Meet Our Team!
Meet The Girls!

Our Mission

Founded in 1999, Oasis For Girls partners with young women of color from under-resourced communities in San Francisco to help them cultivate the skills, knowledge, and confidence to discover their dreams and build strong futures.

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Our Mission

The Why

Oasis For Girls partners with young women of color aged 14-18 from under-resourced communities in San Francisco many of whom are on the edge of risk, not on anyone’s radar, disengaged or under-supported, or just beginning to dabble in difficulty.

By almost any measure, to be young, female, and of color in San Francisco means the odds are stacked against you. Our girls face more barriers to resources and opportunities, and are disproportionately impacted by systemic inequalities and policies than other girls their age. Many of their peers will not finish high school, enter into high-growth industries, or be able to leave high-poverty neighborhoods.

We believe that comprehensive change in our communities starts with the girls being affected now.

The How

At Oasis, we start with a baseline of the validity and value of girls’ individual experiences, and support them in developing the tools they already have. Our girl-focused and girl-responsive programs provide participants with access to diverse opportunities and experiences alongside training in personal and interpersonal skills, delivered in a safe, culturally relevant space that emphasizes autonomy, relationship-building, and positive decision-making.

Single-gender programming helps girls stay connected to academic subjects, encourages them to explore new areas of interest, and lets them practice new skills with the support of positive adult allies. Our Springboard Series for Girls is a compound sequence that emphasizes comprehensive development of both internal awareness and external skills through writing and the arts, college and career planning, and building key life skills.

The Aha!

Over 85% of the young women we serve each year:

  • enhance their writing, behavioral, and positive decision-making skills;
  • increase their knowledge of health, wellness and social justice;
  • demonstrate greater motivation to attend college;
  • and develop career interests in high-demand fields.

At Oasis, we aim to empower a distinct, often overlooked group of women to recognize the strength of their diverse life experiences and lead the way for equitable, inclusive change, from breaking cycles of poverty to representing other vulnerable groups and advocating against gender and income inequality in their communities.

Oasis For Girls complies with the Fair Chance Ordinance.

Our Team


Ly Nguyen

Communications Manager, Kaiser Permanente

Ly Nguyen

Communications Manager, Kaiser Permanente

Ly Nguyen is the co-founder of Oasis for Girls. Her vision for Oasis was inspired by her experience growing up in San Francisco where she attended public school and Parks and Rec programs.

While at Oasis, Ly was inspired to pursue her passion for cultural writing, social justice and community building. Since then, Ly has held management and communications consulting positions with several nonprofit organizations including Kearny Street Workshop, YMCA, and the McKesson Foundation.

Ly is currently a Communications Manager with Kaiser Permanente where she supports the mission to bring high quality affordable healthcare to those underserved. She is a recipient of the Daniel E. Koshland award (2000) and UC Santa Cruz (Oakes College) Distinguished Alumni Award (2013) for her community service work.

Jill W. Pfeiffer

Communications Manager, Kaiser Permanente

Jill W. Pfeiffer

Development Director, Operation Fresh Start

Jill W. Pfeiffer currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, daughter and son. In Madison, Jill works as the Development Director at Operation Fresh Start. For around 20 years, she has worked at nonprofit organizations that support youth and families. She is passionate about work that helps to create a more equitable community and world.

In 2006, Jill and her family left San Francisco to move back to the Midwest. During her time in San Francisco, Jill was able to make some positive impacts on the city, including co-founding Oasis for Girls and starting up Excelsior Family Connections (a branch of Portola family Connections), a family resource center in the Excelsior district of the city. Along with other community leaders in the South of Market, Jill was the recipient of the San Francisco Foundation’s Koshland Civic Unity Award for her youth development work. Jill is also a practicing artist who creates sculptures and an avid lover of the outdoors.


Jessica Van Tuyl

Executive Director

Jessica Van Tuyl

Executive Director

Oasis For Girls is helmed by Jessica Van Tuyl, a committed and experienced youth development professional. Jessica joined Oasis For Girls as Program Manager in January 2008 to coordinate the RISE program and oversee Oasis arts and leadership programming. Since then, Jessica has served as the Director of Programs & Services and Interim Executive Director, ultimately becoming the Executive Director in 2010.

Prior to joining Oasis, Jessica worked primarily with LGBTQ youth supporting youth organizing efforts, leading anti-homophobia trainings for school personnel, and providing case management services at the Richmond Village Beacon, GSA Network, and the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network. In addition, Jessica has worked in the youth employment field, coordinating city government internships at San Francisco YouthWorks. Jessica holds a Bachelor’s degree in Women and Gender Studies from Macalester College and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California.

Moumita Chakraborty

Development Director

Moumita Chakraborty

Development Director

Moumita joined Oasis as the Development Director in November 2016. A Bay Area native, she holds a BA in English and History from Queen Mary, University of London, and a Master’s degree in International Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. In between and after, she worked in different capacities and organizations including at Amnesty International, a women’s group in India, various campaigns, a stint in tech, and a brief detour into politics. All this experience confirmed that working on women’s and girls’ rights was what really gave her joy, so Moumita is glad to be back in California doing just that. Contrary to popular belief, she does not spend all her time writing essays, but she may drink too much coffee.

An Bùi

ENVISION Coordinator

An Bùi

ENVISION Coordinator

An joined Oasis in August 2017 as the ENVISION Coordinator. She holds a BA in English and Education Studies from UCLA and is currently an emerging poet and Resident Minister at USF. Prior to Oasis, she worked in marketing for Aunt Lute Books, a nonprofit publishing press committed to revolutionary queer women and women of color. Before that, she worked with young adults experiencing homelessness at Covenant House New Jersey as a youth advocate. All these experiences led her to realize how passionate she is about youth development, creative arts, LGBTQ spirituality, and using these platforms to inspire and create social change. As a queer 1.5 generation Vietnamese American, she is called to live her best life as a form of resistance and is stoked to accompany young people in their journey to live their best lives as well.

