Who We Are

Our People

FIRST 5 Commissioners

FIRST 5 Santa Clara County is a regional body with a governing Commission of nine members, consisting of: 

  • A member of the Board of Supervisors
  • The Executive Director of the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System (or his/her designee)
  • The Director of the Social Services Agency (or his/her designee)
  • A member of the Santa Clara County Local Early Education Planning Council
  • Five at-large members of the community appointed by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

The Commissioners are responsible for implementing the goals and objectives outlined in Proposition 10, administrating the finances allocated from Proposition 10, and adopting an annual Strategic Plan.

Ken Yeager,

Ken Yeager represents the 4th District on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, which includes the cities of Campbell and Santa Clara, as well as west San Jose and the Burbank and Cambrian neighborhoods.

Ken previously served six years on the San Jose City Council, first elected in November 2000 and re-elected to a second term in March 2004. Prior to that Ken served two terms as a Trustee of the San Jose Evergreen Community College District, from 1992-2000.

As a Supervisor, Ken is committed to the health and well-being of the residents of Santa Clara County. He is a strong supporter of public health, with a particular interest in maintaining strong safety net programs. He is also a champion for preventive health measures such as efforts to fight the obesity epidemic. A long-time advocate for expanding parks and trails throughout the County, Ken believes that outdoor spaces provide effective incentives for increasing physical activity.

Ken serves on a number of state and regional bodies including the California Air Resources Board, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrain, and the Valley Transportation Authority.

Ken earned a B.A. in Political Science from San Jose State University (SJSU) and an M.A. in Sociology and Ph.D. in Education from Stanford University, through which he conducted research on childcare and family concerns. Prior to his public service career, he taught full-time in the Political Science Department at SJSU for 12 years.

Commissioner Yeager represents
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors

Dr. Antonia Charles, 

Dr. Antonia Zazueta Charles currently serves at the Director of the Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center (PHLC) at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.  Prior to becoming the Center’s director in 2013, she worked for thirteen years as a primary care pediatrician at the Valley Health Center at East Valley.   During that time, Dr. Charles served on the Valley Medical Center Foundation Board for seven years.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Charles focused on childhood literacy and promoting the Reach Out and Read program in pediatric clinics.  Dr. Charles worked with the Santa Clara County’s First 5 Commission and the Valley Medical Center Foundation to spread the Reach Out and Read program to all six Santa Clara County community clinics. She not only championed the program in Santa Clara County, but also served as President on the state board of the California Reach Out and Read organization.

Dr. Charles attended all public schools in San Jose before entering Stanford University for her undergraduate degree in Biology.  Before entering medical school, Dr. Charles worked as a substitute teacher for one year in the San Jose Unified School District.   She received her medical degree from the University of California at San Francisco and completed her pediatric residency at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. While in residency, Dr. Charles travelled to Mexico and Guatemala to work in small community clinics, and provided pediatric care through The Flying Doctors (Los Medicos Voladores).

Dr. Charles is the proud mother of two young children, David and Sara, and continues to love living and working in Santa Clara County.

Dr. Antonia Charles represents
The Health & Hospital of Santa Clara County

Laura Jones,

Laura currently works as a Health Program Specialist for the Santa Clara Department of Public Health. Over the last 15 years, she has worked with programs and policies focused on children's health, largely related to childhood obesity prevention. Laura has two young children, both under 5.

Commissioner Jones represents
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, District 4

Robert Menicocci,

Robert Menicocci is the Director of the County of Santa Clara Social Services Agency (SSA). Robert, who joined SSA in January 2014, has had extensive experience in social services, mental health, and other areas over the course of his career. This includes work in two California counties in fiscal administration and operations, and at the state level in Massachusetts in both the Transitional Assistance and Mental Health Departments. He has also worked as a consultant in the private sector.

Commissioner Menicocci represents
Santa Clara County Social Services Agency

Carmen Montano,

Carmen teacher at Ramblewood Elementary School in the Franklin McKinley School District. She has taught K-7 and adult education, stating that "teaching is her calling." She also served as an elected member of the Milpitas Unified School Board of Education for eight years.

Carmen enjoys working with children and being involved in her community. She has been a vocal advocate for issues of concern in her neighborhood and is the co-founder of the Sunnyhills Improvement Association. For her neighborhood involvement efforts, she received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Good Neighbor Award” in 2001.

She currently serves on a number of regional boards and committees including the Hispanic Development Corp. Board of Directors and Portraits of Success subcommittee, Milpitas Library Commission, and the East Valley Flood Advisory Committee for the Santa Clara Valley Water District. She previously served on the board of the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County, the Open Space Authority Advisory Committee, the Milpitas Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Milpitas Planning Commission.

She is a gifted singer and songwriter and volunteers to teach voice and music appreciation to children.

Carmen received a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Master's Degree in Education from San Jose State University.

Commissioner Montano represents
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, District 3

George C. Philipp,

As Senior Program Associate for the WestEd E3 Institute - Excellence in Early Education, George C. Philipp is responsible for advancing early educator professional development activities locally, regionally, and statewide. He manages the E3 Institute Comprehensive Approaches to Raising Educational Standards (CARES) Program and the professional development roundtable that brings together local institutes of higher education and community agencies to address issues faced by the early education workforce.

