As a former classroom teacher in San Francisco, Mr. Ciccarelli is excited to once again help youth by volunteering for the AFS board of directors. Mr. Ciccarelli has a long history of supporting family and youth services through advisory roles for non-profit organizations and volunteer events. He brings energy and ideas to the area of fundraising and marketing for AFS and looks forward to making a significant impact to funding programs and services. Mr. Ciccarelli joined the AFS Board of Directors in 2009 and currently serves as Chair of the Development Committee.
Vice President and Chair, Audit Committee
Dwight Alexander is Vice President and Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs for the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco (FHLBSF). The FHLBSF is a wholesale banking institution with over $250 billion in assets, providing liquidity for its over 400 member financial institutions in California, Arizona and Nevada. There, Mr. Alexander is responsible for representing the Bank before Congress and its regulators. Prior to joining the FHLBSF, Mr. Alexander spent 10 years as an investment banker and financial advisor to states and local governments. In addition to his work responsibilities, Mr. Alexander is very active in the San Francisco community having served as President of the City and County of San Francisco Planning Commission (2004-2008) and currently sits on the boards of several Bay Area companies and non-profit organizations. Mr. Alexander is married to his wife of 16 years, and together they have two children.
Mr. Alexander holds J.D. degree from the Syracuse University College of Law, a Masters of Public Administration (M.P.A.) from the Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and is a graduate of Carleton College where he received a B.A. degree in Political Science. Mr. Alexander has served on the AFS Board for many years. He is currently the President of the Board of Directors and Chairs the Board’s Executive Committee.
“One of the hallmarks of a great society is how it cares for its children and its elderly. I believe with all of my heart that our communities are made more vibrant and humane by the work done by AFS. I feel privileged to be able to work along side the men and women that comprise AFS and perform such a vital role in our communities.”
Ms. Biel is a self employed paralegal in a practice she established over 25 years ago that offers legal services and assistance to San Francisco landlords. Married, she is the mother of five children. In the mid 1970s Ms. Biel was one of the first foster children placed with AFS. Her current involvement with AFS stems from her desire to give back to the organization, and be proactive in spreading awareness of the organization.
“I was a foster child, in the system many years ago and understand the full scope of being in foster care and being a foster child that succeeded and then emerged as a successful adult. I want AFS to continue to be the frontrunner agency to be available at that first critical moment when a child needs us to be there for them.”
Kevin Blackburn is the Assistant Vice President Legislative and Regulatory Affairs for the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco an $87 billion wholesale bank serving the liquidity needs of member financial institutions in California, Nevada and Arizona. In this capacity Mr. Blackburn works with Members of Congress and their staffs, state and national trade organizations in banking, residential construction, affordable housing, and consumer groups to educate them on the role the FHLBanks play in mortgage finance, community economic development, and affordable housing development.
Prior to joining the Bank, Kevin was the Northern California Director of Sales for Mpower Communications, a technology company that lead the nation in deploying VOIP communications to small and mid sized companies. Before joining Mpower, he was a small business owner for 12 years. Mr. Blackburn serves as President of Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association a 501(c)3 organization that operates Mendocino Woodlands State Park, a National Historic Landmark. The Woodlands provides outdoor environmental and science education to urban and suburban schools and group camping facilities. He also serves on the Board of Tabernacle Community Development Corporation an affordable housing developer based in San Francisco and is on the Advisory Board of Studio One Art Center in Oakland.
I became aware of the challenges facing Foster Care children through a program that works with Foster teens and emancipated youth. I realized the positive impact healthy, holistic Foster Care can have on the lives of children in crisis. AFS is doing great wok in our communities and I am honored to support that effort.
Mr. Blackburn holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems Management from the University of San Francisco.
Chair Program Committee
Dr. Naja W. Boyd is the Chief Operating Officer for Anka Behavioral Health, Inc. She oversees Program Operations for the company which is comprised of 80 diverse behavioral and mental health programs throughout the states of California and Michigan. Dr. Boyd, a trained clinical psychologist, has been with Anka since September 2009. Prior to her doctoral pursuits her previous career was in the field of Affordable Housing in the City and County of San Francisco. She spent 20+ years building a career and working in leadership positions for the Mayor’s Office of Housing and the San Francisco Housing Authority.
Anka represents a convergence of careers for Dr. Boyd, where housing and clinical care come together to better the lives for the Mentally Ill population served. Dr. Boyd is an active member of the American Psychological Association and the California Psychological Association. Dr. Boyd is also a Rotarian through her home club of the Concord Rotary.
Dr. Boyd earned a BA in Economics from Howard University, a MA in Organizational Management from The University of Phoenix, a MA in Clinical Psychology and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. She enjoys many leisure activities such as traveling, shopping, reading, spa dates, movies, family gatherings, skiing, and boating. Dr. Boyd is married and resides in Oakland, California with her husband.
Dr. Boyd’s interest in Alternative Family Services stems from her desire to help children and adolescents find secure family attachments within stable communities and safe environments.
