Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area welcomes Cristina Barron as the new Vice President of Programs
Raised in the Central Valley, Cristina is the daughter of migrant farm workers, granddaughter of Braceros (meaning “one who works using his arms”), and first generation born in California. While her family still has roots in the Central Valley, owning and operating almond and walnut ranches, Cristina moved to the Bay Area in 2009 to work for Big Brothers Big Sisters. “I was interested in living and working in an area with readily accessible resources, and exploring the relationship between resources, development and systems, especially in marginalized communities” Cristina notes as motivation for her big move.
Developing her role in public health, education and social services, Cristina took her previous experience working nationally as a Victim Advocate and as a Congressional Fellow during undergrad in DC. to inform her work within Big Brothers Big Sisters. She worked hands-on with Bigs and Littles, serving the agency for two years as a Match Support Specialist in Milpitas, Oakland and San Francisco, then Lead Match Support Specialist before transitioning into a full time graduate school program.
Cristina was drawn to her first role with Big Brothers Big Sisters because, she says, “The mission is focused on preventative services. My work during my Congressional Fellowship [in D.C.] was both reactive and proactive, but overall government requires foresight, planning and patience for long term goals. My time with Big Brothers Big Sisters allowed me to serve in a direct, immediate and yet preventative way that focused on the one thing that unequivocally impacts communities positively, and that is one-on-one mutually beneficial relationships.” That direct impact influenced the trajectory of her career.
By 2016, Cristina completed the CORO Youth Leadership fellowship which gave her the opportunity to focus on leadership skills and support youth in systems of Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, Criminal Justice, and Education. Eventually, and most recently, Cristina served as the Senior Program Manager for three San Francisco County contracts focused around the SF Independent Living Skills Program, including Youth Employed for Success through the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).
Actively involved in her local community, Cristina has also been an adult literacy tutor for Oakland Public Libraries since 2010, as well as part of the San Francisco Symphony’s All San Francisco Community Concert volunteer council and Ellen Magnin Newman Award committee. As one of the chartering members of the Latino Young Democrats of the East Bay in 2015, Cristina became their Political Director in 2015 and most recently served as Secretary, participating in local elections, organizing and campaigning in the East Bay.
With a deep commitment to public service, Cristina has spent her career working for local and federal elected officials as well as managing local, state and federal government programs. As her life’s work has taken her from the Central Valley to the national sphere of policy and community development, Cristina remains focused on one driving force, “Humanity shares a common thread that we need to hold tight to… small things build into BIG things.”
Which helps to explain why Cristina works so diligently day-in-and-day-out to support and improve Big Brothers Big Sisters programs. She knows that the effort will pay off; and that each child matched with a Big Brother or Sister will benefit for a lifetime.
Cristina is a UC Davis King Hall Outreach Program alumna, as well as a former fellow of the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, CSU Monterey. She holds a BA in Political Science from California State University, Stanislaus, and an MA in Political Science, Domestic Policy/Systems from San Francisco State University.