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OUR

PEOPLE

Nuestra

STAFF

Eder Gaona-Macedo

Executive Director (he/him/el)

Patricia Solorio

Associate Director (she/her/ella)

fund website update

Andres Armenta

Office Manager / Executive Assistant (he/him/el)

Kathleen Knight

Capacity Building Manager (she/her/ella)

Tania Reyes

Grant Programs Manager (she/her/ella)

Cristal Robles

YMC Coordinator (she/her/ella)

Brian Arizmendi Villanueva

Program Associate (he/him/el)

INTERNS

Anabella Katnich

Communications and Development Intern (she/her/ella)

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Eric Cárdenas

President (he/him)

Susan Wax

Vice President (she/her)

Andrew Oman

Secretary (he/him)

Annette Cordero

Board Liason to GMC (she/her)

Arcelia Sencion

(she/her/ella)

Cuco Rodriguez

(el/he/him)

Debbie Goldsmith

(she/her)

Joyce Howerton

(he/him)

Grant Making Committee

JP Herrada

Co-Chair (he/him)

Rachel Johnson

GMC Liaison to Board (she/her/ella)

Bailey Needham

(she/her)

Deb Karoff

(she/her)

Juliana Neel

(she/her)

Kim Johnson

(she/her)

Lady Freire

(she/her)

Lupita Cervantes

(she/her/ella)

Rich Sander

(he/him)

Robert Gibson

(he/him)

Vickey Smith

(she/her)

Learn more about the Racial Equity Fund of The County of Santa Barbara Grant Making Committee HERE

Youth Making Change - North County

Demarie Diel
Facilitator

(she/her)

Marisol Hernandez

Facilitator (she/her/ella)

Andrea Cuevas

(she/her)

Angela Alvarez

(she/her)

Anya Gallardo

(she/her/ella)

Bennett Sorenson

(he/him)

Cesar Vasquez

(he/him)

Chae Min Kim

(she/her)

Denise Delgado

(she/her/ella)

Diane Lopez

(she/her)

Gustavo Ocampo

(she/her)

Jesus Cayetano

(he/him)

Kaylee Taing

(she/her)

Kruz Balbona

(he/him)

Minseo Kim

(she/her)

Mya Balbona

(she/her)

Natalia Lucas

(she/her/ella)

Vanessa Zayas Peral

(she/her)

Youth Making Change - South County

Jocelyn Pacheco Morales

Facilitator (she/her)

Allegra Cullen

(she/her/ella)

Chelsea Miao

(she/her)

Gabriel Villa

(he/him)

Jolee Nyugen

(she/her/ella)

Kaitlyn Marden

(she/her)

Kiela Luke

(she/her)

Lorenzo Lara

(he/him)

Marshall Graham

(he/him/el)

Meztli Lopez Torres

(she/her)

Naomi Walsh

(she/her/ella)

Noelle Cabrera

(she/her/ella)

Orchid Gillespie

(she/her)

Selena Valencia

(she/her)

Sindy Zavala

(she/her)

Sofia Ramirez

(she/her/ella)

Honorary Board

Kate Adams 
(in Memoriam)

Sevren Coon

David Peri

Herman Warsh
(in Memoriam)

Nancy Alexander
(Founder)

Nancy Franco
 

Susan Rose

Nancy Weiss

 

Bob Bason

Susan Jørgensen

Selma Rubin
(in Memoriam)

Susan Bower
(in Memoriam)

Don Olson

Naomi Schwartz
(in Memoriam)

Carnzu Clark
(in Memoriam)

Katy Peake
(in Memoriam)

Sarah Shoresman
(in Memoriam)

Eder Gaona-Macedo

Executive Director

Eder Gaona-Macedo has more than a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining the FUND, Eder served as the Senior Officer for Community Engaged Research at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) where he led participatory action research throughout the State of California. He is also the former Executive Director for Future Leaders of America, an organization that provides leadership and education experiences to Latinx youth in California. During his seven-year tenure, FLA addressed education and health disparities through youth-led grassroots organizing efforts.” Under his stewardship, FLA increased its budget from $150K to $2M/year. 

In 2018, Eder co-founded the 805undocufund alongside CAUSE, MICOP, the McCune Foundation, and the Ventura County Community Foundation. The 805undocufund offers disaster relief to undocumented immigrants in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties during natural disasters, climate-related events, and pandemics. In 2020, under his leadership, the 805undocufund distributed more than $6.1M dollars to 4,500 undocumented families impacted by the COVID19 pandemic. 

