Staff

Laura Congdon

Director of Partnerships

Laura has had a dynamic 20-year career in the non-profit world leading, operating and growing social purpose enterprises and programs that focus on youth and other marginalized populations. Over the years she has worked at many youth and workforce development organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco where she was Director of Outcome Measurement for four years, at BUILD Oakland where she was Site Director and she also spent many years at Juma Ventures as General Manager and then Director of Training.  Recognized throughout her professional life as a motivational leader who has a willingness to listen, collaborate, and think creatively, she loves working as part of a team and directing projects. Currently Laura is Pogo Park’s utility infielder who can manage multiple projects, build relationships with community partners and support and train staff as needed. Laura lives in San Rafael, CA with her partner and son.

Contact: laura@pogopark.org

Debbie Polito

Operations Manager

Operations Manager Debbie brings a tremendous talent for handling the behind-the-scenes details that make the myriad pieces of Pogo Park run. With more than 25 years of experience in multiple industries including retail, commercial paper, property inspections, and nonprofits, Debbie has proven expertise and skill in customer service, research and problem solving. She’s also a conscientious team player adept at working in a fast paced environment and producing results. A resident of Kensington, CA for 23 years, Debbie has a son, a daughter and one step-daughter. A scholarship athlete who played volleyball, basketball and track while attending UC Berkeley, Debbie loves exercising, gardening, and volunteering at schools and animal shelters, but her favorite place to be is the beach! Debbie says she enjoys working at Pogo Park because it makes her feel needed. It also makes her happy to see transformation in the neighborhood and its people!

Contact: debbie@pogopark.org

Joe Griffin

Director of Research

 

Joe Griffin, Director of Research | Public Health Connector.  Joe is a PhD student in public health at UC Berkeley, who was born and raised in the heart of Richmond’s central core neighborhoods. Joe leads the research collaboration between the Iron Triangle community and researchers at UC Berkeley for Pogo Park. He also advises how to transform Pogo Park into a place that promotes healthy development of children and families. Passionate about Richmond, Joe has volunteered with Pogo Park since 2008 where he was critical in implementing a process called Photo Voice that allowed local residents to convey their feelings about their neighborhood. His expertise in community violence prevention and intervention has earned him the distinction of becoming a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar. Joe lives in Vallejo and is a parent to a newborn daughter. He loves working with Pogo Park because it gives him the rare opportunity to give back to his community.

Contact: Joe@pogopark.org

Ande Cira

Salesforce | Special Projects

As the Salesforce | Special Projects point person, Ande excels in figuring out the systems that help Pogo Park utilize technology to grow. A product of St. Louis and graduate of Oregon State University with a B.S. in psychology, Ande has worked in myriad roles since moving to the San Francisco Bay Area 15 years ago. From a stint as a project manager at California College of the Arts to running all aspects of an animal shelter at Northern California Family Dog Rescue, Ande enjoys using creative problem solving to thrive in a startup environment. She is also passionate about installation art, functional design, wildlife and pets. Regarding her work at Pogo Park, she says she loves the framework of holistic community development, where every nuance matters, and nothing is superficial, and every project is “built from the inside out.” Ande lives in Concord with her wife Giti, senior Maine Coon cat Aslan, and “chug,” Sushi.

Contact: ande@pogopark.org

Lupe Pulido

Community Connector

lupe@pogopark.org

As Community Connector, Lupe leads collaborative efforts with schools, local organizations, and community members, to be a ‘listening’ partner and assist residents with obtaining community autonomy. Enthusiastic about helping youth, Lupe has worked as a Service Coordinator with Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center, providing case management and advocacy for families with developmental needs children. She is passionate about Pogo Park because she believes in the vision the community is building: to create a safer public park using a public health model. A Richmond resident, Lupe is currently obtaining her Community Health Worker cer􀀰ficate at City College of San Francisco. Lupe is “enthusiastic about being a part of Pogo Park’s journey, and working collaboratively with community members, in building a healthier and equitable space for children and everyone.”

Toody Maher

Executive Director

Toody is an artist, inventor, and entrepreneur. Born in Canada to British parents, Toody’s family emigrated to Los Angeles in the late ’60’s where she grew up on the beach surfing and playing volleyball. She followed her brother Adrian into sports, becoming one of the first girls in LA to play on a boys little league baseball team. Later she was one of the first Title IX athletes, winning a scholarship to UC Berkeley to play volleyball where she finished First Team All Conference for four consecutive years. After taking off junior year to play professional volleyball in Switzerland, Toody graduated from UC Berkeley in 1983.

After graduation, Toody secured the distribution rights to Swatch Watch in the 11 Western States. She set up the regional office, pioneered Swatch’s product launch, and helped to drive sales in her region from $0 in 1983 to $30 million in 1986. After Swatch, she founded a new start-up, Fun Products, which created the world’s first clear telephone with lights (named one of Fortune Magazine’s “Product of the Year” in 1990). In 1990, Toody was named Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year.” Later, she became the Business Director at Juma Ventures, a San Francisco nonprofit that operates businesses that provide jobs and job training to youth at-risk. At Juma, Toody created a series of “social enterprise” businesses, most notably a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream concession at the Giants and ’49ers ballparks that employed 200 at-risk youth each year, ages 14-21, from San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunter’s Point and Mission districts.

Thereafter, Toody invented, developed, and patented a number of different products and either sold or licensed them to other companies. She worked as a consultant on a project for a research institute at UCLA, helping to translate their scientific, evidence-based research into formats that people can actually use. It was during this project, when she was working on ways to the overall health and well-being in communities, that she realized that city parks – if properly designed and managed – were a potent vehicle to transform entire communities. This realization led her to found Pogo Park in 2007. Toody has been the recipient of several awards including The Jefferson Award for Public Service, The Comcast Local Hero Award, The Sui Generis Award, and The Woman of the Year for the California Assembly.

Contact: toody@pogopark.org

Jenny Jedeikin

Grants Manager | Communications

Jenny has worked in the field of communications as both an editor and writer for a diverse range of organizations and publications for over 25 years. In addition to Pogo Park, she has written grants for environmentally focused non profits as well as served as Director of Communications for nonprofit Cool the Earth. As a freelance writer, her web content, feature articles, profiles, quizzes, infographics, op-eds, and personal essays, have appeared in national publications such as Rolling Stone Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, In Style, The Advocate, Whole Life Times, and Spiral Bound, as well as in marketing collateral for clients LinkedIn, University of Phoenix, McGuire Real Estate, Salesforce.com, and VH-1. In 2013 her writing won three awards from MarCom, the annual marketing and communications awards, and in 2014 she received two awards from Hermes Creative awards. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Jenny lives in Greenbrae CA, has two college-aged daughters and in her spare time writes a comic strip called “JennyLive.” She loves working for Pogo Park, and the challenges of struggling to describe the work that everyone is doing. She feels her job is a very meaningful and necessary antidote to living in the current climate.

Contact: jenny@pogopark.org