaving, hiking, and getting too competitive at board games. Photo by Katherine Yao.
Jillian Wasick, Program ManagerJillian Wasick, Program Manager, grew up in the swampy depths of New Jersey before moving north to study history at McGill University in Montreal, where her curly hair frequently turned to icy ringlets. After college, Jillian was an AmeriCorps volunteer in New Mexico and then became a founding teacher at a middle school in Watsonville, California. Seeking more uncomfortably extreme weather, she headed back east where she earned her Master of Education, taught writing, and coached other teachers in Brooklyn, New York. In 2012, she set her barnacle-covered anchor in the bay and began teaching writing at KIPP SF Bay Academy. There, she also served as an instructional coach and the literacy department chair before joining 826 Valencia. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Byron Weiss, Assistant Store ManagerByron Weiss, Assistant Stores Manager, was raised in the desert heat of Los Angeles, California, but as soon as he was able he left for the City by the Bay. His time with 826 began as a fun part-time job peddling pirate wares while he studied Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, but soon he expanded his role to running the ship, as well as assisting with workshop programming. When away from work on shore leave, Byron can be found fencing, on his bike, or climbing rocks. Either that or shining his treasure. Photo by Schmoo Theune.
Ryan Young, Programs ManagerRyan Young, In-Schools Programs Manager, continues his westward migration from the shores of his native Long Island, via the great lakes of Chicago, finally landing on the mighty Pacific shores. While in the windy city, he taught fifth and sixth grades, founded a school newspaper, and started a guitar program, all while earning his MA in Special Education. Missing the feeling of saltwater on his skin, Ryan continued west where he taught at Sherman Elementary School (go Sharks!). When not at 826, he likes to navigate the trails of the Presidio, play the bass, and grab some grub with his mateys. Ryan is overjoyed to be aboard 826 Valencia and continue supporting the amazing teachers and students of San Francisco. Photo by Malcolm Eaton.

AmeriCorps Support Staff 2017–2018

Melissa Anguiano, Programs AssociateMelissa Anguiano, Buena Vista Horace Mann Programs Associate, AmeriCorps BAYAC, was born and raised in foggy San Francisco. She was involved in ScholarMatch Programs and studied Anthropology and Chicano Studies at UC Berkeley. In her free time, she enjoys dancing to Salsa music, eating ice cream, and taking in the sun (when San Francisco weather allows it). Her passion for dance and working with youth led her to participate in two Bay Area folkloric dance groups. When she feels adventurous, she likes packing up and taking road trips to unknown destinations. She loved working with youth when in Berkeley, and is excited to serve as an AmeriCorps member at 826 Valencia! Photo by Katherine Yao.
Angelina Brand, Programs AssociateAngelina Brand, Field Trips and After-School Tutoring Associate, AmeriCorps BAYAC, is a recent UC Santa Cruz graduate with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Education. Born and raised in the Mission, Angelina loves going for walks and exploring the quirks of her community. She worked as a programs assistant at the Boys & Girls Club and as a camp counselor for Camp Kesem. Angelina loves working with youth and is delighted to return to 826 Valencia after her first internship in the Exploring Words program in 2014. In her free time, you can find Angelina dancing to her soul sister Beyonce while covered in glitter. Photo by Katherine Yao.
Katie Cugno, Programs AssociateKatie Cugno, In-Schools Programs Associate, AmeriCorps BAYAC, was born on the East Coast, and landed in San Francisco this January, after stints across the States and abroad. She is outrageously excited about joining 826 Valencia this year, and being back on the best coast. A linguistic voyager and pedagogical enthusiast, when she’s not at 826, you might find her seeking out the sun or pirate dancing on public transport throughout this beautiful Bay. Photo by Katherine Yao.
Lila Cutter, Volunteer AssociateLila Cutter, Volunteer Engagement Associate, AmeriCorps VISTA, is a transplant from Iowa’s Midwestern prairie to Oakland’s city streets. As a former 826 program intern, Lila has a deep appreciation for the care, dedication, and enthusiasm volunteers bring. Lila’s dedication to learning and teaching led her to be a Head Start teacher’s aide, college writing tutor, educator with Compass Green—a mobile greenhouse project—and Distance Learning fellow with the International Writing Program. For her BA, she sailed between Bennington College in Vermont to University of Iowa, studying creative writing and public action. When not buried in nonfiction and poetry books, she can be found hiking, bowling, or working on her dance moves. Photo by Katherine Yao.
Izel Jimenez, Programs AssociateIzel Jimenez, After-School Programs Associate, AmeriCorps BAYAC, grew up in the central part of Mexico, in the city of Atlixco de las Flores. She studied at Benemerita University of Puebla, but her love for the English language inspired her to move north to the Golden State. Before joining the staff at 826, Izel tutored San Francisco students through a partnership between San Francisco State University and 826 Valencia. She also worked as teaching assistant at Skyline College. Photo by Katherine Yao.
Paloma Mariz, Communications AssociatePaloma Mariz, Communications Associate, AmeriCorps VISTA, is a Rio de Janeiro native with a background in Media and Film Studies. Seeking new adventures, she moved to Boston to pursue a career in Communications. Tired of wearing many layers in the harsh winters, she moved to the Bay Area where she fell in love with the nonprofit world. Her passion for grassroots advocacy and sustainability landed her an internship role at the SF Bicycle Coalition where she developed her communications—and bike riding—skills. When not working, you can find her reading a book at a coffee shop or catching a flick downtown. She loves biking to work, and is thrilled to be part of an organization that foster students’ creativity. Photo by Katherine Yao.
Olivia Ortiz, Development AssociateOlivia Ortiz, Development and Evaluations Associate, AmeriCorps VISTA, set sail from Los Angeles to Berkeley, where she studied English and Social Welfare, grew a small succulent garden, and taught swing dancing to people of all ages—from six to eighty-two! When exploring San Francisco one day, she discovered 826 Valencia and soon hopped aboard as a Summer Programs Intern for Exploring Words and the Young Authors’ Workshop. A year later she is on board again as an AmeriCorps VISTA member because, though she seeks to continue her travels at sea, her heart has anchored at 826. Photo by Katherine Yao.
Stephanie Yun, Programs AssociateSteph Yun, Tenderloin Programs Associate, AmeriCorps BAYAC, was born and raised on a hilly cul-de-sac in Oakland. Fostering a lifelong love of writing, their adolescence revolved around open mics, writing workshops, poetry slams, and youth advisory board meetings at Youth Speaks. In 2012, they were named Oakland’s first Youth Poet Laureate, and have since taught creative writing in various capacities. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2016, they sought to enter the nonprofit realm of youth development and education, landing them here at 826 Valencia! On weekends, you might find them shelving books at the Oakland Public Library, but in their free time, Steph likes to bake, play video games, watch anime/read manga, and go on fishing trips with their dad. Photo by Katherine Yao.

