Board of Directors
Family Connections talented team of Board of Directors oversees the operations of our non-profit, helping us with funding and advising us on how we can better serve the needs of San Mateo low-income families in need of a preschool education.
Gretchen joined the Family Connections Board in 2014. Gretchen was introduced to Family Connections at the 2014 Night of Dreams and was moved by the work that Family Connections has been doing over the years, as well as the personal stories told by FC family members and former students. Gretchen visited an Open House event and felt a calling to become more involved.
Professionally, Gretchen has practiced pediatric occupational therapy on two continents. She recently worked for Connected Kidz in San Francisco, and has worked at Association to Benefit Children in New York, the English School Foundation in Hong Kong, and the Integrate Hong Kong Pediatric Clinic and Kidspace in San Francisco. While in Hong Kong, she volunteered at Mother's Choice and taught at the Hong Kong Polytech University School of Occupational Therapy.
Gretchen received her Bachelor or Arts degree in Allied Health/Division of Occupational Therapy, from Ohio State University. She lives in Noe Valley neighborhood with her husband and two small children. She enjoys cooking, running and long city walks with her family.
Debbie Denton, Vice President
Debbie Denton was a parent at Little Hands with her oldest child when Family Connections was started by Little Hands. She joined the staff of Family Connections in 2000 and helped expand the program from one to three sites. She joined the Family Connections Board in 2009 because she knows how important the programs are to the community and that her volunteering has a direct impact. Debbie is currently the Vice President and sits on the Governance and Program Committees. She formerly served as Secretary.
Debbie has professional experience as the Volunteer/Site Coordinator for Family Connections, a Staff Engineer for Pacific Environmental, and a Chemical Engineer for Exxon/Esso. Beyond Family Connections, Debbie is an active community volunteer. Her involvement includes: Secretary, Parks and Recreation Foundation of San Carlos; Member, Advisory Board for Rosalie Rendu Center; Healthy Cities in San Carlos Volunteer Tutor; Volunteer Tutor for Sacred Heart Prep (SHP)’s Sophie’s Scholars Program at St Elizabeth Seton School; Peninsula Humane Society’s Paws for Tales Volunteer; and (Former) Secretary and Spirit Ware Coordinator for SHP.
Debbie has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts. She is originally from Massachusetts and currently lives in San Carlos. She loves to read, walk her dog, volunteer and keep in shape by running road races.
Angela joined the Family Connections Board in 2014. Angela attended Little Wonders with her own children and decided to join the Family Connections board because "I believe in the model, especially for families who are under additional stresses and may not have support systems at home."
Angela's professional background is in change management, project management, and client management. She has also worked as a Human Resources generalist and as a training instructor. Angela has extensive and broad volunteering experience, including board and leadership positions at the Junior League of Palo Alto - Mid Peninsula, a board position at Global Partners for Economic Development, and a leadership position on the Burlingame Mothers' Club board. She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the San Francisco Zoo Auxiliary, as well as fundraising for My New Red Shoes, and various committee and board postions at the Carey School. She is also a Brownie Troop Leader for the Girls Scouts of America.
Angela was born in Houston and has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Economics an Psychology. She lives in Burlingame with her husband and two children and loves to arrange flowers.
Andrea Higuera-Ballard joined the Family Connections Board in 2012. She is currently the Chair of the Young Scholars Committee and serves on the Financial Sustainability Committee. Andrea learned about Family Connections when she and her son were attending Little Wonders, a cooperative preschool. She decided to get involved with Family Connections because she wanted families in underserved communities to have access to this same foundational and transformational educational experience. She feels passionately about the work that Family Connections does to educate children and parents and to set the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. She and her husband Andy have been critical in launching the Young Scholars Program to continue this education and support from kindergarten through to college.
Andrea previously was a Brand Manager at the Clorox Company, a strategy consultant for Swander, Pace & Company, and the Director of Public Affairs for the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico City. Andrea has served on the Board of Trustees of CuriOdyssey since 2005 and is currently the Board Vice Chair and Development Committee Chair. She is an active classroom volunteer at South School in Hillsborough and an active volunteer for the Hillsborough Schools Foundation. She is the former Co-President of St. Paul’s Nursery School, former President of Little Wonders, and former volunteer with the Stanford Alumni Consulting Team and BUILD.
Andrea received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with Distinction from Stanford University, an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a Diploma in International Business Administration from the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico. Andrea currently lives in Hillsborough with her husband and two children. She enjoys spending time with family, playing tennis, skiing, doing Zumba and volunteering in the community.
Nic Kiyasu, President
Nic Kiyasu is the President of the Board at Family Connections. She is the Chair of both the Governance Committee and the Facilities Task Force and serves on the Communications and Financial Sustainability Committees. She joined the Board in 2011 and previously served as Vice President. Nic believes in Family Connections because she feels passionately that everyone should have access to a good quality education starting in preschool regardless of their ability to pay. Nic says, “I benefitted so much from my own cooperative preschool experience with my two daughters, and I wanted low-income families to have the same opportunity. So I jumped at the chance to join the Family Connections Board.”
