The all-volunteer California Jump$tart Coalition Board of Directors has formal authority for creating the organization's vision and accomplishing its mission and objectives. It is charged with the organization's governance, policy and strategy.
Rebecca Ivanovich Gallagher
Rebecca Ivanovich Gallagher is the Chair of the California Jump$tart Coalition. She is an educator influencing student outcomes as a specialist in workforce development for the Sonoma County Office of Education. She brings experience as an award winning teacher with knowledge from a first career in small business, to connect youth to educational and workplace preparation. Her focus and passion has been to provide opportunities for at-risk teens.
Rebecca has been at the forefront of expanding law related and personal finance education, facilitating public school and private sector business relationships. She has established annual events with the legal community and is a founding member of a regional financial literacy organization. A graduate of Sonoma State University, she continues to develop her educational leadership skills in order to play an expanded role in the challenge of creating innovative educational programs.
Karen L. Anderson
Karen L. Anderson is the Vice Chair of the California Jump$tart Coalition. She has been involved with youth financial education for over two decades. Prior to retirement, she spent 30 years in marketing and management for consumer product and financial organizations. During her 15+ years in credit, investment and retail branch banking Karen saw the need for consumer education in money management and developed her interest in expanding financial literacy for California’s youth. She is a past Chair of the California Jump$tart Coalition and a member of the Board of the California Council on Economic Education. She holds a B.A. from Mills College and an M.B.A. from the Broad School at Michigan State University.
Tena Lozano is the Immediate Past Chair of the California Jump$tart Coalition. In addition, she is the executive director of the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, the state credit union foundation for California and Nevada. The RMJ Foundation’s signature program, Bite of Reality teaches teens real-world financial realities in a fun, interactive simulation that appeals to their desire to be financially successful. The simulation is both interactive (with volunteers playing the role of pushy salespeople) and tech-savvy (with students utilizing a smartphone app to enter their purchasing decisions), making for a timely and relevant experience.
She is a past chair of the California Jump$tart Coalition and has more than 30 years’ experience in the credit union movement. She received a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from California Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Stephanie J. Lee
Stephanie J. Lee, CFP®, serves as Treasurer of California Jump$tart Coalition. She has been on the Board since 2008. Stephanie is the Principal Financial Planner for a firm she founded in San Francisco. In addition to CAJ$, she volunteers in her community as a Parks & Recreation Commissioner. She also performs regularly as a jazz bassist. Stephanie earned a Certificate of Personal Financial Planning from UC Berkeley, a BS in Applied Mathematics from Yale, and a Master's in Public Administration from USC.
Lisa Amos, CPFFE, is Faculty Coordinator for the Mountie Money Management Center (MMMC) at Mt San Antonio College in Walnut. As a Professor of Family and Consumer Studies she has taught Life Management, Personal Finance, and Consumer Skills classes since 2002. She regularly teaches Life Management classes for high school students through Mt. SAC’s Dual Enrollment program. Lisa is active with the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Association (AFCPE®), American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) and the Higher Education Financial Wellness Alliance (HEFWA). She holds a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences from Iowa State University and an M.S in Family and Consumer Sciences from California State University, Northridge.
Ann M. Stahl
Ann Stahl has been a California Jump$tart Coalition Board Member since 2005, and currently serves as its Secretary. She recently retired after 44 years as a Federal Trade Commission Investigator, first at the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in Washington, D.C. and then with its Western Regional Office in Los Angeles. She worked on both consumer protection and antitrust cases, and was also responsible for media relations and outreach for the regional office. She is an adjunct professor in the Family and Consumer Sciences Department of California State University-Northridge, where she teaches a course in Consumer Advocacy and Education. She also serves as Treasurer of the California Alliance for Consumer Education, and as an Educator with the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program.
John Angelo has had a long career in association management over the past 46 years that includes work with the American Red Cross, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and with the CA Society of CPAs (CalCPA) for over 30 years. He is the Former Executive Director of CalCPA Institute (created to provide Financial Literacy for Californians) and Vice President, Strategic Relations for CalCPA. Prior to retirement his scope of work at CalCPA included Financial Literacy, working with accounting educators throughout the state, student outreach, leadership identification and development, nominations, member affinity programs and building strategic alliances with other professional organizations. John is a 30 year member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and a member and past Board Chair of California Society of Association Executives (CalSAE).
Kathie Blanchette, Vice President of Education Junior Achievement of Northern California: Ms. Blanchette has been with Junior Achievement for over a decade, and has held the roles of Education manager and Sr. Education Manager at Junior Achievement of the Chisholm Trail (Fort Worth, TX), and a District Director of the East Bay, Sr. Director of District Operations, and currently, VP of Education with JA of Northern California. This experience has provided her with extensive knowledge of JA programs and best practices. In addition to her local contributions, she currently serves on the Field Program Advisory Committee and Education Officers Advisory Council for Junior Achievement USA®. Ms. Blanchette received her B.A. in History at Texas A&M University.
