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Dancing with Marin County Stars Celebrity Dancers:

Skip to Dancer Biographies

Dr. Melissa Cadet


Noah Griffin


Dr. Shirley Thornton


Cesar Lagleva


Jessica Jackson


Herb Taylor


Lisa Bennett


Andy Naja-Riese


DANCER BIOGRAPHIES

Dr Melissa Cadet – Celebrity Dancer

Dr. Melissa Cadet, the Executive Director of the Marin City Community Development Corporation, was the former Executive Director of the California Small School District Association, Assistant Superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District, CEO of the YWCA of Sacramento, Vice President of the Nehemiah Corporation and Vice-President of River West Developments, a multi-million real estate and land development company program benefiting low-to-moderate income families and individuals. She established the State of California’s Surplus Food Program which distributes millions of dollars of food products to needy families in the state annually. In 2005, she played a critical role in developing the acclaimed Sacramento Parent Teacher Home Visit Program and replicated the program in 18 states with the support of the U.S. Department of Education.  She has raised over $500,000,000 for worthy causes. Dr. Cadet served on the Board of the Freedom from Hunger Foundation, an international food assistance and workforce development program, from 2001-2009 and the YWCA of San Francisco Board of Directors from 2015-2018.  She holds a B.A. in economics from Stanford University, a master’s degree in economics and international affairs from California State University, Sacramento and a Ph.D. in educational economics from the University of California, Davis.  She enjoys empowering people.


Noah Griffin – Celebrity Dancer

Noah joined the Buck Family Fund (BFF) Board of trustees in 2017.  A native San Franciscan and longtime resident of Marin, he is a public affairs consultant, writer, speaker and musical performer. He served on the staff of former Mayors Joe Alioto and Dianne Feinstein and was press secretary to Mayor Frank Jordan.   He was a talk show host on KGO Radio and an op-ed columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and the Marin Independent Journal.  Noah has served on many boards including Marin Fair Housing, Marin Legal Aid and Bred & Roses. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, Fisk University and was a Yale University history fellow and Coro Public Affairs fellow in the Bay Area. Having performed with Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole, Noah is also likely to break into song with no notice.


Dr. Shirley Thornton – Celebrity Dancer

A strong advocate of equality and excellence in education for all children, Dr. Shirley Thornton served as Deputy Superintendent of the Specialized Programs Branch of the California Department of Education from 1986 through 1995. She also served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Marin Community foundation. She was named to the board by the Foundation’s first trustees in 1986 and was re-appointed to a second term. She is a retired Colonel in the United States Army Reserves, with her last assignment as a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Thornton was a strong voice and prime ‘mover and shaker’ to improve programs statewide in career vocational educational special education, and adult education, state special schools, alternative education and programs for ‘at-risk’ youth.​


Cesar Lagleva – Celebrity Dancer

Cesar has been a long-time Marin County resident where he spent his formative years in a working-class community in San Rafael called the Canal neighborhood after he and his family immigrated from the Philippines at age 10. Cesar serves multiple roles throughout the community as an activist, advocate, community organizer and public servant. Cesar Lagleva is a long-term equity champion in Marin County.  He is the Ethnic Services and Training Manager for the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and coordinates the outreach activities of the DHHS Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Division.  A strong advocate of peer behavioral health specialists, Mr. Lagleva, a clinical social worker, creates career pathways for those with lived experience.  He is also an adjunct professor at Dominican University and serves on the Board of Directors of the Canal Alliance. Additionally, he is a partner, father and grandfather in his home life.


Jessica Jackson – Celebrity Dancer

Jessica Jackson is a human rights attorney who began her career representing men and women on California's death row in their appeals. She now oversees DreamCorps #cut50 initiative to end mass incarceration.  Jessica currently sits on The Committee for a Fair Judiciary, serves as an Advisory Board member of the American Constitution Society Bay Area Chapter, and represents Congressman Jared Huffman on the Democratic Central Committee of Marin. In November 2013, Jessica became the youngest ever elected official in Marin County when she was elected to the Mill Valley City Council.  Jessica became the Mayor of Mill Valley in November 2016. Jessica earned her B.A in Political Science from the University of South Florida Honors College and her Juris Doctorate from Santa Clara University School of Law where she received the Dean's Outstanding Student Leadership Award.


Herb Taylor​​ – Celebrity Dancer

Herb Taylor is originally from Texas. He comes from a family of great dancers. Apart from his passion in Housing Equity as the Board President of Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California, he is also an avid horticulturalist, apiarist, pigeon fancier and chicken wrangler. You can find him most evenings working in his yard and loving Northern California.


Lisa Bennett – Celebrity Dancer

Lisa Bennett has lived in Marin County for 23 years. After retiring as a CPA, she became involved in local social justice organizations. She is co-Chair of ICE Out of Marin, a Board member of the MultiCultural Center of Marin, a Core Group member of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) Marin, co-Founder of Indivisible Sausalito, and was recently elected as an Assembly Delegate to the California Democratic Party. She and her husband, Paul Geffner, are owners of Driver’s Market in Sausalito and have a son, Ben.


Andy Naja-Riese​​ – Celebrity Dancer

​Andy Naja-Riese is a creative, visionary, and compassionate leader who has a wealth of experience in nutrition assistance and community agriculture programs. He's the Chief Executive Officer of the Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM), which organizes 7 year-round certified farmers markets and farm-based educational programs in 3 Bay Area counties. He recently launched The Rollin’ Root, a mobile market that brings farm-fresh produce and nutrition education to a variety of communities, including the MCCDC and Empowerment Clubhouse. He and his team are passionate about supporting local farmers, strengthening local economies, increasing food access, and improving public health. Prior to joining AIM, Andy was the Chief of the Program Integrity Branch of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Western Region, where he was responsible for the implementation and oversight of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called Food Stamps now is CalFresh). He received his Master’s degree in Society, Human Development, and Health from the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Community, Environment, Science, and Health from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Andy is the Secretary of the City of San Rafael’s Commission on Economic Development and Affordable Housing and the Chair of the Marin Healthy Eating Active Living Steering Committee.