Laura is a fluent Spanish speaker. She was born in Cuba, spent part of her childhood in Spain and later settled in southern California with her parents. Laura worked as a public school teacher in Riverside and Orange County for eighteen years. Most recently, she and her husband served the poor overseas with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Latin America. She is also a member of the leadership team for the International Orality Network (ION). Laura earned her BA in Liberal Studies from UC Riverside and received her Master’s Degree in Intercultural Studies from Johnson University. She and her husband Tony have two daughters and one son and reside in Fullerton, California.
As Executive Director, Laura will head JOYA Scholars and be responsible for staff supervision and development, fund development, community outreach, and vision and planning.
Christian joined the JOYA Scholars team in 2015 as a volunteer mentor. After serving as an AmeriCorps member with OneOC and Orangeview Junior High School, he took on the role of Program Coordinator with JOYA.
Christian graduated from UC Irvine with a BA in Psychology & Social Behavior and Anthropology. In his time at UCI, he worked one-on-one with first-generation college students, global anti-poverty advocates, and children with high-functioning autism and their families.
Christian is passionate about giving students and families the tools they need to succeed, and connecting volunteers and community organizations to the causes they care about.
As Program Coordinator, Christian is responsible for overseeing the Middle School and High School Program, as well as recruiting and managing JOYA’s Volunteer Team of mentors and tutors.
Maple Program Coordinator
Tomoko grew up attending international schools in Indonesia and the Philippines, and she is bilingual in English and Japanese. After receiving a BA in Journalism from Biola University in 2013, she went to work as an English teacher in Japan for a few years. Then in May 2018 she received an MA in Counseling from Chapman University as well as a Pupil Personnel Services credential after serving as a school counseling intern at Orangeview Junior High School and Oxford Academy. She is passionate about closing the achievement gap for underrepresented populations and advocating for equal opportunity of all students to attain college and career readiness.