Faculty and Lecturers

ECSE Faculty

Amber Friesen, Ph.D.

 photo Amber_zpsg1yagxus.jpg

Associate Professor and Program Coordinator

Burk Hall 201

(415) 338-7654



Dr. Friesen's primary teaching responsibilities include courses in family systems and services and interventions of young children. Her primary research interests focus on supporting young children at-risk or diagnosed with disabilities and their families. Specifically, she is interested in promoting inclusive early childhood settings, early literacy development and intervention, and family partnerships.

Summer Hsia, Ph.D.

 photo Summer_zpsmvvbucyq.jpg

Associate Professor 

Burk Hall 148

(415) 338-2502



Dr. Hsia's primary responsibilities include teaching courses in ECSE, supervising student teachers, chairing the master’s degree students’ projects, and mentoring students in the Joint Doctoral Program. Her research interests focus on curriculum-based assessments, activity-based intervention, and issues in cultural diversity and families. She has developed international interaction and collaboration with a number of universities in Taiwan, which has provided formal opportunities to cooperate in the areas of education and research through a program of academic and cultural exchange.

Maryssa Kucskar Mitch, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Burk Hall 204

(415) 338-3430



Dr. Kucskar Mitch's primary teaching responsibilities include courses in family systems, early childhood special education assessment, and early intervention. Her primary research interests focus on supporting young children at-risk and with disabilities in inclusive settings, social skills instruction, partnering with families, and activity-based intervention.

ECSE Lecturers

Sarita Santos

 photo Sarita_zpsp2bd3nx8.jpg

Burk Hall 208


Kathleen Small

 photo Kathy_zpsxs4rc5ab.png

Burk Hall 208


Kristan Stewart-Henry


Kristan is a student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University. She currently teaches an undergraduate Special Education course. Her research interests focus on the relationships between young children and their caregivers as well as the relationships between caregivers and professionals, especially within services that are provided in the home. More specifically, she is interested in identifying strategies for professionals to effectively partner with culturally diverse families and engage in family-centered practices.

Kimberly Knodel


Kimberly is a second-year doctoral student in the joint doctoral program in special education with an emphasis on early childhood. Kimberly's research interests focus on social emotional development, promoting early childhood inclusive settings, and developing resilience in the child and caregiver. Kimberly has worked in the field of early childhood special education as a special education teacher, early intervention teacher, and behavioral therapist. Kimberly has experience working and researching in the field of ECSE internationally and throughout the states.

Jetta Jacobson


Jetta is a lecturer for courses on inclusive practices, partnering with families, and culturally responsive and equitable education.  She is an SFSU alumni holding a M.A. and teaching credential in Early Childhood Special Education. She taught in a fully inclusive preschool for 20 years and now supports teachers and provides professional development for SF Unified School District as an Instructional Coach and Inclusion Program Specialist. She is passionate about progressive education, creating successful inclusive classrooms, equity and compassion in education, child-initiated, project-based learning, and supporting teachers' professional journeys.

Brett Collins


Brett is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who promotes transdisciplinary work with young children and their families.  As a lecturer, she most commonly teaches about Early Intervention and Family-Centered Services.  As a clinician, her experience is primarily in Child Welfare and Infant-Parent Mental Health.  In her spare time, Brett's favorite activities are being on the beach with her family and holding sleeping babies! 

Karina Du


Karina received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology at the University of California Irvine and is an alumni of the Early Childhood Special Education Credential/MA program at San Francisco State University. She is a lecturer for an undergraduate course on the science of early intervention. She currently works with preschoolers with Autism, and also has experience in early intervention, family-centered practices and inclusion. She also had the opportunity to teach in South Africa as a part of the the CAD/ECSE summer program.

Melissa O’Mahony



Melissa O’Mahony is from San Francisco and has her B.A. in Young Child Development and M.A. and Credential in Early Childhood Special Education, both from San Francisco State University. She is a lecturer for an undergraduate course on Working with Families of Children with Disabilities. Her interest in children has been a part of her life since adolescence and she has been working with young children for 20 years in various school and home settings. She is now the Assistant Director of a San Francisco preschool that is inspired by the Reggio philosophy and emphasizes a strong connection to nature. In her free time, she enjoys exploring nature with her 3 year old and husband, riding her bike through the streets of San Francisco, having dance parties with her family, and laughing and cooking with friends.

Mikayla Coble



Mikayla is an alumni of the Early Childhood Special Education Credential/MA program as San Francisco State University. She is a lecturer for an undergraduate course on the science of early intervention. She most recently was a preschool teacher at an inclusive preschool in San Francisco where she applied her passions for supporting all children's learning and development through project-based curriculum and sensory-social learning opportunities. She has also completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training specifically designed to promote wellness among the teachers, children, and families in communities of learning. 

Elana Naftalin-Kelman