Meet the Team
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
Prior to founding Susty Kids, Mary worked 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.
Mary is a long distance runner who has also completed a triathlon. When she’s not working, you can find Mary, her husband and their dog Hope exploring the Bay Area coastal trails and beaches and tinkering with her 3D printer.
Mary’s Susty word is grateful.
Azucena (Susie) Estrada, Board Member
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.
Dan Shiffman, CFO, Secretary and Board Member
Dan is Vice President of 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.
Erin Primer, Director of Food Services San Luis Coastal Unified School District (SLCUSD), Advisor.
Erin grew up in Southern California surrounded by the beach and she currently works in school food-service and enjoys teaching students about cooking and where their food comes from. Prior to leading the Food Service team at SLCUSD, Erin was the Supervisor of Food and Nutrition Services at Millbrae School District.
Her partnership with and support for Susty Kids, Inc. is a perfect fit for her passion for teaching youth about sustainable living.
Erin’s Susty Word is diversity.
Marco Armani, Google, Inc., Advisor
He works on the Google Cloud Platform team, helping enterprises harness the massive power of Google's computing, machine learning and data analytics capabilities.
His #1 job though is being his wife and best friend's partner in crime in raising an intelligent, independent, and strong future superwoman. In his spare time, he dabbles in music, photography, astronomy and astro-photography.
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
After 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.
Nicoleta Cinta, Advisor
Since completing her economic studies at ‘Babes-Bolyai” University in her hometown, Cluj-Napoca, Nicoleta has built a career in finance. After graduation, she worked for a software development company participating in a project involving the collaboration of a financial audit firm that 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. Throughout this time she was a member and lead teams for audit clients in diverse industries ranging from FMCG to Pharma, IT &Telco and received the ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) certification.
She stepped out of professional services to act as the CFO for UME Diagnostics, a chain of 6 radiology- imagistic clinics in the N-V of Romania, a company with English-Romanian ownership. She has also been the CFO for Prodvinalco Cluj-Napoca, a local spirits producing company, with a history that goes back 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 was an amazing, intense experience. Nicoleta completed her program in only one year and discovered a different world and amazing people.
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’s Susty word is life.
Jennifer Sacor, Youth Volunteer and Advisor
Jenni's Susty word is happiness.
Guadalupe Sahagun, Youth Volunteer and Advisor
Lupita is an East Palo Alto Charter School (EPACS) alum who loves to give back to her community and inspire young girls and is a key member of our EPACS Susty Girl Program. She is now a junior at Eastside College Preparatory School also located in East Palo Alto, California.
Before volunteering with Susty Kids, Lupita volunteered with Peninsula Bridge and taught students about reading and math.
She is currently the co-editor for her school yearbook and loves taking photos of sports and everyone around campus.
Lupita loves getting to know people and creating new experiences that have taught her many lessons. She enjoys spending time with her niece and nephews and is very family oriented.
Lupita’s Susty word is friendship.
Esperanza del Mundo (Hope), Happiness Advisor
Hope is a miniature schnauzer and is currently training for her Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog Novice statuses.
When she’s not hard at work practicing her SIT, DOWN or STAY, she can be found wrestling with her friends Lambchop, Bowser the Schnauzer and Mr. Bear, busy with her beach friends with Play and Pawz, taking swim lessons at The Rex Center in Pacifica and socializing with adults, children and dogs of all shapes and sizes. Hope’s greatest skill is to turn a frown upside down!
Hope’s Susty word is smile.