Board of Directors


Eugene Clendinen, Interim President

Treasurer, Chief Administrative and Financial Officer, San Francisco District Attorney’s Office

Mr. Clendinen has been a friend and supporter of the Life Learning Academy since its inception over 20 years ago.  He was part of the project team that established the schools model and assisted in ensuring the appropriate financing in the earliest days.  Mr. Clendinen also served as a photography instructor for the first two years of the school.  Mr. Clendinen currently serves as the Chief Administrative and Financial Officer for the Office of the District Attorney.  He has held this position for the last 12 years.  In this capacity he oversees the entire $70 million dollar budget for the office and ensures that the Department is meeting all regulatory and compliance standards within the City.  In doing so, he regularly manages the Information Technology, Finance, Human Resources, and Legal Support Divisions of the office.  Mr. Clendinen has also served as the Chief Financial Officer of the Sheriff Department and served in various capacities in the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice including Interim Director and Director of Finance.


Denise Coleman, Secretary

MSW, Director of Huckleberry Youth Program’s Juvenile Justice Programs

Ms. Coleman, born and raised in San Francisco, has led Huckleberry’s Community Assessment & Resource Center since 1999. The center has become one of the foremost juvenile justice programs in San Francisco. It provides youth arrested for less serious violent crimes with a rehabilitative, supportive alternative to incarceration. Under Ms. Coleman’s leadership, CARC has supported over 12,000 at-risk youth and is a national model of excellence for community-based juvenile justice diversion programs.  Ms. Coleman has extensive experience working with diverse populations in both residential, Delancey Street Foundation, and community-based organizations. Ms. Coleman has been engaged with and supervised case management and substance abuse transition for over 25 years. She has a Masters in Social Work from San Francisco State University and is an expert in the juvenile justice community.  She serves as the co-chair of the Juvenile Justice Providers Association of San Francisco, and has served as a Youth Justice Project Associate for The Vera Institute of Justice in New York.  She received the 2010 Local Hero of the Year award from KQED for outstanding work in the community at large.


Rob Simon, Member

Associate Professor, Center for Urban Schooling Department of Curriculum, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Dr. Simon’s scholarship explores how educators develop understandings, curriculum, and pedagogy from students’ interests, cultural histories, and literacy practices. In 2015, Dr. Simon received the Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation for a project called “Addressing Injustices: Teachers and Adolescents Coauthoring Social Justice-Oriented Literacy Curriculum”. He is the author of books, book chapters, and articles, including Teaching Literature to Adolescents (Routledge, 2016), co-authored with Richard Beach, Deborah Appleman, and Bob Fecho. 


Jessica Castro, Member

LLA Graduate

Ms. Castro has been associated with the Life Learning Academy for ten years. After graduating in 2007, Jessica attended Laney College; completed the Cosmetology program; and took the board exam and received her license in 2008. She worked in the hair and beauty industry for six years until entering Mills College in 2013. While at Mills College, she worked in the restaurant industry and assisted low-income clients with tax preparation through the Vita Program. In 2016, she graduated from Mills with a B.A. in Economics and minor in Ethnic Studies. She currently works as a bookkeeper focusing on invoicing and payroll for LOLA Creative Agency, and as the lead receptionist at Alcheme Salon in San Francisco. She looks forward to pursuing her career interest in the accounting profession in the future. 


Joanne M. Brown
Joanne M. Brown, Member

MSW, JD, Faculty Member Center for Human Services, UC Davis

Ms. Brown combined legal and community organization skills throughout her career. Her legal practice primarily focused on criminal law and civil rights litigation. Joanne was appointed to the bench in Alameda County as a Superior Court Commissioner assigned to Juvenile Court and Criminal Court. During two periods, Joanne worked in state government in New Mexico. She served as Division Director for Adult Institutions in the Corrections Department and later, as General Counsel for the Department for Children Youth and Families (CYFD), responsible for statewide child and family services and juvenile corrections.  Joanne consulted for a decade for the National Resource Center for Legal and Judicial Issues (Center on Children and the Law, American Bar Association) where she worked with state courts and child welfare agencies in over forty states to implement the system of national child welfare outcomes.  During the past 6 years, Joanne has been a member of the faculty at the Center for Human Services, University of California, Davis. The Center, through the Northern Training Academy, provides training for social workers throughout California and management support for county social services leadership. Joanne is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley where she received her BA, MSW and JD.