Board of Directors

Eric Abrams is the Chief Inclusion Officer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and formerly served as Diversity Director at University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Born in Berkeley, Abrams spent his childhood in the Bay Area and Chicago before matriculating at Stanford, where he majored in political science and drama and served on the student senate as well as acting in and directing a number of student theatrical productions. As a graduate student at UCLA, Abrams studied political science, as well as being elected Secretary of the Black Graduate Student Association. He has served as Director of Admissions at Pitzer College, Berkeley Law, and the Stanford MBA Admission Office, where he worked to increase diversity and enrollment of traditionally underrepresented groups. Abrams has led workshops on topics such as public speaking for admissions professionals, outreach to students from underrepresented communities, and working with student groups, and he is member of the Finalist Selection Committee for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Program. Eric lives in Oakland with his wife and two teenage sons. He is a huge sports fan, a beginning motorcyclist, and an avid barbecue pitmaster.

Colleen Quinn Amster is a writer and editor from Boca Raton, Florida who earned degrees in English literature and Spanish from Middlebury College and Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Colleen worked as a reporter and assistant editor at New York Magazine and moved to San Francisco to work as an associate editor at Mother Jones. Colleen now lives in San Francisco with her husband, John, and their three children, Finn, Aidan, and Curran. She has served on the boards of several San Francisco philanthropic organizations, including Children of Shelters and the National Charity League.

Joya Banerjee, Vice Chair, is a Program Officer at the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, a private family foundation based in San Francisco, where she oversees a grant portfolio that advances the sustainable management of California’s water resources. Prior to joining the foundation, Joya was an attorney at Latham & Watkins and worked for the New York City Mayor’s Office. Joya graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, and she received a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School. She lives in San Francisco.

Barb Bersche is a partner and the former president of McSweeney’s Publishing, as well as a founding board member of 826 Valencia and the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation. On her own time, Barb has been a designer (with a Grammy-nominated box set called Alan Lomax in Haiti), and a New York Times best-selling children’s book author, as well as a consultant to other creative agencies and nonprofits. She is also a member of the Marin County Search and Rescue/Mountain Rescue team.

Lisa Brown is an illustrator, author, designer, and cartoonist. Her award-winning picture books for children include The Airport Book, Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert, Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly, and The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket. Her writing and illustration has been published in a variety of publications, including NPR, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Lucky Peach, and The New York Times. She has been joyfully involved in 826 Valencia since its founding; as a donor, field trip illustrator and leader, workshop instructor, and publication contributor. Lisa teaches in the Illustration Department of the California College of the Arts. She received a BA in Humanities from Wesleyan University and an MS in Communications Design from Pratt Institute in New York City.

Alex Lerner, Treasurer, is a partner of Indaba Capital, an investment firm based in San Francisco. Alex originally joined Indaba at the time of the fund’s launch in 2011 and rejoined in 2014 after earning his MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. He began his career in the Mergers & Acquisitions group at Lazard Ltd following forays in journalism and publishing at Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. Alex also received a B.A. in English from Stanford University.

Jim Lesser, Board Chair, is one of the few Executive Creative Directors in the advertising industry to become the President and CEO of a major agency network office. In the eighteen years he’s been at BBDO San Francisco, the office has gone from five employees to more than 100 and helped BBDO win the 2015 U.S. Agency of the Year Award. Jim began his career as the receptionist at a New York agency before being promoted to copywriter. As a result, he believes a great idea can and often will come from anywhere. Jim has served on the Boards of BBDO New York and Dwell Magazine and is currently serving as Board Chair at 826 Valencia. Jim is a passionate outdoorsman who spends as much time as possible hiking with his wife and two sons.

