JPA Team


chief executive officer

Lisa Villarreal joined Youth Ventures Joint Powers Authority (JPA) as the Chief Executive Officer in 2016.  She is a native Californian of Mexican-American descent who has been a Bay Area resident for the past four decades.  Her career spans being a front line bilingual adolescent crisis counselor, with La Raza Consortium, to spearheading national think tank efforts in education equity and social justice on the boards of Grantmakers for Education, the National Equity Project, the National Coalition for Community Schools and the American Federation of Teachers/AFLCIO executive board. Lisa has worked at the local, regional, state, and national levels to convene both public and private sector groups. For more than a decade, she served as the Education Program Officer at the San Francisco Foundation, and helped seed funding efforts such as the Oakland offices of African American Student Achievement, Latino Men and Boys, Restorative Justice, and Community Schools/Thriving Students.

Lisa has a Master of Education from San Francisco State University and a K-12 Management and Administration Credential from CSU East Bay. She also holds degrees in psychology and counseling, and is a trained facilitator. Her long and diverse background in both the public and private sectors allow her to view the work of the JPA “from the balcony to the stage”.



Cathy Torres Mercado joined Youth Ventures Joint Powers Authority in February 2017. Cathy has over 20 years of nonprofit administration and philanthropic experience. She served as a Program Associate focusing on education policy and open educational resources at the following: the Hewlett Foundation, the Stuart Foundation, and the San Francisco Foundation. Cathy also served as the Practice Coordinator at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health Center for Public Health Practice & Leadership, which supports students, faculty, alumni, and practitioners promote individual and community health. Cathy was also a teacher and psychologist at the Montessori Children’s House, a pre-school that integrated special needs children into regular classrooms.

Cathy holds a degree in psychology from the University of the Philippines and a certificate in accounting from the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.



Beverly Bitagon joined the Youth Ventures Joint Powers Authority in 2016. Beverly has worked in educational publishing, consulting, private equity, biotech, healthcare management, and public university science research, managing culturally diverse, high performing teams. She brings a through line of project and organizational management, focusing on systems and processes, service delivery and partner and vendor relationships.

Beverly believes in the power of the personal story and its inseparable place in the community. She has previously taught 15-minute food preparation courses to single parent kids to instill pride in making beautiful food; assisted a college-bound microbiology program focused on high school youth with challenged circumstances; made a short film on a series of interviews on the circumstances of one’s birth; and most recently, traveled to Singapore to work on a story about a small school serving developmentally challenged children and youth through movement and faith, as well as a story about an out of place yarn artist creating non-traditional public installations.

Beverly has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California, San Diego and a culinary certification. She is currently learning how to use different media to uplift individual voices in the community story.