REACH Staff

 

The REACH Ashland Youth Center is operated by Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. Alameda County staffs are on-site to provide support and work together to provide programming with partner agencies.

 

Pedro Naranjo

REACH Executive Director

I work with young people, their families, and our partners to create an environment where young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential and be happy. I do this work because I know that young people are our greatest asset. I believe that every young person has the same right to reach his/her full potential.

My family and fatherhood has significantly shaped who I am. I strive to be a better man and person for them. I meet people where they are and I accept people for who they are. I believe that everyone has something to contribute to their community and strive to find ways to bring those gifts to my work. I want to be small town while at the same time being worldly. I got here by making a commitment early on to support efforts that contribute to improving the health & wellbeing of all people.

I love spending time with my family and enjoy seeing my two daughters grow up. In my free time, I love to participate in recreation activities. Seeing people outside being physically active brings me a lot of joy.
My favorite food is Mama’s Enchiladas de papa with a side of steak and a few Doritos.

V-Johri

Vassilisa Johri

Deputy Director, Health and Wellness

Hi, I am the health and wellness director.  That’s a big title to say that I work with staff, partners, young people and community to bring wellness into every aspect of what we do at REACH.   If I do my job, my hope is that young people at REACH will feel like they can grow into who they are; that being in their questions is as important as knowing answers; that they can explore a lot of options and be over full with joy, possibility and belonging; and they will feel a big net of love and care around them when they get it right and even more so when they don’t.

To me, health and wellness is justice.   It includes healthcare for all, but also safe schools and communities, more choice and possibility, jobs and housing, solutions that support learning and not punishment, an end to discrimination, reparations, young and oppressed people being seen, heard, and believed, and a whole lot of dance and play.  I do this work because hate is easy.  Love is the revolution.

I came with my family to the US from India when I was 3.  Through my father’s job, my family got a lot of opportunities and I was fortunate enough to get an amazing education, and grow as an athlete, a musician, an artist.  I had the space to explore ideas and grow my confidence to challenge what was unjust.

Joy: laughing with my people, dancing in my kitchen, feeling grateful for my people and how I’ve been saved a hundred times, my dog, chai, wiggling around or snuggling up to me, young people being creative and themselves and figuring themselves out, our big loving and creative hearts against all the odds we face, the places where mountains and bodies of water meet, loving and being loved.

Breakfast is the best meal ever.  If it’s got bacon, even better.  If you wanna show up with a breakfast sandwich, in whatever cultural  form (burrito,chapati, bagel, roti…), you got me.  Yep, it’s just that easy.

R-Paras

Rachel Paredes Paras

Associate Director, Programs

I am honored to be a part of the REACH team and as the Program Specialist, have the opportunity to work with the talented partner organizations who will help bring life and learning to the Center.

I am a second-generation Filipina-American who has called the Bay Area home since 1989, with the exception of a two-year hiatus in which I worked with young people to create a community based, art and technology program for youth and moms in Providence, Rhode Island. I love my community and was a founding team member of Project PULL (People United through Learning and Leadership) Academy, a college preview and leadership program for Pilipino/a youth. I am passionate about youth work and am grateful for my experience with the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, the Mid-Peninsula Boys and Girls Club and the amazing people of Oasis for Girls in San Francisco (to name a few) for affording me the experience to learn and to lead.

I am committed to working with creative and educational programs and believe in the impact of the arts and leadership development on personal transformation. I love music and dance and have fond memories of standing five feet tall in the hot Texas sun, as a band captain of the woodwinds holding my alto sax. To this day, aspire to front a band by the time I’m 50!

I am a girl who likes a good quinoa salad, but have been known to scarf down an unagi roll or two (or three). I can make delicious chicken adobo, too!

I love my family and am the proud parent of a daughter who has a mean tae kwon do back kick and talkative son who thinks he is the green Power Ranger and the partner to my talented, graphic designer extraordinaire husband.

 

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Jamie Yee Hintzke

REACH Community Relations Coordinator

At REACH, I am responsible for building and maintaining the relationships we need to help REACH to be successful.  I coordinate the events, educational programs, presentations and exhibits to educate the community and general public and work with the press to ensure the REACH story is told and oversee all of our communications.

