Horizons is not an Agency… it is a Family! We are reunited by a common passion and drive to serve our community and inspired by our youth whose strength and resilience serve as a model for our own growth. Collaboration and partnership form the crux of the services we offer, with each staff bringing a unique and crucial experience to the table. Our Staff Family is our everyday heroes and soldiers; fighting on the frontlines against an ongoing battle to bring about positive change in the lives of the youth and families we serve.
We are a Family of dedicated, resourceful, and unwavering professionals; humbled and honored by the sacred privilege to serve our community. And like a Family, we support each other in our challenges and successes, we break bread together, laugh together, and cry together in depths and the beauty of the work to which we have given our lives. We are family!
Meet Our Family
Celina Lucero · Nancy Abdul-Shakur · Lynette Akiona · Alejandra Barcena · Erin Rose Cruz · Christian Cuadrado · Gabriela Espinoza · Vilma Herrera · Christopher James · Phyllis Lozano · Hector Ramos · Donna Saffioti-Johnson · Berlin Sanchez · Priscilla Santamaria · Valeria Varela-Romo · Selso Silva
Meet our Board of Directors · Meet Our Community Ambassador
Celina is living testimony to the power and impact that Horizons has on the youth and community it serves. Like many other Mission District youth, Celina joined the Horizons Familia over 25 years ago as a youth worker, and has since held several other leadership positions before being duly appointed Executive Director in 2015.
The youngest of 9 children, Celina brings with her an unmatched drive to excel, be of service, and create teachable moments. Graduating with honors from UC Berkeley in Sociology was much more than receiving a degree; it represented the opportunity to bring that degree back to her family and neighborhood, and excite others to pursue what they thought was impossible.
Her most prized possession (next to her son) is her innate ability to develop and maintain lasting relationships. When asked, her biggest achievement isn’t the countless awards and recognitions she has received, it is the family she has made along the way. “Being in the position that I am to truly bless others is really a double blessing. Not only am I able to bless those around me, but in reality, receive the ultimate satisfaction and blessing through giving.”
Nancy was born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District. A self proclaimed non-profit baby, she comes to Horizons with over 20 years in combined experience in youth development and empowerment work, environmental justice youth organizing, and environmental service learning education. Nancy joined the Horizons family in 2010 as the MYEEP Program Coordinator focusing on finding Mission and Potrero Hill youth employment opportunities.
She naturally transitioned into managing the LifeWorks Employment Program (LWP) which offers wraparound job readiness training, case management, and academic support to system involved youth. In 2018, she transitioned into the role of Program Director supporting the Employment and Prevention team. Along with her Directorship responsibilities, Nancy also co-facilitates Horizons’ Strengthening Families Program, and supports the Horizons Community Advisory Board. With the lived and worked experience she brings, Nancy hopes to help move Horizons into a new phase, that incorporates, deep rooted cultural humility, innovative programing, and youth centric leadership advancement work.
Nancy’s life mission has been to give back to the community that once gave so much to her and her family. She is a fluent Spanish speaker, merengue and cumbia dancer, who dabbles in art, and self-healing writing. She loves to travel and spend time with her husband Amir and reading revolutionary books to her son Zaire.
Lynn Akiona comes from a big Hawaiian family (Ohana). When she and her parents moved from the Mainland, their first home was in the Mission District. She enjoys music, laughter, and her children.
She has overcome many obstacles in her life, which brought her back to the Mission District. She is committed to giving back to the youth through a lot of love, strength, hope and a better future. She recently achieved her CATC I certification and credentials while studying at San Mateo College in the Drug and Alcohol field. She is blessed to be a Senior Substance Abuse Counselor here at Horizons.
Alejandra is from Los Angeles and moved to San Francisco in pursuit of her graduate studies. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts in History (Latin America Concentration) with minors in Education and Political Science from UC Davis. She is currently studying at the University of San Francisco, working on her Master’s in Human Rights Education.
One of her goals moving to the Bay area was to become part of a family that would align with her commitment towards the advancement for social justice. She believes in cultural wealth and comprehends the importance of integrating a curriculum that is not solely based on the struggles of a community, but on the existence and resistance that makes the community a transformative social factor for change.
