Poonam Singh, Founder & Mentor Co-Leader
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Poonam Singh is the founder of the Soulforce Leadership Fellowship for Service. She started Soulforce Leadership to ensure the next generation of youth leaders stay connected to their own purpose, and cultivate values of generosity, kindness, service, and justice for the world we are rebuilding together, with the youth in the lead.
Poonam comes from a family & tradition committed to service and impact in the community, particularly inspired by her father who has a background in community organizing and service.
She has nearly 20 years of experience working in the non-profit sector & local public schools, as an education consultant, coach, trainer, & leader. Her focus has been on leadership development, team collaboration, organizational change, and cultural competence, racial equity, and diversity. Trained in mindfulness, restorative justice, theater of the oppressed, and nonviolence, Poonam bring these transformative practices to her work. You can read more about Poonam's training, facilitation & consulting practice here.
Poonam lives in Mountain View with her husband and 3 children. At her core, she is a mother. Soulforce Leadership is an opportunity for her to give back to her children & to the community she lives in. Her dream is to leverage the power of youth leaders in their own local communities to creating change, including one day going back to the hometown communities her parents left in India. You can find her blog on the Service Space blog platform.
Tany Rios Castro (Youth Co-Leader)
Tany was born and raised in Peru. She moved to the US in 2010. In 2014 she moved to the Bay Area to start a career in graphic design. During university, Tany started learning more about activism and in 2018 she joined Soulforce Leadership where she learned how to use nonviolence and being a compassionate leader to the community in Mountain View, where she has volunteered at the Community Service Agency and The Chamber of Commerce. Tany also launched a podcast highlighting stories of community and change in Mountain View.
Paula Orrego (Youth Co-Leader)
Paula Orrego has been an activist against bullying for the past eight years. After experiencing abuse firsthand throughout her teen years in school, she has dedicated herself to developing healthier social environments for future students. Her speaking tours have taken her to events throughout California, as well engagements in Oregon and New York. Paula is currently a senior at Palo Alto University completing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Social Action. Paula is a 1st generation youth with both of her parents from Peru.
Marie Thullier (Mentor Co-Leader)
Marie grew up in the countryside of France. She remembers going to school where you were allowed to go and protest as part of what you did as a student. She came to the United States seeking something different, and found herself deeply inspired by a city college class she took in San Fransisco that was about the liberation of education. That class inspired her to focus on social justice and education and she ended up getting her teacher training at the Stanford STEP program. Marie taught French for 5 years at Mountain View High School, building deep relationships with students and fellow teachers. Although there were many aspects of teaching she loved, she also wanted to keep pushing the boundaries for what was possible. She recently jumped on board with Poonam to continue to lead experiments of truth in her constant quest to align her professional work with her soul work, an keep pushing her own inner transformation with the change she wants to see in the world. Marie is trained in mindfulness, meditation, and nonviolent communication, and we often feel Marie brings the HEART to our work. She is a kind, gentle soul who has the courage to stand up for the causes that matter to her. Marie also recently completed the basic and advanced certification for teaching mindfulness to youth. She is an active drummer, community activist, and loves to play basketball and form community wherever she goes.
Blaine Dzwoncyzk (Youth Co-Leader)
Blaine Dzwonczyk grew up in Mountain View and graduated from Los Altos High School in 2013. She will graduate from Tufts University in May of 2017 with a major in American Studies and a minor in Education. At Tufts, Blaine has been engaged in campaigns for both labor and immigration justice; she is very grateful to student/activist groups Tufts Labor Coalition, Tufts United for Immigrant Justice, and the Student Immigrant Movement for holding her through these years, pushing her growth and learning, and struggling alongside her. Her work in these groups has included taking part in student-worker organizing to demand job security and fair working conditions for Tufts custodians, as well as pushing for changes to Tufts admissions and financial aid policies to become a "DREAM School" open to undocumented students. Along the way, Blaine has learned that building community is an essential part of pushing for justice. Blaine brings this learning to her work in Soulforce, and is so grateful, humbled, and inspired to build community in pursuit of justice with young people in her former high school district. Blaine has also been lucky to work with amazing middle school students the past three summers at Aim High campuses in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. As she returns to the Bay Area this summer, she looks forward to continuing her work with young people and towards justice, at Soulforce, Aim High, and beyond.
