Meet our team

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Danna Elneil

Learning + Member Engagement Manager

Danna is a nonprofit strategy leader and community organizer. She has played various roles in organizations within the Muslim community throughout California and is passionate about leadership development, capacity building, and movement building. Most recently, she served as the first full-time staff member for MSA West where she led strategy & organizational development, and built programs and resources to cater to the holistic wellbeing of college students across California. Within this capacity she worked to strengthen relationships with 30 member campuses, create community partnerships statewide and nationally, and spearheaded the creation of a grassroots community organizing intensive training program that trained 100 students over three years. Prior to that, she worked at a civil rights organization in Sacramento leading operations and programs development, and played a key role in leading youth and civic engagement programs. 

Danna is a UC Davis alumna, where she majored in International Relations, minored in Spanish, and was active in leadership roles on campus that worked to mobilize and support marginalized communities. She sits on the Board of A Continuous Charity (California chapter) and is an advisor for MSA West. She currently lives in San Jose with her husband and in her free time can be found exploring coffee shops and spending quality time with her family. 

dannae@svcn.org

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Mariela Frías 

Nonprofit Racial Justice Fellow

Mariela is an activist, community organizer, and diversity, equity, and inclusion advocate. She is a proud Afro-Latina born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She graduated from Washington State University (W.S.U.) with a Bachelor of Science in Ethnic Studies, Women Studies, and Communication. 

Mariela has been heavily involved with the Washington State University community, previously holding roles as an Orientation Counselor (OC) for New Student Programs, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Associated Students of Washington State University, Conference Coordinator for Visionaries Inspiring Black Empowered Students (V.I.B.E.S.), and a Teaching Assistant for the School of Languages, Cultures, and Race. She is passionate about uplifting underrepresented communities, empowering nonprofits to drive social impact, and raising political awareness amongst LGBTQ+, Black, and Latina/o/x communities. 

Mariela enjoys being a social butterfly; she loves meeting new people, experiencing new places, and cooking fresh meals in her free time
 

marielaf@svcn.org

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Alan Gouig

Nonprofit Catalyst Fellow

Alan Gouig is a community advocate and grassroots organizer based in Downtown San Jose. Personally, Alan finds great love in exploring the civic sector at the nexus of his own Asian Pacific Islander (API) identity. 


In recent years, Alan served as a Civic Engagement Organizer with LEAD Filipino and worked as a Public Policy and Advocacy Intern with UC Davis’ Bulosan Center for Filipinx Studies. He also stands as a proud alum of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute (APALI), as well as being a former EPYC Ambassador with the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). Across his lifetime, Alan hopes to bolster the democratic capacity of his Filipinx community and the broader API population. Currently, he continues his community work through his roles on the City of San Jose’s Transportation Equity Task Force, as well as being on the Board for the South University Neighborhood (SUN) Association. 


Originally from San Leandro, CA, Alan is a proud graduate of San José State University (SJSU), with a B.S. in Business Management and Administration. As the Founding Co-Chair of the Filipino Alumni Network (FAN), Alan continues to remain involved with his alma mater. It is his hope that FAN can act as a valuable resource to help strengthen SJSU’s Filipinx college-to-career pipeline. In his free time, he also takes great pride in being a long-time boba aficionado, avid news junkie, and newfound AMC A-list Stubs Member.

alang@svcn.org

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Kyra Kazantzis

Chief Executive Officer

Kyra has been a nonprofit professional, community leader, and public servant in our Silicon Valley community for over 25 years. Her most recent role was as a Senior Policy Advisor to the San José Mayor, focused on solving San José’s housing and homelessness crisis. Her prior role as a longtime directing attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley saw her leading teams of in-house and law firm pro bono attorneys in conducting strategic impact policy advocacy and litigation in a wide variety of issue areas—fair housing, affordable housing, civil rights, inmate rights, consumer protection, disability rights, and poverty; Kyra co-founded the Law Foundation’s innovative Fair Housing Law Project. She began her legal career at the Law Foundation’s mental health advocacy program, where she was the directing attorney for 8 years, specializing in issues of involuntary mental health commitment, criminal justice interaction with individuals with disabilities, quality of care in psychiatric institutions and jails, and minors’ rights in residential care.

