Debra L. Hammond
Debra L. Hammond has more than 39 years of experience in higher education. She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University, Los Angeles. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the University Student Union (USU) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). The USU is a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization governed primarily by students. She opened a $60 million Student Recreation Center as well as a Pride (LGBTQ) Center, a Veterans Resource Center, and a state-of-the-art Oasis Wellness Center in 2013 and is currently in the process of planning a $130 million renovation/new construction project for the USU. She also serves as a faculty member in the Michael D. Eisner College of Education. She teaches in the college counseling student services program where she received the Outstanding Professor of the Year Award in 2012. For her body of work, the California State University (CSU) selected Debra from among the CSU’s 23 campuses as its outstanding staff member of 2016. The Wang Family Excellence Award is the highest award presented to an administrator by the CSU. Debra also received the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 for her accomplishments as a woman in business.
Associate Executive Director, Operations & Services
Jimmy Francis started with the University Student Union in February 2011, and served as the Director for the Student Recreation Center before being appointed to the Associate Executive Director role. He provides leadership and direction for the operations and services areas of the USU, and also leads its renovation and construction projects. His passion is to help students achieve their educational goals by providing valuable employment experience and quality programs, services and facilities. Jimmy earned his master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Management from The Ohio State University and his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Joseph C. Illuminate
Associate Director, Accounting & Finance
Joseph Illuminate has served as the Associate Director, Finance & Business Services since February 2004. He provides leadership and direction for the USU Finance & Business Services department. Joseph is focused on being a steward of student fees to ensure there are sufficient resources to fund programs and services for students at the highest level. He earned his master’s degree in Public Administration and graduate certificate in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge. Joseph also holds a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration with a specialization in accounting from California State University, Los Angeles.
Sharon S. Kinard
Associate Director, Administration & Communications
Sharon S. Kinard started her employment with the University Student Union in 1999, serving in several progressively responsible positions prior to stepping into her current role as associate director in October 2020. A former news reporter with the Los Angeles Daily News who covered city and county governments and education, Sharon provides solid news, writing and editing experience. She has oversight of the Board of Directors, Department of Administration, Marketing Department and Assessment.
A former part-time co-instructor of assessment for CSUN’s Michael D. Eisner College of Education in its college counseling/student services graduate program, Sharon earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in journalism (English minor) from San Diego State University. She also is a facilitator in Strengths-Based Education with Gallup Inc.
Sharon is passionate about measuring student success efforts, programs and services. She enjoys writing, hiking and mentoring, as well as thought-provoking books, films, family and good friends.
Director, Student Recreation Center
Kaila Lavin was born in New Mexico and raised in Arizona. She began working at a recreation facility in high school and loved the fun environment it created. From there, she attended the University of Arizona and began working at the Student Recreation Center on campus. Over the next four years, she advanced through several positions within the department and decided that the recreation industry was the career path for her.
After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Psychology, Kaila moved to California. She attended CSUN and received her graduate degree in Tourism, Hospitality, and Recreation Management (RTM) while serving as a graduate assistant for the new SRC during the construction phase. Kaila continued working her way up in the SRC to her current role as Director.
Kaila also serves as a Lecturer for the RTM department and teaches classes for the graduate program. Additionally, Kaila works part time as Lead Faculty and Technology Integration Specialist for CORE Unlimited, a consulting firm specializing in collegiate recreation and software development. Kaila enjoys her time traveling, teaching group exercise classes, and spending time with family and friends.
Associate Director, Human Resources & Professional Development
Kristen Pichler, or KP as she’s more commonly known, started her employment with the University Student Union in 1985. Since then, she’s served in a variety of progressively responsible positions prior to stepping into her current role as the Associate Director, Human Resources & Professional Development in 2000, leading HR functions for the USU’s 450 employees and 40 volunteers. KP fosters a legal, safe, and fair employment environment, and is a champion of the student employment experience, encouraging students to acquire knowledge, skills, habits and attitudes that will help them succeed at work both now and post-graduation. She is a devoted Matador, holding both a master’s degree in Public Administration and a bachelor’s degree in English, from California State University, Northridge.
Dr. Freddie Sanchez
Associate Director, Programs & Inclusion
Dr. Freddie Sanchez joined the University Student Union in November 2015 as the Assistant Director for Resource Centers (Veterans Resource Center, Pride Center). In 2017, he was appointed as the Associate Director for Marketing & Programs overseeing various USU departments including Diversity & Inclusion, Events, Marketing, Pride Center, Veterans Resource Center and leadership development for the USU Board of Directors. Freddie is passionate about providing equitable opportunities for students that are transformative and increase student success at CSUN. He received his PhD from the Joint PhD Program in Education at Claremont Graduate University/San Diego State University. He received a Master’s of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the University of Southern California and two bachelor’s degrees (Spanish and Financial Mathematics & Statistics) from the University of California, Santa Barbara.