I really enjoy working with youth. I want to be part of creating space for young people to be able to make the world a better place by realizing their own dreams and goals.

I was born in Oakland and am first-generation Chinese and grew up with all the traditions.  I feel like I have the best of both worlds – grounded with my heritage but living the American life. I had my grandmother till she was 100 years old. She lived through some very difficult times, but she always had a great attitude: nothing was ever bad enough that a good party could not cure. “Get your party dress and high heels on – let’s go” I like to think I live my life with the same spirit.

Some of my happiest moments are when I meet someone for the first time and we have a connection. I am very interested in all people. I believe that everyone has something really interesting to share – and I want to hear it. I love it when my husband and kids are having a deep and engaging conversation. I get to learn about their thoughts and what is important to them. It makes me happy.

I love food – when I have time, I love to cook, but I cannot bake. If it requires more than a cup of flour, I make bricks. I love cheese and anything that goes with cheese. I like to garden, go to museums, cars, politics and volunteering.  A favorite quote – “Social Justice is Love in Public”.

 

 

V-Villegas

Veronica Villegas

Membership Coordinator

I was born and raised in the East Bay. I grew up in Newark, California. I am the youngest of two children and after graduating from high school I moved to Ashland in San Leandro. I attended Western Career College where I became a Certified Medical Assistant.

I serve as the Membership Coordinator at REACH.  I am super excited to see REACH make a difference in our community.

There’s nothing nicer than seeing other people happy. I enjoy spending time with my family, friends and love watching my twin daughters play their sports.  I love the country and being around horses. I listen to Mexican music and enjoy all things Mexican.

I love all kinds of food, but if I had to choose I would say seafood.

 

 

 

T-Young

TaNisha Young

REACH Admin Assistant

I serve as part of the Administrative Support team at REACH Ashland Youth Center. I am delighted to be part of a team that is making such a positive impact on the lives of our youth.

I really enjoy working with youth. I have had the honor and opportunity to support them by volunteering my time and skills in various capacities. Helping others brings me great joy and fulfillment.

I was born in Berkeley, raised in Oakland, lived in Vallejo, and in San Leandro….what can I say I love the Bay! After a short stay in Houston, Texas I’ve returned home to my native land. I am a graduate of San Leandro High School and I am excited about what REACH Ashland Youth Center is for the community of youth here and the surrounding communities.

When I am not working or being a taxi driver for my kids, I enjoy taking walks while listening to my music, volunteering in the community, kicking back watching movies, and I love to cook and bake. My kids say my homemade brownies (yes from scratch) should be on the market! My favorite season of the year is football season.

 

Michael Alexander

Youth Counselor

Greetings, my name is Michael Alexander and I’m a youth counselor here at REACH Ashland Youth Center. I’m originally from the state of Alabama and was raised in the Atlanta area. Before moving to the Bay Area in June 2011 I lived in Philadelphia and worked as a School Social Worker. I attended and graduated from Clark Atlanta University and University of Pennsylvania where I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work respectively. I’ve always been passionate about Social Justice and its impact on young people. I’ve also focused a lot of my free time addressing issues regarding sexism, racism, patriarchy, and other concerns facing people of color. In my free time I love spending time with my wife, travel, and spending quality time with friends and family. I’m also an avid reader, a huge music collector and also love Thai, Ethiopian, and Indian cuisine.

 

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Lamont Thompson

C.O.R.E.  Advisory Staff

I was born in Oakland and I lived out there for a few years and then I moved to Ashland. I don’t really know what year it was, it doesn’t matter because I was too young to care anyway. I went to Edendale Middle School then San Leandro High for a couple of years until I moved to San Lorenzo where I attended East Bay Arts High. There I got involved in theater and music. I began to develop a sense of culture and a pride in community as well as caring for others, which led to me wanting to get involved in community, organizing and social change.