Dave Pell spends the first half of each day writing the NextDraft newsletter and iOS app where he covers the day’s most fascinating news. The newsletter is syndicated by Time. During the second half of his day, he is the managing partner of Arba Group, a family-owned company that invests in early stage Internet startups. Dave has deep experience in education, having taught high school in Brooklyn and Boston. He has degrees from UC Berkeley and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dave lives in Marin with his wife and two young children, Herschel and Octavia.

Joe Vasquez is the Manager of Partnerships & Strategy at Runway. Joe is an iOS developer and early co-founder of StartX, an accelerator for Stanford entrepreneurs. Prior to joining Runway, Joe taught at the Kauffman Fellows Academy and was a Data Analyst Fellow at LocoMotive Labs. Joe started his career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and spent two years teaching bilingual math with Teach For America. Joe holds a BS in Atmosphere & Energy Engineering from Stanford University.

Rachel Swain Yeaman is a writer, communications consultant, and long-time advocate for social justice and civil rights. Over the course of many years, Rachel conceived and directed winning media and communications campaigns for many national and regional advocacy organizations, including the ACLU. She has served on the boards of several nonprofits, including the Breast Cancer Fund and Children’s Day School, where she chaired the capital campaign that enabled the purchase and construction of a new independent, progressive middle school in the heart of San Francisco. Rachel holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is thrilled to bring her passion for social justice and children’s writing to the board of 826.

826 Valencia Co-Founders

Nínive Calegari is a veteran public school teacher and served as the Executive Director of 826 Valencia until 2007 and the CEO of 826 National until 2010. Before teaching in her family’s hometown in Mexico, Nínive worked at Leadership High School, San Francisco’s first charter school, where she also served on the Board of Directors. She holds a Masters of Education in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. Nínive, along with two co-authors, published Teachers Have it Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America’s Teachers. In 2007, Nínive was awarded the ‘Daring Dozen’ award from the George Lucas Foundation, recognizing her for effective work in education. Nínive also founded and serves as president of The Teacher Salary Project, a nonprofit designed to build the political will necessary to transform how US society values effective teachers.

Dave Eggers is the author of seven books including A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, What is the What, and most recently A Hologram for the King, Where the Wild Things Are, and Away We Go. He was named one of TIME Magazine‘s 100 Most Influential People in 2005, and received the 2007 Heinz Award and the 2008 TED prize. His book Zeitoun received the 2010 American Book Award, and A Hologram for the King was named one of the ten best books of 2012 by The New York Times.


The members of 826 Valencia’s Shipmates Society are some of our most committed sponsors. We’d like to extend a gigantic, heartfelt thank you to those of you who have donated funds to support 826 Valencia’s programs. Your support will help us make a meaningful impact on the lives of thousands of young San Franciscans this year.

We strive for accuracy in our listings. Please email us at development@826valencia.org if your information is incorrect. This list reflects gifts of $100 or more, from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

For more information on joining the Shipmates Society, check out our membership page.


826 National
Anonymous (4)
Kirsten & Michael Beckwith
Art Berliner & Marian Lever
The Brin Wojcicki Foundation
City Arts & Lectures
Dolby Laboratories
Lee & Russ Flynn, Teachers Housing Cooperative
GGS Foundation
Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
Walter & Elise Haas Fund
Daniel Handler & Lisa Brown
Hellman Foundation
Frances Hellman & Warren Breslau
The Kimball Foundation
Kochi Foundation
Lampert/Byrd Family Fund
Levi Strauss & Co.
Coltrane & Christopher Lord
Maverick Capital Foundation
Matt Middlebrook & Lisa Presta
Mosser Companies, Inc.
Panta Rhea Foundation
Dave & Gina Pell
Pincus Family Fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock
Saint Francis Foundation
San Francisco Arts Commission
San Francisco Department of Children,Youth, and Their Families
Tom Savignano
Severns Family Foundation
Brad & Ali Singer
Michael & Shauna Stark
Andrew Strickman & Michal Ettinger
Laurie & Jeff Ubben
Advisors of the Walnut Fund


50 Fund
The Isabel Allende Foundation
The Amster Family Fund
Anonymous (3)
AT&T Foundation
John Baldessari Family Foundation
Joya Banerjee & Harris Cohen
Burnett Fund
CISCO Systems Foundation
Cleo Foundation
The Comis Foundation
craigslist Charitable Fund
Rose and David Dortort Foundation
ExCEL After School Programs
Fleishhacker Foundation
The Futures Project
The Hosono/Axelrod Family & Sundri Alim
Vy & Matthew Hyman
Kimberly & Zachary Hyman
Philip Jackson
Diana Kapp & David Singer
David L. Klein, Jr. Fund
Stanley S. Langendorf Foundation
George C. Lee
Jim & Tricia Lesser
Michael Moritz & Harriet Heyman
The Bernard Osher Foundation
Remick Family Foundation
Robin Renfrew & family in honor of Taylor Renfrew Ingham
Sakana Foundation
Santel McGinnis Family Charitable Fund
Scandling Family Foundation
Cameron Schrier Family Fund
Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society
Gene & Suzanne Valla
Kyle & Tracy Vogt
Karen & Jim Wagstaffe
The Walther Foundation