Nic is from England and previously worked as the Human Resources Manager for Aspect Communications, SAS Software and Micro Focus in her home country. She also taught business English in Madrid, Spain and Santiago, Chile. Nic is an active community volunteer. She held several officer positions at Carlmont Parents Nursery School in Belmont, CA, and has held various volunteer positions for the San Carlos Educational Foundation.
Nic has a Diploma in Human Resources from Swindon College in England and a TEFL Certificate from the Madrid Language School in Spain. She currently resides in San Carlos and enjoys traveling, visiting art museums, hiking, reading, gardening, music and current affairs.
Meg Masuno McLaughlin joined the Family Connections Board in 2013 and is a member of the Communications Committee. Meg is involved with Family Connections because, “As a mom of young children, I benefitted from support and parent education from my boys’ parent-participation preschools. Family Connections provides free access to the same kind of environment and resources that helped me when I was starting out as a parent. I believe in the potential of every child to succeed, and Family Connections prepares young families for success in school and a lifetime of opportunities.”
Meg has a broad range of professional experience. At Gap Inc., she served as both a Manager and Director in Strategy and Business Development. She also worked as a Management Consultant with Marakon Associates and as the Regional Programs Director for the UCLA Alumni Association. Meg also is an active community volunteer. She has served on the Board of Little Wonders for three terms, she was a Board member at St. Paul’s Nursery School in Burlingame, and she has been a volunteer with Reading Partners, Teach for America, and the Stanford Alumni Consulting Team.
Meg received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Meg lives in San Mateo and enjoys weekend family breakfasts at Stacks, date nights with her husband, and reading with her three young boys.
Leslie Mayerson, Treasurer
Leslie Mayerson joined the Board of Family Connections in 2011 and currently serves as the Chair of the Financial Sustainability Committee. While Leslie’s children were attending public schools in Menlo Park, she became extremely interested in early childhood education, particularly for underserved communities. She jumped at the opportunity to join the Family Connections Board because, “I was thrilled to learn that a parent participation preschool was available for low-income families in our community and had to get involved!”
Leslie is an active community volunteer. She held several volunteer leadership positions at Hillview Middle School and Menlo-Atherton High School. At Oak Knoll School, she was the Treasurer and Financial Secretary of the PTA Board, and she has volunteered with the Ronald McDonald House, Reading Partners, and the Jewish Coalition for Literacy.
Leslie worked in the banking industry for seven years. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Leslie lives in Menlo Park. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, cooking, traveling, photography, and tap dancing.
Sandy Moore jointed the Family Connections Board in 2014. Sandy first learned about Family Connections when she was on the outreach committee at Little Wonders, a cooperative preschool. She feels strongly that early childhood educations that involves both children and parents is essential for building a lifelong love of learning. In particular, Sandy is passionate about literacy and the importance of reading aloud to children at a young age. Having benefitted from attendting Little Wonders with her own children, Sandy enjoyed the support system of a cooperative preschool. Sandy was looking for a way to get more involved in her community and immidiately thought about Family Connections.
Professionallly, Sandy worked at Wells FArgo Bank in commercial real estate finance and then joined Bank of America as a Vice President in the affordable housing group. She has also worked at Bridger Commercial funding underwritting commercial loans for the mortgage backed security market. As volunteer, Sandy is very involved in her children's elementary school where she chaired their largest family fundraiser and has held various committee positions. She and her family are also involved in St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Sandy received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles. She currently lives in Burlingame with her husband and their three children. In her free time, she enjoys travel, reading, skiing, and hiking.
Denise Touhey joined the Family Connections Board in 2011. She is currently the Secretary and serves on the Financial Sustainability Committee. Denise and her husband Carl have been supporting Family Connections for many years. Denise has remained involved with Family Connections because she believes it is important to provide access to early childhood education to families who cannot afford it. This access helps prepare children and families to become healthy, educated and confident community members.
Denise is currently a middle school athletic coach at Menlo School. She previously worked as a real estate consultant, appraiser and property manager. Denise was formerly a Board Member and Treasurer for Mid-Peninsula Parents of Multiples and a former council member at Peninsula Covenant Church. Denise is currently a Board Member and Treasurer for Woodside Athletic Boosters and serves on the Woodside High School annual auction committee. She is also an active volunteer at Roy Cloud School.
Denise received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine. She is an active community member of Emerald Hills and enjoys traveling and being outdoors to exercise and spend time with her husband and four children.
“After graduating from Family Connections when my son went to Kindergarten, I helped in the classroom as a teacher’s aid during the art program. I wanted to see his development in the classroom. He was happy to see his Mom there too!”