JSAF Staff

Rachel Kaganoff Stern

Interim Chief Executive Officer

(510) 788-5240

In addition to serving as the Interim CEO of the Junior State of America Foundation, Rachel Kaganoff Stern serves on the Board of the Sanford Public Policy School at Duke University and on the board of HATCH, a non-profit ecosystem that consists of two annual Summits, year-round mentorship programs, and a global network that connects to accelerate solutions for positive impact.

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.

She is married to Eric. H. Stern (Berkeley ’87) and the mother of Henri and Jonah Stern (20 & 18). 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.

Both of her children have been avid participants in the Junior State. Her eldest son Henri Stern, served as the Angeles Region Mayor and the Director of Debate for Southern California Junior State. Henri attended JSA Summer School at Princeton, Stanford, Georgetown, and JSA’s Diplomat Program in Beijing, China. Henri is now a junior at Stanford University. Jonah Stern is very active in JSA as well, and has spent the last three years serving on the Southern California JSA Cabinet. He is President of the Buckley School JSA Chapter.


TaKeisha Walker

Chief Program Officer

(202) 591-3732

TaKeisha Walker - Chief Program Officer

TaKeisha S. Walker is an organizational and programmatic leader who lends her expertise to improving and sustaining nonprofits and other social impact organizations. Her diverse career has included leading strategic planning, selecting and implementing new technologies, and developing performance assessment procedures. Under her programmatic leadership, nonprofits have executed a variety of initiatives including an internship program that provided youth with disabilities their first meaningful work experience in Washington DC and professional development opportunities for healthcare providers aimed at systemizing the guidelines based care of pediatric asthma.

TaKeisha holds a Master of Science in Management and Marketing from the University of Maryland University College, a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from the University of Missouri Kansas City, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Communications from the University of Tulsa.  She is also a certified professional development facilitator.

Stephen Bayne

Senior Program Director, Pacific Northwest and Texas

(925) 300-7781

Stephen Bayne - Senior Program Administrator, Texas and Pacific Northwest

Stephen Bayne joined The Junior Statesmen Foundation in 2007 as a Residence Advisor at the JSF Stanford Summer School. He joined the Foundation as a full time employee in February of 2008 as the Summer Programs Manager, administering the Presidential Nominating Convention Symposia and Summer School Programs, as well as other special projects. Currently, he is the California Senior Program Director, superiving all West Coast, Arizona and Texas Programs.  He is also the Program Director for the Pacific Northwest and Texas Junior States.

Stephen received a Masters Degree in Political Science, with an emphasis in International Relations, from San Diego State University. He also has a BA in Political Science from SDSU and studied Comparative Politics at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. While at SDSU he made the Dean’s List four consecutive semesters and was a member of the nationally ranked San Diego State Ultimate Frisbee team.  Before joining JSA he worked as a Campaign Organizer for the California Democratic Party in Oakland, California.

Stephen grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and went to Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, CA.  He currently lives in San Jose and enjoys reading, writing, solving Rubik's cube, and hiking with his family.

Elizabeth Ventura

Senior Program Director, Mid-Atlantic

Elizabeth Ventura - Senior Program Director, Mid-Atlantic

Elizabeth Ventura (EV) joined The Junior State of America Foundation in 2003 as a Residence Advisor at the JSAF Georgetown Summer School. She joined the Foundation as a full time employee in September 2008 as the Mid-Atlantic Program Director. She has held a number of positions within the organization including Northeast Program Director, Texas Program Director, Southeast Program Director, Georgetown Campus Director, Speakers Program Director, and Director of School Year Programs. Currently, she is the East Coast Senior Program Director as well as the Mid-Atlantic Program Director.

EV received a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science & Psychology from Old Dominion University. She is currently an MBA student at the University of South Florida. Before joining JSA she worked as an educator and Title I teacher.

EV grew up in rural Indiana and went to North Newton Jr./Sr High School. She attended JSA Summer School at Stanford in 1996 She currently lives in Tampa and enjoys cooking, running, and hanging out with Hubs.

Ed Banayat

Senior Program Director, Territories

(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.

Yvonne England

Program Director, Southern California

(949) 278-9373

Yvonne England joined The Junior State of America Foundation in 2016 as the Southern California Program Director. Before joining JSA she worked with President Obama’s reelection campaign as a Staging Location Director for the Riverside office. She also worked for three years in the nonprofit world in fundraising, community development, and youth engagement.
Yvonne received her Master's Degree from California State University, Fullerton in American Studies and wrote her thesis, titled A Punk Practice: The Development of Punk Political Activism from 1979 – 2004, on the rise of youth political activism in the punk rock scene. She also has two BAs from the University of California, Riverside in History and English.
Yvonne grew up in the Southern California area as a punk rock kid going to punk rock shows. She has two awesome cats, a dog, and a loving partner who is kinda famous on the internet.

