TANDEM - Key Persons

Andrew Stanley-Jones

Job Titles:
  • Staff Engineer, Cruise
Andrew Stanley-Jones has over 19 years of experience working as an engineer in locations across the globe, including Germany and Australia. Born in Canada, Andrew has been living and working in the United States for over ten years. In his free time, Andrew volunteers at the free, weekly 5k run at Crissy Field and enjoys participating in marathons throughout the city.

Bella Oguno

Job Titles:
  • Senior Director of Clinical Operations at Global Blood Therapeutics
Bella Oguno is a Senior Director of Clinical Operations at Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT). She is passionate about her current work in Sickle Cell Disease with GBT. Bella obtained her undergraduate degree from UCSD and her Master's in Public Health from Benedictine University. Bella enjoys traveling, volunteering around the Bay Area, and exploring museums.

Brenda Gardner

Job Titles:
  • Senior Early Learning Specialist, San Francisco
For Brenda Gardner, getting to work with San Francisco families and educators and support them in giving the gift of early literacy to kids is a highlight of her job. Spending time looking at fun kids books is just an added benefit! Her favorite children's book is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, but Kevin Henkes' Egg comes in a very close second! Outside of work, Brenda is a photography enthusiast and loves spending time with her dog.

Cecilia Valdez

Job Titles:
  • Senior Early Learning Specialist, Contra Costa County
At home, Cecilia is a kitchen experimenter who loves to travel. Like most Tandem staff, she loves to read! Her favorite book is The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. If she's one of our StoryCycles® classrooms, Cecilia loves to share any of the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems with the students. She loves spreading happiness in classrooms and throughout the broader community, and believes this might just be the best thing about her job. According to Cecilia, there's nothing like sharing a book with a group of children and not only seeing, but also sharing their joy.

Chetana Bisarya - Chairman

Job Titles:
  • Chairman of the Board
Chetana joins Tandem with over ten years of experience in the social sector and with a passion for strengthening mission-driven organizations. Her work in education included managing the operations of a German immersion preschool and starting a foreign language after-school program. She continues to serve as an adviser for early childhood organizations. Through her business management and operations roles at the World Bank, RTI International, Accenture, and various NGOs, she has focused on poverty reduction, education, health, and capacity building. Chetana has a bachelor's degree from Duke University and a Master's in International Affairs from George Washington University.

David Donovan - Treasurer

Job Titles:
  • Treasurer
David is the lead of the Manufacturing Test Engineering team at Square in San Francisco, where he is responsible for ensuring the quality of Square's credit card readers and payment terminals. Prior to joining Square, David worked at Apple building manufacturing equipment to calibrate the cellular radios on the iPhone and iPad. David is also an amateur set designer for theatrical productions in the Bay Area. He holds a BA in Astronomy & Physics from Boston University and a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

Deirdre Ashby - CFO

Job Titles:
  • Finance Director
Deirdre joins Tandem with a decade of nonprofit administrative, financial, and human resource experience. Prior to entering the nonprofit sector, she was an elementary school teacher, having taught fourth grade in the East Bay for several years. Deirdre is delighted to join Tandem as the Finance Director; a position she feels is a perfect fit for her skills as a nonprofit administrator and her passion as an educator. Deirdre is originally from Southern California, but has been living in the Bay Area for over 25 years and considers it home. She currently resides in Berkeley where she enjoys reading, jigsaw puzzles, tap dancing, attending the theater, and wandering the many beautiful trails in the hills with her dog Parker.

Dulce Torres-Petty

Job Titles:
  • Brilliant Baby Senior Manager, Oakland Promise
Dulce Torres-Petty is a native from Mexico City who migrated to the United States in 2006 and has dedicated her professional career to work in the education non-profit world ever since. Dulce currently works as the Brilliant Baby Senior Manager for the Oakland Promise. She holds a deep commitment to support families with young children and passionately believes in the power of education to achieve social justice. She's also a big sister, a daughter, a wife, and a proud mother of a very fun child.

Elizabeth Gelman

Job Titles:
  • Senior Development Coordinator
A Chicago native, Elizabeth is passionate about closing the opportunity gap and believes in the power of a community to come together and create change. After graduating from Wesleyan University, Elizabeth was a literacy tutor at City Year San Jose, where she recognized the importance of early intervention. Since then, she has continued to work to expand educational and literacy opportunities for all. At Tandem, Elizabeth supports all aspects of fundraising and volunteer engagement. She especially loves introducing community members to Tandem's work through the StoryBlocks volunteer program! Elizabeth is a lifetime ice cream lover, arts and crafter, and frequenter of trivia nights.

