Our Staff & Board

Coleman Staff:

Coleman Board:

  • Steve BinghamStaff attorney, Bay Area Legal Aid
  • Rosario Cervantes—Consumer rights advocate with the CA Public Utilities Commission
  • Dr. Prudence Carter—Professor of Education and (by courtesy) Sociology at Stanford University and Faculty Director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities
  • Curtis Chan, M.D.—Pediatrician, UCSF; San Mateo Public Health Dept
  • Rick Judd (Treasurer), Retired nonprofit and city Attorney
  • Maria Luz Torre (President) – Director and lead organizer for SF Parent Voices
  • Ianthia Mack—Former PAY member; Community Organizer
  • Giuliana Milanese—Community and Political Organizer, Civil Rights activist
  • Greg Tanaka (Secretary) — Attorney, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach

Neva Walker, Executive Director
Email: nwalker@colemanadvocates.org

Neva is a long-time youth worker, community organizer and political leader from Minneapolis who recently relocated to the Bay Area. She was born into an activist family; her mother founded and ran community programs at the Sabathani Community Center, located right across the street from the family’s home. Neva herself now has decades of experience working with low income youth and families of color around economic and racial justice issues. She has organized intensively around community demands for affordable housing and opportunities for youth. At age 29, Neva was the first African American woman elected to the Minnesota Legislature in the state’s history. She ran a precedent-setting grassroots election campaign that involved young people of color at every level of leadership. She served 8 years as a legislator before stepping down to return to her organizing roots. She’s a former Board member of the Progressive States Network. Since coming to the Bay, Neva spent time supporting the Black Organizing Project at the Center for Third World Organizing, and has been organizing workers in the labor movement.


Chelsea Boilard, Director of Programs
Email: cboilard@colemanadvocates.org

Born and raised in San Francisco, Chelsea has always been passionate about working with children and youth!  She has years of experience working with youth in non-profit organizations all over San Francisco, but she found a place at Coleman in 2002 as an AmeriCorps member with YMAC.  Since then, she hasn’t strayed far from the organization, and rejoined Coleman as a staff member in 2007.  She is proud to be a part of this organization, whose members, and staff, are so deeply committed to a more just San Francisco for all young people and their families.


Christina Cañaveral, Director of Parent Organizing and Education Policy
Email: ccanaveral@colemanadvocates.org
Christina Cañaveral was born and raised in the Excelsior District in San Francisco. She has a strong background in program management and youth development, serving as the Volunteer Coordinator at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center and Project Manager at the Upward Bound program of the University of Central Florida. Christina has extensive experience developing skills building and political education curriculum and facilitating workshops and leadership development programs, for both youth and parents. In multiple positions, Christina has carried out federal, state and local budget monitoring activities. Christina received her Masters Degree in Political Science in Bogota, Columbia where she also served as the Academic Coordinator of an English Language Institute. While in Columbia, Christina played leadership roles in multiple political campaigns, including the Mayoral Campaign of a member of the Independence Party, in which she served as a precinct captain, event and media coordinator, fundraiser and translator.

Kevine Boggess, Civic Engagement Director
Email: kboggess@colemanadvocates.org
Before joining the Coleman staff team, first as part-time support for SMAC and then as our Program Lead for our Youth Organizing Project, Kevine worked with Black Youth Vote in Atlanta and led the Morehouse University Amnesty International chapter. While at City College of San Francisco Kevine served as the Student Body President and Coordinator of Students Serving Students (S Cubed), a peer mentoring program at CCSF.
Karn Saetang, Director of Student Organizing 
Email: ksaetang@colemanadvocates.org
Karn brings a breadth of experience working with multi-racial grassroots organizations in Chicago, where he was born, raised and educated. Most recently, Karn served as the Youth Organizer and Youth Program Coordinator with the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center in Chicago, coordinating and supporting the organization’s youth-led organizing council to develop campaigns and legislative advocacy on social justice issues. Karn graduated from DePaul University with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Animation.

Lena Carew, Ed Tech and Innovation Fellow
Email: lcarew@colemanadvocates.org
A returning college student and 2011 CCSF graduate, Lena is currently attending Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. During her time at CCSF, Lena was the Student Shared Governance coordinator for the Associated Student Council, and a peer mentor for the Students Supporting Students program. Lena also served as the student president and founder of Students Making A Change (SMAC), a student organization at the City College of San Francisco (CCSF). In 2009, Lena joined SF Equity, a CCSF advocacy group comprised of progressive faculty and student members working towards increasing equity on campus. In 2010, SF Equity successfully advocated for the passing of the college’s Equity Resolution, which prioritizes student transfer and completion rates, and supports policies, which decrease the achievement gap
Karen Ramirez, Director of Administration
Email: kramirez@colemanadvocates.org
Karen hails from Honduras by way of Los Angeles, and is the proud mother of three sons, all of whom have or are currently attending San Francsico public schools. Karen was one of Coleman’s most active and strong PMAC parent leaders from Hillcrest Elementary, and was recruited to join our Civic Engagement Program, where we witnessed her remarkable organizational skills at work. Karen has more than twenty years experience in retail and store management, and is both the most organized and the best soccer player of the Coleman family. She is a student at City College of San Francisco and seeking a degree in Business Administration.

