Meet our new staff

We are thrilled to have the support of three AmeriCorps members this year, in addition to welcoming a new staff member as lead for our program at Buena Vista Horace Mann, and a programs assistant to our workshops team.

Desta Lissanu, Programs Assitant, AmeriCorps Desta Lissanu, Programs AssistantAmeriCorps, grew up in the tiny town village of Somerset, Kentucky. She ventured up north to attend school at Harvard University, where she graduated with a degree in African and African-American Studies. Before joining the staff for a one-year term as an AmeriCorps Member, Desta taught English to a bunch of hyper/energetic/enthusiastic 9th graders in the Bronx in New York City. When she’s away from the office, you’ll probably find her running, baking, Netflix-ing, or attempting overly complicated DIY projects.

Amanda Loo, Development Assistant, AmeriCorps VISTA

Amanda LooDevelopment Assistant, AmeriCorps VISTA, is proud to be Bay Area born and bred. Since graduating from UC Berkeley in 2012 with a degree in American Studies, she has moonlighted in a variety of roles, including (but not limited to), gourmet ice cream scooper, corporate legal assistant, graduate student, and creative writing tutor. She joined 826 in the Spring of 2014 as a Volunteer Coordination Intern and is incredibly excited to be staying on to support the Development team with fundraising and grant writing for a one-year AmeriCorps VISTA term.

Pablo Baeza, Programs Assistant, AmeriCorpsPablo BaezaPrograms Assistant, AmeriCorps, was born approximately 130 kilometers too far from the Pacific Ocean, in Santiago, Chile. Over the course of a young lifetime, his family set sail on a maiden voyage to Maryland, where, as a young scout, he learned to love rivers and bays. After a year of studying poetry in Brooklyn, Pablo went on to pursue a BA in Urban Studies at Pitzer College and many years of neighborhood and community organizing in various parts of North America, working with community gardens, transportation advocacy organizations, and environmental justice groups. He joins the staff as a one-year AmeriCorps Member.

Ashley Varady, Program MangerAshley VaradyProgram Manager, was lucky enough to have been born in the Bay Area, where she grew up searching for lost pirate treasure. She left to explore life back east, graduating from Middlebury College, and then earned her Masters of Science of Teaching in New York City. She later returned to the Bay Area and spent six years teaching reading and writing at KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy, where she also developed curriculum, coached teachers, and invented a robot to grade student essays. Since returning to the city by the Bay, she has enjoyed tasting her way through the delicious culinary options San Francisco has to offer, and going on expeditions to explore the land and sea. She is thrilled to be coming aboard the 826 Valencia pirate ship, where she hopes to continue helping young writers find their voice.

Emma Peoples, Programs AssistantEmma PeoplesPrograms Assistant, is an East Bay native. She left the Bay Area briefly to go to college and do a bit of traveling, but could not stay away for long. After receiving a degree in Theoretical Linguistics from UC Santa Cruz in 2013 she returned to teach math at a high school in Richmond and intern at 826 Valencia, where she is thrilled to stay on for another year. When she isn’t working with students, she can often be found taking pictures or brushing up on her (now rusty) Italian.