Vaishali Bajaj, Salesforce Intern Vaishali holds a Master’s and a Bachelor’s in business administration from India and is currently pursuing a marketing course at University of California, Berkeley. Her experience of 7 years in market research and channel sales allowed her to meet diverse people from all walks of life. She has effectively collaborated with cross-functional teams to deliver business objectives. In her last job at Unilever, she led a team of sales officers to bring about a significant business impact for the company in the biggest state of India. She is a self-professed travel freak and has extensively travelled within the Indian subcontinent. She moved to San Francisco because of her desire to grow and explore other passions in life. She is thrilled to be a part of GLI and contribute to issues that are very close to her heart.  If not traveling then in her spare time she likes to go for a run or explore SF on a bike. She is in love with the diverse, unique, booming food culture in the Bay Area and loves to experiment with all things delicious, beautiful or interesting.

Cathleen Cronin, New Jersey Outreach Manager Cathleen joins Girls Leadership Institute with close to 20 years experience in the public relations industry. During this time, she had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of consumer and technology brands. Most recently, Cathleen served as a vice president for Ogilvy Public Relations where she led key strategic initiatives for clients such as LG Electronics and LexisNexis. Most recently, Cathleen has served in key fundraising positions within her children's’ school district. The fundraising events were designed to enhance STEM programs within the school and provide additional educational opportunities for the children. Cathleen holds a Masters in Communication from Fordham University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Occidental College. Cathleen is thrilled to be joining GLI and using her marketing experience to help empower girls. Outside of the office, Cathleen can be found volunteering at her children’s schools or teaching swimming at the community center.

Alana Garcia, Operations Manager Alana has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years, and graduated in May 2011 from San Francisco State University Cum Laude with a B.A. in English Literature. Prior to joining the GLI team, she indulged her love of literature by working for years in several of her local libraries. After volunteering for many years at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Alana realized her passion for being involved with organizations which inspire and educate the public. She has spent two wonderful years with GLI as the Administrative Associate, and is thrilled to be managing program and office operations by stepping in to the new role of Operations Manager. She currently resides in Oakland, and in her free time loves to cook, go on leisurely bike rides, run around Lake Merritt, and explore the Bay Area. 

Anneka Fagundes, Program Manager Anneka has been a New York City-based teaching artist, facilitator and educator for the past 11 years. She earned her Master’s degree in Applied Theatre from CUNY School of Professional Studies, and also holds a BA in Drama from Vassar College. Anneka has facilitated drama-based curriculum in schools and communities all over NYC with organizations including The Creative Arts Team, The Story Pirates, Making Books Sing, The Leadership Program and the All Stars Project. In her work she uses drama to address issues and themes ranging from anti-bullying strategies to literacy and creative writing to violence prevention to social citizenship and leadership. Anneka's interest in working internationally has led her to Rwanda, Guatemala and South Korea, where she has facilitated and participated in various community-based projects. Most recently, Anneka has invested in three summers serving as a Teaching Counselor and Teaching Director for GLI's Residential Summer Program. In addition, she has been a school year Senior Educator for the past three years for GLI’s New York City, and also adding this past year the New Jersey Region. As Program Manager, Anneka looks forward to continuing the work with girls, parents, and educators, while also managing program evaluation and supporting curriculum development and piloting. She is originally a Northern California girl and is happy to be back in the Bay Area.

Ashley Hasson, Administrative Associate Ashley was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Growing up in Fremont, she spent countless years playing soccer and swimming for the local swim team. Once she graduated from high school, she moved three hours away to attend California State University, Chico and spent four years falling in love with the city of Chico. In December of 2011, she graduated with a degree in Multicultural and Gender Studies, Emphasis in Women’s Studies. This area of study has influenced Ashley to care deeply about issues relating to the rights and well-being of girls and women. After two years of working in customer service, she finally came across her dream job here at GLI that combined her passion for girl empowerment and her desire to make a difference. Outside of work, Ashley is an Oakland A’s fanatic, and enjoys exploring nature, going to concerts, and spending lots of time with her dog, Rudy.

