Meet our team at Friends of the Children–SF Bay Area.

Senior Staff

Michael Rugen

Michael Rugen

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Michael Rugen

Co-Founder & Executive Director

After a long legal career at Heller Ehrman and Sidley Austin, Michael resigned his law partnership and set out to make a difference in the lives of at-risk youth. He knew the academic literature and anecdotal evidence show that the most reliable path for a youth to find their way out of poverty is to have a consistent, caring adult presence in their life, so he began to investigate various approaches to mentoring. Having worked with many non-profits over the years, Michael quickly recognized how unique the Friends of the Children model is, combining the soulful mission of serving the most vulnerable children for the long run with a rigorously business-like, evidence-based approach. Michael spent more than two years raising the seed funding and laying the groundwork for Friends of the Children - SF Bay Area before hiring our first staff member in September 2016.

Frederique Clermont

Frederique Clermont

Director of Programs

Frederique Clermont

Director of Programs

Frederique has over 20 years of social service experience. She has improved the social economic conditions of disenfranchised communities by developing, implementing, and evaluating programs. Prior to becoming the Friends – SF Program Director in September 2016, she was the Associate Director of Community Programs at the SF LGBT Community Center where she leveraged a 500 member volunteer corps and oversaw its Drop-In Space for homeless youth. As the Director of Youth Services for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, Frederique oversaw all programs and placed 150 youth with involvement in juvenile justice, foster care and truancy at worksites each year. Frederique brings significant experience in administering programs to meet grant requirements from her roles as Grant Compliance Officer and Planning Council Administrator in Santa Clara.

Throughout her career, Frederique has developed and sustained collaborative partnerships with governmental agencies, community based organizations and other stakeholders. She has also been a Legislative Aid for an Oakland Councilmember and Site Coordinator for San Francisco Unified School District’s Wellness Center Initiative at Mission and Thurgood Marshall High Schools. Frederique holds a Master’s in Public Policy in the Urban School of Management from The New School of Social Research, and has an undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University.

Gwen Cooke

Gwen Cooke

Director of Operations

Gwen Cooke

Director of Operations

Gwen joined Friends - SF in 2017. As an Urban Studies Major at Connecticut College, Gwen tapped into a passion for social justice and equality. After graduation she moved to San Francisco to start a career providing support to organizations that empower women and help youth attain economic stability. With an extensive background in operations, project management, business consulting and human resources, Gwen brings a depth of business operations and management skills to Friends - SF. Over the past 20 years Gwen has worked in the non-profit sector as well as high tech, insurance and business consulting.

Gwen is a self-described foodie who also co-owned and operated a café and catering company for several years. As a long-time San Francisco resident, Gwen has served her community in many capacities including Volunteer Mentor, Board President of Mission Kids Co-op Preschool and Founding Member of Friends of Balboa Park Playground. Gwen and her two daughters are animal lovers with a dog and three cats who also enjoy short stints fostering other animals in their home in the Excelsior neighborhood of San Francisco.

Susan Corlett

Director of Development & Communications

Kendyl Gibson

Kendyl Gibson

Program Manager

Kendyl Gibson

Program Manager

Kendyl joined Friends of the Children in March of 2019 as the Program Manager. A former resident from Montana, Kendyl moved to the Bay Area in 2016. Pursuing her love for working with children in the field of education, taught a Montessori classroom then moved into a Site Coordinator role for a Non-Profit literacy tutoring program in Oakland and San Francisco in 2017. This role is where she found her love for working for non-profits that focused on filling the gaps of education for those facing the most challenges.

Earning a BA in Psychology from the University of Montana is what sparked her interest in learning differences, and started her journey to make sure that no under-served family was ever left without access to resources to achieve their dreams.

Kendyl found that Friends of the Children's mission and goals fit with her desire to continue to help under-resourced families achieve their dreams. She knows personally the importance of what it means to have a community of support for children to become their best selves.

Ibiyemi Familoni

Ibiyemi Familoni

Development and Communications Manager

Ibiyemi Familoni

Development and Communications Manager

Yemi joined Friends of the Children–SF Bay Area in March 2020 as the Development and Communications Manager. She completed her BA and MA at UC Berkeley where she focused her studies on global poverty and human security. Yemi’s background is tied deeply to health justice and critical refugee studies-- she is passionate about protecting and supporting marginalized communities.

Yemi was a mentor at UC Berkeley and, before moving to the bay area, she launched a peer health mentorship program in Hollywood where she grew up. She understands the importance of mentorship and immediately recognized the power in the mission at Friends of the Children.

Prior to her start at Friends–SF Bay Areea she was part of the development team at the Center for Environmental Health where she set up and managed a new Salesforce database and collaborated with teams on effective, mission-driven campaigns.

