Michelle serves all three offices of Playworks Northern California, helping fundraise across the Bay Area to promote the power of play. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz, Michelle majored in Feminist Studies. She spent several years volunteering and traveling across the world, eventually making her home in San Francisco in 2008, where she has worked and volunteered in the nonprofit sector since. Michelle has been at Playworks for over four years, and her favorite game is “I love my neighbor.” Michelle is also currently working towards her Masters in Nonprofit Administration at the University of San Francisco. When not at work or school, Michelle is usually running, biking, or reading.
Playworks for every kid
Staff and Leadership
Philip Dizon is excited to join Playworks. He has several years of experience in business development, sales, and strategic partner management. He has worked at successful start-ups to major corporations in the tech and finance industry in Hawaii and the Bay Area, such as Intel Security, Smith Barney, and Bank of Hawaii. One reason that the Playworks mission resonates with him is that he also has volunteered for over 15 years to teach and work with kids in his local community. He enjoys seeing the kids learning, playing, and having fun. In his spare time, Phil loves being with his wife and 2 kids vacationing to theme parks or exploring the off beaten paths in California.
Rachel Wyley has dedicated 12+ years of service to youth development in the Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, and Atlanta communities. Prior to joining the Playworks team in January 2017, Rachel served as program director with San Francisco-based nonprofit, Peer Health Exchange. Her love for the Bay Area was ignited during her time as a teaching fellow and later, campus director with Citizen Schools Northern California in East Oakland. She attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and holds a B.A. in both English and African-American Studies. Rachel is passionate about both working to ensure educational equity and also, equipping youth with the tools and resources that they need to become agents-of-change within their communities. When not working toward ensuring that all students will one day have the opportunity to engage in safe play at school, Rachel can be found developing her skills as a singer-songwriter and every once in a while, performing internationally.
Jackie Hemann, Program Director, is in her ninth year with Playworks. She spent four years working as a site coordinator at Sobrante Park and Lafayette Elementary schools and two years working at Westlake Middle School. As a program director, Jackie likes visiting schools and seeing how students are impacted by Playworks programming.
Shantrell "Trell" Sneed started as a Playworks coach at Bayview Elementary in Richmond in 2009. Trell has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley, where she was a four-year varsity letter winner on the CAL basketball team. Trell applies the same diligence and passion to transforming kids lives at school and on the playground as she did on the court and in the classroom.
Trell is in her first year as a program director and she is excited to apply her knowledge as a coach and from being coached to helping her staff achieve meaningful change and success. She misses the daily interaction and playing with the kids but feels good that in her new role she is impacting kids at not just one school but thirty-eight schools. Trell is passionate about the results Playworks has transforming the lives of urban youth through positive play.
Eric is a man of many talents, including but not limited to coffee roasting, cooking, bike repair, and blogging. He has a degree from the prestigious California College of Arts and is known for making pots and coffee mugs as gifts for good friends - so make friends with him! His upbeat personality, "I can fix that" attitude and extensive experience managing large complicated events and projects for a media production company make him perfect for his role as development manager.
Michelle started working for Playworks in 2013, when she was an AmeriCorps program coordinator at Tara Hills Elementary School for two years. She is now off the playground and making a broader impact in the community as the program associate in the East Bay. Michelle graduated with a degree in Theater and Performance studies at UC Berkeley. Her drive to support positive youth development throughout the community has been the motivating force throughout her professional development. She loves working for an organization that believes the power of play brings out the best in everyone. When she is out of the office and not playing games she likes exploring all the great hiking trails the Bay Area has to offer!
Born and raised in the East Bay, Wendy Woodhead has been a youth advocate in the East Bay for over eight years and is excited to apply her passion for play along with her enthusiasm for community engagement to the program manager position. Wendy graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Latin American and Latino Studies (Go Banana Slugs!). She began with Playworks as an Americorps program coordinator in 2013 at Stege Elementary in Richmond, CA. Although Wendy misses the intense games of knockout and "dance party Fridays" on her old playground, she enjoys sharing her creativity in supporting coaches. In her spare time, you can find Wendy crafting away on her sewing machine, trying new local restaurants, or planning her next globe trotting adventure.
