Our Story

In February 2000 at a planning retreat organized by a group of Latino community organizations from East Palo Alto, with the support of the Peninsula Community Foundation, the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, and a consultant, community representatives developed an agenda to evaluate the political, economic, and social context of East Palo Alto. The retreat produced a work-plan which permitted us to address the major challenges facing immigrant Latino residents in the community and to contribute in a more organized way to the future development of East Palo Alto.

The result of this effort was the creation of Nuestra Casa in the year 2002, the only grassroots community organization in East Palo Alto with a board consisting primarily of local, Latino leaders. Today, Nuestra Casa offers a variety of educational and leadership development programs, and participates in a host of community projects that impact the lives of our local families. Annually, our programming directly serves over 5,000 people throughout San Mateo County. 

Our Team

 
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Miriam Yupanqui, Executive director

Miriam Yupanqui was previously Program Manager with Family Connections where she managed a K-12 education program that supports underrepresented students in the Peninsula. Before becoming the executive director she severed several years on the Nuestra Casa Board of Directors.

Miriam has a passion for driving change and making a difference in local communities and this compelled her to join the Nuestra Casa Board in 2008. Miriam grew up in East Palo Alto and her background makes her a good fit to serve as a Board Member with Nuestra Casa.

Miriam is an accomplished professional with 10+ years of diverse experience in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Miriam's self starter work ethic have excelled her career forward in the areas of evaluation design, program management, and research.

Miriam holds a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from UC Berkeley and a Master in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.

 
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Julio Garcia, program director

With over 25 years in community grassroots organizing, he is well tuned to the needs of the community, particularly regarding immigrant issues and community education.  As a Program Director with  Nuestra Casa, Julio Garcia combines his advocacy for health care with the education and social service needs of families in our diverse community. Responsible for management, development, implementation and evaluation of the Nuestra Casa Programs, curriculum development, implementation and evaluation of the Promotoras Red Comunitaria Program. In charge of the community outreach efforts and individual presentations of the Asset Building (Secure Future$ Program) a financial literacy and asset-building program designed to educate our low-income families in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Redwood City. Responsible for the Parent Academy Series In collaboration with the Ravenswood City School District that  provides a culturally competent Parent Academy in both English and Spanish in 3 separate cohorts that fit the demographics of East Palo Alto’s diverse communities.

 
Roxana Franco  is a Family Advocate who works alongside families to help prepare them in case of being deported, detained or any other emergency. Roxana personally meets with families one-on-one and helps them with the process of putting in order their Family Preparedness Plan and gathering important documents so that all of these documents are in one safe place together. Roxana truly believes that by helping families put in place their Family Preparedness Plan, it will help alleviate the stress for families that are not prepared for any emergency. Roxana knows the importance it is for families to be prepared beforehand and not wait until the last minute.  Roxana has always been passionate about being able to work with the Latino community in order to help them strive and achieve their dreams. From tutoring elementary aged children after school, to mentoring middle school aged children, Roxana's drive and passion for helping others has guided her to truly find what it is she wants to do in life. By working with these families, Roxana hopes to educate families on the importance of being prepared and what steps to take in order to be prepared.  Roxana holds a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from San José State University.

Roxana Franco is a Family Advocate who works alongside families to help prepare them in case of being deported, detained or any other emergency. Roxana personally meets with families one-on-one and helps them with the process of putting in order their Family Preparedness Plan and gathering important documents so that all of these documents are in one safe place together. Roxana truly believes that by helping families put in place their Family Preparedness Plan, it will help alleviate the stress for families that are not prepared for any emergency. Roxana knows the importance it is for families to be prepared beforehand and not wait until the last minute.

Roxana has always been passionate about being able to work with the Latino community in order to help them strive and achieve their dreams. From tutoring elementary aged children after school, to mentoring middle school aged children, Roxana's drive and passion for helping others has guided her to truly find what it is she wants to do in life. By working with these families, Roxana hopes to educate families on the importance of being prepared and what steps to take in order to be prepared.

Roxana holds a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from San José State University.