Jessica Isaacs is Coordinator, Management Reports at Chevron, a global integrated energy company. Her current role involves developing financial presentations for the CFO, Comptroller, and Deputy Comptroller to deliver to internal and external audiences, including Chevron’s Board of Directors. Her previous roles at Chevron included Finance Manager, Policy, Government & Public Affairs and Analyst, Finance MBA Development Program. Prior to joining Chevron, Jessica worked as a Consultant at the management consulting firm Oliver Wyman and as a Development and Communications Associate for the nonprofit children’s advocacy organization Voices for Illinois Children.
Jessica holds a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University and an MBA in Finance, Management and Strategy, and Social Enterprise from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. While at Kellogg, she was president of Kellogg Board Fellows, a student-led program that provides academic training in board governance and experiential learning through service on nonprofit boards, and she served on the board of Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the role of the arts in K-12 public education.
Jessica grew up in a family passionate about advocating for society’s most vulnerable people. She feels fortunate to have the opportunity to support the important work that AFS does to help youth and communities in need, both in Oakland, where she currently resides, and throughout the Bay Area.
Chair, Resource Development Committee
Melinda Rubinstein is a consulting professional with 10 years of experience in analysis, process improvement and change management. She has applied her problem solving and communications skills to non-profits, corporations and complex government organizations across the United States. Since moving to the Bay Area, she has grown her independent consulting business to include a high profile health care client.
Melinda has several personal connections to foster care and adoption. She became involved in volunteering with AFS through a friend 3 years ago and is delighted to have been elected to the Board of Directors and increase her role in developing resources for the agency. Through a variety of personal experiences, Melinda has seen first hand how foster parents and adoptive parents can transform the life of a child. She looks forward to carrying on this good work on the AFS Board.
Treasurer, Chair Finance Committee
Sam Smalls is a Managing Director with Jefferies LLC, a global investment banking firm and wholly-owned subsidiary of Leucadia National Corporation (NYSE: LUK). Based in Sacramento, California, Mr. Smalls currently works in Jefferies’ Municipal Securities Group, assisting public sector clients throughout the Western Region with their infrastructure financing needs. Mr. Smalls joined Jefferies (through its acquired predecessor DEPFA First Albany) in 2007 as a Managing Director, bringing 22 years of public finance experience. Since March 2000, Mr. Smalls had day-to-day responsibility principally for California issuers in the role as investment banker and has structured over $20 billion as senior or co-senior manager and over $159 billion as co-manager for a host of municipal clients. Prior to joining Jefferies, Mr. Smalls was a Senior Vice President with M.R. Beal & Company for seven years, servicing State and local issuers across the nation. Mr. Smalls previous posts include serving as the Executive Director for the California Pollution Control Financing Authority (CPCFA) in the State of California State Treasurer’s Office, Assistant Vice President/Associate Director of Planning, Research and Analysis with the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco (FHLB-SF).
Through family and friends, Mr. Smalls saw the challenges of and opportunities afforded by foster care agencies. From their experiences as social worker, group home director, or insurance services provider, Mr. Smalls realized the great demand for additional resources – financial or in-kind services. As a board member of AFS, Mr. Smalls endeavors to support the business of foster care in California generally and specifically in the communities touched by AFS.
Zachary Townsend is the co-founder of Standard Treasury, a venture-backed business that focuses on creating modern banking and financial technology. Previously, Zac worked at Stripe, a company that makes it easy for software developers to accept credit cards on the web.
Before Stripe, he was Senior Technology Police Adviser to Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker, and conducted civic and social sector management consulting as an Associate and Senior Associate at Bennett Midland LLC.
He is a published statistician, a current board member of Bayes Impact, a not-for-profit that creates a data science fellowship for the social sector, and one of the co-founders of DataKind, a not-for-profit that matches pro bono data scientists with other not-for-profits. He received an MPA from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service, where he focused on public financial and statistical methods, and an AB from Brown where he concentrated in Applied Math-Economics and Public Policy.
CEO, Board Member ex officio
Dr. Berlin is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of AFS. In 1973 he was hired by Huckleberry House in San Francisco to create a foster care program for teenage runaways. That program was reincorporated as Alternative Family Services, which began independent operations on July 1, 1978. Dr. Berlin graduated from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 1969, earned his Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from Goddard College in 1974 and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Professional School of Psychology in 1989. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on alienation and self esteem in Vietnamese refugee foster children. He has continuously guided the growth and development of AFS for almost 38 years.
“People need people, it is just that simple. Researchers have looked at why one child from challenging circumstances may have succeeded, while another from near identical circumstances did not. Invariably, the researchers found that the successful child was one who had key support from someone at a critical time of need. It may have been a parent, a grandparent, a clergyman, a neighbor. Having that critical support makes all the difference. AFS seeks to offer tangible, physical, moral, logistical, and financial support to the clients entrusted to our care, but also to our foster parents, staff and volunteers. This is the true meaning of our “extended family” concept.
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