Crystal Leal

Office Manager

Crystal Leal

Office Manager

Crystal joined Oasis for Girls in September of 2015 as the Administrative Assistant. Her previous experience includes working at the Kansas Children’s Service League in the very rewarding position as Website Coordinator helping to match children in need of care with a forever family. She also was an administrative assistant for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Kansas where she enjoyed working closely with students, staff and faculty. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with hopes to continue on to her Master’s degree to be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Elisabeth Gutierrez

RISE Life Skills Program Coordinator

Elisabeth Gutierrez

RISE Life Skills Program Coordinator

Elisabeth Gutierrez joined the Oasis team in May 2017 as the RISE Life Skills Education Program Coordinator. Before Oasis, Elisabeth had the pleasure of working with inner city youth, community members, and families of the Ocean View, Merced, Ingleside, and Excelsior neighborhoods as the Site Coordinator at the comprehensive Beacon Community Center. During her time there, Elisabeth coordinated a girls’ mentoring group and coached a girls’ indoor soccer team with Girls Got Goals, which focuses on team building and life skills.

As a San Francisco native, a formerly at-risk young woman of color, and the first in her family to go to college, she is passionate about acknowledging the struggles and strengths of other young women of color and providing them with a supportive space. Elisabeth is a Child & Adolescent Development major with hopes to impact, change, and inspire the next generation of San Francisco youth.


Program Director

Program Director

Job Title:

Program Director, .80 FTE

About Oasis For Girls

The mission of Oasis For Girls is to partner with girls and young women of color from under-resourced communities to help them cultivate the skills, knowledge, and confidence to discover their dreams and build strong futures.


Oasis For Girls is seeking a highly qualified full time Program Director to supervise staff in planning, implementing, and evaluating the agency’s core programs in Life Skills Education, Arts Education, and Career Exploration.

The Program Director is a .80 FTE, exempt position. Exempt employees are expected to work the appropriate and necessary time in order to complete key assignments and related tasks on schedule.



  • Oversee planning, implementation and development of agency’s core programs: RISE Life Skills Education Program, CREATE Arts Education Program, and the ENVISION Career Exploration Program, through ensuring thematic and cultural alignment across the program array, synchronizing program calendars and activities, and leading all program and supervision meetings
  • Manage and oversee the evaluation of the agency’s core programs through designing and implementing online surveys and focus groups; synthesizing and analyzing evaluation data for internal/external use; and coordinating cross program event evaluations. Utilize evaluation results to partner with Oasis staff and make program improvements as necessary.
  • Oversee program outreach to educational and community institutions through scheduling outreach events and following up with schools regarding registered participants. Supervise involvement of the RISE and ENVISION Coordinators participation in outreach
  • Oversee program application process including interviewing, selection, and notification of participants. Supervise involvement of the RISE, CREATE, and ENVISION Coordinators’ participation in interviewing, selection, and notification of participants
  • Plan and implement Cross Program Events including Orientation, Open House, Career Night, Celebration & Gratitude, Graduation, and any other program events in collaboration with the RISE, CREATE, and ENVISION Coordinators. Coordinate facilities reservations for all events.
  • Develop and manage program budget in consultation with the Executive Director
  • Provide technical advice, problem-solving assistance, and strategic analysis related to programmatic goals and evaluation
  • Develop, implement, and evaluate new alumni engagement program to provide a continuum of support and involvement for alumni, as well as methods to assess long term impact of Oasis programming
  • Oversee city snack program including completion of annual application, compliance with all program guidelines, and accurate completion of required paperwork.


  • Recruit, hire, train, supervise, and evaluate the RISE and ENVISION Coordinators in partnership with the Executive Director
  • Provide resources to support professional development for RISE and ENVISION Coordinators in consultation with the Executive Director
  • Conduct annual employee review for the RISE and ENVISION Coordinators in consultation with the Executive Director
  • Act as WritersCorp Site Representative: attend Site Rep Meetings, complete necessary paperwork, and maintain communication with WritersCorp Director
  • Liaise with the WritersCorp Artist to facilitate successful integration of the CREATE Arts Education Program into Oasis program offerings. Provide information about program calendars and activities; coordinate participation of the WritersCorp Artist in the application/interviewing process; compile necessary orientation paperwork for the WritersCorp Artist; and act as ongoing resource to ensure smooth delivery of the CREATE program
  • Partner with the Executive Director and Development Director to plan the annual staff retreat


  • Ensure programs and services comply with contracts and funding requirements
  • Partner with the Development Director to build programmatic content for marketing materials, social media, and grant proposals/reports, including the preparation and analysis of program statistics
  • Partner with the Development Director and Executive Director to plan funder site visits and donor engagement events, including Career Night, annual fundraiser, and Donor Open House. Recruit, prepare and support Oasis alumni engagement in events


  • Participate with the staff leadership team in the development and implementation of policies and programs that contribute to Oasis’ success
  • Assist with the development of long- and short-range goals in line with the strategic plan such as staff planning, budget planning and program planning
  • Collaborate with the ED to analyze financial data to predict program and services resource needs
  • Represent the organization in the community and collaborate with community groups to strengthen and expand Oasis’ programs
  • Manage requests for information and materials
  • Attend monthly all staff meetings
  • Conduct clerical tasks as needed
  • Perform other duties as assigned


  • Experience in youth development programming including outreach and recruitment, program development and planning, curriculum building, and program coordination
  • Undergraduate degree including social sciences, ethnic studies, women’s studies, or community studies required; Master’s Degree preferred. Equivalent life and work experience may be substituted for degree
  • Experience developing and supervising staff
  • Experience administering evaluations, as well as synthesizing and interpreting impact data
  • Experience with nonprofit budget management, operations, and organizational/ staffing structures


  • Familiarity with issues facing low income girls and young women of color as well as, the youth development framework
  • Commitment to social justice
  • Ability to develop strong relationships and work closely with diverse stakeholders including board members, staff, volunteers, students, parents, funders, and community partners.
  • Strong work ethic and ability to multi-task in a fast paced work environment, prioritize among competing pressing issues, take initiative, pay attention to details, and meet deadlines in an effective manner
  • Willingness to embrace challenge, be flexible, and find creative solutions that fit within established priorities
  • Enthusiasm for working as a member of a small, scrappy, grassroots team committed to a democratic process, a strong sense of teamwork, growth, and transparency
  • Has an honest assessment of strengths and weaknesses in a work environment and is accountable for work responsibilities
  • Good listening, critical thinking, conflict resolution, and decision making skills
  • Clear and effective communication skills
  • Familiarity with the Microsoft Office suite of products on a Mac based platform
  • Bilingual in Spanish, Tagalog, Cantonese, Vietnamese language desired


Employee is required to work closely with diverse stakeholders including clients, partners, funders, and potential donors.


