JSAF Staff

Rachel Kaganoff Stern

Chief Executive Officer

(510) 788-5240

In addition to serving as the CEO of the Junior State of America Foundation, Rachel Kaganoff Stern serves on the Board of the Sanford Public Policy School at Duke University. She spent five years as a board member and member of the Executive Committee of the Alliance for College Ready Schools, and served for eleven years on the Women in Leadership Steering Committee at Princeton University. She is the former Co-Chair of the Women’s Political Committee, a Los Angeles-based political action committee that raises money for Democratic women candidates for office. She was a long-time member of the Board of Planned Parenthood’s Advocacy Project.

Rachel spent 15 years as an Associate Political Scientist at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica. She worked across a number of research areas including health care, civil justice, and national security policy. Her primary responsibilities were to design and implement case studies. Her final project at RAND was a two-year study evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the programs used to compensate losses resulting from the September 11 Terrorist Attacks (*Compensation for Losses from the 9/11 Attacks, *RAND 2004). Prior to working at RAND Rachel spent two years working as a researcher at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Washington, D.C. Rachel graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in Politics from Princeton University and has a master’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University.
Rachel was a member of JSA from 1978 to 1982, serving on State Cabinet in a number of positions, and as Chapter President at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California. She attended Summer School at U.C. Davis in 1980, and attended the first Washington D.C. Summer School in 1981. She worked as a Resident Advisor for the Junior State at UC Davis, Stanford and Georgetown, and in 2014 she served as Interim Program Director for the Southern California region. Rachel served on the JSAF Board of Directors for nine years, serving first as National Fundraising Chair, then Vice President of the Board, and served three years as President of the Board.


Andee Steinman

Chief Program Officer; State Director for Midwest and Ohio River Valley

(510) 788-5245

Andee joined Junior State of America Foundation in January of 2020 as Senior Program Director for Southern California. Andee was a passionate JSA Teacher Advisor for ten years at Palm Valley School in the Palm Springs area, where she also served as Head of Upper School. She taught ten different social studies courses to students from 6th - 12th grade in her 15 years of educational experience. Prior to transitioning into education, Andee worked in local, regional, and national politics.

In addition to her work with JSA, Andee is the Founder and President of the College Admissions Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing quality college admissions guidance to underserved students in the Coachella Valley.

Andee started her own educational experience at College of the Desert where she served as the Vice President of the Associated Students, and was honored at the annual Women’s History Month celebration for her work in transforming the campus’s aging library into a Student Center. She later transferred to and earned her BA from UCLA in Political Science with an emphasis in American Government. In 2019, Andee completed her Doctorate in Education and Administration at UCLA.

Born in Los Angeles, Andee grew up in the great state of Alaska. She and her husband James later returned to Southern California where they have lived with their son for more than 20 years. If you follow her on Instagram, you will see that beyond her passion for JSA and student activism, she is an avid knitter and cook.

Ed Banayat

Senior Program Officer; State Director for Territories, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, and Pacific Northwest

(650) 544-7334

Ed Banayat is the Program Director for the US Territories and Freely Associated States. This is Ed’s second tour with the Junior State of America Foundation. He previously served as the Registrar for the Northern California Territory and Admissions Director for the Stanford Summer School and also assisted with the California Symposia.
Originally from Elk Grove, California, he was the President of the Elk Grove High School JSA Chapter. He has worn many hats in his professional career, from matching funds auditing for presidential campaigns, working as a Marketing Director for Kaplan, Inc. to small business consulting. Prior to returning to JSA, he was the President/CEO of the Millbrae Chamber of Commerce.

Ed received his B.A. in Political Science from UC Santa Barbara and an MBA from Notre Dame de Namur University. He likes to spend his spare time boxing, biking, surfing, snowboarding, playing rugby and the stereo. You may find him outdoors hiking with his dog Elko. Ed currently resides in Palo Alto, CA.

Colette Ankenman

Program Officer; State Director for Southern California, Arizona, and Southeast

(510) 788-5242

Colette joined Junior State of America Foundation in 2020. She has over a decade of experience in youth development and community engagement at various non-profits, non-formal educational organizations, and schools. Her roles have included: facilitator, mentor, teacher, community partner, student, coordinator, and researcher. She has had the opportunity to facilitate and teach service-learning and community engagement from elementary school to post-secondary education in school and out-of-school programming.

Colette’s personal early experience with community engagement in middle and high school was extremely transformative and shaped her education and career path. These community engagement opportunities lead her to found a non-profit, Baragwanath Blessings Inc., while in high school which she continues to run today. Colette is excited to join the JSA team and support youth in making a positive impact on local and global communities.

