Jenny Ocón – Executive Director
Jenny Ocón is the first Executive Director for the UpValley Family Centers, joining the organization in January 2014 when it formed from a merger between Calistoga Family Center and St. Helena Family Center. Prior to this, 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 and work with Bay Area immigrant rights organizations. Jenny serves on the Napa First 5 Commission, the Napa Child Abuse Prevention Council, and the steering committee of the Community Leaders Coalition. 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.
Lupe Maldonado is Program Director for the UpValley Family Centers’ Family & Senior Wellness Program. She oversees case management, disaster relief, Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) services, domestic violence services, and senior programs. Lupe is an accredited provider of Triple P and trained regarding domestic violence. Lupe joined us in 2009 as an AmeriCorps member through the Child Abuse Prevention Alliance; after her AmeriCorps service she joined the family center as a full-time staff member working with youth in the Calistoga schools. Lupe has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from San Jose State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from California State University, Sonoma, and was a first generation college student. Lupe was born in Mexico and migrated with her family to the United States when she was 2 years old. She believes that all individuals have the potential to strive for their well-being and enjoys assisting them in finding their own treasure.
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.
Cambria Kirby – Development Director
Cambria Kirby is UpValley Family Centers’ Development Director, leading the organization’s fundraising and communications efforts. As the Development Director, Cambria is responsible for ensuring the stability and growth of multifaceted contributed revenue streams as well as cultivating new and existing relationships to build the visibility and impact of the UpValley Family Center. She joined UpValley Family Centers in March 2019, originally as the Development Associate. 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. Cambria is passionate about working for organizations that provide meaningful, mission-driven work. 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 eager to be serving the upvalley communities of the Napa Valley.
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 is trained regarding domestic violence, has 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 – Community Educator/Promotoras Coordinator
Omaira Baptista joined UpValley Family Centers in February 2019 and currently serves as a Community Educator and our Promotoras Coordinator. Omaira conducts community preparedness education, coordinates Spanish literacy and ESL classes, and leads community outreach efforts together with volunteer promotoras. 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.
Altagracia Bravo is a Child Care Specialist for UpValley Family Centers. She provides developmentally appropriate child supervision for families participating in UVFC programs. Altagracia also provides staffing support to our Niños Activos playgroups in Calistoga and St. Helena each week. Prior to serving as Child Care Specialist, Altagracia volunteered with the Ninos Activos program in Calistoga for 11 years. Altagracia has three kids who attended Niños Activos when they were young.
Alejandra Cruz is the Human Resources and Operations Manager for UpValley Family Centers, overseeing all systems and documentation relating to HR as well as managing smooth operation of offices in terms of information technology, communications and facilities. She brings over 18 years of experience in payroll and human resources having worked in the hospitality and wine industries. Alejandra joined UpValley Family Centers in August 2021, originally as a Community Liaison. She was born in Mexico and raised in the Napa Valley. Alejandra has a passion for helping people in her surrounding communities and is happy to have the opportunity to work with the up valley communities. She has an Associate’s Degree in Legal Office Administration from Empire College. Alejandra is fluent in English and Spanish.
Gayle DeRusha Davies is the Volunteer and Donor Engagement Coordinator for UpValley Family Centers. In this role, she is responsible for the day-to-day coordination of recruitment, screening, and onboarding, engagement and recognition of all UVFC volunteers, including the coordination of UVFC’s Tutoring Program. She also also works closely with the Development Team to implement successful fundraising campaigns, events, and other donor appreciation and engagement activities. Gayle joined the UpValley Family Centers in September 2021, originally as the as the Development Associate. Her career has been focused on supporting youth and children through education, counseling and advocacy. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Education from University of Montana. First and foremost, Gayle is deeply committed to efforts that build and sustain inclusive and caring communities and is delighted to be on the team at UpValley Family Centers.
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.
