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Our Team2018-11-29T17:01:28-08:00

Sr. Christina Heltsley
Executive Director

Sr. Christina joined the St. Francis Center in 2000 and is responsible for all aspects of its operations. She has taught all grades and has been a school Principal (primarily in inner-city schools) and a Superintendent of Catholic schools. In 2009, Sr. Christina was honored as Redwood City’s “Citizen of the Year” and in 2015, she was inducted into San Mateo County’s “Women’s Hall of Fame.”

Sr. Christina has a BS in Elementary Education from Edgewood College in Wisconsin, an MA in Educational Technology from the University of San Francisco, a MA in Administration and Supervision from the University of Dayton, and a doctoral degree in Administration and Leadership from the University of San Francisco.

Rafael Avendano
Siena Youth Center Program Director

Rafael joined the St. Francis Center in January of 2012 and was hired to help start the youth and community programs for Siena Youth Center. He has over a decade of experience in nonprofit management. Prior to his tenure at the center, he was the Program Director at the San Leandro Boys and Girls Club for five years.

Rafael has a BS in Public Management with a specialization in Human Resources from Colorado State University and earned his MA in Organization and Leadership from the University of San Francisco.

Rafael knows firsthand the impact of “not having anything to do” after school, as youth programs helped him when he was a youth. He brings enthusiasm, charisma, and passion to his work of creating quality sports programs and enrichment programs for youth and adults. Rafael believes that with the support of the community, youth, and local county government, families can achieve their dreams. His drive, unique teaching ability, and belief in the power of mentorship have helped him inspire children and adults to find the confidence they need. In his free time, Rafael loves to spend time with his wife, be outdoors with friends, and lead the Trips For Kids Bulldog Riders around the peninsula riding bikes or doing service.

Jaqueline Rueda
Program Associate

Jackie has been a part of the St. Francis Center for many years. She keeps the donation process running smoothly, assists all of the volunteers, and when not at the Center, she is managing all of our low-income apartments. More than that, Jackie is an integral and irreplaceable member of the St. Francis Center family.

Sr. Susan Ostrowski, O.P.
Master Teacher

Sr. Susan is the classroom teacher for Holy Family School at the St. Francis Center. She ensures our students develop a strong foundation of literacy. Sr. Susan has 25 years of teaching experience in inner-city and poor rural schools. She taught in the Bronx for five years, inner city Chicago for four years, the Mission of San Francisco for two years, Watsonville for three years, and the Hope Rural School in Florida (serving Guatemalan and Haitian migrant farm workers) for 2 years.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Edgewood College and a Master of Arts degree in the Teaching of Reading from Cardinal Stritch University. She has been certified to teach kindergarten through grade eight in the State of California.

Elizabeth Broussard
ESL Tutor & Religion Teacher (Holy Family School)
Education Coordinator (Siena Youth Center)

Elizabeth attended Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas to study Neuroscience and Creative Writing. While there, she held officers positions in clubs such as the Catholic Student Group and the social sorority Phi Delta Kappa. She discovered a passion for mentorship and working with others that eventually led her to pursue a gap year with Dominican Volunteers USA.

Her favorite moments at work are when she sees improvement in a student or has the opportunity to provide enrichment through a field trip or a hands-on activity. In her free time, she enjoys writing fiction, exploring the outdoors, tap dancing, and spending time with friends and family.

Sean Puzzo
ESL Tutor & 5th Grade Religion Teacher (Holy Family School)
Art & Self Expression Program Leader (Siena Youth Center)

Originally from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, Sean studied Graphic Design at Caldwell University in Caldwell, NJ. He is a second year Dominican Volunteer; his first year was spent ministering with the Dominican Youth Movement in New York. He chose to do a second year to continue to grow deeper in the Dominican pillars in a new ministry and community context.

Outside of volunteering, Sean is passionate about the Dominican charism, gender equality, and the outdoors. He has a great sense of humor and loves the new adventure of sharing life with the Casa de Alianza community.

Adam Janusz
1st Grade Teacher (Holy Family School)

Adam is originally from Illinois and moved to Redwood City to teach at the Holy Family School of the St. Francis Center after graduating from Dominican University in 2017.

Maritza Amaya
Assistant Director of Programs (Siena Youth Center)

Maritza Amaya, a North Fair Oaks native, is the new assistant director at Siena Youth Center. She started volunteering with SYC in the summer of 2014. Prior to working at SYC, Maritza Amaya obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Biola University. Maritza is very active in her local church locally and internationally. She has organized various mission trips to Mexico during her time in college. Maritza also enjoys spending time with her family, hiking and playing music. She believes in giving back to her community and loves working with the youth of North Fair Oaks. This year she will be helping in the leadership and advocacy departments.

Sean Vallor M.S.
Program Counselor (Siena Youth Center)

Sean has a lifelong passion for learning. He began his pilot training at age 13. He went on to get his private pilot’s license at age 17. Sean attended San José State University where he studied Aviation Maintenance Management. Sean worked for a regional airline for 12 years as both a first officer and a captain. In 2012, Sean took a leave from the airlines and began to work at Siena Youth Center as a tutor. Sean found the work with the community to be profoundly meaningful. He decided to change careers and pursue a master’s degree in counseling psychology to serve the community.

Sean has created numerous educational and enrichment programs to expand the opportunities available to youth in the community. He believes strongly in fighting social inequity by providing mentorship, support, and educational experience for youth. Some of the programs that Sean has developed include Pilot’s Academy, Bulldog Surfers, Music Class, Art Class, and Chess Club. Sean heads the Education Department at SYC. He also provides after school tutoring and homework support for students. Sean graduated from Palo Alto University in June with a masters in Counseling Psychology. He is currently working on programs to help address the mental health needs of the community by creating better access to services and support.

Erik Amaya
Health and Wellness Coordinator (Siena Youth Center)

Erik is a North Fair Oaks native and started at Siena Youth Center as a youth participant. He has dedicated the past five years to supporting the youth of North Fair Oaks through health and wellness activities. Erik believes the youth are the future and they need support and guidance. Erik believes in the power of mentorship and what it can do in the lives of young people. Erik stands for equality for young women and men in sports through proving workouts and sports classes that motivate youth the be whole, healthy and happy. Erik believes all people can grow when we are active everyday, communicate everyday and eat fruits everyday. Erik is an undergrad at Canada College and will be transferring this year to a state university to pursue a degree in management. Erik is Salvador Mejia Award winner for the North Fair Oaks community which highlights servant leadership. Erik also is wilderness first aid certified and trained under BAWT for outdoor field trip coordination.

Daniel Estrella
Health Wellness Volunteer Instructor and Evening Fitness Class (Siena Youth Center)

Daniel attended Cal State East Bay where he obtained his Bachelors in Kinesiology with a focus in Therapeutic Studies. Daniel is currently an ISSA certified Personal Trainer. He is focusing on helping people better their everyday lives in the gym and outside of the gym. On his spare time Daniel volunteers at Siena Youth Center of the St. Francis Center, located in the North Fair Oaks community. An unincorporated part of Redwood City. At the center he teaches fitness classes for all ages to give the community access to some form of physical activity.

Outside of the Gym and the Community Center, Daniel enjoys an active lifestyle. These activities include Soccer, Running, Weight Lifting, Hiking and lastly spending quality time with his friends and family.

Murphy
Therapy Dog

Murphy comes to work every day and is an excellent source joy and stress relief for the St. Francis community.

Grace
Therapy Dog

Grace roams throughout the St. Francis Center building each day, bringing joy to everyone she meets while looking for doggie cookies.