Michael Pelfini, Ed. D., Chief Executive Officer
Michael Pelfini, Ed. D. brings over 20 years of impact-focused leadership experience to the Chief Executive Officer role. Dr. Pelfini is excited to lead Inspire USA in the national expansion of ReachOut.com and the development of diverse partnerships with academic, nonprofit and private industry leaders. From 1992 to 2012, Dr. Pelfini held progressively senior positions within the Easter Seals network on local, regional, and national levels. As Easter Seals Bay Area President and CEO, Dr. Pelfini led innovative improvements in the areas of organizational change and development, program impact and financial performance. Prior to his work with Easter Seals, Dr. Pelfini was a leader in the field of special education, serving in both public and private school settings. He has a doctorate in Organization and Leadership from the University of San Francisco, a Master of Science Degree in Special Education from Dominican University of California, and an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Santa Clara University.
Nicola Survanshi, Director of Programs & Operations
Nicola is a champion for ReachOut’s sustainability! She strongly believes that online resources and mobile technology can be powerful tools in improving the lives of teens and young adults. After graduating with a B.A. from Emory University, she began her professional career in the U.S. Air Force as an Intelligence Officer, stationed at Hickam AFB in Hawaii. She later realized her passion for public health and enrolled at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, graduating with an MPH in 2012. During her time at Columbia, she had the opportunity to develop a communications strategy with Ascel Bio, a disease forecasting start-up. She also joined in a research project under the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar program, investigating the use of text messaging in community empowerment and health. Discoveries from the research sparked the concept for her thesis on the role of text messaging in mental health literacy and help-seeking with adolescents.
Due to her husband’s love of consistently mild weather, they moved back to San Francisco with their pitbull mix rescue, Rigby. Nicola enjoys the California lifestyle by practicing yoga, and you can find her and Rigby running through Crissy Field most mornings.
Emily O’Brien, Youth Engagement Consultant
Over the course of her career, Emily has worked as a social worker for the Australian federal government and as an emergency disaster case manager for the Department of Human Services. During Emily’s academic life she did a social work placement in the Neurology Ward at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, as well as social work placements in multiple non-profit youth and human rights organizations in South India. In Emily’s last position at Centrelink Australia, one of her roles was to conduct clinical social work assessments and provide case management with youth under 18 who had left home under troubled circumstances. From this experience Emily realized she wanted to specialize and focus on working with youth to help them cope with tough times and mental illness. Emily has a bachelors in social work and sociology from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
Emily currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband.
Karen Oberdorfer, MA, MFT Mental Health Specialist
Karen Oberdorfer, MA, MFT Registered intern # 65730, began working in mental health while owning and operating a dog grooming salon. She was often the confidant of the human customers, who brought in their furry family members. (Karen also groomed cats, a rabbit and a wolf – but not at the same time.) She later received a BA in Journalism from SF State where she honed her listening skills, yet she wanted to help others more directly so she gained a master’s in Counseling Psychology from the Wright Institute. Working in the mental health field combines her love of helping people, hearing their stories and highlighting and developing their strengths. She has counseled people from various populations, including high school students. Most recently she worked at a crisis line, running a new text crisis counseling program serving adolescents in Alameda County, Ca. She loves working with teens and transitional age youth, who inspire her every day. She lives with a three-legged Chihuahua, loves dancing, hiking, and drinking good coffee.
Michelle Walker, Operations Manager
Michelle Walker has always found happiness in helping people in her professional life as well as her personal life, so working as the Operations Manager for Inspire USA Foundation is a perfect fit. Michelle is responsible for the Operations, HR and Finances for Inspire USA.
After attending Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a peer counselor and trainer, Michelle earned a BA in Psychology, as well as one in History just for fun. She has a background in operations and human resources from her previous careers in staffing and bookstore management. Michelle loves traveling and cooking and reads entirely too much.
Liz Crampton, Online Engagement Manager
Liz is the Online Engagement Manager at Inspire USA. She brings many years’ experience in online communications and campaigning from the non-profit sector. Liz has worked on a wide variety of issues including social justice, sustainability, indigenous rights, public health and conscious capitalism. Liz is passionate about working with young people and worked closely with youth, schools and local authorities in the UK where she ran a national walk to school campaign. Liz now lives and works for Inspire from London, UK.
Meredith Sires, Communications Manager
Meredith Sires is the communications manager of Inspire and the online editor of ReachOut.com and the real stories submitted by teens and young adults. Previously, as managing editor of the youth media and marketing industry newsletter, Ypulse.com, she consulted youth oriented brands and nonprofits, including Best Buy, Target and DoSomething.org. Now, she splits her time between Inspire USA and San Jose State University, where she is pursuing her Master’s in Library and Information Science.
A commitment to young people, powerful narratives and community building runs through all of her work. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a BA in English in 2007, Meredith pledged to return to the Bay Area someday. She made good on that promise and currently lives in San Francisco.
Michael Young, Youth Programs Manager
While receiving his BA in English, Michael toured North America as a musician and now that he has returned to the California, he has planted himself in a community of writers and artists attempting to reflect the diversity and beauty of the Bay Area. Previously, he worked as a Youth Program Director where he began developing a passion for young people and a love for hearing and sharing in their stories.
He currently lives in Oakland with his typewriter and bicycle.