Karen Garcia is Economic Success Program Coordinator for UpValley Family Centers, providing coordination of the organization’s Economic Success services, including the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, adult education and workforce development services, and financial literacy supports. Prior to her current role, Karen served as Community Liaison, connecting community members to resources. She originally joined the staff in February 2019 as a VITA Associate, after being an active volunteer. Before 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 Staff Accountant, providing accounting support for UpValley Family Centers’ Finance and Operations Department. Prior to this role, Marycruz served as Promotoras Program Coordinator for nearly three years. Marycruz originally joined the staff of the UpValley Family Centers in October 2017, providing program support and outreach-related services for the Fire Relief and Recovery Program. She began volunteering with our upvalley promotoras group in October 2016. Before her involvement 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 a 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.
Jose Hernandez – Youth Program Specialist
Jose Hernandez serves as a Youth Program Specialist for UpValley Family Centers, 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.
Susana Lopez is a Community Liaison for UpValley Family Centers, assisting people to access information and resources. She brings over 10 years of experience working with families and community organizations having worked for the Seattle Public Schools as a Parent leader. Susana was born in Mexico and raised in the Napa Valley. She lived in Seattle, Washington for 17 years before moving back to the Napa Valley. She has a passion for helping people in her surrounding communities and is happy to have the opportunity to work with the up valley communities. Susana is fluent in English and Spanish.
Tania Lopez is The Family & Senior Wellness Program Manager for UpValley Family Centers. She supports our team of case managers, assisting youth, families, and seniors to access information and resources, so they can address challenges and recover from them. Before acting in this role, Tania served as a Family & Emergency Services Specialist for UpValley Family Centers, providing case management for our wildfire relief program and COVID 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 trained regarding domestic violence and is accredited in Triple P (Positive Parenting Program). Tania is a resident of Calistoga and she graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology.
Daniel Norton Luna is Community Schools Program Coordinator for the UpValley Family Centers. In this role, he coordinates with partner organizations to provide direct services to children, teens and families in the Calistoga Joint Unified School District. Furthermore, Daniel works closely with school administrators and staff, youth and parents, funders, and partners to address emerging and unmet student and family needs through collaborative action. Daniel started with us in August 2022, after serving the Yurok Tribe for three years to address the opioid crisis. He brings experience in facilitating community coalitions and multi-disciplinary teams, leading data initiatives, and providing culturally-resonant youth victim services. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Society & Environment from the University of California—Berkeley. He is honored to serve our Calistoga community.
Mariana Martinez is a Program Associate with UpValley Family Centers. Mariana provides information, guided referrals, and application assistance for various local programs. Prior to the family center, Mariana worked in youth-serving nonprofits, working directly with children ranging from Kindergarten to 12th grade, and their families, for eight years. Mariana brings experience and knowledge of the challenges that working families face raising children in the upvalley region. Mariana was born in Mexico City and raised in St. Helena. She graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She has a passion for giving back to children, families and the community through her work.
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.
Juana Navarro – Youth Specialist
Juana Navarro joined UpValley Family Centers as a Calistoga Elementary School Youth Specialist in October of 2022. She supports the health and well-being of youth in grades 4th and 5th through individual and group services using a social-emotional learning curriculum. Juana graduated from the University of California, Merced as a first-generation college student with a degree in Anthropology and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. There, she worked with underrepresented communities of the Central Valley and managed projects that prioritized diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Juana grew up in Napa Valley and is fluent in English and Spanish. Moreover, she is actively committed to advocacy work and empowering the voices of tomorrow.
