Jenny Ocón – Executive Director
Jenny Ocón is the first Executive Director for UpValley Family Centers, joining the organization in January 2014. Prior to joining UpValley Family Centers, she was the Executive Director of Parent Services Project in Marin County. Jenny also brings experience coordinating a network of family resource centers at the Children’s Network of Solano County. Jenny currently serves on the Napa First 5 Commission, the Napa Child Abuse Prevention Council, and the Leadership Council of Live Healthy Napa County. She has over 20 years of experience working with nonprofits, family resource centers and schools in the areas of family engagement and leadership, collaborative social service models, community organizing and immigrant rights. Jenny holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Studies and Latin American Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz, and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis.
Indira López is the Program Director for UpValley Family Centers, providing program oversight and program development for the agency. She was the Program Director for Calistoga Family Center prior to the merger, and has been in her role for over ten years. Indira is partially accredited by the US Department of Justice to provide assistance to individuals applying for immigration benefits with the Department of Homeland Security. She is also accredited in Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) in Level 3 Primary Care. Indira has over 20 years’ experience in social services and early childhood programs. She is active in the community and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Calistoga Joint Unified School District, and is a member of the Calistoga Soroptimists. Indira has completed coursework in Early Childhood Education at Pacific Union College and is bilingual in English/Spanish.
Norma Ferriz is the Finance and Operations Director for UpValley Family Centers. She began working with the St. Helena Family Center in January 2008. Norma ensures our sites operate smoothly, and provides administrative and budget oversight for the UpValley Family Centers. Norma has over 25 years of experience working for nonprofits in Mexico and the United States. She is an active volunteer in the St. Helena community, serving on the St. Helena Star Editorial Board, serving as a Trustee of the St. Helena Library and is also a member of the Napa Valley Community Foundation grants committee. Norma has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with emphasis on Nonprofit Management from University of Washington.
Charlotte Hajer is the Development Director at the UpValley Family Centers, joining the team in July 2018. She brings a broad range of experience in fundraising, organizational management, and communications to UpValley Family Centers, and is excited and honored to serve the Napa Valley community. Prior to joining UpValley Family Centers, Charlotte was the Development Director at the Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco, where she also volunteered as a health educator. She has lived in the Netherlands, Morocco, and across the US, and is passionate about community building and well-being. Charlotte holds a BA in Human Development from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in Medical Anthropology from UC San Diego.
Lizbeth Amezcua is our Program Associate for Family & Emergency Services, joining the team in October of 2020. Lizbeth brings experience working with children from grades K-8 as an after school coordinator at Blue Oak School, and has experience working as a Behavioral Specialist. She is currently working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies at Sonoma State University. Lizbeth is the first in her family to strive for a Bachelor’s Degree. She believes in the importance of giving back to her community.
Cristina Aviña is Family Services Coordinator for UpValley Family Centers, working directly with families to provided guided referrals, emergency assistance and domestic violence counseling. Cristina began working with the St. Helena Family Center in April 2009 as a receptionist and brings additional experience in customer service. Cristina is currently working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. She has a certificate as a Domestic Violence Counselor, a certificate on Suicide Prevention and is an accredited provider of Triple P (Positive Parenting Program). She has always had a passion for helping others and gets a great feeling of satisfaction working with residents of the UpValley communities.
Omaira Baptista joined UpValley Family Centers in February 2019. Omaira conducts community preparedness education, coordinates Spanish literacy and ESL classes, and leads community outreach efforts. She has been active as a parent leader in the Adelante program at UpValley Family Centers and has served as President of the English Learners Advisory Committee for the Calistoga Joint Unified School District. Prior to joining UpValley Family Centers, Omaira worked in the oil industry in the Operations and Operational Planning Department of ExxonMobil and Petróleos in Venezuela. She was born and raised in Venezuela and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Hygiene and Safety from the University Institute of Technology and Administration in Barcelona, Venezuela. Omaira believes that the family is the fundamental basis of society.