Employee is required to sit for extended periods of time and work on a computer. The position also requires extended phone conversations. Employee must be able to stoop, reach, grasp, lift, and carry objects up to 25 lbs.


The organization is located in an urban area with high foot traffic. The employee will be required to manage work with interruptions from phone, visitors, and clients. Some local travel required.



This is a 32 hour, .80 FTE exempt position. The Program Director must be available to work Monday-Thursday from 11am-7pm. Salary DOE. Medical, dental, vision, life insurance, long term disability, 403b and vacation benefits provided.


Please email a cover letter and resume concisely detailing your experience to Applications due by Wednesday, August 30th, but you are encouraged to submit your application as soon as possible. Only applicants invited to interview will be contacted. No calls please.

Oasis For Girls, a project of Tides Center, is an “at-will” and equal opportunity employer. Applicants and employees shall not be discriminated against because of race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender (including pregnancy and gender expression) identity, color, marital status, veteran status, medical condition, or any other classification protected by federal, state, or local law or ordinance.

Reasonable accommodation will be made so that qualified disabled applicants may participate in the application process. Please advise in writing of special needs at the time of application.

Advisory Board

Amber Milks

Director of Global Services Operations, Veeva Systems

Amber Milks

Director of Global Services Operations, Veeva Systems

Amber Milks is the Director of Global Services Operations at Veeva Systems, a software company for the life sciences industry. She is a recent San Francisco transplant who previously lived and worked in Washington, DC and Columbus, Ohio in both nonprofit and government positions. She has been intensely involved with housing justice and homelessness issues, including working in the Consumer Advocacy division of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency’s mortgage assistance and foreclosure prevention program. Amber has previously worked with high-barrier homeless families to find housing, job skills, and stability. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from The Ohio State University.

Kathara Green

Senior Content Manager of Core Programs, Net Impact

Kathara Green

Senior Content Manager of Core Programs, Net Impact

Kathara Green is currently the Senior Content Manager of Core Programs at Net Impact, a nonprofit based in the Bay Area that empowers the next generation of leaders to make an impact through their careers. Kathara leads the program strategy, design and execution of the Net Impact Conference, as well as builds leadership programs for emerging leaders tackling social and environmental issues. Prior to joining Net Impact, Kathara worked at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh. She graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Maryam Ghofraniha

Head of Global Partnerships, LinkedIn For Good

Maryam Ghofraniha

Head of Global Partnerships, LinkedIn For Good

Maryam Ghofraniha is the Head of Global Partnerships for LinkedIn’s Social Impact group, LinkedIn For Good (LIFG). She manages LIFG’s relationships with nonprofits, private entities, and government partners across various initiatives with a focus on the youth employment space. In addition, Maryam is also responsible for LinkedIn’s Disaster Response program. Prior to LinkedIn, she led private-public partnerships in emerging markets for Google’s Social Impact group (formerly where she launched products that leveraged Google’s technology in the disaster response and environmental sustainability sectors. Maryam co-founded PacHope, a nonprofit aimed at supporting the local San Francisco homeless community. She holds a BA in International Economics and a BA in French Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Sadaf Minapara

Program Manager, Stanford Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law

Sadaf Minapara

Program Manager, Stanford Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law

Sadaf H. Minapara was part of the initial cohort of Oasis for Girls in 1999 and joined the Advisory Board in August 2016. She is a Program Manager with Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law. The research center bridges the worlds of scholarship, policy and practice to understand and advance the conditions for just, democratic, and sustainable development around the world. Before coming to Stanford, she worked for One Million Lights, a non-profit organization committed to providing solar LED lights to under-resourced and energy poor communities in the developing world. She lived in New Delhi, India as a Princeton-in-Asia fellow from 2010-2011 at The Energy and Resources Institute, a leading global think-tank and research institute in the field of energy, sustainable development and policy. In Nov. 2015, she launched a small business, Baynisa Blooms, that provides floral products for South Asian weddings in the Bay Area. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley in Political Science and South and Southeast Asian civilization.

Lisa Dacey

Program Operations Manager, Population and Reproductive Health- The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Lisa Dacey

Program Operations Manager, Population and Reproductive Health- The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Lisa Dacey is the Program Operations Manager for the Population and Reproductive Health program at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. She was previously at Deloitte Consulting, advising corporate, nonprofit and government clients on business operations, organizational strategy and communications. Lisa also worked for Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts in the public affairs group, coordinating communications, media relations and grassroots organizing, building on her work on local and congressional Democratic campaigns. Lisa holds an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and a BA from McGill University.

Anisha Mocherla

Market Operations Specialist, Lyft

Anisha Mocherla

Market Operations Specialist, Lyft

Anisha Mocherla is currently with the operations team at Lyft, where she helps unlock growth opportunities and develop best practices to scale efficiently. In the past, she has worked with Education Pioneers, a leading nonprofit in public education and the Center for Microfinance, a research and outreach organization in development economics and finance. Anisha enjoys working with students on college preparation and career exploration. She graduated from University of California, San Diego with a Bachelors degree in International Studies and Economics.

