As a result of Oakland Leaf programming East Oakland youth will be creative, thriving and contributing to their community. Oakland Leaf provides intentional programming to support youth’s: physical, social and emotional well being, academic success, and ability to be active and effective leaders in their community.

When effective, our youth will be: able to make healthy and safe decisions for themselves and the environment, more equipped to communicate and navigate their lives, lifelong learners, and critical creative thinkers. Ultimately, our youth will be active and effective changemakers in their communities and the world.




Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Informing Change

(Beginning Term 2013)

Originally from Los Angeles and moving to the Bay Area after college, Gail’s professional focus has been working with organizations dedicated to providing high quality services to underserved populations. Gail has years of experience working in nonprofit administration beginning at the YWCA of San Diego and then at the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland. Currently, Gail is the Vice President & COO at Informing Change, a strategic consulting firm dedicated to informing organizational learning and effectiveness in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Gail is responsible for overseeing the company’s organizational development and infrastructure to support its growth and vision. Gail provides financial management, operational planning, human resources and administrative expertise to support the strategic business goals and long term sustainability of the company.

Prior to joining Oakland Leaf Foundation, Gail served as a board member for the Purple Silk Music Education Foundation in Oakland Chinatown. She holds dual Bachelor of Arts in Third World Studies and Health Care-Social Issues from the University of California, San Diego.

KIM DUFF, Secretary

Director of Product Marketing, Rally Health

(Beginning Term 2016)

Kim Duff is a senior marketing professional with extensive experience building brands across a variety of categories including healthcare, financial services and consumer packaged goods.  She is currently the Director of Product Marketing for Rally Health.  Prior to Rally, Kim was the Director of Strategic Marketing for Kaiser Permanente in Oakland.  Kim began her career at McCann-Erickson in New York and Ketchum Advertising in San Francisco.  Prior to joining the board of Oakland Leaf, Kim served on the board of Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation.  Kim lives in Oakland and holds a BA in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania. 

EVAN MILLER, Treasurer

Director, District Advisory Services, Alameda County Office of Education

(Beginning Term 2013)

Evan Miller is a nonprofit finance professional dedicated to improving the education system and the lives of Oakland youth. Evan grew up in Seattle, WA, and attended Pomona College in Claremont, CA. He worked for Playworks (formerly Sports4Kids) as a site coordinator at Glenview Elementary in Oakland, and then held various responsibilities in accounting, operations, and development in the same organization. He worked for 8 years at the National Writing Project as the Assistant Director of Accounting & Operations. He then lead HR and Finance for Great Oakland Public Schools for four years. Evan also holds a Masters in Education from the University of San Francisco. He lives in Oakland with his wife and two young sons.


Strategic Senior Advisor, Tides

(Beginning Term 2017)

Harris brings over 25 years of experience as a strategist, program developer, nonprofit leader, fundraiser and creative solution seeker in advancing an array of social change organizations as an employee, board member and/or consultant.  As part of the Tides community, Harris is working with donors and community partners helping to respond to the growing challenges in targeted interest areas and achieving multifaceted goals.  Additionally, Harris interacts with Tides cross-functional teams to support the development of the augmented strategic direction of the organization.  Through his previous work with the Clinton Foundation, American Red Cross, Peace Corps, the Olympic Movement, Abyssinian Development Corporation, as well as various nonprofit board affiliations, he possesses big-picture vision coupled with small details execution to lead stakeholders towards building strong teams, designing strategies, enhancing infrastructure, movement building and achieving positive social impact in locales ranging from Atlanta to Zimbabwe and many points in between. Harris has a BA from Morehouse College and a MPP from Georgia State University.

