New Hires! New Program! Welcome Pia, Sophia, Tai, and FamilyBridge

By Eric Steckel | November 10, 2022

Improving and Expanding Services to Children, Youth, and Families

At the beginning of the school year, Children Rising welcomed two new members to our program team—Pia Dandan, Program Manager for Succeeding by Reading, and Tai Dillard, Program Director of our all-new program FamilyBridge. We also welcomed Sophia Hutson Wambach as our new Manager of Volunteer Services.

The addition of these talented, passionate, and compassionate professionals improves our ability to provide essential learning enrichment services to children and youth and expands our capacity to serve families in our programs. In addition, it provides opportunities for many more caring members of the community to come alongside children and youth and enable them to rise to their God-given potential.

We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce Pia, Sophia, and Tai.

Pia Dandan
Pia Dandan, Program Manager for Succeeding by Reading

“As an educator, my goal is for children to be confident, competent, and ready as they face the next stage in school and life.”

As the Program Manager for Succeeding by Reading, Pia is a tutoring Clinic Coordinator at school sites and provides vital program management support.

Before joining Children Rising, Pia had fourteen years of experience in early childhood education and worked in various Catholic Schools and Head Start programs as a Preschool teacher and Preschool Director. She majored in Human Development at California State University East Bay, completed her master’s degree in Human Development specializing in Administration and Human Services in Pacific Oaks, and earned her Child Development director permit.

One of her favorite parts of being a preschool teacher is starting with circle time to captivate the children into learning their letters using zoo phonics and reading their favorite books. During the summer breaks, she tutored students between the ages of four and six to prepare them for the next school year. Pia is passionate about closing the educational gap and improving children’s self-confidence as they learn more.

Pia grew up in Manila and moved to the East Bay in 2001 with her mom and six siblings. In her spare time, she volunteers at senior centers or San Jose Airport with her dog Charlie and plans a road trip once a month with her converted camper van.

Will you complete HER Circle of Care?

Through one-on-one reading and math tutoring, and family support, you will nurture an eager child in a circle of care so they may succeed in school.

Sophia Hutson Wambach
Sophia Hutson Wambach, Manager of Volunteer Resources

Sophia provides opportunities for many more caring members of the community to come alongside children and youth.

As Manager of Volunteer Resources, Sophia is responsible for recruiting and welcoming the caring volunteers that come to serve children in our Oakland schools. She collaborates closely with Children Rising program directors to ensure they have appropriate levels of volunteer staffing to support literacy and numeracy learning for the kids. Before joining the Children Rising staff, Sophia volunteered since January 2020 as a Development Associate, a Volunteer Management Associate, and a CareerBridge Mentor.

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Administrative Management and has over 30 years of experience in administration and operations management, human resources and staff management, and budget planning.

In her free time, Sophia teaches Haiku poetry. She applies her artistic passion to creating beautiful cards for fundraising events and nonprofit organizations like Meals on Wheels. Her handmade cards provide joy and inspiration to homebound seniors, especially during these trying times.

Tai Dillard
Tai Dillard, Program Director FamilyBridge

“In partnering with families, the FamilyBridge program celebrates the uniqueness of each family, of which the child is an extension.”

Tai Dillard, Program Director of FamilyBridge, brings to our community over 12 years of experience advocating for families and children. As a developmental specialist in Frisco, TX, she assessed children from birth to three years old for developmental delays and helped families navigate early intervention services.

Like all of the Children Rising family, she is gratified to experience children light up academically. For several years, Tai served as a math tutor in underserved areas of Cobb County, Ga. She delights in the activation of potential as children gain confidence in literacy and numeracy and aspire to academic goals that once seemed elusive.

Tai, a native of Columbus, OH, earned a B.A. in Foreign Languages and Economics from Auburn University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. In her spare time, Tai enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and visiting museums.


We know that when families are an integral part of their child’s education, they can confidently nurture and advocate for their child’s academic success.

FamilyBridge Parent and Child

Family engagement enables parents and caregivers to discover their agency, develop the skills and confidence to support learning at home, and advocate for their child within the school system.

Children Rising developed FamilyBridge to empower parents and caregivers in our public schools most affected by poverty, violence and educational inequity. Through family engagement, our goal is to partner with families so they may further develop the skills, confidence, and tools needed to accelerate their child’s learning, and advocate for their vision of their child’s academic growth.

Launched at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, FamilyBridge will provide families access to advanced in-home learning tools and support specifically designed for elementary school students. With additional resources, children will achieve accelerated, predictable growth in literacy and numeracy skills. Parents and caregivers will develop increased confidence and the ability to provide academic support to their children at home. The confidence boost for young learners will result in lasting, improved outcomes for post-elementary education learning.

Thanks to your support, Children Rising has improved and expanded the caring services we provide to children, youth, and families in our community schools.

If you are interested in mentoring an eager youth, learn more about opportunities with Children Rising.

 I want to learn more about CareerBridge to see if mentoring is right for me!

I want to help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs to empower more children this year!

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