Jennifer Senna

Program Director, Midwest and Ohio River Valley

(602) 832-4350

Jen Senna joins JSA in 2018 as the Program Director of the Midwest and Ohio River Valley. Prior to JSA, Jen has worked in variety of academic settings in Boston, MA and Washington, D.C. She began her career with supporting student achievement as a Corps Member and Senior Corps Member at City Year, Washington D.C. at a Southeast elementary school. She transitioned to Boston as a Volunteer Coordinator with the Steppingstone Foundation, and continued to a Administrative position with the Advent School. Returning to Washington for her work with JSA, she will continue her education with a Masters degree from American University.

Passionate about education equality, social activism and youth development, Jen is thrilled to join the team and support the amazing work our students do!

Elliot Bell-Krasner

Program Director, Northeast and Southeast

(202) 489-5539

Elliot joined Junior State of America Foundation in May of 2019 as Program Director for the Northeast and Southeast. In this capacity, Elliot is responsible for supporting the JSA chapters, student leaders, teachers/advisers and programs in his regions. He also serves as the Deputy Campus Director of the JSA Summer School at Princeton University.

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 fiancée and teammate, Emily, and their giant mini-Schnauzer, Merlin. Outside of JSA, Elliot is a Sunday school teacher with Temple Rodef Shalom Religious School 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.


Derek Dettorre

Chief Operating Officer

(510) 788-5238

Derek joined the Junior State of America Foundation in June 2013 as an Accounting Assistant in the California office. Since that time, Derek has held multiple roles and assisted with program initiatives across the school year, summer, and development departments. In his current role as Director of Operations and Administration, Derek is focused on improving JSA’s operational capacity to expand the reach and impact of its programs, as well as developing strategies to engage alumni and attract potential partners.

Prior to JSA, Derek worked as an Assistant Baseball Coach for his alma mater, Wesleyan University (CT), where he was also a four-year infielder, Captain, and was chosen for the conference All-Sportsmanship Team in his senior season. Derek received his BA  in Economics from Wesleyan and was nominated to join The International Economics Honor Society – Omicron Delta Epsilon. He also spent a semester abroad in the UK at the University of Kent, where he studied Comparative Political and Economic Theory.
Originally from the great state of Massachusetts, Derek attributes much of his desire and inspiration for furthering the JSA mission to his parents, who have dedicated their lives, as educators and coaches, to preparing and cultivating our youth for a better future.

Fernando Fernandez

Technology Associate

(510) 788-5234

Fernando Fernandez is the Technology Assistant for the Junior States of America Foundation. Working out of the Burlingame office, Fernando provides support for the Burlingame office physically and the Washington DC office remotely.

Fernando joined the JSA in late August of 2012 on a part-time basis, which soon evolved into a full-time position with the foundation. Fernando studied in Information Sciences with an emphasis on Network Systems Administration while at the Heald College - Hayward campus, finishing with an Applied Associates degree. He brings with him the knowledge and skill acquired from his time in school and past employment, which includes working both from a front-end tech position with Branders and a back-end tech position working for Yahoo at one of their data centers. With the knowledge he brings to the table, Fernando looks to provide a helping hand to the JSA in all of their technology needs and assist JSAers in their technology-related queries that come along the way.

Fernando was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and has resided on the Peninsula his entire life. In his spare time, Fernando is a bit of an avid swimmer and gamer, enjoys drawing, a fan of Japanese animation, and participating in cosplay.

Gabrielle McNamara

Student Services Coordinator (CA Office)

(510) 788-5237

Gabi always enjoyed working with communities to make a positive difference in their lives. During her time at UC Berkeley, Gabi 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. Today, she is the Student Services Coordinator at JSA, working to improve the experience for our students and assist our busy and passionate team.


Adrienne Torf

Chief Finance Officer

An experienced nonprofit and for-profit leader with a passion for aligning an organization’s operations with its strategic vision and goals, Adrienne returns to JSA in 2019 for a second engagement as Interim CFO/COO. Her purpose in the CFO/COO role is to build the infrastructure needed to connect talented people with the information, resources and support they need to flourish in their work, especially during times of organizational change. While never a JSA participant during her school years, Adrienne holds JSA’s mission in high esteem and is heartened by the civic engagement of JSA students throughout the country.

