Board of Directors

GSA Network’s Board of Directors is a unique partnership between youth and adults, committed to advancing the leadership and mission of GSA Network.

Student leaders from Gay-Straight Alliance clubs across California work in partnership with adult board members to lead the fight against homophobia and transphobia in schools. 

  Sam Alavi

Sam Alavi is a senior at Aragon High School and the president of her school's GSA.  In previous years, Sam has helped lead the GSA through many successful events and campaigns including Ally Week, Harvey Milk Day, and the annual GSA Castro Field trip.  She is also Deputy Director of Bay Area Youth Summit (BAYS).  Sam has interned for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's office and has served on the Teen Advisory Board of Break Through the Static, a mental health organization in Palo Alto, California. Previously, Sam has worked with GSA Network as a Youth Council member and Activist Camp trainer, she is thrilled to be a member of the Board of Directors and  Statewide Advocacy Council.  Sam enjoys the triumphs and challenges that come with being a straight ally and is looking forward to an exciting year.  Outside of activism, Sam enjoys photography, Aragon Outlook Newspaper Staff, and stage managing her school's theatrical productions.
  Ruhi Bhalla, Secretary

Ruhi Bhalla is an active student and President of Santa Monica High School’s GSA. She is responsible for organizing many events on and off campus such as Project Safe Zone, which is an all day retreat that focuses on issues of sexism, homophobia, and transphobia in our daily lives. She is the Southern California Coordinator for the Bay Area Youth Summit (BAYS) and also works with GSA Network as a Statewide Advocacy Council Member, youth trainer, and Youth Council member. When Ruhi isn't working on making a difference, she is either making films or volunteering at her local aquarium.
  Richard Cain

Richard is a Managing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers where he leads the Northern California Emerging Company Services tax practice. He has his Masters in Taxation from Golden Gate University and his undergraduate degree in Finance from Georgetown University. Richard co-founded PwC's San Francisco GLBT Diversity Circle and has participated in AidsLifeCycle for the past six consecutive years. In addition to cycling, Richard enjoys reading, cooking, working out, trying new restaurants and traveling.

Sophie Fanelli

Sophie Fanelli is a Senior Program Officer, Education, at the Stuart Foundation in San Francisco.  She plays a key role in advancing the Foundation’s goal to provide opportunities for students to be engaged, learn, and achieve in schools through the development of effective education systems. Previously, she served as Director of Research & Policy at Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA) at UCLA where she oversaw public policy and legislative efforts focused on education reform, equity and access, and student and parent engagement. Her range of experience also includes work with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California where she focused on advancing education equity, LGBTQ equality, immigration rights, the needs of at risk youth, and advocacy for the homeless. Sophie was also a Board Member for Immigration Equality which fights for equality under U.S. immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive individuals. Sophie received her Master’s Degree in Political Science and Juris Doctorate, both from Faculte de Droit d’Aix-en-Provence in France, and a Masters in Legal History and Political Science from Universita La Sapienza, in Rome, Italy.

  Elizabeth Gill

Elizabeth is a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California and the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project.  Elizabeth works on cases and campaigns around the country that aim to ensure equal treatment of LGBT people by the government; equal rights and protections for LGBT couples and families; protection from discrimination in jobs, schools, housing, and public accommodations; and fair treatment by the government of people living with HIV/AIDS.  Prior to the ACLU, Elizabeth was a litigation associate at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, and at WilmerHale in Washington, DC.  She graduated from Columbia College and Harvard Law School.
  Keanan Gottlieb

In 10th grade, Keanan decided it was time for a GSA at his school.  His GSA, The Rainbow Coalition, has become the biggest club with over 25% of the high school participating. They have put on many successful events such as No Name Calling Week, Day of Silence, and Harvey Milk-shakes.  After attending a GSA Network Leadership Summit in October 2010, Keanan became interested in advocacy work.  After attending GSA Network's GSA Advocacy  and Youth Leadership Academy and Queer Youth Advocacy Day in the spring of 2011, he was hooked.  Keanan became involved with Statewide Advocacy Council as well as the Board.  When he is not finishing homework, he enjoys playing and coaching soccer, participating in martial arts, playing, listening, and writing music, going to concerts and the theater, studying medicine and forensic science, Harry Potter, and traveling. Keanan graduated high school in 2013 and attends Pitzer College. He plans on becoming a medical examiner and working with healthcare rights and accessibility, specifically in the transgender community.