I first started working with an organization called the Youth Leadership Counsel (Y.L.C.). There I honed my skills as a community organizer, but that wasn’t enough for me. I then began wanting to reach out to the youth in my community whom I felt, at the time and even still today didn’t have anyone in their age bracket who could really listen and understand how it is to be a young person in today’s society. So I went on to create a PowerPoint presentation entitled “THINK’’. This allowed me to go from school to school in the San Lorenzo School District and present not only my story but it also allowed meet and engage with the students and really get a clear idea of what they are going through.

I’ve been involved with the Reach Ashland Youth Center, hosted numerous community events, spoken out at meetings and been involved heavily with the youth in Ashland as well as other communities since 2007. I am proud to be part of the REACH staff; I will continue my work as an advocate for the youth and a voice for the community.

 

VanessaVanessa Rodriguez

C.O.R.E. Advisory Staff

My name is Vanessa Rodriguez. I was born and raised in San Francisco and I am full Mexican -I love my homeland dearly. I’ve lived in the east bay for about 4-5 years now. My most important work in SF; doing community outreaching for an organization named CHALK -focusing on empowering at risk youth in San Francisco. I was a teen staff at The Colombia Park Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco, there I would coordinate and manage events, programs, and training. I also worked at The Children’s Waiting Room in the San Francisco Court House.

I had a point in my life where I was struggling and I reached out to a mentor, who I am still connected to since I was 15. She gave me an opportunity to explore myself professionally -my needs and wants.  She also hooked me up with an internship at Beats Rhymes and Life (BRL).  It’s a mental health organization that uses Hip Hop to heal and strengthen young people of color.

I love working with young people, I want to be part of a change in the decisions young people make. I want for young people to excel to their fullest potential -in every aspect possible. Plan for their future, fulfill their dreams, be loved, be, educated, be understood, be supported. Not only will I be able to do all of that but also better myself -be a great role model and grow along the way with these youth. There is no limit in learning!

I am very much a music junkie. I love all types of music but underground Hip Hop is pretty music my thing. I travel north, south, east, west of the country to be a part of great music festivals, concerts and music experiences.  Music is definitely my healing! Writing is also my thing. I always had it in my head that one day when I’m over and done with in this life time of mine -someone will come across my writing and put stuff together and call me a philosopher or something one day.

 

Shawna Hernandez

Health and Wellness, Administrative Assistant

I am a new member and employee at the REACH Ashland Youth Center.  My position is with Alameda County as the Health and Wellness team Administrator.  I’ve gained an abundance of knowledge and training working various jobs since 15 years old. I grew up in the East Bay my whole life, in a little neighborhood called Decoto on the outer end of Union City. My family came from Mexico to the East Bay and I am second generation Mexican-American.  I am very proud of my heritage and community. I come from a big family of three older sisters, one older brother and one younger brother.  I enjoy and truly value working with youth.  I want the youth to understand the power of knowledge and participation, there is nothing like be involved in our world.  I want to support the youth in opening up to education, logic and their senses.  I hope to show youth the importance of respect for others and themselves.  I am blessed to have the opportunity to work at REACH and fulfill my purpose.  In my spare time I love to hang out with my three nephews, who keep me young and active.  For the past three years, my family and I have been coaches for the Union City National Little league where we all played ball growing up.  I am pleased to have 7 aunts because I have a bunch of cousins, nieces and nephews. There’s a reason to get together to celebrate every other weekend and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I also adore going to sporting events my favorite teams are SF Giants, Oakland Raiders and the LA Lakers; yes, I know I am all over California when it comes to sports.

 

Ashley Cobbs

Reception and Vocal Instructor

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Sam McNeal

Site Coordinator

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LaRaye Lyles

Youth Counselor

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Dawn Valadez

Fund Development Consultant

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Harpreet_photo55HARPREET SINGH MUNDH

Information Systems Specialist

I have always had a passion to work with technology. I completed my Masters in Computer Science. I was born and brought up in India. Before I moved to the U.S, I was teaching Computer Science in a High School. Prior to working at REACH I was working with the Alameda County Library. At REACH, I am working as an Information Systems Specialist. I enjoy working with the staff and youth. My goal is to keep REACH up to date with the latest technology. I like to spend time with my family, travel and watch sports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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