Catherine, the daughter of Colombian immigrants, was born in San Francisco. With over 10 years of experience working with youth in the Bay Area, she started her work at 18 years of age for the Pleasant Hill Employment Development Department’s Youth Employment Opportunity Program as an Employment Specialist. Working with a mainly Latino at-risk population from the Concord and Pleasant Hill area, she assisted them in finding employment, making educational goals and overall wrap-around service support.
Later working with foster care youth for Juma Ventures in San Francisco as the Work Readiness Program Coordinator, she was responsible for program design, employment counseling, retention services and marketing materials. More recently, Catherine was a Community Organizer for the Safety Network Partnership in San Francisco, working closely with the Bernal Dwellings public housing community to facilitate monthly collaborative meetings for stakeholders in the community, working to bring services on site and leading the organization of two resource fairs for the Bernal Dwelling residents and surrounding neighbors.
In August of 2008, Catherine was hired at Mission Graduates as the College Connect Program Lead Counselor, working with the first cohort of College Connect students and parents. Assisting in curriculum design, developing program materials and creating opportunities for collaboration to support and prepare first-generation students through the college application process and transition to college, she helped build the program to what it is today.
In October of 2010, Catherine was promoted to Director of the College Connect program and has launched the coach to mentor program, revamped program evaluation and outcomes and continues to strengthen retention services for college students.