The early success of RISE San Diego has been built on the strength of our people. Our growing team of dedicated and passionate individuals are lending their skills and expertise to the fulfillment of our mission through their long-term commitment to the cause, deep knowledge of the community, and proven ability to engage with residents, nonprofits, businesses, and civic leaders.

 


Staff Members

TONY YOUNG

President & CEO

Tony is a former educator who taught middle school in the San Diego Unified School District for over ten years. Tony went on to build a career in public service advocating for policies and services critical to the lives within the communities he represented. In 2004, he was elected to the San Diego City Council where he served in a variety of leadership positions including council president and authored the city’s first fair banking ordinance, legislation to create the Gang Prevention and Intervention Commission, and the small business contracting ordinance. He previously served as CEO of the American Red Cross San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter, chair of former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer’s mayoral transition team, and as a member of numerous boards and committees that have provided him with a unique insight into the needs of the greater San Diego community. Tony received his degree in socio-economics from Howard University and teaching credentials from the University of San Diego, and he is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education program.

 

 

 

DOMINIC PORTER

Chief Operating Officer 

Dominic (RISE Fellow ‘19) is an educator, change agent, ideator, cultural curator, and community leader originally from Los Angeles, California. Dominic is a graduate of Hilltop High School in Chula Vista and a two-time graduate of Arizona State University with a B.S. in Business Administration and a M.Ed. in Postsecondary and Higher Education. For over a decade, Dominic has actively engaged and leaned into work with community benefiting organizations missioned around service-learning, social justice, community development, workforce development, and civic engagement. He has extensive experience as a program developer, operations coordinator, curriculum designer, project manager, and people leader in predominantly under-served, under-resourced, and under-funded communities.

 

 

 

 

JULIUS ALEJANDRO 

Community Engagement Specialist 

Julius (RISE Fellow ’19) received his master’s in organizational leadership from National University and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from San Diego State University. Also, he has professional certificates from Accion and Notre Dame University on entrepreneurship and business strategy. He strives for innovative approaches to solving social issues. He has years of experience in grassroots organizing, the nonprofit sector, and startup ecosystem that have crossed intersections from economic development and health disparities that affect communities of color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annamarie Till

ANNAMARIE MONTECINA TILL

Director of Community Partnerships

Annamarie is a writer and copy editor with nearly two decades of program management experience supporting the creation and development of community-based initiatives. She serves as director of community partnerships at RISE San Diego where she is responsible for the organization’s nonprofit training and technical assistance programs and provides resource development support. Prior to RISE, she served as senior writer and the research and shared learning manager at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. In that role, her work supported the design and implementation of the Center for Community & Cultural Arts partnership between southeastern San Diego and Balboa Park’s cultural institutions, the development of an NEA-funded arts district plan for The Village at Market Creek, and management of a mini-grants program that awarded over $1 million dollars to community-led projects and programs in southeastern San Diego over a nine-year period. A second-gen American and a Navy brat, Annamarie has called Imperial Beach and surrounding neighborhoods home for nearly thirty years. She volunteers with small local arts and culture groups to provide assistance with grant writing, copy writing and editing, research, and systems development.

 

 

SALINA J. VILLEGAS

Director of Leadership Programs 

Salina is a hood scholar raised in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego. For the last ten years, she has advocated for BIPOC communities, serving non-profit, corporate, and educational sectors in their efforts to provide professional development, educational equity, and culture change initiatives, and she is committed to the genuine inclusion of diverse groups involved in change efforts through deep dialogue, skilled facilitation, and systems thinking. At RISE, her role involves heading our RISE Urban Leadership Fellows Program and On the RISE youth development program, while also co-facilitating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workshops for San Diego at-large. She was inducted into the San Diego Unified School District Hall of Fame (2013) and recognized by Senate Leader Toni Atkins as an Emerging Female Leader (2016). She is a RISE Fellow (‘17) and Lideramos Fellow (‘19). Salina has earned bachelor degrees in rhetoric studies and American studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s in leadership studies from the University of San Diego. She was awarded the Intellectual Contribution Award (’21) while pursuing a master’s in prevention science and practice at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

