Derick Brown, a native San Franciscan, brings more than 20 years of experience leading neighborhood engagement strategies and addressing complex community issues and has an intimate knowledge of the Fillmore/Western Addition neighborhood where he grew up. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Derick most recently worked with the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) as Senior Community Engagement Advisor since 2018. He was responsible for implementing the department’s community relations strategy, securing and strengthening partnerships with CBOs, private companies and universities, and building relationships with community thought leaders. Prior to the SFPD, Derick was San Francisco’s Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services where he managed the Mayor’s community relations strategy. He comes to USF committed to continuing and enhancing the tradition of inspiring USF students to serve others and pursue successful careers in public service.
Director, Engage San Francisco
Karin Cotterman joined the McCarthy Center in 2011 as the Assistant for External Relations. Currently, she directs Engage San Francisco, an intentional, systematic and transformative university-community initiative focused on achieving community-identified outcomes supporting children, youth and families in the Western Addition through student learning, research, and teaching. Prior to working at USF, Karin was the Associate Director for Engaged Scholarship at the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University. Karin has an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and holds a B.A. in Communication and Media Studies. Her special interests include ethical considerations in service, community-campus partnerships, and the intersections of identity and service.
Director, External Relations
Leslie Lombre joined the McCarthy Center in June 2014 as the Associate Director, leading Development and Communications for the Center’s programs. She previously worked as the Director of Development for the Museum of the African Diaspora and the San Francisco Center for the Book. Leslie comes from an extensive background in the public and commercial broadcast marketplace including the promotion/syndication of PBS-produced series and programs including Time Magazine, Money Magazine, and Goldman Foundation Award Specials. Leslie serves on numerous Boards of non-profits. With a B.A. degree in Communications and Public Policy from UC Berkeley, Leslie has used her expertise and cultural competency to promote diverse images across broad audiences.
Director of Community Engaged Learning
Star Plaxton-Moore is the Director of Community-Engaged Learning at the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at University of San Francisco. Star specializes in working with faculty to integrate community-engaged pedagogy into their courses and plays a critical role in shaping institutional discourse, practices, and policies related to community-engaged program design and assessment, community partnerships, and faculty development. Additionally, Star directs the McCarthy Center’s Public Service and Community Engagement Minor, an interdisciplinary program that prepares students to be engaged and informed citizens. In her 12 years at the Center, she has overseen undergraduate academic public service and service-learning programs; designed curriculum for, and facilitated, the Advocates for Community Engagement student leadership program; and coordinated outreach, support, and training for campus-community partnerships. Star co-authored the article, “Faculty Development for Service-Learning and Community Engagement in Higher Education: A Review of the Literature and Survey of Current Trends,” which was recently published in the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement. Additionally, Star has presented on aspects of community-engaged learning at regional and international conferences, and provided consultations and invited talks at K-12 and higher education institutions on social-justice oriented community engagement and service-learning models. She has taught service-learning and capstone seminar courses at USF and previously served as a classroom teacher in public schools in Virginia and California. Star received her M.Ed. from The George Washington University and is currently completing course work for a Doctorate in Multicultural Education (Ed.D) at USF.
Program Manager for the Urban and Public Affairs Graduate Programs
Kresten Froistad-Martin joined the McCarthy Center in 2017 as the Program Manager for the Urban and Public Affairs Graduate Programs. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Ethics and Social Theory PhD program at the Graduate Theological Union. Her research interests include ethics, poverty, and efforts toward addressing justice issues. Outside of the office, she is involved with volunteering with a program for families without homes and teaching at San Quentin State Prison.
Beth Gonzales joined the McCarthy Center in 2016 as the Program Assistant. Beth was born in the Philippines and grew up in San Francisco. She graduated from Mercy High School and studied business management at Holy Names College. Beth previously worked for a global energy and sustainability consulting firm. Outside of the office, Beth loves to travel and is an avid softball player in the Bay Area.
Assistant Director, Public Service Programs
Angeline Vuong joined the McCarthy Center in 2017 as the Program Manager of Community-Engaged Learning. She oversees the Center’s undergraduate public service programs and supports community-engaged learning across the institution. She has a diverse background in the public sector, specializing in immigration, economic and community development issues for government agencies and non-profit organizations. Most recently she worked with UNICEF to design mentorship and education programs for in Vietnam and at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., managing social and economic policy analyses for communities of color. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies from Trinity University. A native of Texas, Angeline is passionate about social justice, educational equity, youth engagement, and immigration issues.