Rosa Cachú is Outreach Specialist for the UpValley Family Centers. She began working at the Calistoga Family Center in 2001 as a volunteer and was then hired on as staff. Rosa’s role is to provide information to the community about the programs and services available at the family centers. Rosa also assists with coordinating different activities including, parent education classes, nutrition classes and a parent/child playgroup called Niños Activos/Active Kids. Rosa is grateful for the opportunity to know and work deeply in the UpValley communities and to gain the trust and respect of individuals and families.
Joleen Cantera is the Economic Success Manager for the UpValley Family Centers. She coordinates a range of programs and services designed to bring financial stability to families and seniors in our upvalley communities, including our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program which reaches over 600 low-income households annually. Joleen manages the implementation of economic success services at the UpValley Family Centers, including employment support and financial coaching. She brings over 5 years of experience in banking and retail, and was a top producing manager for a luxury cosmetic line. Joleen is bilingual/bicultural and was raised in the Napa Valley.
Blanca Dixon is the Immigration Program Coordinator for UpValley Family Centers. Blanca provides outreach, education and application assistance on citizenship, DACA and other immigration-related matters to local community members. She is a partially-accredited representative by the US Department of Justice to assist individuals with immigration proceedings. Blanca started with UpValley Family Centers as a Receptionist/Data Intake Coordinator with the St. Helena Family Center in September, 2010. Blanca was born and raised in Peru. She graduated from the Instituto Carlos Medrano Vasquez in San Clemente and was a primary school teacher for six years in Peru before moving to the United States. Blanca speaks Spanish and English fluently.
Alani Flores Carrillo – Tutoring Volunteer Coordinator
Alani Flores Carrillo joined UpValley Family Centers as the Tutoring Volunteer Coordinator in 2020. She brings a breadth of volunteer, student leadership, and community experiences to her role. Alani was raised in Mexico and came to the U.S. at the age of fifteen. A year after getting settled in, Alani volunteered at the UpValley Family Centers with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program while attending Saint Helena High School. Alani attended Napa Valley Community College, and transferred to the University of California, Davis to earn her BA in Communication and a Minor in Political Science. Alani is happy to serve as a liaison between the UpValley Family Centers, local school districts, families, and volunteers to help students TK through 5th grade get some extra help with learning.
Karen Garcia is a Community Liaison for UpValley Family Centers. She joined the staff in February 2019 as a VITA Associate for the tax filing season. Karen was previously a volunteer with us, greeting clients and assisting with Día de los Muertos preparations. Prior to joining UpValley Family Centers, Karen assisted Reading Partners as a tutor for students from low-income schools who were below their reading level. Karen graduated from California State University, Sacramento as a first-generation college graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Consumer Science and a concentration in Family Studies. She is eager to help families create a brighter future for themselves.
Marycruz Garcia is Promotores Program Coordinator for UpValley Family Centers, coordinating the activities of our volunteer community-based health advocates (also known as promotores de salud). Marycruz works with upvalley promotores to increase health knowledge, social support and access to resources among Spanish speaking community members. Marycruz joined the staff of the UpValley Family Centers in October 2017 providing program support and outreach-related services for our Fire Relief and Recovery Program. She was a volunteer with our upvalley promotores group since October 2016. Prior to her work with UpValley Family Centers, Marycruz worked as an accounting assistant for five years in Mexico. Marycruz was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to the United States in 2016. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico. She is passionate about working with others to serve her community.
Susana is a Family and Emergency Services Specialist for UpValley Family Centers at our St. Helena site, joining the staff in August 2017. Susana graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, after having taken time off to raise her children. She brings experience as an intern serving vulnerable populations in the community, including with Queen of the Valley CARE Network and Collabria Care. Susana has a passion for giving back to her community and serving those in need. She is a first generation college graduate and grew up in the Napa Valley.
Aida Lopez Gomez is a Community Educator for UpValley Family Centers, working in our Immigration Program since August 2017. Aida teaches citizenship classes in English and Spanish, providing US residents with the information they need to know to become US citizens. Aida works closely with volunteer tutors who assist the family center’s clients in preparing for their citizenship interview, and she also conducts outreach to local community members about available immigration services. Aida has an Associate’s Degree in Child Development. She is delighted to help local immigrant community members to achieve their goal of becoming a US citizen.
