Meet Our Team

Dr. Justin Altschuler, Medical Director

Justin color headshotDYF’s diabetes education and care is led by our Medical Director, Dr. Justin Altschuler. Dr. Justin’s life has been shaped by Bearskin Meadow Camp since he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 9. He attended Bearskin as a camper, counselor, program coordinator and medical staff for over 20 years. In 2002 he met his wife (Dr. Sarah) at camp and they now attend every summer with their kids Lukas and Aliza.

Dr. Justin is excited about continuing the “Bearskin Magic,” and leading DYF’s year-round programs. Dr. Justin is passionate about the sense of community and belonging DYF creates for those affected by type 1 diabetes.


Stephanie Beinke, Office Manager

Stephanie joined DYF in January 2019. She graduated from California State University, Chico with a degree in Recreation Administration and spent the first 10 years of her career in the hospitality industry. Stephanie is excited to move into nonprofit organization and support her community with the power of recreation and education.

In her free time, Stephanie enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.

Contact Stephanie at or 925-680-4994 ext. 105


Marissa Clarke-Howard, Director of Development and Communications

CsDld1duMarissa joined DYF in April of 2018. After graduating from SFSU with a degree in theater, Marissa spent the first 8 years of her career in the child development field as a teacher and administrator. In 2016, she moved into the nonprofit sector as a member of the development team for the American University of Armenia. Marissa loves working with the DYF community and donors to serve a mission that so closely aligns with her child development values. The highlight of her first season with DYF was participating in Family Camp, where she got to know DYF’s families personally and share with them a part of their T1D journey.

While not at work, you are likely to find Marissa performing in local theater, reading about food, or perusing a local farmers market. She loves to cook, hike, and spend time with her family.  Marissa also serves on the Advisory Board of The Quinan Street Project.

Contact Marissa at or 925-680-4994 ext. 107


Russell Cowan, Director of Programs

Russ spent his summers as a teenager in Oregon attending a camp for kids with T1D, before becoming a CIT and then counselor. The experience was transformative and helped him take ownership of his diabetes. He went on to graduate from Ithaca College with a degree in film production, but his interests took him into public schools and then outdoor experiential education. Russ spent several years as the Southern California Program Director for Outward Bound California, developing an emerging regional operation.

Russ is passionate about helping to remove barriers so that everyone has access to the type of opportunities that were so impactful for him. He is very excited to begin his work with DYF, where his lived experience with diabetes will merge with his years of career growth into a purposeful next chapter. In his free time, Russ can be found hiking, traveling, at a trivia night with his friends, or at a movie theater satisfying his love of film!

Contact Russell at or 925-680-4994 ext. 102


Samantha Gomez, Camp Director

Sam has spent 11 summers under the Sierra stars. Her first program with DYF dates back to 2006, where she began attending camp at the age of 13, first as a kid’s camper, teen camper, LIT, and eventually as a counselor, then volunteer. Camp holds many firsts for Sam, such as meeting other people with diabetes for the very first time, trying new set/CGM locations, and meeting one of her good friends that ultimately introduced her to Dogs 4 Diabetics, where Sam has been paired with her diabetes alert dog, Megumi.

Prior to joining DYF, Sam earned her Master of Public Health degree from California State University, Fresno, with an emphasis in Health Promotion. Additionally, she holds her Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) certification through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC). In her previous role, Sam worked as a project manager within a Health System, where she tackled Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) research and systemwide Community Benefit operations.

During downtime, Sam can be found hanging out with family, friends, or in the kitchen cooking up new recipes. Sam is looking forward to reconnecting with her purpose to serve and support the diabetes community.

Contact Sam at or 925-414-0240 ext. 101


Lauren Kimbrough, Marketing and Branding Coordinator

Lauren joined DYF in September 2021. She graduated from DePaul University with a degree in Public Relations and Advertising, worked in agencies on large marketing campaigns and consulted for startups. After that, she realized that her passion was doing non-profit work because it allows her to do fulfilling work and make a difference.

Growing up in Chicago, Lauren spent a lot of time outdoors around the Midwest where she fished, canoed, hiked and went horseback riding. She also spent time volunteering at soup kitchens and shelters around the city. In her free time she enjoys traveling to new places, trying new recipes, and cuddling with her dog Buttons.

Contact Lauren at or 925-680-4994 ext. 109


Julia Philips, Community Programs Coordinator and Assistant Camp Director

Shortly after graduating from Cal State East Bay with a Bachelor degree in Hospitality and Tourism Julia began working at a large urban hotel where she now holds a supervisor position. She is also currently attending a graduate program to obtain her Masters in School Counseling.
Following ten years as a Bearskin counselor, group coordinator and year-round programs/events support person she is excited about her new role at DYF as Community Programs Coordinator. Julia began attending camp at the age of three, first as a family camper, then as a kids camper, followed by participation in the teen program, and then as a LIT. Camp was the place for so many diabetic firsts, including finger pokes, shots, and finding new set locations. All of this diabetes growth and knowledge was only possible due to the encouragement and support of DYF staff. So, coming on board as part of the DYF year-round team is a dream come true for Julia.

