Staff

Andrea Aguilar
Client Services Manager
Andrea has been at Community Initiatives since 2012 and has progressively moved-up in the organization in order to work closely with projects and support their programmatic work. As a manager, Andrea is the initial point of contact and responsible for coordinating services to the projects assigned to her portfolio. She monitors project performance, identifies and addresses risks, ensures that the appropriate services are being delivered effectively and timely, and partners to cohesively solve issues. Her portfolio consists of projects that provide direct services, education and policy work, health and food initiatives, civic engagement, and technological social change.

A San Francisco native and devoted Giants fan, Andrea is passionate about many things, people, and places. Other passions and people include: the arts, music, CrossFit, her Alma Mater–The University of Arizona, and most importantly the individuals who bring ideas and solutions alive to benefit communities. She is inspired most by those who want to make an impact on the world and who have the tenacity and drive to succeed. Her work with CI and as a Manager is a natural fit; it immerses her even deeper in a city she knows so well and allows her to advocate for its people. She’s also energized by the living, breathing art scene in her native city.

Lauren Gibbs
Social Communications Manager
Lauren joined Community Initiatives in the fall of 2014.  She brings a wealth of experience at the intersection of communications, social media, nonprofit advocacy, and politics. Lauren has a deep expertise in social media and blogging, and a passion for using these tools strategically to advance good causes. In addition to managing external communications for CI, Lauren has provided nearly 50 fiscally sponsored projects with consultations on strategic communications and social media. She helps projects determine if/when they should engage with social media, and how to use different platforms effectively.

Prior to joining the Community Initiatives, Lauren spent a decade in D.C. working to advance education reform in America. She held positions on Capitol Hill, in large and small nonprofit organizations, and at a grant-giving family foundation. Lauren has a Masters of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from George Washington University. Lauren supports Community Initiatives part-time and remotely from Denver, where she can enjoy skiing, hiking, and camping at the base of the Rocky Mountains.

Jiahua Le
Senior Accountant
Jiahua (Jennifer) Le joined Community Initiatives in January 2017, as a senior accountant.  She brings a wealth of experience in accounting operations and financial reporting. Jennifer has worked both private and public institutions ranging from the fashion industry, property management, mortgage banking, credit unions and state universities. At CI, Jennifer works with the accounting and finance department, performing general ledger accounting functions and month end closings.

Having lived and worked in both New York City and New Jersey, Jennifer enjoys museums, theaters, and historical sites tremendously. And of course, the bagels and Jersey subs. Jennifer has settled into California and is taking full advantage of the natural beauty California has to offer, such as hiking along the coast as well as in the mountains.

Elizabeth Leighty
Client Services Specialist
Lizzy joined Community Initiatives in August 2016 as a Client Services Specialist. She serves as the main point of contact for her clients, provides and coordinates the delivery of CI’s services, and acts as a thought partner and resource for projects in her portfolio. Her diverse portfolio includes clients who work in education, human services, and the environment.

Lizzy comes to CI with a variety of experience working with small non-profits in the fields of international development, health, and education. Prior to joining the team, Lizzy spent two years living in Nicaragua where she worked as the Program Manager for 2050kids- a small non-profit that engages youth and communities in sustainable solutions to adapt to and reverse the impacts of climate change. Lizzy has a Master’s Degree in International Development and Global Health from the University of Denver and serves on the board of 2050kids. She is an avid traveler and enjoys spending her free time exploring the outdoors.

Ly Nguyen
Client Services Manager
Ly joined CI’s Client Services Manager team in June 2015. As a Manager, Ly serves as the “go-to” contact for about twenty projects. She partners with projects to help them access the CI services they need to do their important work. Part of Ly’s portfolio focuses on projects with education-focused missions – including groups that advocate for education reform and those that provide unique learning opportunities. This focus matches Ly’s personal interest in educational justice and innovative educational programs.

Prior to joining Community Initiatives, Ly worked at NEO Philanthropy, a public charity based in NYC. During her six years with NEO Philanthropy, she held a variety of roles including Program Officer for the Communities for Public Education Reform Fund. Ly has a B.A. in Sociology and Asian American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, she is an alum of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service at NYU Wagner. When she’s not working with CI projects, Ly practices yoga to help keep her grounded and enjoys exploring the Bay Area through food and running.

Cathy Nelson
Payroll Specialist
Cathy came to Community Initiatives in October 2015 with over 10 years of experience in payroll and accounting. She is a dedicated and motivated professional who loves handling all payroll functions, helping with any questions about timesheets, accrual balances, or W-2’s. Prior to Community Initiatives, she worked at the Tides Center, a nonprofit in San Francisco.  She has also worked in the public sector for 11 years at Future US. Cathy attended Heald Business College in San Francisco. She loves to volunteer, go hiking, and visiting places with historical significance.    

