Sustainable Features

Our Board & Staff

Diverse, local leaders with a positive vision for Silicon Valley

Vikas Gupta

Vikas has been a resident of Santa Clara since 1999, where he lives with his wife and two children. Most recently, Vikas was Sr. Director of Engineering at Nimble Storage (now part of HPE). He has lived in many large and small cities in the US, England, and India. He's traveled to hundreds of cities around the world, exploring diverse cultures and places. As an engineer, he notices the inefficiencies in the places we live and work. As a manager, he is compassionate and wants to help. As an aspiring artist, he is curious about the aesthetics of buildings and places. Vikas is also a marathon runner and a hiker. He has climbed Everest Base Camp and Stok Kangri at a height of 20,187 feet.

Joe Escobar
Vice-Chair

Joe was born in Santa Clara and raised in Sunnyvale. After undergraduate studies at the University of California at Riverside,  Joe now lives near downtown San Jose. Joe’s experiences in the Bay Area have fueled his desire to improve the equitable and vibrant places surrounding the neighborhoods he loves. Joe holds a position with the public accounting firm Eide Bailly performing audit, attestation, and consultancy services mostly for non-profits, governments, & commercial entities. As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he feels fiscal accountability should be a primary goal of any organization. Joe strives for more transparency & engagement in his community. 

Alex Shoor
Executive Director

alex@catalyzesv.org

Alex was raised in Silicon Valley and came home after a dozen years away. He’s on San Jose's Housing & Community Development Commission and the Advisory Board of the Silicon Valley chapter of New Leaders Council. 

Most recently at the communications and public engagement consulting firm Katz & Associates, Alex worked with the Valley Transportation Authority on the extension of BART into Silicon Valley. He has also been a policy aide for a Santa Clara County Supervisor and a Director of Government Affairs for a Bay Area nonprofit organization.

Alex studied Political Science and African American Studies while earning a BA from Vanderbilt University and holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California. Alex lives off The Alameda in San Jose and is active in his neighborhood association.

Christina Johnson
Chair

Christina was raised by a single mother in east San Jose and this is where her passion for community advocacy developed. As a child of Vietnamese refugees, she saw first hand how inequities & a lack of affordable housing impacted families in her community, which motivated her to dedicate her life to social services. After graduating from UC Davis with a BA in Women & Gender Studies and Asian American Studies, Christina came back to San Jose to start her career in fundraising and development for various nonprofits in Silicon Valley. She was previously a Program Director at All Stars Helping Kids, a foundation focused on seed funding start-up nonprofits in the Bay Area. She now works for Assembly-member Ash Kalra and lives in San Jose with her husband & dog. 

Kirk Vartan
Co-founder

Kirk is a strong advocate of smart urban developments, transportation solutions, & the proposed Agrihood project in Santa Clara. He is president of the Winchester Neighborhood Action Coalition, VP of the Cory Neighborhood Association,  and a co-chair of the City of San Jose's Stevens Creek Advisory Group. After moving to San Jose from New York City in 1998 to work for Cisco, Kirk came to miss the pizza with which he grew up. So he left the tech industry to open A Slice of New York with his wife Marguerite in 2006. In 2017, it became the first brick-and-mortar, worker-owned cooperative in the South Bay.

Sean McFeely

Growing up in south San Jose as a 4th generation city resident, Sean heard family stories of how the Valley of Heart's Delight & Silicon Valley developed. The impacts of endless sprawl inspired him to study architecture at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and get his architectural license. He pursues his passion for San Jose and great urban design by volunteering on the SJDA Downtown Design Committee and mentoring with ACE, a non-profit for teeens interested in building industry careers. He believes an engaged community with an informed vision for development is important to building a better future. Sean is an architect at Gensler, an architecture & interior design firm. He often runs along the Guadalupe River & other regional trails.

Marisol Verdugo

Marisol started her career in tech 19 years ago in Silicon Valley, with direct program / project management experience over the last 15 years. Her experience spans both technology companies & non-profit work. She currently work at Oracle as a Program Manager for Corporate Security Architecture.  

 

Marisol has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from University of Arizona & a Master’s Degree in Urban & Regional Planning/Community & Economic Development from San Jose State University. She lives in San Jose with her husband & 2 young boys. Marisol is passionate about hiking, accomplishing the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 2016.

Emeritus Board Members
Michael Branson
Ellina Yin
Kaitlin Bailey
About Us
Our History
Our Accomplishments

© 2020 by Catalyze SV