Outside of work, she is a student ambassador for the School of Education at the University of San Francisco, and works alongside other educators in support of undocumented students, as well as serving the Latinx population at school. Alejandra is bilingual (Spanish and English) and Mexican. She loves food, especially Mexican spicy food. On her spare time she is most likely napping, researching and studying for her program, hiking, reading, or binge watching films.
Erin Rose Cruz
Erin studied at San Francisco State University and graduated in 2016, earning her degree in Communicative Disorders and a minor in Special Education. Afterwards, she became a MYEEP employee at Buchanan YMCA in 2017, and transitioned into becoming MYEEP’s Program Coordinator at Horizons Unlimited in 2018.
Outside of work since 2016, she serves as a Filipino/Filipino-American Studies Teacher and Malong (Health/Wellness) Coordinator at Balboa High School through Pin@y Educational Partnerships (PEP). Erin’s different roles in the community help open opportunities and connections for her students at Horizons. Whether at work or not, Erin pushes to bring love and light to different spaces.
Chris Cuadrado is a writer, artist, poet, producer, and cultural organizer, originally from Inglewood, CA, currently based in the Bay Area. Chris uses words, sights, and sounds as a means of empowerment, with the hope of offering tools of healing and liberation through creativity.
Chris has been using the arts to work with system impacted youth of color, from media programs, to cultural programming in juvenile halls, to the environmental prevention and event coordination programming with Horizons Unlimited. Chris is committed to using the arts to further strengthen the rich cultural foundation of the Mission District.
Gabriela was born and raised in the Bay Area, attended College of San Mateo where she obtained her AA in Social Sciences, and then moved on to SFSU where she graduated with a BA in Psychology. She came onboard to Horizons Unlimited beginning of 2015, where she initially started off as the Mental Health Case Manager, working together with the Mental Health Specialist they were able to make the program flourish.
Then about two years ago Gabriela began assisting with the RoadMap to Peace Program mainly with assisting the in-custody work across all three San Francisco Jails. This project has been amazing to her she never knew how much she would truly love it!
When she is not at work she loves to travel with her husband and spend time with family and friends.
Vilma Herrera works in the Administrative Office as an assistant to Executive Director, Celina Lucero, and Accountant, Phyllis Lozano. She mainly handles the employee files and keeping them up to date, Credit Card Transactions, Check Requests, and organizing all paperwork
Apart from her office duties, she has recently taken babysitting for the Strengthening Families Program to a whole new level by incorporating a curriculum filled with engaging, hands-on activities for all ages. Vilma started at Horizons 3 years ago as a babysitter for the Strengthening Families Program and has since then worked her way up to her current position. She is passionate about helping families and children, and connecting them to helpful resources.
Phyllis has a B.A. from Cal State University Hayward and worked in the corporate accounting field for more than 30 years. She transitioned to the nonprofit financial arena in 2012 when she split her time between Horizons and The Latino Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuses Services.
Since July 2019, Phyllis is full time at Horizons and is responsible for the daily finance, accounting and HR matters for Horizons. She is happy to use her skills and time to support the Horizons’ Familia and its mission.
Hector Ramos joined the Horizons’ family in 2001. He started working in the Outpatient Program and later moved to Prevention Education when offered a Coordinator position.
Currently, he is the Principal Program Coordinator for EPSF (Environmental Prevention San Francisco) and SFP (Strengthening Families Program). Hector is also the lead instructor for Facilitators for the SFP program in San Francisco and is the CPR / First Aid Instructor for Horizons.
Hector is originally from Argentina, speaks both English and Spanish, and has worked with youth in San Francisco since 1995. His education includes a Bachelors and MBA from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA.
Donna Saffioti Johnson began working at Horizons in March of 1988 in the HIV Prevention and Early Intervention Program. She provided comprehensive HIV education to Middle and High School students as well as for non-traditional sites such as Larkin Street, Hospitality House and YGC. Horizons’ HIV program was expanded to target two other groups that often fell through the cracks including injection drug using youth, which led to long-term collaboration with needle exchange programs and her founding of a youth specific site.
Her work with street affiliated youth led to a decades long partnership with CALLES/CRN and the establishment of Late Night programming for this marginalized population. She returned to school and received her CATC certification to provide Substance Abuse counseling to youth dealing with substance use and related issues. Currently she is a youth trainer for the SFP program, the EP program, a Joven Noble trainer and provides a 4-part educational series to meet school requests.
