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Youth Charity League (YCL) began in the autumn of 2017 in Portland, Oregon. Three working moms couldn’t find an inclusive place to introduce their children to community service. Sure, there were some options out there, but they just didn’t feel like a good fit. They were too stuffy and old-fashioned, too rule burdened, included too many other distracting requirements, didn’t take children younger than high-school aged, or were exclusive to boys or girls.

What these parents wanted was a place where the spirit of giving grew, not from the size of your wallet, the importance of your title, or the extent of your privilege. They wanted a place where what really mattered most was the size of your heart.

YCL formed around giving families with children a place to begin growing the size of their hearts at a young age. YCL focuses on delivering philanthropic opportunities for caregivers and children in age-appropriate ways. Joining a YCL team provides a place for families to instill a sense of community and giving into a child’s core character through hands-on activities and behavior modeling. YCL’s goal is to create a deep sense of responsibility beyond just filling in the blank on a college application.

Being inclusive means being open to all. YCL accepts any family arrangement of adult/caregiver and gender-identifying child. YCL is simple and straightforward. For an attainable membership fee, families are given access to volunteer opportunities in their community, peer mentorship, recognition, and fellowship with other families ready to raise a generation of socially-conscious changemakers.

 Will you and your family join us?



Kate Begonia / President

Claudia Valderrama / Treasurer

Andrea Jackson / Secretary

Arlene Unverzagt / Communications Director

Courtney Laing / Membership Director

Alisa Gaylord / Philanthropy Director

Heidi Dunahugh / Head Coach

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Kate Begonia is the oldest of five children who were raised by their single mom and grandparents in Anchorage, Alaska. The family experienced homelessness and while living out of their car, relied on the kindness and generosity of strangers for food, clothing, and Christmas presents. This forever shaped Kate’s passion for philanthropy, compelling her to help others whenever possible. 

In fact, it led the entire family to give back to the community. Her mother went on to become a Eucharistic minister delivering communion to hospice patients, and the creator of the Irish Alaska Folk Festival. Kate’s younger brother had leukemia as a child and after he recovered, their family volunteered together in children's cancer wards. That brother went on to be a children's ambassador for American Cancer Society of Alaska. Kate herself has been volunteering on her own since she was 18 years old, starting with Habitat for Humanity in Anchorage. Today, one of Kate’s sisters works for Meals on Wheels.

Kate has a bachelor’s degree in Humanities from San Francisco State University. She began her career in Silicon Valley in the early '90s and moved to work in Portland in 2002. Kate is a seasoned marketing professional with extensive experience developing and implementing integrated marketing programs for some of the world’s leading companies such as Oracle Corporation, Sage Software, McCann Worldgroup, Intel, EMC, United Way, and Meals on Wheels People. Kate currently provides marketing expertise to both corporate and non-profit clients through her own consulting business.

Kate has two teenagers in high school, who were her inspiration for bringing YCL to life. Kate, her husband and kids love exploring and learning about cultures around the world. Their passion for travel has led them to their family motto: eat well, travel often.

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arlene unverzagt

co-founder / secretary

Born in New Jersey, Arlene Unverzagt grew up in San Francisco, California with her two siblings and was raised by her single mother. She met her husband in San Francisco and after a quick stint in Seattle, they settled their young family in Portland. 


Both children, at ages eight and five years old have been active YCL founding members from creating an Easter basket program for foster kids to serving at their favorite non-profits, Northwest Children’s Outreach and Project Lemonade.

Arlene graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Science in Advertising. She worked in Silicon Valley’s tech industry for 25 years. Arlene is an experienced senior marketing and business strategist leader specializing in digital strategy and design. She has demonstrated success in building brands and driving sales growth for global B2B and B2C companies. Arlene left the corporate marketing world in 2016 to pursue private investing, strategic consulting, and philanthropy. Focused on the local economy, Arlene has invested in several local brands and start-ups. She has a keen interest in supporting female entrepreneurs and women-led organizations.


Arlene is a passionate servant to her community. Throughout the years, Arlene has trained and fundraised for Team in Training Lymphoma and Leukemia Society, served as team captain for Organs R Us, volunteered for Harvest Food Bank, and served on the board of Bradley Angle and chair for the annual gala. She also serves on Meals on Wheels board of directors and fund development committee.

In her free time, you’ll find Arlene with her family and friends at the beach paddle boarding, snowboarding in the mountains, or chasing birdies on the golf course.

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Born in San Francisco, Claudia Valderrama spent her childhood in Managua, Nicaragua, before returning to the Bay Area to earn a business degree from Golden Gate University. Somewhat by accident she landed a job in advertising and then as controller at independent agency Mandelbaum Mooney Ashley, a spin-off of Hal Riney.
After a short stint at Atlas Advertising, she spent the latter half of the ’90s as the finance director at Legas Delaney overseeing all accounts, including Adidas’ global business. This was followed by eight years as a CFO in the Grey Advertising family, starting at Winkler and then taking over at Grey San Francisco, where she was part of the team that consolidated brand creative with interactive and traditional with direct media, years before “integrated marketing” was an industry buzzword.
In fall 2007 Claudia returned to her independent roots, joining Wieden + Kennedy as the global CFO, a role she still holds today. Claudia oversees the finances of all the offices in the network and is involved in all major decision making as part of the global team. In 2016, Claudia was named a W+K partner.

Claudia lives in Portland with her husband, daughter, and son. She loves to give back to her community by volunteering for her kids’ schools and at her church. She serves as a board member for a number of organizations including OMSI and Jesuit High School.