Board Members and Advisory Council

Our team of dedicated individuals provides leadership and guidance to The Peninsula College Fund.
  • Charles Schmuck
    Founder

    After a successful 30-year advertising career working primarily for Sunset Magazine and the Smithsonian, Charles returned to teaching and coaching young people later in his career. For a number of years, he taught social studies and coached golf at Presentation High School in San Jose. In 2005, he joined with friends and neighbors to assist first-generation, financially needy students successfully navigate and graduate from college by offering scholarships to three deserving young women. Today, the organization they created has accelerated the success of over 400 deserving scholars. Charles graduated from Santa Clara University.

  • Eric Hartwig
    President

    Eric was born and raised in Alameda, California and left the Bay Area to study English at UCLA. Upon graduation, he returned to the Bay Area to earn a teaching credential at CSU Hayward and then began a lifelong career in public school education. After ten years of teaching high school students the joys of English literature and the conventions of effective writing, he enrolled at UC Berkeley to earn a master’s degree in education policy analysis and an administrative license to supervise schools. Eric toyed with a career in policy development and evaluation but ultimately decided to return to the community level where schools and parents and students work together. Eric has served as a vice principal (Capuchino High School, San Bruno), a principal (Menlo-Atherton High School), a district-level officer (Director of Curriculum, Sequoia Union High School District), and as a superintendent (Las Lomitas Elementary School District, Menlo Park). He retired in 2011 but couldn't stand the quiet, and in 2015 un-retired to take an "interim" posting as superintendent of the Portola Valley School District. Four years later he retired for real.

  • Karen Canty
    Secretary

    Karen Canty has been a community volunteer since she moved to the Bay Area with her family 35 years ago. Highlights include: President of the PTA of both her children’s elementary and high schools; a 12-year member of the Board of Trustees of the Menlo Park City Elementary School District; a 10-year member of the Delegate Assembly of the California School Boards Association; a 6-year term on the board of Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS) and a continuing member of the Friends of ACS. She also chaired fundraising events for Art in Action and ACS. When she was approached about becoming a mentor for a PCF student, she was excited about the opportunity because as an active parent at Menlo-Atherton High School, she interacted with many students and families who fit the profile of a PCF scholar. She discovered how difficult it was for them to graduate from high school, much less contemplate a college education. She has served as a PCF application reader, chair of the Awards Ceremony, and chair of the most recent fundraising luncheon.

  • Jackee Bruno

    Jackee has 17 years of experience working in independent schools. His career has been dedicated to impacting youth and making memories. He started as an Assistant Athletic Director and coached Basketball, Football, and Track & Field at the club, Junior High, JV, and Varsity level. From there he became an activities director in charge of student government, student activities programming, and community service, among other responsibilities. He is a hard-working and versatile community member that works to build relationships at all levels of stakeholder in a community to gain perspective and create genuine feelings of inclusion and belonging. Jackee is also the PTA president at a local public school, chairperson of the school site council, and on the board of directors for a local day care business. He is a passionate advocate of all youth and is dedicated to student voice and empowerment. Jackee is also a presenter and facilitator for professional developments and conferences in topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. He has a BA from Stanford University and aspirations of a grad degree in the near future.

  • Bob Couch

    Bob Couch has spent over 30 years in senior marketing roles with big-brand, high-tech, start-up, and non-profit organizations. Most recently he was the Chief Marketing Officer with Selequity, and prior to that he was part of the founding team of Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School and served as its Chief Operating Officer. During his career, he has also been an SVP with Visa, Zilog, a VP with Embarcadero Technologies and Responselogic, and a Sr. Director with Anheuser-Busch Companies. In addition to Cristo Rey, Bob has served with other non-profits as a board member of the San Jose Symphony Orchestra, the World Bird Sanctuary, and the Metro Theatre Circus. He has also participated as the chair of the Bellarmine Parents Development Committee and a member of the International Conservation Committee of The Nature Conservancy. Bob’s professional organization affiliations include the Association of National Advertisers, the National Advertising Review Board, the Public Relations Vice President’s Roundtable, and the Semiconductor Industry Association. Bob and his wife Suzanne have three grown sons who all attended very expensive private colleges, which is why he worked so long and still consults.

