Our Team


Neela Gentile, Interim Executive Director

Neela joined Streetside Stories as Interim Executive Director in January, 2018. An innovator in the field of philanthropy for both nonprofit and corporate sectors, Neela Gentile is a leader in organizational capacity building, strategic growth and increasing efficiencies for organizations committed to making an impact on social issues.  Neela spent the first half of her career steeped in the nonprofit sector, working in a variety of fields with national and start-up organizations.  She has direct experience with fundraising, advocacy, board and volunteer development, mergers and acquisitions, team building with diverse audiences and leadership development.  In addition, Neela spent more than a decade working with social benefit organizations within the corporate sector on issues such as strategic growth and development, change management, and effective grant making.  Much of Neela’s work involves coaching and thought partnership with courageous leaders who are willing to ask the hard questions and guide organizations through challenging situations.  At the end of the day, Neela enjoys the privilege of working with passionate and committed people who are making the world a better place.

Melissa Wong RenatiAdministrative Manager

A native San Franciscan and graduate of Lowell High School and UC Berkeley, Melissa performed with Opera Piccola (“Small Works”) in their original musical folk tales series, and also taught in their theme residency programs. She also taught theater arts and creative movement for Performing Arts Workshop’s (PAW) and Richmond District After School Collaborative’s (RDASC) programs at SFUSD elementary schools. A singer and actress, she performed and toured in France, New Mexico, and California venues with Word for Word Performing Arts Company’s production of Amy Tan’s Immortal Heart. She has also performed with TheatreWorks, George Coates Performance Works, Asian American Theater Company’s New Works Incubator Program; and has sung at the Classical Music Festival in Newport, RI, at the Summer Arts Festival in Fairbanks, AK, and at the Bracebridge Dinner pageants at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. Melissa is currently cantor/song leader at Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.

Jeff Faes, Director of Development

jeff_combinedAfter completing a Peace Corps tour working in education in the Fiji Islands, Jeff settled in San Francisco where he was drawn to work in social services for homeless and runaway youth. Jeff’s experience in youth service organizations has evolved to span direct-service counseling, volunteer management, community outreach, and nine years in fundraising management, where he has happily meshed a passion for serving youth with his interest in nonprofit operations. When away from Streetside, you’ll find Jeff surfing at Ocean Beach or taking road trips to weekend disc golf tournaments up and down the West Coast. He holds a BA in communication studies and sociology from UCLA.


Chelsea Carl, Teaching Artist

When Chelsea was in first grade she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up and she responded saying she hoped to be a school bus driver so that she could take out all of the bus seats, replace them with couch cushions, and paint murals on all of the surfaces of the bus—inside and out—that weren’t windows. Today Chelsea is not a school bus driver, but she still hopes to see murals painted on all of the surfaces that are not windows. When she is not teaching or nannying, Chelsea can be found making weird jewelry, painting, drawing, writing memoirs, shooting promo videos for beautiful organizations, cop-watching with WeCopWatch, reading Octavia Butler, riding her bike while dancing, or trying to make music because she wants to make music videos to her own music. Chelsea believes that children have power to change the world, and she tries to convey this in her art, teaching, and life practices. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2013 with a BFA in Film/Animation/Video.

Colleen Cummins, Teaching Artist 

Colleen’s very first camera was a Le Chic. It was in the 1980’s and it took this strange flat film that doesn’t exist anymore, but she loved that little pink camera. She would set up all her stuffed animals in the yard and pose them for portraits. It gave her a way to express herself through a visual voice she didn’t know she had before. She has always been an inquisitive and curious person, which make her a natural when it comes to storytelling. She has a passion for social justice and media literacy, and faithfully believes that journalism’s aim should be to give a voice to those who do not have one. She was named 1 of 28 talented urban photographers to follow on Instagram by Buzzfeed. She studied Journalism at San Francisco State and she’s worked for national publications from Florida to California. She has taught multimedia for the past 4 years with various organizations including Youth Spirit Artworks in Berkeley, Youth Radio in Oakland, and Alternatives in Action in Fruitvale.

