Board of Directors

Don Jen , Chair
Don serves as Program Director for education grantmaking at the Marin Community Foundation. He was first introduced to BANANAS through the collective efforts of local organizations working for social and economic justice in the 1970’s, and took advantage of our services as a new parent in 1982. Don views his long association with BANANAS as a privilege and is proud that the organization is so widely acknowledged as a leader in the field. With the many changes and advances in child care over the years, especially in the public policy and funding arenas, Don has a particular interest in how BANANAS’ history can help shape its future. Don has three children, each of whom was enrolled in infant-toddler family day care and later, preschool family day care, thanks to referrals from BANANAS. His children continue as life-long learners today – each in pursuit of graduate degrees (and to their parents’ great pleasure – all in the Bay Area!)

Abby Cohen
Abby Cohen is the Child Care State Systems Specialist, Region IX for the Child Care State Systems Specialist Network – a service of the federal Office of Child Care. She previously directed the Child Care Law Center, one of many organizations “incubated” through the pioneering work of BANANAS. Abby strongly believes in the importance of the work BANANAS does on behalf of diverse families, providers and the larger community. With the importance of child care too easily overlooked, Abby has always been proud to be associated with BANANAS and our committed and talented staff, especially when she hears from so many parents about how helpful we have been to them. Abby enjoys hiking, cooking, reading and spending time with her husband, two children and dog.

Robin Phipps
Robin is an active community volunteer and the parent of two teenagers. She had worn many hats at BANANAS over the years: staff member, volunteer, President of Friends of BANANAS, and now, Board member. She loves being part of BANANAS and is proud that the organization is always ready and willing to help everyone who contacts us about child care issues. Robin is interested in child development, especially cognitive function and the value of play. She’s proud that her two teenagers want to follow in her footsteps by volunteering at BANANAS!

Chris Murray, Treasurer
Chris is the Managing Partner of a Certified Public Accounting practice located in San Francisco specializing in work with closely-held businesses and individual clients. Chris and his wife initially came to BANANAS for help in locating a child care provider for their first child. When he joined the Board, his wife had recently changed careers - moving from teaching to operating a home child care business – so his connections to our mission are both personal and deep. Chris is proud to help guide BANANAS, an organization that holds such an important position in the community. Now that his two children are grown, he enjoys cooking and entertaining with his wife and tries to make time for his hobby of photography. His wife now serves as the Executive Director of Young Audiences of Northern California, which places working artists into schools in the Bay Area for residencies and assemblies – so his family’s commitment to enriching the lives of young people remains strong.

Nikole Wilson-Ripsom
Nikole is an independent Fundraising and Administrative Consultant to various non-profit organizations. She first came to BANANAS as a new parent, looking for a nanny-share for her son. Nikole believes that the work BANANAS does is vital to the well-being of our community, as access to quality childcare is critical to the ability of parents to earn a living wage. BANANAS gives parents the tools to know what questions to ask and what to look for in a childcare provider – a service that goes far beyond simply learning there is a provider with openings in your area. Nikole is active in special needs education and in the field of complementary health. She is an avid knitter and reader. A native New Yorker, she has lived in Oakland for 30 years, currently in the Adams Point neighborhood with her husband, young son, a cat and a fish.

We offer our services in many languages including:

Vietnamese -
Thai -
Mien -
French -
English -
Chinese -
Amharic -
Spanish -
Laotian -