Zachary Guzik is the Education Program Manager for UpValley Family Centers. He supports the development and implementation of programs serving young children up to teens and their families, in partnership with upvalley schools and community-based organizations. Zachary also manages the Calistoga Community Schools Initiative, a collective impact effort aimed at ensuring all children graduate high school ready for college and career. Prior to joining UpValley Family Centers, Zachary helped develop and oversee an afterschool program for children and young adults with developmental disabilities in New York City, assisting families and students to gain access to extra-curricular programs and activities that were not available to them through the school district. Zachary was also a high school teacher in New York City before moving to California. He also worked as the Program Manager for a vocational day training program serving adults with developmental disabilities in Vallejo. Zachary holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Pace University in New York.
Jose Hernandez – Youth and Family Specialist
Jose Hernandez serves as UpValley Family Centers’ Youth and Family Specialist, joining the team in August 2019. He runs our weekly CLARO youth mentoring groups for boys at the middle and high schools in Calistoga and St. Helena. Jose’s focus is to motivate teens to be curious about their future and to guide them on a path that will allow them to accomplish their goals. Jose brings prior experience working at the Boys and Girls Club and Teen Center of Calistoga and in web development. Jose believes that it is important to contribute to our communities by guiding and educating our youth to overcome the negatives and to have positive thinking while fulfilling their dreams.
Cambria Kirby – Development Associate
Cambria Kirby is UpValley Family Centers’ Development Associate, joining the team in March 2019. She plays a key role in helping the development team carry out all aspects of UpValley Family Centers’ fundraising and communications. Cambria is passionate about working for organizations that provide meaningful, mission-driven work. Her past experience includes working with adults with developmental disabilities at a North Bay nonprofit, providing program support as well as administrative and development assistance to the organization. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from California State University Chico, which has helped her develop the ability to understand and relate to the needs of others and advocate on their behalf. Cambria is excited to be serving the upvalley communities of the Napa Valley.
Tania Lopez is Family and Emergency Services Specialist for UpValley Family Centers. She assists individuals and families to access information, support and resources, so they can address challenges and recover from them. Currently, her focus is assisting in case management for our wildfire relief program. Prior to joining our team, Tania worked hand in hand with families with intellectual disabilities by providing parenting skills, everyday life skills and connecting them to resources in their community. Tania is a resident of Calistoga and she graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology.
Lupe Maldonado is Family Services Manager for the UpValley Family Centers. She provides support with case management, including guided referrals, emergency assistance, Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) parenting services, and domestic violence counseling. She is an accredited provider of Triple P Level 3. Lupe completed a 40 hours training and is a certified domestic violence counselor. She started at the Calistoga Family Center in 2009 as an AmeriCorps member through the Child Abuse Prevention Alliance, committing 1,700 hours of service work, after which she was hired full-time. Lupe was a first-generation college student who received her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from California State University, Sonoma. She was born in Mexico but migrated with her family to the United States when she was 2 years old. Lupe believes that all individuals have the potential to strive for their well-being and enjoys assisting them in finding their own treasure.
Elena Mendez is the Senior and Family Services Manager, providing guided referrals and case management services to local residents, with a special focus on the Calistoga senior population. Elena began working for Calistoga Family Center in October, 2008. Elena has over 30 years of experience working with children, families and individuals. Prior to her work with us, Elena worked for Child Start Inc., as a health advocate and in family services. She has also served as a Mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Elena has an Associate’s Degree in Administration of Justice, a Certificate in Early Childhood and Family Studies, and studied Medical Administration at MTI Business College.
Katya Orozco is Operations Manager for UpValley Family Centers, joining the staff in August 2017. Katya provides support for operations and administrative functions of the agency. Katya brings experience in office administration and retail management, including previous work with Vineyard Dental, Ulta Beauty and Target. She has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Entrepreneurship from California State University, Sacramento and is a first generation college graduate. Katya was born in Mexico and migrated to the United States at age 5. Having first-hand experience of understanding a new culture and language, she is grateful to be able to give back to the community and lend a hand to those who need it through her work at UpValley Family Centers.