Jim Charkins, Ph.D. is the Economics Professor Emeritus and Director for Economics Education, California State University, San Bernardino. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1970. Dr. Charkins has developed economics teaching materials and conducted workshops nationally and internationally for teachers and students from the Kindergarten through doctoral level. He is the author of the MoneyWiseTeen (winner of two international awards for creative marketing), Living the American Dream, the Teacher Guide to the California Economics Standards, and It’s Your Choice. He serves on many boards including CCEE, the California Association of School Economics Teachers, and the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association of Business Economists.
Russell Clifford, CFP®, is a veteran of more than 30 years in the financial planning profession. The firm he created, Clifford Financial Planning, Inc., is an industry leader in designing strategies for the creation, preservation, and transfer of wealth.
Mr. Clifford is a sought-after expert on the intricacies of comprehensive financial planning, especially in the areas of widow and divorce planning, and tax and estate planning for successful business owners and families. He is a noted speaker, author, and educator. He has built his career helping clients to identify and achieve their personal financial goals.
One consistent trait that Mr. Clifford finds among people is that financial stress is not determined by one’s net worth. Frequently, many of the most successful people have the greatest degree of stress about their personal finances. Financial peace is important to all people.
Mr. Clifford started in the financial services industry in 1989., and has successfully built his company into an independent, fee-only, comprehensive financial planning, and wealth management firm in Northern California. He serves clients throughout the United States. He has written industry articles and blogs; co-hosted a very popular radio talk show; and has taught hundreds of families, individuals, and business owners, how to achieve financial freedom.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from the King’s University and has earned the coveted Certified Financial Planner(TM) certification and the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst credential.
Russell and Terry, his wife of more than 35 years, reside in Santa Rosa, CA. Together, they have two adult children who are married and four beautiful grandchildren. Outside of helping people create financial independence, he enjoys cooking for family and friends, reading, writing, and the great outdoors.
Andrea Ferrero is the Co-Founder and Director of Pockets Change, an education organization that uses hip hop pedagogy to build financial capability with K-12 students, families, and educators. Teaching on the Navajo reservation where she grew up, Andrea saw friends and students falter when money moved from math class to practical application. Looking for tools to empower learning communities, she stepped into the world of financial literacy and edtech. She’s enjoyed over a decade of teaching PreK-12th grade, coaching educators, and designing award winning educational programs and digital products. Andrea received a B.S. in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University, and two Master’s in Educational Leadership and Curriculum & Instruction with Multicultural Contexts from Azusa Pacific University. She holds a teaching credential in PreK-12th grade multiple subjects. While she’s based in Santa Barbara, California, Andrea calls learning communities in cities around the world home.
Mitchell Freedman is the founder and President of M Freedman & Co., Inc. an Accountancy Corporation, specializing in Multi-Family Office Services (Business Management) and Financial Counseling for performing and creative artists as well as individuals with complex and unique financial needs. He is also founder and President of MFAC Financial Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) Firm. Mr. Freedman is a licensed CPA in California and New York and an RIA. He has earned the credential Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).
Mr. Freedman has been recognized as a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Personal Financial Planning Section of the AICPA. He was named by Worth magazine as one of the '250 Best Financial Advisors' in the United States for five consecutive years. Accounting Today named him as one of the ‘Top 100 Most Influential People’ in the accounting profession for two consecutive years. The same publication named him to three consecutive lists of 50 ‘Name$ to Know in Financial Planning.’ The San Fernando Valley Business Journal recognized Mr. Freedman as one of the ‘25 Top CPAs in the San Fernando Valley.’
Mr. Freedman co-authored both the Guide to Planning for Performing and Creative Artists and the Guide to Planning for Divorce, for the AICPA Personal Financial Planning Library. He edited Disaster Recovery, A Guide to Financial Issues, and Disasters and Financial Planning, a Guide for Preparedness, both distributed by the AICPA and the American Red Cross. In addition, he edited the AICPA continuing education course entitled "Tax Considerations for Professional Athletes and Entertainers.” Mr. Freedman was a panelist on an educational video entitled "The Financial Issues of Aging" and has moderated an educational video entitled "Effective Asset Protection Planning," both for the AICPA.
Denise M. Gutierrez began her educational journey at Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. She went on to achieve a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Leadership and Management from the University of La Verne.
Prior to becoming the President and CEO for the California Council on Economic Education, Denise was the Director of Development for the College of Business and Economics at Cal State Los Angeles. Denise has over 15 years of higher education experience with an extensive background in institutional advancement, fundraising, and corporate and foundation relations.
