Derick Brown, a native San Franciscan, brings more than 20 years of experience leading neighborhood engagement strategies and addressing complex community issues and has an intimate knowledge of the Fillmore/Western Addition neighborhood where he grew up. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Derick most recently worked with the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) as Senior Community Engagement Advisor since 2018. He was responsible for implementing the department’s community relations strategy, securing and strengthening partnerships with CBOs, private companies and universities, and building relationships with community thought leaders. Prior to the SFPD, Derick was San Francisco’s Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services where he managed the Mayor’s community relations strategy. He comes to USF committed to continuing and enhancing the tradition of inspiring USF students to serve others and pursue successful careers in public service.
Director, Engage San Francisco
Karin Cotterman joined the McCarthy Center in 2011 as the Assistant for External Relations. Currently, she directs Engage San Francisco, an intentional, systematic and transformative university-community initiative focused on achieving community-identified outcomes supporting children, youth and families in the Western Addition through student learning, research and teaching. Prior to working at USF, Karin was the Associate Director for Engaged Scholarship at the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University. Karin has an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and holds a B.A. in Communication and Media Studies. Her special interests include ethical considerations in service, community-campus partnerships, and the intersections of identity and service.
Director, External Relations
Leslie Lombre joined the McCarthy Center in June 2014 as the Associate Director, leading Development and Communications for the Center’s programs. She previously worked as the Director of Development for the Museum of the African Diaspora and the San Francisco Center for the Book. Leslie comes from an extensive background in the public and commercial broadcast marketplace including the promotion/syndication of PBS-produced series and programs including Time Magazine, Money Magazine and Goldman Foundation Award Specials. Leslie serves on numerous Boards of non-profits. With a B.A. degree in Communications and Public Policy from UC Berkeley, Leslie has uses her expertise and cultural competency to promote diverse images across broad audiences.
Director of Community Engaged Learning
Star Plaxton-Moore is the Director of Community-Engaged Learning. Star directs institutional support for community-engaged courses and oversees public service programs for undergraduates, including the Public Service and Community Engagement Minor. She designed and implements an annual Community-Engaged Learning and Teaching Fellowship program for USF faculty, and other professional development offerings that bring together faculty and community partners as co-learners. Her scholarship focuses on faculty development for community-engaged teaching and scholarship, student preparation, assessment of civic learning outcomes, and community engagement in institutional culture and practice. Star holds an MEd from George Washington University and is currently completing course work for an EdD in organizational leadership at USF.
Program Manager for the Urban and Public Affairs Graduate Programs
Kresten Froistad-Martin joined the McCarthy Center in 2017 as the Program Manager for the Urban and Public Affairs Graduate Programs. She has a PhD in Ethics and Social Theory from the Graduate Theological Union. Her research interests include contextual ethics informed by liberation and feminism, dismantling systemic injustice, and the moral motivations in efforts toward addressing justice issues. Outside of the office, she is involved with a program for families without homes and teaching in a program at San Quentin State Prison.
Beth Gonzales joined the McCarthy Center in 2016 as the Program Assistant. Beth was born in the Philippines and grew up in San Francisco. She graduated from Mercy High School and studied business management at Holy Names College. Beth previously worked for a global energy and sustainability consulting firm. Outside of the office, Beth loves to travel and is an avid softball player in the Bay Area.
Assistant Director, Public Service Programs
Angeline Vuong joined the McCarthy Center in 2017 as the Program Manager of Community-Engaged Learning. She oversees the Center’s undergraduate public service programs and supports community-engaged learning across the institution. She has a diverse background in the public sector, specializing in immigration, economic and community development issues for government agencies and non-profit organizations. Most recently she worked with UNICEF to design mentorship and education programs for in Vietnam and at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., managing social and economic policy analyses for communities of color. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies from Trinity University. A native of Texas, Angeline is passionate about social justice, educational equity, youth engagement, and immigration issues.
Program Manager, Community-Engaged Learning
Jacqueline Scott Ramos is the Program Manager of Community-Engaged Learning and oversees the Community Empowerment Activists program. Prior to USF, she worked for over 10 years at UCSF and Stanford—promoting positive health and biopsychosocial outcomes for those affected by poverty, HIV/AIDS, incarceration, substance use, mental illness, gentrification, and violence. Her current research identifies the disruptors to harm for incarcerated and justice-involved youth and transitional age youth and examines the health and social lived experiences of public housing residents undergoing privatized redevelopment and renovation. Jackie is a poet, public health researcher, social justice practitioner, and educator, and native to SF’s Mission district and an alum of USF.
Lead Researcher for Opportunities for All
Zina Besirevic earned her PhD in Human Development and Cognition from University of California Berkeley, and holds Masters degrees in Human Right Education and in Philosophy. Her research is global and cross-cultural, focusing on the development of moral judgment, in particular how people reason about human rights and justice. At the McCarthy Center she is lead researcher for Opportunities for All, a program of the San Francisco Mayor's Office and the Human Rights Commission. The research investigates how youth think about issues of equality, social mobility and civic participation. Zina was the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Public Scholar, a recipient of the United States Congress’s Institute of Peace Doctoral Fellowship and the Jean Piaget International Society Prize. At the core of all her work is a respect for human dignity and reason.