Human Resources Business Partner
Rula joined Community Initiatives in 2017 to work on all things HR! She has an MBA in Human Resources and brings with her over 30 years of HR Management experience in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Her depth of knowledge has allowed Rula to successfully balance the needs of staff and management to consistently create win-win outcomes. Before joining CI, Rula was the HR Director at Citizen Engagement Lab, a Bay Area Fiscal Sponsor supporting projects in the social justice arena. There, she worked closely with partners providing day-to-day coaching and broad HR services. Prior to that, she had her own consulting practice for 10 years serving as an HR resource to small-medium sized organizations in the East Bay.
Rula believes strongly in the fiscal sponsorship model and fully embraces CI’s tagline “In Service to Great Ideas”. When not working, Rula enjoys traveling and spending time with her family. She can also be found grabbing a cup of coffee with friends on Fourth Street in Berkeley!
Peter is a versatile accounting professional with expertise in monthly close procedures, external and internal audit, maintaining accounting records, financial report preparation, financial analysis, budgeting and forecasting, preparing journal entries, legal compliance and revenue recognition.
He holds a BAT certification in Ireland, and began his accounting career twenty-six years ago with Guinness PLC, in Dublin. Peter recently came to Community Initiatives after his well over two decades accounting experience with tech startups. “I became more interested in socially responsible and globally ethical organizations. I sent my resume to places like Earth-Justice and Kiva, and when an opening came up at Community Initiatives it seemed like a very good fit.”
Not surprisingly, what he loves most about the organization speaks to the core of the work – freeing up the non-profit community from a lot of the “paperwork” involved in doing business, so they can continue to stay focused on mission, programs, and community impact.
Originally hailing out of Dublin, Peter moved to Boston in 1990. But the winters did him in. He tried out the Bay Area and hasn’t looked back. When he is not crunching numbers for community good, he dances, dabbles in meditation, and even had the fortitude to get back to the gym after a short sabbatical. He’s traveled all over Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, and would love to hike the Rockies – if his knees are up for it.
Antonio Choy Koo
Fluent in both English and Spanish, Antonio is both a CPA and an SPHR with almost twenty years of accounting and HR experience in the nonprofit sector, and graduated from his MBA program in Management Honolulu, Hawaii.
“Community Initiatives is in the best city it could be.” Antonio Choy Koo notes what we know is true. San Francisco is rich with nonprofits staffed with caring people developing healthy communities. Not only are they numerous, but they are diverse, and that’s Antonio’s favorite part of working with Community Initiatives. From social services to education, the environment, health, and more, he calls out the critical support Community initiatives provides through finance, accounting, payroll and tax reporting – particularly for start-up organizations.
He grew up in Lima, Peru, and from there went to Hawaii for graduate work. After receiving a job offer in San Francisco two decades ago he has been enjoying the Bay Area’s rich culture ever since. He particularly enjoys taking care of his home and yard, as well as spots his family owns in the Sierra near Yosemite.
Chief Financial Officer
Keith comes to Community Initiatives with over thirty years of accounting experience, and extensive experience as a senior financial executive and consultant with businesses and nonprofit organizations. His nonprofit background includes prior service as the CFO of Dream Corps in Oakland, California, and Link Media, Inc. (LinkTV) in San Francisco, California.
He also served as Chief Operating Officer of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco, California, as well as interim COO and CFO of the East Bay Community Foundation in Oakland, California.
Most recently Keith assisted with the formation and startup of Code for Science and Society in Portland, Oregon. Keith was formerly a senior financial executive for several technology startups, and a CPA and auditor with Ernst & Young.
A saxophone player and active jazz musician, Keith is also a car hobbyist and has restored several classic muscle cars from the 60s and early 70s.
Social Media and Communications Consultant
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.
Vice President of Client Services
Linda joined Community Initiatives in 2017 to lead the client services team in providing thought partnership, risk management, and legal counsel to our 100 fiscally sponsored projects, nonprofit startups, established initiatives, networks, and collaborations. Prior to joining Community Initiatives, she was the Director of External Affairs and Pro Bono at Bay Area Legal Aid, where she worked closely with law firms to build social justice opportunities with the private sector, developed communications and media strategies, and engaged a broad cross-section of partners in the dialogue to end poverty. Previously she was the Deputy Director of OneJustice, where she focused her advocacy on federal legislation, funding, and regulations that affect the capacity of California nonprofit legal organizations to serve clients. She was also responsible for overseeing all OneJustice programs and expanding the organization’s operational processes to ensure scalable infrastructure and organizational growth. She has clerked with the State Bar of California Office of Chief Trial Counsel, mediated in Small Claims Division of San Francisco County Superior Court, and lobbied at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Linda’s international work includes developing legal advocacy projects in Cambodia and Indonesia, and working as a translator in Costa Rica with the Central American Human Rights Commission.
