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 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.

Bradley Hill

Director of Growth & Strategic Partnership

(510) 788-5243

Bradley was born and raised in the beautiful city of Atlanta, GA where he cultivated
his interest in equity and education. He remains a passionate, creative, ambitious
visionary with over a decade of experience engaging and collaborating with
communities through delivering high-impact programming and evaluation in the
nonprofit and educational arena. Bradley approaches the work with his love of
relationships, people, and the collective well-being at the center.

He received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Georgia and a Master’s
Degree in Social Policy from Georgia State University.

Currently, he resides in the Bay Area, now living in Richmond, CA. He served as the
Director of School and Community Engagement and as a mentor over the last eight
years of his career at Summer Search, a national nonprofit supporting youth in
socio-emotional learning, positive identity development, and college/career access.
He joins JSA in February 2020 as the Director of Growth and Strategic Partnership.
JSA’s mission of deepening civic engagement and leadership among youth motivates
and energizes him. He looks forward to collaborating with partners across the
country as well as supporting student voices in the democratic process, especially
for those underrepresented in politics.

During his off time, Bradley enjoys spending time hiking and exploring the world
with his wonderful partner, expanding his passion/collection of horticultural life,
watching Atlanta sports lose, and playing dominos with friends around the Bay

Ed Banayat

Senior Program Director: Territories, Mid-Atlantic, Pacific Northwest, Texas, Northern California, and Arizona

(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.

Andee Steinman

Senior Program Director: Southern California. Midwest, Ohio River Valley, North East, South East

(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.

Colette Ankenman

Program Manager

(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.


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 Chief Operating Officer, 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.

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 returned to JSA in 2019 for a second engagement as CFO. Her purpose in the CFO 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.


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.

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

Saryn Francis

Communications Manager

(510) 788-5307

Saryn Francis is the Communications Manager, where she serves as JSA’s primary digital storyteller and community engager. She is a JSA Alumna, having attended Summer School at Stanford University in 2010. Before working at JSA, she served as the Communications Associate for YWCA USA, where she supports the organization in digital strategy, marketing, and branding efforts. Saryn also was the Communications Coordinator at Young People For, a youth leadership development program that empowers people to create long-lasting change in their communities. While there, she managed the communications shop, led the organization’s branding efforts, managed all social media platforms and the blog, and regularly created content for the organization’s website.

Saryn has a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from Howard University and an MPS (Master’s in Professional Studies) from Georgetown University in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. She was born in Plano, Texas, but raised in the United States Virgin Islands.