Madeline Miraglia (Mentor Co-Leader)
Mady graduated from Stanford University in 1992, received her Masters in Education from University of Pennsylvania in 1998, and her administration credential from San Jose State University in 2004. Three years of teaching at Berkeley High School have been followed by fourteen years teaching at Mountain View High School. She feels blessed to be able to teach in a community with such a wonderfully supportive parent community, diverse student body and a multitude of teacher leadership opportunities. During her tenure at MVHS, she has served on the Executive Board for the teacher’s association and spent two years on special assignment as the district’s head of the new teacher program. She also has grown tremendously by the opportunities she’s had to work with students outside of regularly scheduled classes including as a frequent chaperone for the annual empathy building student retreat, Camp Everytown, a chaperone on students trips to Washington, DC and Iwata, Japan, as well as the teacher of the student-run leadership class.
Her involvement consulting on the curriculum development for Soulforce has allowed her to integrate into her work with young people her practice of mindfulness through 7 years of yoga practice and trainings at Esalen and with the Greater Good Science Center. The chance to awaken students to how to use their emotional intelligence and personal talents to address problems they see in the world around them is a dream come true.
Tino Tugwete (Youth Co-Leader)
Tino Tugwete came to this country at 3 years old from Zimbabwe. She is currently a Junior at Los Altos High School. Tino is often seen as a natural, inspirational youth advisor for the other fellows in the group. In her first year as a fellow, she worked on housing issues and created a video with her team to demonstrate the stories behind gentrification in Mountain View. In her second year, she became a coach and began supporting other fellows. She will be closely involved in rolling out the youth leadership work and the parent leader pilot next year. Tino was recently recognized by the school board about her leadership with her school.
Julien Phillips (Strategic Advisor)
Julien Phillips studied at Stanford University (BA 1963, MBA 1970) and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru (1964-66) and then worked as a program evaluator for the Peace Corps in Latin America and the Philippines (1966-68). He was a consultant and partner with McKinsey and Company in New York, London, Caracas, and San Francisco (1970-1992), specializing in managing major organizational change.
Julien co-founded Partners in School Innovation in 1993 and is now executive director-emeritus and chair of the board of directors. Partners helps public schools serving mainly African American and Latino children from low-income communities to learn a results-oriented, collaborative approach to continuous improvement that leads to much higher learning levels for both students and teachers.
Julien is chair of the board of Pacific School of Religion, a progressive Christian seminary in Berkeley that prepares spiritually-rooted, theologically-informed leaders for social transformation. He was a founding board member of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public.
He and his late wife had two children and four grandsons. Remarried, he has a step-daughter and stepson. Julien is an avid bicyclist and also enjoys hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. He and his family live on the Peninsula.
ERIC BARELA, PH.D (Monitoring and evaluation advisor)
Dr. Eric Barela is currently the Measurement & Evaluation Manager with the Salesforce Foundation, where he is evaluating the impact of Salesforce’s global volunteering and grant programs. Prior to joining the Salesforce Foundation, Eric was the Chief Knowledge & Impact Officer at Partners in School Innovation and was an internal evaluator with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Much of Eric’s work focuses on the use of evaluation to improve educational opportunities for students with the greatest need, particularly for historically underserved students in urban areas and the leaders and teachers dedicated to meeting their educational needs. His work in this area has been recognized by the American Evaluation Association and the American Educational Research Association. Eric serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the American Journal of Evaluation and recently co-edited the book “Qualitative Inquiry in Evaluation: From Theory to Practice” published by Jossey-Bass. Eric holds a Ph.D. in Social Research Methodology from the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.
JIWON CHUNG (THEATER OF THE OPPRESSED ADVISOR)
Jiwon is our theater teacher at Soulforce and is also an advisor on the strategic direction of Soulforce Leadership. He is the past president of the national organization for Theatre of the Oppressed, is the artistic director of Kairos Theater Ensemble and adjunct professor at the Starr King School at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, where he teaches Theater and Social Justice. The focus of his work is in the application of theater as a tool for social and political change, using Theatre of the Oppressed to challenge, resist and transform systemic oppression and structural violence, and to redress large scale historical atrocity and injustice. His approach to individual, interpersonal and institutional change is informed by his background as a veteran, martial artist and over 3 decades of vipassana meditation
NANCY GUTIERREZ EDLD (Curriculum advisor)
Nancy Gutirrez passion to empower to empower under-resourced communities came from experiencing low-expectations placed on the children in her disenfranchised Latino neighborhood. Already personally committed to social justice, Nancy returned to her community to teach, later founding and serving as the Principal of Renaissance Academy, which remains the highest performing middle school in the district & California Distinguished School. Nancy then accepted the opportunity to lead the lowest performing middle school in her district, only 2 blocks from her house. Nancy is a graduate of the inagaural cohort of the Harvard Graduate School of Education Doctor of Education (Ed.L) program and prior to joining the NYC Leadership Academy as as a national leadership development strategist, she served as the executive director of advanced leadership strategy New York City Department of Education where she developed, designed, and facilitated an exclusive leadership institute for top-performing leaders.