Annikka Berridge
Brickyard Family Fund
Sam & Susie Britton
Arlene Buechert
Sylvia & Barry Bunshoft in honor of Jennifer Bunshoft Pergher
The Campodonico Family
Cole Haan
Jill Cowan & Stephen Davis
Abhas Gupta
Jen Hamilton & Seth Boro
Reece Hirsch & Kathy Taylor
June P. Jackson Charitable Fund
Jeri & Jeffrey Johnson
Jordan & Theo Kurland
Alexander M. & June L. Maisin Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund
The Joseph & Mercedes McMicking Foundation
Mark Risher & Deborah Yeh
Lee & Perry Smith Fund
TPG Global, LLC
Mike Wilkins & Sheila Duignan
Kevin & Rachel Swain Yeaman


Bill Graham Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund
The Donald & Carole Chaiken Foundation
Nathaniel de Rothschild in honor of
Zoe Luhtala
John Eidinger
Shepard & Melissa Harris
Hellman & Friedman LLC
Derek G. Howard
Christina Hurvis & Steve Malloy
Melind John
Meg Krehbiel
Lesbians for Good, a fund of the
Horizons Foundation
Olivia Morgan in honor of Nínive Calegari
David & Katy Orr
Delsa & Jay Rendon
Joe Vasquez
Valerie Veronin & Robert Porter
Molly West & Chuck Slaughter
Write & Raise: Hosted by Nicole, Arun, Sarah, Ani, Seif & Andy
Yelp Foundation


Anonymous (2)
Michael S. & Sigrid Anderson-Kwun
Blakely & John Atherton
The Awesome Foundation
Bateman Group
The Baughman Co., Inc.
Meryl & James Bennan
Bien-Kahn Philanthropic Fund
Bluestone Family Fund
Scott & Jacqueline Botterman
Adriene Bowles
Kathy & Greg Calegari
Celia Sack & Omnivore Books on Food
Chambers & Chambers Wine Merchants
Melissa Clarke
Christine Comaford
Con-Volution 2015
Steven & Alexi Conine
The Conway Frankel Family Fund
Coulter 2006 Management Trust on behalf of Natalie J. Guo, Sanjay Banker, Nick Marncini, and Rob Snook
John Couch
David & Carla Crane Philanthropic Fund
David Foster Wallace Literary Trust
Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund
Holly Elfman
Nasseam Elkarra
Arline Epstein & the Quadra Foundation
Francis-Chapman Charitable Fund
Alison & Mark Garrett
Daniel Gelfand & Nicole Avril
Kristin & Jeremy Ginsberg
Andrew & Emma Gray
Green Bicycle Fund
Natalie Guo, Margaret Kirchner, Ashley Rape, & Gloria Herbert on behalf of Baking Event
Joe & Barbara Gurkoff Philanthropic Fund
Hammarskjold Family Fund
Jessica Hemerly & Jonathan Koshi
Paul Herman
Jonn & Max Herschend-Schroder
The Justin and Michelle Hughes Foundation
Kevin Hunt
Hyun Chin Charitable Fund
James Irvine Foundation
Jason Family Foundation
Nate Johnson
Amanda Kelso
Krummel Family Fund
Lisa Laukkanen
Gloria Lenhart
Angus MacLane
Joshua J. Mahoney
John & Lynda Marren
Donna Maynard
Coline McConnel
Paul Menage in honor of Vivienne Pustell
Steven Miller & Jennifer Durand
Amir Najmi & Linda Woo
Jennifer Noland
The Odell/Kemp Fund
Ginger & Dan Oros
Sruti Patel
Zachary Patton & Janel Thysen
PECO Foundation
Andrew & Emily Perito
Matthew Pirkowski
Jessica Powell
Alexandra Quinn & Mark Spoylar as
a gift for Daphne Spoylar
Rabine Family Fund
Marcia Rodgers & Garrett Loube
R. Rolfe
Brooke & David Rusenko
Joan Scott
Will Scullin
Irene S. Scully Fund
Silicon Valley Bank
Lisa Sison as a gift for Alyssa Aninag
The Stephen and Paula Smith Family Foundation
Squire Patton Boggs in honor of Nate Lane’s retirement
Tamara Mellon Brand Inc.
William Terrell
Tides Foundation in honor of the work of Hollie Smiley
Samantha Tripodi in honor of Dan &
Geri Rolandson
Ellen & Rob Valletta
April & Cameron Walters
Warby Parker
Annie Ward
Gina Warren
Dan Welch
Tim Wirth & Anne Stuhldreher
Kirsten Wolfe in honor of Holden & Dashiel Brown
Steven Nathaniel Wolkoff Foundation
Woodward Family Foundation
Maxine and Jack Zarrow Family Foundation
Erika & Jordan Alperin
Kimberly Beverett
Robin Bot-Miller
Nicole Boyer
Robert K. Brown
Kim Connor
Michael Duckworth
Isabel Duffy-Pinner & Dickon Pinner
Kopal & Malcolm Goonetileke
Allyson Halpern & Dan Cohen
Marc Henrich
Lisa Kessler
James Kim
Marcia & Lawrence Lusk
Lutes & Abrons Family Fund
Thomas McVey
Sejal Patel & Sanjay Banker
Amber Reed & Dan Newman
Matthew Sonefeldt in honor of Gabe & Jen Escovar
Mark Thomas
Rachel & Stephen Tracy
VanCheng Fund
Diane Zagerman & Donald Golder


