May 2023

Leaders in the Field

It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of Jaclyn Duarte as the new Executive Director of Fieldstone Leadership Network. Jaclyn comes to us with an impressive background in leadership development, organizational management, and strategic planning.

With over a decade of experience working across business and nonprofit sectors, Jaclyn has demonstrated a deep commitment to supporting leaders and organizations that create positive change in their communities. Her track record of success includes designing and implementing programs that build leadership capacity, creating partnerships that drive innovation, and leading teams that achieve results.

Prior to joining Fieldstone Leadership Network, Jaclyn served as the Director of Operations for SolutionPoint Behavioral Health, before which she was Foundation Director for Change A Life Foundation in Irvine, CA. 

Congratulations to Nicole Suydam, President & CEO of Goodwill of Orange County for winning the CSUF Center for Leadership Excellence in Leadership Award in the area of strategy! This award recognizes outstanding Orange County or Southern California executives who have demonstrated exemplary success in one or more of the following: Community Engagement, Cultural Change, Growth, Innovation, and/or Strategy.

Nicole participated in the 2010 Executive Learning Group and was coached in the 2012 Executive Coaching Program.

The building at 1801 E. Edinger is fully leased and is now almost exclusively nonprofit organizations! Big Brothers Big Sisters - OC & Inland Empire, Girls Inc. of Orange County, Families Forward and OC Human Relations hosted an interactive open house to all community stakeholders, encouraging exploration within the different office suites, and inviting the community to learn about their space that hosts youth and family-serving organizations here in Santa Ana.

Mayor of Santa Ana Valerie Amezcua shared the message of "increasing resiliency and eliminating disparities in Orange County and reinforcing the power of collaboration." Guests enjoyed small bites and desserts provided by Bracken's Kitchen and Host Committee members gave office tours.

Pictured (left to right): Sloane Kean, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County & the Inland Empire, Lucy Santana, CEO of Girls Inc., Madelynn Hirneise, CEO of Families Forward and Alison Edwards. Lucy, Madelynn and Alison all participated in a Learning Group, and were coached in the Executive Coaching Program.

Congratulations to the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach for being selected as a 2023 California Nonprofit of the Year by Senator Dave Min. BGCLB is one of more than 100 nonprofits that will be honored by state senators and assembly members for their outstanding contributions to the communities they serve.  

For over 70 years, BGCLB has been an indispensable asset to the communities they serve. Serving over 3000 youth ages 3 – 18 years old each day through their school day and afterschool programs, BGCLB promotes the healthy social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development of young people.

Pamela Estes, CEO, participated in the 2003 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group, was coached in the 2006 Executive Coaching Program and participated in the 2009 Executive Learning Group.

We love seeing our Network members having fun together in the community. At the Estrella Awards, the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce celebrated excellence across multiple mediums, industries, and organizations who understand the value of strengthening our Latinx channels- it was a fun night of networking with friends, peers, and colleagues!

Pictured (left to right): Monique Davis, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County and Jessica Hubbard, Casa Youth Shelter.

Emilie Dang, Community Impact and Programs Director of Innovative Housing Opportunities recently became a Board member of the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County!


The VACOC’s mission is to promote the development of business and trade for its members by creating a platform for businesses of all sizes to meet, discuss, and share ideas on topics to help stimulate growth locally and globally, while considering the interests of the Vietnamese community.


Emilie participated in the 2020 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

WISEPlace was honored to have been chosen as one of the recipients of a CalOptima Health community grant through the Housing and Homelessness Incentive Program (HHIP), which fuels their ability to end homelessness for unaccompanied women by expanding their housing navigation programs.

Photo shows CEO Brateil Aghasi who was invited to receive a check for $315,400 from the board of CalOptima Health.

Brateil participated in the 2013 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and is a trained Creative Encounters by Fieldstone facilitator.

Congratulations to Keegan Bell, Executive Vice President of Irvine Public Schools Foundation! The National Association of Education Foundations (NAEF) announced the election of Keegan as a Director on the NAEF Board of Directors where he will co-chair the Membership Committee. He will serve with 18 other education foundation leaders from across the United States.


NAEF is the leading professional organization dedicated to strengthening education foundations across the nation. The NAEF develops and promotes best practices specifically for education foundations so that all students have robust educational opportunities. The NAEF supports foundations and the countless number of professionals who work tirelessly on behalf of education systems across the country.


Keegan participated in the 2013 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group, was coached in the 2021 Executive Coaching Program and participated in the 2022/23 Leadership Reading Group.

Kudos to Dawn Reese, CEO of The Wooden Floor, for becoming a new Board Member of the OC Forum. The OC Forum is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan current affairs organization convening the Orange County community in an interactive environment, to foster relationships, exchange ideas and discuss public policy issues with the most knowledgeable and distinguished speakers and leaders of our time.

Dawn participated in the 2007 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group, was coached in 2012 and became a Coach in the 2013 Executive Coaching Program.

Great news! The first milestone of the restoration happened this Memorial Day weekend… Casa Romantica has officially reopened! With thanks to San Clemente Chamber of Commerce for facilitating a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and to legislators and their representatives who bestowed their congratulations. Board Supervisor Katrina Anne Foley’s shared, “Casa Romantica is a symbol of resilience and of the most positive impact a community can have when it stands together.”

They have a long road ahead to preserve history and rebuild Casa Romantica’s beloved bluff… but they are building hope every day with the small businesses, local corporations, and residents who are united in their commitment. 

Amy Behrens, Executive Director, participated in the 2020 Executive Learning Group, was coached in 2022 Executive Coaching Program.

Longtime nonprofit professional Susan Kenny was recently named CEO of UPLIFT Yoga Foundation. Susan will serve as the first CEO of the nonprofit that supports teen mental health through peer connection, movement, and mindfulness.


Susan was most recently Founder and Chief of Do GOODer Partners, a consulting firm that empowers companies to engage their teams and customers in volunteerism and social action in the communities where they live and work. For over 20 years, she’s been a professional fundraiser working with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and Court Appointed Special Advocates. She has served on numerous committees including the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Educational Seminar, OneOC’s Spirit of Volunteerism, and the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce’s Women of Influence. 

Just Published!

Fair Pay for Southern California Nonprofits: The 2023 Compensation & Benefits Survey

Attract and Retain the Best Employees for Your Organization in 2023 and Beyond

Low unemployment, increased inflation and softening demand in some sectors of the economy are creating uncertain conditions for nonprofit managers as they make decisions about employee compensation and benefits policies.

The 2023 survey reports current, local compensation levels for more than 200 survey jobs based on survey responses from two hundred forty-three Southern California nonprofit organizations.

The survey is conducted and published by Nonprofit Compensation Associates, Inc. For more information, visit

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

achievements in the community.

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