Emily McDowell - COO

Job Titles:
  • Operations Director
In addition to being the Operations Director, Emily is Tandem's resident jam band aficionado. You may catch her on the weekends enjoying sweet sounds at the Warfield, the Fillmore, or the Fox Theater in Oakland (her favorite venue!). A Berry College graduate and North Georgia native, Emily also enjoys cooking traditional southern dinners for friends. As someone who has always loved storytelling, sharing Tandem's story is important to her. This, combined with her passion for supporting others, makes Emily's job at Tandem a natural fit.

Jackie Schmidt-Posner

Job Titles:
  • Professor, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University
Jackie is an educator who has spent her career helping college students make connections between their commitments to community engagement and social justice and their academic, personal, and career development. She is a senior advisor to Stanford's Haas Center for Public Service, having previously directed the center's Public Service Scholars program and served as associate director and interim executive director. She is an educational consultant and trainer, and Professor of Practice (Community Engagement) at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. Jackie is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, where she majored in political science and sociology, has an MA from The Ohio State University and a PhD from Stanford University in educational policy and administration. She has served on the boards of the Los Gatos-Saratoga High School District (public) and Mid-Peninsula High School (private), and is currently on the board of VIA Programs (formerly Volunteers in Asia).

Jacklyn Altuna Willard

Job Titles:
  • Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Jacklyn is originally from Quezon City, Philippines, and was raised in Richmond, California. She has also been a proud Oakland resident for over a decade. Jacklyn is currently a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she leads measurement, learning, and evaluation work for a portfolio of investments dedicated to institutional transformation in higher education. Prior to her role at the foundation, Jacklyn spent 15 years in K-12 and post-secondary research and evaluation, working on projects ranging in topics from reading and literacy programs, to initiatives in higher education aimed at creating systemic change, to programs designed to help working adults, homeless and formerly incarcerated youth obtain a degree and (re-)enter the workforce. Jacklyn received her B.A. in Sociology with Honors from the University of California, Berkeley and received her Master's in Education Policy & Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Jennifer Moreno David

Job Titles:
  • Book Processing Assistant
Jennifer is currently a Junior at Dominican University of California, studying Political Science with minors in Spanish and Pre-Law. She was born and raised in San Francisco, and currently supports the San Francisco Tandem team. Jennifer has always been passionate about supporting young children and families to share books together. As a child, Jennifer loved reading, and as a high school student she volunteered to lead read alouds in elementary schools. One of her favorite books is No, David! and in her spare time she enjoys reading, baking, swimming, and hanging out with family and friends.

Jessica Almendarez

Job Titles:
  • Attorney
  • Attorney Working at Genentech
Jessica is an attorney in the Bay Area who has counseled companies ranging in size from small startups to large enterprises on incorporation, early stage financing, governance, licensing, commercial partnership, and various other transactions. Jessica currently works at Genentech. While obtaining her J.D. at UC Hastings College of the Law, Jessica was the Managing Director of Homeless Legal Services and volunteered at the General Assistance Advocacy Project. Growing up, Jessica volunteered at R.E.I.N.S., a therapeutic horsemanship program in San Diego for children and adults with disabilities, and she is passionate about providing all individuals with access to quality learning opportunities. In her free time, Jessica enjoys reading, running, baking, and taking on new hobbies. Jessica received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Brown University.

Kelsey Gottschalk

Job Titles:
  • Program Supervisor, San Francisco
Working with children's books is a great fit for Kelsey, as she's always excited to read children's books. Her current favorite is Wild Animals by Xavier Deneux (though there's so many good books she has a hard time picking a favorite!). Kelsey is very passionate about education justice and is proud to be working alongside families and educators who share that passion. Being part of such a creative, dedicated, and caring team is what makes Kelsey excited about her work with Tandem. When she's not in the office, Kelsey's often out dancing salsa or spending time getting lost in a good puzzle.

Laura Rodriguez

Job Titles:
  • Program Supervisor, Contra Costa County
Bay Area native Laura comes to Tandem after a long and fulfilling career in California public libraries. She loves working for Tandem because it gives her the opportunity to be out in her community, breaking down barriers and spreading the love of books. Outside of work, she's kept busy by her two young sons. When she gets a chance, she loves to spend time in the great outdoors.