 

Kyra has a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and holds a Bachelor of Arts with distinction and honors from the University of Arizona. She has served on the governance boards of SVCN, MACLA, and the Santa Clara County Bar Association (SCCBA) and is a long-time volunteer at Children’s Musical Theater, San Jose. In 2013, Kyra was named as SCCBA’s Professional Lawyer of the Year and, in both 2012 and 2020, was listed as a woman of influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Kyra is an American Leadership Forum senior fellow (Urbanism Class XXXVI, CEO DIEL Cohort Class III) and lives in downtown San José with her husband Eric and teenager Kassia.

kyrak@svcn.org

Nick Kuwada

Policy Director

Since 2006, Nick has served as an advocate for low-income and immigrant communities.  In the Bay Area, he started his nonprofit career as a volunteer and then staff attorney for Asian Law Alliance where he provided low-cost and pro bono immigration services as well as run the firm’s civic engagement program.  The civic engagement program utilized the strength of several local nonprofits to register voters, ensure proper language access during elections, and notably, a successful lawsuit and campaign that changed the political representation of Asian Americans in the City of Santa Clara.  Most recently, Nick was the Program Manager for the County of Santa Clara’s Office of the Census where he led one of the most comprehensive and successful efforts to count individuals on the 2020 Census.  In the County program, Nick emphasized a community-led approach that engaged numerous stakeholders from nearly every sector and resulted in over a million dollars in funding to local nonprofits.

Nick earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Utah and later attended Willamette University to receive his JD.  He enjoys spending his free time tending to his new family and collaborating with a local, Japanese dance school, NDS.

nickk@svcn.org

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Marissa Martinez

Communications + Fund Development Specialist

Marissa is a community organizer, arts advocate, and playwright born and raised in East San Jose. With over seven years of experience in communications and events, she is committed to sharing stories and uplifting underserved youth and communities. 

 
As a founding director of More Más Marami Arts, Marissa strives to develop new works, support local artists, and empower the community to use their voices. She teaches workshops for youth on storytelling, script-writing, poetry, and acting. Marissa has had the pleasure of working with Bay Area theatre companies like Bindlestiff Studio, the Playwrights’ Foundation, and TheatreWorks. She is also involved in LEAD Filipino as the Fly Pinays Program Director, bringing together Filipnxs and providing opportunities for personal and professional development. 
 
Marissa earned a B.A. in English and Theatre Arts from Santa Clara University. She has been featured as a genARTS panelist and a CONTENT magazine artist. When she isn't writing or teaching art with youth, Marissa enjoys ice cream, decorating her planner, and watching movies. 

marissam@svcn.org

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Loani Nguyen

Operations + Finance Director

Loani comes to SVCN with experience in business operations at both private and non-profit organizations. She previously worked with a non-profit organization which partnered with educational institutions across the United States and in other countries. In addition, she has worked at several local community colleges. One of her passions is supporting first generation and underrepresented college students. This work has included managing several federal grants at Hispanic Serving Institutions in the Bay Area. She is a certified online instructor and has managed a unique business and computer science learning center that served both youth and adults in the community. 

 

Loani has a Master of Business Administration degree from Southern New Hampshire University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from San Jose State University. She is a member of the SNHU chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success. Membership in this group is based not only on academic achievement but also on the demonstration of leadership ability. 

 

Aside from empowering others, Loani enjoys traveling, hiking, SUPing, reading historical fictions and making people laugh. Since Loani was raised in the Monterey area, she loves everything related to surf and sand. On a typical weekend, she can be seen spending time with friends and family.

loanin@svcn.org

Rene Fong

Policy Intern

Rene comes to SVCN having previously held roles with law firms Minami Tamaki LLC and Manning, Gross + Massenberg, doing administrative work with their personal injury teams. Currently, Rene works as a Youth Development Leader with Donaldina Cameron House, a nonprofit organization which serves low-income San Francisco communities, and also serves as a deacon at the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown (PCC). On campus, Rene has recently been called to serve as Culture Show Director for the Asian Pacific-Islander Student Union, a Multicultural Center club. 


Originally from San Francisco, Rene is currently a third-year student at Santa Clara University double-majoring in Management Information Systems and Economics. In her free time, she enjoys reading, bullet journaling, and finding great boba spots around the Bay Area.

renef@svcn.org

Taylor Kealoha

Marketing & Communications Intern

Taylor is an aspiring business leader and social justice advocate currently based in Santa Clara county. She comes to SVCN with previous experience as a social media marketer, social justice event coordinator, and board member for various organizations within Santa Clara University (“SCU”). Some of Taylor’s most notable accomplishments at SCU have been the successful implementation and facilitation of the “Facing the Facts,” “Orientation Leader Panel,” “POC Panel,” and “Asian American Allyship & Anti-Blackness within the Community” programs. 

Outside of SVCN, Taylor is a full-time student at SCU double majoring in Marketing and Psychology. She is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii but has recently moved to the Bay area in an effort to gain a newfound understanding of the world at large. In the future, Taylor hopes to return to Honolulu where she may apply her gained knowledge of Marketing, Psychology, and social justice issues to become one of the positive change-makers Hawaii so desperately needs.

When Taylor isn’t working, she enjoys participating in club activities with Barkada of SCU, late-night rollerskating with her friends, and running a conjoined Instagram account with her roommate about their college adventures.
 

taylork@svcn.org