 

Board Members

PAMELA GRAY PAYTON (Chair)

Vice President, Chief Impact and Partnerships Officer

The San Diego Foundation

As The San Diego Foundation’s Vice President, Chief Impact and Partnerships Officer, Pamela leads The Foundation’s Community Impact Division administering initiatives that advance quality of life for San Diegans. She plays a critical role in developing cross-sector partnerships and implementing future strategic plans for The San Diego Foundation and is currently leading The Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund and the Black Community Investment Fund. Previously, Pamela served as the Assistant Vice President, Community, State, and Local Government Relations, as well as Assistant Vice President of University Communications at the University of San Diego. In both roles, she worked closely with university leadership, campus and community partners, local and state government, and statewide and national higher education associations developing and implementing strategies that advanced the mission of the University of San Diego. Very active in the San Diego community, Pamela serves as Board President for RISE San Diego and the Kim Center for Social Balance. She has also volunteered as a board member for La Jolla Country Day School; the San Diego Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.; and Girl Scouts San Diego. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Epsilon Xi Omega Chapter. Pamela received her undergraduate degree in Communications from UC San Diego and a  Master’s in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego School of Business.

 

 

 

PEDRO VILLEGAS (Vice Chair)

Director of Community Relations

San Diego Gas & Electric

Pedro Villegas is Director of Community Relations for the San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sempra Energy, a Fortune 500 company based in San Diego. Pedro is responsible for SDG&E’s corporate philanthropy and relations with nonprofit and community-based organizations in San Diego County and south Orange County. In addition to his leadership at SDG&E, Pedro has held several leadership positions in the California State Assembly, serving as Deputy Director of the Speaker’s Office of International Relations and Protocol; Principal Consultant to the Assembly Committee on Jobs, the Economy, and Economic Development; and Senior Consultant to the Assembly Select Committee on California-Mexico Affairs. Pedro is a dedicated community leader who volunteers his time on numerous nonprofit boards and committees, including RISE San Diego, San Diego Tourism Authority, National Conflict Resolution Center, Downtown San Diego Partnership, CONNECT and the ComicCon Museum.

 

 

 

TAMARA ALLEN-MUHAMMAD

School Principal

Lemon Grove School District 

Tamara Allen-Muhammad, is a passionate educator and advocate for children. Everyone who knows her knows she has a talent for uplifting youth and their parents as both an educator and mentor. Tamara has had over twenty-three years of teaching experience within Southeast San Diego and  surrounding communities. As an educator, Tamara specializes in advocating for the equitable rights  of children who are historically under-represented. As a graduate of the University of San Diego (BA,  1997) and National University (MA, 2004), she has maintained a level of educational growth in order  to better support the community that raised her. Presently Tamara is the principal of Lemon Grove  Academy Middle School. As a RISE Leadership Fellow, she works to better my community through  education for her three beautiful grandchildren and the community at large.

 

 

 

 

JUDY McDONALD

Trustee 

Parker Foundation

Judy is the widow of Alex McDonald a former State Appellate Court Justice, the mother of four daughters, and the grandmother to seven. She is a long time community volunteer serving many organizations. She is currently on the board of the National Conflict Resolution Center, The arts district at Liberty Station, The Parker Foundation, and DEEP (Diamond education excellence project).

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARK CAFFERTY 

President & CEO

San Diego Regional EDC

As president and chief executive officer at San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, Mark Cafferty sits at the center of a unique collaboration of business, trade, community, and education leaders who have redefined the region’s economic development strategy, cementing the region as a key stakeholder in the global economy.  Cafferty has spent more than 25 years designing systems to support career advancement and economic opportunity for American workers. He has served in numerous public-sector leadership positions and has been sought as a consultant on workforce development efforts throughout the country.