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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
VISTA Community Liaison, Engage San Francisco
Sudeepto has a PhD in electrical engineering and has experience in solar astronomy, signal/image processing, computer vision, data science, machine learning, robotics, human computer interaction, and cognitive science. His interests include educational technology and the application of cognitive science in education. He likes to use his knowledge, experience, and skills to create/co-create practical and intelligent systems that have beneficial and lasting impacts on communities and the world. In 2018-2019 he worked as an AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator with the Community Engagement team at Reading Partners, recruiting and onboarding volunteers, and building partnerships to help K-4 students in Title I schools at risk of falling behind in their reading skills. He is now serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Success Centers and 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.