Deonte' Lee

Deonte' is the founder and president of the GSA at his high school in Adelanto, California. With GSA Network he was able to attend the GAYLA/QYAD events this year. Enjoying being around like-minded people fighting for the LGBTQ cause prompted him to apply to become a part of the board of directors. At school he is the elected associated student body president going on his third term. He has also been a student liaison on the student site council for 3 years and an AVID tutor. Fun facts about him: firstly, he is a 17 years old crazy, unique, eclectic enigma. This year he did handstands on the Great Wall of China, floated in the Dead Sea, and went to Petra. When not doing ASB things or learning something new he loves finding new indie music, watching fashion shows, meeting new people, and living for nostalgic experiences.


Jenny Pardini

Jenny teaches French at Washington High School in Fremont, California.  She is one of three GSA advisors at WHS and has been awarded grants from the California Teacher's Association to help build and support the club.  As a high school student, Jenny started the first GSA at Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.  During her teenage years, she was very involved in queer youth conference planning with LYRIC and GSA Network.  While attending San Francisco State University, Jenny was an active member of the Queer Alliance.  Since becoming a teacher, she has been very involved in her local union of which she is also a board member as well as co-chair of the human rights committee.  Her passion for activism is a life-long commitment that earned her a regional union award for her Human Rights work in 2010. In her free time, Jenny enjoys corny jokes, attending concerts, watching movies, dancing and traveling the world.


Andrew Uehling, Board Chair

Andrew has been a member of the GSA Network Board since 2009. He was introduced to the GSA Network by Barak Ben-Gal.  He is a San Francisco native and went to Saint Ignatius High School. He has a BA in Economics from Georgetown University, an MBA from Stanford's Graduate School of Business, and certifications as a professional coach from the Coaches Training Institute and a strengths performance coach from Gallup.  He is a director of Human Resources at Charles Schwab. Before joining Charles Schwab, he served as head of HR for SoundView Technology Group.  Andrew puts his professional background to use as a member of the Compensation and Governance Committees of the Board.  Andrew’s family is from both El Salvador in Central America and Nebraska.  He also speaks Spanish and Portuguese.


Bert Vander Meeren, Treasurer

Bert is the Global Process Manager for Invoicing Operations at Google in Mountain View. Previously, he worked for McKinsey & Co in Brussels, Belgium and in different roles for Dexia Bank (now Belfius) in Brussels and Paris, France. He obtained a BS in Computer Science (Major in Artificial Intelligence) at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, where he was an active member of the LGBT student organization, and a MBA in Finance from the same University and the William E. Simon School of Business in Rochester, NY. Bert loves mountain biking, reading, eating out, traveling and classical music. He plays the German flute, and sang in the European Union Choir in Brussels, and the Stella Maris Choir in Paris. Bert got bitten by the GSA Network bug while volunteering at the Youth Empowerment Summit in San Francisco, and is looking forward to contributing to GSA Network's success!


Mario Vasquez, Vice-Chair

Mario is a Freshmen at San Francisco State University and is majoring in Communications with a minor in Political Science. Mario was inspired to become a GSA activist after attending a GSA Network Leadership Summit, which led him to begin the first GSA at SOAR High School in Lancaster, California. His activist camp training allowed him to become an active leader in his community. He helped begin the first LGBTQ youth group in the San Fernando Valley and has been involved in LGBT and latino cultural competency trainings for professionals through other organizations. Mario’s activism has extended to various media sources and organizations, even public speaking opportunities. Mario’s commitment to his community, along with his LGBT and political activism, were recognized by the City of Lancaster, California with an award on October 2012. Mario went on to attend various GSA Network events and programs and now serves as Vice Chair on the GSA Network Board of Directors.

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