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MEET OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM Test

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KELLY BATSON  
Interim CEO & Chief Community Impact Officer

Interim CEO & Chief Community Impact Officer

Interim CEO & Chief Community Impact Officer Kelly Batson oversees all community impact work at United Way, guiding and supporting senior management under four main pillars of impact: Housing Justice, Meeting Basic Needs, Employment & Career Opportunities, and Financial Stability. Kelly is deeply inspired by people from all walks of life who come together to solve our region’s biggest challenges. She's also a firm believer in righting the wrongs of racist and inequitable systems by providing opportunities for all. Kelly has robust experience on the ground, having steadily worked her way through the ranks at United Way since 2006. Prior to this role, Kelly led Program Operations for UWBA, as well as the AmeriCorps VISTA program, 211, and Earn It! Keep It! Save It! Kelly has a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. When she’s not actively helping our Bay Area neighbors, Kelly enjoys spending time with family and getting her groove on at wedding receptions.

CHRISTOPHER BERINI, Chief Advancement Officer

Christopher leads all marketing and fundraising work at United Way Bay Area, inspiring, engaging, and activating individuals and organizations to disrupt Bay Area poverty by creating equitable pathways to success and stability for all. Christopher is passionate about the power of human-centered narratives to drive change and the enormous potential of engaging holistically with partners across sectors to accelerate impact, creating healthier, stronger, and more inclusive communities. Prior to joining UWBA, Christopher served as Chief Development Officer at Opportunity Fund, leading their marketing and fundraising teams to secure over $30M in philanthropic support which provided affordable working capital to underserved entrepreneurs, particularly those hit hardest in the wake of COVID-19. His 25-year career has spanned technology marketing and sales leadership, fundraising for LGBTQ+ community health both professionally and as a volunteer board leader, and moonlighting as a dance club DJ. Christopher is a proud new father and a dedicated CrossFit athlete. When time allows, he also enjoys pottery classes and outdoor adventures with his husband.

SARA BRISSENDEN-SMITH, Vice President, Equity and Strategy

Sara brings to United Way Bay Area more than twenty years of experience in community development, engagement, youth development, and education. A natural relationship builder, Sara has extensive experience working with a variety of local and national organizations to address health disparities, improve opportunities in education and housing and engage community leaders to create social impact and address inequities. Sara’s work in media engagement spans nearly a decade, most recently as a Partner with Impact Media Partners, supporting independent filmmakers to engage audiences around social issue driven documentary projects. In her work at the Independent Television Service (ITVS), Sara managed Community Cinema, the largest engagement program in public television. As a Program Manager and Director of Programs, Sara developed innovative curriculum and programming to empower youth, young adults and mothers through workforce development programs with GirlSource, Juma Ventures and the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC). Sara’s work as Director of Neighborhood Revitalization for Habitat for Humanity engaged long-time residents in vulnerable neighborhoods to address social and economic inequities in Bay Area neighborhoods hit hardest by gentrification. Sara is a passionate advocate for communities of color and is excited to contribute to the anti-racist work and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts of United Way Bay Area. Sara holds a BA from Santa Clara University in Sociology with an emphasis in Ethnic Studies. Sara is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and an avid traveler.

JACQUELINE CHAN Vice President, Impact Strategies

Biography will be added shortly.

WINNIE CHEUNG, Vice President, Transformation

Winnie leads United Way Bay Area’s Operation divisions supporting all the operating needs of the organization. This includes Human Resources, IT, Facilities, and Systems Change Management. With extensive experience in both for-profit and non-profit settings, Winnie is passionate about public and social policy, strategic and effective organizational design. Beginning her career at Freedom from Hunger (now the Grameen Foundation), she went on to serve as a Director of Operations in the affordable housing non-profit space and as a Change Management and Design Thinking Consultant for both public institutions and private corporations. Winnie holds a B.A. in International Relations the University of California, Davis and a Master in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. Raised in Sonoma County and the SF Bay Area, Winnie can often be found wandering her local farmers market, exploring new restaurants in the area, or trying to achieve zen in the yoga studio.