Kenny grew up in the East Bay and has over 15 years of experince working with youth. He's passionate about working to ensure that all kids have a fun experience. When not at work, he loves spending time with his wife and two daughters, bike riding, camping, traveling, and eating out.
Tisa joined the Playworks team in 2007 as a Playworks coach for the East Bay office. She is very enthusiastic in the work she does and that is reflected on the impact that she makes at the schools she serves. Tisa strongly believes in the power of play. In her spare time she enjoys traveling to Puerto Rico and spending quality time with her family.
Peter brings over 10 years of experience in working with children and families. Peter was born and raised in the Bay Area. He started with Playworks in 2010 as an AmeriCorps Programs Coordinator at Montalvin Manor Elementary School in Richmond, CA. Peter loves bonding with his students, families, and communities through all types of service. When Peter isn't helping on the playground, he can be found at home with his three sons and amazing family.
Tara Matthews joined Playworks in December 2015 as a program coordinator in San Francisco at Malcolm X Academy. This year she is excited to cross a different bridge to work as a site coordinator with the East Bay team! With ten years experience in youth development, her work has spanned the globe from the USA to Uganda, where she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Tara loves being part of an organization that values the power of play and sees potential in every child, from the foursquare court to a game of wizard tag. In her free time, Tara keeps busy watching the Warriors, riding her big blue bike, playing a game of kickball, and perfecting her cupid shuffle.
Evelia Ramirez-Guerra joined Playworks in 2007 as a program coordinator in Richmond, California. Today she is a site coordinator in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. As a site coordinator, Evelia is excited to see four schools transform into healthy and playful communities. Her favorite playground games are castleball and soccer.
Luis joined Playworks in 2014 as a program coordinatorr. He comes with a deep passion for child development and is excited to be a part of the Playworks East Bay team. He strives to bring quality recess to every kid. Prior to Playworks, Luis attended UC Berkeley and worked as a tutoring director for the BUILD Program. In his spare time he enjoys playing soccer and spending time with his partner and son, Valerie and Ollin.
Antoine joined Playworks in August 2000 when it was known as Sports 4 Kids. Throughout the many years at his schools, he showed his passion and commitment for the skill development of children. His passion is deeply rooted in the love of his three children. They have been the fire that keep him motivated in the work he does. When he is not at work he is spending time with his wife and kids.
Paul Collins joined the Northern California team in January 2017. Drawn to the power of play in education and human development, Paul brings well over a decade of nonprofit leadership and experience—and another decade of relationship management experience in the financial services sector—to Playworks San Francisco. His prior experience includes serving as the Bay Area executive director at BUILD, the Northern California executive director at College Summit, and the vice president of operations & development at the Urban Ed Academy in San Francisco. In addition, Paul leads the Program Committee as a Board Member of the San Francisco Education Fund and has volunteered with the Full Circle Fund and several Bay Area nonprofit organizations. He is passionate about educational access, supporting public education, youth development, and strengthening our local communities.
Paul graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor's degree in psychology and holds a Master's degree in organizational development from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Before transitioning to the nonprofit world, Paul traveled extensively throughout Oaxaca, Mexico with his wife and two young children. Later, his daughter was a Junior Coach with Sports4Kids (now Playworks) in 2008. When not at work, Paul enjoys playing tennis or basketball, hiking in all kinds of weather, reading, sharing good music, walking his dog Moka, and laughing as often as possible. His new favorite game is Tanks & Drivers.
Ben Stein hails from the city of Pittsburgh, PA, where he spent his time cheering for the Penguins. He joined Playworks in 2005 as a Program Coordinator in San Francisco where he lived and worked for two years. In 2007, Ben became a Program Manager, supervising nine schools in East Oakland, where he spent another two years. Then Ben step out of his comfort zone to stretch himself professional and decided to join Playworks national training team as a national trainer and curriculum developer. He got to train teachers and other youth workers all across the country to work with kids from pre-kindergarten through high school. In addition, he provided consultations to the staff at many playgrounds around the country. Ben was also responsible for Playworks internal Training University program. By joining the San Francisco team Ben will be responsible for overall city growth, building and excelling our relationships with administrators, teachers, parents, district employees and officials, local businesses, neighbors and community partners. He’ll drive city health and excellence through: program quality, professional development, and employee happiness and satisfaction.