Eder resides in Santa Maria with his wife Gloria and two puppies Pequitas and Chickis. 

Patricia Solorio

Associate Director

Patricia has been with the FUND since 2017 and currently serves as Associate Director. A mother of two, she has a passion for issues related to families and youth and as a daughter of immigrants from Mexico, she has a first-hand understanding of the need to protect and uplift immigrants. Patricia is a bilingual and bi-cultural community leader and native of Santa Maria who has a profound understanding of communities in North County. Prior to joining the FUND, she was with Future Leaders for over 12 years, including as Executive Director for Central Coast Future Leaders. Among her numerous recognitions, in 2016 Patricia received the Working Families Award from the Santa Barbara County Action Network for her many efforts to improve the lives of working families in the region.

Andres Armenta

Office Manager / Executive Assistant

Andrés moved to Santa Bárbara County from San Diego in 2014 to attend UCSB, and prior to that he spent 8 intermittent years in the rural hometown his parents are from in Sinaloa, México. Having spent multiple years in different regions he was able to see how the environment shapes individuals and this ethnographic lens was later refined as he completed his B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. Similarly, the adversity he faced as a child alongside the violence against women he witnessed instilled an affinity for issues revolving around youth, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Kathleen Knight

Capacity Building Manager

Kathleen is driven to help create a more just and sustainable world rooted in compassion and recognition of our interconnectedness, which is heavily influenced by her background as a tropical conservation scientist and community activist. An avid traveller, she is influenced by different cultures and peoples when working collaboratively to create foundational change that is as diverse as the world we hope to create. She enjoys surfing deserted beaches, cooking food for others, and reading with a hot cup of tea.

Tania M. Reyes

Grants Program Manager

Tania, immigrated to Santa Barbara from Jalisco, Mexico at an early age. Having been raised on unceded Chumash territory and recognizing the prevalent social injustices in our communities, Tania offers a uniquely insightful perspective into the root causes of local issues and the intersectional frameworks that connect us all. As the FUND’s Grant Programs Manager Tania supports our most vulnerable community members by fostering strategic partnerships aiming to address the root causes of issues directly impacting them. She is a proponent of social justice and progressive change and plays a crucial role in leading grantmaking efforts and coordinating grantmaking programs.

Cristal Robles

YMC Coordinator

Cristal Robles is a dedicated community advocate, born and raised in Santa Maria. With immigrant parents from Oaxaca, Mexico. She grew up speaking English, Spanish, and Mixteco, enabling her to bridge language barriers and support the Mixteco-speaking community in accessing vital services. Cristal’s passion for community service and her desire to empower youth led her to pursue the position of YMC Coordinator. Drawing from her own upbringing and the support she received from mentors, she aspires to provide guidance and support to the young people in her community, helping them overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential.

Brian Arizmendi Villanueva

Program Associate

Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Brian has been equipped with an understanding and passion for the social climate surrounding him. Having dedicated 3 years to facilitating and nurturing youth programs on the Westside, he demonstrates a unique perspective on how social structures impact communities that have been historically marginalized. His purpose is to become a more effective ally and empower those striving toward progressive social change. As an advocate of social justice, youth empowerment, and equitability, he hopes to combat the adversities and challenges that are presented to individuals who challenge institutionalized bias imposed on BIPOC communities. 

Eric Cárdenas

President

Eric Cárdenas is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of LOACOM, a movement-based marketing agency that cultivates, connects, and activates ecosystems of change-makers to build vibrant communities and nurture a thriving planet. Eric has expertise in marketing, community organizing, facilitation, policy development/design, and event management/production, and has worked at the Board/Staff/Advisory level with the Ag Innovations Network, Johnson Ohana Foundation, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Roots of Change, and others.

Susan Wax

Susan has spent over 30 years working with individuals and families navigating the transitions through the life cycle. Over the years, she has taught undergraduate and graduate classes at Antioch University and supervised psychology students at UCSB Hosford Clinic and currently, at New Beginnings Counseling Center. In addition to serving on the FUND’s board, Susan has served as a Founding Board Member of Court- Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in Santa Barbara, a Board Member of the Children’s Creative Project.