Colette was born and raised in the Bay Area. She has a Master’s of Science Degree in Child Development from UC Davis and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Human Development & Family Studies and Consumer & Community Studies from the University of Utah. Colette is also continuing her studies pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s College of California. Her main areas of study and research are youth service-learning and community engagement, which align strongly with JSA’s work.

Arnela Colic

Program Manager; State Director for Northeast and Northern California

Arnela Colic recently completed her Master's in International Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University where she also served as the Academic Program Manager for the university's Summer Session. Her research focuses on education's role in conflict transformation and examines curriculum and policy as avenues for reform and progress. Prior to her time at Stanford, she served for two years in the United States Peace Corps as an English teacher and teacher trainer in rural Kosovo, which inspired her to pursue a career in education research and policy development. Arnela holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from UC Berkeley and is fluent in Bosnian, Albanian, and Russian. In her time at JSA, Arnela served as the Golden Gate Region Mayor (2011-2012), Northern California Governor (2012-2013), and attended the JSA summer programs at Georgetown University (2011) and in Beijing, China (2012).

Malachi Jackson

Program Manager

Malachi Jackson has a Bachelors in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He has worked with several non-profits over the years focusing on youth enrichment and empowerment. For the last couple of years, he was based in the East Bay working in after school programming. His professional passion is providing underserved students opportunities they may not otherwise get.

Alzeta Wilson

Outreach and Recruitment Manager

Alzeta Wilson is serving JSA as an Outreach Associate. Previously, she taught English as a Second Language in Asia and Central America. Additionally, she has worked with nonprofit organizations, such as the International Rescue Committee, serving newly arrived refugees in Atlanta, Georgia, and most recently with Discovering Justice, a civic education organization serving students in Boston, Massachusetts. She hopes to apply skills developed in each of such positions to assist with organizational growth, partner communication, recruitment and research for JSA programs.

Alzeta received her Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from Georgia State University, and is in the process of obtaining her Master’s Degree in Sociology and Demography from the University of Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain). She is focusing on quantitative data analysis in order to identify determinants of persistent economic and educational inequalities facing minority populations in the United States.

Alzeta Wilson is from Georgia; however, belonging to a military family, she spent much of her upbringing moving throughout the U.S. and Central America. The constant change in environment instilled an appreciation for diversity and a passion for serving others. During her downtime, she enjoys playing piano, studying Spanish, and exploring Barcelona with friends.

Finance and Operations

Jodi Wiseley

Chief Finance and Operations Officer

(510) 788-5307

Jodi joined JSA in October 2021 as Chief Financial and Operations Officer. She has over twenty years of experience in management, accounting, human resources, and development/alumni engagement, including most recently serving as Chief of Staff and Operations and Executive Director of Parent and Family Programs at UC San Diego.

Previous to her time at UC San Diego, Jodi served as Chief Financial Officer/Business Manager at Palm Valley School in Rancho Mirage where she was responsible for the annual budget, developed the first five-year strategic financial plan in the school’s history, and had oversight of human resources, facilities management and development programs for the 34-acre campus.

In her previous position with The Management Trust in Palm Desert, Jodi started in 2004 as the company’s controller, and over the next 11 years, was promoted to positions with increasing responsibility, and in 2014, became the first female Division President within the company. Jodi’s experience included managing day-to-day operations and strategic planning of a $6M division with oversight to more than 100 employees.

Jodi is a proud alumna of the University of Florida where she received both Bachelor of Art in History and Master of Education degrees. She loves spending time with her husband John traveling and documenting their experiences through their vlog. Her son Shane is currently attending California State University San Marcos and plans to graduate in 2022.

Simon Muturi


(510) 788-5235

As the JSA Controller, Simon Muturi is responsible for the accurate and timely maintenance and reporting of financial information which reflects the current financial position and operating performance of the Foundation. He works closely with the student governors, Program Directors, and Campus Directors in reviewing and analyzing the Foundation’s budget at various stages of completion and preparation of financial projections for major school year and summer events. As a graduate of California State University, Simon holds bachelor degrees in Accounting, Corporate Management, and Taxation. Before JSA, Simon worked with a number of internationally recognized non-profit organizations, overseas and locally.
In his spare time, Simon enjoys crafting, biking, reading, word games, and volunteering in organizations that serve the community.

