Alec Raffin, Executive Director
Prior to joining the nonprofit sector, Alec worked in the motion picture industry for production companies including Miramax Films and Walt Disney Studios. He moved on to gain extensive experience developing and leading education, media arts, and human service programs, and was the founding Executive Director of Mpower, a Colorado-based nonprofit that partners with students, their families and schools to provide positive youth development programs. His school-based media education programs were designed to reinforce english language arts proficiency, engage disaffected youth, and assist in the development of personal identity.
A Bay Area native and UC Berkeley graduate, Alec moved back to San Francisco with the opportunity to lead Streetside Stories in June, 2014. Alec has been privileged to volunteer his time assisting young people through AJUA (Asociacíon de Jóvenes Unidos en Accíon: Association of Youth United in Action), a grassroots, youth-led, immigrant rights and social justice advocacy organization. He has supported AJUA as they have led campaigns to provide access to educational opportunities for the immigrant community and fought for policy solutions that benefit all students and their families at the local, state and national level. As both a parent and educator, Alec believes in the power of personal stories to transform young people’s lives. He views personal storytelling as a tool for students to create positive change in their communities. Alec is dedicated to achieving educational equity for all students, and feels honored to work with Bay Area families and schools to raise students’ voices, increase academic achievement and provide teachers with 21st century arts education training opportunities.
Melissa Wong Renati, Administrative 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
After 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.
Sen Garcia, Teaching Artist
Sen is a queer identified filmmaker who grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and now lives in the bay area. They spend most of their time working in the community as a media educator and strives to encourage underrepresented youth to create moving image art to tell their life story. Sen believes art comes from all different values, expressions, and backgrounds, and sometimes having limited resources can inspire an individual to think on a larger creative spectrum, which takes storytelling to a whole other level. In their own work, Sen uses digital and analogue forms of moving images, as well as still images. Their work is experimental, engaging alternative forms of storytelling, including the use of interactive performance. Sen’s inspiration comes from their traditional New Mexican upbringing inspiring a surreal environment as the base for their vision. On their off time, Sen loves to go to the movie theatre, play board games, write screenplays, make short stop-motion animations, and read up on the use of practical effects in film. They Graduated from the University of New Mexico with a B.A. in both Media Arts and Chicana/o Studies.
Daven Gee, Media Arts Integration Specialist
Daven 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.
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.
Tara Malik, Director of Programs
For 15 years Tara Malik has organized, taught, and managed programs in community-based arts and advocacy organizations in Rochester, New Orleans, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. She first found her voice when she picked up her father’s camera at age 14 and began documenting her friends’ lives and local protests in Washington, D.C. She has spent her adult life supporting young people in exploring their identities, sharing their stories, and advocating for the issues that matter to them most. Tara has managed programs that work with young people on topics including media literacy, disability activism, violence affecting youth, displacement/immigration, and health/sexuality. In 2006 she co-founded One Bird, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with local communities to build media arts programs for children. One Bird projects have developed in partnership with community-based organizations in New Orleans, LA; Dharamsala, India; and Carrefour, Haiti. Tara holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology and a Master in Arts Management in Arts in Youth and Community Development from Columbia College Chicago. Tara spends part of her summers organizing and teaching youth photography workshops in Haiti.
Natalie Mann, Programs Manager
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.
Judith Walgren, Teaching Artist
Judith Walgren is an Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, visual artist, teacher, curator and writer. She received her MFA in Visual Art from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2016 and from 2010 to 2015, she led the visuals team at the San Francisco Chronicle as the director of photography. Her recent work explores the recreation of historic archives around the constructions of the California Mission system for which she recently received an Arts Matters Foundation Grant to support her research. Walgren lives in San Francisco with her son, Theo.
Board of Directors
Rick Liwag Oculto, Chair
Our Family Coalition
San Francisco, CA
Ken Tse, Treasurer
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Michelle Dong, Secretary
Director of Operations
San Francisco, CA
Former Managing Director
JP Morgan Chase
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, CA