Unique. Unwavering. United.

Select experts combine their talents to empower Susty Kids; inspiring them to make the world a better place to grow.

Meet our team. Realize our passion.

Mary Cicalese, Executive Director, President and Board Member

Susty Leadership  Mary Cicalese and Sea Lion Galapagos IslandsFor over 25 years, Mary was working in the software technology industry as a research analyst and a practitioner. She was a Senior Analyst with the Business-to-Business Infrastructure group at Jupiter Research. Previous to Jupiter, she held senior roles in education, consulting services, product marketing and competitive intelligence for Bachman Information Systems, Logic Works and Business Objects.

And then, in 2008, a National Geographic Expedition to Antarctica was a life changing experience for Mary. Humbled by the reality that climate change is real, the journey fueled her passion to research and learn more about sustainable solutions to preserve the planet. So she went back to school.

She graduated from Presidio Management School’s Executive Program in Sustainability in 2010 and launched Green Research. One World.(GROW), a sustainable research firm that focused on environmental, social and economic implications while keeping a finger on the pulse of sustainable innovation. Her research findings at GROW inspired her to found Susty Kids, Inc. and create the Susty Girl, Susty Explorer, and Susty Kids program brands.

Her tenet is simple: our children are our future and in order for them to learn how to sustain the planet, they must work together to learn from each other so they can make the earth a better place to grow.

Mary is a long distance runner who has also completed a triathlon.  When she’s not working, you can find Mary running on the coastal trails in Half Moon Bay and tinkering with her 3D printer.

Mary has been a volunteer with the Bay Area’s Girls on the Run non-profit organization. She sits on the Board of Directors for the San Francisco Bay Center for Marine Education and is a member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP), Environment California, Green Peace,  THRIVE Alliance and the Presidio Graduate School’s Alumni Association. Mary is an avid gardener and composter and enjoys planting and harvesting fruits, vegetables, herbs and everything sustainable.

Mary’s Susty word is grateful.

Azucena (Susie) Estrada, Board Member

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Born and raised in East Palo Alto, Susie immerses herself in a culture of traditional Latin roots, drawing from the strength of her family and her community.

As the Business Manager for East Palo Alto Charter School (EPACS), she manages all school related business and enrollment of 430 students. Susie recognizes the importance of education and community connection through her positive experiences with the Ravenswood School District.

While continuing to build a strong family of her own, Susie started to volunteer at her son’s school. Susie’s passion and compassion to see every child and family supported in some way culminated in her providing business administration services to the very community that she was raised in.

As one of the founders of the East Palo Alto Charter School she continues to serve at the school. 20 years and counting!

Susie’s commitment goes beyond being the Business Manager for EPACS. She strives to encourage every staff and family member to create a safe and innovative working environment.

When she learned of Susty Kids, Susie loved the idea of her little girl, Victoria, getting involved with this organic, community-focused organization. Wanting her daughter to become empowered to be a leader in sustainability and make the world a better place to grow, Susie decided to get involved.

Susie is the mother of four children and a loving wife. During her free time you will find her at soccer games or traveling with her family.

Susie’s Susty word is family.

Daniel Shiffman, CFO, Secretary and Board Member

Dan Shiffman Susty BOD Bio PhotoDan is SVP Engineering and Operations at Qiagen in Redwood City, California where he manages the software and content development, IT operations and services groups. Dan has held many management and technical roles during his 30 years in high-tech and has worked at companies with as many as 300,000 employees and as few as 10 including Sybase, Rational Software and IBM where he was Director of Computer Science in the IBM Almaden Research Center.

For more than 30 years, Dan has been an avid runner, completing many races. Many of these races raise money for cancer research. He enjoys running at the California coast and up in the hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Dan has traveled to every continent in the world and is proud to call California home. He has a key focus on all things sustainable.

After traveling to the Galapagos Islands, he began supporting the National Geographic Society’s Galapagos fund. Dan is an avid supporter of California Community Sponsored Agriculture. He is often found in his kitchen cooking and baking with ingredients freshly picked from his garden. Dan has a BS in EE/CS from Princeton University.

Dan’s Susty word is technical.

Roxana Midori Pinillos Teruya, Marketing Leader

Midori Headshot ResizedOriginally from Peru, Midori grew up surrounded by the wonders of nature. She spent the first years of her life at her grandparents’ farm climbing trees and playing around the crops.  When she moved to the South of Peru, she had the opportunity to experience Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca and rekindle her strong connection with nature.

Midori studied Communications and Advertising in Peru and, through her work with a student non-profit organization during those years, she learned the importance of empowering youth. After graduating, she worked in the fashion industry for several years until she decided to move to the US, attracted by its diversity and endless opportunities.

