Aregash Bekele
Resource and Referral Counselor: In Home Services
Aregash Bekele joined BANANAS in the summer of 1996 as a resource & referral counselor. In addition to counseling parents with choosing and using child care, she also administers the Bayer Vendor Program as well as a database of nannies and babysitters looking for work. Having emigrated from Ethiopia, Aregash enjoys working with people from all over the world – especially native Amharic and Tigrigna speakers. Aregash enjoys working with such a multi-cultural staff because it allows her to learn from others and share personal experience. For so many years her children were her hobby, but now that they are grown, her granddaughter and kids of BANANAS’ staff occupy her time.

Carmen Hernandez
Resource and Referral Counselor: Spanish Bilingual Services
Carmen Hernandez joined BANANAS in 1998 after years of experience in school administration and health education. She has been managing the CalWORKs program for the past five years as well as lending her bi-lingual skills to the Resource & Referral world. When she is not busy caring for her three boys, she enjoys reading and taking walks. Carmen is proud to work with such a diverse population and helping families in any way that she can.

Cate Ejjed
Director of Finance and Administration
Cate Ejjed joined BANANAS in 2008 bringing over 11 years of experience in non-profit finance as well as a MBA from San Francisco State University. At BANANAS Cate oversees the financial aspects of the agency with regards to budget, financial reporting, contacts, HR and operations. BANANAS’ mission is aligned with Cate’s values, and she is excited to be working in such a diverse, family friendly organizational culture. When not crunching numbers and organizing spreadsheets, she is busy raising two daughters and traveling the world.

Davida Pugh
Alternative Payment Manager: Quality Assurance/Subsidy Payments
Quality Assurance Specialist Davida Pugh began working with children in a child care center in Berkeley, where she was a teacher at an Infant/Toddler program for 14 years. Since then she has been wearing many different hats for the past 15 years including supervising IT duties for the agency and auditing files. Davida is inspired by her playful coworkers and the collegiality among staff.

Deana Cavitt
Alternative Payment Coordinator: Transfers/Quality Assurance

Debby Alvarez
Resource and Referral Counselor: Customer Services

Dilys Lo
Alternative Payments Counselor: Client Services
Dilys Lo spent nine years working in the Housing Department in Hong Kong before migrating to the U.S. with her husband and young daughter. For more than four years, she has been working with the CalWORKs program and the Asian Services team at BANANAS to coordinate and provide services to the community. Working at BANANAS has provided Dilys with a sense of belonging, which is very important to her since she received an education and came from a country with a different language and cultural background. In addition to singing, watching movies and travelling, Dilys serves the Chinese community as a volunteer English teacher in Oakland’s Chinatown, where she teaches Chinese immigrants basic English.

Emily Vener
Resource and Referral Counselor: Inclusion Services

Eva Chou
Resource and Referral Manager: Provider Services
Eva Chou has worked at BANANAS for over 10 years, coordinating trainings for child care providers and working closely with Chinese speaking clients, connecting them to services. Before coming to BANANAS, Eva worked as a teacher in a before and afterschool program while attending school earning her B.A. degree. She enjoys the great services that BANANAS provides to the community and the amazing group of staff. She has learned how to parent her own three children by the wisdom of the staff. Whether it’s cooking, knitting or making jewelry, Eva loves to make things for others. She also likes to take long hikes with her husband and children.

Frances Aguilar
Resource and Referral Counselor: Provider Services
Frances Aguilar began her career with BANANAS as a program counselor with the CalWORKs program. After more than six years of working with parents and providers in the subsidy department, Frances transitioned to the Resource & Referral department in 2012. She really enjoys working with such a fun staff who share in her commitment to children and families. When not at work, she loves to spend time with her family camping and letting loose on the dance floor.