Candice Carvalho

Senior Strategic Finance Manager, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Candice Carvalho

Senior Strategic Finance Manager, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Candice Carvalho is the Senior Strategic Finance Manager for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). She supports initiative teams as they think through resource allocation, financial grants due diligence, and product cost structures. Prior to CZI, Candice led the Revenue Finance team at Eventbrite, supporting product and country launches, forecasting revenues, and analyzing potential investments. Candice also previously worked at Google on the Corporate Finance team and Bain Consulting where she focused on pricing, sales change management, and education strategy. She holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a B.S. and B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in Business and Economics.

Robyn Barnard

Staff Attorney, UC Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies

Robyn Barnard

Staff Attorney, UC Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies

Robyn Barnard is a Staff Attorney at CGRS. Before joining the Center, she worked at Human Rights First as the detention attorney for the Refugee Representation program. In this capacity, she represented detained asylum seekers, including families and children, mentored pro bono attorneys on detained and non-detained asylum cases, and engaged in advocacy on U.S. protection of asylum seekers and refugees. Prior to joining Human Rights First, Robyn completed a CV Starr Law Lecturer fellowship at Peking University’s School of Transnational Law, where she taught legal research and writing and a seminar on International Refugee Law to Chinese graduate law students. She received her B.A. and J.D. from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Ashley Koziol

Hiring Innovation Program Manager, Google

Ashley Koziol

Hiring Innovation Program Manager, Google

Board Emeritus

Amy Stice

Juanita Luna

Neha Palmer

Stephanie Kwong

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Our Girls

Oasis for Girls has the privilege of getting to work with young women aged 14-18, attending public high schools and living in under-resourced neighborhoods in San Francisco. At Oasis, they learn tools and skills to be strong, confident women finding their own definition of success and taking charge of their academic, professional, and personal futures.

Oasis girls draw strength from diverse experiences and backgrounds, and break cycles of disempowerment and inequality in their communities while in program and long after.

Featured Stories

Hi, we’re Tashina and Rayna Mims!!

Oasis is the first time we’re doing something together like this, and learning different parts of being young women is really fun!

Tashina: I’ve already done two programs, RISE and ENVISION. I joined Oasis because my best friend had already done it and was always talking about the people she met here and the stuff she was learning. It was actually really exciting to have Rayna here this time around because she got to share a part of the awesome experience I had in RISE. After every day, she’d come tell me about the friends she made and the fun activities, which made me really happy.

Rayna: This is my first program, and I started with RISE. Tashina talked a lot about the women’s rights things she was learning in RISE, so that got me really interested. At first I was a little reluctant because it’s a lot of work and it’s summer, after all, but the way each day is planned, you don’t even realize how hard you’ve been working because it’s so much fun.

We talk about a lot of personal things in program, and it helped us open up more. Program policy doesn’t allow for fighting or catty behavior, so you have a group of girls your own age with similar experiences, and it’s a really safe, supportive environment that helps you grow.

Tashina: I feel like I got to know myself better at Oasis because I had a place that made me think about what I wanted and how I feel as a growing woman. I made so many new friends from all around the city, and we stay in touch even outside of program. The staff is also really helpful, and they make it ok to talk to them whenever you need to. Most importantly, I learned how to speak up for myself and actually use some of the skills that will help me now and later, like getting a resume together, knowing how to defend myself, how to behave in a workplace.

Rayna: I learned a lot of stuff I didn’t know about, and other stuff I was like, “Oh, I know what that is, I’ve seen that happen.” Especially with sexual assault and harassment; all girls know to stay aware when you’re traveling alone, but we actually learned how to do it properly, and also self defense. I didn’t know there were different kinds, either. A lot of girls shared similar struggles that I’ve had, so nobody feels alone, and it’s important to be able to process some things properly. A lot of girls don’t really have that opportunity. Everything was tied to a bigger idea, even when we went to the farmer’s market we learned about different food options, budgets, and nutrition. Even my mom didn’t know some of the things we learned!

A lot of us have really strong women in our lives, so sisterhood is important in our personal lives, but it should also be something we take with us outside too. At home, it’s just us and our mom, it’s always been just us three. It also helped us understand some stuff that we see every day as girls growing up here in the city, and that if women act together, we can make things better for all of us.

Tashina: Sisterhood is about respecting each other and keeping all the nonsense outside. You’re supposed to help each other grow, even when it’s not easy. That’s the important thing about sisterhood: you can clash and that’s ok, but you have to learn something from it.

Rayna: Girls should support girls no matter what, but it doesn’t always work that way. Sure, guys do a lot of stuff, but girls bully girls too. If we accepted and stood up for each other like sisters are supposed to in good times and bad, that would make such a huge difference. That’s the most important thing.

Oasis helps build that sisterhood from the inside out. You can’t be a good sister if you’re not ok with sharing about yourself and growing too. Life is going to be constantly throwing you things that you have to deal with, and it’s good to be adaptable and have a support network.

Tashina: A lot of the girls are shy and not very comfortable at the beginning of program. I was! But that’s what you’re here to do, learn about yourselves, each other, and what it means to be a modern woman. It’s nice to have smaller groups so you can have a sense of familiarity and start trusting people. The staff tell you right away that everyone has to be honest in order for this to be a safe space.

Rayna: Oasis gets you to open up about stuff you wouldn’t normally talk about. If people are being open with you, you want to give the same respect back. It feels good to openly say things you always wanted to but never had the chance to, and it lets other girls relate to you and have better friendships. When everyone is open, they’re not afraid to be themselves and be silly or brave or vulnerable. It’s a responsibility to make sure everyone can feel that way.

Learning about the stuff women have to deal with, we appreciated what our mom does for us more. Mom used to be a pharmacy tech for ten years, but she’s currently unemployed while she finishes school to become a pharmacist. She’s always worked hard to do the best for us.