Born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Stuart began his Playworks journey as the Development Associate with the North Carolina team. After a year in North Carolina, Stuart embarked on a trek to the west coast where he will serve as the Development Associate for San Francisco. His passion for youth, sports, and community impact are all reasons why he loves his job at Playworks. In his free time you can catch Stuart playing basketball or watching the Panthers, Red Raiders, and Hornets.
Ronni is a Midwest native with a background in community organizing and nonprofit operations. She is passionate about improving outcomes for kids of all ages, and excited to be a member of the Playworks team. When she is not in the office, she can be found exploring the Bay Area, cooking a meal for loved ones, or reading nonfiction.
Amir Abdul-Shakur has been working with at-risk youth populations for over 12 years. Since joining Playworks in 2006 as a Program Coordinator, Amir has worked tirelessly with various school communities across the bay area to bring the power of play to thousands of students. Now, as a Program Manager in San Francisco, Amir hopes to bring the fun, excitement and dedication he had on the playground into the office. In his spare time, Amir enjoys playing basketball, traveling, listening to Jazz music and spending time with his wife and young son.
Colby is a native son of the great city of Oakland, and he joined the Playworks team in 2008 as an AmeriCorps program coordinator (coach) at Verde Elementary School in Richmond, California. He spent two school years as a coach at Verde bringing safe, meaningful play to the students and community. In the summer of 2010, Colby was chosen to be part of the Playworks expansion effort. He relocated to Philadelphia with the new title of program manager to help establish a Playworks footprint in the area. His love of the Bay Area brought Colby back to San Francisco in the summer of 2011, where he served for five consecutive school years as a program manager. In his time as a program manager in San Francisco, Colby was focused primarily on mentoring and supporting Playworks coaches, but he also had an opportunity to deliver Playworks' professional development trainings to teacher groups, after-school staff, and volunteers. In September of 2016, Colby took his training experience to the next level and became a full-time Playworks Pro trainer. He is excited to bring the Playworks mission, philosophies, and strategies to educator groups across the greater Bay Area and beyond! When he is not playing awesome games with Playworks clients, Colby can be found playing in pick-up soccer games, hiking trails in the Oakland hills, or spending time with his family.
David Sanchez joined Playworks in 2012 dedicating three highly gratifying school years as a flex and program coordinator at San Pedro Elementary in San Rafael, CA prior to making the office transition. Equipped with over a decade in youth development, the Bay Area native is excited to be serving with such a talented and spirited San Francisco team to spearhead change. While keeping playfulness in mind, he hopes to continue to have a positive impact on playgrounds with the goal of further empowering surrounding communities. When not intently spreading the Playworks mission, David can frequently be found taking in live music, out in the wilderness, sticking to non-fiction, or cheering on his favorite East Bay sports teams.
Born and raised in Oakland, Ellen has served in various youth development roles over the past eight years and is excited to bring her passion for sports, play, and physical activity to the site coordinator position. Ellen graduated from UCLA with a BA in International Development Studies and Spanish. She began with Playworks in 2015 as a coach at Sanchez Elementary in San Francisco. Although she misses the experience of working closely with one school, Ellen is excited to expand the Playworks mission of play into other San Francisco schools! In her spare time, you can find Ellen trying a new recipe in the kitchen, playing volleyball, or dreaming of her next travel destination.
Coach Wayne is a second year site coordinator. He has worked with Playworks for the past five years. During his first four years with Playworks, he had the privilege of being a program coordinator at Bahia Vista School in San Rafael. Last year, Wayne piloted the new TeamUp program in Daly City and San Francisco. This year, he will be bringing the new Team Up program to four schools in Marin County.
