Board of Directors

John Burton

Chair

John Burton has been the Chairman of the California Democratic Party since April 2009. He served in the California State Assembly from 1965 until 1974, in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1974 until 1983, in the California State Assembly again from 1988 until 1996, and in the California State Senate from 1996 until 2004. His passionate advocacy on behalf of foster youth led to the founding of the nonprofit organization that bears his name, which has helped transform the child welfare system and improved the lives of foster youth all across the State of California.

Rick Mariano

President

A longtime Bay Area resident, Rick Mariano is sole proprietor of a regional real estate brokerage and development firm. His work includes the acquisition and development of 30 acres of land in Oakland in partnership with Holliday Development, acquisition/asset management of industrial properties in Signal Hill and Santa Fe Springs, and renovation and operation of several hotels in San Francisco. His nonprofit experience is wide ranging, including service for many years as vice-president and exclusive pro bono real estate broker and facilities developer for the Delancey Street Foundation.

Melanie Blum

Treasurer

As President of Blum, Inc. Melanie Blum has founded and managed a successful national sales and marketing company to consult with the film industry and distribute products for a variety of well-known film and television properties to retail and promotional markets. As Vice President of the San Francisco Film Centre and a board member of the San Francisco Film Society, she has been instrumental in the development and preservation of properties in the Presidio of San Francisco and has spearheaded many fundraisers and events to support organizations and nonprofits.

Kimiko Burton

Secretary

Kimiko Burton has the distinction of being San Francisco’s first female Public Defender and has had a distinguished career as an attorney devoted to the public good for more than 20 years. She currently serves as the President of the California State Personnel Board and is chief of San Francisco’s Children and Family Services Team, which represents the interests of abused and neglected children. Kimiko also served as the Director of the San Francisco Criminal Justice Council, where her work with community groups, grassroots organizations and public agencies helped develop legislation to improve the lives of California’s most in need citizens.

Miles Cooley

Board Member

Miles Cooley is a partner with Kelley Drye & Warren LLP and is a member of the firm‘s Media, Entertainment and Litigation groups in Los Angeles. Miles has an active pro-bono practice and serves on the National Board of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. He has been involved with various non-profit organizations, including LA-based Peace4Kids, which works to empower foster children and resolve state and federal foster care issues.

John Garcia

Board Member

John Garcia is Vice President for Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento. He oversees government relation activities for California, representing the interests of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, The Permanente Medical Group, and Southern California Permanente Medical Group. Mr. Garcia has been with Kaiser Permanente for 20 years. Before joining Kaiser Permanente, Mr. Garcia was a field representative for United States Congressman Pete Stark. Prior to that, he was the community educator for the City of Hayward.

Donna Lucas

Board Member

Over her 30-year career, Donna Lucas has held senior executive positions in both the public and private sectors. Donna currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Public Policy Institute of California and serves on the Board of Directors for the California Chamber of Commerce, College Futures Foundation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Maria Shriver’s A Woman’s Nation Foundation. She is routinely named one of Sacramento’s 100 most powerful people and is often listed as one of the state Capitol’s most influential people.

Tony Ruch

Board Member

Tony Ruch received a B.A. in Law and Society from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2001 and his J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in 2005. Mr. Ruch began his legal career at an environmental litigation boutique firm and also worked at a large plaintiff’s law firm representing injured victims in toxic torts. Mr. Ruch was also previously a Deputy District Attorney for the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Ruch has also worked as in-house counsel for the San Francisco and Oakland Housing Authorities specializing in subsidized housing, landlord-tenant and reasonable accommodation law. In addition, Tony has served on several continuing legal education panels pertaining to subsidized housing and also served as a hearing officer for a public housing authority. As a former Bay Area foster care child, Mr. Ruch remains committed to foster care and social justice issues. Outside of work, Mr. Ruch enjoys running with his dog, road biking and reading.

Sami Tahbazof

Board Member

Mrs. Tahbazof is a founding partner of SST Investments, a San Francisco-based real estate development and property management firm with over 30 years of experience in the greater Bay Area. Her company has focused on residential construction ranging from single-family residences to multi-family condominium buildings, with investments throughout Northern California in a diverse mix of product including medical offices, light and heavy industrial and retail properties. Many of their residential properties are made available to Veterans, Section 8 applicants and low-Income qualified individuals seeking housing. Mrs. Tahbazof is a passionate advocate for homeless youth and during the past 20 years has been involved with many organizations that focus on giving a helping hand to vulnerable youth, including Latino Unidos, Shelter Network, Home Away from Homelessness and Mothers Against Poverty.

Rebecca Taylor

Board Member

Rebecca Taylor is a registered nurse, receiving her Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Nursing (BSN) from San Francisco State University in 2013. She is currently obtaining a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Family Nurse Practitioner license, concurrently. She is currently in her second year, half way through the program and is proud to represent former foster youth in higher education. Originally from Mendocino County, Ms. Taylor was formerly in foster care and as an adult has been an active advocate to improve the quality of life for children and youth in California’s foster care system.

Tina Thomas

Board Member

Over Tina Thomas’ accomplished 30-year career, Tina has been recognized as one of the State’s leading environmental and land use attorneys. Although she is a renowned attorney and author, Tina’s work extends beyond the traditional role of attorney, as she regularly performs pro bono, volunteer work and serves as a board member for a number of local nonprofits such as Loaves and Fishes, Cottage Housing, Serna Village, WIND Youth Center, Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services and several others groups that serve foster youth and other populations in need.

Kathleen Van Osten

Board Member

Kathleen Van Osten has worked successfully at the State level for 28 years and the last 15 lobbying the Legislature, Governor’s Office and Administration and every Constitutional office. She has successfully advocated on behalf of corporate, municipal and nonprofit clients. Ms. Van Osten served 13 years in the California legislative arena prior to joining the lobbying arena in 1998. Ms. Van Osten has also served as a consultant to the Rand Corporation, providing research and writing services for Rand California, an online source of information on matters pertaining to public policy and economics in California.