Alicia D. Polak, Executive Director

Alicia joined the Bread Project in October 2011. She was the Founder and CEO of the Khaya Cookie Co. in South Africa. This endeavor utilized the entrepreneurial and analytical skills that she gained on Wall Street to expand on her venture for social change. Alicia earned an MBA/MPA from New York University and The University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business. She earned a BA in Journalism from New York University. Alicia is also a Fulbright Scholar. Alicia’s work has been featured in CNN Headline News “Small & Global” and in publications such as The Financial Times, Glamour (South Africa), O, the Oprah Magazine (South Africa), and Business 2.0. She received the Food Network Awards 2007 Edible Entrepreneur of the Year award for her “passionate pursuit of bright ideas”.

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Nic Ming, Director of Programs

Nic joined the Bread Project at the end of October 2016. Nic's professional experience includes workforce development as well as non-profit and small business management. Prior to joining The Bread Project, Nic managed the three Workforce Training Programs at St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County in Oakland. 

Nic is also a social entrepreneur and founder of the social enterprise, The Jamaican Women’s Wheel, which initiated Global Entrepreneurship Week in Jamaica in 2010. Nic received a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in Literatures in English from the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica and also attended graduate school at Clark University, Massachusetts.

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Tierney Berlinski Program Manager

Tierney joined the Bread Project in January 2017. Tierney previously worked as a paralegal assistant for a Family Law firm in downtown San Francisco for several years before transitioning into the non-profit sector. Since her transition, she has been engaged in volunteerism, volunteer coordination, administration and workforce development. Prior to joining The Bread Project, Tierney was on the management team with Nic Ming overseeing three job training programs at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Oakland. Tierney has a BA in Communication Studies and is a certified Notary Public. 

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Jason Block, Program Specialist

Jason Block began as a volunteer for The Bread Project in August 2015 and completed the 3-week Bakery Bootcamp training in May 2016. He is currently a UC Berkeley senior, who is majoring in business administration and minoring in public policy. He has volunteered weekly with a variety of NGOs and social enterprises on and off campus, served as president of Berkeley's Jewish Student Union, and spearheaded an initiative for business students to seek out opportunities in social impact and human rights alongside the Haas Center for Responsible Business. In his role as Program Specialist at TBP, Jason works directly with the cohorts of students to provide them with the 15+ months of job placement follow-up services and he supports a variety of programming initiatives throughout the sessions of the Bakery Bootcamp. 

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Mark Chacon, Head Instructor and Bakery Operations Director

Chef Mark has been baking since 2006 in high-end bakeries, restaurants, and stores such as Chez Panisse, Tartine, Whole Foods and Cafe Fanny. He has broad experience in apprenticeships rather than formal culinary schools. Mark understands the strengths and benefits of on-the-job training, and his zeal for baking is equal only to his passion for teaching. His incredible talent in product development was instrumental in garnering several key bakery accounts. He holds a BA in Journalism from Arizona State University.

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Valerie Afroilan, Senior Consultant

Valerie joined the Bread Project in January 2013. Previously, Valerie worked in the South of Market (SoMa) District in San Francisco as an After School Program Leader for K-8th grade students at the Bessie Carmichael Elementary and Middle Schools. She also served as Youth Mentorship Coordinator at UC Berkeley, where she recruited and trained a team of college mentors to work weekly with school aged children. Valerie completed a BA in Ethnic Studies and a BA in Gender & Women's Studies at UC Berkeley.

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