Kiku Johnson, Director of Programs Kiku has 20+ years of nonprofit experience with a youth development approach model rooted from her past work with the High/Scope Education Research Foundation. Sixteen of these years have been centered with girls! She is a dynamic facilitator and educator with a strong passion for working with girls and young women to build their confidence, capacity and persistence in learning and life. Studying drawing and photography at the University of Michigan, Kiku developed a love for inspiring youth through project-based learning from Michigan to Massachusetts, Maine, West Virginia and California. She brings a diverse background in grant writing, program development and curriculum design and implementation. Previously, she invested eight years managing STEM (science, tech, engineering & math) focused college and career preparation programs for middle and high school girls with Girls Incorporated of Alameda County. Though the Bay Area of Northern California is home to Kiku and her partner today, her soul is of Midwest roots hailing from Michigan. Additionally, she has a flair for "hands on" and "minds on" creative expression having built houses and loves stained glass and mosaics.

JenMarie Landig, Director of Operations and Finance Jennifer Marie (JenMarie) holds a Master’s in Global Affairs from New York University, and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley. JenMarie’s passion lies in using her business skills for social good. Post graduation she worked in Spain and France in women’s development and international education.  After nearly two years in Europe, JenMarie joined the team at a cultural exchange organization in San Francisco, until she moved to New York to study Global Affairs. While at NYU, JenMarie evaluated European Union funding for women’s empowerment projects in Turkey, and her article was published in Women’s Studies International Forum. Prior to joining the Girls Leadership Institute she consulted at the United Nations Population Fund in New York, and is now thrilled to be back in her native California.

Eileen Linzer, New York Outreach Manager Eileen comes to GLI with 12 years of experience in sales and business strategy, analysis & operations in academic publishing. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Providence College and has done graduate work in both International Relations and Mental Health Counseling. Most recently, Eileen was the Analyst of the Sales Group for McGraw-Hill Professional. Currently, Eileen is the Executive Director of Quinn Madeleine, a wish-granting organization serving children under three who have been diagnosed with a terminal or life-threatening illness, which also supports research and initiatives aimed at prevention, treatment and a cure for Niemann-Pick Disease Type A. Eileen is also the Treasurer of the Parents Club of her son’s school, and is active within the Parent-Teacher Association for both of her boys. Eileenlives in Lynbrook, Long Island where she is a mom to three children – two boys and a girl. Outside of GLI, Eileen can be found running her foundation, tending to her boys, and spending time at her family's beach club.

Simone Marean, Co-Founder and Executive Director Simone taught GLI programs and presented on girls across the country and internationally, including the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls and the American School in Dubai. Simone has a Masters degree in Educational Theatre from NYU and taught at many New York City schools including The Young Women’s Leadership School, and The Brearley School. She has appeared on the Today Show and KQED’s Forum. Simone sits on the board of directors of the Julia Morgan School for Girls in Oakland. Simone grew up on the north shore of Boston and graduated from Bryn Mawr College Magna Cum Laude. She now lives in Berkeley, CA.

Molly Mills, Colorado Outreach Manager Molly joins Girls Leadership Institute with a colorful background in advertising, marketing, nursing and development. After earning a bachelor’s in Journalism at the University of Kansas, she moved to San Francisco to begin her career in advertising. Four wonderful years later, she moved to New York City for a taste of the East Coast before landing permanently in the beautiful city of Denver. After 7 years in advertising, Molly shifted her focus to a career aimed at caring for and empowering others, starting with going back to school to become a nurse. She earned her bachelor’s in Nursing from the University of Colorado College of Nursing and immediately accepted a position as an RN at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Most recently, Molly was the Patient Philanthropy Ambassador for the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation building a patient-family philanthropy program and serving as liaison between the hospital and the foundation. Molly grew up with her three sisters in Kansas City, and she now has two daughters that she and her husband love to take camping, skiing, hiking and enjoying all things Colorado has to offer. Molly is also active on the Board of Slow Food Denver, working to bring fair, clean and good food to everyone in the community, starting with school gardens. She is thrilled to be joining GLI where she can utilize her diverse background to empower girls to live up to their great potential.