  • Mia Garcia

    Mia believes in the transformative power of education and has dedicated much of her career to mentoring students and supporting the nonprofit community in a variety of capacities. In her current role at Genentech she helps expand patient access to medicines for serious and life-threatening diseases and previously served as a Philanthropy Advisor at the world's largest Community Foundation. Prior to that she practiced law in a diverse range of industries including medical and recreational cannabis commerce, estate planning, and nonprofits and tax-exempt entities.
     
    Mia takes an active role in projects with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion objectives. In her free time she served as a hospice volunteer and advocate for medical aid in dying on behalf of patients and community groups. She recently earned designation as a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®.
     
    Mia has a firsthand understanding of the financial and professional obstacles of higher education and graduated from University of California, Davis and Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio with the help of needs- and merit-based scholarships, internships, and many mentors.

  • Dani Gasparini

    Dani Gasparini has been involved in fundraising for nonprofit organizations for over 25 years, most recently as Executive Vice President of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. Dani has raised over $60 million throughout her development career in support of nonprofits serving children, families, seniors, healthcare, schools, and arts and culture through managing annual campaigns and effective grant writing. As an active member of the community, Dani served on the City Council and as Mayor of the City of Redwood City. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Redwood City-San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce and Pen TV, where she also hosts Pen Voice interviewing key community leaders. Recognitions include induction into the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame, Redwood City Business Woman of the Year, and the Redwood City Sequoia Award Citizen of the Year.

  • Asha Guha

    Asha Guha has been a strong advocate for education and youth in the community for the past 20 years. Her work advances youth leadership, STEM outreach, first-generation college success programs, and more, most recently mitigating the impact of basic food insecurity among children and youth. Asha leads Buddies4math, an organization dedicated to making math fun for elementary students. She started the Ideas Inspire Speaker Series in partnership with The Commonwealth Club to expand access for youth to distinguished thought leaders. Asha has served in leadership positions in non-profit boards, community initiatives and local and international grant making. Currently, she serves on The Commonwealth Club Education Advisory Board, Foothill Commission, PiE Advisory Council, and as the Chair of the SIP Advisory Council at UC Santa Cruz. Prior to that, Asha served on the board of directors of the Palo Alto Education Foundation in a variety of positions, including President and Vice President.

  • Lydia Kearney

    Lydia is an independent consultant and volunteer for non-profits in education and workforce development. She was formerly a Manager at Bain & Company where she advised Fortune 500 clients across a variety of industries, including technology and financial services, and led Bay Area Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) efforts internally. Lydia previously worked in Strategic Operations at the Oakland Home Office of Aspire Charter Schools, which delivers college preparatory K-12 education to low-income communities. Lydia holds a B.A. from Princeton University and a Masters in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. She is passionate about helping young people achieve their education and career goals and thrilled to support PCF's great work of serving first-generation college students.

  • Elisabeth Magaña

    Elisabeth is a PCF alumna. As a member of the second cohort of PCF scholars, she had the privilege of co-founding the PCF Alumni Association and witnessing PCF’s impact and evolution over the years.
     
    Growing up in a mixed immigration status household shaped her understanding of the insurmountable challenges faced by low-income and immigrant communities, and those experiences continue to inspire her today. As the first in her family to graduate from high school and go to college, PCF played an integral role in helping her graduate from UCLA with a B.A. in Chicana and Chicano Studies and an Education Studies minor.
     
    Elisabeth understands firsthand that education and career readiness are the keys to opportunity, choice, and financial stability. She is honored to serve on the PCF board and is passionate about helping other students achieve their educational goals and ending the cycle of generational poverty.

  • Michael Pope

    Michael currently is a co-founder and senior partner of HealthLens, LLC, an online telemedicine platform that allows patients to receive diagnosis and treatment anytime, anywhere. Previously, he was Senior Partner at Olliance Group, a strategic open-source consulting group, and held various senior director positions at Intel Corporation. He also served as Vice President and General Manager of Daisy Systems as a corporate officer and business line general manager. Mike graduated from Cornell University with a Masters and Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering. He and his spouse Vicki have a long-standing commitment to community service. Mike has previously served on and chaired several non-profit boards, including Sacred Heart Community Service, HomeFirst of Santa Clara County, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, and the Intel Alumni Network.

