Cori Coccia, Program Director
As a young adult, Cori became passionate about the effect of the natural world on her own health and healing and soon became engaged in sharing that opportunity with others. As a child raised by a single parent, Cori grew up experiencing the challenges of being in a low-income family surrounded by a wealthier community and understands firsthand how important it is to create access for all to wild places.
Cori studied social and behavioral science, outdoor leadership and non-profit administration at CSUMB and SF State. She went on to manage a gear center and instructed backpacking, river rafting and sea kayaking trips for a program formerly known as Outdoors Unlimited (now UCSF Outdoor Programs). In 2004, she traveled through Alaska, the Southwest and the Atlantic coast, earning a Master’s degree on the road with an expeditionary learning program. She lived outdoors and in intentional communities around the country and abroad for 2 years.
After re-rooting in the Bay Area, Cori went on to teach environmental science at NatureBridge and then to direct an outdoor program at Mission Graduates. She has worked as a staff trainer and instructor for Outward Bound California and a guide for numerous other outfitters and organizations. Cori has worked for GirlVentures since 2003 in a variety of roles and became the Program Director in 2015. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder, PCIA Climbing Instructor, and is ACA Level II trained.
In addition to her commitment to outdoor programs and social justice work with GirlVentures, Cori is also a certified massage therapist and has a private, part time healing practice in San Francisco. When not working or venturing through nature, Cori enjoys taking classes in art and music, planning her next trip, studying astrology, and doing Aerial Yoga.
Emily Teitsworth, Executive Director
Emily grew up in Oregon surrounded by opportunities to learn from the natural world. After living in South India, France, Guatemala, and seven US states, and working as a horse wrangler, roofer’s assistant, communications consultant and translator, she found home in the Bay Area. Emily is passionate about ensuring that all girls have the opportunity to discover their strengths and experience the transformative power of the wilderness, and strives to bring respect, empathy, humility and humor to her work.
Emily holds a Master’s in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, and graduated magna cum laude from Wesleyan University with a degree in Philosophy and Psychology. Prior to joining GirlVentures, Emily co-founded and scaled Rise Up, an Oakland-based organization that has become a globally recognized model for girl-centered advocacy. Emily also volunteers as the Director of Project Aruna, a grassroots initiative that facilitates collaboration between young leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area and Guatemala, and is a published poet and an active advocate for Lyme disease research and treatment. Emily spends her spare time seeking out California’s best swimming holes, dive bars, and taquerias.
Kamalpreet K. Padda, Administrative and Development Associate
Prior to joining Girl Ventures, Kamalpreet worked on gender equity and women’s health issues in Botswana as a project coordinator for Peace Corps. She has experience developing and implementing lesson plans for girl’s empowerment and positive living. Her work also consisted of partnering with local stakeholders to strengthen outreach to priority populations for HIV prevention, monitoring and evaluation, and capacity building for supply chain management. As one of the founders of the Diversity Committee, she facilitated sessions on racial equity, and ensured that diversity dialogues were part of her daily life in her village.
As a first generation American, Kamalpreet was the first in her family to attend college, earning her dual degrees in Psychology and Human Development. During her time at Cal State University, San Bernardino, Kamalpreet mobilized students for gender justice and focused on advocacy for DACA recipients. Kamalpreet enjoys traveling, writing poems, and being an active member of her Sikh Community.
Lea Berhane, Director of Development
Lea was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and has been passionate about advocating for humanitarian causes and human rights since she was a kid. She is inspired to work for the empowerment of all women and access to a strong educational foundation for all children.
Lea previously worked with the American Lung Association, where she served as the Development Director for the Greater Bay Area. Lea’s experience includes running her own business, and Executive Director and Development roles with various non-profits, including the Ethiopian Community Center, Crohns and Colitis Foundation, and the National Psoriasis Foundation. She attended California State University Chico, where she was a Political Science Major and obtained her paralegal certificate. She has also served on a variety of Boards, including the CSU-Chico Alumni Board Association. Lea's areas of specialty include fundraising, donor stewardship and development, logistics and strategic event planning, marketing, recruiting and sales.
Lea enjoys cooking, photography, writing and spending her time with her three kids, Jahrai, Meley, and Leila, and their dog Bailey.
Tiffany Knuckles, Outreach and Volunteer Manager
An Oakland native, Tiffany has spent the bulk of her professional career working in nonprofit, non-traditional educational spaces focused on creating opportunities for youth to engage in self-exploration, identity formation, and community transformation. Before joining the GirlVentures team, Tiffany worked 11 years with Oakland Leaf Foundation as a Program Manager, Consultant, and Coordinator and was awarded the Emerging Leadership Award by CDE's Expanded Learning Division Director, Michael Funk in 2017. Currently attending San Francisco State University, Tiffany is completing her Master's of Education with a focus on Equity and Social Justice and Certificate in Non-Profit Management.
Passionate about creating opportunities for youth of color and youth from other marginalized communities, Tiffany seeks to be an advocate and ally ensuring access and exposure for a diverse group of girls throughout the Bay Area and beyond. She firmly believes that education is a life-long process of exploration, reflection, learning from and engaging with the community.
Tryka Orbin D Tryka, Program Manager
Born and raised working class in South Jersey, Tryka decided to take a chance at age 28 and enrolled as a student in an Outward Board course in 2002, where he immediately fell in love with Outdoor Education. He has been working in this field ever since.
During Tryka’s sixteen-year career in Wilderness Education, he has instructed and directed courses and programs all over the country primarily serving girls and queer young people. Tryka’s experience includes work with the North Carolina Outward Bound School, Thompson Island Education Center, Passages Northwest (Bold and Gold), Positive Adventures and Point Reyes Outdoors. Before starting his position as Program Manager, Tryka was an Instructor and Course Director for GirlVentures from 2004-2011.
Tryka is grateful to have been trained and mentored by some of the best youth workers in Outdoor Education and considers it a privilege to pass on these teachings. He has a deep commitment to social justice work, and to making this field more accessible. When Tryka is not working he’s drinking coffee in the backyard with his Lil Cat, tending his garden and dancing with friends.