Board of Directors

Shahnaz Mazandarani
President and Chief Executive Officer

Since founding A Better Way in 1995, Shahnaz Mazandarani has helped grow this non-profit from a small agency, functioning with two volunteers over fifteen years ago, to a professional and very well-respected organization with high quality services in Bay Area Counties.   

Under her leadership, she has created an agency with an innovative, integrative service model that allows A Better Way to assist families with mental health issues, parenting skills, housing and therapeutic needs, and provide families with the necessary resources to reach their desired goals.

Prior to running her own agency, Shahnaz worked as a social worker for Florence Crittenton Services. She became the director of their 0-3 residential program after only seven months. In order to be closer to home, she accepted a position in a foster family agency in Oakland, and soon decided to start an agency with an excellent comprehensive program, with the purpose of serving children in difficult circumstances. She named it “A Better Way”.

Shahnaz holds a Master's Degree in Social Welfare from San Francisco State University, and two B.A. degrees in Psychology and Child Psychology, received from the University of Iran and Hayward State University, respectively.
Jennifer Dolin
Board Chair


 
Jennifer Smith Dolin has served on A Better Way’s Board of Directors since 2005.  She has worked at Mercy Housing, a national non-profit affordable housing provider, for over fifteen years. In her position as Vice President of Mercy Housing California Operations, Jennifer oversees Mercy's San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles offices, the resident services programs, the corporate budget and various aspects of the business. Prior to this position, Jennifer was a Senior Real Estate Developer, managing 3-5 projects in various stages of development. 

Prior to Mercy Housing, Jennifer worked at Common Ground Community, New York, NY in economic development.  Jennifer also spent a year as a Jesuit Volunteer working at Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families in Harlem in casework management.  She coordinated services for eight families with the goal of reducing truancy from schools.  Ms. Dolin worked closely with Geoffrey Canada, who went on to found the Harlem Children’s Zone. 

Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business from the Leavy School of Business with a Minor in Theater Arts from Santa Clara University.
Gay Searcy, Ph.D
Board Vice Chair





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Gay Searcy joined the Board of Directors in 2014, and serves on the Program Committee. Gay has been a practitioner and advocate for mental health services throughout her career. Prior to joining the Board of A Better Way, she worked as a Special Education teacher in Oakland Unified Schools, and as a Staff Psychologist, Supervisor, and Case Conference leader during her seventeen years at West Coast Children’s Clinic.
 
Gay is passionate about child and family services. Previously, Gay served as a Board Member of Fred Finch Youth Center for ten years, and held the post of Board Chair for four years. Gay received a B.A. in Clinical Psychology from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Marital and Family Therapy. She subsequently obtained both her MFT and PSY licensure, and she has maintained a private therapy practice since 1987.
 
James Orellana
Treasurer

James Orellana joined A Better Way as a member of the Finance committee
in 2013 and officially become a member of the Board of Directors in early
2014. He is currently Subguard Senior Account Executive for Zurich North 
America, a large international insurance carrier, working with general contractors throughout the Pacific states region. Prior to ZNA, he was Chief Financial Officer for James E. Roberts-Obayashi Corporation, a major Bay Area builder of multifamily residential housing, for more than twenty years. He started his career in the insurance business with Chubb & Son, Inc. as manager of their San Francisco Surety Bond Department. James has participated in construction industry-related organizations in their legislative efforts related to construction litigation, housing development, labor relations, workers compensation and insurance related topics. He graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.
Sharon Wright
Secretary


 
Sharon Wright has worked in health care management for over 13 years, primarily in the managed care industry for HMOs.  She developed the initial provider network for CIGNA Healthplan of Northern California, managed the provider network, and was key in operationalizing the plan.   For the past 10 years she has worked in the financial service industry, giving planning and financial guidance to clients for retirement and risk management in life, disability, and long-term care.  She has a practice in Montclair.
 
Sharon is passionate about preventative care, implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act, and helping clients with financial strategies and minimizing their risks.
 
She enjoys volunteering in the community and has been a board member of A Better Way for over 14 years.  Sharon has an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Florida.
 
