Digital NEST Welcomes Dr. Antonia O. Franco As Its First Chief Operating Officer

WATSONVILLE, CA – August 26, 2021. For Immediate Release

Former Board President becomes COO ahead of Digital NEST’s next phase of growth. 

Digital NEST is proud to welcome Dr. Antonia O. Franco as Chief Operations Officer, a newly created role amid a significant moment of regional expansion for the organization. She brings 25 years of leadership experience and is a trusted advisor of the NEST, having served as president of its board since 2017. 

“We are thrilled that Antonia has chosen to dive deeper into our work in the communities of Watsonville, Salinas and Gilroy. She has been an indispensable partner to the NEST through its early stages of rapid growth and will be taking on a new leadership role during this critical moment,” said CEO and founder Jacob Martinez.

Dr. Franco’s trailblazing career spans across nonprofit, philanthropic and government sectors advancing access, equity and a voice for marginalized communities. Most recently, she served as CEO of Callisto, a  nonprofit focused on combating sexual assault, supporting survivors and advancing justice through technology. There she laid the groundwork for scale by building the tech infrastructure and organizational capacity to better engage and support college students across the country. 

Prior to leading Callisto, Antonia was the Executive Director of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), where she led a community of 20,000 students, scientists, and educators including 115 chapters nationwide. Additionally, she served as VP & Program Director for Student, Family and Community Initiatives at Helios Education Foundation, managing a portfolio of community-centered investments to establish local and national partnerships with the purpose of broadening educational success among Latino students. Dr. Franco also held various leadership roles during her 11 years at Arizona State University that focused on expanding access for low-income, first-generation students and families.

“I am excited to be joining the NEST team and supporting the organization during such a pivotal stage of growth,” said Antonia. “I continue to believe in the power of the NEST and the impact it can have for youth and communities throughout California.”

Replacing Dr. Franco as president of the Board of Directors is Matthew Payne, who has served the NEST board over the last four years and is the Video Collaborations Product Manager at Logitech. “The board and I are super excited to have Antonia join the Digital NEST team as she is a perfect fit given her experience, intuition, and knowledge. We believe she is capable of taking the NEST to the next level. I’m honored and humbled to lead the board after her, and I look forward to working with her in the future,” said Matthew.  

As Digital NEST continues to grow rapidly, building new centers in communities across Northern California, the organization is also expecting to seek a chief program officer and chief financial officer soon.

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