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Our Team

Alex Volpe

Program Manager

Alex has been working with underserved youth and families for over 15 years.  Upon completing her Masters in Social Work at the University of Chicago in 2005, Alex worked as a therapist at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, a residential treatment facility in Chicago.  After moving to the East Bay with her family in 2008, Alex began working at Bay Area Youth Center/Sunny Hills Services (now “Side by Side”), a nonprofit serving foster and probation youth.  Alex led Bay Area Youth Center as the Executive Director from 2013-2017.  Under Alex’s leadership, Bay Area Youth Center significantly expanded mental health and housing services to youth in Alameda County, and earned a reputation as an agency who would provide shelter and services to the highest need youth who were often terminated from other services due to their acute mental health symptoms.  Alex is committed to the principles of trauma-informed care and providing culturally relevant services to young people and their families.  

Following her tenure at Bay Area Youth Center, Alex has held a number of contract and interim positions, including serving as the interim chief operating officer at Unity Care Group, as well as the Executive Director at the Ann Martin Center.  Prior to becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Alex received her JD from the University of Texas in Austin and worked as a corporate and securities attorney in San Francisco and Austin.  She currently lives in Oakland with her family.

Email Alex at avolpe@catalyst-center.org

Bernice Rosas Belmonte

Project Coordinator

Bernice Rosas Belmonte has dedicated her time and efforts in working for the common good. She has a background working in immigration law, the non-profit sector, and campaigns. Her passions center around her values of human rights, equity, and social justice. She joined the Catalyst Center team in July of 2020 as Project Coordinator and continues her passion of amplifying the voices of those who are working with children and families.

A graduate from the University of California, Riverside and the University of San Francisco, she strives to be the bridge between policy and the community to ensure everyone has an equal and equitable opportunity at a healthy, wholesome life.

Email Bernice at bbelmonte@catalyst-center.org.

Christine Stoner-Mertz, LCSW

Chief Executive Officer

Christine Stoner-Mertz presides over all Alliance advocacy, accreditation, member services and executive support activities and staffs the Executive and Nominating Committees.

Chris came to the Alliance in 2019 after being President and CEO of Lincoln Child Center in Oakland, a California Alliance member agency delivering behavioral health and family strengthening services in the San Francisco Bay area. Since 2005, she led the organization through a transformational period, moving from a residentially-based services focus to designing an array of culturally responsive community and school-based services for children and youth ages 0-21. Her deep commitment to equity is reflected in the transformation of services at Lincoln.

A licensed clinical social worker in California, Chris received her MSW from the University of Michigan and began her career in California in 1985, as co-founder of Seneca Center, now the Seneca Family of Agencies, where she was instrumental in the development of programs and oversight of operations for 15 years.

In 1999, she founded inFocus Consulting and Development, LLC providing consultation to over 50 private behavioral healthcare providers as well as the California State Department of Mental Health, various county departments of mental health and social services, and to school districts. As a sought after expert on MediCal EPSDT program design and implementation, Chris developed the Medi-Cal Specialty Mental Health Services Manual.

She has served on the boards of directors of the California Alliance, the California Council of Behavioral Health Agencies, the National Council of Behavioral Health Organizations, and has been the recipient of numerous service and leadership awards during her career, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service.

Email Chris at chris@cacfs.org.

Cornelle Jenkins

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Cornelle Jenkins, the director of strategic initiatives for the Catalyst Center, is dedicated to making a positive impact in the community by advocating for those who historically have been rendered voiceless. Cornelle earned his Bachelor's at Saint Mary's College of California where he created his own major of Advocacy, Reform, and Social Change. He then went on to earn his law degree at McGeorge School of Law before returning to St. Mary's to obtain his MBA. For the past 9 years, Cornelle has worked primarily in civil litigation but has also gained experience in criminal and family law. In his free time, Cornelle has worked and continues to works on various community-centered projects such as co-founding a non-profit to provide professional experiences and mentoring for foster and at-risk youth, organizing holiday gift and clothing drives, and serving on the board of directors for the Diversity Board at McGeorge School of Law. Cornelle is very excited to join the Catalyst Center and California Alliance team and to commit all of his time to serving the community.

