Co-Founder & Executive Director
Dawn has worked with young people in San Francisco for more than two decades, starting campus-based girls’ support groups at Lincoln High School and A.P. Giannini Middle School in the early 1990s and co-founding in 1992 the organization that would later become Sunset Youth Services. In addition to providing leadership for the nonprofit, managing staff, connecting with donors, and building relationships with young people served by Sunset Youth Services, Dawn partners with numerous community coalitions and city agencies as an advisor, change agent, and voice for the disenfranchised youth of the city.
In 2018 Dawn was elected to co-chair the Juvenile Justice Providers Association (JJPA)–– a consortium of community-based organizations that she helped establish in 2004 and which plays an important role in local policy-making, youth advocacy and has a strong voice in how funds are used to meet the needs of vulnerable youth.
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Each month in 2022, Dawn will be sharing snippets of history as we give
thanks for the dream that became reality: watch them here!
A Brief Overview
IT ALL STARTED WITH A BIG RED BALL...
It was early 1992. Dawn and Ron had recently moved to San Francisco and were eager to make a difference in the lives of local youth. Unsure where to begin, they gravitated toward A.P. Giannini, their neighborhood middle school. According to the dean of students, the school only had one lunch period for 1,300 students; very few resources were available. Her message: "Show up during lunch, and let’s see what you can do." The following day, they found themselves on the schoolyard, fortified with little more than their wits, willingness to serve, and a big red ball.
The bell rang and kids poured out onto the schoolyard, swarming the couple. "What are we going to play?!"
The game of choice was a version of dodge ball called "Catch and Kill." In no time, students of every stripe were engrossed in schoolwide lunchtime tournaments pitting homerooms against one other. Dawn and Ron began recruiting friends to help referee, and at the end of each recess the children would ask, "Are you coming tomorrow?"
The question was a daily reminder of the importance of consistent commitment to these youth, and the red ball a symbol of the difference that could be made through caring relationships and a few meager resources. Out of those daily dodge ball tournaments the dream of Sunset Youth Services was born.