  • Scott D. Rash, CFP

    Scott Rash is the Silicon Valley Complex Manager for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. Scott is responsible for overseeing the wealth management operations of the Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View and San Mateo offices. With over 225 advisors, the Silicon Valley Complex services over 300 corporate services engagements, provides venture distribution services to local VC Firms, and maintains one of the firms International Focus Offices. Today the Silicon Valley Complex manages more than $190 billion in assets for wealthy individuals and corporations.
     
    Scott began his career in the industry in 1987 as a Financial Advisor specializing in ERISA plans for middle market companies in San Diego, California. From 1992 to 1997, he held various positions involving corporate retirement plans including Regional Sales Director for Smith Barney’s Corporate Retirement Services based in Seattle, Washington. In 1997, he became the Branch Manager for the Spokane, Washington complex which included offices in Washington, Idaho and Montana. He relocated to California in 2004 to assume his current position.
     
    Scott attended the University of Nebraska and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in 1986. He is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) and is an arbitrator with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). He and his wife, Paula, reside in Menlo Park, California with their three children.

  • Charles Schaff

    Charley has held sales management positions at Apple, Microsoft, Cisco and other high-tech companies over the past 30 years. Before coming to California, Charley grew up in an Ohio community where only about 50% of high school students went on to college. There he saw firsthand the positive difference that a college education can make in the lives of graduates. He is passionate about the power of education to transform lives and increase access to opportunities. In addition to The Peninsula College Fund, Charley teaches financial literacy to Bay Area high school students through the nonprofit AbleWorks. He has also served on the Board of the Menlo-Atherton High School Foundation. In addition, he has coached Alpine Little League Baseball and AYSO soccer. Charley received a B.A. degree in History/Political Science from Colorado College, and is currently studying Spanish. He and his wife Cheryl have two children and live in Menlo Park.

  • Michelle Soto, CFP®, CDFA®

    Michelle is a Partner with Cerity Partners based in the Silicon Valley office. She provides investment guidance, portfolio design, and financial planning advice to both private and institutional clients. Using her extensive experience in the financial services industry, Michelle shares expert advice tailored specifically to her clients so they can achieve their short-term and long-term financial objectives.
     
    Prior to joining Cerity Partners, Michelle was a Principal at B|O|S where she also served as the head of the Financial Planning Team. She oversaw the firm’s internal education, projects, and resources with the objective of providing high-quality client advice in areas such as estate planning, tax strategies, retirement plans, equity compensation, insurance, and education funding.
     
    Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science in Commerce from the University of Virginia and completed the Personal Financial Planning Certificate Program at the University of California, Berkeley. She holds both the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) designations. Michelle is a past board member of the Financial Planning Association of San Francisco.
     
    Michelle and her husband, Jeff, live in Belmont, CA.

  • Erica M. Torres

    Erica currently works as a Director of Assurance at PwC, a public accounting firm that provides a variety of tax, audit, and advisory services and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). She provides audit services to clients in the software industry but has provided similar services to clients in the life science and venture capital industry. She is also a co-lead for the firm's BANW Latino Inclusion Network (LIN) and works closely with fellow Latinx colleagues to provide an environment that embraces diversity and inclusion through mentorship programs, community service, and volunteer work.
     
    As a leader of LIN, Erica has assisted in a number of events including assisting in a Spanish Blockchain presentation to the 2019 RobotiX Experience student winners from Mexico City. Erica has also worked closely with PCF in identifying individuals for the organization’s mentorship program and leading a resume workshop. Erica is originally from Watsonville and moved to the Bay Area when she decided to attend Santa Clara University as a transfer student and graduated with a B.S. in Accounting. As a first-generation student, her accessibility to higher education was through the community college pathway. Her time at Hartnell Community College paved the way to her interest in accounting. While attending Hartnell Community College, Erica worked at a local candy shop as a candy maker.
     
    Throughout her three years working at the candy shop, she worked closely with the owner, a first-time business owner and witnessed the struggles, including finding an accountant that could manage the finances/books. During her time at the candy shop and attending community college, Erica realized her passion for business/accounting and for helping small businesses, which paved her interest in majoring in accounting.