Lisa Olson

Job Titles:
  • Philanthropist
Lisa started her career as a lawyer in the high tech industry. She has been involved in educational nonprofit work since her three kids were young and has been involved in early education advocacy for the last seven years. She most recently was on the board of directors for 10 Books A Home, an early education nonprofit serving high poverty preschoolers in East Palo Alto and also served as its Development Director. She has also been involved with other nonprofits including Children of Ethiopia Education Fund, Citizen Schools, Sequoia High School Mentoring Program, and Project Read and serves on the board of the Wajirat Foundation which supports the education of young adults in Ethiopia. Lisa is also a team leader for Full Circle Fund, a community organization that leverages resources and accelerates nonprofits to build a better Bay Area. Tandem was chosen as Full Circle's 2019 Early Childhood Education partner.

Margaret Daoud-Gray

Job Titles:
  • Development Director
  • Board Member for Playworks Northern California
Margaret joins Tandem with a background in education, policy advocacy, and cross-sector collaboration. She has led partnerships, fundraising campaigns, professional development initiatives, and student-serving programs. Most recently, Margaret supported programs and partnerships between companies, schools, and nonprofits to increase opportunities for students and led legislative advocacy to increase access to high-quality education. Previously, Margaret taught in San Jose and in Panama where she partnered with the Ministry of Education to improve its English as a Second Language program. Margaret is a board member for Playworks Northern California, a nonprofit that helps kids stay active and build valuable social and emotional skills through play. She has an MA in education policy and administration and a BA in international studies and political science. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and a very spoiled cat. In her free time, she can be found attempting various DIY projects or trying out a new bakery.

Michele Stillwell-Parvensky

Job Titles:
  • Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, Kidango
Michele leads Kidango's advocacy efforts to advance an early childhood system that ensures all children have the skills they need to be ready for success in school and life. Prior to joining Kidango, Michele served as Director of Government Affairs, Policy and Communications for the Children's Defense Fund-California. At CDF, Michele led the Ending Child Poverty Now campaign and successfully advocated to expand the state Earned Income Tax Credit to benefit more than a million low-income working families. Previously, Michele ran advocacy and communications campaigns to increase access to quality early learning for Preschool California, analyzed issues of homelessness and childhood hunger as a Dukakis Fellow in Colorado Governor Bill Ritter's office, and co-founded the Massachusetts Cradle to Prison Pipeline Coalition. Michele has a Master's in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Raised by community organizers in inner-city Denver, Michele is a lifelong social justice activist and an avid proponent of public schools.

Paola Bea

Job Titles:
  • Early Learning Specialist, Alameda County
Paola Bea has been in the Early Childhood Development field since 2003, and has a Master Teacher permit specializing in Infants and Toddlers. She holds an associate degree in liberal arts, an A.S. in Social and Behavioral Sciences, an A.S. in Early Childhood Development, and completed several years of study at the University of the Philippines, majoring in Visual Communication. Paola loves scrapbooking, spending quality time with family, and learning new things.

Ryan Hazelton

Job Titles:
  • Interim Development Director, Gateway Public Schools
Ryan grew up in San Diego, arriving in San Francisco over 13 years ago in pursuit of a career in digital advertising. After a few years, and having previously worked in a social services office out of college, he decided to leave the tech sector and dive into nonprofit fundraising. A new passion for creating healthy childhoods arose from a position fundraising as the Annual Fund Manager at Holy Family Day Home, a nonprofit preschool in San Francisco's Mission District that provides low-income and homeless families with early childhood education and family support services. He then continued onto fundraise as the Senior Philanthropy Officer at Safe & Sound, a San Francisco based children's advocacy organization focused on child abuse prevention. In 2021, Ryan will be serving as Interim Development Director at Gateway Public Schools, a nonprofit public charter middle and high school in San Francisco. Ryan holds a Bachelor's Degree in Communications from the University of California, San Diego. He most recently completed a term of service as the Vice President of the Board of Education at the Thomas Edison Charter Academy, was a 2019 Fellow of the New Leaders Council, and continues to fine tune his fundraising event skills as a Lead Production Assistant with Do Good Events.

Sami Iwata

Job Titles:
  • Senior Advisor, San Francisco Human Rights Commission
Sami is currently at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, where she partners with city departments working to make their programs and services more equitable. Before to joining the HRC, Sami drove solutions in diverse fields such as technology at Adobe, higher-education publishing at Pearson Education, design strategy at Frog, and environmental education at NatureBridge. Sami received her BA in English from Yale and her MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. She is also a trained personal coach. Sami was bitten by the volunteering bug in college while leading theater game workshops at elementary schools. She has guided for Environmental Traveling Companions and co-led its Diversity Committee, served on the board of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and volunteered with Reading Partners.