Zhuai Wu

Accounting Clerk

(510) 788-5235

Zhuai joined JSA in 2017. She was born in China and lived in Hong Kong for several years. She brings a different perspective to the working environment. She graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor degree in Accounting.
Zhuai is very passionate about giving back to the community, and she loves volunteering and helping elderly with their daily cooking/ grocery shopping. In her free time, she likes going to movies and doing yoga/ aerobic exercise. Due to Covid-19 social distancing, she discovered that gardening has been fun and rewarding.

Gabrielle McNamara

Operations & IT Coordinator

(510) 788-5237

Gabby always enjoyed working with communities to make a positive difference. During her time at UC Berkeley, Gabby ran the on campus thrift store and club called ReUSE, dedicated to reducing waste on campus while giving students affordable clothing, furniture, books, and more. After that, she worked as an Executive Assistant at a non-profit called GRID Alternatives, which worked to install solar panels on low income housing and give solar job training to disadvantaged communities. She earned her Salesforce Admin Certification while at JSA, working to improve the experience for our students and assist our busy and passionate team. In her free time, she creates mixed-media and digital artwork.

Lucio Ramirez

Administration and Operations Coordinator

(510) 405-0876

Lucio Ramirez is a first generation Mexican-American, born in Southern California. From an early age, Lucio has been involved in leadership and philanthropic ventures with several communities including the elderly, LGBTQ+, transfer and nontraditional communities in higher education, and most recently, incarcerated individuals in the state of California. Lucio holds degrees in Business Management, and a BA in Political Economy from the University of California at Berkeley. During his time at Cal, He was the Chief Financial Officer for the Re-entry and Transfer student association, External Chairman of the ASUC Post-Traditional Commission, and Elections Council Chairman for the ASUC. Lucio enjoys jazz, reading about history, and debating.


Susan Freundlich

Chief Development Officer

(510) 788-5244

A highly experienced development and philanthropy strategist with a passion for creating opportunities for young leaders to thrive, Susan is pleased to join JSA as Chief Development Officer. She is proud to have helped build the strength of the Women’s Foundation of California, the National Writing Project, World Trust and Disability Rights Advocates.

Partnering with colleagues Susan has raised millions of dollars to advance educational opportunity, racial equity, disability and human rights. She is also a certified leadership coach and loves working with individuals and teams to achieve their goals and tell stories that bring together fundraising, communications and practicality with their desire to create change.

Susan pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees at Denver University in working with Deaf people as well as others with language and hearing disabilities and went on to become one of the primary innovators of the bridge building work of making concerts and theater accessible to Deaf people through sign language interpretation. She worked extensively with the New York Shakespeare Festival and was a member of the Broadway company of Children of a Lesser God.

Elliot Bell-Krasner

Development Manager

(202) 489-5539

Elliot joined Junior State of America Foundation in May of 2019 as Program Director, and transitioned to the Development team in May 2020.

Prior to joining the JSA team, Elliot spent six years working with the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL), a nonpartisan nonprofit that conducts international political exchange programs around the country and the world. He also worked on President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns and with Summer Discovery UPenn, a pre-college program for high school students.

Elliot received his bachelor’s degree in political science from The George Washington University, where he was active in student government and Model UN. He also studied abroad at the Royal Holloway University of London. He has his master’s degree in public policy from American University, where he served as the President of the graduate student body.

A native of Massachusetts, Elliot is a diehard fan of the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. He currently lives in Fairfax, Virginia with his wife and teammate, Emily, and their giant mini-Schnauzer, Merlin. Outside of JSA, Elliot is a Sunday school teacher with Temple Rodef Shalom Religious School, a member of the Fairfax County Human Rights Commission, and serves on the American University Alumni Association Board.

Elliot has been passionate about government and politics from a young age and is excited to support JSA’s mission to provide opportunities for high school students to learn critical leadership skills and engage in debates on current events, while encouraging them to make a positive difference in their communities and the country

Ariel Rose Reed

Donor Relations Manager

Ariel is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. After completing her studies at UCSB, Ariel joined City Year Los Angeles as an AmeriCorps member, providing social-emotional support to students across the Pico-Union community of Los Angeles. There, she discovered her passion in centering education equity and eventually joined City Year LA's Development team where she focused on uplifting and empowering the stories and experiences of students and AmeriCorps members in the community.

After nearly 3 years with City Year LA, Ariel made the move to the San Francisco Bay and joined the Development team at the Junior State of America Foundation. By using her platform as the Donor Relations Manager with JSA as well as her current role as an Alumni Board member with City Year LA, Ariel strives to continue empowering students and youth to unlock their full potential.

Sara Almaraz

Development Manager