Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good
M-F 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Professor of Education
David Donahue joined the McCarthy Center as Senior Director in 2015. Before coming to USF, David was the Interim Provost and Associate Vice Provost at Mills College in Oakland, California, and worked there for more than twenty years as a professor of education. David earned his doctorate in Education from Stanford University after earning a Bachelor’s of Arts in History as a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University. David is a widely-published scholar on topics including service-learning in higher education, human rights, diversity and personal identity. He came to USF committed to the continuation of building a strong community while leading the McCarthy Center in its mission of helping inspire and prepare USF students for lives and careers of ethical 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.
Assistant Director of Community-Engaged Learning
Fernando Enciso-Márquez joined the McCarthy Center in 2012, and currently serves as Assistant Director of Community-Engaged Learning. He graduated from San Jose State University in 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science, and from USF's Master of Public Administration program in 2015. He previously worked with the San Francisco Public Defender's Office in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood through its community-building agency, BMAGIC. In his role, he advances USF campus-community partnerships and oversees local to global student civic engagement programs. As a native San Franciscan, he is passionate about developing students as responsible social change agents to advocate for marginalized communities. He is actively involved in local social justice causes, and serves on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission Equity Advisory Committee, in addition to the SFUSD's Public Education Enrichment Fund Community Advisory Committee.
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 is currently a doctoral candidate in the Ethics and Social Theory PhD program at the Graduate Theological Union. Her research interests include ethics, poverty, and efforts toward addressing justice issues. Outside of the office, she is involved with volunteering with a program for families without homes, and teaching 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.
Program Manager, Western Addition Literacy
Lauren Dunford Hager
Lauren Dunford Hager joined the McCarthy Center in 2019 as Program Manager, Western Addition Literacy. In support of USF's Engage San Francisco initiative, Lauren creates mutually beneficial partnerships between USF, K-8 schools, and community organizations to advance educational equity for San Francisco youth. Prior to USF, Lauren held various roles in education, nonprofits, and corporate philanthropy - most recently with Safe & Sound (formerly the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center) and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. She is a native of Dayton, Ohio with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Dance from the Ohio State University. Outside of the office, Lauren takes advantage of the Bay Area's many opportunities to experience the arts and outdoors.
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.
Associate Director - Programs and Partnerships, Engage San Francisco
Nolizwe Nondabula joined the McCarthy Center team in 2016 and currently serves as the Associate Director of Programs and Partnerships for Engage San Francisco. They additionally sit on the steering committee of the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project (BLMP), a project fiscally sponsored by the Transgender Law Center. They graduated from Clark University with a BA in Economics and from the University of San Francisco with a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs. Prior to Engage, Nolizwe served as the AmeriCorps Financial Grant Coordinator for YouthBuild USA and cultivated the next generation of LGBTQ leaders as the Mentorship Program Coordinator for the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition. Additionally, they served on the Board of Directors of multiple organizations including New Leaders Council, Brookview House and BUTCH Voices. When they're not basking in Blaqueer excellence, you can find them jiving to the sounds of Afro-house or recharging with the power rangers.
Director of Graduate Programs, Urban and Public Affairs
Rachel Brahinsky serves as director of the graduate programs in Urban and Public Affairs. She also teaches in the undergraduate Urban Studies program. She earned her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research and teaching center around the challenges of race and inequality in the context of rapidly changing American cities. Her current projects are focused on the San Francisco Bay Area.
Community Program Specialist
Liana Molina joined the Leo T. McCarthy Center in August 2018 to lead the Community Empowerment Activist program. Liana brings nearly two decades of faith-based, labor and community organizing experience. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, she came to the bay area to attend Santa Clara University, where she earned her B.A. in Sociology.
VISTA Community Liaison, Engage San Francisco
Zorrae Bowie is our most recent VISTA service corps member. She comes to us from Kansas where she recently received her BA in Psychology from Washburn University. Zorrae has a strong desire to learn, build, and organize with community.
America Reads Graduate Intern
Jamie Capetillo is here as the America Reads Graduate Assistant, where she coordinates K-3 literacy tutoring at various school sites in San Francisco and prepares undergraduate tutors working with the program. Jamie is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Higher Education and Students Affairs at 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.