Sergio is the Founder & CEO of RISE, as well as the President of the Board of Directors. He is a bold, innovative, and recognized leader with more than 15 years of experience in the field of refugee and immigrant children’s services. In 2013, he founded RISE in response to a deepening commitment to improve conditions for unaccompanied migrant children worldwide, and to seize the tremendous opportunity to leverage technology to drive large scale impact.
Sergio's contribution to RISE is built upon the knowledge and experience he gained at other organizations where he served such as Catholic Charities, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Rescue Committee (IRC), and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Sergio obtained his Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University in 2001, his Bachelor of Arts from Rice University in 1998, and has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2007. He has worked internationally with unaccompanied refugee children in Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, and across the U.S. with immigrant children who come to the U.S. alone. Sergio is fluent in Spanish and French, is originally from Texas, is of Mexican heritage, and now lives in San Francisco. Learn more about Sergio here.
Michael is the Co-founder & COO of RISE, where his big-picture vision, strong management skills, and laser-like attention to detail help guide the overall mission of the organization. He brings his years of experience working in high-end fundraising, designing and implementing donor engagement strategy for a leading global nonprofit. At RISE, Michael is responsible for stewarding our board of directors, and ensuring that we have proper governance structures in place. He is also charged with designing a world-class brand, and raising the funds necessary to meet our goals.
Michael has an MSW from Columbia University, and completed his undergraduate study at the School for International Training where he worked with unaccompanied and migrant children in South Asia, designing tools and delivery models to bring services to the environments where they live and work. When not busy laying the groundwork for RISE, Michael can be found exploring the natural environment around his home in San Francisco. Learn more about Michael here.
Sitar is a founding member of RISE. She brings her passion for strategy and execution to build a world-class organization that positively impacts the lives of unaccompanied refugee and immigrant children. Sitar has led strategy and programs for various NGOs and start-ups and has a bachelor's degree in political economy from UC Berkeley. When not focused on human rights and climate change, Sitar can be found spending time with her family in California. Learn more about Sitar here.
Max is an engineer and designer with over a decade of industry experience in mobile, search, and machine learning. At large companies like Microsoft and Amazon, as well as at a number of startups, Max has created influential consumer products, designed mission critical backend infrastructure, retooled internal processes and workflows, and built teams. Max received a bachelor’s degree in Geography from UC Berkeley and is a fanatical gardener. Learn more about Max here.
Joyce is a founding member of RISE. She brings with her 11 years of experience as a strategic thinker in human resources. Her roles in human capital metrics and project management at E*TRADE Financial and Nestle USA have enabled her to apply the methodology of the business world to our social enterprise. Joyce holds a masters of science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is a published author in ethnic minority mental health issues. She actively seeks out ways to create social change through her artistic pursuits, most recently by producing the feature-length film, EAT WITH ME, that addresses LGBTQ and Asian American family issues. Learn more about Joyce here.
Brittany graduated from the University of Southern California in 2012 with a B.A. in International Relations. She is currently pursuing a joint J.D./M.A. with the George Washington University focusing on international law and immigration policy in the United States. Brittany previously interned with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s appellate counsel for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the general counsel for the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Following graduation in May of 2017, Brittany will be working for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review as a law clerk for the Los Angeles Immigration Court.
Liliana is currently a second-year Master's candidate at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University with specializations in Middle East Studies and Conflict Resolution. She has spent the past eight years learning Arabic in university and in Oman, Jordan, Morocco, and Palestine. She has worked with the National Democratic Institute on their Middle East desk and as a reporter in the West Bank covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After graduation, Liliana hopes to use her Arabic skills working in the MENA region in youth development and conflict resolution.
Maen graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in Political Science. After graduating, Maen spent 7 months working in the occupied Palestinian territories on development projects. While there, he also filmed a short documentary on Palestinian youth. He is currently pursuing an M.A. in International Affairs at the Elliot School of International Affairs, concentrating in International Law and Organizations. He previously interned with Human Rights Watch in their MENA department, UNHCR in their protection division, and also with American Near East Refugee Aid in Beirut, Lebanon, where he worked with Palestinian and Syrian refugees. After graduation, Maen intends to work in the Middle East doing substantive refugee work.