Regina Penna joined UpValley Family Centers in February 2018 as Program Coordinator for the UpValley Partnership for Youth. Regina works with a broad range of community partners to prevent youth substance use/abuse upvalley. She brings over 20 years of program coordination and community outreach experience in both the East Bay and North Carolina. Prior to joining us, Regina was a Program Director for a behavioral health organization, creating community collaborations for treating persons experiencing health disparities, syringe exchange services, prevention of communicable diseases, and related services. Regina strongly believes in prevention, the importance of building resilient communities, and working with young people to be advocates for themselves. Regina is a first generation college graduate, with a degree in Social Welfare from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She adores her family, the outdoors, and exploring her new community home.
Claudia Ramirez – Family & Emergency Services Specialist
Claudia Ramirez joined the team in November of 2020. Claudia provides disaster case management services to individuals and families, helping them to access recovery-related information and resources. Claudia graduated from CSU, Long Beach with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a minor in Child Development. She is currently on the Pope Valley Elementary School Board, where she hopes to help improve the quality of education for her local community. Claudia has also volunteered assisting high school students strive to achieve higher education goals. Claudia grew up in the Napa Valley and is excited to give back to her local community.
Marcela Rodriguez – Youth Diversion Coordinator
Marcela Rodriguez is the Youth Diversion Coordinator for UpValley Family Centers. Working alongside Calistoga and St. Helena law enforcement and school officials, Marcela oversees each case in the Juvenile Diversion program as an alternative to youth being processed through the juvenile court system. She connects youth to counseling, education, community service and other activities, and works with the family as needed. Prior to joining UpValley Family Centers, Marcela worked at Adventist Health St. Helena and Duffy’s, and brings experience working with individuals who have abused alcohol and other substances. Marcela is trilingual in English/Spanish/German and is currently working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. Marcela believes the Youth Diversion Program allows her to give back to her community and guide youth with better decision making and supportive resources.
Elvira Sanchez – Community Liaison
Elvira Sanchez is a Community Liaison for UpValley Family Centers, joining the team in December 2019. Prior to UpValley Family Centers, Elvira assisted Reading Partners as a tutor for students from low-income schools who were below their reading level. Elvira also brings experience as a behavior therapist, working with children on the autism spectrum. Elvira graduated from California State University, Sacramento as a first-generation college graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Consumer Science and a concentration in Family Studies. She is a resident of Calistoga who has strong family values and is excited to give back to her community.
Karina Solis – Youth Specialist
Karina Solis is a Youth Specialist for UpValley Family Centers. She runs our weekly CLARA youth mentoring groups for girls at the middle and high schools in Calistoga and St. Helena. She is entrusted with helping youth expand, embrace, and express their identity in a positive and healthy manner to ultimately strengthen ties with their community. Karina aims to empower young women with the skills and tools to envision and claim their futures as their own. Karina’s past experience includes positions with Napa’s summer education program, Aim High, and with Napa County Office of Education’s Prevention, Wellness, and Health Team. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California Berkeley. Karina understands the unique struggles and obstacles youth face today and is ready for the challenge to guide and support them.
Ashley Taranto – Data Analyst
Ashley Taranto is the Data Analyst for UpValley Family Centers. Ashley tracks and interprets program data to inform UpValley Family Centers and our stakeholders about the impacts we are having on individuals, families, and our community. Ashley’s work fosters organizational and program learning, and broadens understanding about our progress in meeting desired outcomes. Prior to joining UpValley Family Centers, Ashley worked for many years in higher education teaching statistics, research methods, and criminology courses. She has two Bachelor’s Degrees; one in Political Science and the other in Criminology, from the University of Florida. She has her Master’s Degree in Criminology from the University of Florida.
Karen Wyard – Senior Outreach Specialist
Karen Wyard is the Senior Outreach Specialist joining UVFC in January 2019 to assist seniors in accessing available services in the greater up valley area. Karen brings over 30 years of experience providing outreach and education to the northern California community with medical and behavioral health services. She most recently helped establish the new Senior Behavioral Health Program at St. Helena Hospital providing a safe environment for seniors in crisis to receive acute mental health care and life saving stabilization. Karen has a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration and a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is a member of the Napa Valley Alliance on Aging. Karen’s philosophy: “Stay active and get informed about available services to help yourself or a loved one as we age. Being a ‘senior’ in these times is not easy. I know this because I AM one!”