About Us

A Community of Volunteers in Action

Inspired by the resilience of youth who overcame the challenges of foster care, and the caring adults who helped them along the way, Rebecca Edwards and Christopher Chase were convicted by their faith to find ways to surround more youth with supportive community. As a result of their learning about the trauma inherent in foster care, in 2014 they founded Braid Mission, with its unique team-based mentoring model. 

At its core, Braid Mission is a community of more than 150 active volunteers. These volunteers represent a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, and interests. Every week they gather in teams to surround foster youth with hope, presence, recreation, and community. More than half of Braid’s youth have been matched for two years or longer.

Since its founding, Braid has educated and inspired thousands in the Bay Area and beyond with a message of hope, through outreach events, trainings, and collaborations with partner organizations like the Foster Youth Museum.

 

Founding Team

Photo of Esther & Jan Stearns

Esther & Jan Stearns

Co-Founders

Esther and Jan Stearns helped design, implement, and co-found Braid Mission, working to build community around foster youth in the Bay Area. They have also been active sponsors of the Foster Youth Museum exhibition at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

Braid Mission is the latest in the Stearns’ longtime commitment to advancing the quality of life of foster kids and families.  They have adopted foster children and they have helped foster youth realize their dream of attending college throughout California.

Of particular note is the Stearns family’s philanthropic involvement with California State University San Marcos and ACE Scholars Services, the university’s innovative program that addresses the low educational attainment rate of former foster youth by meeting their unique needs. Through both serving as vice chair of CSUSM’s Foundation board and their generous donations and endowment, Jan and Esther have helped ensure that former foster youth have the guidance and support they need to successfully graduate from a four-year college

In 2018, Jan and Esther conceived, designed and built Stagecoach Greens. As SF’s only outdoor mini golf course, it serves as a place for city families to play together. Braid youth and mentors are able to enjoy the course, and the lion’s share of the course’s profits go to support Braid Mission.  We are grateful for Jan and Esther’s untiring commitment to youth in foster care and former foster youth.

Photo of Christopher Chase

Christopher Chase

Co-Founder/Co-Director

Christopher Chase is an ordained clergy person in the Episcopal Church. Before founding Braid Mission in 2014 with his colleague Rebecca Edwards he worked in ministries in Massachusetts, East Tennessee, and San Diego. Underlying this work is the unshakable belief that each individual carries a unique understanding and experience of the Divine that needs to be heard, expressed, appreciated, and incorporated into the collective.

Photo of Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca Edwards

Co-Founder/Co-Director

Rebecca has been a minister in the Episcopal Church for ten years, following many years of youth ministry and serving as a volunteer and board member for Big Brother Big Sister in her hometown of Chattanooga. These experiences formed some of the beliefs that guided Braid’s model: that all children deserve to be surrounded by adults who encourage and empower them, and that volunteers need supportive community to thrive.

Staff

Photo of Lisa Gonzalez

Lisa Gonzalez

Administrator

Lisa feels energized to be working with Braid Mission as a part-time administrator. In her off time, she enjoys RV-ing in a big aluminum tube on wheels with her family all over the country (an Airstream trailer). She also appreciates the many joys of being a grandparent, playing with her young granddaughters and watching them grow!

Volunteer Team Facilitators

Photo of Jessica Barber

Jessica Barber

volunteer team facilitator

Jessica is a lawyer, but she loves having fun too. She likes to bake and decorate cupcakes, loves shopping for fruits and vegetables at the market, likes walking the city and adventuring around town, and loves being active (playing sports that she’s not good at!).

Photo of Elli Brimble

Elli Brimble

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Elli is a Canadian who has lived in San Francisco since 2016. A genetic counselor by training, Elli is a passionate advocate for rare disease research and has worked in both clinical and industry settings to shorten diagnostic odysseys and increase access to clinical data. Outside of work, she enjoys yoga, exploring the surrounding nature and its inhabitants (especially raptors) and learning more about viniculture.

Photo of Wendy Cliff

Wendy Cliff

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Wendy has enjoyed being a middle school teacher, creative marketing professional in the magazine business, and now an interfaith chaplain working in the field of trauma. She’s in love with her husband, two adult children, neurotic dog, all things food-related, and being outdoors hiking long distances (i.e. 200-500 miles).

Photo of Patricia Depante

Patricia Depante

Volunteer Team Tacilitator

Patricia (aka Patty) works as an Accounting Operations Manager in Toronto, Canada. During her free time she loves traveling to any location with a beach, watching anime, working out, playing piano, and taking naps.

