Asset 1ScholarMatch

Our Team


ScholarMatch is a dynamic team of talented and passionate professionals.

San Francisco

Diana Adamson

Executive Director

Diana Adamson

Executive Director

Diana is a native Californian and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. She holds Masters degrees from Saint Peters College and The London School of Economics. Her experiences in Teach For America, classroom teaching, and working abroad drive her passion for increasing access to higher education for under-resourced students. Since joining ScholarMatch in 2011, Diana has led it through gaining 501(c)3 status, significant program expansion, and developed the ScholarMatcher, the first-of-its-kind college search tool built to combat undermatching in low-income students. When she is not analyzing college data or evaluating program outcomes, Diana can be found running around with her family.

Charity Espiritu

Senior Director

Charity Espiritu

Senior Director

Charity oversees the operations, data, evaluation, innovation, and research teams at ScholarMatch. An alum of Princeton University and University of California at Berkeley, she has held senior positions at The Asia Foundation and led program design and development initiatives abroad, such as in Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Myanmar, to alleviate poverty, promote data-driven governance, and expand access to education for disadvantaged women and youth. She also has a background in politics and public affairs, serving as a Fiscal and Policy Analyst at the California Legislative Analyst’s Office and Chief-of-Staff at the Hawaii State Legislature. She was raised in the Outer Mission neighborhood of San Francisco and enjoys working and volunteering in the social impact sector.

Juliana Sloane

Director of People & Culture

Juliana Sloane

Director of People & Culture

Juliana joined the ScholarMatch team in 2013, and now leads ScholarMatch’s internal people, culture, and wellbeing support, and oversees our development efforts. Over the years, she has championed the work of a variety of organizations working to create empowered, compassionate communities, on staff and as a consultant and coach. She holds a BA from Guilford College, an MA from Central European University, has completed post-graduate work at the Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and holds a Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology from San Francisco State University. In her free time, she has a dedicated meditation practice and loves teaching mindfulness to communities in the Bay Area.

Monica Mendez

Associate Director of College Programs

Monica Mendez

Associate Director of College Programs

Monica is passionate about higher education and helping first-generation students achieve their college and professional goals. As a native to San Diego, she participated in a similar high school program called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), which led to her admission to Saint Mary’s College of California. Monica has extensive experience in career advising for college students and nonprofit volunteering. Since joining the ScholarMatch team in 2014, she has spearheaded the expansion of our College to Career program—ensuring that all students are given the one-on-one support they need to graduate college and launch a successful career. When Monica is not advising college students, you can find her cheerleading with the CHEER San Francisco nonprofit team or baking some delicious treats!

Deborah Kang

Director of College & Career Programs

Deborah Kang

Director of College & Career Programs

Deborah is a passionate career development professional and first-generation college student. Navigating college was extremely challenging, but through the support of her community, she was able to find her path as a career advisor. While she originates from Southern California, she earned a B.S. in Public Policy at Georgia State University and M.Ed. in College Student Affairs Administration at the University of Georgia. Recognized for her collaborative spirit and love for career development, Deborah has served in various institutions to support students of all ages and backgrounds. She believes that through career management, individuals and families can feel more economically empowered, and is excited to support ScholarMatch students’ career readiness. When she’s not at ScholarMatch, you’ll find her at Golden Gate Park with her dog and partner, at a dance studio or the local ice rink!

Lisa Lopez

Director of College Access

Lisa Lopez

Director of College Access

Lisa’s parents, of Mexican and Guatemalan heritage, immigrated to the United States. Inspired by their struggles, Lisa has been involved in the fields of education and service since high school. Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, CA, Lisa traveled north to attend the University of California, Berkeley where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies with a concentration in minorities and education. Lisa has over 10 years of college access and college persistence work; she is passionate about empowering students to lead their life with purpose, intention, and action. Prior to joining ScholarMatch, Lisa worked for KIPP Bay Area Public Schools as a Director of College Counseling and a College Persistence Manager. Outside of work, you can find Lisa dancing as part of an Afro-Brazilian dance company or spending time with friends and family.