Roxana Franco

 
A Latina woman who is very cosmopolitan in her outlook; Iliana’s greatest strengths include her open mind, her leadership, and especially her profound passion for advocacy and commitment for serving our underserved Latino population. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Latin American & Latino Studies/Sociology, Iliana joined the Nuestra Casa team and is now our Program Manager. She manages the grassroots Leadership Promotora Core Program, coordinates the Parent Academy and assists with the development of curriculum and programs.  Iliana is committed to refining her leadership skills in order to have a greater impact in underrepresented and underserved communities in the San Mateo County. In 2018, she completed the Leadership Program through the Redwood City Chamber (Class of 2018). This program gave her greater exposure to the various systems within our county and through her engagement she built relationships and interacted with more seasoned professionals in leadership. Through these and many other endeavors, she is passionate about making an impact in her Latino community by advocating for more access of culturally and linguistically competent services to Latino families.  With her education and non-profit experience, Iliana holds a strong personal commitment to community empowerment and is now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

A Latina woman who is very cosmopolitan in her outlook; Iliana’s greatest strengths include her open mind, her leadership, and especially her profound passion for advocacy and commitment for serving our underserved Latino population. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Latin American & Latino Studies/Sociology, Iliana joined the Nuestra Casa team and is now our Program Manager. She manages the grassroots Leadership Promotora Core Program, coordinates the Parent Academy and assists with the development of curriculum and programs.

Iliana is committed to refining her leadership skills in order to have a greater impact in underrepresented and underserved communities in the San Mateo County. In 2018, she completed the Leadership Program through the Redwood City Chamber (Class of 2018). This program gave her greater exposure to the various systems within our county and through her engagement she built relationships and interacted with more seasoned professionals in leadership. Through these and many other endeavors, she is passionate about making an impact in her Latino community by advocating for more access of culturally and linguistically competent services to Latino families.

With her education and non-profit experience, Iliana holds a strong personal commitment to community empowerment and is now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

Iliana Garcia

 
 

Our Board 

Kelly Hunt is an independent consultant based in Redwood City, CA. She joined the Board because Nuestra Casa is an organization that gets things done. It has a proven track record of improving policies on behalf of the local Latino community. And, Nuestra Casa hires great people to run great programs. These policies and programs build local leadership, and Kelly believes that's how change happens.

Kelly is a former philanthropy executive. Her work experience includes six years at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a Research Officer, and nine years at New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) as a Senior Program Director and Chief Program Learning Officer. During her career, Kelly co-founded the first statewide health foundation in New York, starting from the ground up. She developed evaluation frameworks for programs including NYSHealth’s Healthy Neighborhoods Fund. She developed and managed over $30 million in research and evaluation grants. And, she’s published peer-reviewed articles, chapters, reports, and blogs. If you ask her, she’s most proud of the oral health work she co-led in New York that that led to passage of protective legislation for community water fluoridation, a population health intervention highlighted by the CDC as one of the top 10 public heath improvements of 20th century.

Kelly is currently building a second career that uses her writing and analytical skills. Outside of Nuestra Casa, Kelly is raising her daughters to be fierce young women. In her spare time, she teaches art at Nesbit Elementary School in Belmont. And, she is a volunteer philanthropist through the Latino Community Foundation's Giving Circles. She holds a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts from Villanova University.

Kelly Hunt (Secretary)

Miriam Torres-Acosta has been serving youth and their families in the bay area for over 10 years. She’s been able to serve youth and their families by working in school districts, schools, non-profits, and government. Miriam loves learning. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies with an emphasis on Immigration and Social Justice from UC Santa Cruz. Currently she’s a part-time student at Chabot College working towards a degree in Early Childhood Development while also temporarily working full time at Hayward Unified School District as a Substitute Child, Welfare, and Attendance Outreach Worker. Miriam grew up in East Palo Alto and is very passionate about serving the community she grew up in. She joined Nuestra Casa as a board member in 2010 after doing a six-month internship with Nuestra Casa. She fell in love with what Nuestra Casa does for the community, and has been with Nuestra Casa ever since. Miriam enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially with her very active two year old daughter.

Miriam Torres-Acosta

Maria Salamanca is a venture capitalist at Unshackled Ventures, activist leader and advisor at Swing Left, fellow at Higher Ground Labs and founder at Making a Techie newsletter. Unshackled Ventures, a fund that fills a unique space in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, funding teams with immigrant founders at the earliest stage of pre-seed.

Maria is not only a leader but key figure in the pre-seed investment community, supporting underrepresented founders just like herself. In 2018, she was first Latina named Forbes 30 Under 30 for Venture Capital and Business Insider’s Under 30 Rising Stars. She is deeply involved in supporting the Latino entrepreneurship ecosystem. It is this strong support and investment in her community that won her the 2017 California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Shark of Year. Previous to joining Unshackled, Maria worked at FWD.us an immigration lobbying group founded by Mark Zuckerberg.

She immigrated to Orlando, FL from Colombia at age 7. She attended UC Berkeley and received a double bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Legal Studies. She is a mentor at Year Up, IDEO, Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, and Founders Institute.

