Our Team


Alec Raffin, Executive Director

alec_comboPrior 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 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 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 seven 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 and devotes vacation time to micro-budget international backpacking odysseys.


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.

Alicia Franco, Teaching Artist 

Alicia Franco is a proud native of northern California. Her first short story was written and illustrated at seven-years-old, and it was critically acclaimed amongst her parents and fellow second grade peers. At age seventeen she began experimenting with poetry, and has continued this love affair ever since. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative writing at San Francisco State University, and her Master’s Degree in Writing at California College of the Arts. She has enjoyed sharing her passion for writing and art with others, especially children. She has been an intern at Oakland School for the Arts and 826 Valencia. Her poems have appeared in the Bay Area Reading Series, Writing Without Walls. When she is not writing poetry she is off having adventures and exploring the unknown.

Sen Garcia, Teaching Artist 

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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 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.

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

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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.

Van Nguyen-Stone, Media Arts Integration Specialist

Van was influenced as a young girl by her father’s interest in taking family portraits, and got her start photographing local punk and ska bands. She eventually moved to filmmaking, receiving her B.A. in Film from U.C. Santa Cruz, and her M.F.A. in Cinema Production from San Francisco State University. For more than a decade Van’s work life has encompassed independent filmmaking, and teaching video production for non-profit organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Her community work has led Van to teach media based, and social networking workshops nationally. Her community activism, spiritual studies, dance and arts background has created a strong interest in documenting social stories, spiritual gatherings and ethnic dance; moments where people and spirit combine in sacred communication.

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.

Charity Yoro, Teaching Artist

Born and raised on O’ahu, Charity graduated from her state university with a BA in Marketing / International Business and a minor in English. Shortly after graduating, she left the islands to spend her twenties exploring the world and herself — volunteering in the Philippines, teaching in South Korea, and serving in both Peace Corps in Madagascar and AmeriCorps in New Jersey — eventually settling herself and her two roller bags in the Bay Area. Charity is sometimes a flight attendant, sometimes a digital marketing consultant, and sometimes an author/poet/essayist. She volunteers at a NY-based women’s literary publication and hosts a monthly meetup for women writers in San Francisco. Charity is always pretending she’s a contestant (winner) on So You Think You Can Dance.

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