AWARDS: Mujeres Adelante | Heroes of the AIDS Epidemic | The Samuel Puckett Memorial Award | The Wedge Program’s Distinction Award | Concordia Award for Community Work | Cheyenne Bell Award | Mission Peacekeeper
Berlin Sanchez Tecpile
Berlin was born in Astacinga, Veracruz, Mexico, raised in Long Beach, and currently based in San Francisco. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor’s in Anthropology and Latinx Studies. Her approach to every day is to ground herself in service to her community.
In 2018, she was introduced to Horizons as the Program Coordinator of LifeWorks Employment Program. She is also a Youth Co-Facilitator in the Strengthening Families Program at Horizons. She also likes to think of herself as a poet and essayist who loves to think and write about the uses of love.
Valeria Varela-Romo was introduced to Horizons at the age of 16 as a participant and has been given the opportunity to become part of the Horizons’ Staff Familia by working in the program that helped her so much. She is Xicana and a San Francisco Native, majoring in Criminal Justice at our own San Francisco State University. Valeria hopes to pursue a law career, being the first to go college in her family and law school.
She takes much pride in being able to represent her roots and give back to the community. Valeria hopes to inspire other youth of color to find themselves and unite with one another to achieve their dreams and make their roots and ancestors proud.
Meet Our Board of Directors
After five years as an employee of Horizons Unlimited, serving as a Program Coordinator for The DJ Project, Environmental Prevention, and Strengthening Families programs, Matthew Moretti is thrilled to continue to contribute to the Horizons community as a member of the Board of Directors.
Matthew earned his undergraduate degree at UCLA, where he studied World Arts and Cultures and was involved in on-campus concert production through the University’s Cultural Affairs Commission. Upon graduating in 2009, he began his employment at Horizons, and spent his time outside of work promoting Bay Area hip-hop music as a Project Manager and Freelance Writer at Thizzler.Com.
In 2014, Matthew enrolled in the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where he is currently pursuing his Juris Doctorate with a concentration in Intellectual Property Law. Matthew is an Editor on the Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal, and a member of the Association of Communications, Sports and Entertainment Law. He expects to earn his degree in the Spring of 2017.
Virginia L. Tapia is a highly versatile, results-oriented active California CPA with over 25 years of combined Pharmaceutical, Biotech, Telecommunications and Insurance industry experience and diverse background in areas of Accounting, Finance and Controllership. She currently works at FibroGen, Inc. as the Director of Accounting and Financial Reporting. Recent projects involve the implementation of ASC 606 – New Revenue Recognition standard and ASC 842 – New Lease Accounting standard.
Virginia received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from San Francisco State University and her MBA – Finance from Notre Dame De Namur University.
Virginia is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and The California Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Donna Amador is…
Native San Franciscan, Fillmore-born, Mission-bred
Mother of 3, Grandmother of 8
Master of Education in so many different realms
Nature lover, Ocean worshiper
Voracious Reader, Thinker, Truth seeker
Activist, San Francisco State strike 1968
Fighter for Ethnic Studies – even still necessary in 2016
Los Siete de la Raza 1969
Mission Childcare Consortium Board 1974-1986
Horizons Unlimited – Gracias for children, grandchildren
Time for her to return the favor!
Cristina Corona joined the Horizon Unlimited Board in the summer of 2015. She enjoys being part of the Horizon Board which allow her to stay connected with the community and passionate about youth development. Cristina believe in Horizon mission to engage, educate, and inspire our youth to be GREAT!
She is currently a member of other non-profit boards in the bay area and is a certified talent advisor within the Corporate Leadership Council. She has held multiple positions in within her ten years of experience in Human Resources/Talent Acquisition within the corporate sector. Cristina enjoys planning events, interior decorating, volunteering, and spending time with her family.
· Over seven years of experience in big data, healthcare fraud and forensics and project management specializing in high level, data driven projects based on criminal organizations.
· Over seven years of team building and team management.
· CEO and Co-founder of TicketDM, a safe, mobile ticket exchange application focused on the music festival community. Worked with my co founders Christian Ceaser, Stedmon Bates and Louis Ceaser IV for over two years.