Maria Salamanca

 
Karina  works in the recruitment space within the biotechnology industry. She is passionate about diversity in the STEM field and providing access and opportunity to underrepresented students. Although early in her career, prior to her current role, she interned with various tech and non-profit organizations, including Hewlett-Packard, Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, HIP Housing, and Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto.  She immigrated to the United States at the age of 3 from Michoacan, Mexico to reunite with her parents in East Palo Alto. She was raised between East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, attending local schools. She credits her achievements to the local non-profits who invested countless resources and time to her development, and is thrilled to be in a position to pay it forward.  Karina is a first-generation college graduate from Saint Mary's College of California, and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Communication.

Karina works in the recruitment space within the biotechnology industry. She is passionate about diversity in the STEM field and providing access and opportunity to underrepresented students. Although early in her career, prior to her current role, she interned with various tech and non-profit organizations, including Hewlett-Packard, Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, HIP Housing, and Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto.

She immigrated to the United States at the age of 3 from Michoacan, Mexico to reunite with her parents in East Palo Alto. She was raised between East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, attending local schools. She credits her achievements to the local non-profits who invested countless resources and time to her development, and is thrilled to be in a position to pay it forward.

Karina is a first-generation college graduate from Saint Mary's College of California, and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Communication.

Karina marcias

Diana Luis , sales and marketing coordinator at State Farm. She immigrated from Oaxaca, Mexico to California at age 3 with my siblings and parents. She grew up in East Palo Alto. Her first job was at EPA CAN DO (a housing development organization in East Palo Alto) where she discovered my passion for community. She got her insurance agent license in 2007 and started her career in sales and marketing for insurance companies  Diana decided to join the board in 2013 because she had a strong desire to be deeper involved with creating positive change in my community. Growing up in East Palo Alto she experienced firsthand that our Hispanic community in particular had inadequate representation, lack of resources, services and access to healthcare. She felt joining Nuestra Casa was a perfect fit because it tackled all of these issues.  She strives to serve as a consistent and evolving role model for my 10 year old daughter and through action pass along the desire to serve others.

Diana Luis, sales and marketing coordinator at State Farm. She immigrated from Oaxaca, Mexico to California at age 3 with my siblings and parents. She grew up in East Palo Alto. Her first job was at EPA CAN DO (a housing development organization in East Palo Alto) where she discovered my passion for community. She got her insurance agent license in 2007 and started her career in sales and marketing for insurance companies

Diana decided to join the board in 2013 because she had a strong desire to be deeper involved with creating positive change in my community. Growing up in East Palo Alto she experienced firsthand that our Hispanic community in particular had inadequate representation, lack of resources, services and access to healthcare. She felt joining Nuestra Casa was a perfect fit because it tackled all of these issues.

She strives to serve as a consistent and evolving role model for my 10 year old daughter and through action pass along the desire to serve others.

Diana Luis (Vice CHAIR)

Sam Gaynor  is a private equity investor with Altamont Capital Partners, an investment firm located in Downtown Palo Alto. Helping to lead their financial services investing efforts, Sam has seen the struggles that underprivileged communities too often face and joined Nuestra Casa’s board in hopes of helping to improve financial literacy and access to entrepreneurial opportunities within East Palo Alto.  Sam grew up outside of Boston, MA and, as the son of an immigration attorney, spent much of his childhood hearing stories of the difficulty many immigrants have acclimating to life in the US. He subsequently spent time working at the Asian American Civic Association in Boston, leading ESL classes and writing for their newspaper, recognizing the enormous value of community-focused programming to make life better for recent immigrants.  Sam earned a BA with a double major in Economics and Chinese from Washington University in St. Louis and worked in management consulting with the Boston Consulting Group prior to joining Altamont Capital in 2011.

Sam Gaynor is a private equity investor with Altamont Capital Partners, an investment firm located in Downtown Palo Alto. Helping to lead their financial services investing efforts, Sam has seen the struggles that underprivileged communities too often face and joined Nuestra Casa’s board in hopes of helping to improve financial literacy and access to entrepreneurial opportunities within East Palo Alto.

Sam grew up outside of Boston, MA and, as the son of an immigration attorney, spent much of his childhood hearing stories of the difficulty many immigrants have acclimating to life in the US. He subsequently spent time working at the Asian American Civic Association in Boston, leading ESL classes and writing for their newspaper, recognizing the enormous value of community-focused programming to make life better for recent immigrants.

Sam earned a BA with a double major in Economics and Chinese from Washington University in St. Louis and worked in management consulting with the Boston Consulting Group prior to joining Altamont Capital in 2011.