Daven Gee, Teaching Artist 

Daven ComboDaven Gee has worked with film and media arts as a teacher, filmmaker, and creator of curricula and public eduction campaigns for documentary films. He has been involved with the award-winning documentaries Regret to Inform, Scout’s Honor, Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, On Coal River, Blessed Is the Match, and others. His own films have won awards and screened at film festivals around the world including Sundance, and have aired on public television. He has taught at City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State University and The Art Institute of California, in addition to being named professor of the year at the University of Missouri. He is especially interested in building community and strengthening personal voices through media-making, and has done this work with the PBS documentary series P.O.V, Film Arts Foundation, Mill Valley Film Festival, his documentary film series bullseye, and the installation series time:base which he co-founded. Daven has a Bachelor’s degree in Media Arts, and an MFA in Film Production from San Francisco State University. He is passionately engaged with his family and neighborhood in the East Bay, and is happiest wind-surfing in San Francisco Bay, surfing along the coast and swimming anywhere. Born in Southern California, and raised on a farm in Northern California, Daven’s interest in cross-cultural exchange has led him to residing in Hawaii, New York, Kansas City, the Middle East and Ireland.

Paola Gonzalez, Teaching Artist

Paola is a first generation American and the daughter of two undocumented immigrants from Colombia. Her interests in the arts developed at an early age, as Paola credits the women in her family with teaching her how to express herself through dance, sewing, painting and sculpting. She got her start as a graphic designer when she attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. There she began creating politically charged posters about equality, racism, LGBTQ rights, and food justice. At eighteen, Paola became the fourth person in her family to attend college and it was her experiences at Skidmore College that sparked and developed her passion for activism. Paola majored in Sociology where she was able to bridge connections between the theories she learned in the classroom and the injustices she faced growing up Latina in a low-income, mixed-status home. While at Skidmore, Paola was an active member of several groups on campus focused primarily on feminism, building solidarity within the Latino community, and tackling issues of social injustice. Her work ties art and civic engagement holding true to the nature of printmaking as a democratic art practice. As an educator, Paola has facilitated a peer-led intergroup dialogue focused on issues of race and identity at Skidmore College and was the Founding Visual Arts teacher at Memphis Rise Academy. Her studies, which have profoundly influenced her artwork, have focused on immigration, Latin American/U.S relations, inequality and injustice, and political movements. She is currently teaching and practicing art in San Francisco, CA.

Lawrence Lindell, Teaching Artist

Lawrence Lindell is an artist and musician from Southern California. He is the author, creator and artist of From Black Boy With Love Part I and II.  In 2013 he started an independent record label called Noise met Sound where he and his label mates have put together DIY tours, music residencies, festivals and curated album release parties. Most recently in 2016 he started his art studio Lawrence Lindell Studios which from Black Boy With Love was created under. Lindell’s work focuses on changing the political and social climate of today’s world. He tackles patriarchy, misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia and anti blackness to name a few in his work. He promotes self love and self exploration. Since 2012 he has been a part of the zine and underground comics community, which takes him across the globe sharing, reading, exhibiting and presenting his work in workshops, lecture halls and schools. He graduated from Otis College of Art and Design with a BFA in Digital Media/Illustration.

Van Nguyen-Stone, Programs Manager

Van was influenced as a young girl by her father’s interest in photography. As a refugee who fled Vietnam, he documented his new life in America. Each photo told a story of joyful discoveries, assimilation, cultural differences, and new beginnings. These images that were tucked away in Van’s family’s albums were her roots and a reminder of Van’s personal mission. As a child of refugee parents, she often asked herself, “how will I walk on the path my parents started, and how will I create my own path?” She got her start photographing local punk and ska bands. Standing on the same stage with artists, she was able to feel their raw energy and it was inspiring! Van eventually moved to filmmaking, receiving a B.A. in Film from U.C. Santa Cruz, and my M.F.A. in Cinema Production from San Francisco State University. Van’s love for community activism, spiritual studies, and ethnic dance has created a strong interest in documenting stories where moments of people and spirit combine in sacred communication. She has been working within diverse schools and nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area for over ten years, using digital media as learning tools for exploration, expression, storytelling, and healing. Knowing the power media has to create positive social change, she serves as an advocate for young people to voice their visions to a wider audience. Van joined Streetside as a teaching artist, then moved on to working within schools as a Media Arts Integration Specialist. She is excited to return as Streetside Stories’ Programs Manager.