LAURA ESCOBAR, Vice President, Safety Net Services

Laura oversees United Way Bay Area (UWBA) programs related to basic needs and emergency services in our community. She directly coordinates all aspects of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) and oversees Labor Community Services and the 211 program. For the past 29 years, she has managed the multimillion-dollar grant making portfolio in federal EFSP funding in eight Bay Area counties for approximately 125 food, shelter, and rental assistance agencies. Laura also acts as a liaison with the Santa Clara Emergency Assistance Network (EAN) and coordinates UWBA grants for disaster response and recovery work, such as COVID-19 and Wildfire Relief Funds. She currently serves on the San Mateo Housing and Community Development Committee which oversees the federal Community Development Block Grant and affordable housing funding; the San Mateo Community Action Agency Board which allocates State Community Services Block Grant funding (CSBG); and the Solano County Tri-Partite Board which also allocates CSBG funding. Laura began her 33-year career at UWBA in their Helpline Call Center as a Homelessness Prevention Specialist, helping families navigate food, shelter, and rental assistance resources in their local communities.

NICOLE HARDEN, Vice President, Economic Success

Nicole Harden leads the Economic Success work at United Way which includes the SparkPoint, Youth Workforce, and Free Tax Help programs. Nicole began her United Way career in 2014 as a Program Specialist for the SparkPoint program. Since then, she has worked in numerous roles leading to her current position. Nicole is driven in this work by her belief that the communities we serve are not broken, that they are creative, resourceful, and whole, and that we are here to work alongside of them in building community. Nicole believes that it is essential to work with community to address systemic challenges and in 2019, launched the SparkPoint Ambassadors program to better integrate community voice into programmatic, grantmaking, advocacy, and fundraising efforts. Prior to her work at United Way, Nicole worked for 10 years in corporate international finance and made the shift to non-profit work by serving as an AmeriCorps Public Ally for Shelter Network, now Life Moves, where she focused her learning and professional development in non-profit management. She graduated with the 2011 class and began her non-profit work as the inaugural Career Coach for SparkPoint Contra Costa. Outside of work, Nicole is a licensed foster parent, serves on her kids School Site Council (SSC), and busies herself chasing her three school-age boys and husband of 18 years around soccer fields and basketball courts and dragging her 90lb pit bull out of bed to exercise.

BRIAN KATAOKA, Chief Financial Officer

Brian is the CFO of United Way Bay Area, responsible for overseeing the financial management and infrastructure operations of the organization. He is passionate about utilizing technology and implementing robust internal controls to effectively manage financial resources and drive operational efficiency while maximizing social impact. Prior to joining UWBA, Brian served as Managing Director of Finance and Controller at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, leading the finance and accounting teams in managing over $2 billion in assets held in over 1,000 charitable funds and foundations. Brian holds a dual B.S. in Accounting and Law from the University of California at Santa Barbara and is an actively licensed CPA in the State of California. A native of the Bay Area, Brian is an avid sports fan and enjoys traveling, golfing, and spending time with his family while away from work.

CAROLINA MARTÍN, Vice President, Development

Carolina leads all fundraising efforts at United Way Bay Area collaborates closely with foundations, corporations, and individuals who are committed to investing in our communities and share UWBA’s vision of breaking the cycle of poverty in the Bay Area. As an immigrant to this country, Carolina is deeply committed to helping create pathways to brighter futures for young adults seeking access to education and meaningful careers. She is excited about the role she can play in this journey to create a thriving Bay Area community.
Prior to joining UWBA, Carolina served as Vice President of Partnerships at Accion Opportunity Fund, leading efforts to raise over $20M in philanthropic partnerships to support entrepreneurs of color. Her career as an educator, marketing and fundraising professional, and volunteerism demonstrate Carolina's personal and professional commitment to empowering people in our communities and increasing economic opportunity and mobility in the Bay Area and beyond. Outside of work, Carolina enjoys spending time with her family, coaching her daughters’ baseball team, running with her dog, cooking, traveling, and being outdoors.