Heather Lang
Resource and Referral Manager: Referral Services
Heather Lang has been with BANANAS for more than 10 dynamic years as the Inclusion Coordinator, helping families who have children with special needs in their search for child care/subsidies and helping child care providers understand about caring for all children. Before joining the BANANAS bunch, she worked for the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network – the statewide agency representing R&Rs in California. Before moving to California, Heather worked for the American Humane Association in their Washington office covering public policy issues around child and animal welfare and protection. She earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration/Non Profit Management from San Francisco State University and is very dedicated to the success of nonprofit organizations. She likes the energy that the staff and clients bring to BANANAS, and feels fulfilled helping families. Heather enjoys international travel and modern dance and lives with her wonderful husband and very fun, creative young daughter who also has epilepsy.

Jennifer Watkins
Operations and Communications Manager
Jennifer Watkins plays many roles at BANANAS such as holiday decorator and picture hanger but her primary duties are managing the building and publications. She began as a temp in 2006 and was officially hired in 2011. She loves the family style lunches that employees often eat together. Jen is a member at Rock Paper Scissors Collective, a community arts space in Oakland. She is an artist dabbling in screen-printing, upholstery, and carpentry when she isn’t hanging out with her god-daughter or exchanging art through the mail with her niece.

Joan Suflita
R&R Counselor: Provider Services
Joan joined the BANANAS team in 2013 as a Resource and Referral Counselor and a Coach for Providers to support staff and increase program quality for children and families. While new to BANANAS, Joan is not new to the Early Care and Education (ECE) field. She's held a variety of positions in the ECE field which include teaching, fifteen years experience as a Center Director, eight years as a content area specialist with disabilities and mental health services, has been an independent contractor assessing program quality and she's worked with a variety of program types and models. Throughout her career, Joan has always considered herself, a life-long learner, committed to quality and building capacity using the skills of strong leadership, sound management and positive relationships. You might hear the echo of her motto, "Together we're better!"

Judy Kriege
Program Director
Judy Kriege began her career in early care and education as a Supervisor and teacher in a child care center for many years. She is also a parent of two children who used child care. As the Resource & Referral Manager, she stays busy by evaluating and developing programs, training staff, communicating with funders and community partners, local and statewide advocacy, offering technical assistance around licensing issues and providing referrals to parents. Judy is passionate about providing important, relevant services to parents and providers and is always impressed at the diversity of the staff and their commitment to providing personal, face-to-face services to all families. Judy is also BANANAS’ resident musician, playing her guitar around the office and singing with friends.

Lisa Connors
Office Assistant

Michelle Luong
Alternative Payments Counselor: Client Services
As a counselor in the CalWORKs program, Michelle Luong has been serving low-income families and their child care providers for more than five years at BANANAS. She enjoys working with her colleagues and that BANANAS gives her the opportunity to utilize her skills and talents to help people who need vital services. Being fluent in both Chinese and Vietnamese has allowed her to assist the Asian community access similar services. In her free time Michelle enjoys hiking, playing a fierce game of badminton, listening to music and going out to the movies.

Nancy Allen
Alternative Payments Coordinator

Olivia Thompson
Finance Associate

Richard Winefield
Executive Director
Richard Winefield joined BANANAS in 2012, as its new Executive Director. Rich had previously been the Executive Director at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, and the Vice President for Education and New Media at KQED Public Broadcasting. Throughout his career he has been focused on children and education, having also served as Superintendent of Schools in Orinda, and as Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Oakland. At BANANAS Rich will focus on strategy, planning and fundraising. He says he loves the opportunity to work with a diverse, passionate team to serve families and providers. As a new parent, he and his wife turned to BANANAS for support over twenty-five years ago; he is delighted to be back.

Rosina Ng
Alternative Payments Counselor: Client Services
Having started as a temp supporting the AP Programs, Rosina Ng officially joined the “bunch” in 2011. Her years of administrative experience and customer service skills have proven to be an asset to the clients she serves in the FBG program. Being a native Chinese speaker, she likes interacting with different people in a multi-cultural environment. When Rosina is not busy processing attendance sheets, she enjoys knitting, making jewelry and spending time with her husband and three boys.

