History & Mission
September 2009: Bryan Pezeshki, a sophomore at UCLA, asked students to go directly into university dining halls, “swipe” meals to-go. He and a few friends would then deliver these meals to those facing homelessness on the streets of Los Angeles.
December 2009: Bryan teamed up with Thach “Tak” Nguyen, a student government council member, to expand upon the scope and impact of Swipes for the Homeless. They institutionalized the program and established an partnership with UCLA Dining Services and allowed students to donate the funds from their meal plans. Now, meal swipes are transferred into non-perishable goods and delivered to the local homeless population. In its first year, Swipes for the Homeless at UCLA collected over 10,000 pounds of food and in its past three years has reached over 75,000 pounds, while becoming one of the most recognized groups on the public university campus.
February 2012: The Swipes initiative spreads across the country and to accommodate the demand for expansion, registers as a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization.
March 2012: President Obama recognized Swipes for the Homeless as one of five “Champions of Change,” after a nationwide search and vetting of thousands of applicants. The group was personally invited to the White House and recognized for the impact created on the community. “Swipes” has since become a state-certified 501(c)3 non- profit organization with the aim of spreading its impact on to every campus in the world.
September 2013: Four years after our founding and solely volunteer leadership, Swipes hires non-profit co-founder Rachel Sumekh as its first full-time staff member to support our chapters and the 60 universities where Swipes for the Homeless has begun to sprout.
Swipes for the Homeless is an international, 501(c)3 non-profit organization consisting of a coalition of university and college chapters located throughout the world. Our dual mission is to tangibly and tactically partner with college campuses to alleviate hunger while raising young people’s awareness of homelessness and hunger through education and outreach.
Rachel Sumekh currently serves as Executive Director, leading the organization’s overall strategy and operations management. She brings four years of non-profit experience ranging from serving as a case manager on the North Side of Chicago to a campus organizer to her current role at Executive Director. After serving as President of “Swipes” at our original UCLA chapter she helped establish the National board and led chapter development. She currently serves as a Global Justice Fellow with AJWS, an international human rights organization. Emails from prospective students asking about creating a new chapter or getting involved are Rachel’s most preferred types of messages.
Board of Directors
Ben Woo is the Founder and Managing Director of QC Strategy, a research-based consultancy that lives in the gap between ad agencies and strategy consulting firms. Having worked for both in the past (TBWA\Chiat\Day and Monitor Group, respectively), he draws on his marketing strategy and growth strategy experience in a breadth of industries including consumers goods, healthcare, technology and not-for-profit.
Ben holds a B.A. from Northwestern University in Economics and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences, and spends his free time cooking, surfing, golfing, volunteering, and going to concerts.
Christine Marge is the Director of Home For Good at United Way of Greater Los Angeles. She leads the region’s initiative to end chronic and veteran homelessness, convening cross-sector leaders to design, fund, and implement innovative and sustainable solutions. She has brought together public and private funders to leverage over $438 million through the Home For Good Funders Collaborative and created the vision for hundreds of stakeholders to co-create a groundbreaking coordinated entry system. Since the launch of Home For Good, over 16,500 veterans and chronically homeless people (and counting) have moved into permanent housing.
Prior to United Way, Christine worked as a community organizer around economic justice issues and in direct service with homeless and low-income families. She received her MSW from UCLA, and she serves as Adjunct Faculty teaching policy and movement building at Whittier College. She lives in downtown Los Angeles with her amazing wife, Becky, their incredible son, Huck, and a tolerable pug named Esther.
Jeremy Forman is an experienced founder, co-founder and driver of start-up and early stage businesses and is based in Chicago. Well-documented history of driving growth while also developing sound operational foundation to create sustainable businesses.
In other words– Jeremy has successfully launched several businesses of his own, helped others develop, launch or grow their concepts, and mentored a select number of social enterprises over the past 10 years….and had a lot of fun doing it. Jeremy has been been pivotal in Swipes’ growth since 2012.
His specialties include Sales, Marketing, Strategy, Concept Development and Deal Making with additional experience in Promotions, Organizational Behavior, Strategic Management, Coaching and Problem Solving.
Jessica Levine is the Student Programs Advisor at the USC Marshall Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab and the Program Director for the USC Marshall Master of Science in Social Entrepreneurship. Before joining the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab, Jessica worked with a caseload of 500 undergraduate students in the Marshall Undergraduate Academic Advising Office. Additionally, Jessica developed a new year-long initiative to support incoming transfer students.
Prior to working at USC, Jessica was a lab manager at the California Institute of Technology where she did behavioral and fMRI research in cognitive neuroscience. Her research areas included social cognition, emotion, and Autism. Jessica has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Duke University and a Master of Education in higher education from USC. In her free time, Jessica enjoys exploring new cities by bicycle, reading articles about trends in sustainable food production, and doing aerial acrobatics.
Kamran Kamjou is the Senior Director of Strategic Planning for Maker Studios, a next generation media company that produces original programming for digital distribution, and which was acquired by Disney for $950M in May 2014.
Prior to joining Maker, Kamran worked as a sell-side investment banking associate with leading regional boutique firms, as well as in Business Development at Creative Artists Agency, the world’s largest talent and sports agency on both traditional and digital media initiatives.
Kamran holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the Berkeley-Haas School of Business, at UC Berkeley recently completed his first triathlon.
Kas Torabi is a Los Angeles based business and intellectual property attorney whose clients have included entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies and non-profits, spanning numerous industries from data storage to dentistry. Several companies retain Kas on an ongoing basis as their outside counsel. His portfolio includes substantial pro bono work on behalf of clients of limited means.
Kas holds his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law where he also earned a Certificate in Law & Technology. He previously earned a BS in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from UCLA. His passions include acting, cooking, teaching and empowering others to achieve greatness through his participation as a coach in the work of transformation.
Deena Dulgerian currently serves as the Director of Operations and Compliance. Just recently graduating in June 2012 and having taken the LSAT shortly thereafter, Deena will be entering Law School in the Fall but will be doing ground-level work with non-profits and humanitarian organizations to better prepare herself for a career in legal advocacy. She was active in two organizations while at UCLA that focused on changing the lives of children from low-income communities through mentoring and a summer camp experience. She prides herself on her Armenian heritage and can spend hours on end talking about her travels, the Beatles, or random facts about Greek mythology unknown to most of man-kind.
Charissa Ebert serves as the Director of Finance. Growing up with a love for the outdoors, it was only natural that she attended the University of California, Santa Cruz where she could hike, camp, and kayak between classes. After graduating with a BA in Business Management Economics, Charissa worked as an auditor for Deloitte and spent a summer living and working in Yellowstone National Park. These experiences fueled her passion for environmental and social justice issues, especially those addressing the intersection of natural resource use and poverty. She currently works for a CPA firm specializing in taxes and investment planning. Charissa is very excited to use her financial expertise to establish a strong fiscal base upon which Swipes can continue their campus expansion and community outreach.”
Emma Berdugo serves as the Director of Education and Advocacy, preparing effective educational materials and strategies to better advocate for issues surrounding homelessness. She graduated from UC San Diego where she was involved in various campus groups including JusticeCorps, a program that provided free legal services to low-income San Diegans. She currently lives in New York and is working at a job placement program for homeless individuals. Emma hopes to eventually work on systematic policy changes to create a more equal society. When she isn’t thinking about how she can take this on, she enjoys jamming out to Drake and exploring what NYC has to offer!
of food donated as of
Press & Accomplishments
Finances and Funding:
Marketing and Digital Media:
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