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Be a part of Family Connections

Faculty & Staff

Our Teachers

Yadira Cardenas, Family Educator
Yadira Mederos was hired in August 2015 to work with infants and toddlers and their families in the Nurturing Families program in Redwood City and to help recruit new families to the program. She is a Family Connections alumna who previously participated in the Family Connections programs with her two children. Yadira is currently completing her early childhood education toward getting her site director credential.

Vanessa Drebin, Assistant Family Educator
Vanessa Drebin has a Master degree in Education from UC Berkeley and a Multiple Subject teaching credential. She is the mother of four children. Vanessa has been working or volunteering in preschools and elementary schools for the past 25 years, and has been a volunteer with Family Connections since Fall 2010.

Elvia Irigollen, Family Educator
Elvia Irigollen was hired in March 2017 to work at the Redwood City site. She has been teaching preschool since 2007, first with the Redwood City School District and then for Head Start in Menlo Park. She holds a CA Master Teacher Certificate, and she continues her ECE education.

Angela Jaime, Senior Family Educator
Angela Jamie has been one of our bilingual teachers since 1993. She is responsible for teaching preschool students and parent education. Before coming to Family Connections, Angela spent five years teaching primary school in El Salvador. Angela holds a California State Parent Education Teaching Credential, and she continues her education in early childhood education.

Margarita Ventura, Senior Family Educator
Margarita Ventura was hired in December 2008 to teach parent participation preschool and parent education at our East Palo Alto site. She has extensive experience with Montessori preschools, and was previously a Family Service Specialist for the County of Santa Clara. Margarita holds a California Parent Education Credential and a Site Supervisor Permit.

Our Staff

Lorena Alcayaga, Early Childhood Program Manager
Lorena Alcayaga was hired in December 2001 to teach parent participation preschool and parent education at our East Palo Alto site and previous Clara Mateo location. She moved to our Redwood City site when it opened in December 2008. Her responsibilities also include supervising the intake coordinator, registrar and the parent recruiter. Lorena earned her B.A. in Human Services from Notre Dame de Namur University, an A.A. in Early Childhood Education and has a Parent Education Credential through the State of California. Lorena is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Human Development with a specialization in Early Childhood Education and Development.

Iraida Gutierrez, Administrative Program Assistant
Iraida Gutierrez was hired in February 2017. She is a Family Connections alumna who previously participated in preschool classes with her two children and her family is now participating in the Young Scholars Program. Iraida is responsible for enrolling families in our programs. She holds a Bachelors degree in Secretarial and Office Management from Panama.

Ramiro Maldonado, Development Director
Ramiro Maldonado joined Family Connections in July 2017 as Development Director. Ramiro has over 13 years in the non-profit development world, where he has worked for small to large sized organizations. He oversees the execution of the fundraising plan and development operations with his primary responsibility for establishing and implementing the fundraising strategy to increase solicitation of major gifts, federal and state grants, special events, and financial support from individuals, foundations, and corporations. Ramiro holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from St. Mary’s University (San Antonio) and graduate work in Public Administration from University of Texas (Pan American).

Annielka Pérez, Development Assistant
Annielka Pérez was hired in December of 2016. She is responsible for all administrative fund development activities. Annielka is a Family Connections Preschool alumna and is currently participating in the Young Scholars Program with her twin boys. She holds an Associate's degree in Graphic Design and Computer Business Administration.

Sarah Poulain, Executive Director
Sarah Poulain joined Family Connections in June 2017 as Executive Director.  Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in the early childhood and family services field in various roles from executive leadership to clinical services and program management.  She has developed collaborative partnerships with funders and organizations and is a strong advocate of children and families through her work on committees such as the Childcare Partnership Council, the Watch Me Grow Collaborative, and The Big Lift. Sarah has held true to the idea that, when we engage with children and families in the earliest years, and meet them where they are in their lives, we are building the foundations of strong and supportive communities.  Sarah has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from American Intercontinental University and a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Antioch University, New England Graduate School.

Marsha Quita, Office Manager
Marsha Quita has been with Family Connections since August 2013 supporting our teachers and Young Scholars Program Coordinator.  She brings with her a solid co-op background as an alumni parent of Preschool Family in Palo Alto. Marsha holds a Bachelor of Arts in Nursing from the University of San Francisco and lives in Palo Alto with her husband and two young children.

Lynette York, Finance Director
Lynette York was hired in November 2002 after volunteering as Treasurer on the Family Connections Board for two years. She is responsible for overseeing finances including budgets, financial analysis, payroll, audit and taxes etc. Lynette holds a Bachelor of Science in Commerce from Santa Clara University.

Miriam Yupanqui, K-12 Program Manager
Miriam Yupanqui joined our staff in July 2013 to lead the new Young Scholars Program. Miriam holds a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies with an emphasis in Immigration Policy from UC Berkeley and a Master in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. As a former graduate and staff member of College Track and a current member of the Nuestra Casa Board of Directors, Miriam is well suited to implement the Young Scholars Program which provides case managed care, parent education, and enrichment activities to coach, mentor and work with families and their preschool alumni children as they navigate the K-12 school system.

“After graduating from Family Connections when my son went to Kindergarten, I helped in the classroom as a teacher’s aid during the art program. I wanted to see his development in the classroom. He was happy to see his Mom there too!”


Margarita Herrera, Family Connections parent and mother of two children 8 and 2.5 years old