Tashina: We’ve had days when we had no food in the house, and we had to lean on my grandmother for food and share what little we had. Since I babysit, I’m the only one with a steady income right now, and at times they rely on me for money for groceries. This is another thing that you’re not supposed to talk about, I guess. But when I came to Oasis, I was stressed and I just let it all out. A lot of girls actually were in similar situations or could sympathize, and it was such a relief to just be supported and talk. It can be stressful, but it’s what you do for family, to make sure everyone has what they need.

Rayna: Grandma grew up in a foster home and dreamed of coming to California, and our mom grew up here. It’s really amazing to be able to share our experiences with her as we grow up.

Everyone calls us the “deep sisters” because we always talk about things that are emotional or that people “don’t talk about”. Sometimes in the school hallway, we’ll hear racist or degrading comments and just start talking about why it started and who does it. People look at us and you can tell they’re uncomfortable…but also that they’re listening. We always try to make you feel comfortable, include you in our conversations and respect your opinions. Some people just get scared and didn’t know how to answer, though. But nothing can change if you don’t talk about it! We’re also really different in some ways, and that’s good, because we help each other and have different perspectives.

Tashina: Rayna’s a very strong person, really loyal and kind to the people she thinks deserve it. She’s very honest and blunt though, so she’ll call you right out if you’re being weird! I try to be direct like her, but it doesn’t always work.

Rayna: Tashina’s always really nice to everyone. Like, she’ll do things for people that they wouldn’t do for her. I admire that sometimes, because it takes me a while to open up.

Growing up in San Francisco, sexual harassment and self-image are two issues girls face that they need more support on.

Tashina: Girls are always trying to be something they think other people will like, when in reality they just need to be someone THEY like. We get so caught up in our image that we miss out on other things that make us more compassionate and confident when we’re older. We might look different from other girls at school, from our mom or sister, or from what “people” think is pretty at the time. When we can’t find makeup for our skin, or clothes that fit us, or if we can’t afford all those things that we’re told we “need”, these all make us feel worse. But who needs them! Confidence and kindness are better than the cutest jeans and the best lipstick.

Rayna: I always see sexual harassment happening almost casually when I walk anywhere. Girls need to be aware that it’s not okay, but also that it’s not about anything that they’re doing. Girls should be able to feel safe. Since we’re young women, we’re targeted, and people think we’re weak and can’t handle ourselves. We really need to change these cultural assumptions.

Oasis has helped us plan for our future by giving us a heads up about what to expect when we enter the workforce or apply for colleges. Native Americans are still an oppressed race, a lot of people hold on to old hate or have stereotypes. Plus, we’re women; we’re way stronger than men, but in men’s eyes we’re lower. All these things get more and more apparent as you get older. We know we’re going to have to work a lot harder than other people.

Tashina: I want to graduate college with as little debt as possible and work in the medical field because I really enjoy working with people in a hands-on way. Oasis has also taught me what I need to be aware of like rent, scholarships, and kinds of colleges, but also how to take pride in who I am and speak up for myself, for women, and for my people. I used to see myself really negatively and ignore my problems, but now I’m more self-confident. That’s the thing with Oasis, you have to put in the work, but you feel the change way after you’ve left program.

Rayna: Oasis helped me open up more; I was really angry and frustrated with things when I got here, but just having this safe space and supportive sisters helped me bloom socially. Now I know what I need for myself and what kinds of people I want around me. Nothing about what’s bothering me at any given minute is unique, you know? I met girls and even professional women who had gone through the same stuff. Just getting to know what’s out there was so cool, and I’m starting to plan to do something in computer science and aiming for things in the future.

Hi, we’re Zuri and Melissa Arellano!

We started at Oasis at the same time, but Zuri heard about it first.

Zuri: I didn’t want to be stuck at home, and meeting new people and doing something after school just for girls sounded fun. Melissa came along because she always tries to copy me.

Melissa: No, I did it because someone else said it was cool. And I really wanted a new phone!

We didn’t really know what to expect, but we both felt really good after our first program, even though we were in different ones. Everything about Oasis is girly—not like unicorns and sparkles girly, more like a safe space for us—so you can ask questions, share stories, and explore things in really new ways.

Melissa: I learned more about myself and started to feel more confident. As a teenager, you don’t always look like the ads around the mall, can’t always afford to shop the newest trends, and your body is changing too. Sometimes you can feel embarrassed about your body. But you’re still pretty, and there’s more to beauty than what “everyone” thinks.

Zuri: Yeah, we definitely were encouraged to think positively about ourselves and question the “everyone thinks/says” stuff. All the girls could relate to the stuff we learned.

We’ve both done RISE and ENVISION so far. ENVISION taught us both about the future we could have, visiting colleges and learning about different careers. RISE was really a deep experience for both of us, learning about the things that girls have in common.

Zuri: I’m older, so ENVISION was really important because I’m thinking about college and work. The programs are super cool because they give you options and the coordinators are really helpful outside of class too, if you just want to talk or need help with scholarship applications or resumes. Like, I don’t have to be an engineer to be successful, and nobody at Oasis said so. ENVISION actually helped me start thinking seriously about fashion design. We visited schools for that and met people who actually do it. I saw that one girl took a year to travel around the world after high school though, so now I want to do that too.

Melissa: It was cool to start thinking about what I think is important to me for my future, and the whole college thing is new. Our parents want us to go, but they can’t help us so much with the whole process, so it’s good to know that Zuri and the program staff will be there when I’m ready. RISE was more interesting for me, it pushed me to think more about my ethnicity, different kinds of discrimination, and sexual harassment.

Zuri: Us girls see and go through a lot we don’t really have a name for. In RISE, we found out what they were and how things fit together in systems of discrimination. They talk about it sometimes in school, but there are boys and they’re childish or mean, so girls are embarrassed to speak up. Here, we all were encouraged to talk about things we’ve been through and ask questions we wanted knowing that we were in a safe place.