Denise has served on a number of boards including the Esperanza Scholarship Foundation, National Latina Business Women’s Association-Inland Empire, and Making Education the Answer (META) Foundation. Accomplishments include a Gold Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) award for creating the first Latino Education Access and Development (LEAD) Conference at the University of La Verne, Spirit of La Verne Award for Inclusivity and Diversity, and 2014 Woman of the Year by Congresswoman Grace Napolitano’s Office.
Dr. Vera Jacobson
Dr. Vera Jacobson is passionate about aligning student Career and Technical Education needs with the needs of industry within San Mateo County’s K-14 education system. She obtained a doctorate with a focus on empowering students using 21st Century Skills. She has published her research findings in the International Vocational and Education (IVETA) Journal and California Association of Professors of Educational Administration (CAEPA), “Pedagogical Implementation of 21st Century Skills". She has created workshops for teachers, given talks at local, state, national and international conferences, lobbied at both state and federal levels, was the fellow for California’s CTE Professional organization and participated in the year-long Leadership for Development Institute (LDI) creating a new CTE delivery design for California’s K-12 Educational system. She was published twice in ACTE’s Techniques Magazine, “Power Skills” and her recent article, Equity in Action—Stories from the Field, March 2019.
Bruce Kajiwara has been in the financial services in- dustry since 1979, when he began work as a public accountant in the national firm of Price Waterhouse (now PwC). Bruce is a Certified Public Accountant (non-practicing).
Even though he no longer practices as a CPA, Bruce remains active with his CPA profession. Bruce served as a director in the Sacramento Chapter of the California Society of CPAs (CalCPA), and is currently chairperson of the chapter’s Estate and Financial Planning Committee, a position he has held for over 25 years. He is also a former co-vice-chair of the State Personal Financial Planning Committee for CalCPA. Bruce strives to educate all of his clients about their personal finances as much as possible. He exhibits this commitment beyond work by volunteering to teach others about financial topics, whether they be high school students or adults. He has been a member of CalCPA’s Financial Literacy Committee since 2003, and is a past chair of that committee.
David Lo, CAE currently serves as senior program manager for membership marketing at the California Society of CPAs (CalCPA). His primary responsibilities include empowering all Californians through financial literacy, promoting the CPA profession among high school and college students and career outreach to underrepresented minority populations.
David is an active member with the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and California Society of Association Executives (CalSAE). He has served on CalSAE’s government relations committee and Southern California regional council as a member at large.
Hayley McKane, Regional Director at EVERFI for the West Coast. Hayley has been with EVERFI for the past four years and has held roles as both a Schools Manager and Senior Schools Manager supporting students, teachers, schools & districts across California. Prior to EVERFI, Hayley spent five years as a middle school special education teacher teaching math & science in Alum Rock Unified & San Francisco Unified. Hayley received a B.A. in both Television, Radio & Film and Policy Studies from Syracuse University and her M.A. in Special Education from Alliant International University.
Cathy Nichols-Washer, Ed.D
Cathy Nichols-Washer has been superintendent of The Lodi School District since 2008. The district covers 350 miles and includes 52 school sites and over 30,000 students. She has successfully worked with many challenges, among them a $30 million district reduction during the recent recession. Prior to this position in Lodi, she was the Superintendent of the Manteca USD from 2004-08, and had worked previously as Assistant, then Interim, Superintendent of Manteca for four years. Her earlier career included positions as Director of Curriculum and Education Services at Patterson USD (K-Adult curriculum), Principal at Stockton's Victory Elementary and Teacher in the Scaramento USD.
Cathy also currently teaches at Cal State Stanislaus in the Doctoral Program, and has taught at San Joaquin Teachers College and University of the Pacific in Stockton. She is, and has been, Board Member of a number of youth organizations in the Lodi area, including the Lodi Boys & Girls Club, Give Every Child a Chance, the Manteca Unified Student Trust and initiated GOT (Giving Opportunities To Kids), a Lodi District related Foundation. Cathy has a PhD and MA in Educational Administration, a BS in Human Development from UC Davis and multiple certificates/credentials in language Development and Multiple Subjects Teaching. She lives in Stockton with her family.
Chase A. Peckham
Chase Peckham serves as the director of community outreach for the San Diego Financial Literacy Center (SDFLC), a nonprofit he helped establish in 2013 as the education arm of DebtWave Credit Counseling, Inc. The work of the SDFLC is focused on personal financial education of San Diego County residents with a focus on youth (K-12 and college), military (active, transitioning and veteran) and low-to-moderate income individuals.
Chase received his bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of San Francisco in 1995. He also earned his Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF) and Certified Personal Finance Counselor (CPFC) certifications through the Center for Financial Certifications.
Chase serves on the board of the Stone Ranch Elementary School Foundation and on the San Diego Mesa College of Business Advisory Board. He lives with his wife, Keri and children, Clayton and Avery in 4S Ranch, a community in North County San Diego.