Meagan Taylor

Site Director

Meagan Taylor

Site Director

Meagan is originally Virginia born and raised. She pursued her undergraduate and Master’s in Education at the college of William and Mary and started her career in teaching just outside of Washington, D.C before moving to the Bay Area. After 4 years of classroom teaching, she began working in college access in San Francisco, managing tutoring, mentoring, and career development programs to support first-generation students in pursuing their college dreams. Meagan comes to ScholarMatch after a year living and working in Central Mexico, leading school initiatives in bilingual math education. She is excited to support ScholarMatch programming to close the opportunity gap for Bay Area students. Outside of ScholarMatch, you can find Meagan exploring California’s mountains, lakes, and rivers and exploring all the quirky offerings of San Francisco.

Jonathan Ho

Director of Data & Information Systems

Jonathan Ho

Director of Data & Information Systems

Jonathan is originally from Hong Kong, China and is a first-generation college student. He received his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Economics from University of California Los Angeles and his master’s degree in Business Analytics from California State University East Bay. Jonathan brings his expertise in data analytics, data modeling and database management to his new role at ScholarMatch. He is passionate about using his skill-sets to bridge the gaps between students, counselors and ScholarMatch, and is excited to be a part of a team that helps students achieve their goals of obtaining a higher education. When Jonathan is not tinkering around databases, he can usually be found playing volleyball, role-playing with his toddler, or looking for a new recipe to try.

Louis Mendez

Data Analyst

Louis Mendez

Data Analyst

Louis grew up in the Bay Area and studied Economics at the University of California, Davis. He started working for a financial-tech company after graduation, where his love for analytics first grew. Louis is passionate about storytelling with data and is motivated to help underrepresented college students obtain a fair shot at academic and career success. Outside of work, he is part of the leadership team of a recently established church in Oakland, and on his days off he is either hanging out at a coffee shop or trying out a new restaurant with a loved one.

Nirvana Felix

Communications & Marketing Manager

Nirvana Felix

Communications & Marketing Manager

Nirvana is a first generation college graduate, social media enthusiast, and a proud ScholarMatch alumna who graduated from UC Berkeley in 2016. Her experience matriculating through under-resourced schools in San Jose fueled her passion to address inequities in higher education. During her time at Cal, Nirvana led statewide initiatives to recruit and retain students of color in higher education and strengthened her education policy experience through internships at the Oakland School Board, the Marcus Foster Education Institute and the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights. When she’s not Tweeting about all things #highered, Nirvana can be found scavenging through thrift stores, reading fiction novels, or volunteering in her community.

Kate Bueler

Community Engagement Manager

Kate Bueler

Community Engagement Manager

Kate is a native Californian, a first-generation college student, and a graduate of the University of San Francisco. She holds Masters degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University and University of San Francisco. She is a lifelong educator holding multiple roles in the field including teacher, literacy instructor, researcher, school counselor, and policy maker. Kate was inspired by her father who dropped out of college to complete college herself and this motivates her in supporting students as they embark on their own college journey. She is motivated by student stories of strength, resiliency, and enjoys seeing students’ growth overtime. Kate enjoys supporting and learning from volunteers and corporate groups as they support students in exploring college and career paths.

Leo Harrington

Program Manager

Leo Harrington

Program Manager

Leo was born and raised in San Francisco. After graduating from SFUSD schools, he left the Bay to study at Oberlin College and Conservatory, where he earned degrees in History and Music. Leo’s passion for equity in education is rooted in his experiences teaching music and languages, tutoring writing, and administering non-profit programs in SF, Oberlin, Panama, and Austria. In particular, his work with the Ninde Scholars Program in Oberlin sparked his conviction in the value of carefully delivered college access mentoring. Leo is honored to be a part of the ScholarMatch family and to support the Virtual Destination College program. Outside of work, Leo can be found running and cycling around the city, and checking out too many books from the library.

