Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Raquel Curran 

Officer Raquel Curran, currently with the Pittsburg Police Department, was born in Mexico City and came to the United States when she was 9 years old. As the oldest of 5 siblings, she was the first in her family to graduate from High School and College with an AA degree in General Education.

Officer Curran has been dedicated to Bay Area law enforcement work since her days as a Police Explorer and currently patrols Rancho Medanos Junior High School as their SRO.  Officer Curran loves working for our community and spending time with her husband and their four children.

Linda Ballentine
Linda has 30 years of experience in finance and accounting, with specific expertise working with non-profits. Ms. Ballentine has worked with both grassroots organizations as well as international outfits, managing the day-to-day operations, establishing procedures, and developing meaningful reporting. She has served as Director of Finance and Human Resources for a number of non-profits as well. Ms. Ballentine brings her knowledge as a certified Grant Writer and Administrator.

Gerardo Mendoza
Gerardo, a former employee of People Who Care (PWC) Children Association joins the board with three years of experience as our Site Coordinator/Peer Counselor. Gerardo brings a clear understanding and first-hand experience with all of our strengths and areas for growth.

Gerardo is currently the Site Coordinator for SparkPoint Contra Costa-West, where he works as an employee for the Richmond Community Foundation with the aim of partnering with agencies to empower individuals and families to become financially sustainable and advocate for social change.

As a board member, Gerardo brings an understanding and passion for helping others succeed in accomplishing their goals and moving towards a productive and sustainable future.

Angelica Fernandez 

Angelica Fernandez emigrated from Mexico to the United States in 1970 at the age of 12 and later on went on to attend Pittsburg High School. Although she was unable to graduate high school, in 2010 she was able to receive a high school degree after graduation from Adult School in Pittsburg, CA.

Within her professional career, Angelica has worked as a nurse’s aide for 15 years and also volunteered as a mentor working with at-risk youth from 1996-2000 as a Gang Intervention Specialist.

Angelica has also volunteered at a local food bank for approximately 4 years and is currently a member/volunteer for the Pittsburg Unified School District “Student Attendance Review Board” (SARB), where she has earned her name as the panel’s grandmother figure due to her loving and caring attitude towards the families and youth.

Lastly, Angelica is a current member of the Pentecostal Church located in Pittsburg, CA, where she spends most of her free time helping the Latino Community with translation and supporting them with any type of services that she can provide.

Andrea Zarate 

Born in 1999 in Pittsburg, CA, Andrea is the second oldest of 4 siblings of immigrant parents from Mexico. She is a recent graduate from Pittsburg High School and is currently attending classes at Los Medanos College. Although she has always felt to be an outcast in both her family and society, Andrea views herself as a warrior. She has faced many obstacles and challenges as a young child and throughout her young adult life, which she believes could have easily brought her down; however, she preserved and along those roads of obstacles, have been introduced to many pathways leading to freedom – to be whom she is today.

Andrea would rather go hiking and explore things she has never seen before, and learn new things. Although she stills falls sometimes, stumble and forget how far she has come, she quickly reminds herself of who she is.

Mrs. Curlie Jackson 

Curlie Jackson, born and raised in Glenmora, Louisiana moved to Pittsburg, CA in 1955 with her family. She was married to the late General Jackson for over 25 years, and together they raised 7 children: James, Samuel, Jimmy, Richard, Linda, Isaac, and Donald. She also has 27 grandchildren, and a host of great-grandchildren.

She was employed at Pittsburg Unified School District (PUSD) for thirty-two years as a Parent Coordinator and worked for ten years at the Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall in Martinez, CA, as a Youth Counselor. Curlie continued her education and received an Associate Degree in 1975 from Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California. She also attended Los Mendanos College in Pittsburg, and has more than 40 credit hours towards a Psychology and Social Science degree.

Curlie retired from the PUSD as a Parent Coordinator, and Student Advisor in 2005; however, known for “sacrifices make in service to others she never retired from serving others.” She has always had a passion and devotion to the welfare of others. Curlie became active in the community by serving as Chairperson of Woods Manor Board of Directors, President of the NAACP East County Branch, and long-term active member of First Baptist Church of Pittsburg. She also served on various PUSD advisory boards and committees including but not limited to the Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) (2000 – Present), PUSD School Site Council, Heights Elementary School, PUSD School Site Council, Pittsburg High School, PUSD Communications Committee, the Pittsburg Education Committee that established Parent Coordinator roles in the elementary schools and was a member of the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Communities Organization (CCISCO) efforts to review the implementation of the PUSD’s student assessment policy and procedures.

In 2005, the NAACP for her compassionate community service honored Curlie at the East Contra Costa County Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration as the Love & Action Award recipient, as she continues to excel in advocating for others.

Curlie has over 42 years of progressive leadership and she brings to the board a wealth of experience from serving in the community to students and their families.

Maria Espinoza – (Voting Member)
Bio coming soon….

Veronica Pope – (Non-Voting Member)

Veronica has been professionally involved in the field of children with special needs for more than 25 years. She served as a counselor at the California School for the Blind in Berkeley; Stepping Stones (formerly known as Oakland After School Program for Retarded Children); Shelton Primary Educational Center in Berkeley; Abdulah School of Learning in Oakland; Little People Care Center for physically handicapped children in Oakland; Child Assault Prevention in Oakland and Nichols and Hedco House, group homes for emotionally disturbed boys and girls respectively with current employer, Lincoln Child Center in Oakland, CA. Presently, she is a mental health intervention specialist working with high, middle and elementary school children in Alameda and Contra Costa counties public school systems.

In 2001, she founded People Who Care (PWC) Children Association, a not-for-profit youth development organization, located in Pittsburg, California.

Veronica has contributed much of her time to the youth of our community seeking to improve the quality of education for all students and ensuring that parental involvement continues to play a key role in the academic success of each student. She has served on the Pittsburg Unified School District Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) (2002 – Present),

In 2010, Veronica was honored as the recipient of the Jefferson Awards for public service.

Veronica encourages young people and adults to get involved in mentoring programs. She knows firsthand the strides that kids can make with the help of a kind, patient and responsible mentor. She also recognizes that there are no guarantees in mentoring, but she believes that children develop their social, emotional and educational potential when the adults in their lives support and encourage their creativity, talents and skills.

Constance Russell – (Non-Voting Member)

Connie has served on PWC’s Board since 2002 as both Treasurer and President. Connie earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business, emphasis in Management from San Francisco State University and has over 30 years of business and contracting experience. She retired from the federal government, the General Services Administration (GSA) in San Francisco, in May 2008. As a senior Contracting Officer (CO) for the GSA, Connie contracted primarily for construction and architect and engineering services and was the CO on several high-profile projects, including the new San Francisco Federal Office Building and new San Diego Courthouse.

Connie has a Certificate in Project Management from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a member of the National Contract Management Association. Her commitment to social justice and equal opportunities continues to motivate her work with PWC.