Meet our team at Friends of the Children–Utah.

Sandi Pershing

Sandi Pershing

Executive Director

Sandi Pershing

Executive Director

Sandi is passionate about the power of access and mentorship to transform lives and is grateful for the opportunity to work in this space every day. As the Executive Director of Friends of the Children - Utah, she works with her team and the community to develop strategic direction around partnership, development, growth and impact of the program. As a first-generation college student, Sandi earned a BA in Dance, an MPA, and a Ph.D. in Public Administration. Prior to being selected as Friends—Utah’s Executive Director, Pershing worked as the Vice President of University Relations for the National College Advising Corps, and was the Assistant Vice President for Engagement, and Dean of Continuing Education at the University of Utah. In these roles, Sandi and her teams worked with community partners across the state of Utah and the U.S. to build and support programs, partnerships, and pipelines to and through higher education for first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students. Sandi teaches in the MPA program at the University of Utah and is a Past National President for the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. In her spare time, she loves to travel, dance, and spend time with her family.

Maribel Rodriguez-Saenthavisouk

Maribel Rodriguez-Saenthavisouk

Program Director

Maribel Rodriguez-Saenthavisouk

Program Director

Maribel Rodriguez-Saenthavisouk is the Program Director at Friends of the Children – Utah. Maribel is committed to marginalized communities with dire needs and is advocating for these communities are one day in an equitable world where they can thrive and have access to health, education, income and upmost care in their lives. Maribel’s passion is to create an environment where all community members feel they have a voice and power within their own agency to enact that future they want for themselves and their families. She believes that as agents of change; we can support community wide efforts and outcomes for marginalized students and community members. Prior to Friends of the Children; Maribel was the Senior Director of Community School Partnerships for United Way of Salt Lake. In this role, Maribel had been supporting a team of school team members working in the Kearns and South Salt Lake community schools and their families. Maribel has been working in the non-profit community for over 13 years and received her BA in English and Government at The University of Texas at Austin and her Master’s Degree in Education, Culture, and Society at The University of Utah (Go Utes!). She currently lives in beautiful Salt Lake City with her husband Seth, their pups: Blue Heeler Austin, and Border Collie Zeus.

John Koranicki

John Koranicki

Operations Manager

John Koranicki

Operations Manager

John Koranicki is the Operations Manager for Friends of the Children – Utah. John moved to Salt Lake City in 2017 and since has fallen in love with the city and the community. When Friends of the Children received the local support to open a Utah chapter, he found the perfect way to work and serve in his community. John is driven by the mission of serving our most vulnerable children No Matter What and inspired by the commitment to improvement and expansion of service through continual research. Prior to Friends of the Children, John Co-Founded a private wealth planning firm in St. Louis. As the Director of Operations, he was responsible for building the foundational pieces of the new company and managing its workflow. John earned a BS in Finance from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas. He continually strives to find opportunities in operational efficiencies and maintains the frugality needed in launching a new chapter. He is truly excited to see the impacts we have on our Utah children and neighbors. John enjoys travel and met his wife, Pauline, while in Europe. They now live in Taylorsville and appreciate the many outdoor recreational activities found in Utah.

Ashley

Ashley

Professional Mentor / Friend

Ashley

Professional Mentor / Friend

I have always had a passion for helping others and value doing work that is rewarding to me. From previously working in diverse populations, I have discovered I enjoy spending one on one time with individuals, getting to know them, and helping them achieve their potential in life. I was thrilled to discover Friends of the Children and become part of an organization that strives to help youth and families become successful in their daily lives. I believe it is important for children to have a friend they can rely on and know they will be there for them when life gets difficult. I am looking forward to my time with Friends of the Children–Utah and becoming a Friend! Outside of work, I enjoy spending time outside in the mountains, baking delicious treats, and traveling to learn more about this big world.

Aubrey

Aubrey

Professional Mentor / Friend

Aubrey

Professional Mentor / Friend

I taught preschool for seven years. While working, I also was getting a Bachelors of Social Work through the University where I interned at the Division of Youth Services for Salt Lake County. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, working out, and cooking. I have a strong passion for social justice and advocacy of others that I am eager to implement into our community.

Jack Schwiebert

Jack Schwiebert

Professional Mentor / Friend

Jack Schwiebert

Professional Mentor / Friend

Hi, my name is John Schwiebert, but most people call me Jack. I am ecstatic to be joining the Friends of the Children–Utah family and to help make a difference in the Salt Lake City community. I have been working with children since 2011 when I got the opportunity to go work in Calcutta India with the Sisters of Mother Teresa. Since then, I have worked with children from many diverse backgrounds at the Jewish Community Center. I also got the opportunity to work with teens in Sydney, Australia. When I am not working with children, I enjoy playing/watching basketball, hiking with my dog Bowie and reading a good mystery book. Again, I can't wait to get started working with Friends of the Children–Utah.