Eleanor has designed for our cities’ essential sites since 1999. Principal and founder of EPDesign, Eleanor is widely trained in architecture, urban design, landscape and planning. She excels at bringing large, multi-disciplinary teams together on complex sites and envisioning the possibilities of our future public spaces. Part of Eleanor’s success is her ability to see and think from macro to micro — from essential vision, to strategy on efficiency and buildability, to the design of urban installations for active spaces.
Her current work includes the redevelopment of sublime, post-industrial sites such as the Potrero Power Plant in San Francisco and Kaiser Steel Napa Pipe Site in Napa, building on her experience reimagining Pier 70 and the 5M Project in San Francisco. Before founding her practice, Eleanor was a Partner at SITELAB urban studio, an Urban Designer at SMWM, Inc and Urban Planner at The Cecil Group in Boston. Her work focuses on large, urban waterfront projects—for sites such as Russia Wharf and the Central Artery/Tunnel in Boston, Piers 92-94 in New York, downtown San Pedro in Los Angeles, and Hunters Point Shipyard and Treasure Island in San Francisco.
Eleanor has a BA from Harvard University, a MA in architectural theory from UVA, and a M.Arch from UC Berkeley. While at Berkeley, she received the John K. Branner Traveling Fellowship, a year of self-directed research on the architecture and ecologies of water systems. An innovator in the field, Eleanor has been featured in The Atlantic Cities, Archinect, Pruned, and Wired Magazine for her exploratory research and design installations. An adjunct Professor at UC Berkeley, she teaches architecture and lectures on design and research. An east coast transplant, Eleanor has lived, worked, and surfed in San Francisco since 2005.
mannie ajayi, vice chair
Mannie is the CEO of Pnyka, a communications platform that bridges divided communities by using respectful interactions. He is a recent graduate from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Previously, he worked for TPG Growth, a private equity firm in San Francisco, and Morgan Stanley in New York, after graduating from the University of Virginia with a major in Commerce. He was born in Vancouver, Canada and spent some time living in Dubai before moving to Philadelphia during high school. During his free time, Mannie likes to travel, is an avid reader, and supports the Vancouver Canucks.
Darcy is the Project Manager for the City of San Francisco's storefront improvement program, SF Shines. In this role, she designs and implements grant programs for small businesses that strategically impact economic development in San Francisco's diverse neighborhoods. She works closely with local small business owners, designers, contractors, community-based organizations, and City agencies to make tangible improvements that strengthen communities. She values creativity and collaboration and is passionate about bringing design principles and methods into government.
robin abad ocubillo
Robin is an Urban Designer with the San Francisco Planning Department. His current and past scholarship has focused on the production and performance evaluation of small urban open spaces; including design and implementation of a longitudinal assessment of pilot parklets in southern California (with the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council and UCLA Lewis Center) and triangle parks in Washington, D.C. (with Harvard University at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Gardens). Prior to assuming his role at the San Francisco Planning Department, Robin was engaged as a complete streets advocate and researcher in Los Angeles; authoring Parklet and Plaza Application and Evaluation Manuals for LADOT’s award-winning People St Program. Before his work in Southern California, Robin served for several years as a Project Manager with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy; working on cultural landscape projects on Alcatraz Island, the Presidio, Fort Mason and Fort Baker. Robin has been involved in several of YAX’s projects and has been a great advocate and friend of our work.
Jessica is a newish transplant to San Francisco and was very excited to learn about Youth Art Exchange from colleagues at TPG Capital that have participated on our Advisory Board previously. The organization’s mission really resonated with her because of personal exposure to the arts in high school as a member of the after school “art club”.
After high school, she attended Harvard University and studied economics and government. Since graduation, she has been working in finance, first at Goldman Sachs’ Consumer Retail / Healthcare group in New York and now at TPG in San Francisco. She is excited to work with people with diverse, creative perspectives and a passion for the arts. She knows first-hand the profound impact of a robust arts education on young people, and looks forward to the opportunity to further this mission and serve the youth of San Francisco.
Cassie is an urbanist who found her niche in San Francisco's local government. She has had the good fortune of leading initiatives that support equity-driven, community-building projects for the neighborhoods, public spaces and people of San Francisco.
Cassie's currently serves as a Project Manager with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development where she is responsible for the implementation of the Mayor's Central Market/Tenderloin Strategy, a visionary plan to coordinate and manage public and private investment, while building stakeholder relationships throughout the diverse, growing and thriving mixed-income neighborhood. Prior to this role, she worked for the San Francisco Office of the Mayor and the San Francisco Planning Department’s City Design Group.
When she's not wearing her bureaucrat hat, Cassie is a Fellow with the New Leaders Council San Francisco Chapter and spends time with her Little Sister she met three years ago through Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Cassie graduated from the University of Washington where she studied Journalism and Liberal Arts. She has been a longtime partner and advocate for YAX.
Steve grew up in Wisconsin building skateboard ramps, doodling imaginary landscapes, and challenging teachers with unconventional homework. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BS in Mechanical Engineering along with taking art classes with an emphasis on printmaking. He worked as an engineer at Honda, troubleshooting the ‘96 Civic and at Bryte Technologies, testing aerospace materials, before deciding to start volunteering at the Exploratorium 15 years ago.
For six years, Steve managed exhibit design and engineering staff and led over 100 projects, including creating some of the first hands-on exhibits at science institutions around the world. In ’99 Steve helped establish the first Science of Skateboarding program which matured over the years to involve curating two exhibitions, professional demos, a website, a TV show, and a mobile exhibition. He took a one-year sabbatical to work at Pèndulum and design the Jardi de les Percepcions, an outdoor exhibit area in Parc de Vallparadís, Terrassa, Spain. Upon returning to the Exploratorium, Steve managed a National Science Foundation project to build and study twenty outdoor exhibits at Fort Mason, a National Park on San Francisco’s waterfront. He enjoyed the nature of this work so much that he spent the last eight years in the Studio for Public Spaces leading a team of designers, engineers, and architects, focused on creating social learning environments in public spaces. He especially appreciates the potential impact of site-specific exhibits in public space, reaching a more diverse group of people and igniting their interest in the world around them.
Yukiko is not only a dedicated and passionate supporter of YAX, but she is also the parent of one of our program participants, Miles. Yukiko is a career development and communications director and is rooted in her native San Francisco. She previously was the Director of Development for the Lycée Français de San Francisco and Alumni Director for School of the Sacred Heart. Yukiko earned her Bachelors in Management from USF and is a CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive). Yukiko lives in the city with her husband and three children and has been actively involved with many non-profit groups.
Yuning is east coast transplant and is passionate about the arts. As a youth, he was was an avid clarinet player, participating in his high school wind ensemble and orchestras, as well as the Greater New Haven Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Although he no longer has time to play, Yuning can often be found at Davies listening to the San Francisco Symphony or wandering about at the De Young. He recognizes the profound impact that art had on him as a youth and is excited to have the opportunity to advance the organization’s mission and serve the youth of San Francisco.
Since graduation, Yuning has been working in finance, first as an investment banker at Evercore in New York City and now at TPG Capital in San Francisco. He graduated from Harvard University where he studied statistics and economics. Yuning is ecstatic to collaborate and learn from the diverse and passionate individuals of the board in order to support YAX.