All of our professional full-time staff members are state-certified confidential crisis advocates for sexual assault and domestic violence. Please see below for program specialties and learn more about our team!

Profile ImageKara Samaniego

Assistant Director of Wellbeing

Pronouns: She/Her(s)
Phone: 805-756-2221

Make an appointment:

Kara is the Assistant Director of Wellbeing, which directs the Safer Program. She has worked with Safer since 2014 and has worked in the field of gender-based violence for ten years. She has professional experience in the non-profit and private sectors with an emphasis on program development, capacity building and management. She received a BS in Psychology with a Minor in Women and Gender Studies and MBA from Cal Poly. She lives in SLO with her husband, toddler and super-floofy cat (and is getting ready for motherhood round 2!). When she happens to get a quiet moment or some time to herself, she likes reading, cooking, Netflix binging and backpacking.

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Gillian Cutshaw

Campus Advocate

Pronouns: She/Her(s)
Phone: 805-756-6081

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Gillian is a Cal Poly alum with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s in Gender and Women’s Studies from Trinity College in Ireland. She has been involved in gender based violence prevention and survivor support since 2004 and started her career at RISE. Prior to joining the Safer team, Gillian worked at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga and at Santa Clara University where she provided educational outreach, advocacy, and crisis counseling services. She lives in South County with her family and spends her free time reading, going to the beach, and playing with her kids.



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Jennifer MacMartin

Prevention Specialist for Gender-Based Violence Initiatives

Pronouns: She/Her(s)
Phone: 805-756-1301

Make an appointment:

Jennifer graduated from Cal Poly in 2017 with a Sociology degree and minor in Women's and Gender Studies. As a student, she worked for Safer, served on the board of a feminist club, and was the Assistant Editor for Sprinkle: a Feminist & Queer Theory Undergraduate Journal. After graduating, she worked at RISE facilitating the 80-hour state certification course for crisis counselors, and managed their 24-hour crisis hotline. She is grateful to be back at Cal Poly, and in her free time loves gardening, hiking, and embroidering!

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DOJ Grant Project Coordinator

Pronouns: --
E-mail: --
Phone: --


Coming soon!

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Sara Wilson

AmeriCorps VIP Member

Pronouns: She/Her(s)
Phone: 805-756-7149


Sara graduated from Cal Poly in 2019 with her undergraduate degree in Sociology. During her time in college, she volunteered with different environmental and restorative justice non-profits around SLO County. She discovered she's super passionate about yoga, the environment, restorative justice, and social justice- all of which led her into this field of work. Other things she loves - her cat, friends and family, the outdoors, plants, rivers, cheetah print, and cooking yummy vegan food!


Our student staff have always been the lifeline of our program - we were built by students, for students. Thank you endlessly to our 2019-2020 student staff, featured below! Learn more about getting involved as a student here.


Events & Outreach Team 

Alyssa Manno
Astrid Herrera
Gabi Race

Marketing & Communications 

Sujata Chowdhury

Prevention Education Team

Michaela Donofrio
Sarandon Gilbert

Survivor Wellness

Nonie Kalra

Graduate Assistant

Ashley Dargert

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Admissions Link

Link to the Admissions Website for information on selection criteria, application deadlines, creating your VIP page and more!