March 2023

Leaders in the Field

What a great way to kick off Women's History Month! Lucy Santana, CEO of Girls Inc. joined a panel with OC Supervisor Katrina Foley and Valerie Amezcua, Mayor of Santa Ana at a recent Democratic Women of South Orange County meeting.

Together they held an important conversation about mentoring, and how important it is to pay it forward.

Lucy participated in the 2002 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group, was coached in 2004, and is now one of our esteemed Executive Coaches in the Executive Coaching Program.

Collaboration at its finest! The Families Forward team got together for an invigorating strategic planning session filled with fun, dialogue, and visioning for the future, hosted by fellow Network member and Executive Director Amy Behrens at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens

They ended the day with a very successful escape from Breach Escape Games (with 6 minutes to spare!).

Katy Vandermost, Director of Partnerships at Child Creativity Lab, had an awesome day with Orange Unified School District as Principal for the Day at Chapman Hills Elementary School.

They are doing incredible things for their students, providing space to grow and become young leaders through their partnership of CCL's STEAM Education. After the campus tour, she visited El Modena High School to see the campus through the eyes of one of their senior ASB students, RJ, who led the tour.

Katy is a current member of our 2023 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

Congratulations to Barbara Powers, the new Major Gifts Officer for Pretend City Children’s Museum. The Museum is a child-size, interconnected city that balances rich educational learning experiences with boundless fun, where children can try on real-world roles and let their creativity rule.

Pretend City offers developmental screenings and tools for families, educators, and community agencies to empower the fostering of every child’s greatest potential. Barbara is eager to increase the generosity dedicated to child development, building on her 30+ years of leadership and experience in development roles including at Girl Scouts of Orange County, OneOC, and American Red Cross.

Lauren Brand, Executive Director of Operations at Be Well OC, joined Pretend City Children's Museum as a panelist for their Start Smart Luncheon. The event brought together corporate and community leaders, education experts, and donors – who understand that healthy child development, early intervention, and play are critical for school readiness and a thriving workforce and community.

Lauren participated in the 2016 Executive Learning Group, is a coach in our Executive Coaching Program, participated in the 2019 and 2020 Leadership Reading Groups, and is a trained Creative Encounters by Fieldstone facilitator.

Chapman University President Daniele C. Struppa honored The Arts & Learning Conservatory as one of 100 organizations for their status as “Top Employers” and thanked them for their continuing commitment to “Think Chapman First.” Chapman’s Top Employers are honored each year for the strength of their partnerships with the university, through their consistent and active participation in recruiting efforts, as well as hiring a notable percentage of Chapman graduates for their workforce.

Debora Wondercheck, Founder, participated in the 2021 Executive Coaching Program.

Assemblywoman of the 73rd District, Cottie Petrie-Norris, announced the 2023 Women of the Year Honorees!

Congratulations to Network Member Samar Aziz, CEO at Sabil USA, Jennifer Friend, CEO at Project Hope Alliance, and Shaista Malik, Professor, School of Medicine at University of California, Irvine.

Samar is a very active participant in the Network, joining the current 2022/23 Leadership Reading Group, the 2023 Executive Learning Group and 2023 Executive Coaching Program.

Chris Baiocchi, a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and nonprofit consultant, was awarded Fundraiser of the Year from the Orange County Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and was featured on the Jenn Klein You Are A Philanthropist Podcast.

Chris has been in the nonprofit sector for almost 25 years and shares his advice for people who want to get into a fundraising career- and to those who are hesitant to take that first step. He talked about his journey in the nonprofit space, getting started as a fundraiser, and why the donor is often (not always) right. To hear the entire podcast, click here.

Chris was coached in the 2018 Executive Coaching Program.

Kudos to Deborah Levy, Executive Director of Alzheimer's Association, Orange County Chapter who attended the AIM Advocacy Forum in Washington DC. She participated in an inspiring rally in front of the White House to advocate to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover FDA approved medications for Alzheimer’s disease, the only FDA approved medications NOT covered by CMS. She also met with Congresswoman Katie Porter’s team on Capitol Hill where volunteers shared their stories to lawmakers urging lawmakers to press CMS to cover these medications.

Deborah participated in the 2005 Executive Learning Group and was coached in the 2006 Executive Coaching Program.

Robin Sinclair joined Network members Lucy Santana, CEO of Girls, Inc. of Orange County and Norma Lopez, Commission Director of Orange County Human Relations, at the Women Leaders Lunch & Learn, hosted by Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley.

Lucy participated in the 2002 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group, was coached in 2004, and became at coach in the 2021 Executive Coaching Program. Norma is a current participant of the 2023 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

Congratulations to Erika Enz, Director of Program Operations of Simon Scholars. She was recognized by Congresswoman Michelle Steel as a 2023 Woman of Distinction .


Erika participated in the 2018 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

Congratulations to Lupita Gutierrez, the new Director of Outreach & Partnerships at Casa Youth Shelter. Her primary responsibilities include connecting with referral sources to ensure shelter beds are full by communicating with schools, community and corporate partners; sharing CYS’s mission and expanding its reach. Lupita shared, "I am thankful to be back at the place that launched my career ten years ago, and made me fall in love with the nonprofit sector. It truly feels like I have come back home!"


Lupita participated in the 2022 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

To honor Brenyale Toomer-Byas' life and legacy, Orange County United Way has established the Brenyale Toomer-Byas Scholarship for Emerging Leaders. Brenyale was so passionate about the pursuit of higher education, an annual scholarship will be awarded in the amount of $2,500 to one Orange County nonprofit leader seeking to pursue post-graduate studies.

Brenyale devoted herself to the social work profession as Manager of Community Investments at Orange County United Way (OCUW), one of the County’s largest funders of health and human services. She had a passion for empowering underrepresented and underserved individuals. During her 15-year tenure at Orange County United Way, she led and oversaw several major initiatives and partnerships that garnered local and national attention.

She also served as the organization’s first Executive Director of United for Financial Security, actively coaching and developing teams and managing relationships with various stakeholders to achieve critical objectives. 

For full details and instructions, click here.

Leaders in the Field is a monthly communication highlighting Fieldstone Leadership Network member organizations and their

achievements in the community.

We want to celebrate YOU!

If you would like to share a personal or organizational accomplishment

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