Meet the Staff
Lasara Firefox Allen, MSW, ASW [they/them] Executive Director
Lasara is dedicated to serving the LGBTQ2-SIA+ community, of which they and their family are part. Lasara comes from a grassroots background, and earned their MSW at Cal Poly Humboldt (formerly known as Humboldt State University). They have over thirty years' experience in political organizing and group facilitation, over fifteen years’ experience coaching clients in both one-on-one and group capacities, and four years experience in nonprofit leadership.
Lasara is an author, a therapist, and an activist. They work from a harm reduction, intersectional, feminist, and anti-oppressive framework, and live into a trauma-informed, resilience focused, compassionate, strengths-based methodology. They are honored to serve as the Executive Director for the Pacific Center, and to assist the staff in bringing quality mental health services to the community. Lasara's personal mission statement is, "toward our collective liberation."
In their spare time Lasara likes to write, to go on gentle hikes in the hills and talk with the trees, or to spend time chatting with other family and friends.
America Islas, LMFT [she/her/ella] Clinical Director
America is a lesbian, Latinx leader who believes everyone deserves to be their authetic self. America is an activist for the LGBTQI2-S+ community who is passionate about providing accessible and culturally appropriate mental health services through a social justice lens.
America earned her BA in Psychology with a minor in LGBT Studies from San Diego State University. She also earned her MS in Counseling (MFT) from San Francisco State University. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who had the opportunity to work with a variety of folx and cultures, but her passion always brought her to give back to her own community.
America loves to spend quality time out in nature with her wife and two daughters.
Shanna Bowie [she/her] Community Programs Director
Shanna is the Director of Community Programs at Pacific Center, where she works to create a safe environment where community can thrive. She holds a B.A. in Africana Studies from Brown University and after moving to the Bay Area over 15 years ago, Shanna has worked with young people through arts programs including Youth Art Exchange, Oakland School for the Arts, and most recently, Destiny Arts Center.
In addition to her work in arts, education, and advocacy, Shanna is a podcaster and writer. Through shelter-in-place, she put those skills to work hosting the Creating Connections panel series to discuss a range of community issues including equity, consent and bodily autonomy, and youth leadership around the globe.
Shanna loves museums, dance parties, and superheroes (not necessarily in that order).
Glo Rodriguez [she/her, they/them]. Organizational Training Program Manager
Glorivette (Glo) Rodriguez is a queer, Latinx, Bay Area transplant from Brooklyn, NY and a third generation Caribbean American with ancesteral roots from Puerto Rico. Glo is guided by her belief in the power of true dialogue to promote healing, accountability, agency and social change.
She has a background in facilitating workshops on Restorative Practices and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She also has experience co-creating Wellness spaces for the BIPOC community. Glo received her Bachelors of Science in Business Management from Fairfield University and is currently pursuing a masters degree in Human Rights Education from the University of San Francisco.
Glo enjoys watching comedies (and guilty pleasures aka reality tv), connecting with nature and spending quality time with community and loved ones.
DeAngela Cooks, MA [she/her]. Senior HIV Program Clinician Manager.
DeAngela is a passionate public speaker of 20+ years, professional master of ceremonies and an acclaimed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion workshop facilitator. Hailing from Southern California, she embraces her intersectional identities.
As a Black, queer, woman, who is a parent, and has been a minister and stand-up comic, she brings a wealth of experiences to her work; infusing education with elocution, wit and a splash of sarcasm. After knocking out her Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Religion, she decided to graduate with her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. I guess it's safe to say she’s a sap.
When not at work, you can find her devising a scheme to become unidentifiable by her student loan providers.
Amory Knut [Amory]. Senior Intake & Quality Assurance Manager.
Amory identifies as a disabled transgender queer with personal experience of complex health needs. Amory is passionate about eliminating barriers to accessing comprehensive health care and treatment with peer-based community solutions.
Amory brings a wealth of experience in client engagement, case management, and developing, testing, and implementing an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system in a community mental health setting.
When not at work, Amory is a staunch supporter of SF Bay Area queer nightlife and community organizing, helping out with events from fundraisers to drag shows.
Stephanie Wilborn [she/her]. Youth Program Manager.
Stephanie brings over 10 years of youth empowerment and programming, specializing in arts and queer youth development. Stephanie is a credentialed teacher and has worked with organizations A.C.T. within Community and theater education and as a school based specialist for LYRIC. Stephanie has created various curricula from consent, identity work, to queer and inclusive sex curriculum for young people. Stephanie also brings a strong commitment to queer, Black and Brown youth and helping them explore their identity even through oppressing systems.
In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys cooking, community organizing, teaching artistry
and her favorite--playing the drums on her drumkit.
M. Anne Mitchell, LCSW [she/her] Older & Out Coordinator
Anne was born and raised in Berkeley, starting her relationship with Pacific Center in the late 70’s when she dropped into the “Under 21 Lesbian Rap Group.” Over the years, she earned a BA in English at Smith College and an MSW from University of Kansas. She worked with a wide range of folx during a long stint working in rural community mental health centers while living on a Kansas cattle ranch.