SAM GAYNOR

Rigo Rosas  is a Clinical Program Supervisor at Rebekah’s Children Services (RCS) a mental health non-profit providing care to at risk youth and families with a mission and commitment to seeing our community flourish by building pathways to hope, happiness and wellbeing. Rigo is also a 2018 fellow for the New Leader’s Council, the premier leadership institute in the country for progressive leaders. He is also a graduate of the Latino Board Leadership Academy which provided him training to serve on the Board of Nuestra Casa.  Rigo is an experienced mental health professional committed to serving under-privileged communities in Silicon Valley. In his current role, Rigo works on ensuring services are provided via a family-centered, strengths-based, needs-driven process designed to stabilize the family unit. Rigo’s work has focused on preventing, reducing, and eliminating the impact of mental health conditions on families in Silicon Valley. Rigo is passionate about making an impact in our communities, increasing the access of culturally and linguistically competent services to Latino families. Moreover, Rigo is committed to improve his leadership and professional development skills to continue to serve as a leader to represent communities in need.  Rigo is an immigrant from Michoacan, Mexico and has resided in California since his arrival at age 12. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. degree in Psychology. He also completed his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Santa Clara University.

Rigo Rosas is a Clinical Program Supervisor at Rebekah’s Children Services (RCS) a mental health non-profit providing care to at risk youth and families with a mission and commitment to seeing our community flourish by building pathways to hope, happiness and wellbeing. Rigo is also a 2018 fellow for the New Leader’s Council, the premier leadership institute in the country for progressive leaders. He is also a graduate of the Latino Board Leadership Academy which provided him training to serve on the Board of Nuestra Casa.

Rigo is an experienced mental health professional committed to serving under-privileged communities in Silicon Valley. In his current role, Rigo works on ensuring services are provided via a family-centered, strengths-based, needs-driven process designed to stabilize the family unit. Rigo’s work has focused on preventing, reducing, and eliminating the impact of mental health conditions on families in Silicon Valley. Rigo is passionate about making an impact in our communities, increasing the access of culturally and linguistically competent services to Latino families. Moreover, Rigo is committed to improve his leadership and professional development skills to continue to serve as a leader to represent communities in need.

Rigo is an immigrant from Michoacan, Mexico and has resided in California since his arrival at age 12. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. degree in Psychology. He also completed his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Santa Clara University.

Rigo Rosas (chair)

Ana Maria Pulido  is a local asset that will add much value to the SUHSD community. She comes with multilayered experience in community relations and is always looking for ways to enhance her skills and talents to better serve the people and communities she is involved with. Ana has a Bachelor’s in Science Degree in Business from San Francisco State University and Master’s in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. In her previous capacity she served as the Chief Operating Officer for One East Palo Alto. A local non-profit agency and community convener focused on equipping and building the capacity of individuals with a mission to enhance the lives of the community at large.  Born and raised in the City of East Palo Alto, Ana has dedicated her life to pursuing her passion of helping those who are underprivileged and underserved. Ana has garnered an insight on how to best serve the most necessitous by drawing from lessons learned from her own immigrant family. Through her public service, she continuously advocates for families who are misrepresented and ignored by serving and participating in many organizations. Currently, Ana is serving as the President of the board for the Ravenswood City School District. Ana’s spare time is also focused on community involvement and advocacy. She is a board member of the Bay Area Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (BALEO) and Nuestra Casa. Both organizations advocate for the improvement and betterment of issues impacting underserved Latino populations.  Additionally, Ana is part of the A.C. Nava Scholarship Foundation oversight committee whose mission is to aide and provide scholarship funds to individuals and families who would not otherwise qualify for financial aid. Lastly, Ana is the Community Outreach/Engagement Director for a local faith based organization whose objective is to create events that are geared and focused on serving disadvantaged populations.

Ana Maria Pulido is a local asset that will add much value to the SUHSD community. She comes with multilayered experience in community relations and is always looking for ways to enhance her skills and talents to better serve the people and communities she is involved with. Ana has a Bachelor’s in Science Degree in Business from San Francisco State University and Master’s in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. In her previous capacity she served as the Chief Operating Officer for One East Palo Alto. A local non-profit agency and community convener focused on equipping and building the capacity of individuals with a mission to enhance the lives of the community at large.

Born and raised in the City of East Palo Alto, Ana has dedicated her life to pursuing her passion of helping those who are underprivileged and underserved. Ana has garnered an insight on how to best serve the most necessitous by drawing from lessons learned from her own immigrant family. Through her public service, she continuously advocates for families who are misrepresented and ignored by serving and participating in many organizations. Currently, Ana is serving as the President of the board for the Ravenswood City School District. Ana’s spare time is also focused on community involvement and advocacy. She is a board member of the Bay Area Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (BALEO) and Nuestra Casa. Both organizations advocate for the improvement and betterment of issues impacting underserved Latino populations.