Andrew Oman

Vice President - North County

Despite being discouraged by some in his school system, Andrew was able to attend college (in the U.S. and Mexico), and graduate school. After many years as a newspaper reporter, he spent 17 years as a teacher of Spanish language. Always involved in his union and in social justice issues, he became a California Teachers Association staff member in 2009. In Santa Maria he works with teachers and classified staff in 13 union chapters in northern Santa Barbara County. I am a husband and father of two college graduates.

Annette Cordero

Annette was born and raised in Santa Barbara where she attended local schools including SBCC and UCSB. She is an enrolled member of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation. Prior to retiring in 2020, Annette was a faculty member at SBCC for almost 30 years. She also taught at Allan Hancock College where she served as the first Native American/Latina president of the Academic Senate. Over the past 42 years, Annette has been a community activist and member of numerous organizations, commissions and boards, including Just Communities Central Coast, Latinos for Better Government, the original Santa Barbara Tenants’ Union, Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County, PUEBLO, the SB County Affirmative Action Commission, the SB County Human Relations Commission and various others, consistently working on behalf of equity, access and inclusion for disenfranchised populations.  

Arcelia Sencion

Arcelia Sención lived with her four siblings in East Los Angeles until attending college in Santa Barbara. Her upbringing and participation in programs such as Upward Bound informed her values and awareness of inequities in various institutions, including education and government. For over 30 years, Arcelia has worked in the non-profit sector in mission-driven organizations, including gender-based violence and youth and families. Arcelia believes systemic and structural changes are essential to address societal disparities while providing a safety net for community members. Arcelia’s greatest gifts are her two daughters, Deyanira and Zoraida, who continuously challenge her to rethink and learn. She lives in the Santa Ynez Valley with her loving and supportive husband and Mero, their dog.  

Cuco Rodriguez

Refujio “Cuco” Rodriguez is the Program Officer at Hope and Heal Fund. He previously served as a Program Officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and was a member of the foundation’s Racial Equity and Community Engagement team. Most recently, he led efforts to integrate racial equity principles into technology initiatives, including working on collaborative platforms and developing a racial equity-focused grantee application. Cuco has worked with communities spanning issues of reproductive health, youth violence, mental health, and community engagement. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering technology and a master’s degree in education with concentrations in counseling and guidance, both from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Jennifer Hooten

Secretary

A nonprofit executive turned org designer and leadership coach, Jenn resources the people and process of transformation. She founded (Re) Engage Consulting to support individuals, teams, and organizations as they navigate change, transform conflict, and integrate personal values with business objectives. Jenn works in the United States and abroad, with clients in nonprofit, government, education, tech, pharma, healthcare, and hospitality industries. She makes her home in Los Alamos with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.

Mahil Senathirajah

Mahil is a healthcare analytics and policy consultant with a focus on improving the quality, equity, and cost of healthcare principally within California and at Federal government-levels.  Mahil was born in London, England; grew up in Toronto, Canada and moved to Santa Barbara in December of 1999.  Among his community activities, Mahil has served on the Board of the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, has been active in local politics and participated in the Santa Barbara film festival. Mahil has an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and an MBA. 

Ted Rhodes

Ted Rhodes lives with his wife, Joni, in Carpinteria, where they have raised two children, Jesse and Rachel, now grown. A retired Hollywood Key Grip, Ted has been an activist, fundraiser, political strategist, and community leader on a number of local grassroots issues including saving the Carpinteria Bluffs. His activism began back in the late sixties with his involvement in the peace and civil rights movements. When times get tough, Ted blows his harp with his band, the Americana Cats.

Lyiam Galo

Co-Chair

Lyiam Galo is a first generation Honduran immigrant and UCSB alumnus. A lifetime volunteer and optimist, he strives to foster an equitable community with a focus on the historically underserved — specifically the unhoused, the LGBTQ community, and people of color. Lyiam coordinates a county-wide United Way AmeriCorps program that serves veterans and people experiencing homelessness. He supports accessible resources for monolingual Spanish speakers, advocacy for undocumented folks, and creative food security initiatives. Lyiam rents in downtown Santa Barbara with his partner and 23 plant children.

JP Herrada

Co-Chair

JP is a local from the city of Goleta and attended Dos Pueblos High. In 2010 JP founded PALABRA, a non-profit that serves at-risk youth in the county of Santa Barbara providing Gang Intervention and Prevention programs, also doing gang mediation to minimize violence in the community. He was the first to bring restorative justice to the mediation process working with the gang population in Santa Barbara County. He is an Outreach Coordinator for Alternatives to Violence Project where he continues to work with the same population.