Breena Nuñez, Teaching Artist

Breena was born in San Francisco, raised in the Peninsula and now calls Oakland home since 2016. Breena is a Bay Area native who was introduced to the world of comics and animation through her mother’s love of reading titles such as “Archie” and “Mafalda”. She was also very fascinated with music performance since her 3rd grade field trip to see the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and immediately wanted to be the first chair flutist of Central American descent. But other things in her young adult life happened, like going to San Francisco State University for Visual Communication Design and getting involved with student organizations which have influenced her to create comics, zines, and music that reflect her personal stories. Her illustrations and comics have been previously exhibited at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, Galería de la Raza, and Studio Grand, and also traveling to your local Bay Area zine fest.

Natalie Mann, Director of Programs


In 8th grade, Natalie won an award for artistic excellence, giving her a sense of identity that she’s carried with her through college and into her career. She is a Northern California native who earned her BA and MA in Art History from U.C. Davis and has since devoted herself to encouraging young people to use the arts to explore their own identities, process the world around them, and positively contribute to their communities. She has also worked closely with classroom teachers to integrate core curriculum with museum collections, making learning more engaging both at the museum and in the classroom. When she’s not at Streetside, Natalie is out enjoying the California sunshine with her dog, traveling to new and exciting places, and eating delicious food.

Caira Ortiz, Programs Coordinator

During her time as a student at the University of Puget Sound, Caira became involved with community-focused organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Circle K International. She quickly found her passion for humanitarian work and neighborhood enrichment, and upon receiving her double BA in Business Leadership and Japanese, she dove into the non-profit sector to support individuals and families in the United States and around the world.  She has managed and coordinated programs with non-profits in various focuses, from relocating displaced refugees to bringing extracurricular programs to low-income students. Caira is grateful for each experience and is honored to bring her skills to the Bay Area. When she’s not in the office, Caira is baking cookies, enjoying concerts and conventions, and hiking off the cookies she ate.

Miriam Rubino, Teaching Artist

Originating from Argentina, Miriam’s earliest memories are about long road trips in the family car. Little did she know that moving would be such a part of her life, and end up traveling to over 70 countries. A world citizen by choice, Miriam knows traveling always come with stories. Always a shy girl, she first started to tell her story through the visual arts, and experimenting with dance and theatre. After a stint at Philosophy, she finished her BA in Psychology and Chemical Dependency Counseling while living in Africa. A modern Renaissance woman, some of her trades included: Language teacher at an international elementary school in Africa, implementing an Art Therapy program at drug rehabilitation centers in Kenya, teaching Zumba Fitness in Sri Lanka and Tanzania, mentoring youth and coordinating a youth program for a global interfaith organization, and exhibiting and selling artwork in Zimbabwe and Thailand. Miriam is currently training as an Expressive Arts therapist and spends enormous amounts of time reading, doing art and therapy, listening to other people’s stories and hoping to elicit people’s stories of strength and triumph through dancing and other creative arts. She loves meeting new people, chasing Karl the fog, and spending time in nature.

Board of Directors

Rick Liwag Oculto, Chair
Education Coordinator
Our Family Coalition
San Francisco, CA

Ken Tse, Treasurer
Grant Analyst
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA

Michelle Dong, Secretary
Director of Operations
Alameda, CA 

Rene Cender
Education Advocate
San Francisco, CA
Former Managing Director
JP Morgan Chase
New York, NY

Dale Hamakawa 
H2 Management
San Francisco, CA

Brian Lawrence
Senior Manager
San Francisco, CA