Prior to law school, she worked in the outdoor apparel manufacturing and technology sectors. Linda currently serves on the University of San Francisco School of Law’s Board of Governors. Previously she served on the Board of Directors for Southeast Asia Resource Action Center and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s (NLADA) Civil Policy Committee. A life-long learner, she is a proud graduate of the OneJustice Executive Fellowship Program for Nonprofit Management, and is working toward an Executive Education certificate from Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. She earned her J.D. from University of San Francisco School of Law, and her B.A. from University of Colorado at Boulder.
Elizabeth (Lizzy) Leighty
Client Services Manager
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. She is an avid traveler and enjoys spending her free time exploring the outdoors.
Senior Director of Human Resorces
David brings thirty years of HR experience with him to Community Initiatives. Holding a BS in personnel and labor relations from Wright State University in Ohio, he also has an Advanced Certificate in Employee Relations Law. His impressive negotiation and collective bargaining skills have resulted in successful outcomes across industries for almost a decade.
A hiker and a kayaker, with his great love of the outdoors and the wild it’s not a big surprise that David comes to us after serving as Vice President of Human Resources at the San Francisco Zoo. Before moving to California, David worked in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
An HR veteran, it’s the people at Community Initiatives that compel him in his work. “There is a sense of community here amongst the team. Everyone is committed to making our organization great and to provide the best possible model to support our clients so they continue to be successful. I love being part of a collaborative team that is focused.”
When he’s not outdoors, David admits to being a pretty serious audiophile. “Vinyl records and vintage stereo equipment are still the best way to listen to music. A fun afternoon for me is digging through tons of records looking for a gem that I didn’t even know I was looking for.”
Mark holds a BA in Managerial Accounting and has five years of experience in the field. At Community Initiatives and through his previous positions he has acquired extensive skills managing AP, AR, cost systems, billing, auditing, and budgeting.
Originally from the Philippines, Mark graduated from New Mexico Military Institute on scholarship, and with the Army lived in Missouri and Oregon with brief stints in Virginia, Texas, and Washington. But in his own words, “Nothing is like living in the Bay Area, so I came back.”
Why nonprofit work? Before Community Initiatives, Mark had interned at a nonprofit, and missed the sense he was helping someone in need. He believes Community Initiatives has a major impact in the non-profit community by providing critical support structures, which enables various nonprofits the ability to grow and expand.
When he is not at the office helping the San Francisco nonprofit community thrive, Mark loves to go backpacking and prefers longer excursions. So far he has been to Tahoe, Yosemite, Big Sur, the Lost Coast, Redwood State Park, Trinity Alps, and around Columbia River Gorge. He is also passionate about keeping these designated national parks and wilderness areas pristine and accessible to all. “I try to bring someone new every time I go out so they can see the beauty of nature and hopefully get them to pick up backpacking as a hobby as well.”
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 started with Community Initiatives in October 2015, bringing with her ten years of experience in payroll and accounting. She is a dedicated and motivated professional who loves a job well done, handling all payroll functions, helping with any questions about timesheets, accrual balances, or W-2’s.
Prior to Community Initiatives, she worked in nonprofit at Tides Center in San Francisco, and in the public sector for eleven years at Future US. Cathy attended Heald Business College here in the Bay Area. She loves volunteer service, hiking, and visiting places with historical significance.
In her own words, Cathy loves working with Community Initiatives because, “I can help many people who are doing great things in our communities. I love the people I work with. Everyone is compassionate and caring.”
A Bay Area native, like many here she loves the diversity. When not helping others through her work, she also spends time volunteering at another nonprofit that helps people recovering from addiction.
Like much of the staff, Keith migrated to San Francisco. He is originally from Hong Kong and came to the states to attend college, ultimately receiving a BA in Economics and Accounting from UC Santa Barbara and graduating with high honors. He joined his husband back in San Francisco after completing his undergraduate work.
“Community Initiatives makes the San Francisco community a better place to live.” With only a couple months under his belt at the organization, Keith has already dialed right into the heart of the impact Community Initiatives makes in the Bay Area. Working with the organization is a win-win for him. It is not just the mission, but the organizational culture that he loves, specifically the upbeat, equality-minded, friendly atmosphere.
Keith loves to cook, and the Bay Area’s culinary scene is a perfect fit for a guy whose favorite book is Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking.’
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.
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.
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.
A Business Management Economics and Accounting major at UC Santa Cruz, Jenny has four years of accounting experience in the for-profit and education sectors, focusing on effective systematization and analysis.
There is nothing like reevaluating the way you look at and think about pigeons to make you stop and think about how much you enjoy the organization where you work everyday. But for Jenny Wu, Community Initiative’s partnership with the Palomacy: Pigeon and Dove Adoption Project provided that inspiring opportunity.
Jenny loves the fact that Community Initiatives gives projects the opportunity to make their vision come alive through expert and reliable guidance. She was initially interested in Community Initiative’s support of animals and education. “I’m happy when the clients can trust and rely on our work. I’m very touched by how these projects provide services for people in need, from medical care to animals to science workshops to kids.”
Born and raised in San Francisco and passionate about her community, Jenny speaks Cantonese and English. She keeps busy at work, but in her spare time she also keeps it eclectic – with interests in bodybuilding, scrapbooking, and digital art.