Rachel Johnson

GMC Liaison to Board

Rachel Johnson (she/her/ella) has been on the Fund’s Grantmaking Committee (GMC) since 2018, currently serves as the GMC Liaison to the Fund’s Board of Directors, and is the Chief Program Officer at the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College. Her professional and volunteer work is deeply rooted in social justice and educational equity, and guided by her core values – justice, curiosity, health, collaboration, and authenticity. Rachel’s work at the SBCC Foundation supports programs and community collaborations that address a broad spectrum of issues, including educational access, comprehensive basic needs support, sustainability projects, and more. Rachel also serves on the board of the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network and recently completed an appointment to the Community Formation Commission on Police Oversight for the City of Santa Barbara.

Alhan Diaz-Correa

Alhan earned his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Montana in Missoula in 2019. He values solidarity and is actively working in the areas of racial, economic, and environmental justice. Alhan is excited to help his community form strong bonds and connections. He hopes to reduce human and ecological risk through academic research and in service of vulnerable communities.

Bailey Needham

Bailey Needham is a Santa Barbara County native raised in Santa Maria and a graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara. Her passion for social justice stems from her experiences as a first-generation college student, advocate for sex education, consumer of mental health resources, and employee in the human services and health care sectors. Bailey works as a Direct Support Professional for Behavior Respite in Action (BRIA) in Santa Maria where she provides specialized, in-home care services to children and young adults with developmental disabilities.

Deb Karoff

Deb Karoff is a retired administrator having worked in human resources at SB County and in educational administration at UCSB in faculty governance and in Student Affairs. She has served on several non-profit boards advancing women’s reproductive rights and violence against women. She is actively involved in the Indigenous Reparations and Justice and Equity Committees at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. She is part of a small group supporting/sponsoring an asylum-seeking family from Mexico. Deb and her wife, Anna, have lived in Santa Barbara for forty years and are the parents of two adult children. In her free time, Deb enjoys reading books, walking on the beach, and watching movies and plays.

Juliana Neel

Juliana was born and raised in the Santa Maria Valley. After graduating from Ernest Righetti High School in 2018, she attended Allan Hancock College, where she graduated with degrees in Political Science and Behavioral Studies, and she currently attends the University of California, Berkeley. Juliana got her start in the social justice community working with the Women’s March of Santa Maria Valley as their social media manager. She has since worked with various organizations to push for progressive and equitable change in the Santa Maria Valley.

Kim Johnson

Kim is a mission-driven Marketing/DEI professional with 15+ years of leadership in both nonprofit and corporate environments. Guided by her values which include authenticity, humor, inclusion, and leadership, she aligns her vocation and volunteerism with societal impact in mind. Originally from Connecticut, Kim has been in California since 2012 and serves on the board of Planned Parenthood California Central Coast and serves on the Pride Committee for Pacific Pride Foundation. Her previous appointment to the Community Formation Commission on Police Oversight for the City of Santa Barbara paved the way for Kim to dive deeper into social justice work in SB County. For pure joy, Kim performs improv comedy and adventures with her partner and Husky dog (who they are teaching to communicate through buttons).

Lady Freire

Lady is a Social Anthropologist with 10+ years of experience in non-profit organizations and governmental programs in California and Chile, her native country. Her work has been around supporting women who want to achieve their dreams and change their realities. She is passionate about working with the community to contribute to constructing a more just and equitable society.

Lauren Trujillo

Lauren Trujillo first came to Santa Barbara to attend UCSB where she received a B.A. in History. She received her Masters in Library and Information Science from UCLA and has worked with several nonprofits and organizations in Santa Barbara including the Isla Vista Memorial Project, the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. She sits on the board for the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, United for Libraries, Women’s Literary Voices, the Northside Optimist Club, Association for Fundraising Professionals, EDC, and is a member of the Junior League of Santa Barbara.

Lupita Cervantes

Guadalupe was born in Metepec, Hidalgo, Mexico. Her family moved to the Santa Maria Valley area in 1995 in search of better opportunities. She was a part of the Pioneer Valley High School’s first graduating class (2007) and continued her studies at Allan Hancock College. Guadalupe is always looking for ways to be part of her community despite her disability. Through a paid internship program for people with disabilities, she is acquiring work skills that she hopes will make her more employable and break stereotypes often imposed upon her because of her disability.