  • Jo Volkert

    After nearly four decades in higher education administration at San Francisco State University, Jo Volkert brings to the PCF board of directors a strong commitment to helping students achieve their goal of a college education. As Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at SF State, she had responsibility for delivery of services that allowed students from schools throughout California to be admitted, receive sufficient financial aid, obtain needed classes, and ultimately complete their undergraduate degrees. She forged partnerships with local school districts, community colleges, and community organizations to assure that first-generation, low-income students saw the university as a welcoming destination and then received the support they needed to persist to graduation. She served as board member and Vice Chair of the SF State Foundation for 30 years. A resident of San Carlos since 1993, Jo has devoted time since her retirement to a community organization that offers tutoring to local elementary students who need academic encouragement. She earned a B.A. in English from Occidental College and holds a Ph.D. in Administration and Policy Analysis from the School of Education at Stanford University.

  • Danny Winschuh

    Danny is a Senior Associate at TA Associates, a global growth private equity firm investing in profitable, growing companies with opportunities for sustained growth. Danny focuses on investments in financial services companies in North America, including supporting TA’s current investments in Apex Group, Green Street, and Wealth Enhancement Group. Previously, he was an Analyst at Credit Suisse in the Technology Investment Banking Group. Danny moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2018 to pursue a career in the financial services industry. He is a graduate of Princeton University, where he received a B.A. in Economics and was a member of the Men’s Varsity Lacrosse program. Danny remains actively involved with his alma mater, serving as a regional chair to the Alumni Schools Committee (“ASC”) and a Board Member of The Friends of Princeton Lacrosse.

  • Anne Wong

    Anne is an accomplished leader with extensive experience in the education and youth sports sector. She has held various development roles in multiple organizations, significantly impacting each of her roles. As a founding member and board member of a youth hockey club, Anne successfully grew the club by establishing a mission statement, developing a code of conduct, and implementing SafeSport and concussion protocols. She also created guidelines and training for coaches, team managers, and player development.
     
    In addition to her work in youth sports, Anne served as President of the Parent Association at her children's schools. Her leadership skills were evident in creating and formalizing an organizational chart, developing job descriptions for 19 committees and chairs, guiding and assisting with school fundraisers, and leading various meetings. Anne also played a vital role on the development teams of the schools, serving as an Annual Fund Team Member, Auction Chair, and Community Outreach Ambassador. Currently, Anne is the Director of Community & Alumni Engagement. Her role involves implementing strategies to build community awareness and fostering community engagement in the mission across all campuses and constituents. She participates in efforts to attract, develop, support, and motivate faculty, staff, and administration to create a sense of belonging. Anne also supports Admission, Development & Marketing teams in expanding participation annually at organization signature events and campaigns. Additionally, she actively recruits, engages, and mentors volunteers, manages volunteer participation in special events and campaigns, and maintains positive, trust-based relationships with a range of community stakeholders. Anne's passion for helping first-generation college graduates like herself has led her to serve as a Peninsula College Fund board member. Through this role, Anne is committed to supporting and empowering young people to achieve their educational and professional goals.

  • Phil Ekedahl
    Board Member Emeritus

    Phil currently works as a Manager for Blended Learning at PowerMyLearning where he leads program implementation to increase student achievement in low-income schools in the Bay Area. Previously, he served as Executive Director of The Peninsula College Fund, and as Executive Director of The Peninsula Bridge Program where he led all aspects of an organization serving over 250 middle school students from East Palo Alto, east Menlo Park, Redwood City, and San Mateo. He also served as Director of Summer Programming at Crystal Springs Uplands School. He started his career teaching at an elementary school in San Mateo that was largely Latino and Pacific Islander. Phil graduated from Bucknell University with degrees in Education and Economics. He holds a multi-subject teaching credential, Montessori teaching credential, and a Masters in Public Administration from Notre Dame de Namur University.

  • Hernan Bucheli
    Board Member Emeritus

    Dr. Hernan Bucheli is the Provost and Senior Vice President of Notre Dame de Namur University. Previously, he served as vice provost at Saint Mary's College of California. He was formerly vice president for external affairs at Notre Dame de Namur University, and he also served as assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and student affairs at Chapman University. His distinguished career as a higher education administrator spans more than 20 years. He has a proven track record of achieving impressive results in administrative leadership, strategic enrollment management, new academic program development, government relations, community relations, new business and partnership development, as well as raising the level of student centeredness and building institutional brand awareness. Additionally, he has led efforts that have earned national recognition for excellence in institutional marketing, branding, and retention. Dr. Bucheli holds a doctorate from Northwestern University with a concentration in communications and organizational leadership, an M.A. in communication from Barry University, and a B.A. in international relations from San Francisco State University.

Advisory Council

Success in College and Beyond