Executive Team

Dixon Slingerland

President & CEO

Dixon Slingerland is the President & CEO of Youth Policy Institute. He leads more than 1,500 staff serving over 112,000 youth and adults each year at 138 program sites in LA. YPI has been awarded multiple White House designations including the Los Angeles Promise Zone and the Promise Neighborhood, which targets 18 schools—traditional, charter, pilot, and partnership—in Pacoima and East Hollywood. Dixon is a graduate of Stanford University.

Iris Zuñiga

Executive Vice President

Iris Zuñiga is the Executive Vice President of Youth Policy Institute, a leading non-profit organization in the region with an annual budget of $57 million and more than 1,500 staff operating out of 138 program sites across Los Angeles. Since joining YPI in 2006, Iris has led efforts to reinforce YPI’s commitment to the communities it serves through a results-based framework.

Ruth Dineros

Chief Operating Officer

Ruth Dineros is Chief Operating Officer for Youth Policy Institute. Ruth leads the strategic direction for YPI’s internal operations and provides focused oversight in the areas of Information Technology, Facilities, Human Resources, Learning and Development, Performance and Talent management, and Compensation and Benefits administration. In addition, Ruth leads and oversees day-to-day operations including Policy and Procedures development, Compliance, and Risk Management.

Steve Schultz

Chief Financial Officer

Steve has more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit management. At YPI, he is responsible for the financial stewardship of the Organization, including capital and operating budgets, financial affairs and reporting, procurement and fiscal compliance, and information technology.

Stan Saunders

Chief Grants Officer

Stan Saunders has served as the Director of Development for Youth Policy Institute since 2002. During this time, YPI has raised funding to develop and support education, technology, and training services for youth and families in Los Angeles.

Jesse Noonan, Ed.D.

Chief Academic Officer

Jesse Noonan, Ed.D., is Chief of Academic Officer, providing a broad range of support to schools to dramatically accelerate student outcomes. She also leads the Gear Up and Promise Corps initiatives for YPI.

Tara Watford, Ph.D.

Senior Director of Research & Evaluation

Dr. Tara Watford is the Director of Research & Evaluation at Youth Policy Institute. Tara directs evaluative efforts to ensure that YPI programs and services meet their goals of increasing academic achievement for youth and empowering high-poverty neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area.

Karina Favela-Barreras

Senior Director of School Impact and Integration

Serving as a results-driven leader in the education and human service sectors, Karina Favela-Barreras has worked with young children, families and community members for over 15 years. As Youth Policy Institute’s (YPI) Senior Director of School Impact & Integration, Karina is responsible for the short and long-term coordination and implementation of cradle-to- college-and- career services for communities across Los Angeles, advancing economic and social equity with an emphasis on improving access to quality education. She manages a $15 million annual budget and oversees a team of full and part time staff members who serve as directors, assistant directors, managers, coordinators, and advisors at 35 school sites. Karina coordinates cross sector partnerships between community-based organizations, local schools, elected officials, and community leaders and residents to implement collaborative solutions to transform communities into vibrant communities of opportunities and develop a strong college-bound culture at school sites. Karina began working with YPI in 2006 as the Assistant Director of Youth Services providing oversight to over 50 school sites. In 2008 she established the School and Community Partnerships department, which housed the Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS), AmeriCorps, Carol White Physical Education Program, and the Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood planning grant. Before joining YPI, Karina served as the School Readiness Program Coordinator for Los Angeles Education Partnership.

In this capacity she supported with a community needs assessment process and implementation of school readiness and health awareness programs to supported families with children 0-5.

Marguerite Avé-Womack

Senior Director of Community Development

Marguerite Avé-Womack is Senior Director of Community Development. She oversees the new TechHire program, a signature initiative of the White House to launch innovative training and placement models for developing tech talent. Previously, Marguerite was the Director of Workforce Development at Jewish Vocational Service (JVS). At the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Marguerite served in roles as the Director of Economic and Workforce Development, and the Director of Operations.

Mara Leong-Maguinez, MPA

Chief Development Officer

Mara leads YPIs efforts to build out corporate and foundation partnerships, as well as our individual giving efforts, to bring needed funding support to YPI programs and services. Previously, Mara worked as the Director of Development for the Downtown Women’s Center and before that at Families Forward Learning Center. She brings considerable experience building relationships with all types of donors and has a strong record of creating innovative funding streams, working with volunteers, and producing creative and highly-effective special fundraising events.

Mara holds a Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management from California State University, Northridge, and received her BA in American Studies and Ethnicity from USC. She lives in Pasadena with her husband and dog and enjoys spending her free time cooking and exploring food destinations.