Zena received her B.A in English and Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. During these years of vocation and discernment, Zena relished and empathized with stories by Alice Walker, Sandra Cisneros, and Martin Luther King Jr. After spending two years of service as an AmeriCorps member with CORA, enjoying (even more) imaginative stories told by children in this community, she convinced to her team to keep her around permanently. Zena is now the Emergency Shelter Coordinator and is also pursuing a MA in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of San Francisco. She loves her job, her full time workload, and the unyielding yoga practice that gets her through it all.
Emergency Shelter Coordinator
Manager of Family Support Services
Caitlin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of California, received her Masters of Social Work from Humboldt State University, and holds a BA in interdisciplinary arts from Antioch College. Caitlin has worked in the fields of domestic violence prevention, pregnancy and parenting, and substance abuse and recovery for over 15 years. In her spare time, Caitlin loves to read, write, and come up with new and exciting vegetarian entrees. You can find her hanging out with her family at the local library or favorite book store.
Marisa received her B.A. degrees in public policy, Spanish literature and economics from the University of Chicago. She also holds an M.Mus. in Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. When she isn’t studying for her next project, she likes to hang out with her husband and their menagerie of animals: Klaus, the mini lobster; Scarlett, the Beta fish, and Tiggy and Cricket, the world’s laziest cats.
Kim received her B.A. in Psychology from San Francisco State University. As a Bay Area native, she is thrilled to be working for an agency that serves so many within her community. Her interests include reading, running and traveling.
Cynthia Lisette Cruz
Community Advocate (East Palo Alto)
Cynthia is a Bay Area-Peninsula native. Due to her familiarity with the community, she was brought on to assist in the expansion of CORA services to the city of East Palo Alto. As a first-generation student, she obtained an A.A. in Sociology from Cañada College, a B.A. in American Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a M.A. in Mexican American studies from San Jose State University. She is committed to social justice and finding ways to incorporate such values into her daily life. She has personal interests in art, creative writing, and other physical activities and enjoys spending most of her free time with her daughter.
Director of Development and Communications
Lynn is a graduate of the University of Arizona and cheers loudly for her Arizona Wildcats and the San Francisco Giants. Lynn is passionate about being a domestic violence advocate because – while no one wants to or feels comfortable talking about it – domestic violence touches everyone’s lives in one way or another. She is glad to be part of a team that is starting the conversation through its education and services.
Emily earned her BA in Sociology with a minor in Political Science from Cal State East Bay. She also holds a license in Cosmetology. After listening to her clients talk about obstacles their lives, Emily put down her shears to pursue a career empowering people to overcome them. In pursuit of her passion, she has interned under Congresswoman Lois Capps in Washington D.C learning about public policy, traveled as a guest speaker teaching teens about Dating Violence Prevention and has worked with survivors of abuse both as a Sexual Assault Counselor and an Orphanage Volunteer in Argentina. In her free time she can be found running, traveling or taking over a dance floor.
Staff Attorney/Legal Services Program Coordinator
Melissa received her J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law and holds a B.A. in Psychology and Criminal Justice from San Diego State University. Melissa is passionate about helping survivors navigate the complexities of the civil and criminal legal systems and empowering them to make informed decisions for themselves. In her free time Melissa enjoys rooting for the San Jose Sharks, spending quality time with family, and dancing.
LGBTQ Crisis Counselor
ERP Community Liaison
Jim has over 40 years of law enforcement service with Redwood City, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, and San Carlos, where he retired as Chief of Police. He holds a BA from San Jose State and an MA from Notre Dame de Namur. In his free time he stays busy with seven grandchildren, collecting model trains and working as a Track and Field coach at San Mateo High School.
LGBTQ Clinical Victim Advocate
Daniel has worked in nonprofit fundraising for over ten years. He received his M.A. in English from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England and holds a B.A. in English from Mississippi College. In 2009, he spent six months hiking all 2,179 miles of the Appalachian Trail. He is a published poet and playwright and you can usually find him racking up miles training for his next ultra-marathon.
Manager of Crisis and Advocacy Services
Tanisha received her Master’s in Public Administration from Golden Gate University and holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. A San Francisco-Bay Area native with over ten years of nonprofit management experience, Tanisha dedicated herself to a career in social services as a proponent of social justice and public advocacy. In a volunteer capacity, she currently serves as the President on the Commission on the Status of Women in San Mateo County and is an active member of the DV Council’s Coordinated Response Committee and the Pacific Islander Taskforce of the Bay Area. In her spare time, Tanisha enjoys spending time with family and traveling the world – soaking in the sun and exploring the vastness of culture outside of the U.S.
Patricia Barrios Idrugo
Todd S. Kirk
Todd joined CORA in 2014, bringing with him experience in the corporate world having supported V. P’s at some of Silicon Valley’s well-known companies including Hewlett-Packard and Intuit. With a passion for helping others, his attention to details and caretaker demeanor, Todd enjoys supporting CORA’s management team, CORA’s Board of Directors, his peers and indirectly our clients. Previously, he has volunteered at the Suicide Crisis & Prevention Center working on the hotline. When Todd is not working, he enjoys home projects, gardening, taking care of his two orange tabby cats, reading, exercising and when time allows, traveling.