Chiara Andres
Anna Bartley
Bi-Rite Market
Gloria Bonora
Jennifer Braun & Ray Ryan
Courtney Colburn
Mag Dimond
Andrew Dunbar & Zoee Astrachan
Gillian & Peter Emblad
Jody Fox
Kristen Grannan as a gift for
Martino Andrus
Elizabeth Haffenreffer
Eric Heiman in honor of Volume Inc.
David Jedrzejek
David L. Kirp
Ellen Levin
Syida C. Long
Jamie & Marc Lunder
Aaron Mount as a gift for Jim Lesser
Lisa Nahmanson
Bita Nazarian
Bruce & Risa Nye
O’Reilly Media, Inc.
Zohreh & Ike Okuda
James Park
Mark Perry
Mark Plakias & Carolyn Schultz Plakias
Brian Powers
Ramya Raghavan
Meg Ray
Devon Reed
Patrick Reeves
Revolutions Per Minute on behalf of Treasure Island Music Festival
Darah Roslyn
Ashley Seashore
Jean-Emmanuel Shein &
Christiane Janssen
Mark Shepherd
Vanessa & Phil Siino Haack
Sing For America Foundation on behalf of Dina Martin
Michael Sippey
Barbara Spicer
Spivy Family Philanthropy Fund
St. Thomas the Apostle School
Frances Stroh
William & Heather Terrell
Chase Tingley
Christine Tooby
Peter & Lisa Westley
Karen H. Wickre Fund
Jesse & Michelle Zeifman