Monica Guzman, At-Large

Vice Principal at Mount Diablo Unified School District 

(Beginning Term 2019)

Monica has been a public school teacher, after-school program instructor, teacher coach, and school administrator for nearly two decades. She has worked in schools in Southern California, Philadelphia, and in multiple Bay Area districts. Monica is passionate about after-school enrichment programs, having seen firsthand the many positive impacts they have on young people, schools, and communities. She first came into contact with Oakland Leaf as the Principal at International Community School in Oakland, where OL has an afterschool program. Monica received her Masters degree from the Principal Leadership Institute, an equity-focused program of UC Berkeley. She lives in El Sobrante with her husband and their many pets.


Managing Partner, Morgan Hill Partneres

(Beginning Term 2016)

Howard Joyce is a seasoned technology and business professional with over two decades of experience in developing and leading technology solutions and services companies. Most recently, Howard served as the President and COO of Tribridge, where he held overall responsibility for the operations, strategic direction and growth objectives for its Microsoft Business Solutions division. Prior to Tribridge, Howard co-founded Navint Consulting, where he directed national operations for the firm’s Microsoft practice and managed the West Region of US. He was also a Partner with Nextera Enterprises Technology Solutions Group, and worked at SiGMA Consulting and PwC.

Howard began his career in the public sector, serving as Chief Aide for the Alaska State Legislative Council and as a member of the Executive Staff Committee for the National Council of State Legislatures. In addition, he founded Public Domain, a strategic consultancy that provided services to several state legislative candidates and ballot initiatives.

After traveling extensively over the last 20 years, Howard is now firmly planted in Bay Area, consulting for select clients and focusing his time on his family and community.

Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Purdue University and resides in Oakland with his wife and son.


Retired Medical Doctor, Private Practice

(Beginning Term 2003)

Debra Levinsky MD has worked as an obstetrician gynecologist in solo private practice for 30 years with offices in Lafayette and Berkeley. She has served on the Board of the Alta Bates Medical Group for more than 10 years and is a member of their finance committee.  She is an associate clinical professor at UCSF Medical School and teaches residents at Alta Bates Hospital. Dr. Levinsky was the first woman to serve as Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Alta Bates Hospital and presently serves on the executive committee of the OBGYN department.  Dr. Levinsky has been on the Board of the Oakland Leaf Foundation since it’s inception.  She has two lovely children and lives in Berkeley.


Social Justice and Health Care Advocate, UCSF Medical Center

(Beginning Term 2017)

Marina has been advocating for the health and human rights of underserved communities for 15 years, working with immigrants, farmworkers, people with disabilities, the LGBT community, and people living with HIV/AIDS. As a Physician Assistant for a community clinic, she see herself as her patients’ partner in leading healthy lives. Marina is a National Health Service Corps Scholar, in recognition of her commitment to providing health care to communities in need. She received her Master Physician Assistant degree from Samuel Merritt University, and her Bachelor of Arts in Health Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Board of Trustees, Health Professions Education Foundation

(Beginning Term 2017)

Currently, Scott is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Health Professions Education Foundation in Sacramento, CA.  The Foundation provides scholarships and loan repayments to aspiring and practicing health professionals who agree to practice in a medically underserved area.  Previously, Scott was a General Partner at Levensohn Venture Partners in San Francisco, CA.  He has also worked for the Rev. Jesse Jackson at Rainbow/PUSH and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, which forcused on economic development in Harlem.  Scott began his career at IBM where he worked in marketing and sales.


Retired Clinical Psychologist, Private Practice

(Beginning Term 2003)

Stephen Walrod is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Oakland, California, seeing adults, children, and adolescents.  He is a founding member of the Oakland Leaf Board of Directors.  For nine years he served on the board of directors of the Creative Growth Art Center, the oldest and largest art center for artists with disabilities in the world, and in 2007, while President of the Board, he led a million dollar capital campaign to renovate the Art Center’s Gallery and Studio facilities in Oakland. Currently he serves as an emeritus member of the Creative Growth Art Center Board of Directors.