In Julia’s free time, she enjoys hanging out with family, friends, and her new puppy, Moira Rose.

Contact Julia at


Erandy Ramirez, Spanish Language Coordinator

My name is Erandy, also known as Andy, and I was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 2. I am a mom to a 5-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. I have been attending DYF programs since the age of 10 and working in the nonprofit sector since the age of 18. During my free time I like going on walks with my kids and, as a reward, we always stop for ice cream at the end!

Contact Erandy at or (925) 412-4423


Maya Ramirez, Administrative Assistant

Maya joined DYF spring of 2022. Maya is a Northern California native and has been living with Diabetes since her pancreatectomy at 8 months old. Maya started attending Diabetes camp at the age of 10 years old and loved all the friends she made at camp. She learned so much about Diabetes management and her confidence grew throughout her years at camp. 

Maya received her Bachelors in Communications and minor in Marketing from Adams State University. Her passion has been raising awareness of Diabetes and has started a Northern California Support Group in the Sacramento area. Maya is excited to be apart of DYF and to be able to give back to the Diabetes community.

Contact Maya at


James Walker, Facilities Manager

untitled-1James earned his North Carolina Unlimited Plumbing License in 1982. He worked with a large plumbing company in Durham, NC until 1986 when he accepted a Maintenance Supervisors position with Duke University Medical Center. In 1996 James left Duke for a Maintenance Director position with Beverly Health Care in Brandon, FL. He started Walker’s Plumbing Service in 1999. In 2006 he sold WPS to start up a renewable energy company Integro Earth Fuels in Asheville, NC. At Integro they built the world’s first wood torrefaction pilot plant. James ran the pilot plant for 14 months, then moved into facilities development where he took the processes developed in the pilot plant and worked with engineers to develop a functional production facility. During the development of the production facility James designed, constructed and managed Integro’s research lab. Once construction started on the Integro production facility he moved into the Project Management and Safety Manager rolls. Due to changing regulations and markets for torrefaction James decided to leave Integro to become a member of the DYF family.

James has been an active student of the Martials Arts of Shito Ryu Karate and Hakka Ryu Jujitsu since 1992. In 2013 he helped develop a self-protection class for kids in Greenville, SC.

Contact James at or 559-335-2403


Sheila Walsh, Development & Communications Manager

Sheila is excited to join DYF as the Development & Communications Manager. Sheila comes to DYF via the California Farmers’ Markets Association, where she ran special market programs for artisans, nonprofits and merchants, among other responsibilities. Sheila immersed herself in the nonprofit and fundraising space during her years of volunteer work with Northgate area schools, NorCal Girl Scouts, Bay Area Crisis Nursery and Second Harvest Food Bank. She was honored to serve on the board at Walnut Acres Elementary, Foothill Middle School, Oak Grove Swim Club and PEAK (Northgate Education Foundation), where she gained invaluable experience that she carries with her to this day.

On weekends, Sheila can be found playing board games with her family, traveling near (Bay Area Backroads, anyone?) and far (next on the bucket list…Australia!), and shooing her cat Ninja off various computer keyboards and tables. She is thrilled to have found a place within the DYF community and looks forward to getting to know you and your family at camp!

Contact Sheila at or 925-680-4994 ext. 104


Davey Warner, Executive Director

Prior to joining DYF, Davey spent 10+ years working for Boy Scouts of America in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and California. His most recent role was as the Director of Outdoor Programs and CFO for the Pacific Skyline Council, BSA. Davey’s experiences have included overseeing multiple camp properties, managing programs for several thousand people annually, and directing national marketing campaigns.

In his college years, he spent his summers guiding wilderness canoe expeditions and supervising trail repair in Northern Minnesota and Northwest Ontario. These seasonal staff experiences fueled his love for the outdoors and served as a catalyst for his career working to provide youth with meaningful experiences in the outdoors. Davey is honored to join the DYF team as the Executive Director and is excited to become a part of DYF’s strong community.

In his spare time, Davey enjoys cooking tasty food, playing music, and travelling. He and his wife Nancy enjoy going on outdoor adventures together with their dog Oliver. Davey also serves on the Board of Oakland Youth Chorus.

Contact Davey at or 925-680-4994 ext. 103


Whitney Wright, Program Director

Whitney fell in love with Bearskin Meadow during her first summer there in 2016. After graduating with a degree in Environmental Sciences, Whitney was led to teach environmental and experiential education and guide wilderness trips in the backcountry for several years. She has run trips in many beautiful places in Washington, Arizona, Pennsylvania and all over California. Every summer she would come back to the warm embrace of Bearskin Meadow and its community. She served as the LIT coordinator for several years and led the short backpacking trips as well. In 2021 Whitney got to help launch the new Adventure Programs and was so excited to help DYF grow in this way. Moving into full time work with DYF as the Program Director has been a dream come true to Whitney and she is excited to serve the community in a deeper way.

Contact Whitney at or 925-680-4994 ext. 108