Eric & Donna Abrams
Jo Adams
Tahira Ali
Debra Armstrong in honor of The Readers of Mary E. Silveira Recess Library Club
Andi & David Arrick
Arlyn Asch
Laurie Barkin & Brian Brosnahan
Hathaway Barry
Heidi Bastel
John Battelle
Linda Bauccio
Wendy Bean
George Beckwith in honor of Michael Beckwith
Tim Belonax
Barb Bersche & David Katznelson
Elise Birkhofer
John & Natasha Boas
Cheryl Bowers in honor of Kimberly Connor
Sue Breedlove
Elizabeth Brenum as a gift for Gil Brenum
Erin Bright
Sarah Brockmueller
Emily Brodman
Susan Bronstein
Kerry Brown
Jamieson Bunn
Gerard Buulong & Fredric Silverman Fund
Marie D’Amico & Steve Capps
Jack & Molly Cargas
Marit & Enrico Casarosa
Edmund Cavagnaro
Otis Chandler in honor of winning the office NCAA pool
Doris Y. Chang in memory of Jane Han
Todd Chapin
Tyler Chapman
The Charles Armstrong School
Faith Chiang
Anthony Chivetta
Amy Chou
Aurelien Chouard
Morris Chow
Kristin & Dickson Chu
Sandra Chu
Evelyn Clair
Patti & Harry Cocciolo
Kristine Coco
Ed Cohen
Norma Cole
Cynthia Colon
Genevieve Conaty
Sheila Cooper
Kerry Cooper
Tom Counts
Craftsman and Wolves
John Creagan
Elizabeth Dalay
Susanna Daniels
Shannon David
Phillip Davis
Megan Davy
Tony Day
Manoj Dayaram
Design Options on behalf of Chloe Denbow
Alec Ditonto
Carissa Dizon
Joe Doctor
Heidi Dolamore
Julie Down
Norman Patrick Doyle
Jon & Holly Drawbaugh
Joel Dubin as a gift for Karen & Stuart Gansky
Kelly Dubisar
Lisa Dungan
Sally Durgan
Marybeth Dyer in honor of Lucille Birmingham
Julie Dyer Vree
Taylor & Scott Eason
Kenneth Eddings
Marnina Edelhart
Liisa Eisenlohr
Ann Elliott
Laura Ellis
Samantha Eng
Marc Engel in honor of Voicebox Creative
Sarah Esterkyn as a gift for Alex & Lucas Perry
Deborah Fedorchuk
David Fisher
Phyllis Florin
Darryl Forman
Andrew Forssell
Four Dollar Books & the Four is a little, Four is a LOT team
Taryn Fransen
Lisa Freeman
Joel Fruchtman & Maureen Murphy
Fullosophie on behalf of Shinola
Marlyn Fusek
Karen & Stuart Gansky in honor of Shelley & Arnold Leder
Maureen Gates
Linda Gebroe
Nile Geisinger
Stephen Gilbane as a gift for Sejal Patel
Danielle Gilbert in honor of Rubi & Zach Gilbert
Michael Gillespie
Sarah Glicken
Ken Goldberg & Tiffany Shlain
Janice Goldblatt
Gregorio Gonzalez
Shirley Gordon in honor of Caroline Kangas
Raj Gossain
Michelle Graham
Shannon Grant
Judith Greber
Yvonne Green in honor of Shelby DeWeese
Mary Lynn Greenhow
Dixie & Richard Grossman
Carol Gunby
Aron Hall & Alison Huml
Sara Hall
John & Marsha Hall in memory of Brian Hall
Janet H. & J. Mark Hall
Yosh Han
Morgan Hankins
Blaire Hansen
A.J. Harm
David & Jane Hartley
Brad Hathaway
Pamela Herbert
Christine Herrin
Joeli Hettler & Alden Bourne
Kit & Linda Hinrichs
Sadie Hoagland
Wanda M. Holland Greene
Emily Holt
Matthew Holt
Vince Horner
Anna & James Hsu
Whitney Huey as a gift for Alyssa Aninag
Natalie Inouye
Irvington High School’s French Club
Ivivva USA Inc. & Lululemon
Benjamin Jacobs
Najeeb Jarrar
Shane Jarvie
Erik Jensen
Joseph & Urmilla John
Oliver Kadak
Scott Kane
Jennifer Kaplan
Doug Keller
Jo Keroes
Julie & Connor Kidd
Kristen & Ryan King
Lucy Kirchner
Penny Kittle
Kristin Klein & William Donahoe
Dale Knauss
Nate Koechley
Charlotte Koh
Wendy Kordesch
Marvin Koshi
Eric Kostenbauder
Robyn Kruse
Jacqueline Kudler
Natalie Larios
Cynthia Lee
Michelle Lee & Dennis Kim
Derek Lee
Leigh & Michael Lehman
Jacob Leland
Feralee & Charles Levin
Ethan Levy
Stuart Litwin
Lobster Theater Project
Michelle Long & Christopher Nicholson
Amanda Loo
Kavitha & Reza Lotun
Berta & Sanford Lowenstein
Lisa Lozo
Jennifer MacCloskey
Gregor MacLennan
Joen & Paul Madonna
David Mandelbrot
Mark Anthony Maningas
Cathy Manshel & Bill Rusitsky in honor of Ashley Varady & her team at Buena Vista Horace Mann
John Marcom
Abby Marks
Chase Martin
John Martin
Joseph Maser
Christopher Mason
Mariel Matze
Shannon May
Erica McAulay
Margaret McCarthy
Maudie McCormick
Barry McGee
Roxann McGlumphy
Jeffrey McGrath
Pamela McGuire & Russell Corrigan
Patricia McMahon
Paul Mele
Tessa & John Melvin
Megan Mikhail
Anupam Mishra
Jeanette & Kevin Moore
Morehouse Family Fund
Mark Morford
Cheryl Morris
Katrina & Tim Morshead
Naomi Mraz as a gift for Elliott Girouard
Lauren Mulkey
Multiply Technology
National Center for Employee Ownership
Molly Naughton
Meredith Nguyen
Elizabeth W. Nolan
Kelly O’Reilly as a gift for Tom O’Reilly
Kate O’Sullivan & Kurt Bauer
Mike O’Toole
Trisha Okubo
Zachary Olson
Kasra Omid-Zohoor
Victor Ortiz de Montellano
Dana Oshiro
Emily Ostendorf
Koa Ostrem
Eric Ouyang
Cady Owens
Jennifer Padget
Arrie Park
Rodney & Anne Pearlman in honor of Karen Wagstaffe
Peet’s Coffee & Tea
Debra Pell
Sacha Perold
Geoff Perrin
Christina V. Perry
Han Phung & Juan Malo
Dale Pitman in honor of After-School Tutoring students & families
Christina Poindexter
William Poole
Michael Powell in honor of Dumpster & Barb Haiduck
Meg Donohue & Phil Preuss
Simone Price
Matt Price
Erik Ragatz
Mary Lou Ragghianti
Sally Randel
Radhika Rathinasabapathy
Bryan Rea
Kaye Reeves in honor of Owen & Charlie
Shreenath Regunathan
Charles Reiker & Barbara Keating
Ellen Richard
Margaret Robbins & Seth Weissman as a gift for Nínive Calegari
Prudence Roberts
John B. Roberts
Rene Rodarte
Karen Rowan
Lauren Rutherford
Francesca Salcido
Anne Sandbach
Jim & Emily Scheinman in honor of Mac Barnett, Carson Ellis, Jon Klassen, & Christian Robinson
Nina Schindler as a gift for Ilya Sukhar & Courtney Ward
Gregory Schram in honor of Jamie Shaw
Katharine Schultz
Rebecca Schumacher in honor of Ann Elliott
Fred Seely in honor of Blake R. Seely
Judd Sher
Vaughn Shields
Sarah Shriver in memory of Florence Hochman
Sibby’s Cupcakery
Michael Silverman
Simons Family Foundation
Laura Singer in memory of Kathryn Payne
Carole Sirulnick
Thomas Skewes-Cox
Jenny Slade
Leef Smith on behalf of Free Comic Book Day Funraiser
Adam Smith
Barron Snyder
Melanie Sperling
Nicholas Spuhler
St. Philip Catholic School
Tania Stepanian
Jeff Stephenson
Seth Sternglanz
Loretta Stevens
Kimberly Stewart Hopper & James Stearns
Jeremy Stone in honor of Maggy Cullman
Matt Sulkis
Sarah Sweeney
Sweetwater Fund
Alex Syverson
Reina Takahashi
Brooke & Eric Tao
Mark Tauber
Mary Taugher & F. Martin Booth
Judith Temple
David Thomas
Susan Thompson
Marcia Tingley as a gift for Chase Tingley
Mary Kay Tisch
Karen Trilevsky
Turbow Family Fund
Jenise Uehara Henrikson
Lisa & Robert Varady
Nicole Varvitsiotes
Mark Vermeulen
Sarah Vetters
Kim Wade
Travis Waind
Taylor & Kent Wakefield
Christopher Walker
Jessica Walter
Kia Wang Nevarez
Ben Watanabe in honor of First Draft
Howard Weaver
Anna Westendorf
Delina Wierzbinski
Rachel Wikoff
Lori Wilson
Christopher H. Winship
Erica Wong
Anna Yen
Suzanne Yonkers in honor of Joya Banerjee
Yu Jurafsky Charitable Fund
Leslie Yuan & David Aaronson
Joyce Zavattero
Sophie Ziegler in honor of Jennifer Braun
Bob Zipp