When she found Susty Kids, Midori felt very strongly about getting involved with the organization, since it combined perfectly two of her interests: sustainability and youth empowerment/development. Midori’s Susty word is “Diverse” and she believes that by embracing the diversity of cultures, backgrounds, skills and beliefs people can achieve great things. She trusts that Susty Kids will empower a new generation of girls and boys to be diverse, open minded, collaborative and sustainable leaders.

Nicoleta Cinta, Global Connection Leader

Nicoleta Resized Bio PicSince completing her economic studies in 2000 at ‘Babes-Bolyai” University in her home town, Cluj-Napoca, Nicoleta has built a career in finance. In the first 2 years after graduation she has worked in a software development company where participating in a project involving the collaboration of a financial audit firm has led her to find a new passion – financial audit. She has worked in 2 of the Big 4 companies, Ernst&Young, Bucharest (Romania) and PWC, Cluj-Napoca (Romania) achieving the position of Manager in Assurance Services. During the 5 years of financial audit she has been a member and lead teams for audit clients in diverse industries ranging from FMCG to Pharma, IT &Telco. During this time, she has also achieved the ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) certification, being an ACCA member since 2007.

She has stepped out of professional services in 2008 to act as the CFO for UME Diagnostics, a chain of 6 radiology- imagistic clinics in the N-V of Romania, company with English-Romanian ownership. From 2011 until 2013, she has acted as the CFO for Prodvinalco Cluj-Napoca, a local spirits producing company, with a background that goes more than 80 years ago.

In 2012 Nicoleta decided to take a step back from the financials and enrich both her professional and personal experience; she chose to follow the MBA program at Notre Dame de Namur University, in Belmont, California at 6,300 miles away from her home. It has been an amazing, intense experience. Nicoleta completed her program in only one year, discovered a different world and amazing people. She also accomplished a long life dream by completing her first full marathon in October 2013, Nike Women’s Marathon, San Francisco.

More than numbers, Nicoleta is passionate about permanently improving herself and the ones around her through hard work, positive attitude and joy for every experience.

Nicoleta leads our Susty Kids International Penpal Program; connecting the earth’s children with each other through good old-fashioned letter writing.

Nicoleta’s Susty word is life.

Libby Klitsch, Creative Director, Tuvalu Designs, Advisor

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Libby is the founder and principal of Tuvalu Design, a graphic design and branding practice with a focus on clients in the sustainable space since 2008. Libby brings over 30 years of creative excellence in design, illustration and creative direction across diverse media and clients including Apple, AT&T, Clorox, Gap and SmithKline Beecham, for whom she created their first environmental report. Libby has had her own greeting card company with whimsical illustrations of cats leading to a Dell/Banbury book, The Cat Doctor’s Book of Cat Names.

Prior to starting Tuvalu Design, Libby was the Creative Director for the renewable energy company, 3Degrees where she created the name and tagline, Bringing Climate Solutions Down to Earth. Her innovative, clean classic design style inspired the suite of branding materials for the new company.

Her work for the Business Council on Climate Change, Compost Modern, Digital Gift Bags and EcoTuesday attracted Susty Girl to ask Libby to create their logo and branding.

Libby holds a BFA from Ohio University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband.

Leslie Tagorda, Founder, Flair-Designs, Musician with Quintet Latino, Advisor

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Leslie is the owner of FLAIR-Designs, a web and branding design business and the clarinetist of Quintet Latino, a classical music ensemble. Leslie’s passion for beauty and creativity takes shape in the form of her websites, logos, and graphic designs as well her professional musical performances. Every day Leslie explores the many parallels between design and music including color and harmonic theory, rhythm, texture, timbre, and how these things evoke emotions and feelings.

Born and raised in Hawaii, where, sustainability principles and pride of family are deeply rooted in the Hawaiian culture, Leslie attended the Eastman School of Music where she received a Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance. She completed her Master’s in Music at the University of Hawaii and worked with the Royal Hawaiian Band as Associate Principal and E-flat Clarinetist, the Hawaii Opera Theater, and the Honolulu Symphony as a freelance musician.

Leslie has been teaching clarinet since 1992 and was the clarinet professor for the Continuing Education program of the University of Hawaii. In the Bay Area, you may have heard of Leslie as a freelance clarinetist with various regional orchestras including the Oakland-East Bay Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, Sacramento Opera, Modesto Symphony, Marin Symphony, Monterey Symphony, California Symphony, New Century Chamber Orchestra, the San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Opera.

As a designer, Leslie has been the principal designer and owner of FLAIR since 2004, creating hundreds of websites for happy nonprofit and for profit organizations all over the San Francisco Bay Area and Honolulu.

Leslie’s Susty word is love.