Rich Sander

Rich Sander has more than a decade of experience as an executive leader and strategist in the Southern California region and has lived in Santa Barbara for nineteen years. He serves as the founding Executive Director at SB ACT where he has grown the organization from a volunteer food distribution into a 501(c)3 organization. Rich currently sits on the Santa Barbara City Community Formation Commission, a commission dedicated to creating systems of transparency and accountability for local law enforcement in response to nationwide issues of systemic racism and violence. 

Robert Gibson

Robert is committed to utilizing the skills, knowledge and expertise gained as project manager to support a range of programs serving underserved communities.

Vickey Smith

Vickey Smith moved to California in September of 2006 and fell in love with the Central Coast. She graduated in 2011 with a Master of Public Administration w/Nonprofit Management concentration. Currently she is the Interim Coordinator of Community Education at Allan Hancock College. Vickey is an advocate of social justice, women’s rights, education, animal welfare, and pursuing one’s passions. She enjoys spending time with her son, cuddling with her 3 cats, connecting with friends, exploring the Central Coast, and reading to her heart’s content.

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Abraham Carrillo-Galindo

I am most passionate about the migrant rights and educational outreach areas in my community specifically because they are the most pressing issues in my community. Immigrant families should have more exposure to the rights and the opportunities that they have, as well as the right to better wages and work conditions. Students likewise have the right to pursue higher education, so by advocating for increased opportunities for them to succeed, a better community can be established. I am involved in my school’s tennis team, FBLA chapter, Boys and Girls’ Club Keystone chapter, Full STEAM Ahead, CAUSE, and some other projects in my community aside from YMC.

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Cesar Vasquez

I am most passionate about the issues regarding the lack of recourses for youth. I feel that a lot of times a lot of the issues youth experiences can be tied to the lack of recourses that are provided to them. I enjoy volunteering for other organizations and going to the gym, reading comics, eating a lot of food and sleeping. Other organizations that I’m involved in include Future Leaders of America, R.E.A.C.H, and UCLA Youth Research Fellow.

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Kruz Balbona

I am interested in youth rights and mental health because I believe that everybody should be heard regardless of their age and should be able to get care for their mental health. I am on the local football team, The Antlers (local volunteer club). 

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Mya Balbona

I am most passionate about woman’s rights. Growing up I was shielded from the reality of being a woman, but I have come to realize how much society has restricted and held back woman. I believe every woman deserves a chance to do whatever she desires to do in life without being restricted or told how to do it. I am apart of the OAHS competitive cheerleading team, I am the vice president of the California Scholarship Federation, I am a volunteer at the Marian Medical Hospital, and I am a member of the National Honors Society. 

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Natalia Lucas

I am most passionate about mental health because I know that many young adults struggle with mental health issues and are often scared to admit that they are not okay. I am currently working at La Miramar Western Wear and Feed and playing for a soccer club named CVSC Venom.I am also involved in a UCLA internship, YMCA internship, Mental Health Ambassadors, Future Leaders of America and a part of the Righetti FFA Chapter. 

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Kavya Suresh

It’s difficult to choose just a few issues I’m passionate about, as I know they’re all so deeply interconnected. One issue area in which I’ve always centered myself is education equity. Education is a human right that we are all entitled to, and a powerful education has the capacity to spark systemwide transformation. Aside from that, my personal experience and upbringing in Santa Barbara have encouraged me to get involved in movements supporting immigrant rights, environmental justice, gender equity, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, language justice, and more. Outside of YMC, I am involved in San Marcos High School’s Associated Student Body, Ethnic Studies Club (and Santa Barbara Ethnic Studies Now!), and Resource Family Assistance Support Team. I also volunteer at Standing Together to End Sexual Assault and Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

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Gabriele Scussat

One of the issues I’m most passionate about at the moment is enviornmentalism. I was first educated on the topic in elementary school as my school was sponsored by the Ocean Guardians. We researched ocean pollution, often participated in beach cleanups, and campaigned. Additionally, I have been working with the UCSB Cheadle Center for Biodivercity and Ecological Restoration where I investiaged the North Campus Open Space restoration process along with light pollution on UCSB campus. Another issue I’m passionate about that I more recently grew interest in is mental health. I’ve learned a lot about it in school and through YMC over the last 2 years as we had several grantees adressing the issue. However, there are many more issues that are important and cannot be ignored!