MELISSA MENDEZ OCHOA, Executive Director

Melissa Mendez Ochoa grew up in Napa Valley and made the move to the East Bay when she decided to attend the University of California, Berkeley. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a minor in Education and in 2020, Melissa earned her Masters in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.  As an undergraduate she became involved with many different organizations targeted to change the educational system and help students of color reach higher education. Upon graduating from UC Berkeley, Melissa decided to stay in the East Bay and began working with Oakland Leaf. As an Administrative Assistant and later HR and Finance Director, she developed the infrastructure and direction of the organization and programs. Melissa planned and hosted Oakland Leaf’s 12th and 13th Annual All Oakland Youth Talent Showcase. In the of Spring of 2019, Melissa became Oakland Leaf’s Executive Director.  In her free time, Melissa is in active alumna of TRENZA UC Berkeley and an avid sports fan of the Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants, and San Francisco Niners.


SAMANTHA LIAPES, Development Director

For nearly a decade, Samantha served as the Development and Communications Director at Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth in San Francisco, a leadership development and community organizing institution focused on education equity. Before working at Coleman, Samantha was the founding Director of a national alliance of progressive youth and student organizations working to build power in communities of color. Early in her nonprofit career, Samantha served in several staff leadership positions at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, including Project Director of both Bay Area PoliceWatch and NYC PoliceWatch and National Development Director. As an independent fundraising and communications consultant and a certified co-active and somatic coach, Samantha has provided capacity building and leadership development support to dozens of nonprofit organizations and leaders. She has also served on several volunteer committees that helped to launch housing justice, immigration rights, and other social change organizations. Samantha is the mother of two four-year-olds who teach her daily lessons about what it means to live life courageously and unselfconsciously, and to feel (and in their case, loudly express) all the feelings.


RENA STOLER, Development Manager

Rena is dedicated to cultivating resources for youth to explore their creativity and build skills to become the next generations of leaders. She earned a B.A. in Geography and a M.A. in Community Development and Planning at Clark University which focused on moving communities towards justice work. Oakland Leaf’s commitment to youth empowerment is personal to her as she was a product of youth development programming herself. Rena loves hiking, spending time with her family and going to A’s games.



KAMILAH HENDERSON, Finance and Operations Manager

Kamilah grew up in Hayward and Oakland, CA and earned a B.A. in Education Studies and a minor in Sports and Recreation Management from Ashford University. After 10 years of working with youth in schools and in educational programs, Kamilah decided to earn a M.A. in Education, specializing in Curriculum and Instruction from Ashford University. Her experience in education and youth work drives her passion for Oakland Leaf’s community impact. As a parent, and former after-school instructor, she knows how much families rely on quality out-of-school time programming. When she’s not at work, Kamilah enjoys road trips, beach days, and studying music.



SARA ROUSSEVE, People and Culture Manager

bio coming soon!



ERIKA CARDONA, Learning Without Limits Afterschool Program Manager

Erika Cardona is currently the Site Manager at Learning Without Limits. She has been with the Oakland Leaf as of 2016. Erika has over 10 years’ experience in academic development, programming and implementation in the public sector, particularly in under-served communities. Erika also served as a liaison for non-English speaking families; her responsibilities included assisting with academics, implementing new programs to develop Youth Empowerment, leveraging community relationships, and developing the potential of young people while maintaining and operating an After School Program serving over 160 students daily. Erika continues to pursue her passion, to encourage and support the public by cultivating, welcoming, supporting, and being inclusive to all communities. When she’s away from LWL Erika enjoys reading, taking trips, and spending time with her family.