Email Cornelle at cjenkins@cacfs.org.

Justin Stewart

Program Analyst

Justin joins the Catalyst Center with over 15 years in social services field experience working with incarcerated youth and the TAY population in foster care. His previous work included working with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Juvenile Justice as a Youth Correctional Counselor, as well as a Shift Lead Counselor, Intake Coordinator, Therapeutic Behavior Specialist, and Transitional Development Specialist for foster family non-profit agencies within the county of Los Angeles. Justin has a passion for helping others, especially the youth who come from the most vulnerable and underserved communities. Justin recently earned his Masters in Public Administration from California State University Dominguez Hills. In his free time, Justin loves to spend time with his family vacationing and exploring new restaurants to experience, as well playing basketball.

Paige Clark

Program Analyst

Paige comes to the Catalyst Center with a background in program management and direct service in a K-12 educational setting. Her previous work includes serving as a program manager at Children’s Council of San Francisco, where she led a team of case managers to connect families impacted by the child welfare system to high-quality, affordable childcare. Before that, she oversaw the implementation of during and after school programming at a high-needs school in San Jose as an impact manager for City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley. She is passionate about supporting community-based programs to best serve children and families.

Paige holds a master's degree in education policy and management.

Email Paige at pclark@catalyst-center.org.

Rhonda Okonkwo

Program Analyst

Rhonda Okonkwo currently resides in the Sacramento Region. For the past twelve years, Rhonda has dedicated her life work to children and families working in child welfare services, the medical field and the nonprofit sector as a social worker and activist. She believes in positive social change in our community and the empowerment of the most vulnerable populations. Rhonda is very excited to be a part of the California Provide Helpline team.

Email Rhonda at rokonkwo@catalyst-center.org

Stacy Shwartz Olagundoye

Program Manager

Stacy Shwartz Olagundoye exemplifies a commitment to community well-being, systems change, and transformative justice for children, youth, and families. She contributes over fifteen years of combined experience in project management, culturally responsive research and evaluation, training and technical assistance, and nonprofit leadership. Stacy specializes in complex, equity-focused, cross-sectional projects in the areas of educational disparities, trauma, health equity, and community and youth development to help leverage collective partnership into community action and change.

In her previous work, Stacy conducted research and evaluation—including strategic planning, systems change, needs assessments, formative assessments, and outcomes evaluations—for partners including First 5 organizations of Sacramento, Siskiyou, and Solano Counties; Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission; Sacramento’s Reduction of African American Child Deaths; Solano County Board of Supervisor’s Health Services Needs Assessment; and Birth & Beyond, as Senior Research Analyst and Project Manager at Applied Survey Research. Stacy has also worked as a consultant and research analyst with the UC Davis Center for Regional Change on projects including a 3-year evaluative study on chronic absenteeism in the Sacramento City Unified School District, and a state-wide study with a national youth organization on Latino youth engagement.

Prior to UC Davis, Stacy served as a youth development consultant, trainer, and program director by partnering with young adults and youth practitioners to strengthen the field of out-of-school-time programming, and deliver unique, youth-relevant programs. Stacy has also been a trainer with the California School-Age Consortium, facilitating trainings for clients such as Sacramento START, the Yolo County Child Care Resource and Referral Conference, and the Department of Public Health.

Stacy received her master’s degree in community development at the University of California, Davis. Her work has been published by Applied Survey Research, the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, Relational Child and Youth Care Practice, and the 4-H Center for Youth Development, and her original curriculum has been implemented across youth-serving organizations throughout Northern California.  

Email Stacy at solagundoye@catalyst-center.org

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