Associate Director - Programs and Partnerships, Engage San Francisco
Nolizwe Nondabula joined the McCarthy Center team in 2016 and currently serves as the Associate Director of Programs and Partnerships for Engage San Francisco. They additionally sit on the steering committee of the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project (BLMP), a project fiscally sponsored by the Transgender Law Center. They graduated from Clark University with a BA in Economics and from the University of San Francisco with a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs. Prior to Engage, Nolizwe served as the AmeriCorps Financial Grant Coordinator for YouthBuild USA and cultivated the next generation of LGBTQ leaders as the Mentorship Program Coordinator for the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition. Additionally, they served on the Board of Directors of multiple organizations including New Leaders Council, Brookview House and BUTCH Voices. When they're not basking in Blaqueer excellence, you can find them jiving to the sounds of Afro-house or recharging with the power rangers.
Program Manager, Community-Engaged Learning
Jacqueline Ramos is the Program Manager of Community-Engaged Learning and oversees the Community Empowerment Activists program. Prior to USF, she worked for over 10 years at UCSF and Stanford—promoting positive health and biopsychosocial outcomes for those affected by poverty, HIV/AIDS, incarceration, substance use, mental illness, gentrification, and violence. Her current research identifies the disruptors to harm for incarcerated and justice-involved youth and transitional age youth and examines the health and social lived experiences of public housing residents undergoing privatized redevelopment and renovation. Jackie is a poet, public health researcher, social justice practitioner, and educator, and native to SF’s Mission district and an alum of USF.
Director of Graduate Programs, Urban and Public Affairs
Rachel Brahinsky serves as director of the graduate programs in Urban and Public Affairs. She also teaches in the undergraduate Urban Studies program. She earned her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research and teaching center around the challenges of race and inequality in the context of rapidly changing American cities. Her current projects are focused on the San Francisco Bay Area.
VISTA Community Liaison, Engagement San Francisco
Sudeepto has a PhD in electrical engineering and has experience in solar astronomy, signal/image processing, computer vision, data science, machine learning, robotics, human computer interaction, and cognitive science. His interests include educational technology and the application of cognitive science in education. He likes to use his knowledge, experience, and skills to create/co-create practical and intelligent systems that have beneficial and lasting impacts on communities and the world. In 2018-2019 he worked as an AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator with the Community Engagement team at Reading Partners, recruiting and onboarding volunteers, and building partnerships to help K-4 students in Title I schools at risk of falling behind in their reading skills. He is now serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Success Centers and USF.
Literacy Program Coordinator, Engage San Francisco
Dresden joined the McCarthy Center in 2019 as the Graduate Intern, Western Addition Literacy. She coordinates undergraduate participation in K-5 literacy tutoring at various sites in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco. Dresden is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs at USF. She comes to us from San Luis Obispo where she received her BS in Psychology at Cal Poly. Dresden is passionate about social justice and creating a more equitable education system.
Lead Researcher for Opportunities for All
Zina Besirevic earned her PhD in Human Development and Cognition from University of California Berkeley, and holds Masters degrees in Human Right Education and in Philosophy. Her research is global and cross-cultural, focusing on the development of moral judgment, in particular how people reason about human rights and justice. At the McCarthy Center she is lead researcher for Opportunities for All, a program of the San Francisco Mayor's Office and the Human Rights Commission. The research investigates how youth think about issues of equality, social mobility and civic participation. Zina was the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Public Scholar, a recipient of the United States Congress’s Institute of Peace Doctoral Fellowship and the Jean Piaget International Society Prize. At the core of all her work is a respect for human dignity and reason.
Program Assistant, Engage San Francisco
Alicia Marshall joined the McCarthy Center team in 2019 as the Program Assistant for Engage San Francisco and the Urban & Public Affairs Graduate Program. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Business Administration and then went on to earn a Paralegal Certificate. Before working at the Leo T. McCarthy Center/USF, she worked at the School of Law and also had a twenty-eight year career in public service with the federal government, namely the U.S. Department of State in both the foreign and civil service before retiring. Outside of the office, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and is an avid fan of the Golden State Warriors!