When not working, Yemi loves traveling and learning about what makes people smile in different parts of the world.

Professional Mentors

Alex Jaeger

Alex Jaeger

Professional Mentor

Alex Jaeger

Professional Mentor

Hola! Alex is from Portland, Oregon and earned a soccer scholarship to San Francisco State University where he graduated with a B.A. in Spanish and English Education with an emphasis in Linguistics. Alex is proficient in Spanish and studied in Colombia and Southern Spain. He has over 5-years of experience working in public and private schools in San Francisco and the East Bay. Alex resides in San Francisco and was drawn to Friends – SF by his desire to give back to the young people living in the city he loves. Alex joined Friends – SF in 2017 and is thrilled to help provide opportunities to the kids who need him most with Friends of the Children. When he isn’t working, you’re likely to find Alex on a local soccer field or at the beach.

Kareem Ransom

Kareem Ransom

Professional Mentor

Kareem Ransom

Professional Mentor

Kareem joined Friends of the Children – SF in 2017. Kareem has worked as a Wellness Educator and a Youth Outreach Coordinator whilst doubling as a personal trainer for 3 years. He also helped spearhead a program for young fathers that covered men’s health, built job search skills, and promoted higher education and healthy parent/child interaction with counseling sessions. Kareem’s aspiration was always to help children living in unfortunate situations to get equal opportunities to be successful.

Kareem has a B.A. in Psychology from Benedict College, an A.A. in Social Behavioral Sciences from Merritt College and played basketball for both colleges on a full academic scholarship. On his off days, Kareem likes to play basketball, dance to music and enjoy scenic views.

Ian Pereida-Perry

Ian Pereida-Perry

Professional Mentor

Ian Pereida-Perry

Professional Mentor

From the math teacher in high school who took the extra time to show him how to solve difficult math problems to his friends and family who have talked him through challenging times, Ian believes that individual success comes when others care. With this in mind, Ian joined Friends of the Children – SF Bay Area in 2018 eager to make positive long lasting impacts on children’s lives.

Over the past ten years, Ian has mentored incarcerated youth, taught English learners, and tutored students in after school programs. Ian received a BA in Liberal Arts from The Evergreen State College and an MA in English and American Literature from Mills College. While not working, he can be found climbing rock walls, writing prose, reading novels, and cooking curries.

Clara Yang

Clara Yang

Professional Mentor

Clara Yang

Professional Mentor

Clara joined Friends of the Children San Francisco in 2018. Her passion for as long as she can remember has been to support and nurture children towards success, especially those who come from difficult home lives. Working towards this goal, she received a B.S. in Selected Studies in Education from Syracuse University and completed many teaching placements inside inclusive special elementary classrooms where special needs and general education students are combined. In another effort, she took a step into the world of foster care as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Silicon Valley. The journey with her youth was very eye opening and helped solidify her desire to support youth to navigate and overcome the systemic and personal challenges they may face that are no fault of their own. Through each experience, Clara was always left with an underlying wish to be able to care for the children in a fully comprehensive and deep manner.

She believes Friends of the Children is the opportunity she has been looking for and is stoked to be a “friend” and the opportunity to learn and work alongside an amazing team. Outside work, Clara can be found in a dance studio, at church, or on some adventure with her dog, Heskel.

Sierra Nazel

Sierra Nazel

Professional Mentor

Sierra Nazel

Professional Mentor

Sierra is a Bay Area native- born in Oakland, yet experiencing life all over the Bay. She received an Associates degree in Social Science from Laney College. Where she competed on the women’s track and field team, and received the Peralta Association of African American Affair’s scholarship for her academic achievements. Sierra continued her education at San Jose State University and graduated in 2017 with a BA in Sociology. In hopes of furthering her commitment to marginalized communities, especially those of color. Sierra has worked as a Behavioral Therapist for children on the spectrum of Autism, which developed her practice within ABA therapy. She worked as a Recreational Leader assisting Youth and Adult Sports; later gaining experience coaching youth basketball. Currently, Sierra is actively pursuing a career as a Licensed Social Worker to provide therapy and support for vulnerable youth and women of color.

Outside of her professional life, Sierra is a developing artist. She enjoys painting still-life portraits or creating pieces that spark conversations of deep-rooted issues in society. Furthermore, she is often spending time reading, soaking up the sun, playing basketball, or hunting for the best chicken & waffles. Sierra joined Friends of the Children–SF Bay Area believing in the power a compassionate relationship has on a child- as she grew up sharing similar experiences with youth in the program, and had informal mentors throughout her life to turn to.