Oasis is a big sisterhood. We’re all girls and we go through the same things. Sisterhood is a simple thing, just caring, helping, and accepting each other. But it can be so, so hard in the real world where women can’t accept or respect each other. At Oasis, judgment is not okay, and we’re all young! Seeing someone go through a heartbreak or bonding over other stuff, you realize that nobody is really that different, and it’s easy to stand with them no matter what.

Zuri: It’s a little awkward the first week when all the girls are new, but then when you come into the lounge, everyone starts eating and laughing and talking together. You walk in and you see all these girls happy to see you!

Melissa: In program, they teach us to be respectful, and they really let us be honest and open with our feelings and when we need help.

We’re really close, people even say we look alike! Our mom taught us since we were little to stick together. We’re both different, but we know that we’ve got each other’s back no matter what and love each other dee down. It was fun to do the programs together because we can catch the bus home after.

Zuri: At first, I didn’t want her to come, honestly, because I wanted to experience it by myself. But we were in different classes, so we both learned different things. Sometimes I have my sisterly “do this” or “do that” hat on a lot with Meli, so it was good to not be distracted by that and her constant talking.

Melissa: I’m kind of glad we weren’t in the same class, because I think it let us grow individually, but still be able to share this cool experience of being at Oasis. I’m loud and don’t take anything seriously. Zuri’s the one who gives good advice, and I tell her to have more attitude.

Discrimination and harassment are some of the most important issues girls face in SF. People judge girls all the time. Guys do it, girls do it, we do it with ourselves.

Zuri: It’s like everything is open to judgment. The way girls dress, or how they look or talk, even their ethnicity. Because you know, girls are only supposed to look or be certain ways. It happens everywhere, in schools, buses, even movie theaters.

Melissa: Random guys stare at you so bad every time you go on the street. They know they’re making you uncomfortable, but they touch you or whistle. Like, we’re not dogs. But then we’re taught not to say anything, not to wear certain things, not to walk certain places, as if we’re the problem.

The most important thing Oasis taught us was to be more supportive of other girls. Life is harder for women, we’re going to face a lot of things and have to fight for basic stuff all the time. But now we know how what’s okay and what’s not, and what to do about it. Also that messing up is okay, and learning how to just do me but better. There will always be a supportive group of Oasis sisters and others, and finding those bonds wherever we go will help make our own lives and communities better.

Hi, we’re Sadaf and Saman Minapara!

Oasis changes all the time because it responds to girls’ needs, as it did between our times in program, but for all the girls we know, it was first and foremost a physical and emotional space where we could just be us first. You don’t really think about how gendered daily life can be for teen girls, but making that distinction and having that space gave us a head start as young women. By giving us a forum to talk about important issues affecting women that were not discussed in our communities, Oasis provided us with the tools to have our voices heard.

Sadaf: I was part of the original Oasis For Girls cohort when it was just the founders, Ly and Jill, and a few girls in a basement of an apartment building in SOMA. Every Friday, we’d have girls’ night, and that was the first Oasis program, really, just a place for us to get together, talk about any challenges or questions we had that we weren’t comfortable asking at home.

Saman: They had the RISE and ENVISION programs by the time I came along–younger sibling privilege. The things that Sadaf had enjoyed, like positive body image, career exploration, discussion of women’s rights, and appreciation for each others’ cultures were all articulated more clearly.

Growing up in an immigrant family with its own cultural values on one hand, and being a young adult in a city like San Francisco on the other, there was a lot of confusion generally and especially about what normal teen girls worry about.

Sadaf: It was the first time I had role models outside my family who were cool and independent women but still could understand where I was coming from. Ly and Jill showed me the importance of being self-confident and make the right decisions for myself. It sparked a drive that stayed with me throughout college and informs what I do in my working life. It impacted me so much that I came back to be on Oasis’ board! I hope I can be that role model for other young women growing up with similar backgrounds and questions.

Saman: It was different for me because Sadaf had done everything first, and I could ask her most of my awkward questions. Still, having frank discussions on healthy body image and hands-on workshops like self-defense were personally very valuable for me. The identities that Oasis girls represent could potentially be contradictory, but in the space, everyone is equal, accepted, and able to be themselves without all the labels. The staff emphasize our similarities as young women–we can all related to certain things that seem to only happen to teen girls–and from there it’s easy to explore the different experiences we have with open minds.

Sometimes, success for girls can become a one size fits all prescription, but Oasis kept saying, “Okay, this is what you could do, but you’re also good at this. What’s important to you? Can you find a balance?” Nobody had asked us that before. It was empowering to know that we could really set our own paths and know how to do it.

Sadaf: I double majored in Political Science and South and Southeast Asian Studies at UC Berkeley, and went right into the nonprofit world, even living in New Delhi for a year. Oasis brought me out of my shell and taught me the importance of community and doing something you love. By day, I’m a Program Manager at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law, but in the very early mornings, I’m at the flower markets for my own florist business, Baynisa Blooms!

Saman: I wanted to be a news reporter! I thought the weather person was really cool. But Oasis made me think about certain things more critically as a young woman of color, and I wanted to pay it forward and be in the thick of change. I’m currently in my second year of law school at Santa Clara University, focusing on immigration and human rights law. At Oasis, we were encouraged to be more confident and ask for what was fair, but the vast majority of women even in San Francisco put or find themselves coming second, or don’t know where to find resources for help if they need it.

Our relationship with each other has grown over the years as we have and continue to go through different stages in our lives. Sadaf is (a lot) (excuse me, just a few years) older, so as we grew up and had different life experiences, it was awesome to have Oasis as a common lens and bonding point. Besides each other, we both have a close sisterhood of Oasis girls from our time there whom we’re still close to today.

Saman: Sisterhood is a beacon, people you can always look up to and who look out for you, not just in your family, but also in the communities you move through. Four of us were at Oasis at the same time and lived in SOMA, which got us dubbed “the SOMA four”. We’ve grown up, gone to college, lived abroad, been in each others’ weddings, had babies, and we’re still just a text away.