Leigh Ann Coleman

Development & Operations Assistant

Leigh Ann Coleman

Development & Operations Assistant

Leigh Ann moved to San Francisco from Long Beach, California in 2010. In 2014, she received a Bachelor’s degree in Art from San Francisco State University. There, she strengthened her passion for cultivating community. Following her graduation, she pursued a career as a non-profit administrator, serving local community-focused non-profits such as Root Division, ArtSpan, and SFMOMA. Her introduction to large-scale event fundraising and capital campaigns at Root Division laid the foundation for her career in development, guiding her to ScholarMatch in January 2019. Leigh Ann is delighted to be apart of the ScholarMatch community and support underserved students. Outside of the ScholarMatch office, you will find her teaching art classes, enjoying the beach, or gardening.

Samantha Lozano

College Advisor & Research Pilot Lead

Samantha Lozano

College Advisor & Research Pilot Lead

At the age of 12, Sam Lozano immigrated to Maryland from the Philippines. Growing up in Baltimore City, Sam understands firsthand the effects of poverty and the life-changing impact of a higher education. She graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications. In college, Sam volunteered with Students in Service AmeriCorps and was a member of the Baltimore Collegetown LeadersShape program. Before joining ScholarMatch, she worked for the CollegeBound Foundation, a college access and scholarship organization dedicated to helping Baltimore students. Her passion for educational equity has fueled her desire to join ScholarMatch. Sam is eager to user her experiences to support the continued growth of the Destination College team and empower first-generation students with their goal of achieving a college degree.

Arathi Govind, Ph.D.

College Advisor

Arathi Govind, Ph.D.

College Advisor

Arathi was born and raised in Southern California, the daughter of Indian immigrants. She began teaching during her undergraduate studies, and then went on to pursue a M.M. at the University of North Texas and a Ph.D. at UC Berkeley in ethnomusicology. Throughout her graduate studies, Arathi taught courses on music and race, American music history, and Western music theory. She also worked in career development as a co-director for Beyond Academia and a Professional Development Liaison for the UC Berkeley Graduate Division. Her academic training in career development, race theory, and the arts fuels her knowledge and drive to support underserved communities at ScholarMatch. Outside of ScholarMatch, you may find Arathi singing with various Bay Area groups or hiking with her husband and their silly, spoiled parrot named Doug.

Genaro Cruz

College Advisor

Genaro Cruz

College Advisor

Genaro immigrated from Mexico at the age of 11 to reunite with his family in the US and overcame educational obstacles as an ESL student in the Anaheim School District. In high school, he was a member of MEChA, which gave him access to important world literature and shaped his passion for supporting other immigrant students’ pursuit of higher education. Genaro earned an AA in Philosophy from Fullerton College and then transferred to UC Berkeley, where he earned two Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Spanish Literature. Since graduating from college, Genaro has supported student success in different capacities. He is an ardent advocate for the rights of every student from any immigration status to pursue their educational and professional dreams. In his free time, Genaro likes to keep busy by reading, writing, and spoiling his pug, Chomsky.

Marisela Garcia

Program & Office Coordinator

Marisela Garcia

Program & Office Coordinator

Marisela grew up in the Bay Area but is originally from Mexico. She is a first generation college student and graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Chicano Studies. She spent her college years volunteering and advocating for immigrant rights. Marisela is passionate about education and believes every student should have the opportunity to get a college education. She has experience in college advising from her previous role as a college advisor, a position that has motivated her to continue working with college-bound high school students. She knows first-hand that as a low-income and first generation student, you don’t always have the support or financial resources to attend college, which is why she wants to help students receive the support and information to make college possible.
Marisela habla español y está aquí para ayudarle.