Anne is proud of being featured in the University of Kansas book, No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas, by C.J. Janovy. She landed back in Berkeley in 2012 and has been at Pacific Center in various capacities since, appreciating the daily opportunity to help create and support safe spaces for community members.
During the months of shelter-in-place, Anne has a new appreciation for the companionship of her two dogs and any time outside with her wife on a sunny day hiking the hills.
Vanessa Serratos [she/her]. Development Coordinator.
On a search for volunteer opportunities, Kitty came across Pacific Center and started off as a volunteer as of October 2018. As months went on she observed the position as the front desk volunteer every 4th Friday of the month and enjoyed it!
When the opportunity to become the program assistant opened up, Kitty was offered and accepted the position almost immediately. Kitty aims to become a clinical counselor within the coming years. Growing up, Kitty always strived to support communities that needed it most.
In her free time she enjoys attending concerts, traveling, and most of all making memories with family and friends.
Katie Tims [she/her]. Senior Clinical Administrative Support Specialist.
Katie is a Berkeley native who connected with Pacific Center for her Women & Gender Studies’ internship senior year of college and has stayed on since. From the SFSU Queer Alliance secretary to the Queer Yo Mind! conference committee, she fortunately landed work with the LGBTQ+ community in a place that feels like home.
She has worn many hats, having been involved in volunteer management, outreach, Peer Groups, Covered California education and Clinic Administration in her time here.
She has a passion for cats, the spiritual and occult, open-world RPG video games, J-Pop and K-Pop.
Iz Engel (they/them) Community Programs Support & Evaluation Specialist.
Through their work as the CPSES, Iz uses data to ensure all communities the Pacific Center works with are able to access relevant programs and services. They recently earned their B.A. in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, where they graduated summa cum laude and gained years of action oriented research experience.
When they are not working on data driven projects with the Pacific Center, Iz is a research assistant at UC Berkeley, where they support abolition focused studies. They believe research that is both collaborative and community oriented can serve as a valuable tool for collective liberation.
Iz feels most joyful when running, reading, or training their three dogs.
Adam Little. [he/him]. Board Treasurer.
Adam is a senior financial executive who has led finance functions across commercial, financial reporting, investor relations, tax, and budgeting for the past 15 years. He began his career in Australia where he became a Chartered Accountant before assuming global finance roles based out of the UK and US.
Adam identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and through friends and family has seen firsthand the need and benefits of skilled mental health being available to all. He is deeply committed to organizations increasing access and availability to marginalized communities.
In his spare time Adam loves travel, good food, and playing board games with friends.
David Owens-Hill. [he/him].
Currently working as a consultant for small businesses and nonprofits, David has a long history of service to the nonprofit and higher education sectors in Charlotte, North Carolina, New York City, and in San Francisco. In roles that span strategic planning, creative services, communications, and operations, he has dedicated his career to improving the organizations that serve the communities where he lives.
David lives in San Francisco with his husband. Prior to the pandemic, they enjoyed international travel, and exploring new cultures. Since limiting their travel due to the pandemic, they have enjoyed cooking, eating, reading, and exploring the bountiful treasures of California.
Amy Spade [she/her]. Board Secretary.
Amy brings to Pacific Center expertise in nonprofit management and philanthropy, along with her love for, and commitment to, the LGBTQIA+ community.
She heads up safety net grantmaking and advocacy at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund in San Francisco while also leading a shift in how the organization measures and communicates its impact.
Before moving back to the Bay Area in 2018, Amy worked to improve equitable education access and outcomes for students of color and poverty in Los Angeles County - and to ensure those students got to and through college and found meaningful careers. Before her nonprofit and philanthropic career, she taught and served in administrative roles at Houston, Detroit, New York, and Bay Area high schools. Amy holds a BA from University of Michigan and an MFA from University of Houston.
In her spare time, Amy enjoys restoring an Oakland bungalow, cooking, knitting, reading, and writing poetry.
Christopher Stemborowski [he/him]. Board President.
Christopher is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community who lives in San Francisco with his partner Patrick. He is a global marketing leader who helps organizations craft and deliver marketing and advertising work. He brings deep expertise in strategy, applied practice and theory of a wide array of marketing practices to the board with degrees in communications at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has worked in organizations and for clients of all sizes. He routinely uses any platform available to advocate for inclusive practices and create spaces designed to foster belonging.
Developing spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community and specifically creating more access for mental health services are causes that are passion areas for Christopher. He has previously served on non-profit boards that supported the LGBTQIA+ community in New York City and Boston and is honored to help advance and champion the mission of the Pacific Center for Human Growth.
In his spare time Christopher enjoys trying many amazing restaurants in the Bay Area, hiking in the area and playing soccer with the San Francisco Spikes [an LGBTQIA+ community soccer organization].
Board Members not pictured above:
Raymond Brown [he/him]