George works on other activities which include serving as the co-chair of Santa Clara County Office of Education Early Learning Master Plan’s Workforce Subcommittee, and serving as a member on the Local Early Education Planning Council (LPC), the California Department of Education, Child Development Division’s Workforce Registry Working Group, and the Early Childhood Professional Development and Education Collaborative. George also serves on the board of the Action Alliance for Children.

Prior to joining WestEd, George was a Program Services Administrator for First 5 Alameda County where he designed and implemented professional development programs for early childhood educators. These programs included leadership programs; the Alameda County CARES Program; higher education initiatives with UC Berkeley, California State University East Bay, and Mills College; a training program for child care center directors; and the Enhanced Mentor Program.

His background includes serving as a preschool teacher, coordinating the Latchkey afterschool program for the Hayward Unified School District, and serving as a crisis intervention teacher for the school district of Palm Beach County, Florida. George is the proud father of two young children, Sophia and Charlotte.

Commissioner Philipp represents
Local Early Education Planning Council

Rachel Samoff,

Rachel Samoff was the Executive Director of The Children’s Pre-School Center in Palo Alto, a program for approximately 140 children from infants to Kindergarten-entry which she founded in 1984 as one of the Bay Area’s early employer-supported early childhood centers. Rachel has worked with young children, mostly in not-for-profit settings for the past 44 years. Her work has included teaching children, coordinating parents, educating teachers, designing curricula, and directing child care facilities in the United States and several countries in Africa.

In addition to her work as an educator, Rachel has been active in the early childhood advocacy and public policy field. She served for over 20 years on the Palo Alto Child Care Task Force, the Palo Alto Child Care Advisory Council, and the Palo Alto Task Force for Family Support. She also chaired the Palo Alto Child Care Advisory Committee. She was involved in the creation of the Santa Clara CARES program, which uses First 5 funding to encourage professional growth and training for early childhood educators in Santa Clara County.

Rachel’s educational background includes a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan with a concentration in Early Childhood Education and Multicultural Education.

Commissioner Samoff represents
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, District 5

Corazon Basa Cortes Tomalinas,

Corazon Basa Cortes Tomalinas is a full-time community activist and a registered nurse with BSN/PHN degrees. She currently serves on several task forces and committees in San Jose including the San Jose Gang Prevention Task Force, the steering committee of the CORAL Initiative, the Catholic Charities' corporate board, and the steering committee of People Acting in Community Together (PACT). She also serves as a community volunteer at the Franklin McKinley and East Side Union High School Districts. 

Additionally, she has served on former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales' Redevelopment Task Force and former San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer's New Realities Task Force. 

Commissioner Tomalinas received numerous community awards including the California Women of the Year Award (2000), George Shirakawa Award for Outstanding Service to the Community (1999), Franklin-McKinley School District Community Service Award (1987-2000), Martin Luther King Good Neighbor Award (1996), and the Outstanding Women of Silicon Valley Award (1996).She has been married for 30 years to Robert George Tomalinas and is the proud mother of two adult children.

Commissioner Tomalinas represents
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, District 2

Eleanor Villarreal, 

For nearly 17 years, Eleanor Villarreal has served as Director of Public Relations and Fund Development for Rebekah Children’s Services. Currently, she is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Gilroy. Her extensive history of volunteer service includes: former two-term Board President of the Gilroy Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, two-term Board Member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, current Board Treasurer and past President of the Gilroy Exchange Club, and 27-year volunteer for the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

In March 2002, Assembly Member Simon Salinas honored Eleanor as Woman of the Year for the 28th Assembly District. Her past awards include: Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year, Santa Clara County Woman of Achievement, and the National Society of Fundraising Executives’ Outstanding Fundraiser of the Year.

Commissioner Villareal represents
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, District 1

Jolene Smith, 
Chief Executive Officer

Jolene Smith is the Chief Executive Officer of FIRST 5 Santa Clara County. 

Since the passage of Proposition 10 in 1998, Jolene has been instrumental in establishing FIRST 5 as an organization that supports the healthy development of children prenatal through age five and enriches the lives of their families and communities throughout Santa Clara County. As the leader of the Early Childhood Development Collaborative in 1999, Jolene was responsible for developing the original county Strategic Plan that led to the creation of FIRST 5. In 2000, she served as the Director of Program Development, and worked her way up to Deputy Director, and eventually became the Executive Director in January 2005.

During her tenure as Chief Executive Officer, FIRST 5 has been recognized for its leadership on ensuring that the healthy development of our youngest children is viewed as a high priority in the county. Through her efforts, she has worked to engage and unite the community through strategic partnerships and collaborations to tackle challenging issues such as children’s health insurance, early literacy, high-quality early education, screening and assessment for developmental delays, model court programs, and a cross-disciplinary, cross-sector community of learning. Under her leadership, FIRST 5 has worked closely with policymakers and elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels to create the necessary change in our laws and in our politics to improve the lives of the people in the community.

Jolene’s 30 years of public service are based around her strong commitment and dedication to help people in need. As a high school youth counselor, a national trainer, and a Program Manager with the Santa Clara County Health and Hospital System and the Social Services Agency, Jolene has used her expertise in strategic planning, program development, and training and consultation, to ensure that children, youth, and their families receive vital social services.