Child Development Advocate
Melissa was hired in 2003 to complete the merger of what were then two domestic violence agencies in San Mateo County. In 2015 she was named Woman of the Year for California’s 22nd Congressional District. Originally from New York City, Melissa has a B.A. from Brown University and an M.B.A. in Public Nonprofit Management from Boston University.
Director of Programs
Director of Finance and Operations
Cheryle’s interests include obstacle course racing, dance and learning as much as she can about autism. Her other life is a boot camp instructor as well as program coordinator for her daughter’s community program. She has been with CORA for three years now and enjoys the challenges of overseeing Finance, HR, IT and Operations. Cheryle also enjoys being actively involved in Menlo Church of San Mateo.
Database and Events Administrator
Keely received her M.A. in Criminology & Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland (Go Terps!) and her Bachelor’s Degrees in Justice Studies and Sociology from Arizona State University (Go Sun Devils!). She is a 10 year professional working in the criminal justice field. She enjoys watching sports and has been to a game at all 30 Major League Baseball team stadiums. In her spare time you can find her on the lacrosse and softball fields or running the trails and city sidewalks. She most recently completed a run streak in 2015, running at least 1 mile a day for 365 straight days.
Frances received her Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology Marital and Family Therapy from Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, CA. She works with individuals, groups and families supporting survivors of domestic violence recover from trauma. She enjoys traveling, nature, movies, live music and hot tea
Community Education Coordinator
Josie received her Master in Public Health, with the concentration in Community Education from San Francisco State University, California. She is polyglot and she has worked in the non-profit field for 16 years and in the public health sector for 8. She likes Zumba, poetry and contemporary visual arts. She loves her family and friends. On a sunny day, she is riding a horse on a California beach and, during the winter, she enjoys the pure fun of snowboarding on beginner slopes.
Manager of Crisis Support Services
Celeste is from a small town in San Diego County named Fallbrook, also known as the avocado capital of the world and the friendly village. She relocated to the Bay Area in 2003 to attend college at San Francisco State University. She received her B.A. in Psychology and La Raza Studies. In 2008, Celeste joined the CORA team as a Crisis Counselor and in 2015 was promoted to the position of Crisis Support Services Coordinator.
Grants and Contracts Officer
Yaya received a B.A in criminal justice and a minor in counseling. She is committed to social justice and currently volunteers for two other non-profit organizations. Yaya loves to travel and started backpacking when she was 14 years old. She welcomes and embraces diversity and believes everyone is unique and has a world of their own.
Clinical Service Consultant
Serena es nativa del área de la Bahía de San Francisco. Ella tiene pasión para la ley, la política nacional, los derechos de la igualdad de las mujeres, y la justicia social. Recibió su J.D. en dos años de Southwestern Law School y recibió un B.A. de la Universidad de California en Los Ángeles en Estudios de Desarrollo Internacional y un Menor en Ciencias Políticas. Como abogada bilingüe (español / inglés), Serena espera dar accesibilidad y comprensión del proceso legal para los sobrevivientes de violencia doméstica en español. En su tiempo libre, Serena le encanta pasar el tiempo caminando con su perro, salir a probar nuevos alimentos, y viajar con sus amigos y familiares.
Melissa Ascencio Schmidt
Melissa graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Community Studies. While attending UCSC, Melissa became involved in campus organizations where she provided education, resources and support for sexual health. She considers herself a gourmet short order chef and has mastered making different kinds of waffles. She will typically spend time working on her personal fitness goals and offering hugs to dogs.
Laura is a Family Clinician here at CORA. MFT License #50857
Childrens Program Coordinator
John received his B.A. in Political Science and with a minor in Global Peace & Security from University of California at Santa Barbara. He is a San Francisco-Bay Area native who volunteered with CORA’s Children’s Program for close to a year before becoming the Children’s Program Coordinator. John is passionate about working with children and families touched by domestic violence. He likes traveling to warm places, reading and learning how things work.
Adrea joined CORA as a staff attorney in March of 2016. Before working at CORA, Adrea assisted at Bay Area Legal Aid’s Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinic. Adrea graduated Cum Laude from University of California, Hastings College of the Law. As an undergraduate, Adrea studied Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California Berkeley. Adrea is committed to social justice and public interest law. She enjoys assisting both English and Spanish speaking clients. In her free time, Adrea enjoys spending time with her family, practicing yoga, and cooking.
Data Systems Coordinator
A recent graduate of UCLA, Kate holds her B.S. in Human Biology and Society. She came to CORA initially as an AmeriCorps VISTA and has progressed into her new role as a Grants and Contracts Writer. She is passionate about working to improve the well-being of at-risk populations and plans to pursue a Master’s in Public Health. In her free time, you can find her on her yoga mat, hiking to the top of a mountain, or cheering for her Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cinthia y su familia inmigraron al país cuando ella solo tenía 4 años de edad. Desde entonces ella ha sido residente del Condado de San Mateo, viviendo en Redwood City. En el año 2013 ella recibió su Licenciatura en Sociología de la Universidad Estatal de California, Chico. A temprana edad ella desarrollo un interés por ayudar los derechos de las mujeres y así fue como llego a CORA. Cinthia es una persona que tiene gran valor por su cultura, credos y gente. Su más grande motivación es su fe y la gente a quien ella aprecia como familia.