Devyn Poolos – Senior Services Case Manager
Devyn Poolos is Senior Services Case Manager for UpValley Family Centers, providing older adults with access to information and resources that support their health and well being. Prior to joining UpValley Family Centers in June of 2022, Devyn was a Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Medical Biller at Piners Medical Supply and Administrative Assistant at Piners Nursing Home. During her time at Piners, Devyn enjoyed assisting seniors with their needs, and in particular valued the close interaction she had with residents at the nursing home. Devyn played guitar, sang and visited with residents on a daily basis. Devyn also brings experience in accounting, insurance and administrative/customer service roles. She holds a CA Life Health and Accidental Insurance license and has a broad knowledge of Medicare and Partnership billing. Devyn was born and raised in Napa and was adopted by her grandparents in her pre-teen years. She has a passion for helping others, especially the senior community.
Veronica Portillo – Community Liaison
Veronica Portillo is a Community Liaison for UpValley Family Centers, joining the organization in December 2022. She assists people to access information and resources to help meet their needs. Veronica brings to her role seven years of customer service experience in Napa Valley hotels and restaurants. She has been an active community volunteer from a young age, including volunteering for after school programs and being a Girl Scout. Veronica has first-hand knowledge of the UpValley Family Centers, growing up in St. Helena and accessing services, including participating in the CLARA program. Born in Mexico City and raised in the Napa Valley, Veronica’s goal in life is to help those in need, with her family as her motivation. Veronica is currently working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, through coursework at Napa Valley College. She is fluent in Spanish and English. Veronica is pleased to be part of the Family Center and serve her community.
Marcela Rodriguez – Education Program Manager
Marcela Rodriguez is the Education Program Manager for UpValley Family Centers, overseeing our children, youth and schools programming. As the Education Program Manager, Marcela oversees a range of prevention and early intervention activities including early childhood programs, youth mentoring, student and family engagement and leadership, and services on K-12 campuses that support students’ and families’ social and emotional wellness needs. She also serves as the lead staff for the Calistoga Community Schools Initiative, a collective impact, public-private partnership with a vision that every child will graduate high school ready for college and career. Marcela joined UpValley Family Centers in September 2019, originally as the Youth Diversion Coordinator. Prior to that, 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 her work allows her to give back to her community and guide youth with better decision making and supportive resources.
Claudia Samuels – Staff Accountant
Claudia Samuels is Staff Accountant for UpValley Family Centers and provides accounting support to our Finance and Operations team. She previously worked with the organization as a Disaster Case Manager during the 2020 Wildfires and provided case management in our wildfire relief program. Prior to this, Claudia worked as an office administrator in the hospitality industry. Claudia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a minor in Child Development from California State University, Long Beach and is a first generation college student. During her time in Long Beach, she co-founded a program to assist youth to pursue higher education. She has completed coursework in Early Childhood Education at Santa Rosa Junior College. Claudia enjoys giving back to her community by volunteering at local schools and is happy to be able to give back through her work as well.
Elvira Sanchez – Morrow Student Assistance Program Case Manager
Elvira Sanchez is the Morrow Student Assistance Program Case Manager for the UpValley Family Centers, working closely with upvalley school districts to serve students and their families who are struggling with mental health, substance abuse, and other challenges. She has training regarding domestic violence, partnering with NEWS. Elvira first joined the UpValley Family Centers in December 2019 as a Community Liaison. Elvira brings experience as a behavior therapist, working with children on the autism spectrum, and as a tutor with Reading Partners for students from low-income schools who were below their reading level. 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 Program Specialist
Karina Solis is a Youth Program 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.
Raquel Vega – Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator
Raquel Vega joined UpValley Family Centers as the Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator in October of 2021. She coordinates the Niños Activos/Active Kids weekly bilingual parent/child playgroups in Calistoga and St. Helena and supports community outreach and education efforts. Senora Raquel Vega has worked in different educational institutions around the Napa Valley, including most recently at Child Start, Inc. Prior to moving to the United States, Raquel was an elementary school Teacher. She holds the equivalent of a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences and Humanities from the University of Juana de Asbaje in Zamora, Mexico. She also holds an Associate’s Degree in Child and Family Studies from Napa Valley College. Raquel loves working with small children and their families and sharing her passion for reading, singing, and arts and crafts.