Co-Chair and Founder
After a successful 30-year advertising career working primarily for Sunset Magazine and the Smithsonian, Charles returned to teaching and coaching young people nine years ago. He now teaches social studies and coaches golf at Presentation High School in San Jose. In 2005, he joined with friend and neighbors to assist first-generation, financially needy students successfully navigate and graduate from college by offering scholarships to three deserving young women. Today, the organization they created has accelerated the success of 96 deserving scholars. Charles graduated from Santa Clara University where he is now a member of the Board of Fellows.
Dani Gasparini has been involved in fundraising for nonprofit organizations for over 25 years. Most recently as Executive Vice President of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. Dani has raised over $60 million throughout her development career in support of nonprofits serving children, families, seniors, healthcare, schools, and arts and culture through managing annual campaigns and effective grant writing. As an active member of the community, Dani served on the City Council and as Mayor of the City of Redwood City. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Redwood City San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce and Pen TV where she also hosts Pen Voice interviewing key community leaders. Recognitions include induction to the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame, Redwood City Business Woman of the Year, and the Redwood City Sequoia Award Citizen of the Year.
Michelle Soto is a Wealth Advisor for Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough, located in Redwood Shores. She helps her clients make informed financial decisions so they can enjoy their wealth. Specifically, she helps the recently-divorced re-establish their financial lives. Outside of work, Michelle is committed to helping first-generation college students graduate and thrive in their careers. She is also a board member of the Financial Planning Association of San Francisco. Previously, Michelle was a Financial Advisor at Bailard, where she helped develop the firm’s financial planning capabilities and maintained relationships with high net worth clients. Before entering wealth management, Michelle was a consultant at Andersen Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Michelle received a BS in Commerce from the University of Virginia. Michelle and her husband live in Belmont.
Melissa Sandoval is an ERS Consultant at Deloitte & Touche LLP. Her experience includes Sarbanes Oxley services, testing control design and operating effectiveness among other internal control analysis for public and private companies in the semiconductor, high-tech and banking industries. Melissa joined The Peninsula College Fund as a scholarship recipient in 2009. Following her graduation, she became an active member of the Peninsula College Fund Alumni Association. Outside of work, she is actively engaged in the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA), dedicated to enhancing opportunities for underrepresented minorities. Melissa has received the Dr. Juan Andrade Award from the US Hispanic Leadership Institute for demonstrating significant community involvement. She graduated from Santa Clara University and holds a Bachelors degree in Finance and Spanish Studies.
Originally from Bexley, Ohio, Ross Darwin moved out to California to attend Stanford University where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in Economics and in International Relations. After graduation, Ross was part of the management consulting team at The Parthenon Group, where he helped lead a number of engagements for corporate clients and provided market diligence analysis for private equity firms. He then joined a private equity firm, himself, working in the financial services and business services groups at TA Associates.
Hanna George has lived and worked in the Bay Area for over 20 years. She started her career as an employment lawyer at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, and most recently, served as the director of global employment law at a technology company in the valley. After shepherding her own two children through elementary, middle and high school, Hanna wanted to help low income, highly motivated students reach their goals of attending and graduating from college. As a parent and an employer, she fully understands the advantages that students gain from a college education. Hanna is currently Associate Director of HR M&A Legal at Intel Corporation. Over the years, Hanna has enjoyed volunteering at her children’s schools as well as serving on the Board of the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation. Hanna graduated Magna Cum Laude with Distinction in the History Major from Yale University. After graduation from Yale, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Paris. The following year, she returned to law school at the University of Virginia where she met her husband, Roger George.
Asha Guha has been a strong education advocate in the Palo Alto community for a number of years. She currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for Palo Alto Partners in Education (PiE) and has served as the PiE Co-Chair for Gunn High School since 2011. She has been an active member of the PAUSD Elementary School Site Selection Advisory Committee, the PiE Task Force on Teacher Grants and the PAUSD Guidance Model Review Parent Focus Group. She has volunteered extensively in Bay area schools serving in leadership roles as well as in the classroom. She is actively involved in arts and education initiatives in the community. She has a Master degree in Political Science from the University of Mumbai.
