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We are pleased to announce Cindy Wu, a recognized leader and problem solver in the field with a deep commitment to community engagement and advancing equity and inclusion, as the new executive director of Bay Area LISC. Cindy brings 15 years of community leadership, affordable housing knowledge and public policy experience to LISC Bay Area at this critical moment. She is also not a stranger to LISC, having been one of the inaugural Rubinger Fellows!
Cindy was most recently the Deputy Director for Chinatown Community Development Center, a place-based nonprofit developer in San Francisco’s Chinatown. In this role she oversaw affordable housing development, property management, human resources and internal administration and operations. She guided the organization through rapid growth from 1,700 to 3,000 units of housing over five years. Prior to this, Cindy led Chinatown CDC’s Community Planning Team from 2007-2015, empowering residents to advocate for their neighborhood and attracting more than $45 million in neighborhood capital improvements.
Cindy is equal parts grassroots activist and pragmatic problem-solver. The common thread, though all her years of work has been a deep commitment to community engagement and decision-making by Chinatown’s residents to determine their own fate for their neighborhood.
Cindy has also been a vital member of the San Francisco Planning Commission, including a term serving as its president, working to develop strategies that protect neighborhood businesses and streamline affordable housing construction. She holds a Masters in City Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and BA in Architecture from UC Berkeley. Outside of work, Cindy enjoys exploring Oakland with her husband and two-year old child.
Asha Rao has recently joined BALISC as Director of Investments. She has several years of working in the CDFI industry as an investment manager with Wells Fargo previously, lending to and investing in CDFIs nationwide. Prior to WF Asha worked at Standard and Poor’s in New York and at the Nasscom Foundation in New Delhi, India. She graduated with a BA from Emory University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Laurel Engbretson is a Program Officer on the Bay Area LISC team. Laurel is responsible for project management, program management, and grants management for housing and economic development initiatives in the Bay Area. Prior to joining LISC, Laurel set up the San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund's impact management system and evaluated the impact of the Fund’s investments on displacement in San Francisco. A Bay Area native and lifelong resident, Laurel graduated with her MBA/MPP from the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College. She focused her studies on equitable development and impact finance, with internships at the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and the Oakland Mayor’s Office. Prior to graduate school, Laurel was a licensed realtor with Pacific Union. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Laurel serves on the board of HomeownershipSF as the chair of the Policy and Advocacy committee and is a mentor with the Oakland Promise.
Shannon Sheets currently serves as LISC’s National Underwriter in Lending. Most recently, Ms. Sheets served as Vice President and Credit Manager for American Savings Bank in Honolulu, Hawaii. She managed the approval and portfolio management processes for Business Banking. Previously, she served as the Vice President and Underwriting Manager for Central Pacific Bank, where she also managed the approval and portfolio management of small business credits. Prior to joining Central Pacific Bank, she was a Project Manager with EAH Housing. In this role, she oversaw the development of multiple LIHTC projects. In addition, she worked as a Financial Analyst for National Church Residences in Columbus, Ohio, where she prepared both construction and operating budgets for LIHTC projects. She holds a B.S. degree in Finance from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.
Rudy Licea has a diverse background in both the education and media sectors. He was previously a Front Office Coordinator for Herrero/Boldt, where he managed all aspects of the front office for the much anticipated Sutter Van Ness Campus and medical building in San Francisco. Prior to Herrero/Boldt, Rudy was a Senior Program Coordinator for Golden Gate University School of Law, heading a small team that oversaw the law schools exam process. He also lead the schools accommodated exams program and language accommodation program. Before moving to San Francisco, Rudy has worked in the media industry for over seventeen years in both New York and Los Angeles.
Max Lelu is pleased to join the Bay Area LISC team as an Assistant Program Officer. Max previously worked for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, launching their nonprofit infrastructure finance tool, the Advancing California Finance Authority. His time at MTC introduced Max to the world of community development and the critical role which CDFI's play within their communities. Prior to MTC, Max also worked for the British Government's international economic development department in San Francisco, helping companies expand operations into and out of the UK. In his spare time, Max produces and performs in 'Alexa, Improvise,' a monthly comedy show which pokes fun at the ways artificial intelligence is supposed to make our lives easier, but doesn't always succeed. He graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in political science.
Bay Area LISC is proud to welcome Sasha Werblin as our newest Program Officer. Prior to joining LISC, Sasha was a Special Project Manager at Self-Help Federal Credit Union where she most recently helped start and manage real estate project in California. During her time at SHFCU, Sasha executed projects related to the core operations of the credit union, managed community and corporate partnerships, and lead key projects that enhanced organizational development and culture.
Prior to SHFCU, Sasha was the Economic Equity Director at the Greenlining Institute where she advocated for increased wealth, assets, and financial sustainability in communities of color. She earned her B.A. in Sociology and Psychology from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She serves on the Board of the Greenlining Academy Alumni Association and the Oakland Community Land Trust.
Sasha is a proud Oakland native and longtime resident who wants to live in a world where love is abundant, siestas are the status quo, and race is not a barrier to prosperity.