Dorothy Ponton, Communications Intern Dorothy has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1987. She obtained her Doctorate in Chiropractic from Palmer West in San Jose and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Santa Clara University. She first got excited about girls and women in leadership when she attended Presentation High School, a college preparatory school for girls. An ongoing passion has been learning and sharing the ways girls and women can be empowered by disentangling self-worth from physical appearance. For 14 years Dorothy belonged to Women In Chiropractic; receiving, then giving mentoring and training in professional advancement. Whether in a large, multidisciplinary clinic or a small, concierge practice, she focused on evidence-based chiropractic care and nutrition, supported by customized at-home training plans. She discovered that the long term success of a treatment was nearly always tied to a patient's engagement. After a rewarding career in private practice, Dorothy has enjoyed building web-based healthcare communities and online learning programs. She volunteers with the Online Community Meetup in San Francisco and Women2.0 in Oakland. In her spare time she enjoys walking around Lake Merritt, mostly succeeds at experimental fusion cuisine, and visits museums as often as possible.

Carolyn Uno (Tigris), Staff Accountant Tigris comes to GLI with a varied background in publishing, arts, public relations, marketing, and accounting. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley, earned a certificate from New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute, and ran her own business in production management and copyediting for a dozen years. Tigris is a dancer, musician, writer, and ritualist. Her passion is authentic embodiment and self-knowledge through movement. She is a certified teacher on the staff of Core Connexion transformational arts—a practice that incorporates elements of dance, visual art, somatic psychology, and meditation—and a core member of Spark Collective, a community that facilitates transformational rituals fueled by improvisations in drumming, movement, song, and spoken word. Her love of the arts and other cultures has led her to study Arabic language, dances and music of the Middle East and Central Asia, Balinese gamelan, classical piano, Antero Alli’s paratheatre, eclectic spiritual practices, and graphic design. Her favored indulgences include improvisation, long conversations, bookstore sojourns, hiking, chocolate, loud Neil Young music, and dreams of being an awesome surfer.

Marissa Viray, California Outreach Manager Marissa joins GLI with over 12 years of experience in marketing and advertising across public and corporate accounts. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Marketing from San Francisco State University. Marissa began her career at Y&R Advertising, where she worked on everything from technology to tourism to healthcare. As a Senior Strategist she discovered her passion for building socially responsible brands and cause-related marketing campaigns. One of her greatest accomplishments was launching the “Fuel Your School” pilot program to further K-12 education in Alameda & Contra Costa County. This campaign went on to raise nearly $5 million in school supplies for STEM programs across the U.S. and proved that businesses and nonprofits can share value and values. In 2010, Marissa began consulting for organizations that focus on youth education and gender equality. She was an active Board Member for the Tall Ship Education Academy, helping high school girls build their leadership skills and earn credits on semesters-at-sea. Most recently she was the Marketing & Development Associate for a nonprofit that empowers adolescent girls through outdoor adventure. Marissa is thrilled to be a part of the GLI family and to continue her work empowering girls. Outside of the office, this San Francisco native can be found tending to her community garden, backpacking in the mountains, or sailing on the Bay.

Annie Wright, Director of Outreach Annie joins Girls Leadership Institute with over 12 years of experience in non-profit leadership, grassroots international development work, and graduate-level psychosocial training with an emphasis on women and girls’ empowerment. Most recently, Annie served as the Director of Network Engagement at Women’s Funding Network – the world’s largest philanthropic network of women’s funds and foundations – and, in early 2014, she became a founding steering committee member of the Global Network for Women and Girls, a coalition of impactful, well-funded organizations dedicated to empowering women and girls across the Bay Area and beyond. Annie’s holistic understanding of the work of change is further rooted in a variety of international civic leadership experiences, including Peace Corps service in Uzbekistan and a decade-long history spent spearheading private, public, and cross-sector social and human development initiatives. Finally, Annie maintains a part-time, Berkeley-based private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in women and girls’ issues. In her spare time, Annie loves to explore new restaurants, read, and road-trip as often as she can into the redwoods.


Photography courtesy of Kathleen Mason,