Bryan L. P. Saalfeld


Bryan L. P. Saalfeld is an attorney at Murphy Pearson Bradley & Feeney, a California based law firm with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento.  Mr. Saalfeld represents businesses and individuals in all phases of litigation, focusing primarily on real estate, sports related practice, and legal malpractice.  Bryan holds a B.A. in History with a minor in Economics from Bowdoin College, and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Bryan joined A Better Way’s Board of Directors in 2009 and currently serves as Chair of the Administration Committee.  Mr. Saalfeld was raised in the East Bay, and has a long history of supporting family and youth services throughout the Bay Area.  Bryan is married and a proud parent of two boys.
 
Emil McCulloch

Emil McCulloch is an Employee Benefits Strategist for BB&T Insurance Services of California.  As a veteran in the healthcare industry for over twenty years, Emil is recognized as a trusted partner to her clients focusing on benefits program management, financial performance, and year round employee education and engagement.  Emil values the long-term relationships she has developed with her clients, helping them navigate the intricacies of HealthCare Reform, and providing creative cost containment solutions to their benefits programs.
 
Emil obtained a B.A. in Economics and Dance from Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Previously, she owned and operated Bainbridge Ballet on Bainbridge Island, WA with a student body of over 300.  She has danced and performed nationwide, having trained at The School of American Ballet in New York City.  Emil joined A Better Way Board of Directors in June 2013. She is married with three children andenjoys hiking in the East Bay with her husband, children, and three dogs.
Lisa Radcliffe

Lisa J. Radcliffe is a family law attorney practicing in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties at the law firm of Radcliffe & Radcliffe, Inc.   She assists clients through the stressors and fears associated with divorces, custody and financial disputes. Until her mother’s death in 2010, Lisa and her mother Martha C. Radcliffe were one of the only mother-daughter law firms in the State of California.  Lisa has spent several years living in Europe and the Middle East.
Lisa is a “re-entry” attorney, who attended law school following the birth of her children.  Prior to practicing law, she had a variety of professions ranging from running an English language institute in Teheran to driving a meat truck.  Family law, however, proved to be her calling and she joined her mother’s practice in 1992. 
Lisa graduated with a BA in French literature from the University of California at Berkeley.  Attended the Sorbonne in Paris, France and obtained her Juris Doctorate from John F. Kennedy School of Law.
David Vliet




 
David joined TVHC with over 20 years of experience in practice management and health services administration. For the 7 years prior to joining TVHC in 2012, he served as the CEO of Central Texas Community Health Centers, Inc., a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), managing 22 delivery sites and over 500 employees and led the transition of the organization from a department of the City of Austin to a non-profit. He also worked as practice administrator for the renowned Nemours Children’s Clinic, Orlando, Florida, a multi-pediatric specialty practice, with operational responsibility for 18 medical and surgical divisions. He has served on the boards of directors for the National Association of Community Health Centers and for the Texas Association of Community Health Centers. He holds Bachelors in Health Services Administration from Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL and a MBA from Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL. He has been a member of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) since 1995 and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the City Of Hayward’s Chamber of Commerce. David is an avid jazz and blues pianist, often playing locally in the East Bay area.
                                                
Marc Martos-Vila






 

Dr. Marc Martos-Vila is a Principal with Econ One Research, an economics and finance consulting firm. Before working as consultant, Dr. Martos-Vila was a professor at the University of California Los Angeles, the London Business School (United Kingdom), the Claremont McKenna College and ESADE Business School (Spain). He has written on various topics including mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and corporate governance. He has taught MBA students, undergraduate students and executives. Dr. Martos-Vila received his PhD in Economics from Princeton University.
                                 

Ariel Benjamin Evnine


 

Ariel grew up in Berkeley and Oakland. He works as a data scientist specializing in product research. He spent 2.5 years working on Search at Facebook before joining the Core Data Science team. Before Facebook, he worked as a quant researcher at a hedge fund. After receiving his BA in Economics & Politics at Oberlin College, he obtained an MA in Statistics at UC Berkeley.