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Founder / Executive Director
Robert is a Bay Area native who brings 15+ years of experience leading nonprofit programs to Catalyst Youth Network. He is an entrepreneur who has worked in high-performing teams in multiple industries, in roles ranging from graphic designer and videographer to youth pastor and youth program director. Robert is an avid reader and has a passion for Social Emotional Learning. He is happiest helping young people develop emotional intelligence and connecting them to the people and resources they will need to live healthy and successful lives.
Co-Founder / Mental Health Consultant
Ariana is an East Bay native who recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Psychology with honors. She has dedicated herself to a career in psychology research with a focus on resilience and emotion regulation. As a former foster and homeless youth, she knows the importance of utilizing any opportunities given, and the pivotal impact of having supportive mentors along the way to guide and problem-solve through life. She hopes to integrate empirical research into CYN’s resources and support students in practicing the life skills they learn so they may apply them with confidence throughout their lives.
Director of Youth Program
Merisa has worked with Bay Area nonprofits for the last 15 years. She has served in roles ranging from youth advocate, domestic abuse educator, fundraiser and event coordinator, as well volunteer coordinator. Merisa has a passion for helping youth and young adults navigate life in order to reach their goals using tools and techniques that are practical, obtainable and fun. As a teen mom at 18, Merisa has insight as well as a tender heart towards those who may have their odds against them. Merisa currently lives in the Bay Area with her husband Jose and 3 children, Anela, Noelani ,Enrique and Eren.
Director of Operations
Director of Technology
A native of Northern California and a recent graduate of UC San Diego, Dhiren has 5+ years of development experience under his belt. Dhiren has been extensively involved in the early stage startup launch process, and was previously responsible for the development of a seed-funded minimum viable product. He is passionate about exploring the intersection between technology and society, and believes technology will play a fundamental role in accelerating Catalyst’s vision.
Chief of Staff
For 3 years, Anjali Shekhar has been a noteworthy leader in the sales executive space. She exceeded sales goals by 80%, which landed her in the team leader spot and prepared her for the challenging position of strategizing sales tactics for the company. She is passionate about community service and her ability to motivate and inspire youth in identifying their potential so they can continue to share this passion and serve others.
Director of Corporate Partnership
Sophia is Director of Corporate Partnerships for CYN, and brings 16 years of experience in the tech and financial services industries. Most recently, she was Head of Customer Marketing at Pivotal Software, responsible for strategic marketing initiatives across the company. She has firsthand knowledge of the transformational power of corporate internships at a young age. A 25-year resident of the Bay Area, she has witnessed the evolution of the tech industry and the region; and she has a passion for creating opportunities for the Bay Area youth who have not yet had the chance to participate in it.
Sophia has an Industrial Engineering degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and as a Cal grad, Sophia is excited to be involved with the Oakland community.
Director of Communications
Katryce Lassle is a publicist and communications strategist with nearly a decade of experience in academic book publishing. Katryce’s work is grounded in collaboration and conversation, and they are passionate about telling stories that elevate a shared vision by honoring diverse individual perspectives and lived experiences. Katryce is committed to making broad educational resources accessible to everyone, and to nurturing the unique gifts and insights of young people through equitable and expansive opportunities for their growth. Katryce moved to Oakland in 2018 and is dedicated to serving this community, its students and families, and everyone who makes Oakland thrive.
Katryce received their B.A. in English from the University of Chicago and an M.Sc. in Literature from the University of Edinburgh.
Content Manager / Writer
A native of Northern California, Vidya is a writer with a passion for equity in education. She's excited to offer her creative skills to Catalyst's mission and help accelerate its reach in the Oakland community. In her free time, you can catch her rollerskating and working on her screenplay!
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Board of Directors
Michelle is a former CMO with over 20 years of experience in media, communications and marketing across creative industries including contemporary art, tech and fashion. In 2016, she helped start the political organization Swing Left. There, as a member of the executive team and board, she built an audience of 1MM+ members and moved hundreds of thousands of people to take a meaningful action (defined as making a donation or volunteering). Swing Left is now one of the country's leading grassroots activist groups. She has an entrepreneurial drive and previously founded her own public relations firm.
Margena is the CareerBridge and Path2Math Program Director for Children Rising. Margena spends much of her time in program and curriculum development, as well as supporting her students and volunteers. With a passion for serving children and youth in her community, Margena started with Children Rising as a volunteer, and brings over 25 years of community outreach and service to students in various capacities.
Quaylin Wesley is from Vallejo, California. In 2017, he graduated from McClymonds High School in West Oakland, and recently graduated from UC Berkeley, with a B.A in Social Welfare. A passion of his is to help bridge the gap for students, hoping to level the playing field and grant them more opportunities that will have long lasting positive effects on their lives.
Alexia is the Program Coordinator for Safe Refuge for Children and Families. She has 15+ years of experience in volunteer management and program coordinating in Kids Ministry at Golden Hills Community Church. She is passionate about the prevention of child abuse & neglect and strengthening families. Alexia is a strong supporter of non-profits particularly as they relate to helping marginalized children and is a TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) Practitioner, a trauma-informed intervention model. Her volunteer experiences include working with teen mothers, mentoring children in foster care, and she presently serves on the leadership team of Royal Family Kids Camp-Brentwood, and as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate).
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