Additionally, Ana is part of the A.C. Nava Scholarship Foundation oversight committee whose mission is to aide and provide scholarship funds to individuals and families who would not otherwise qualify for financial aid. Lastly, Ana is the Community Outreach/Engagement Director for a local faith based organization whose objective is to create events that are geared and focused on serving disadvantaged populations.

Ana Maria Pulido

Jenny Smith  grew up in Watsonville, CA where her parents' experience serving in the community enforced the importance and value of being involved in the community around you.  In searching for ways to become more continually involved in her community, Jenny became aware of Nuestra Casa's important and successful work in East Palo Alto. She joined the board in February 2019 with an intention to provide resources and assistance to the community Nuestra Casa serves wherever she could.  Jenny graduated from Scripps College with a BA in Organizational Studies and Economics and moved to the Bay Area in 2016. Since moving, she's been working at LinkedIn in a variety of roles including sales, and currently, marketing analytics.

Jenny Smith grew up in Watsonville, CA where her parents' experience serving in the community enforced the importance and value of being involved in the community around you.

In searching for ways to become more continually involved in her community, Jenny became aware of Nuestra Casa's important and successful work in East Palo Alto. She joined the board in February 2019 with an intention to provide resources and assistance to the community Nuestra Casa serves wherever she could.

Jenny graduated from Scripps College with a BA in Organizational Studies and Economics and moved to the Bay Area in 2016. Since moving, she's been working at LinkedIn in a variety of roles including sales, and currently, marketing analytics.

Jenny Smith

Bernardo Huerta  has been on the city’s Public Works and Transportation Committee, serves as a board member on many East Palo Alto nonprofits and has served on a number of city organizations throughout the years. He also ran for council in 2012.

Bernardo Huerta has been on the city’s Public Works and Transportation Committee, serves as a board member on many East Palo Alto nonprofits and has served on a number of city organizations throughout the years. He also ran for council in 2012.

Bernardo Huerta (treasurer)

Karla  grew up in Long Beach, CA and was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. Her experience growing up in a low-income immigrant family drives her passion for educational and economic equity. She currently works on the philanthropy team at Khan Academy, a nonprofit committed to ensuring that anyone—regardless of their background—has access to a free, world-class education. From early learning to SAT prep, Karla helps raise the funds necessary to provide free, personalized learning experiences to over 18 million learners in more than 190 countries. Prior to Khan Academy, Karla worked at The SMART Program helping low-income students in San Francisco become the first in their families to graduate from college. Karla has also taught at an under-resourced public high school in Baltimore as a Teach For America Corps Member.  Karla serves on Advisory Board of the Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassadors Program. She is also a member of the Latino Community Foundation South Bay Giving Circle, a volunteer college coach for low-income students at ScholarMatch, and a mentor for first-generation low-income students at her alma mater. Karla is a 2018 Latino Board Leadership Academy Senior Fellow at the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, a 2018-2019 Fellow at New Leaders Council of Silicon Valley, and a 2018-2019 Rising Leaders Fellow at Teach For America.  Karla graduated from Stanford with a Bachelor of Arts in History with Honors and Johns Hopkins with a Master of Science in Education.

Karla grew up in Long Beach, CA and was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. Her experience growing up in a low-income immigrant family drives her passion for educational and economic equity. She currently works on the philanthropy team at Khan Academy, a nonprofit committed to ensuring that anyone—regardless of their background—has access to a free, world-class education. From early learning to SAT prep, Karla helps raise the funds necessary to provide free, personalized learning experiences to over 18 million learners in more than 190 countries. Prior to Khan Academy, Karla worked at The SMART Program helping low-income students in San Francisco become the first in their families to graduate from college. Karla has also taught at an under-resourced public high school in Baltimore as a Teach For America Corps Member.

Karla serves on Advisory Board of the Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassadors Program. She is also a member of the Latino Community Foundation South Bay Giving Circle, a volunteer college coach for low-income students at ScholarMatch, and a mentor for first-generation low-income students at her alma mater. Karla is a 2018 Latino Board Leadership Academy Senior Fellow at the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, a 2018-2019 Fellow at New Leaders Council of Silicon Valley, and a 2018-2019 Rising Leaders Fellow at Teach For America.

Karla graduated from Stanford with a Bachelor of Arts in History with Honors and Johns Hopkins with a Master of Science in Education.

Karla Gonzalez