Sadaf: Sisterhood is home, a safe emotional space where you can turn to in moments of happiness, boredom, or hardship. It’s important to be heard and talk things out without judgment and alternative feedback, and have that base as we take on more responsibilities and face new challenges. I still live in San Francisco and hang out with my Oasis girls regularly- a few of us just got back from an impromptu trip to Malaysia!

The Women’s March in January 2017 was the largest single-day demonstration in US history, and sent a very clear message that women’s rights are human rights–again. It’s something we keep having to repeat and defend, and it was especially wonderful to see women of color coming to the forefront of the movement. But at the same time, the current climate makes just being a woman of color, never mind an immigrant or low-income worker, incredibly risky. Oasis’ programs and presence will be increasingly more important for empowering young women who will be driving their communities forward and providing them with a safe emotional and physical space to be confident, healthy leaders.

Raquel - #OasisShero!

In May 2017, we launched our #OasisSheroes campaign, honoring our Oasis girls who have gone above and beyond for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Just a few weeks ago, we shared Mariana’s story of campaigning her school for greater tolerance and since then, I’ve sat down to interview another one of our #OasisSheroes, Raquel. I’m excited to share our conversation with you today…

Raquel is a sophomore, attends Mission High School, and lives with her Mom and step Dad in South Beach.

Jessica: Can you tell me a little bit about your time at Oasis?

Raquel: Oasis helped me a lot! It not only gave me stuff to do after school that was positive, but I made good friends and I’m a lot happier now. When I came to Oasis, I was so surprised to meet other young women who had been through similar experiences and they have helped me get through hard things in my life. I have met people who I know I can always go to when I face challenges and even after Oasis, we’ll support each other.

Jessica: What have you learned at Oasis?

Raquel: Oasis has taught me how to be a leader. I am shy and have always been uncomfortable leading things, but Oasis helped me develop a vision and now, I feel comfortable taking charge. I use to hate public speaking, but through the activities we’ve done at Oasis, I’ve gotten good at it!

Jessica: How have you used your new leadership skills?

Raquel: This year, I became the President of the Queer Student Alliance at my school! At first, I didn’t want to do it because it seemed like a lot of pressure. But the skills I learned at Oasis helped take the pressure off because I knew how to lead the group!

Jessica: What kind of leader are you?

Raquel: In the beginning, I really wanted to please everyone so it was really hard. But now, I realize its my job to listen to everyone’s ideas and help decide the best way to move forward. Ultimately, I learned that the job of being a leader isn’t necessarily to be liked, but to get stuff done!

Jessica: How have you made a difference?

Raquel: We just won a long battle to get a gender neutral bathroom at my school. It took a lot of education about gender neutrality, what gender is, and why its important to have a restroom where everyone can feel comfortable, but we won!

Jessica: What do you see for your future?

Raquel: Before Oasis, I wanted to be a heart surgeon. But then I went on a tour of an arts college with the ENVISION program and now, I think I would like to go to arts school. As soon as I stepped in there, I felt like I fit in with my paint splattered jacket and choppy blue hair. People always praise me for my art, but I hadn’t really considered it as a career!

We’re incredibly proud of Raquel’s accomplishments and we can’t wait to see what her future will bring!

Please join us today in supporting the next generation of female leaders like Raquel with a donation to Oasis For Girls, and use #OasisSheroes to share your story on social media today.

Thank you for honoring our #OasisSheroes!

Halliana - #OasisShero!

Just three days left in our #OasisSheroes campaign! We're honoring Oasis trailblazers who are transforming their own lives, as well as paving a path for women and girls into the future!

Today, I am proud to share my interview with Halliana, one of our #OasisSheroes, who just completed our ENVISION Career Exploration Program this Spring!

Halliana is a junior at Burton High School and she lives with her Mom and two siblings in San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood.

Jessica: Why did you decide to join Oasis?

Halliana: I kept staying after school to avoid going home, but I didn’t want to participate in anything because I was afraid it wouldn’t impact me. One of my friends was applying to Oasis, so I joined with her. At Oasis, I met other young women, we talked about our lives, and I realized I could actually trust people!

Jessica: What did you learn at Oasis?

Halliana: Oasis has helped me broaden my perspective, showing me everything that is available to me as a young woman. I met professional women who are working in careers I never knew existed and they have helped me to realize that I can do anything!

I use to be shy, but Oasis has also encouraged me to embrace who I am. I would have never talked in front of people, but I had to speak at Oasis Graduation. I was really anxious, but all of the girls supported me and I realized I had to do it for them. I wanted to show them that they meant something to me!

Jessica: How do you use your voice now?

Halliana: Oasis motivated me to get more involved in my community, so I joined Peer Resources at my school. We learned about the impact of gentrification on our schools in preparation for Youth Activism Day where we made recommendations to the school board. I told the school board to invest in keeping our schools diverse because I believe that diversity in schools is really important because it helps us to learn and grow.

Jessica: How has being an activist changed you?

Halliana: Oasis has really empowered me connect with other people, find common ground, and take action. I’m not scared to try new things or make my voice heard. I speak up…and people listen!

Jessica: What do you want to do with your future?

Halliana: I’m not sure, but my number one priority is to go to college!

If you are as impressed as I am by Halliana’s story, please join us to today in supporting other #OasisSheroes just like her by making a donation to Oasis For Girls! Please use #OasisSheroes to share your story on social media today!

Thank you for supporting our #OasisSheroes!

Irma - #OasisShero!

Irma is a senior at School of the Arts and lives with her mother and sisters in the BayView Hunters Point neighborhood.

Jessica: So tell me why you came to Oasis For Girls?

Irma: Right before I started at Oasis, I was in a dark place because I had just transferred to a new school. My old school was full of people of color who looked like me and talked like me, but in my new school, no one looked like me or talked like me. I had trouble making friends, but once I finally did, I fell in with the wrong crowd- they were using drugs, skipping school, and shoplifting. I was really sad and depressed.

Jessica: What kind of experience did you have at Oasis For Girls?