Adobe Systems Incorporated Matching Gifts
BlackRock, Inc.
Dolby Match Program
Dropbox Inc.
Gartner, Inc. Matching Gifts Program
Goldman Sachs Matching Gifts Program
Google Matching Gifts Program
Kaiser Permanente, Southern California Region
Maverick Capital Foundation (Dallas)
Microsoft Matching Gifts Program
PG&E Corporation Campaign for the Community
S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation
Salesforce.com Foundation
Select Equity Group Foundation
Skoll Global Threats Fund
The Walt Disney Company Foundation
Thomson Reuters


Ali Baba’s Cave
Almanac Beer Co.
ALR Associated Lighting Reps Inc.
AMP Printing and Graphics
Anderson, Rowe, and Buckley, Inc.
Ana Aranda
Arrigoni Woods
Ayoob & Perry
Robert Steinebel
B Metals
Bay Area Concrete
BBDO San Francisco
BCCI Construction Co.
Bi-Rite Market
Bluewater Environmental Services Inc.
Dan Brotsky & Shawna Hartman Brotsky
Budget Signs
Barbara Butler
Margherita Buzzi
Nínive & Jean Claude Calegari
California Drywall Co.
California Wood Floors
Darren Chan
Kay Chesterfield
Commercial Casework Inc.
Craftsman and Wolves
Creative Ceilings and Drywall Inc.
Cutting Edge Drapery
DeAnza Tile
Adriana del Mar
Design and Direct Source
Design Workshops
DW Nicholson Corporation
Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida
Joanna Ellis
Emser Tile
Fire Detection Unlimited, Inc.
Britta Fithian-Zum
Four Barrel Coffee
Qris Frye
Will Georgantas
Giampolini & Co.
Einat Gilboa
Chris Giordano
Dylan Gold
Golden Gate Fire Protection
Gundlach Bundschu Winery & Vineyard
Annelise Hagar
HD Supply Construction & Industrial White Cap
Jenna Hernandez
Christine Herrin
Alice Hoult
Ash Huang
Independent Electric Supply Inc.
Industry West
Mary Lou Iverson
Jamestown Community Center
Jonas Kellner
Lucy Kirchner
Jonathan Koshi
Isabella Kung
La Méditerranée
Andrea Lacorrazza
Gloria Lenhart
Jessica Lin
Tracy Liu
Amanda Loo
Kehau Lyons
Buffy and Patrick Maguire
Raven Mahon
Majestic Floors Inc.
Magdalena Mardinian
Shannon May
Christy McCreary and Clif Bar & Company
McMillan Electric
Mission Glass Company
Microbiz Security Company
Minton Door Company
Monticelli Painting and Decorating
Lauren Mulkey
National Air Balance Co.
New Bohemia Signs
Nor-Cal Floor Design, Inc.
Omni Sheet Metal Inc.
Orion Chandelier
Overhead Door Company
Paganini Electric Corporation
Kate Park
Patrick J. Ruane, Incorporated
Patxi’s Pizza
Philips Lighting
Bill Plumb
PPG Paints
Pribuss Engineering
Progress Glass Co., Inc.
Tim Ratanapreukskul
Restoration Hardware
Richard Hancock Inc.
Rubio Monocoat USA
Brooke Rusenko
Helaine Lasky Schweitzer
Mike Scribner
Service Metal Products Inc.
SF Interiors
Shaw Floors
Emma Sherwood-Forbes
Sprig Electric
Stockham Construction
Annalise Stromsta
Surber Drywall Construction Inc.
Tandus Centiva
The Lawson Roofing Company, Inc.
Stephanie Theune
Tipping Structural
Trader Joe’s
Two Furnish
Gene & Suzanne Valla
Valerie Veronin
Karen Wagstaffe
Whole Foods Market
Young Electric Co.


The staff at 826 Valencia is small compared to the output of the organization. There’s absolutely no way we could create hundreds of publications and serve thousands of students annually without a legion of volunteers. This group of superstars works in all realms, from tutoring to fundraising and beyond. They range in age, background, and expertise but all have a shared passion for our work with young people.