Stacy Briscoe, Personal Trainer, College of San Mateo Athletic Club, Advisor

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Stacy is a personal trainer at the San Mateo Athletic Club in San Mateo, CA.  She is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist and is certified through the American Council and Exercise (ACE) as a Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach. Stacy’s training philosophy is to have fun!  She aims to educate, motivate, as well as entertain her clients.  That being said, she does take her work seriously.  As a certified group and personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, nutritionist, and health coach, it is Stacy’s responsibility to help her clients realize their potential for success based on their individual needs.

When Stacy isn’t training her clients at the gym, she loves spending time with her fiancé Steve.  They go for long walks, trail hikes, and are out there running on those amazing California sunny days.  Stacy completed her first half marathon last fall! Stacy and Steve enjoy traveling and have had several adventures in the Caribbean and Mexico.  They will soon be visiting Italy for their honeymoon.

Stacy, a California native, is a healthy eater and loves researching healthy and sustainable recipes and cooking them up in her kitchen.

She holds a BA in English-Language Literature and is a self-proclaimed book nerd; maintaining that there are times when there is nothing like a good read!

Stacy’s Susty word is fun.

Andrea Wong, Teacher, Art Committee, Rooftop School, San Francsico, Advisor

Teaching artist and arts advocate Andi Wong currently works with K-8 students and teachers at Rooftop Alternative K-8 School in San Francisco. As a member of the Rooftop Art Committee and as the school’s 3rd-4th grade technology instructor, she designs and implements whole school integrated studies centered around challenging works of art.

As a teaching artist for “Art Is…,” Rooftop’s concept-based arts integration program, she works with the school community to explore the languages of art – visual art, dance, music, theater, literary arts and new media. She is currently working to integrate art, technology, science and environmental advocacy with The Blue Marble Project, and was an invited speaker for National Arts In Education Week in San Francisco, and the first BLUEMiND conference at the California Academy of Sciences, established to explore the connection between the ocean and neuroscience.

Andi develops curriculum with Bay Area arts education organizations such as the de Young Museum, StageWrite, San Francisco Opera, and the Marcus Shelby Orchestra and has led arts education workshops for the Alameda Arts Alliance, Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, ArtsBridge at UCB, Lincoln Center Institute National Educator Workshop and San Francisco Unified School District. A UC Davis graduate with a degree in Art Studio and the proud parent of two wonderful children, Andi also serves on the advisory committees for StageWrite and SFUSD’s Arts Education Master Plan.

Bill Rubin, CEO Connect I.T., Advisor

Bill and Son ResizedAfter a short stint at IBM many years ago, Bill decided that building and running organizations were more in line with his talents and goals rather than being an individual contributor inside of large company.

As a serial entrepreneur he has successfully revamped and grown existing companies in the Information Technologies field. Over the last 30 years, Bill’s key value has been bringing strategic forethought to his Fortune 500 clientele.  He has successfully chosen leading sectors and solutions with uncanny vision prior to them being mainstreamed.

Bill has held key management positions at Interlink Systems, Anderson Jacobson and Western Data Group and CEO roles at Connect Technologies and Connect I.T. Solutions.  Bill also provides business consulting and due diligence services.

When he’s not working, he can be found hiking, biking or playing guitar!  Bill is also a theatre buff so it’s no surprise that he also contributes his time and energy to help  sustain several community theaters on the peninsula including Woodside Community Theater, Hillbarn and South Bay Community Theater’s.

Bill lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and his son.

Bill’s Susty word is awesome.

Dr. Marcie Arnesty-Olian, O.D., Founder and Owner Borel Eye Doctors, Advisor

Kristine Valk, Master Gardener, KD Designs, Advisor

Kristine is the Principal of Kristine Iverson Designs, a Landscape Design Company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For 30 years, she has been designing award-winning gardens.  As a California leader in sustainable landscape design, she advises residential and commercial clients why designing within a sustainability framework is critical to the preservation and growth of our planet and all of its inhabitants.

She is a Master Gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension and in 1988 was presented with a plaque acknowledging over 500 hours of volunteer service with the UC Garden Program.

With a keen focus on building a more sustainable future, Kristine is personally and professionally focusing on the importance of organic gardening and farming.   As a partner with Silicon Valley Social Ventures she participates in the environmental affinity group.  Currently she is a Lead Partner, liaison and consultant to Organic Farming Research Foundation and an advisor to Pie Ranch, both local organic food system nonprofit organizations.

Her other passions include working in her own garden, creating in other mediums, hiking, traveling and kayaking any chance she gets.  Kristine is also an expert on bugs and insects and why they flourish in gardens that are native and sustainable in design.

Kristine holds degrees in Horticulture, Art, and Education.