Irma: I felt welcome right away- I met girls who looked like me and talked like me. I felt really happy because I could just be myself without being judged.

In my home, there are really strong rules about how women and men are supposed to behave and I thought I had to follow them. In RISE, I realized that I didn’t have to follow these rules, but that I could be myself and speak my mind. In CREATE, I learned how to free write to get my feelings out. Initially, I didn’t like it, but now I do it every day because it helps me problem solve! I didn’t really want to go to college because I didn’t think it was for me- I thought I would move to Los Angeles to get an acting job. But in ENVISION I learned that I could go abroad for college through a scholarship!

Jessica: How has Oasis changed your perspective?

Irma: Oasis has helped me see the rules and concepts that society makes that aren’t necessarily real. Oasis has led me to question: Am I doing this because its something that I have to do? Or is it something that society wants me to do? Oasis has opened my eyes to the problems in the world and how I can solve them.

Jessica: What problems would you like to solve?

Irma: At my school, about 50% of the student population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ). I have learned about their stories and why they need allies- so I’ve decided to support them! This year, I am the President of the Gay Straight Alliance and its my job to listen to people, educate myself, and help people get their stories out there!

Jessica: What are your plans for the future?

Irma: I am so excited- I was just accepted to study drama applied theater in London for Fall 2016! Through my studies, I’m hoping to help the audience understand something they didn’t understand before- the experience of being an LGBTQ person. I feel like I can make a difference in the world!

Mariana - #OasisShero

Meet our #OasisSheroes!

Last month we celebrated Women’s History Month at Oasis For Girls, honoring brave women of color who have transformed history and paved the path for today’s women and girls. But at Oasis, we don’t just teach our girls about their foremothers, we partner with them to help them discover their innate leadership potential and empower them to become part of the next generation of female changemakers.

Today, we would love to share Mariana’s story with you- one of our #OasisSheroes who goes above and beyond for herself, her family, and her community.

Mariana is Mexican American and lives in Sunnydale housing projects with her mother and two older sisters. Her mother can’t work due to kidney failure and Mariana often misses school to accompany her to the hospital for daily dialysis. Mariana’s older sisters got involved with gangs and selling drugs at an early age, but determined to make her Mom proud, Mariana is committed to finding a better path for herself. It’s difficult though – Mariana finds herself getting into trouble with her friends, ditching class, and hanging out on the streets.

Mariana joined Oasis in the spring of her junior year, and immediately found a safe place to talk about her problems and find her voice through the support of other girls and positive adult allies. At Oasis, Mariana learned about women’s history. Motivated by her female ancestors, Mariana began to reflect on her own future and realized that she is capable of doing everything that men can.

One day at Mariana’s school, a fight broke out in the cafeteria after a student made a racial slur. Inspired by what she learned at Oasis, Mariana rallied her fellow students to start a petition to build greater tolerance at her school. Impressed by Mariana’s leadership, the principal organized a debate, where Mariana presented her views in front of the entire school. If the school doesn’t take action, Mariana is ready to go to the school board with her proposal. “One versus all,” she says.

Unlike ever before, Mariana is happy, confident, and motivated to succeed. She has started to think about life beyond high school and with a desire to be her own kind of female trailblazer, she is considering serving her country as a doctor in the army after graduation.

Mariana has certainly made her mother proud and she has inspired us all here at Oasis For Girls too! We are incredibly humbled by Mariana’s bravery, as well as the leadership of many other #OasisSheroes just like her.

Please join us today in supporting the next generation of female leaders with a donation to Oasis For Girls and use #OasisSheroes to share your story on social media today.

Thank you for honoring our #OasisSheroes!

Celebrating Sadaf!

Oasis For Girls is turning 18 this year, but today we are celebrating a very special Oasis girl’s 31st! Sadaf Minapara was part of the original Oasis cohort in 1999, attending Mission High School in San Francisco and living in Columbia Heights, and came back to us as a board member last fall.

Birthdays are a time of reflection for many of us, and she said that looking back, she found that Oasis was behind many of her personal and professional accomplishments. “Oasis is my giving tree,” she laughs, “When I was a young girl, it was a safe space to learn, question, and focus on myself. Now I’m coming back with the hopes of giving back to the community that shaped me and learning a different set of leadership skills.”

Both Sadaf and Oasis have grown up in the meantime. She went on to UC Berkeley, double majoring in Political Science and South and Southeast Asian Studies; opened her own floral business, Baynisa Blooms; and is currently a Program Manager at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law. Oasis has expanded from one program to three, each fostering different critical aspects of girls’ development as socially conscious, empowered women with the academic and career tools to achieve their dreams.

“Most of the girls I grew up with had to deal with traditional cultural values at home and the realities of being a young woman in a city like San Francisco,” Sadaf says, “This is a key part of what it means to be a young person of color, and the daughter of immigrants; that isn’t going to change.” At Oasis, girls have a valuable middle space to focus on themselves and the women they want to be, celebrating their roots and actively engaging in shaping the city they call home.

Community is important at Oasis—the community of girls, the neighborhoods they live in, their family circles, and their city. Coming back home to San Francisco, Sadaf says she looked for something to support in a meaningful way. “Many people donate to big causes or organizations on a national or international scale, but change really starts at home, and a lot of the policies and attitudes that need changing impact people in very real ways in our communities. If you put it into those terms, the reality is that you’re getting the most for your investment in smaller community-based organizations that create lasting ripples of change.”

For Sadaf, leading the charge for the younger generation of girls like herself was doubly important in our current climate. “We talk a lot about women in tech here, but wherever Oasis girls go, they will need a strong sense of self, understanding of social justice and womanhood, leadership skills, and a sense of community. We need girls like them to speak up and demand better, and they learn to do that at Oasis.”

This year, Sadaf is asking for birthday donations to Oasis in lieu of (or in addition to!) any gifts. Please celebrate Sadaf with us! Put your birthday wishes in the comments, and show your love here.

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