Sandra Pulido
Alternative Payments Counselor: Client Services
A member of the Alternative Payments team, Sandra helps parents and families access child care subsidies and find quality child care.  Bilingual in Spanish, she is a valued resource to our Spanish-speaking and immigrant clients. She started her BANANAS career in the AP Department five years ago, but left due to family matters. But Sandra always felt connected to BANANAS, so when she noticed an opening in AP, she came back! She loves our warm, welcoming atmosphere, the diversity of our staff and clients, and the opportunity to learn something new every day.  Sandra lives in Hayward with her husband and two children. On weekends, you can find her at the beach with a good book, or at one of her children’s team sporting events.

Sophia Liang
Alternative Payments Coordinator: Subsidy Payments
As a counselor in the FBG Alternative Payment program, Sophia Liang has been providing services for low-income families for more than five years. Before coming to BANANAS, she worked at another non-profit organization in Oakland helping low-income clients find work as well as provided technical assistance for limited English speakers. Sophia enjoys working with Chinese speaking clients and assisting them with their search for child care. Seeing her clients succeed by retaining their employment or continuing to attend school because of the child care assistance has brought her a lot of joy. Sophia is an avid badminton player and plays every Sunday. When not busy on the badminton court, she is a busy mom to two girls who play the Chinese zither, folk dance and play in their school orchestra.

Soyla Madrigal
Alternative Payments Coordinator: Subsidy Payments
CalWORKs Program Counselor Soyla Madrigal has worked in the non-profit sector for more than 18 years. Before coming to BANANAS in March 2012 she worked as a Medical Assistant as well in the corporate world working in quality control and assurance. She really enjoys the BANANAS bunch and working with the clients. When she’s not working, you can find her curled up on the couch reading a book or outside enjoying the sun. Soyla also keeps busy driving her two sons to baseball and soccer practice as well as volunteering as a school parent leader.

Sue Retherford
Alternative Payments Manager: Client Services
Sue Retherford has been managing the California Alternative Payment Program for more than 17 years. She brings with her an extensive amount of experience in social services and community outreach. She sees BANANAS as the colors of a rainbow – filled with a bright, diverse staff that truly makes a difference in the lives of the clients they serve. Sue is married with two daughters and enjoys walking, cooking, reading, dancing and gardening.

Tasha Henneman
Resource and Referral Manager: Parent Services
Tasha Henneman, MPA, MA has been with with BANANAS since 1999 and is the Resource and Referral Manager of Parent Services. Tasha enjoys planning parenting classes, workshops and support groups and truly believes in the power of parents getting together to share their experiences--good and bad. Being out in the community and talking about BANANAS services is another aspect of her job that she finds rewarding. Currently a Doctoral Candidate in the Educational Leadership Program in Early Childhood at Mills College, the focus of Tasha's research involves an exploration of the phenomenon of preschool expulsions particularly the disproportionate rates of Black boys. Tasha loves participating in her book clubs, playing sports and is a proud mother and aunt who enjoys spending quality time with her family. 

Tim Thompson
Administrative Coordinator
Tim Thompson joined the bunch in 2005 as an administrative assistant, where he provides clerical upkeep on BANANAS’ various databases and helps edit the quarterly newsletter. He brought years of database management experience after working for Sony Music BMG for seven years. The genuine concern and undivided attention that BANANAS’ counselors provide to every parent who come looking for child care and support is something that Tim values greatly. Working in the music industry for over 15 years prior to coming to BANANAS, Tim still enjoys a little music related fun every year helping with San Francisco’s annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. A native to Northern California, Tim’s family now resides in Rancho Murieta, CA, where he loves to visit when time allows.

Tina Fleeton
Alternative Payments Counselor: Client Services
For the 14 years, Tina Fleeton has worked as a program counselor in the Respite Child Care program. She brought with her extensive experience in social services and community outreach. Tina’s compassion for improving the lives of families is an attribute she values when working with diverse families in the community. She has a fond admiration for the richness of diversity that is shared by her co-workers and how BANANAS staff reflects the community they serve. She has an 18 year old son and enjoys spending quality time with her family. Tina loves to sing, write, travel, create new hairstyles and is an active member of her church.

Xiao Wang
Alternative Payments Counselor: Client Services

Yesenia Martinez
Alternative Payments Counselor: Client Services

We offer our services in many languages including:

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