Since 1998, Shawna Smith has worked with Taller San Jose Hope Builders to advance the lives of thousands of young men and women marginalized by the conditions of barrios into which they were born. Throughout her tenure at Hope Builders, Shawna has lead the development of numerous strategic initiatives including the launch of the construction training program, which was integral to the development of the organization’s existing model of workforce training. In 2005, Shawna was promoted to Associate Director; and in 2008, she took over the executive leadership reins, successfully managing the transition of the organization’s founding director. Under Shawna’s leadership, Hope Builders continues to thrive.
Throughout her career, Shawna has brought a combination of good business sense and compassion for the poor to her work. In addition to her role as Executive Director, she has lead the development of Hope Builders Construction Company, a licensed general contracting venture and social enterprise that expands Hope Builders’ existing training services and creates jobs for unemployed youth.
Shawna received her degree in English from Santa Clara University. As a young college graduate, Shawna spent her first year post graduation as a Jesuit Volunteer. During her year of volunteer service, Shawna lived and worked among the poor of Central Orange County, California, providing emergency assistance services to support families on the edge of homelessness. This experience marked a watershed moment in her life and resulted in her choice to work in the social service sector.
Shawna has worked in numerous capacities in the non-profit sector including as a board member, volunteer, and advisor in the areas of: workforce development, violence prevention, intervention, emergency assistance, homelessness, and volunteer service. Despite many accolades—she was named a Marano Fellow by the Aspen Institute in 2006 and was a finalist for the Cardinal Bernardin Award—she views the opportunity to lead Hope Builders as a call to further service to the community in which she and her husband live and raise their family.
Christa Sheehan joined Hope Builders in 1998, assisting in the long-term planning efforts, including strategic planning, fundraising campaigns, marketing campaigns and advocacy initiatives. Prior to Hope Builders, Christa was a Program Associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. and the Managing Editor of the Environmental Change and Security Project Report. Christa earned her BA, cum laude, in French/International Studies from Dickinson College and her MA in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. She became a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) in 2005.
Senior Director of Finance
Nancy Loughrey joined Hope Builders in 2004 and is responsible for all accounting functions of the organization. Nancy has been a Certified Public Accountant for 24 years and has extensive experience with small businesses, especially concentrating on nonprofits and computer software companies. She earned her BS in Finance from Pennsylvania State University and her MBA from University of Florida.
Senior Director of Programs
Karyn Mendoza joined Hope Builders in 2008. As the Senior Director of Programs, Karyn ensures a continuum of service from application to job/education placement for students enrolled in training programs. She oversees all components of Hope Builders’ programs, including technical skills training, case management, employment and education pathways. Karyn earned her BA in Sociology from California State University Long Beach and her MA in Social Work from the University of Southern California. She is a licensed clinical social worker.