In his free time, Chase enjoys vacationing with his family, boating, waterskiing, golfing and watching his kids play sports.
Melissa Pederson has worked at Wescom Credit Union since 1990 and serves currently as the Vice-President of Branch Operations - Region I, a role she has held since 2006. She is a graduate of Western CUNA Management School (2006) and completed the Advanced Leadership Program through the USC Marshall School of Business (2005). Melissa leads a network of 11 branches to success by identifying methods to best serve the membership, and those who live and work in southern California, through the vast product and service line available.
During her tenure at Wescom, Melissa has been an active participant on the Board of the Wescom Credit Union WeCare Foundation since 2000. The WeCare Foundation was founded by Wescom employees in 1999 as a charitable, not-for-profit organization designed to help people in need through charitable giving and volunteerism. In that time, they have raised and distributed nearly $2 million dollars through employee contributions and participated in hundreds of events. Melissa currently serves WeCare as their Secretary and has served as Chair, Vice-Chair and Treasurer.
Sridhar Ramakrishnan is currently the Founder of Arnexa, Inc. – a Silicon Valley start-up focused on providing secure, zero-phishing messaging solutions to governments and businesses that desire trusted and engaged communications with their customers. Prior to Arnexa, Sridhar founded, or was part of, several start-ups. He started his career at Hewlett-Packard where he worked on various engineering and management roles.
Sridhar has a Masters in Computer Science from the University of New Hampshire and a B. Tech in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India. Outside of work, Sridhar enjoys reading as well as writing his blog at medium.com/@srid.
Susan Stone is a highly motivated, experienced Management Professional with close to 30 years experience in operations, marketing, strategic planning, business development, financial planning and management, conference planning and human resources. Susan has spent the past 4 years as the Geographic Marketing and Corporate Responsibility Leader for the Pacific Southwest at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Susan is responsible for advising market leadership on how best to reach clients in the market in order to build penetration in top priority accounts. She works extensively with the Global Line of Service and sector marketers to develop integrated marketing plans and programs at the market level that are designed to build/deepen client/target/influencer relationships, enhance the firm's brand and visibility, strengthen alumni relations, promote and sell PwC capabilities and services.
Prior to joining PwC Susan spent 8 years at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP where she was the Director of Marketing and Public Relations. At Manatt Susan was responsible for the development and implementation of strategic marketing, public relations and business development programs and activities designed to support Firm’s National growth goals. Susan also spent 14 years in the investment banking industry working for both Oppenheimer and Sutro & Co.
Susan has received several awards for excellence in marketing from American Lawyer Media, the Legal Marketing Association and Public Relations Society of America. Additionally, Susan was a contributing author to a book “Meeting Client Needs: Effective Marketing Strategies”published by Aspatore Books, Best Practices for Marketing Lawyers, September 2008.
Abby Ulm is Director of the Center for Financial Empowerment, a nonprofit organization founded and sponsored by SCE Federal Credit Union. The Center delivers practical personal finance education for high school youth and young adults in Southern California and Southern Nevada. In addition to comprehensive classroom workshops, their most popular program, Mad City Money, is an interactive simulation activity that teaches youth real-life financial lessons in a fun, engaging format.
Abby has 25 years of experience in credit union financial services and financial education. Under her leadership, the Center has facilitated over 1,300 financial literacy workshops, helping 36,000 individuals learn to use wise money management skills that include budgeting, saving for emergencies and life goals, establishing credit and managing debt. Her dedication to this cause earned the Center the distinction of being selected as a Nonprofit of the Year in 2018.
Stanley H. Breitbard
Stanley H. Breitbard, Chairman Emeritus, has practiced as a CPA for 32 years with Price Waterhouse, primarily as a tax partner. For 12 years until his retirement in 1995, he was the National Director of the firm’s personal financial planning department. During his professional career, Stanley was the co-author of the Price Waterhouse Personal Financial Advisor. He was also the first Chairman of the American Institute of CPAs Personal Financial Planning Division and was named one of the top 60 financial planners by Worth Magazine. Since retiring from Price Waterhouse, Stanley has been teaching and volunteering in financial education.
Parth Asawa - Youth Advisor
Parth Asawa is a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, CA and the Director of the Financial Literacy Introduction Program, a part of the Youth Economics Initiative nonprofit, of which he is an Executive Board Member. Parth has worked to create interactive financial literacy curricula to distribute to students for their schools and local communities around the nation.
Parth is a published Op-Ed author on the topic of financial literacy in multiple newspapers, has spoken on an NPR Perspectives Podcast on its importance, hosted financial literacy workshops, and has designed a risk management board game. Outside of financial literacy education and advocacy, Parth is also involved in Model United Nations and has a passion for math and science.