Staff

Haydée Cuza

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Haydée Cuza became the Executive Director of California Youth Connection in September 2016, bringing to the position more than 15 years of strategic leadership experience in social justice, youth-led advocacy, workforce development, and research and evaluation.

Miguel Almodovar

BAY AREA (NORTH) REGIONAL COORDINATOR
Miguel is a former member of CYC who recently graduated with his Bachelor's in Political Science from California State University East Bay.

Jeannette Brock

OUTREACH AND EVENTS MANAGER
Jeannette currently supports the planning and implementation of CYC’s annual conferences, including Day at the Capitol and the Summer Leadership and Policy Conference. She also supervises conference volunteers and collaborates with the conference planning committee, and works closely with the development team to identify in-kind donations.

Janel Brown

OPERATIONS AND DATA MANAGER
Janel Brown fulfills a multi-faceted role, supporting CYC’s operations, data collection, and reporting functions, including monitoring the implementation of our strategic plan—all key to ensuring the organization’s accomplishments.

Kenneth Brown

FAR SOUTHERN REGIONAL COORDINATOR
Kenneth first joined CYC as a member in 1989. Kenneth was inspired by the idea that youth could have influence and that he could make changes which could benefit his sister who was still in foster care.

Vanessa Hernandez

DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND TRAINING
As a child welfare advocate, Vanessa is most passionate about honoring the commitments made to underserved populations through practice, policy and legislative change.

Brandy Hudson

DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY AND CULTURE
Brandy works closely with the Executive Director to ensure that CYC is a continuous learning organization with structures and processes in place to ensure sustainability and a healthy organizational culture.

Makayla James

FAR NORTHERN REGIONAL COORDINATOR
Makayla is a former member of the Butte Chapter, which she became involved in during her time as a college student. She was drawn to California Youth Connection due to her interest in policy and her passion for creating change within the foster care system.

ChristiKetchum_cropped

Christi Ketchum

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
As a staff member since 2011, Christi has been instrumental in supporting the leadership development of members, interns, and working collaboratively with supporters and community partners.

Meribe Martin

POLICY TEAM ADMINISTRATIVE COORDINATOR
When Meribe joined CYC , she was impressed right away to see people working together collaboratively on a common goal. Youth were involved at every step. Shortly after she joined, Meribe was able to be a facilitator at the conferences, and since then she has always been a facilitator rather than a participant at events she's a part of.

MM headshot

Marissa Miller

DIRECTOR OF PHILANTHROPY & STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS
Marissa is thrilled to join CYC’s team. She is responsible for the organization’s overall fundraising strategy, cultivating and maintaining relationships with key funders and stakeholders, and bringing CYC’s youth-led vision to life.

Toshie Narita

DIRECTOR OF FINANCE
Toshie Narita enjoys what she refers to as “the human side of finance,” so she makes personal connections with everyone she interacts with—breaking away from the typical notion of finance as strictly procedural.

Blade Oestreich

CENTRAL VALLEY REGIONAL COORDINATOR
Blade has joined the CYC team in his new role as policy assistant after being a member for the past eight years. During that time, he served as chair and Advisory Board representative for the Merced chapter as well as on the organization’s internal legislative committee.

Christina Parker

POLICY COORDINATOR
Christina is a California State University San Bernardino Graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Arabic Language, Culture, and Literature. She is a spoken word artist, motivational speaker, advocate, and photographer.

Chad Platt

BAY AREA REGIONAL COORDINATOR
Chad was first introduced to CYC while facilitating the Youth Advocacy Project in Santa Cruz County. A former foster youth himself, Chad engaged YAP members to participate in several exhibits with the Foster Youth Museum.

Katarina-Kabick-1180x1180

KATARINA SAYALLY

COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE
Katarina Sayally is a former foster youth who is dedicated to nurturing stability, freedom, and dreams for kids still in the system. As a member of the Alameda Chapter, Katarina served on the Legislative and Policy Committee, and completed the BAYLA program.

JORDAN SOSA

POLICY COORDINATOR
Jordan Sosa is a former member of the Orange County Chapter and has served several roles as a Chapter Chair, Legislative Committee Representative, Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project Trainer, and Advisory Board Representative. His passion for youth voice in child welfare comes from his younger siblings growing up in foster care, who gave him the motivation to advocate for all youth in care.

Kate Teague

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT MANAGER
Kate has been with CYC since 2006, first as the Bay Area/Central Valley Outreach Coordinator, then the Bay Area Regional Coordinator, and now the Community Engagement Manager. Kate first became involved with CYC as an Americorp intern at the Bill Wilson Center in Santa Clara County when her then supervisor, Deryk Clark (a former CYC board member), told her that part of her job would be to attend CYC meetings.