Paola Gonzalez

Program Coordinator

Paola Gonzalez

Program Coordinator

Paola is a first generation college graduate and cultural worker who is passionate about education and youth development. She graduated from Skidmore College in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in Studio Art and Intergroup Relations. While at Skidmore, Paola co-facilitated a semester long intergroup dialogue focused on race and social identity and led initiatives focused on migrant rights, education equity, campus climate, and racial justice. Growing up in a low-income, mixed-status home Paola understands firsthand the challenges of navigating the higher education system and is passionate about supporting students on their journey to and through college. As an educator Paola has held the role of Founding Visual Arts Teacher and Teaching Artist where she developed curriculum focused on self-expression, using art as a tool to promote social justice, and art as a source of healing. Outside of ScholarMatch you can find Paola getting her hands dirty inking a new linoblock, watching foreign films and documentaries, or baking.

 

Thamara Torres

Program Coordinator

Thamara Torres

Program Coordinator

Thamara is a first generation college student who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Development from Seattle Pacific University. Thamara was born in San Francisco but was primarily raised in beautiful Nicaragua, a place that she considers home. As a first generation graduate and an alumni of ScholarMatch, Thamara acknowledges the importance of accessibility to education, especially in the context of limited resources. She is very excited and eager to join the ScholarMatch team and provide help to students that are underserved, a community she feels at home with. If you cannot find Thamara at ScholarMatch working with volunteers or students, then you will most certainly find her searching for a new place to dance Salsa or eat delicious vegan food!

Kevin Guzman

Program Associate

Kevin Guzman

Program Associate

Kevin grew up in Southern California where he obtained a B.A. in Asian American Studies at California State University, Northridge. After freelancing with a number of Los Angeles community based organizations, he moved to San Francisco to teach Ethnic Studies and History at Balboa High School. Recognizing the impact of mentorship and college readiness, he transitioned to non-profit youth development where he has worked directly alongside young people to actualize their potential as first generation college students and social agents of change. In his free time, Kevin enjoys traveling to new places and taking his corgi to different dog parks in the Bay Area.

Luciano Zuniga

Program Associate

Luciano Zuniga

Program Associate

Luciano is a proud first-generation college graduate who was born and raised in Sacramento, CA. He holds a BA in Public Health and minor in Public Policy from UC Berkeley. During college, Luciano planned a conference for students of color interested in careers in the health field and learned the importance of policy through a social justice lens by interning with The Greenlining Institute. These experiences sparked his interest in the intersection of education and health equity to provide individuals with the resources to succeed. Growing up in a low-income community, he understands the difficulties navigating higher education and the role organizations can play in supporting students in this process. Aside from work, Luciano can most likely be found at a cafe drinking coffee or outside on a run.

Los Angeles

Veronica Ponce-Navarrete

Senior Director

Veronica Ponce-Navarrete

Senior Director

Veronica was born in Mexico and grew up in the Bay Area. She is a graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois and holds a Master’s in Student Affairs from UCLA. She has nearly 10 years experience in college access and student affairs. As a first generation college graduate from a single-parent immigrant household, she is passionate about supporting the retention and success of first generation, underrepresented students in higher education. While at Wheaton College she founded and directed a college access program for low-income and first-generation college-bound high school students from the Chicago area. In her previous roles within higher education institutions, she has supported campus level diversity initiatives and provided advising and career support to first generation college students. She is motivated by her desire to inspire and empower underrepresented students to be leaders in their communities and institutions of higher education.

Marilyn Alvarez

Associate Director of College Access

Marilyn Alvarez

Associate Director of College Access

Marilyn was born and raised in South Los Angeles. Her parents immigrated to Los Angeles from Mexico, and although neither of them attended college, they instilled the importance of education, hard work, and determination at a very early age. Marilyn holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Cal State Northridge and earned a Master’s in Public Administration from USC. Marilyn has over a decade of experience working with community-based organizations, developing cross-sectoral partnerships to improve student achievement in some of Los Angeles’ neediest communities, including South LA, Boyle Heights and Watts. She is a product of a college access organization and strongly believes that organizations, such as ScholarMatch, are helping close the opportunity gap for low-income, first-generation college students. Marilyn is fluent in Spanish and American Sign Language. Her favorite things to do are exploring the wonderful city of Los Angeles with her daughter, dancing, and having brunch!

