Staff Leadership - United Way Bay Area
NEED HELP? Click here to find resources.

Search

MEET OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM

At United Way, we know we only make progress against poverty 
when we give it our all, every day—and that starts at the top.

KEVIN ZWICK, Chief Executive Officer

Kevin Zwick is the CEO of United Way Bay Area. An impact-oriented thought leader, Kevin brings individuals and organizations together to advance the organization’s mission and end the cycle of poverty. Additionally, Kevin has primary responsibility for ensuring that United Way Bay Area has impactful programs and strategies that address the root causes that lead to poverty by establishing alliances in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to maximize community impact. Kevin is focused on building financial and social capital, civic will, a stronger nonprofit sector, and the ability to influence public policy for systems change so that everyone can thrive in our region. Kevin previously was CEO of Housing Trust Silicon Valley, a nonprofit community loan fund that tackled one of the major causes of poverty in the Bay Area – the lack of affordable housing. His accomplishments include growing the Housing Trust into a $250 million affordable housing CDFI for the San Francisco Bay Area, which helped house over 20,000 individuals, as well as, founding [email protected], a new advocacy organization focused on affordable housing in Santa Clara County. Kevin is a Senior Fellow with American Leadership Forum – Silicon Valley. Kevin’s work has been recognized by Affordable Housing Finance Magazine, Silicon Valley Business Journal, and the California Housing Consortium. Outside of work, Kevin enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, traveling, listening to music, watching soccer, and walking the family dog

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.

KELLY BATSON, 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.

ROBERT BENAVIDEZ, Chief Financial & Operating Officer

Robert directs business operations at United Way, managing finance, gift processing, human resources, technology, and facility teams. Since 2002, Robert has focused his talents within various nonprofit sectors supporting organizations providing services for foster youth, LGBTQ+ mental health & substance abuse services, HIV/AIDS services, homeless families, children’s healthcare, and women’s health. Prior to joining UWBA, Robert served as Chief Financial and Operating Officer at Mission Graduates. He built the infrastructure within finance and human resources to support the organizations growth which tripled in size over three years. 
Before working in the nonprofit sector, Robert began his career in the financial services industry in New York and San Francisco. Serving in executive roles, he led organizational growth, building teams for brokerage and private equity firms. He has volunteered over the last fifteen years for various nonprofits in the Bay Area and previously served as a member of the board of directors for Project Inform and Philanthropy by Design. Since July 2019, he has served on the board of directors for Planned Parenthood of Northern California and currently serves as Board Treasurer, Operations Committee Chair, and on the Investment & Audit Committees.

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.

ENA YASUHARA LI, Vice President, Community Impact

Ena (she/her, pronounced EH-NAH) leads United Way Bay Area’s SparkPoint and youth workforce initiatives. She oversees the team that provides technical assistance, funding, data collection and evaluation support to our partners. Ena also serves on UWBA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. She spent her childhood living in Tokyo and various cities in the U.S. but is now proud to call the Bay Area her home. Prior to joining UWBA, Ena was a NYC Teaching Fellow and taught second grade in Brooklyn, New York. She has a B.A. from Middlebury College, an M.P.A. from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, and an M.S. Ed from Brooklyn College. Ena is fluent in Japanese and speaks conversational Mandarin. Ena is passionate about diverse and relevant children’s books. She is the proud winner of UWBA’s inaugural dance competition and enjoys having family dance parties with her husband and their two young daughters.

JOSE RAMOS, Vice President, Marketing

Prior to joining UWBA, Jose held senior marketing agency and client-side marketing leadership roles across several industries. Most recently, Jose was the Senior Director of Global Customer Acquisition at NortonLifeLock where he led database marketing and global integrated planning across the company’s $250M demand generation portfolio spanning three international geographies. His startup experience includes positions as Chief Marketing Officer for Direct Energy Solar, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Renew Financial and Director-level roles at SolarCity and Blu Homes. Jose also held strategy and analytics roles at agencies, Universal McCann and MRM where he worked on brands such as Microsoft, Intel, Chevrolet, and Wells Fargo. In addition to his professional career experience, Jose has 18 years of nonprofit community engagement and local, state, and national leadership experience with the American Cancer Society and its public policy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Including leadership positions like Chair of the Board of Directors for the California Division, and as a member of the National Relay for Life Advisory Team. Jose has also held senior leadership positions for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network including State Lead Ambassador for California. In 2019, Jose received the St. George National Medal of Honor, the Society’s highest volunteer award, from American Cancer Society CEO, Gary Reedy in recognition of his leadership and impact on the mission of the Society. Most recently he was elected to the national Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in 2020. Jose earned a dual Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical and aeronautical engineering from the University of California at Davis, as well as an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

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.

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.