Oakland Small Schools Foundation, dedicated to supporting small Oakland schools

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We support small Oakland schools
Oakland Small Schools Foundation, dedicated to supporting small Oakland schools

OSSF Staff

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Holly Babe Faust, Executive Director
Holly Babe Faust came to OSSF in 2005 with a successful history and track record as a non-profit leader, professional fundraiser, and business consultant to OUSD and many non-profits. As a grants writer, she has earned over $6 million since 2000 in foundation and government grants. Before becoming a non-profit executive, Ms. Faust enjoyed a long career as a corporate real estate developer and general contractor, managing multi-million-dollar portfolios. Ms. Faust earned both Bachelors and Masters degrees at UC Berkeley.

Precious Stroud, Director of Operations and Development
Ms. Stroud has served as a marketing strategist, project manager, and training facilitator to several Bay Area businesses and educational institutions. She began her career as a Grants Administrative Specialist with Chabot College of Hayward, California in the Las Positas Community College District. Following her tenure there, Ms. Stroud has made valuable contributions to both for-profit and not-for-profit educational institutions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including Kaplan K-12 Learning Services and the Art Institute of California. Ms. Stroud is a proven student advocate who holds a B.S. in Business Administration from California State University, East Bay and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration.

Julie Besaha, Director of Finance and Administration
Julie Besaha comes to OSSF with ten years of professional and volunteer experience in nonprofit management in the Washington DC area. Her diverse background includes fiscal management, fund development, human resource management/recruiting, quality assurance, information technology integration, contract negotiations/management, conflict resolution/mediation, training workshop facilitation, board/volunteer management, program development/administration, and communications planning/media strategy. Additionally, Ms. Besaha gained valuable professional experience in the corporate sector, not the least of which was the deep understanding that her true calling is in service to the greater good.

Joanna Kaplan Rasheed, Grants and Program Coordinator
As a native of Oakland, Joanna Kaplan Rasheed has a long history with Oakland public schools – as a student and later as a teacher in the district. Ms. Kaplan Rasheed has worked in journalism, in publishing as a children’s literary agent, and in the non-profit world, serving as a researcher, writer, and editor. She began writing grants for the Institute for Teaching, a non-profit arm of the California Teacher’s Association, helping to fund the planning stages of a state-wide high school reform movement. Since then she has worked with several Bay Area non-profit organizations, raising close to $2 million over the past few years for children and youth, schools, and healthcare programs for underserved families. Ms. Kaplan Rasheed earned her Bachelors degree at San Francisco State University.

Sarah Oppenheim, School Campaigns Manager
Sarah Oppenheim's passion for education is complemented by her experience in fundraising and organizing. Ms. Oppenheim began her career teaching middle school science in the Bayview/ Hunter's Point neighborhood of San Francisco with a program called Aim High. She honed her organizing skills as a field organizer for the Democratic Party of Minnesota during the 2006 senatorial campaign. Most recently, Ms. Oppenheim was team fundraising coordinator for AIDS Walk San Francisco. A Bay Area native, Ms. Oppenheim graduated from UC Berkeley Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis in Education.

Benj Vardigan, Communications Coordinator
A former managing editor at Consumer Health Interactive, Benj Vardigan has been freelancing for Oakland schools and media organizations since 2005. Mr. Vardigan has written investigative pieces on health topics from hypochondria to the effects of illiteracy on health care. In 2001, the northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists named him an Outstanding Young Journalist for his series on the hazards of ephedra supplements. Mr. Vardigan is also a published poet. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor – his hometown.

Amber Valdez, OSSF Project Manager
Prior to working at OSSF, Amber Valdez was a Finance Associate for Medical Students for Choice and an Administrative Assistant for WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment.) Ms. Valdez also has extensive activist and volunteer experience in the non-profit sector, including serving as both a board member and a political action committee member to the California National Organization for Women, and serving as a program intern to the Women of Color Resource Center in Oakland. Ms. Valdez will be the first to graduate college in her family. She has three Associate degrees: Women's Studies, Social Science, and Liberal Arts. She earned her B.A. degree in Women's Studies with a minor in Ethnic Studies at Mills College.

Natasha Tractenberg, Finance and Administration Associate
Natasha Tractenberg is a student at Mills College on the “4+1 track” to earn both a Bachelors degree and an M.B.A. within five years. Ms. Tractenberg offers OSSF a well-rounded scope of administrative competencies with an extensive background in bookkeeping and accounting.

Maria Ruiz, Administrative Assistant
Maria Ruiz is a student at Mills College where she majors in American History. Ms. Ruiz plans to attend law school and pursue a career as an immigration attorney. She brings to OSSF an extensive background in community service.