Eric was born and raised in Alameda, California and left the bay area to study English at UCLA during the height of the John Wooden era. Upon graduation, he returned to the bay area to earn a teaching credential at CSU Hayward and then began a lifelong career in public school education. After ten years of teaching high school students the joys of English literature and the conventions of effective writing, he enrolled at UC Berkeley to earn a master’s degree in education policy analysis and an administrative license to supervise schools. Eric toyed with a career in policy development and evaluation but ultimately decided to return to the community level where schools and parents and students work together. Eric has served as a vice principal (Capuchino High School in San Bruno), a principal (Menlo-Atherton High School), a district-level officer (Director of Curriculum in the Sequoia Union High School District), and as a superintendent (Las Lomitas Elementary School District in Menlo Park). He retired in 2011.
Lydia is an MBA candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business. She is focusing her studies on social impact and non-profit management. Before starting at the Haas School of Business, Lydia worked in Strategic Operations at the Oakland Home Office of Aspire Charter Schools, which delivers top-notch K-12 education to low income and minority communities in California and Tennessee. She worked to advance Aspire's mission by completing a series of strategic projects and facilitating the Annual Planning process. Prior to joining Aspire, Lydia spent 3 years as an associate at Bain & Company consulting, where she worked on teams to develop and deliver recommendations to Fortune 500 clients across a variety of industries. While at Bain, she had the opportunity to volunteer with various education-related non-profits and discovered her passion for helping young people achieve their dreams. She is thrilled to apply what she learned at Bain and at Aspire to support PCF's great work of serving first generation college students.
W. Scott Lohmann
Scott currently works for the non-profit organization VolunteerMatch.org, as the VP Sales & Marketing. Throughout his business career, Scott has held several executive positions in companies focused on advertising, financing and marketing for independent merchants. In addition, Scott was the President of SchoolPop, a Menlo Park-based school fundraising company. Before SchoolPop, he spent many years with Entertainment Publications, Inc., where he was in charge of a division that sold popular school and non-profit fund-raising products, such as The Entertainment Book and Sally Foster Gift-wrap. His volunteer activities include being a former Co-President for his local elementary education foundation (Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation), which annually grants over $3M to the local public school district, and Co-President of his local high school education foundation.(Foundation For The Future) Other volunteer service includes coaching AYSO, Menlo Atherton Little League, School/City Basketball and service on the Bicycle Commission in Menlo Park. Scott received a B.A. degree in Psychology and Sociology from McDaniel College. He lives in Menlo Park, with his wife and two young boys.
Paul leads the Oak Knoll Group at Morgan Stanley, focused on ultra-high net worth wealth management and corporate services for successful entrepreneurs, executives, and families. Paul gained his experience by helping to manage the wealth creation cycle, from pre-liquidity events through retirement and estate planning strategies. He helps clients manage the intricacies and nuances of significant investment transitions by drawing on insight from industry thought leaders and applying nearly 20 years of investment experience. A native of New Jersey, Paul moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1991 to pursue his career in the financial services industry. He earned 10 years of experience at competitor firms before choosing Morgan Stanley in 2002, and becoming a producing Branch Manager in 2008. He is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University where he received a B.S. in accounting. Paul and his wife Cara live in Menlo Park with their 3 children Jack, Kate, and Elena.
After nearly four decades in higher education administration at San Francisco State University, Jo Volkert brings to the PCF board of directors a strong commitment to helping students achieve their goal of a college education. As Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at SF State, she had responsibility for delivery of services that allowed students from schools throughout California to become admitted, receive sufficient financial aid, obtain needed classes and ultimately complete their undergraduate degrees. She forged partnerships with local school districts, community colleges and community organizations to assure that first generation, low-income students saw the University as a welcoming destination and then received the support they needed to persist to graduation. She served as board member and Vice Chair of the SF State Foundation for 30 years. A resident of San Carlos since 1993, Jo has devoted time since her retirement to a community organization that offers tutoring to local elementary students who need academic encouragement. She earned BA in English from Occidental College and holds a PhD in Administration and Policy Analysis from the School of Education at Stanford University.
Board Member Emeritus
Phil currently works as a Manager for Blended Learning at CFY, where he leads program implementation to increase student achievement in low-income schools in the Bay Area. Previously, he served as Executive Director of Peninsula College Fund and as Executive Director of The Peninsula Bridge Program, where he led all aspects of an organization serving over 250 middle school students from East Palo Alto, east Menlo Park, Redwood City and San Mateo. He also served as Director of Summer Programming at Crystal Springs Uplands School. He started his career teaching at an elementary school in San Mateo that was largely Latino and Pacific Islander. Phil graduated from Bucknell University with degrees in Education and Economics. He holds a multi-subject teaching credential, Montessori teaching credential, and a Masters in Public Administration from Notre Dame de Namur University.