Jessica Cramer

Jessica Cramer

Professional Mentor

Jessica Cramer

Professional Mentor

Jessica joined Friends of the Children in 2018. Originally from the Bay Area, Jessica obtained her BA in Sociology from University of Hawai’i in 2017. With five plus years of experience working with youth of all ages, Jessica has had the opportunity to support children in after school programs, classrooms as a teacher’s aide, summer camps, and even had her own private nanny practice. Working with youth of all ages has always been her passion. While obtaining her BA, she volunteered in Hawai’i at a drop-in center for homeless youth assisting with resume building, homework help, psycho-educational group therapy, and simply providing a safe haven for children living on the streets. Most recently, Jessica worked for a non-profit as a Residential Counselor in a group home for runaway, homeless, and foster youth. She ran a structured six bed facility. Jessica hopes to utilize her background in case-management, group therapy, crisis intervention and trauma-informed approaches to the role of being a Friend. Working with youth, who have been failed by adults or institutions, has not only been an eye-opening experience for Jessica, but also a rewarding career. She still helps from time to time at the group home as she has built connections with the youth there that cannot be forgotten. What drew Jessica to Friends of the Children was the opportunity to build everlasting one on one connections with children. She hopes to be that stable and consistent friend in the lives of the girls she supports. Jessica is concurrently earning her MAS in Criminology at UC Irvine. Outside work, you can find Jessica spending time with her family, traveling, or hanging out on the beach with her miniature pinscher named Little and pit bull named Benny!

Tashauna Burnette

Tashauna Burnette

Professional Mentor

Tashauna Burnette

Professional Mentor

Tashauna is from the East Bay, attending school in Oakland and Fremont. She comes from a rather large family, consisting of five brothers and two sisters. Growing up, her family always struggled financially, even being homeless for a short period of time. Due to all of the struggles she experienced, Tashauna never thought college would be an option and did not know anything about it since no one in her family had ever attended college. With the help of a college-prep program, the mentors of that program and the support of her parents, Tashauna was able to obtain her BS in Sociology from Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Before joining Friends of the Children in 2018, Tashauna worked as a relief counselor with children dealing with mental illnesses. She thoroughly enjoys helping children achieve different accomplishments and seeing their growth. Outside of work, Tashauna enjoys hiking, working out, reading and travelling.

Cedric De Rosas

Cedric De Rosas

Professional Mentor

Cedric De Rosas

Professional Mentor

Cedric is both an advocate for and product of intentional youth mentorship. As a Bay Area native born and raised into a diverse family setting, he is deeply convinced that the most valuable lessons in life are taught through lasting and sincere interpersonal relationships. Driven by this belief, Cedric joined Friends of the Children - SF in late 2018 after graduating from Sonoma State University with his B.A. in American Multicultural Studies. He hopes to utilize his experience and education to build impactful and meaningful relationships with the youth of the San Francisco Bay Area.

For the past 5 years, Cedric has partnered with churches throughout the Northern Bay to help support local youth ministries. He served through music, camps, and outreaches to encourage the academic success and social-emotional wellbeing of the students he worked with. In 2015, Cedric worked alongside the Child Abuse Prevention Center – Sacramento and AmeriCorps to intern as a Family Support-Aide. While there, he worked directly with families to ensure that basic needs were met as to help promote the overall safety in every home that had a child. In his spare time, Cedric enjoys playing music, videogames, and going to the gym.

Tanya Martinez

Tanya Martinez

Professional Mentor

Tanya Martinez

Professional Mentor

Tanya joined Friends of the Children-SF Bay Area in January 2019. Her roots are in the “San Fran Frisco” Mission and Cortland communities. She comes from a lower-economic class family and grew up around people who shared the same harsh but powerful experience. For many years Tanya worked in the restaurant business as a supervisor and server, but she always knew that her passion was to give back to her community in a more impactful way, so she decided to pursue her dream of teaching. Since completing her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in elementary education, Tanya has fully dedicated herself to advanced educational theories, practical classroom teaching, and community empowerment. As a graduate of San Francisco State University’s 36-unit graduate-level Multiple Subject Teaching Credential Program, she was honored to be a student teacher at Thousand Oaks Elementary School in Berkeley. She is also a community advocate and mother of two honor roll athlete high school students. Tanya’s background experiences and personal struggles have inspired her to help others who come from challenging experiences of their own.

She has extensive experience in teaching young children successful life skills, implementing effective pedagogies in the classroom, and educating diverse elementary school communities. In addition, Tanya has dedicated many hours outside of the classroom doing things to uplift her community. For her dedication, she was awarded the 2016 San Francisco Human Rights Commission Hero Award (for her part in advocating for justice in the S.F. Mission district community).

Tanya’s teaching acumen, professionalism, and leadership capabilities have contributed to many successful achievements. She strives to be a culturally responsive, patient, and understanding teacher and mentor who excels in and loves teaching and learning, and who is dedicated to a high caliber work ethic.