Vaibhavi Gala (Business development)
Passionate about designing powerful educational programs for children, Vaibhavi has launched an innovative camp in the bay area called Camp Imagineerz. While she enjoyed her 10 years with Saba Software leading their corporate education strategy, Vaibhavi has the most fun making Camp Imagineerz a magical place for children. Previously, she has experience as a research assistant with the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning. She also conceived of and is currently leading an innovative after-school program PACT PALS (www.pactpals.org) for Stevenson PACT school in Mountain View. As a mother of 2, she thrives on studying how children grow and learn.She has a Masters in Education from Stanford and degrees in Computer Engineering and Business Administration from Mumbai University. Vaibhavi believes in the mantra that Gandhi used: “Be the change you want to see in the world”
Roli Saxena (STRATEGIC ADVISOR)
Roli is passionate about education, youth and building businesses. Her dream is to build an inclusive world where everyone has the opportunity to reach their god given potential and thrive authentically!! Inspired by her father, she believes that with hard work and passion one can achieve their dreams and aspirations. Roli Saxena is a seasoned business leader with over 15 years experience. She is currently VP of Sales, Strategy and Success for the fastest growing EdTech company, Clever. Prior to that she was a Sales executive at LinkedIn. Roli graduated with MS in Management from Stanford Business School and lives in Mountain View with her husband two teenage children
TASHA PURA (CURRICULUM ADVISOR-MINDFULNESS & HEALTH)
Tasha Purra just completed 3 years in the classroom as an inspiring and dedicated elementary school teacher in Oakland. As she introduced herself to the fellows, she began by stating how lucky and privileged she felt to be working with our fellows. She is not afraid of listening and creating space and is so skillfull at changing contexts and holding a space of "dual consciousness." Tasha is also a programmatic and strategic advisor for the Soulforce Leadership Summer Fellowship.
PANCHO RAMOS-STIERLE (Community leader & SPIRITUAL ADVISOR)
Pancho Ramos-Stierle has a passion for astrobiology that brought him to the University of California at Berkeley to pursue a Ph.D in Astrophysics. But when the U.S. government and the laboratories of the university announced they were developing "safer nuclear weapons," he decided to stop cooperating with the institution. Now as a responsible scientist, he says he is doing his "PhDO in Citizenship of the World." Pancho believes that "when the inner (r)evolution merges with the outer (r)evolution, the Total (R)evolution of the Human Spirit is imminent." Furthermore, when science and art are balanced, the beauty of life blossoms with what he calls the "New Renaissance of Humanity." In an interview with SF Refresh, he said his mission statement is "to live in radical joyous shared servanthood to unify humanity." His activism and life's focus is on issues of human rights, environmental sustainability, nonviolence, peace-building, immigration, urban agriculture and the development of a vibrant "gift economy." Ramos-Stierle has been an integral part of movements to democratize the University of California system, protect old growth trees, implement "free farms" and move beyond youth violence, among other efforts.
Nipun Mehta (INNER TRANSFORMATION ADVISOR)
Nipun Mehta is the founder of ServiceSpace, an incubator of projects that works at the intersection of volunteerism, technology and gift-economy. What started as an experiment with four friends in the Silicon Valley has now grown to a global ecosystem of over 500,000 members that has delivered millions of dollars in service for free. Nipun has received many awards, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service, Wavy Gravy's Humanitarian award, and Dalai Lama's Unsung Hero of Compassion. In 2015, President Barack Obama appointed him to a council on poverty and inequality. Nipun is routinely invited to share his message of "giftivism" to wide ranging audiences, from inner city youth in Memphis to academics in London to international dignitaries at the United Nations; his speech at UPenn commencement in May 2012 was read by millions. He serves on the advisory boards of the Seva Foundation, the Dalai Lama Foundation, and Greater Good Science Center.
FOUNDING BOARD MEMBERS
CHAND N. (Founding board member)
Chand is a New-York based community and social activist, who has worked closely with the Tibetan student youth movement, as well as a few large international development foundations. She brings a wealth of experience in the non-profit sector, particularly around communications strategy, branding, & leveraging social media for activism. She is a leader in the racial justice & social justice movements, and is never afraid to tell the truth where it matters the most.
Kritika Kailash (Founding board member)
Kritika Kailash is a bay area native. who brings the perspective of the next generation of leadership to Soulforce. She recently spent a year in India working in the field of micro-finance and empowering women entrepreneurs, and graduated from UCLA with a major in Sociology, and on her way to graduate school in public policy. Kritika is a role model to our Soulforce Fellows, as she make an impact in whatever she does with humility and service at her core. She also happens to be awesome with numbers, so she is also our financial officer.