Kimberly Arteaga

Site Manager

Kimberly Arteaga

Site Manager

Kimberly was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She is the daughter of immigrant parents and the only sister out of 5 siblings. Kimberly received her BA in Human Development from the University of California, San Diego and minor in Chicano and Latino Studies. She then became the first in her family to graduate from college. Kimberly has been working with college access and retention programs with the goal of guiding and counseling low-income, first generation students to strive towards academic and personal excellence. She believes that all students have the right to obtain a higher education regardless of the obstacles they may encounter along the way. Some of Kimberly’s obsessions include drinking coffee and eating hot cheetos.

Alma Zaragoza-Petty, Ph.D.

Senior College Advisor

Alma Zaragoza-Petty, Ph.D.

Senior College Advisor

Alma is a native Californian who was also raised in Acapulco, Mexico. She has worked with students for almost 20 years in various capacities and settings. She started as an enrollment officer at East Los Angeles College, where she began her studies. While at UCLA she tutored and advised students in South Central and Huntington Park, where she grew up. As the first in her family to go to college, she became interested in learning about educational equity, and went on to complete a Masters in Counseling at CSU Northridge and a predoctoral internship at UC Berkeley. She lived in NorCal for three years while working for the EAOP and Cal-SOAP programs assisting students become college-ready. She returned to SoCal for her doctoral studies at UC Irvine where she graduated from in 2016. When she is not working with students, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters and partner, performing artist Propaganda.

Francisco Prado

Senior College Advisor

Francisco Prado

Senior College Advisor

Francisco is a native Californian from Los Angeles, the son of Mexican immigrants, and he is the first male in his family to graduate college. He graduated from California State University, Northridge and holds a Bachelors degree in Sociology. His 12 years experience in working with at-risk youth and families in the non-profit sector have given him the tools to assist those that are in need of increasing access to higher education and social services. He has developed and coordinated programs for low income communities that assist in Life Skills, Counseling, Crisis Intervention, and increased academic enrichment and career planning. He is dedicated to his passion which is to see today’s youth succeed and to make sure they are well prepared for the world of tomorrow.

Timothy Huynh

College Advisor

Timothy Huynh

College Advisor

Timothy Huynh grew up in Connecticut as the son of Vietnamese refugees. He is a first generation college student, graduating from Syracuse University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Asian/Asian American studies. His passion for working with college students grew from experiences in student leadership and advocating for underrepresented populations on campus. While attending the University of Southern California for his Master’s in Student Affairs, he worked with multiple mentoring programs for queer and first generation students. Timothy is excited to contribute his passion for providing access and equity to ScholarMatch. When he’s not meeting with students, you can find Timothy baking up something sweet in the kitchen, playing video games, or hunting for the next great spot to eat with his two dogs Sonny and Otto in tow.

Bianelle Vazquez

Program Coordinator

Bianelle Vazquez

Program Coordinator

Bianelle is a first generation college student from the East Bay. She graduated from the University of San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Bianelle is also a Certified Nonprofit Management Professional. She found her passion working in the nonprofit sector while interning at ScholarMatch for three summers since 2016. Being the daughter of two Mexican immigrants, Bianelle found her voice by helping those in her community advocate for their rights and supporting others in making college possible. When Bianelle is not helping students, you can find her cuddled up with her cat and binge-watching Netflix.

Bianelle habla español y está aquí para ayudarle.

Board of Directors

Randie Bencanann

Retired Social Worker

Tom Conrad

Snapchat

Sheila Doucet

ScholarMatch Volunteer

Dave Eggers

ScholarMatch Founder, Author

Ian Ferry

Jackson Square Partners

Christine Higgins

Christine Higgins College Counseling

Jaime Huling-Delaye

San Francisco Deputy City Attorney

Diana Kapp

Journalist

Miriam Karpilow

University of San Francisco, Career Services

Jon Keehn

Capital International Investors

Ben Steinberg

Tehiyah Day School

Ron Turiello

Lawyer and Film Producer

Mary Williams

Trustee, Fonda Family Foundation