Civicorps is proud to have a dedicated Board of Directors who lead our organization with passion and focus.

Aja Cooper

Aja is communications and events production professional with wide experience ranging from political campaigns to education to nonprofits. She serves multiple roles within the Fahr network and works to align the efforts of various organizations in promoting social justice, and creating inclusive, and equitably prosperous communities. Aja is passionate about civil rights and social action, economic empowerment, environment, human rights, politics, and poverty alleviation.

Amy Slater

For more than 20 years, Amy was an attorney specializing in intellectual property and was the general counsel of Ask Jeeves, Inc. (now from 1997 to 2000. She was also formerly an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Hastings College of the Law. Amy is now a lecturer at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to serving on the board of Civicorps, she is also on the boards of the Leadership Public Schools and the World Affairs Council of Northern California.

Brenda Laribee

Brenda has been helping to raise money for nonprofit organizations since 1989, including St. Anthony Foundation, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Sierra Club, Shanti Project and the Kennedy School at Harvard University. Currently she has her own fund development consultancy working with organizations such as La Cocina, Project Inform, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Project Inform and Blue Bear School of Music. Past clients include the Alameda County Community Food Bank, SFJAZZ, California State Parks Foundation, National AIDS Memorial Grove, Year Up Bay Area and National Center for Lesbian Rights. Brenda holds an MBA from the Simmons School of Management and a BS from the University of New Hampshire and is a long-time volunteer with Bread & Roses.

Eric Premack

Eric is the founder and Executive Director of the Charter Schools Development Center (CSDC), a leading provider of policy expertise and technical assistance to charter schools, charter-granting agencies, and policy makers. In the 1980s, Eric played a leading role in the development of the chartered school concept in his native Minnesota. He has helped to draft and implement chartered school legislation in over 25 states, at the federal level, and even internationally. He is a graduate of both the College and the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy of the University of Chicago.

Gary Lyla

Throughout his career, Gary has been engaged in both the consulting and the application of technology solutions across multiple clients operating within several fields (High Tech, Financial Services, and Utilities). Gary is Program Manager at Google, and holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from Boston University.

Joel Rogers


As a Consultant, Joel analysis data to provide insight that results in informed decision-making. He is passionate about community outreach, equity in the workplace, and empowering individuals to identify and exceed their potentials. He became an East Bay resident in 2013, and a long-term goal of his is to aid in building a sustainable community. Joel holds a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master of Business Administration from San Francisco State University.

Laura Arreola

Laura Arreola

Laura serves as the Community Affairs Manager for the Port of Oakland. Laura moved to the Bay Area from Los Angeles. She studied global economics at UC Santa Cruz and studied in Latin America. She proceeded to work in an international environment and served as a foreign diplomat. Passionate about exploring the world, the move to the Bay Area was a natural fit.  Laura began working at the Port of Oakland in 2007, serving in several leadership capacities. She is responsible for the Port’s philanthropic investments and leads community engagement on major development projects. Grateful for the amazing network of friends and family, Laura is committed to ensuring that our youth have access to pathways that lead to positive outcomes.

Monica Tell

Monica Tell has over 15 years of experience in the field of community, public relations and political campaigns. She has developed and implemented stakeholder engagement and public participation programs and initiatives to support strengthening relationships both locally and nationally. Monica is a strong advocate for the Latino community, with a focus on education, women and first generation immigrants. Her civic engagement is reflected in service to her community. Monica currently works for Pacific Gas and Electric Company as a Stakeholder Engagement Manager supporting Environmental Remediation projects. She is an alumna of the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) Institute, a program designed to increase the representation and influence of women leaders from across the state while also providing training in leadership, advocacy and education to benefit all communities on issues impacting California. Monica holds a B.A. degree from U.C. Berkeley, in Psychology and Spanish Literature.

Nita Kirby


Nita serves as Director of Client Strategy and oversees CyberGrants’ strategic service management with a majority of its corporate clients. In addition, Nita is responsible for ensuring the success of philanthropic programs for many of CyberGrants’ key customers and oversees process improvements for how the company manages its client’s programs and relationships. This effort includes detailed benchmarking, employee engagement methodologies and financial modeling. Nita serves on numerous non-profit and volunteer boards and continues to stay engaged with the local non-profit community. Nita has worked for one of the largest non-profits in the U.S., where she provided extensive support to some of the largest employee giving programs in the country.

With a BS in Business Administration and vast experience in program development and administrative protocol, this experience has allowed Nita to incorporate best practice processes in each of her client engagements and focus on deliverables and client satisfaction. In addition, Nita is a Lean Six Sigma certified Green Belt providing her with expanded insight into how processes affect outcomes.

Rita Isaacs

Rita spent eight years in international film sales, followed by four years as a consultant for corporate systems design and administration for international film, television, and video start-up companies. After retiring, Rita has spent over 20 years volunteering. She has served as the President of the Board of Directors of Civicorps, Vice President of the Board of Directors at Temple Sinai in Oakland, and various schools and parent organizations in the city of Piedmont.

Robbie Yohai


Robbie is a licensed real estate broker and developer. Currently, he is the Managing General Partner for Linden Associates and Duwo Partners, as well as President of Schaefer Heights, Inc. in Oakland, California.

Rossana Peniche

Rossana Peniche has over 20 years of community outreach and public participation experience, designing and leading successful state, national and international public participation programs for highly-visible civic projects. She specializes in the development of community benefit packages, including partnerships with local agencies, regional workforce organizations, and charitable investment programs. A recognized expert in Latino outreach, Peniche manages Craig Communications’ Latino Initiative and encompasses best management practices to engage California’s Latino population in decision-making processes. She excels in communicating technical information to non-technical stakeholders, including residents, employees, and community leaders; creating educational curriculum to inform and involve communities in complex projects; and leading field outreach for large-scale environmental remediation projects. Peniche is a founding member of the Latina Giving Circle in California, Arizona, and Mexico. As the Sr. Project Manager for Craig Communications, she is responsible for leading projects, supporting community outreach efforts, and coordinating special initiatives including Charitable Contributions, Local Hire and Latino outreach.
Peniche has spent most of her career working in the corporate sector and serving on various non-profit boards, including Hispanics in Philanthropy and One Day at a Time. During her 20 year tenure with Chevron Corporation, she developed and implemented community outreach programs; managed two major programs for the corporation: Family Since and the Conservation Awards Program; and served as the Hispanic spokesperson for the company.

Peniche is currently on the Board of Civicorps in Oakland, California, and volunteers to support causes that impact the communities where she lives, works and spends leisure time. Peniche loves Arizona and visits at least four times a year to attend the LGC meetings and special events.

Steven Hanson

Vice President

Steven is principal and founder of Westwind-30 Consulting and has an extensive background in the field of Commercial Real Estate Development and Management within complex urban environments, including San Francisco and Oakland. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science and a Master’s of Public Administration from California State University at Hayward.

Timothy Smallsreed

Tim has participated in nonprofit, business and individual legal affairs in the East Bay for over 30 years. He is a partner in the Oakland law firm Wendel Rosen Black & Dean LLP. He has a prior history of service in public policy and budget analysis in state government. Tim also serves on the Board of Directors of the East Bay Community Foundation, and advisory boards of the California Shakespeare Theater and Golden Gate University School of Law.

Members of the Board of Directors can be contacted by emailing to