Rachel Kaganoff Stern
Interim Chief Executive Officer
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.
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.
Senior Program Director, Pacific Northwest and Texas
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.
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.
Senior Program Director, Territories
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.
Program Director, Southern California
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.
Program Director, Midwest and Ohio River Valley
Passionate about education equality, social activism and youth development, Jen is thrilled to join the team and support the amazing work our students do!
Program Director, Northeast and Southeast
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.
Chief Operating Officer
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 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.
Student Services Coordinator (CA Office)
Chief Finance Officer
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.
Director of Finance
In his spare time, Simon enjoys crafting, biking, reading, word games, and volunteering in organizations that serve the community.
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.
Chief Development Officer
Director of Development, Community Engagement
Enrollment & Outreach
Enrollment & Admissions Coordinator
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.
Communications Coordinator and Speakers Program Director