A dedicated group of volunteers from across our programs comprise our V.E.S.T leadership board, also known as the Volunteer Engagement and Support Team. These folks with wide-ranging skills provide ongoing guidance to new volunteers and give feedback to the 826 staff on the volunteer experience as a whole. They also help plan our bi-annual 100 Club celebration, among other volunteer engagement activities. Individuals on the board are recommended by the 826 staff, and each member serves for a minimum of one school year. Read on to meet a selection of our fabulous V.E.S.T. members!

Susan Birnbaum has been volunteering with us since 2015, dedicating over 150 hours to our students, primarily at our Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips at the Mission Center. She brings her enthusiasm and unwavering commitment to our programs on a daily basis. A dedicated volunteer, Susan goes above and beyond for our community, supporting our students and volunteers as a member of the Volunteer Engagement and Support Team (V.E.S.T). She seeks out organizations that focus on youth, creativity, and education, and is involved in several nonprofits that support projects created by students, nurturing their ideas and imaginations in the process.

Ed Cavagnaro started out as a regular tutor in our summer programs in 2015, and went on to dedicate himself to The Straight-Up News at Everett Middle School, Mission Magazine at Mission High, and the 2016 Young Authors’ Book Project at John O’Connell High School. He is also a staple tutor in several of our Tenderloin programs and used his expertise as a radio producer to help us shape and launch our Podcasting Field Trip program. On top of all that, Ed has also helped plan and lead several podcasting workshops for high school students at our Mission Center, and taken it upon himself to edit the final products. Needless to say, when he was brought up as a nominee for the Volunteer of the Month, staff lined up to sing his praises.

Jess Hemerly grew up in the remote reaches of rural eastern Pennsylvania, where she longed to leave the sticks behind for life in the city. She attended college in the Big Apple but quickly sought her fortunes across the country in San Francisco, where she’s been for ten years. After several unsatisfying jobs, she decided to enroll at UC Berkeley, earning her Master’s degree in Information Management and Systems garnering several honors for her prodigious research. A freelance culture critic in her spare time, her writing has appeared in 7×7, Make, and The Onion, as well as on several local music blogs. Jess currently works in technology public policy, focusing on transparency and accessibility. When she’s not grappling with Internet policy, she runs marathons, rides her bike, and is learning to swim. As a life-long writer in both her personal and professional life, she savors the opportunity to help the young curious minds at BVHM.

Jonathan Koshi—known to most by his last name, Koshi—was born and raised on the sunny beaches of Oahu. At the age of 18, he left his tropical paradise to experience the northeastern seasons and attend school in Rhode Island. After college, he settled in the Bay Area and has been a San Francisco resident for 15 years. He has worked as a user-experience designer for several companies, including Yahoo! and Minted, and co-founded Songbird, an open source music player (RIP). He now spends his days as a freelance user-experience design consultant for early-stage companies and his evenings engrossed in various art projects. His artistic work has appeared at several galleries in San Francisco, including Secession Art & Design and Campfire Gallery, and in the classroom of BVHM, where he has become popular with the kids for his on-demand drawings of various things the kids love, including the San Francisco 49ers players, cartoon mashups, and penguins.

Gloria Lenhart loves San Francisco the way only an East Coast transplant can. She arrived in San Francisco just in time for the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. When she’s not helping with field trips at 826, you can find her leading walking tours around the city for San Francisco City Guides. In 2014, she launched the City Explorer San Francisco app offering downloadable tours of SF neighborhoods for smartphones and tablets, where you can find sunken ships routes in the financial district, hidden gardens downtown, and more. Proceeds from the app benefit 826 Valencia.

Kavitha Lotun came to 826 Valencia in the summer of 2012 after spending five years teaching young students in London, England. One day while exploring the Mission District and pining after the buzz of her classroom, she stumbled upon the 826 Valencia’s Exploring Words Summer Camp. Serendipitously, this ended up being a way to meet students in San Francisco and learn more about their schools and learning styles. Later, Kavitha took a hiatus from 826 to welcome her son, Khalil, in 2013 (and he’s currently exploring his own words). She can now be found leading Storytelling & Bookmaking Field Trips, tutoring, and serving on the Volunteer Engagement Support Team.

Michael McNamara began his 826 Valencia volunteer adventures in April 2016, and as we write this, he is about to reach 100 hours of volunteering! Now, he can be found most Monday mornings steering Captain Blue’s ship through the whirlwind of stories that is the Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips. But he is a fan of other programs too, “I also enjoyed my experience with this year’s Young Authors’ Book Project. Working closely with two high school seniors writing creative short stories at Burton High, coupled with my work with Field Trips, inspired me to move forward in becoming a future high school English teacher here in the Bay Area. Our youth are so inspiring, empowering and also healing.”

Tim Ratanapreukskul was born in Los Angeles but has led a multi-regional lifestyle since high school. When Tim was a teenager, he lived and studied in Japan, but the promise of higher education brought him to the Rhode Island School of Design where he studied apparel and graphic design in his undergrad and architecture for his master’s degree. A few years ago, Tim came to San Francisco’s Mission District for the sunshine, but since then has discovered so much more to love about the neighborhood: free yoga, homemade bikes, mandated composting and recycling, cheap Mexican food, the Muni’s J-line, and 826 Valencia. He is a designer and prefers to have as small a footprint in the public/internet life as possible.