· Recipient of the Stanford Alumni Association Class of 2010 Award of Excellence
· Recipient of Sigma Nu Fraternity Stu Campbell Award for Extraordinary Service
· Board Member, Horizons SF – We provide substance abuse, mental health, gender specific and employment services to Latino and other youth of color and their families in San Francisco.
Distance Traveled: I am a first-generation college graduate and first-generation entrepreneur. I was raised by an amazing single mother who worked tirelessly to provide a stable upbringing as I moved nearly every year and attended four middle school and three high schools before high school graduation. I attribute my entrepreneurship journey to my family, my church, and the life changing support systems I gained at Stanford University. Upon graduation, I spent 7 years working as a project manager/ team leader for Healthcare Fraud and Forensics / Big Data based projects. I also worked as a growth marketer for campaigns amassing over $8 million revenue for my clients. Over the last 12 years, I have been a leader and community builder both professionally and socially and I sought to create my own company that solved a complex problem based in community building. After attending numerous music festivals, I launched TicketDM for the music festival community with my co founders with whom I have worked for the last two years. We bootstrapped, launched and developed the TicketDM app in September 2018.
Differences as Strengths: I have spent most of my career using agile methodology, big data based decision making and strategic relationships to tackle complex problems. My biggest challenges today are finding key mentorship creating the necessary relationships in the tech community and music festival community make TicketDM the first tech savvy, mobile, millennial focused C2C exchange tool.
The most important thing I learned in my experiences thus far is how to use big data, human behavior and technology to create tools and platforms that are current and efficient. I learned how to make evidence based workflows and data driven assumptions to accomplish goals. With the data intact, I could extend that knowledge and build on everything I helped create with confidence. I learned how to disrupt traditional industries with limited resources and limited supervision.
Isabelle Plessis Boin
Isabelle’s work focuses on developing and implementing effective policies for responsible corporate behavior. Her work has spanned responsible sourcing initiatives to online privacy and financial transactions at major international companies. Prior to her move to the Bay Area, Isabelle was at the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization (UNESCO), the Canadian government, and various international research institutes.
Isabelle holds two Masters degrees as a Fulbright Scholar in International Affairs from Columbia University and Science Po (Paris), a B.A. from the University of British Columbia, and is fluent in French and German. She is passionate about intercultural exchange, empowering stronger communities locally and globally, and ensuring access to justice for victims of human rights abuses.
In 2016, Salvador founded an Employee Resource Group (ERG) dedicated to the advancement of Latinos in Technology. His first major initiative was to start a program that would utilize out-of-service laptops and re-purpose them for charity. It was a project that hadn’t been done at his office before and after months of seeking approvals he was finally given the green light to donate 50 laptops to a local charity. That charity was Horizons Unlimited. Salvador’s work in the community as an ERG leader would garner him recognition as the recipient of his company’s annual Give Back Award in 2017, as well as special recognition at the Diversity Best Practices Above and Beyond Awards in 2018. In 2019, three years after being introduced to amazing people at Horizons, Salvador joined the Board of Directors.
Born in the agricultural town of Salinas, CA, Salvador quickly saw the differences in the opportunities afforded to those with versus those without. He would use that as motivation as he went on to be the first in his family to graduate from college. In 2007, Salvador graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from San Jose State University. He would use that as a springboard to a successful career in business, working for companies such as Yahoo!, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Core-Mark, and Macy’s. In 2010, Salvador was one of ten individuals nationwide to win the ALPFA Leadership Scholarship. In 2012, Salvador obtained his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from University of Phoenix. Currently, Salvador works as the Director of Corporate Accounting for LendingClub.
Jillian joins the Horizons Unlimited board with over 25 years of experience in advocacy-based organizations. Her work with educational policy reform as a student, social justice and awareness as a photojournalist, and her current career track in human resources has given her a life-long passion for community engagement. Jillian is a Senior Human Resources Manager for a small oncology biotech in San Francisco. She is a Virginia-native and moved to the Bay Area 4 years ago having lived in Boston, Massachusetts and Wellington, New Zealand previously.
Jillian received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Radford University where she concentrated in Photojournalism specifically documenting the homeless. Years later she got her corporate start with Dunkin’ Donuts as a Recruiter and Trainer. After many years in recruitment and consulting, Jillian now focuses her career in the oncology space as a Human Resources professional.
Meet Our Community Ambassador