Board of Directors

Ulysses Downing Jr.

Ulysses Downing Jr. is a trained educator whose specialty is theology, pastoral counseling, chaplaincy and public education. He has worked as a minister for 38 years. He currently serves as minister at The Ark Christian Community Church Inc. in San Diego.  Ulysses provided honorable service for twenty six years in the U.S. Navy as a Chaplain. He also worked for the New York State Department of Corrections for ten years as a Correctional Chaplain. During his time in New York, he started a church plant Church of the New Vision Inc. in Bronx, New York and served as minister for eleven years. He provided care in the New York City Harlem community as assistant program director to those addicted to drugs.

Tara Kelly, President

While attending San Diego State University (SDSU), Tara Kelly held officer positions with the student government and nonprofit environmental organizations and wanted to pursue a career in sustainability and helping the local community. Tara received a Bachelor's of Professional Studies and Fine Arts Degree in Public Relations in 2011 and started work at Sullivan Solar Power two days after graduation. In 2011 Tara helped create the San Diego Solar Coalition. The organization helped fight bad policy proposals that would have killed the solar industry. With Tara’s passion for environmental and social issues, she looks forward to continuing to steer the region toward achieving energy independence through education and outreach.

Karim Bouris, Secretary

Karim is responsible for launching the San Diego chapter of the Main Street Alliance, focusing primarily on grassroots organizing and leadership development, campaign management, fundraising and partner and ally relationship building. He has worked on key issues such as opportunities in the emerging green jobs sector; sustainable vocational careers for youth; pathways into healthcare careers for the Latino population; a leadership development program; a national pilot program to support aging-out foster youth; a state-wide job training program for adults in need; and homeless youth in an urban shelter. He is committed to collaborative, evidence-based strategies and motivated by the potential of the non-profit sector to be innovative, forward-thinking change agents for our community’s most pressing social challenges.

Robert Robinson

Mr. Robinson currently works as Special Assistant to the President at Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, he was trained by the Institute of Cultural Affairs to do Strategic Planning and Goal Setting, and by San Diego Mediation Center to do community mediations. Mr. Robinson has served on numerous Boards and Commissions for the City of San Diego. During the Civil Rights Movement, he had the opportunity to march with great names like Dr. King, Jesse Jackson and others along with the NAACP Youth Leaders. He rode on the Freedom Train from Florida to Washington D.C. for the “March on Washington” with his Dad, who was one of the 1st black conductors on the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad.



Lee Barken, Treasurer

Lee Barken, CPA, LEED-AP is the Chief Community Officer at CollectiveSun®, LLC. He has broad industry experience in renewable energy project finance, environmental commodities consulting and public policy analysis. He is dedicated to helping nonprofit's develop economically viable energy projects. Lee writes and speaks on the topics of renewable energy project finance, green building and community financing. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from San Diego State University where he graduated with honors and academic distinction.

Robert P. Ito

Robert P. Ito, CEO of Ito Girard & Associates has over 40 years of experience in workforce and community development and real estate development in San Diego.  A San Diego native raised in Encanto, received his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from USIU and Masters in Social Work from San Diego State University.  He is the former founding CEO of both Occupational Training Services (OTS) and the San Diego Community Housing Corporation. Career highlights includes: 30,000 jobs for low income San Diegans; administered $30 million in Federal, State, and Local funds; developed 1,200 affordable rental units providing housing for 3,650 people and developed and sold 160 homes to low and moderate income first time homebuyers.