Sara Rizik-Baer

Job Titles:
  • Director of Curriculum and Learning
Sara Rizik-Baer brings over 10 years of experience working in early education and family engagement. She has assumed multiple roles in the field as a family literacy specialist, professional development provider, preschool and transitional kindergarten literacy coach, and bilingual classroom teacher. Sara is fervently passionate about literacy. Sara believes it takes a community to raise a child and wants to support every adult in that community with their ability to contribute to each child's well-being and academic development. She also firmly believes that early education and specifically early literacy is the key to positive social change. She loves that she gets to be a force that makes strong impacts into making early childhood learning a community effort! Sara holds a Master's of Language and Literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BA in Comparative Literature and Hispanic Studies from Oberlin College.

Savitha Moorthy - President

Job Titles:
  • Executive Director
  • President
Savitha Moorthy is a fierce advocate for equity, especially in early childhood education, and she brings over two decades of experience in this area from the multiple perspectives of practice, research, and policy. Being executive director of Tandem is Savitha's dream job: it offers her the opportunity to work with a diverse, talented team on the systemic challenges facing families with young children. Before joining Tandem, Savitha was a researcher with Digital Promise and SRI International, and she partnered with families and educators to develop early learning experiences, curriculum materials, and teacher professional development. Savitha holds a PhD in Education from the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University; her work is shaped both by her training as an early childhood educator and researcher and by her experiences as an immigrant, woman of color, and a member of a multi-racial family. Savitha was brought up to leave the world a little bit better than she found it. For her, this has meant dedicating her life to improving learning opportunities, experiences, and outcomes for young children, especially those growing up in under-served communities. Savitha is an educator - her first job was in a Montessori school and the preschool classroom will always be her happy place. After completing graduate school, Savitha chose a career in applied research where she led a variety of research and development efforts in early learning aimed at improving children's school readiness in science, mathematics, and literacy The practical problems faced by parents and teachers have been at the center of Savitha's work, and she has partnered with educators to collaboratively develop and test solutions (e.g., curriculum materials, instructional practices, and professional development) to address these challenges. Moorthy's projects have been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Education, the Jim Henson Company, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Savitha holds a PhD in Education from Stanford University and a Masters in Applied Linguistics from the University of Hyderabad, in India.

Susan Chen

Job Titles:
  • Early Learning Specialist, San Francisco
Working at non-profit organizations for many years, Susan has worked with parents, caregivers, educators, and children, including hosting play-groups for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in a family resource center. She strongly believes early literacy is important to a child's development, and loved sharing the joy of reading with her young son. One of their favorite books was "Good Night Moon." In her spare time, Susan loves to cook, bake, and paint together with her son.

Tania Camacho-Pineda

Job Titles:
  • Program Supervisor, Alameda County
Tania is an adventurous shrimp lover from Los Angeles who joined Tandem in August 2017. At Tandem, she has the opportunity to interact with many parents, educators, and community members to showcase the importance of early learning. She is excited about interacting with parents, teachers, professionals and community members to help their children succeed. When she's not at work, she's probably at a food and wine festival with friends, trying all kinds of new food.

Weston Fillman

Job Titles:
  • Secretary
Weston moved to San Francisco to join Google as a recruiter in early 2015 and has spent time working on diversity and inclusion projects with staffing and engineering teams in the Bay Area and APAC. Prior to Google, he was a Recruitment Manager at Teach For America and taught Pre-K in Baltimore City Public Schools. He is now a Diversity Business Partner at Facebook. Weston is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College (F&M), where he majored in Government and History, has an EdM in Higher Education from Harvard University, and an MSEd from Johns Hopkins University in Early Childhood Education. Weston serves as the Chair of F&M's San Francisco Alumni Council. He is passionate about the intersection of education, access, equity, and inclusion (and co-parenting his rescue dog, Dolly).

Yolanda Romo-Gonzalez

Job Titles:
  • Early Learning Specialist, Alameda County
After graduating from UC Davis, Yolanda taught at a bilingual school, and her favorite part of the day was reading with her first graders. She is excited to be part of Tandem and continue working with children, families and the community while sharing her love for reading. As a child, she enjoyed reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Corduroy. During her free time, Yolanda enjoys spending time outdoors and exploring new coffee shops and bakeries.