Photo of Tami Fisher

Tami Fisher

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Tami lives in Pacifica and works as a lawyer in San Francisco. She enjoys art, reading (especially graphic novels), and baking.

Photo of Regina Fletcher

Regina Fletcher

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Regina has taught in public and private schools at the 3rd, 5th, and middle school grade levels and is passionate about supporting the holistic growth of youth through teaching, tutoring, and mentoring. When not working with youth professionally or as a volunteer, she supports racial justice campaigns, takes aerial dance classes, and pet sits for friends and family.

Photo of Stacy Hartmann

Stacy Hartmann

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Stacy was born and raised in the Bay Area and has two children. She works in the mortgage industry and enjoys her time being a mother, hiking, reading and practicing yoga. She enjoys giving back to her community and also volunteers with the SF/Marin Food Bank.

Photo of Paddy Hayes

Paddy Hayes

Paddy is enjoying an empty nest after 23 years. She enjoys gardening, reading, lunching with friends, frequent walks to Baker Beach with her dogs, cooking, and playing with her husband of 35 years. She does not really enjoy weight training but she does it anyway.

Photo of Claire Krukowski

Claire Krukowski

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Claire moved to San Francisco from Michigan in 2015. Since she has lived in San Francisco, she has worked for San Francisco Unified School District supporting special education teachers in their professional growth through professional development and one-on-one coaching. While in the Bay Area, she enjoys evenings at the Exploratorium, walks through Golden Gate Park, reading and spending time with friends. Her favorite thing to do is traveling to different locations and learning about what makes them special.

Photo of Efrat Libkind

Efrat Libkind

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Efrat lives in San Francisco by the ocean and loves to go on long walks along the beach. She loves small furry animals like rabbits and chinchillas, watching funny comedies, and reading science fiction books.

Photo of Andy Maag

Andy Maag

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Andy works as a massage therapist with the Care Through Touch Institute and also teaches guitar lessons. He is also currently in graduate school studying counseling psychology. He enjoys reading and learning new things, meditation, science fiction, cooking, and spending time outdoors alone and with friends.

Photo of Amy Nguyen

Amy Nguyen

Amy was born in Rochester, New York, but spent her teenage years growing up in Tokyo and Singapore. She is a Michigan alumni (Go Blue!) and attended law school in Seattle. She lived in San Francisco for eight years before moving to Oakland recently. She loves cooking, traveling, live music and doing all things that keep her mind and body healthy.

Photo of Jonathan Oringher

Jonathan Oringher

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Jonathan lives in San Francisco with his husband and their young daughter. He is a Psychologist and enjoys hiking and exploring the Bay Area.

Photo of Carol Passmore

Carol Passmore

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Carol just moved to San Francisco in 2019 after working for 20+ years as a psychotherapist in Connecticut. She is married and a mother of two adult sons who she hopes will follow her out here! She launched an online parenting coaching business during the pandemic. She loves children and helping parents navigate the tricky world of parenting!

Photo of Chandler Pearce

Chandler Pearce

Chandler was a Braid mentor for over two years before moving to Denver in the fall of 2022. She enjoys the outdoors, playing sports, arts & crafts, watching sports and boxing/self defense.

Photo of Lila Rasekh

Lila Rasekh

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Lila lives in San Francisco and works as the head of scale abuse at Google Play. She enjoys traveling, hiking, biking, yoga, art, music, reading books, and watching movies.

Photo of Emily Salman

Emily Salman

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Emily works in finance as a sales manager in the Financial District. She enjoys yoga, running, watching football, and playing with her dog.

Photo of Bethany Silvestri

Bethany Silvestri

Bethany joined Braid in 2019, drawn to its mission that so beautifully demonstrates the enduring power of community. For most of her career, she worked in nonprofit marketing and communications but recently dabbled in an exciting Information Security venture. She enjoys nature and audiobooks of all kinds, and she lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son.

Photo of Kellie Taylor

Kellie Taylor

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Kellie lives in Walnut Creek and was raised in Danville. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006. This diagnosis has forced her to leave the corporate world but has allowed her to volunteer with foster/adoptive and youth organizations in Contra Costa County. When not volunteering, she enjoys going to the movies, enjoying her huge extended family, and traveling.

Photo of Blaire Wolf-Bowen

Blaire Wolf-Bowen

Volunteer Team Facilitator

Barie joined Braid as a mentor in 2016 and has remained on as a group facilitator despite moving to Los Angeles in 2021. She has held many roles in the nonprofit world and is currently Assistant Board Secretary at the J. Paul Getty Trust. In her free time she likes to explore nature, go to art shows, see live music, and practice yoga.