Greg Kelley

Greg Kelley

Professional Mentor

Greg Kelley

Professional Mentor

Greg comes to Friends of the Children with a wealth of experience providing elementary school-based enrichment services for the past seven to ten years primarily in the East Bay. He was recently a Play to be Coach (PE teacher) at Rosa Parks Elementary in Berkeley California where he taught physical education. Greg really enjoyed teaching the kids how to be more than just a player. He made sure kids displayed impeccable sportsmanship. He also made sure every child felt a part of the activity.

Greg is what San Franciscans call a B.A.R.- born and raised. A few interesting things about Greg is that he loves to play sports and run around with the kids. Another cool thing about Greg is that he graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor's degree in African American Studies in 2018. He has always had an extreme passion to work with kids who’ve needed an extra push to be better for as long as he can remember. He knows he is fortunate to ‘pay it forward’. Being a paid professional mentor is something he never thought existed. Greg is so honored to be a part of such a wonderful organization like Friends of the Children. During his down time, no surprise, Greg can be found running around playing sports with his family.

Jessica Leon

Jessica Leon

Professional Mentor

Jessica Leon

Professional Mentor

If you are ever in the position to help someone, do it. Filled with passion, spirit, and dedication, Jessica came to San Francisco looking to make an impact with that exact philosophy in mind and heart. The San Diego native is no stranger to working hands on with youth of all ages. Since her youth Jessica has been passionate about her involvement in athletics, the arts, and learning. Upon her arrival to San Francisco in 2010, Jessica pursued those interests by being a Field Hockey and Lacrosse coach while working in daycare centers and transitional kindergarten classrooms. Born into a family of educators, Jessica naturally engrossed herself supporting youth within the realm of education. She gained experience both inside and outside the classroom as an after-school coordinator in Oakland and a teacher’s aide for students with special needs in the Bayview Hunters-Point Community. It is while working as an Elementary Advisor within San Francisco Unified School District, Jessica had her first encounter with Friends of the Children, as the mentors were often available for additional support. She was blown away not only by their impact, but how the children responded to them. Jessica realized she had found an organization whose beliefs and mission aligned with her own. In the Fall of 2019, she joined the team- San Francisco's chapter of Friends of the Children. Jessica is literate in both English and Spanish, has an associates degree in humanities, and is currently studying anthropology at San Francisco State University. She is an avid member of her community both living and working in the Bayview. Jessica thrives in an intellectually stimulating environment and constantly picks up hobbies that help her expand her views and beliefs.

Saladin-Malik Brown

Saladin-Malik Brown

Professional Mentor

Saladin-Malik Brown

Professional Mentor

Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying, “History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.” If this is so, I hope my past experiences working with youth as well as my future here at Friends of the Children will position me on the positive side of that judgment... Hello, my name is Saladin-Malik Brown, I was born in New York City but raised in Charleston, SC by my grandmother.

I returned to New York as a teenager, where I reunited with my mother. I attended Bronx Community College majoring in Human Services by day and working as a Security officer at a Children’s Hospital by night. It was there I found my passion for working with children and their families. Meeting, greeting and interacting with the sick and terminally ill children, sharing concepts of hope, while admiring their resiliency.

Some years later while living abroad in the Netherlands, I was offered an opportunity to work as an Activity Coordinator at a Refugee camp for boys and to coach a Traveling Dutch youth baseball team. I was responsible for teaching American sports and activities to the children. Baseball, American Football, favorite American childhood activities such as, Duck-Duck Goose, Red light Green light and many others in hopes of teaching teamwork, sportsmanship and competition. Most of the youth in the camp came from authoritarian and poverty-stricken societies, where freedom of expression was forbidden.

Upon returning to the states, I moved to Northern California in 2016 and eventually found employment working with Bay Area youth, through street outreach, counseling and coaching independent living skills with organizations such as Side by Side, Larkin Street Youth Services and Beyond Emancipation. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my wife to be, her son and family, traveling, trying Bay Area restaurants and rooting for the NY Yankees.

Elaine Quizon

Elaine Quizon

Professional Mentor

Elaine Quizon

Professional Mentor

Elaine is a Bay Area Native who has lived all around the Bay Area. She graduated from Washington State University with a B.A. in Sociology and minor in Comparative Ethnic Studies in 2018. Her passion has always been to “be the person she needed when she was younger”. She decided to go after that passion by dedicating her life to working with youth. Elaine has four years of experience working with youth from kindergarten to high school. She has been involved in leading a variety of different youth programs such as coaching, summer camps, and mentorship programs with organizations such as the YMCA, AYPAL, and Visitacion Valley's City of Dreams program.

Outside of work, you can find Elaine pursuing her creative goals. Whether it’s music, photography, creative directing, or styling. She also loves to attend all kinds of different events and concerts.