LEADING THE WAY

HOPE BUILDERS LEADERSHIP TEAM.

shawna smith executive director

Shawna Smith, Executive Director

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.

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.

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zajid cova Director of Finance

Zajid Cova, Director of Finance

Zajid Cova joined Hope Builders in 2016. He leads the finance team to ensure general operating needs are met through finance, business planning, budgeting, administration of grants and payroll. Prior to Hope Builders, Zajid contributed to the success in managing KidWorks from a $300K annual budget... to $3.5M annual budget in 10 years. Zajid earned his BS in Business Administration with a focus in Accounting from California State University, Los Angeles.
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samantha harris Director of Programs

Samantha Harris, Director of Programs

Sam joined Hope Builders in 2010 and oversees the day-to-day operations of the agency’s training programs which includes admissions, training, and support services. Sam transitioned into her role as Director of Programs in 2015 and was vital in launching Pairin—an online assessment tool that... assesses both the strengths and gaps in a young person’s soft skills—to help focus the team’s mentorship and case management efforts and ensure young adults possess the attributes needed to thrive in their chosen career. Sam earned both her BA in Early Childhood Education and Administration and MA in Education from Ashford University.
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christa sheehan Deputy Director

Christa Sheehan, Deputy Director

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.
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laura stagner Senior Director of Development

Laura Stagner, Senior Director of Development

Laura joined Hope Builders in 2007 to focus on the agency’s annual fund donor activities. In 2018, Laura transitioned to the role of Senior Director of Development to assist in strategic planning efforts and the development and implementation of the Hope Builders Career Connections social enterprise. She now oversees fundraising... and earned income activities. Laura earned a BA in Sociology from Georgetown University, and became a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) in 2012.
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BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

Tim Blett
Chair
Bio
JEFF RANDOLPH
Vice Chair
Bio
ALEX CALABRESE
Secretary
Bio
MIKE SMITH
Treasurer
Bio
CARLOS Gonzalez
Executive Committee
Bio
KATIE SKELTON
Director
Bio
TARA COWELL
Director
Bio
JON GOTHOLD
Director
Bio
VINCE MCGUINNESS JR.
Director
Bio
SR. EILEEN MCNERNEY, CSJ
Director
Bio
Shawna Smith
Director (ex officio)
MARIA ELENA PERALES
Director
Bio
JON STORBECK
Director
Bio
LISA WEAVER
Director
Bio
New Board Member
New Title
Bio

HOPE BUILDERS’ STAFF.

EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP

SHAWNA SMITH
Executive Director
Ext. 109
ssmith@tsjhopebuilders.org
CHRISTA SHEEHAN, CFRE
Deputy Director
Ext. 112
csheehan@tsjhopebuilders.org

ADMINISTRATIVE

DIANE BALLEZA
Staff Accountant
Ext. 215
dballeza@tsjhopebuilders.org
CONNIE BENDER
Staff Accountant
cbender@tsjhopebuilders.org
ZAJID COVA
Director of Finance
Ext. 114
zcova@tsjhopebuilders.org
PERLA LOPEZ
Executive Assistant to CEO
Ext. 110
plopez@tsjhopebuilders.org
DIANA RIVERA
Human Resources Specialist
Ext. 143
drivera@tsjhopebuilders.org
AZUCENA VERA
Accounting Clerk
avera@tsjhopebuilders.org
JOEY RENERT
Operations and IT Training Supervisor
Ext. 140
jrenert@tsjhopebuilders.org
 

STRATEGY & ADVANCEMENT

MARIA AVILA
Recruiter
Ext. 137
mavila@tsjhopebuilders.org
MIGUEL CANTO
Outreach Manager
Ext. 302
mcanto@tsjhopebuilders.org
LAURA STAGNER, CFRE
Senior Director of Development
Ext. 123
lstagner@tsjhopebuilders.org
MICHAELA DOLIUM
Development Coordinator
mdolium@tsjhopebuilders.org
KEVIN MENDOZA
Outreach Assistant
Ext. 121
kemendoza@tsjhopebuilders.org
LISA NGUYEN
Account Manager
lnguyen@tsjhopebuilders.org
JESSICA POLLUM
Donor Relations Manager
Ext. 124
jpollum@tsjhopebuilders.org
 

TRAINING

SAMANTHA HARRIS
Director of Programs
Ext. 136
sharris@tsjhopebuilders.org
 

ADMISSIONS

ERICKA RIOS-STREITZ
Admissions Specialist
Ext. 163
erios@tsjhopebuilders.org
ANGIE RODRIGUEZ
Youth Services Manager
Ext. 107
arodriguez@tsjhopebuilders.org
CINTHIA TORRES
Admissions Assistant
Ext. 101
ctorres@tsjhopebuilders.org
 

CONSTRUCTION

JOHN PUCKETT
Lead Construction Training Supervisor
Ext. 234
jpuckett@tsjhopebuilders.org
 

HEALTHCARE

SOFIA DIAZ
Training Supervisor II
Ext. 157
sdiaz@tsjhopebuilders.org
SHELBY NORBERG, RBT, BCAT
Training Supervisor
snorberg@tsjhopebuilders.org

CAREER READINESS

AIDE MARINA ORTEGA
Externship Coordinator
Ext. 195
aortega@tsjhopebuilders.org
JEWEL MCKNIGHT, MS
Career Readiness Specialist
Ext. 303
jmcknight@tsjhopebuilders.org

SUPPORT SPECIALISTS

REBECCA GASTELUM, ACSW
Support Specialist II/Therapist
Ext. 167
rgastelum@tsjhopebuilders.org
ALANA MOORE, MFT
Support Specialist II/Therapist
Ext. 108
amoore@tsjhopebuilders.org
SOOJIN SOU, MSW
Support Specialist II/Therapist
Ext. 193
ssou@tsjhopebuilders.org
CATHERINE VILLALPANDO, AMFT
Support Specialist II/Therapist
Ext. 133
cvillalpando@tsjhopebuilders.org

Career Opportunities

Hope Builders is always looking for talented and dynamic individuals to join our team.

For questions on any job positions, please contact:
(714) 543–5105 or email hr@tsjhopebuilders.org