ISABEL GONZALEZ, International Community School (ICS) and Think College Now (TCN) Afterschool Program Manager

Isabel “Isa” Gonzalez serves as the Site Manager at International Community School and Think College Now afterschool programs. As a minority in Oakland she has been labeled as a female who is statistically designed to fail, and lives in a city labeled as a “malignant place.” But Isa refused to let others define her, and always was eager to realize her dreams. Isa discovered her passion for equity in education and Feminism through a critical media afterschool program that Oakland Leaf. In 2011, she attended the University of California Santa Cruz as an undergraduate scholar and in 2015 received her Bachelor’s degree in Feminist Studies. Isa is a life-long learner and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with those who surround her. At Oakland Leaf, Isa continues her mission of providing youth with the resources that they might not be able to attain elsewhere, and gives them the tools to be active agents of change in our communities.


JONATHAN HIGGENBOTHAM, Bret Harte Afterschool Program Manager

Jonathan was born and raised in Oakland. He attended Pine Manor College and entered into the field of education. He is a former Science and PE teacher and greatly enjoys building upon the curiosity and intelligence of young minds. He is also a high school basketball coach and has worked and volunteered with the Black Cowboy Association for about 5 years. He strives to embrace and empower young generations to be the greatest they can be. He is a huge proponent in leading by example as well incorporating as much fun and joy into the work on the daily. 


THALIA JAUREGUI, ASCEND Afterschool Program Manager

Thalia Jauregui is a first generation Chicana and was the first one in her family to graduate high school. She is currently pursuing her BA in Psychology with the ambition to provide youth counseling and support to Oakland youth. Thalia was born and raised in East Oakland and has experienced first hand the struggles of living in a marginalized community, which is what drives her to give back to her community. She believes that Oakland Leaf provides much needed resources for youth that she herself lacked while growing. Thalia has held many roles at Oakland Leaf’s ASCEND program including: Academic Mentor, Instructor Program Assistant, to now Site Manager. She is extremely passionate and invested in her work with youth, and she is energized by helping create critical, social thinkers who are developing into active agents of change in the community.


MATTHEW LINZNER, Love Cultivating Schoolyards Program Manager

Matthew Linzner works within Oakland Leaf to develop a team of young people who are literate in earth and bio rhythms through a variety of outdoor, communal, and interpersonal activities. Matthew studied Agroecology and Community Food Systems at the Evergreen State College and began working with Oakland Leaf as an afterschool soccer coach. He has since incorporated a deeper knowledge of health through the Love Cultivating Schoolyards Program. Matthew has worked at a variety of schools in the Fruitvale (elementary to high school) exposing students to the rhythms of nature as they learn about their own bodies and health while cultivating fruits and vegetables at their schools. Through this work, he seeks to develop a network of food producing gardens, cultivated by a team of trained youth, that can act as both an educational tool and as a nutritional resource for our various communities.


GENESIS RODRIGUEZ, Roots Program Manager

Genesis Rodriguez earned his Bachelors Degree in Communications from California State University, East Bay. He was raised in Oakland and is extremely proud to work in the community that supported and inspired him to live his life with passion and purpose. Genesis is motivated to help youth in his community develop valuable skills that will help them achieve success in their future and overcome the socioeconomic barriers that they face daily. He is thrilled for the opportunity to lead a brand new high school internship that will instill confidence in the youth of his community. Genesis has a deep knowledge of Oakland Leaf programming- he was an after-school program participant, a Love Cultivating Schoolyards (LCS) intern, an After-School Program Instructor, a Program Assistant for LCS, and is now the Program Manager of Roots.


ISAAC RUELAS, EnCompass Afterschool Program Manager

Isaac was born and raised in Oakland and loves giving back to our great city by working with youth and families. He graduated from Patten Academy High School and earned a BA degree in Communication from Patten University. Youth work and community service are both essential to Isaac’s career and personal commitment. He served as a high school leader at Christain Cathedral, worked as a Recreation Recreational Leader at the City of Oakland Parks and Recreation Department, and led the Centro Juventud de la Raza as the Center Director. A key part of his role at Centro Juventud de la Raza was partnering with local elementary schools and facilitate engaging after-school programs for the students. Isaac is committed to serving the community and create spaces for Oakland youth and is excited to bring his passion to EnCompass Academy.