The leaders of Girls Garage are talented, tenacious and full of fire. They are experts in their fields and exemplify the love, grit and all-around know-how we nurture in our girls.

Our Staff

  • Bio

    Emily Pilloton

    Founder / Executive Director

    Emily founded Project H in 2008, believing deeply in the power of design and building to excite learning and citizenship. Her first crush, MacGyver, sparked her love of constrained problem-solving and tinkering. She went on to study architecture and building because it was the one thing that allowed her to geek out about everything, from math and structural engineering to ethnography and the fascinating behavior of people. Emily believes that by giving youth, particularly girls and students of color, the skills to design and build their wildest ideas, we can support the next generation of creative, confident changemakers. Her ideas and work have made their way to the TED Stage, The Colbert Report, the New York Times, and more. She is the author of two books, Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People, and Tell Them I Built This: Transforming Schools, Communities, and Lives with Design-Based Education. When she isn’t welding with her 10-year-old Camp H girls or co-teaching Studio H, Emily loves to run, write, rabble-rouse, and eat unreasonable amounts of Mexican food.

  • Bio

    Maya Vilaplana

    Program Assistant

    Maya Vilaplana is a artist, educator and organizer raised in NYC and proudly based in Oakland. Drawing inspiration from the labor and love of her family and community, Maya writes and performs music, assists various extraordinary artists, and supports programs at Girls Garage and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Through her work, Maya is focused on empowering young people to hone confidence and creativity in imagining and instigating social change. Maya co-teaches our Pop-Up Shop classes on Wednesdays and our Tuesday welding classes.

  • Bio

    Allison Oropallo

    Carpentry and Woodworking Instructor

    Allison Oropallo is a high school shop and technology educator with over 15 years of building experience. She was featured (and voted Fan Favorite!) on HGTV’s All American Handyman. She currently teaches at the Marin School of Environmental Leadership and the Regional Occupational Program Construction Technology Class at Terra Linda High School in Marin County, California. Allison co-teaches our Advanced Design/Build classes on Mondays.

  • Bio

    Augusta Sitney

    Welding Instructor

    Augusta Sitney is a skilled welder and sculptor who runs her own metal fabrication business in Oakland. She has made all kinds of cool things out of metal, from furniture for commercial clients to kinetic sculptures. Augusta also works in the fabrication shop at the California College of the Arts.

  • Bio

    Amanda N. Simons

    Carpentry and Wood Instructor

    Amanda N. Simons is an artist, writer, and educator who lives in Oakland, California by way of Flint, Michigan. Amanda has been a mural painter, a middle school teacher, an ice cream scooper, a college professor, and a teacher of welding and woodworking to 5 through 65 year olds. Amanda holds an MFA/MA in Studio and Art and Visual and Critical Studies and is the Studio Operations Manager for First Year and Sculpture at California College of the Arts. As a shop boss, Amanda’s specialities include training complex woodshop practices to nervous novices, designing shop environments to provide non-literal tool use information to its users, and teaching ripcuts on the tablesaw as by means of yoga metaphors. In the few free hours of the day, Amanda makes sauces and sculptures, sews t-shirts and zipper pouches, and tinkers with tools and machines.

  • Bio

    HyeYoon Song

    Printmaking Instructor

    HyeYoon Song is an interdisciplinary artist with a primary focus on printmaking, painting and sculpture. She explores landscape, identity and narrative in her work by exploring the vocabularies of print and the multiple in an unconventional and multi-disciplinary context. HyeYoon obtained a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a MFA at the California College of the Arts. She has recently exhibited at Embark Gallery, Minnesota Street Projects, CCA, Acción Latina Gallery, Adobe Books and more. HyeYoon has taught at various institutions like CCA, Berkeley Art Museum, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, Youth Art Exchange and continues to be an arts educator in the greater Bay Area.

  • Bio

    Meghann Harris

    Graphic Design and Visual Arts Instructor

    Meghann Harris is a graphic designer and middle school educator based in Baltimore. After working as a web designer, she earned her teaching credential from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She currently teaches Design Thinking and Graphic Design at the Baltimore Design School and is the Co-Sponsor of the National Junior Arts Honor Society. Meghann teaches digital and graphic design at Girls Garage’s summer camp.

Board of Directors

  • Bio

    Emily Pilloton

    Founder and Executive Director of Project H Design and Girls Garage
    Lecturer at the University of California Berkeley College of Environmental Design

    Emily founded Project H in 2008, believing deeply in the power of design and building to excite learning and citizenship. Her first crush, MacGyver, sparked her love of constrained problem-solving and tinkering. She went on to study architecture and building because it was the one thing that allowed her to geek out about everything, from math and structural engineering to ethnography and the fascinating behavior of people. Emily believes that by giving youth, particularly girls and students of color, the skills to design and build their wildest ideas, we can support the next generation of creative, confident changemakers. Her ideas and work have made their way to the TED Stage, The Colbert Report, the New York Times, and more. She is the author of two books, Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People, and Tell Them I Built This: Transforming Schools, Communities, and Lives with Design-Based Education. When she isn’t welding with her 10-year-old Camp H girls or co-teaching Studio H, Emily loves to run, write, rabble-rouse, and eat unreasonable amounts of Mexican food.

  • Bio

    Stephanie Mechura

    Documentary film editor

  • Bio

    Sarah Rich

    Freelance writer and editor

Girls Advisory Board

Our Girls Advisory Board (GAB) is an actively engaged cohort of current Girls Garage students. As leaders and ambassadors who share our commitment and vision for the future, they meet regularly throughout the year with our staff and Board of Directors to provide their unique perspectives, insights, and suggestions for improving the program.