Carla M. Peña
Carla is a queer, non-binary, Latinx writer, educator, and activist. Committed to equity and social justice, they have focused their life’s work on LGBTQ+ rights, inclusive education, youth work, and community organizing. Born and raised in Queens, New York (land of the Matinecock/Rockaway people) Carla is the proud child of an immigrant Cuban father and Nuyorican mother. They believe it is everyone’s birthright to thrive and they are expressly dedicated to the liberation and prosperity of QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, People of color) communities.
Carla previously served as the Public Education Manager for SAVE, the oldest LGBTQ advocacy organization in South Florida. As a Public Allies AmeriCorps alum they have also worked at the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center as Program Assistant and Outreach Specialist for Project Q Youth Services, assisting in development and implementation of youth programming, case management, and public education.
A graduate of New York University, and recent East Coast transplant, they now live in Oakland with their partner, Mireya, and their shorkie, Rumi.
Pronouns: She/Her or They/Them
Jenny brings decades of strategic communications and advocacy experience to Our Family Coalition’s development and strategic planning work. Jenny is also an organizer for racial justice and co-founded SURJ SF, the San Francisco chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, to move White people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability.
Jenny participated in the Fundraising Bright Spots Program by Compasspoint and uses those approaches to shape OFC’s fundraising work.
Karlon brings to OFC over eight years of diverse and direct community work experience. As a teen, he honed his understanding of power and privilege at the Social Justice Academy (SJA) at San Leandro High School. He also completed the San Leandro Teen Police Academy through the SLPD and received “Best Communication Award”; a year later, he completed the District Attorney Justice Academy (DAJA) in Alameda County at Hayward City Hall. In the Metro College Success Program at San Francisco State University for Child Adolescence & Development, Karlon was able to gain additional direct work experience through a semester-long internship through EDvance and Jumpstart.
Adopted from an orphanage in Guangzhou, China, Karlon came to live in the U.S. when he was six months old, Karlon was raised in the East Bay in Oakland and San Leandro. His assigned sex at birth was female. Throughout his youth, he struggled to confront his own sexuality and gender identity while living as a QPOC (queer person of color) trying to make sense of it all. With the support of his mom, >many pets, and amazing educators and friends, Karlon has been able to direct his own life to a path toward acting as a positive and charismatic agent of change to the QTPOC LGBTQ+ community.
Pronouns: He/ Him
Pauly, a life-long East Bay resident, brings more than twenty years’ experience as a writer, teacher, public speaker, editor, and program administrator to OFC. Across all their work—whether at UC Berkeley, or BlogHer, or writing online as Lesbian Dad—their focus has been on strengthening understanding across barriers of difference and promoting social justice, using authentic connection and communication. Pauly holds a B.A. in English/ Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. in American Studies/Feminist Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
Pauly has been an appreciative member of the OFC community since becoming a parent in 2004. Before their second child arrived in 2007 it was clear that parenting was their most valuable life teacher and journey. Work at OFC is a combination of a lifelong mission and an act of grace (which they do not consider a coincidence: the OFC office in San Francisco sits at the intersection of Mission and Grace Streets).
Rick collaborates with educators and school administrators to create safe and LGBTQ-inclusive schools. An accomplished speaker and presenter, Rick has conducted trainings for thousands of students, educators, and youth workers focusing on diversity, harassment, gender stereotypes, and other LGBTQ issues.
Formerly the Youth Service Coordinator at Billy DeFrank LGBT Center in San José, Rick developed programs that addressed LGBT youth issues and created the first transgender youth support group in the area. Currently, in addition to his work at Our Family Coalition, he sits on the board of Performing Arts Workshop, a youth-focused, arts organization in San Francisco. Additionally, he coordinates volunteer events for SF Gaymers, a social group that recognizes diversity within the gaming community and creates safe spaces for LGBT individuals to game with one another.
Rick holds a dual B.A. degree in Psychology and Spanish from Seattle University in Washington and a Master of Arts Degree in Social Welfare at UC Berkeley specializing in management and planning. He lives and games in San Francisco and frequently visits his family in the South Bay.
Sam Ames is a civil rights attorney and national advocate with a decade of experience fighting for LGBTQ rights. Sam grew up in Los Angeles and received their B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, their J.D. from George Washington University, and their Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University.
They most recently served as Interim Executive Director at Trans Lifeline during the period of transition between 2018 and 2019. Prior to that, they were a community organizer, a trans activist, and a staff attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights working on constitutional law cases involving marriage equality, employment discrimination, and family law. At NCLR, Sam founded the BornPerfect Campaign – a national effort to end conversion therapy through legislation, litigation, and public education. In 2016, they returned to academia to study religious trauma while working as a hospital chaplain on an inpatient psychiatric unit at UCSF Medical Center.
Sam has testified in state legislatures, Congress, and the United Nations Committee Against Torture. They are also a consultant on LGBTQ issues nationwide, an avid AIDS LifeCycle rider, and an unshakeable believer that Oakland is the best place on earth. Sam is a member of the California Bar.
Shari is dedicated to serving those who serve our community. As a veteran and queer POC, her focus is on staff morale and supporting all of OFC's teams.
Shari has helped homeless individuals obtain housing and employment as a case manager at Life Moves – Maple Street Shelter, and cultivated her administrative skills in the Human resources department of a Los Angeles-based insurance company. As Operations Assistant for Conscious Capitalism Los Angeles, she helped link socially and environmentally conscious businesses together.
Cheryl is a first-generation Indo-Fijian American who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a youngster she excelled in golf, earning a golf scholarship to UC Berkeley, where she played collegiately for the Golden Bears. She holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University and is deeply rooted in anti-colonialist and anti-racist feminist equity.
Cheryl played professional golf mini-tours before joining Athlete Ally, a national non-profit organization in New York City. At Athlete Ally, she helped program and lead campaigns aimed at ending homophobia and transphobia in athletic communities. Upon returning to the Bay Area, she founded COMPETE Youth, a non-profit organization with a mission to equalize sports industry access to underserved, underrepresented youth.
Cheryl loves to travel and lives in San Francisco with her wife, their furbabies and two small kids.