Amanda Scheper
Client Services Manager
Drawn to the opportunity to learn from and partner with many projects, Amanda joined Community Initiatives as a Client Services Manager in March of 2015. As a Manager, Amanda provides tailored support to our projects that have a focus on social justice and animal welfare work.

Prior to joining Community Initiatives Amanda worked at Justice Now, a legal advocacy and human rights organization that partners with people in women’s prisons. For six years Amanda’s work centered on advocating for the early release of people who were terminally ill in prison and supporting the medical advocacy efforts of people inside and their families. Amanda also led work challenging the abuse of transgender and gender non-conforming people in women’s prisons. From 2012-2014 Amanda transitioned into interim co-director and supported Justice Now’s shift to a shared leadership structure and helped develop the leadership of those most directly impacted by imprisonment.

Amanda brings to Community Initiatives extensive knowledge and experience with grassroots fundraising, coordination of volunteer/intern programing, fiscal sponsorship support, and the unique needs and issues facing small nonprofits. Amanda has a B.A. in Gender Studies from SFSU, serves on the Board of Justice Now and has a deep commitment to social justice and community-led work and movements.

Susan Staley
Client Services Sr. Manager
Susan began working for Community Initiatives as a consultant in August, 2012 and joined the team as a part time employee in May 2013 and in January, 2015 she transitioned to full time status. She serves as a Senior Manager focusing on projects with complex government contracts and in the areas about which she is passionate—environment, outdoors and art. She also leads our work with philanthropic organizations to provide grantmaking services and managing consultants support. She has over a decade of experience working for environmental and social justice organizations in the areas of administration, finance, and grants management. Previously, she was the government grants supervisor for the Tides Center in San Francisco, where she oversaw the compliance management for several million dollars of federal, state and local government funding. Susan holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and is a licensed (but not practicing) Marriage and Family Therapist. She earned a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Mary Washington College in her home state of Virginia. Susan loves art, the outdoors, and people—she enjoys painting, backpacking and exploring wilderness, and is interested in building sustainable communities.

Melanie Wallace
Senior Director of Human Resources
Melanie joined Community Initiatives in 2013.  As Senior Director of Human Resources, she is responsible for providing advice and guidance in the areas of:  employment, compensation, benefits, training, and employee relations.

Melanie has been a human resources professional for over 15 years and has worked with a variety of organizations.  Prior to her arrival at Community Initiatives she worked as a director of human resources at a nonprofit health care facility.  She earned a Masters of Arts in Human Resources and also served in the U.S. Army Reserves as a Staff Sergeant for many years providing human resources leadership. Melanie is committed to the nonprofit sector and believes in its values. She currently volunteers for the Northern California Golden Retriever Rescue (NORCAL) and finds enjoyment in finding forever homes for rescued Golden Retrievers. Melanie has been an avid Golden State Warriors Basketball fan for many years.

Ruth Williams
President & CEO
Ruth  has served on the Board of Community Initiatives for nearly 8 years, and as Chairman of the Board since 2014. She is truly one of our own. Ruth Williams has years of experience in philanthropy, grants administration, financial analysis, and program development.

Ruth has served as Chief Operating Officer at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, an 11-acre campus visited by over 2,000 people daily. There she managed a 14-person leadership team and was responsible for 250 union and non-union employees in multiple programs and operations functions. Previously, Ms. Williams served as Single Stop USA’s West Coast Regional Director. Single Stop is a national anti-poverty non-profit based in Harlem, New York. Through a network of 1.5 million non-profits nationwide, Single Stop provides coordinated access to safety net services worth $750 billion. Prior to that, Ms. Williams served as a Senior Program Officer for ZeroDivide, a technology foundation based in San Francisco. She was responsible for a portfolio of media-related social justice grants and initiatives that strengthen families and empower young people using information and communication technologies. She has also served as Deputy Director of Young Community Developers in San Francisco, Director of Operations for the Mayor’s Office, under the Honorable Willie L. Brown, and Senior Project Manager at the Department of Elections. She currently serves on the Citizen Advisory Committee of Grants for the Arts, San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund. In addition, she also serves on the board of Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy (BABIP), a membership organization that addresses the impact of racial disparity within philanthropic institutions and African American communities in the Bay Area. Ms. Williams holds a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Illinois and a B.A. degree from the University of Chicago.

“Without Community Initiatives, California would not see the impact of hundreds of beneficial projects. They are an important part of our nonprofit landscape.”
Pamela H. David EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WALTER AND ELISE HAAS FUND