Samantha Liapes, Development & Communications Director
Email: sliapes@gmail.com
Samantha has over two decades of experience supporting the development and sustainability of social justice organizations at the local and national level. She worked with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights for eight years, serving as the Director of the Bay Area PoliceWatch project, founding staff and Director of NYC PoliceWatch, Staff Development Coordinator and Development Director. In 2007 and 2008, Samantha ran the Generational Alliance (GA), a national network of progressive youth and student organizations working to promote the voices, vision and leadership of young people from historically disenfranchised communities.  Before that, as an independent consultant based in the Bay Area, Samantha provided training and consultation to numerous local and national organizations in the areas of resource development, membership growth, project management and communications.
Ligia Montano, Parent Organizer
Email: lmontano@colemanadvocates.org
Growing up in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Ligia learned early on how crucial education is to the survival, success and well-being of individuals and communities. As an immigrant, she has come to understand, through direct experience, how education broadly – and language learning opportunities specifically – are absolutely integral to achieving genuine social justice and equity in the United States. Ligia is especially committed to supporting and empowering other immigrants to overcome the many structural obstacles to accessing quality education and English communications skills essential to securing living wage jobs in San Francisco. Ligia has worked on education issues with Latino immigrant and other socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in San Francisco with a range of groups, including the District Parent Advisory Council and ExCEL at SFUSD. She is the mother of a Balboa High School freshman who is constantly challenging Ligia to become a better person.
Katherine Almendares, Youth Organizer
Email: kalmendares@colemanadvocates.org
Born and raised in the Bay View district of San Francisco, Kathy is a fully bilingual, Mexican American single mother of a 5 year old. Kathy first got involved with Coleman in 2005 as a YMAC leader. Within months, Kathy was hired as a stipended YMAC youth organizer. Later, Kathy sustained her involvement with YMAC as an active volunteer for four years, helping to plan and coordinate a major YMAC event in 2008, among other activities. From 2008 to 2011, Kathy was employed at the Teenage Parenting and Pregnancy Program, running the resource center and coordinating events for young families. Kathy worked previously at Coleman as a Parent Organizer and is happy to return to the organization to support the organization’s youth development and youth organizing work. Kathy’s long-term goal is to work with underrepresented youth, possibly as a social worker. Whatever professional role she takes on, her commitment is to fight hard, and for the long-haul, for parent, children and youth rights, so that her daughter, and all children, will have access to the quality education that they deserve.
Natalia Vigil, Community Engagement Coordinator
Email: nvigil@colemanadvocates.org
Natalia Vigil is the oldest of six children raised in San Francisco. Natalia brings her expertise as a  coordinator, writer and curator to her work at Coleman. As a San Francisco youth, she was a youth leader through Peer Resources  and has continued to work with youth in non-profits around the  Bay  Area. Natalia’s work experience ranges from working with religious communities, to running a women’s center  and assisting in organizing the first DREAM act lobby day  and national conference in DC.In her work and art, Natalia strives to create  moments of cross-racial /cultural/class collaboration. Natalia’s writing and performance has appeared in numerous places around the Bay Area. She is the co-founder of Still Here, a performance and community dialogue project that explores the experiences of Queer/LGBTQI individuals raised in S.F.

Lily Wong, Jobs Policy Coordinator
Email: lwong@colemanadvocates.org
Born in Hong Kong and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District, Lily has been an advocate and organizer since 1999. As a Y-MAC organizer, Lily constantly struggled with the dichotomy of education offered to different students, from different neighborhoods, in San Francisco. This struggle has been at the root of Lily’s organizing. Lily has returned to Coleman with a range of education and skills to invest in her community. She has worked on immigration issues with Asian Law Caucus as a Community Advocate, and with youth employment as the coordinator for the Mayors Youth Employment and Education Program in Chinatown. She interned at a range of public offices, including the offices of Tom Ammiano, Gavin Newsom, and Nancy Pelosi. Recently, Lily has completed a joint Master’s program in Public Policy and Alternative Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine University. She plans to use her education and experience to ensure all San Franciscans have the opportunity stay and thrive in this City.

Toody Mafua’ofa, SMAC Coordinator
Email: emafuaofa@yahoo.com
Elitininanesi Mafuia’ofa, also known as Toody, went to middle and high school in San Francisco and is a recent City College of San Francisco graduate and current SF State student. As a SMAC leader, Toody was the Club Lead and Workshop Coordinator – organizing and facilitating dozens of leadership development, political education and skills building trainings, forums, and workshops for CCSF students. Toody also served as a volunteer with Students Supporting Students, SAFE, the AB540 club, and the Pacific Islander Club while a student at CCSF. Toody is also an accomplished Polynesian Dance performer and loves to knit.
Vanessa Banks, Civic Engagement Program Assistant
Email: vbanks@colemanadvocates.org
Vanessa Banks was born and raised and attended public school in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco.  She has raised two adult children and is currently raising a sixth grader in the Bayview. Vanessa is on the SFUSD Parent Advisory Council Board and is using this role to bring more awareness to the school to prison pipeline and to expand Restorative Practices in SFUSD. Vanessa is also the founder of the Friends of Youngblood Coleman Park Initiative that works in partnership with the SF Parks and Rec department, the Public Defender’s Office and BMagic to bring families back into the parks and create safe spaces for young people to build leadership skills and engage in physical activities so they are less likely to be on the streets or get caught up in the juvenile justice system.  Vanessa is committed to building a more just and equitable world because everyone deserves a chance and no one should be left behind.