Patricia O’Brien brings a love for play and a wealth of nonprofit experience to Playworks Silicon Valley. She holds a PhD in Sociology from UC Berkeley. Prior to joining the Playworks team, she served as Executive Director of San Mateo County Health Foundation and CEO of Lifelong Fitness Alliance. She is committed to building healthy communities and is dedicated to changing the world through play. She serves on the board of Women’s Achievement Network and Alliance, does oodles of volunteer work in the community, and when not delighting in the power of positive play, she can often be found hiking the longest trails she can find, swimming, running, reading or hula hooping for relaxation.
An alum of San Jose Unified Schools, Ben returned to the district in 2010 as a Playworks AmeriCorps member at Lowell Elementary. After two years serving the Lowell community, he decided to help with Playworks North Carolina’s expansion as program manager. Ben spent three years supporting schools and coaches in Durham and Wake County. He is a certified Playworks trainer and helped train 26 schools in Charlotte. Ben returned to Playworks Silicon Valley in 2015 as program director, and is excited to bring play to over 17,000 kids in the South Bay area. He is a proud graduate of Bellarmine College Prep and Princeton University. Ben hopes to embody their mottos of "men for others" and "in the Nation's service" through his work with Playworks.
Julia Damon is a Midwest native who found home in the Bay Area. She graduated from Indiana University with a major in nonprofit management and certificate in fundraising. She brings with her a background in marketing communications from her work with a technology startup in DC. She is dedicated to improving our education system in innovative ways, such as play. When not furthering the power of play, you can find her hiking or cooking a meal recently learned from the Food Network.
Angel Hernandez is going on his ninth year with Playworks and second as a program manager in the Silicon Valley. He is sad to leave the Bishop Elementary community but is also excited to be able to bring the power of play to multiple school communities. When Angel is not working hard on the school yard, he is keeping up with whichever sports are in season and spending all the time in the world with his pug.
As a born and raised Northern Californian, Tim is honored to have served as a program coordinator at three schools across Silicon Valley since joining Playworks in 2007. As a program manager, he is thrilled to share his passion for recess throughout the South Bay. In his spare time, Tim enjoys advocating dog rescue - particularly for senior and pit bull-type dogs - and watching American soccer exactly once every four years.
Leah was introduced to the power of play in 2013 when she became an AmeriCorps member for Playworks in Silicon Valley. After two years in the game, Leah is thrilled to share her enthusiasm for play with the entire Peninsula as a Program Manager. In her new role, she is most looking forward to being her coaches' #1 fan and supporter as they work hard to implement such a powerful, life-changing program in their school communities.
Courtney aka "Coach Court" began her service with Playworks SoCal as an AmeriCorps program coordinator at Aspire Firestone Academy. Born and raised in San Jose, Coach Court has always had a passion for serving young people in her community. Courtney has worked as a preschool teacher, elementary physical education coordinator, and youth case manager. Through these positions she has gained invaluable experience forming solid partnerships with schools, parents, and students to prepare them for success. She is excited to inspire others in the community through the power of play! In her spare time, Courtney can be found spending time with her daughter, listening to music, and dancing.
After her first year as a program coordinator in East Palo at Cesar Chavez and Los Robles Elementary Schools, Kristie is eager to bring play to an even greater number of children as a site coordinator. She graduated from Santa Clara University after studying Anthropology and Public Health, which she has found helpful in understanding communities and ways to bring a positive impact to them. A native of Colorado, she always sets her goals high because that’s what it takes to reach the top of a 14,000 foot mountain. Now, she plans to use this love of being outdoors and pushing the limits at four schools in Silicon Valley. During her down time, she enjoys trail running, biking, writing, listening to every crime podcast there ever was, and spending time with family and friends.
Jake is thrilled to be returning to Playworks where in the past he served as a coach in Santa Clara. In the 2011-2012 school year he won the Playworks Silicon Valley Rookie of the Year Award for his efforts. He is excited at the opportunity to work with four unique school communities around the Peninsula in his new role. Jake has been working in education for six years and loves how the Playworks model can transform and empower through the fun of play. In his free time, Jake is attending graduate school, plays and coaches basketball, and loves to travel.