Adrienne worked as a studio and touring musician for a number of years before earning her MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. She pursued her undergraduate studies at Smith College and Stanford University, from which she graduated with a B.A in Political Science.

Simon Muturi

Director of Finance

(510) 788-5235

As the JSA Finance Director, 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, oversees and locally.
In his spare time, Simon enjoys crafting, biking, reading, word games, and volunteering in organizations that serve the community.

Zhuai Wu

Accounting Assistant

Zhuai Wu joined JSA in 2017 as an Accounting Assistant.  She was born in China and lived in
Hong Kong for several years. Therefore, she brings an International perspective and passion for diversity in politics. As a graduate of San Jose State University, Zhuai has a Bachelor degree in Accounting. She also holds Associate degrees in Business Administration and Social Science.

Zhuai is very passionate about giving back to the community, and she loves volunteering in
helping elderly with their daily cooking/ grocery shopping. In her free time, she likes going to movies, watching Netflix and doing yoga/ aerobic exercise.


Tom Silverman

Chief Development Officer

(510) 788-5244

Tom Silverman is a global citizen committed to community service, youth empowerment and democracy as a system of governance. He is eternally curious about the world around him and is particularly interested in social entrepreneurship, philosophy, politics, movement building, and leadership. Before coming on board as Chief Development Officer at JSA, Tom served as Vice President of Development; Community Engagement at buildOn--an international non-profit organization that contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by building primary schools in rural villages around the world and running service-learning programs for high school students in urban areas throughout the United States. He has worked on many national and local political campaigns--most recently as an adviser to the Aaron Anthony For Congress Campaign in PA. Tom holds an MA in Public Affairs and Practical Politics from the University of San Francisco and and BA in Political philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh.

Sergio Lopez

Director of Development, Community Engagement

Sergio Lopez is a nonprofit leader and political strategist who believes in the importance of empowering young people and citizens from all walks of life. As Director of Development and Community Engagement, Lopez works to organize JSA alumni around the country and help lead the organization's development efforts. A lifelong Bay Area resident, he is the son of two immigrants and was the first in his family to go to college. He has worked at all levels of government, from local politics to the White House. Previously, he worked as Political Director for a gubernatorial race and drafted policy for a presidential campaign. Prior to that, Sergio was National Organizing Director for Rise. Under his leadership, Rise became the most successful legislative advocacy organization in modern history. His work reforming his college’s sexual assault policies was covered by the New York Times and Huffington Post. His writing has been published in the Sacramento Bee and he has been profiled by USA Today and NBC Bay Area. Sergio Lopez graduated from Yale University with degrees in History and English.

Enrollment & Outreach

Felice Judkins

Enrollment & Admissions Coordinator

(510) 788-5305

Felice Judkins joined JSA as the Admissions and Enrollment Coordinator for Summer Programs in 2016. Felice has spent the last 12 years in Admissions and has served as a National Admissions Officer recruiting prospective students nationally to post-secondary colleges and universities.
Felice is a big proponent of making higher learning and education accessible to students from all diverse backgrounds to help them pursue their educational and career goals. She is a fierce advocate for students to achieve their academic pursuits and tap into their full potential. She has impacted the lives of students and their families as they build a foundation to their futures.
Felice studied Political Science at Howard University in Washington, DC and has a passion for our youth, government and politics. She believes that cultivating , developing and educating our youth about civic responsibility and understanding the role of our government on a state, local and federal level is critically important and paramount to the strength of our democracy as we prepare them as our future leaders in this nation.
Felice has also previously worked in sales and managed sales teams but her love of working with students and young adults led her to JSA to continue making a difference.
Felice is a Air Force “military brat” growing up in various states across the country. Although originally from Maine, she is a diehard Los Angeles Lakers fan and an Oakland Raiders fan. She enjoys writing poems and short stories. She is a political junkie and proud mom.

Abe Kruger

Communications Coordinator and Speakers Program Director

(510) 788-5307

Abe Kruger joined JSA as the Student Services Coordinator in late 2017. In high school Abe was an active JSA member, later becoming the president of the Easton High School chapter in Maryland. In 2012 Abe attended the JSA Diplomat Program at Capital Normal in Beijing and has since returned to China many times. After the program, Abe continued his Chinese studies at George Washington University, while also working as JSA’s DC Fellow. In 2014 Abe transferred to William & Mary where he graduated with a BA in Anthropology and Chinese. Abe is very excited to be working as part of the JSA team to make the great experiences he had with the organization a reality for future students.