July 2023

Leaders in the Field

WISEPlace has broken ground on their first ever affordable housing expansion!

WISEPlace and their generous partners - Jamboree Housing, City of Santa Ana, OC Housing Finance Trust, OC 5th District Supervisor Katrina Foley, and OC 2nd District Supervisor Vicente Sarmiento have collaborated on an affordable housing development to combat the rising housing crisis in Orange County.


When completed, the newly renovated and expanded building will include 47 furnished affordable housing units, each with its own bathroom, shower, and kitchenette. The community spaces will have financial empowerment learning labs, dedicated wraparound service areas, private counseling and case management spaces, wellness and fitness rooms and an outdoor courtyard complete with community gardens and room for domestic pets.

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

Innovative Housing Opportunities, Inc. (IHO) recently partnered with Child Creativity Lab to host a Summer Entrepreneur Camp for the their Rockwood community residents in Anaheim. IHO employees Rosanna Lafarga and Brenda Claro helped 4th, 5th, and 6th graders to be bosses and use their creativity to build a unique product to share "Shark Tank Style." The students created a brand, logo, and budget and prepared a pitch to sell their products. 

Jenny Castro, Executive Administrator of IHO, is a current participant of the 2023 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group. Katy Vandermost, Program Manager of Child Creativity Lab, participated in this year's 2023 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

We will miss Amy Behrens as she joins the Maryhill Museum of Art in the state of Washington, after serving as Executive Director at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens. During her tenure, annual membership subscriptions more than doubled and cultural programs grew and diversified from less than 50 to nearly 150 events. Amy successfully navigated organizational and financial pathways to stability for the nonprofit during critical business interruptions due to COVID-19 and recent landslide. She increased the operating budget by nearly half a million dollars over a four-year period and achieved Casa Romantica’s highest-ever fundraising revenues.

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

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens announced the appointment of Kylie Travis and Jacqui Groseth as Interim Co-Executive Directors. This leadership team will guide them during the transition period following the departure of Amy, who held the executive role and a senior leadership role for seven and a half years. Kylie, as the Programs & Marketing Director, brings a decade and a half of invaluable experience, and Jacqui as Development Director, is a seasoned fundraiser with over twenty years of executive nonprofit leadership experience. As Interim Co-Executive Directors, they will work collaboratively to ensure a seamless transition and continued success for Casa Romantica.

For the complete press release, click here

Kylie participated in the 2020 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

Kendra Chandler, Executive Director of Urban Land Institute OC/IE, stated, "Being part of the non-profit sector is a one-of-a-kind experience that requires hard work, resilience, and humility." After participating in the 2019 Executive Learning Group she realizes the importance of having a supportive community of like-minded women. Through the group she found her tribe, who have provided her with endless hours of encouragement, inspiration, and laughter.

They bid farewell to one of their own, Amy Behrens, and were reminded of the power of female empowerment and sisterhood, as they lifted her up with words of wisdom and sent her off with all the love and support she deserves.

Pictured: Amy BehrensBrateil Aghasi, WISEPlace, Lisa WoodCasa TeresaKendra ChandlerGina CunninghamHomeAid OC, Rochelle Mills, Innovative Housing Opportunitiesand Madelynn HirneiseFamilies Forward.

Pathways to Independence, is a recent grant recipient of Impact Giving, receiving a $25,000 gift that will be used to convert the volunteer coordinator position to a part-time paid position. This will help transform the lives of disadvanted single young women through education, therapy, mentoring, housing, and healthcare, to break the cycle of poverty and abuse. Funds will also be used to purchase software to measure and track participnts during and after hte program.

Diana Hill, Executive Director, recently participated in the 2023 Executive Learning Group. Kim Fry, Program and Operations Manager of Impact Giving, participated in the 2023 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

Alisa Driscol, Vice President of Community Relations at Chapman University, is the new board chair of the Orange Chamber of Commerce. Their mission is to create a strong local economy by representing businesses, promoting the community, and facilitating connections. Serving as an advocate and a resource, the Chamber provides its members with timely information on economic, legislative, and other factors critical to the success of a local business.

Alisa participated in the 2022 Leadership Reading Group.

My Day Counts announced its 2nd High School Graduation Ceremony for adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. In 2018, My Day Counts discovered only 3% of program participants had earned their High School Diplomas when they enrolled. For a population which experiences a 78% unemployment rate, the organization launched the Access to Higher Education Initiative. The organization is proving that with the right support, adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities can pursue their dreams of higher education.

Mike Galliano, President & CEO, participated in the 2020 Executive Learning Group.

For the first time in nearly a decade, Working Wardrobes teamed up with Simon Scholars, an organization that creates pathways for students facing adversity by offering support and opportunities for life-changing personal growth, to develop college-educated leaders of the future who will impact the world in positive ways. The team at Working Wardrobes provided Simon Scholars with job readiness services including interview preparation, personal branding workshops, and professional wardrobing. Over five days, 157 students received a total of 16 personal branding workshops and ten wardrobing events!


Bonni Pomush, Executive Director of Working Wardrobes, participated in the 2023 Executive Learning Group. Erika Enz, Director of Program Operations at Simon Scholars, participated in the 2018 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

Families Forward has welcomed Lauren Hahn as its new Housing Development Director. In this role, she oversees the planning and operations of all housing partnerships, affordable housing supportive services and development projects including enhancing the execution of existing projects and identifying new development and redevelopment opportunities. Lauren is a highly motivated leader and a proven problem solver. She is a great addition to Families Forward, supporting its mission to prevent and end family homelessness in Orange County.

Lauren participated in the 2021 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and was coached in the 2022 Executive Coaching Program.

Congratulations to Crystal Tosello for starting a new position as Development Manager at the Laguna Art Museum. Crystal has been supporting nonprofits for eight years through fundraising, donor relations, communications, and marketing. Prior to the museum, she was Director of Development at Grandma’s House of Hope. She is excited to partner with the museum’s executive director, Julie Perlin Lee, the board, and the LAM team, to further the mission of enlightening and engaging people of all ages through art that embodies and preserves the California experience. Crystal earned the museum a Candid Platinum Seal of Transparency, implemented a new donor giving system, and raised more than half of a 6-month fundraising goal, in just her first two months. 


Crystal participated in the 2023 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and Julie participated in the 2022 Executive Learning Group.

The inaugural Summer Nonprofit Mega Mixer was a smashing success, bringing together 250 nonprofit professionals for a SOLD OUT event! Executive Director Jaclyn Duarte represented Fieldstone Leadership Network and shared that the event was an absolute blast, filled with laughter, connections, and opportunities to collaborate with like-minded individuals who are dedicated to making a positive impact in our community. Jaclyn was thrilled to see so many familiar faces from our Network among the attendees!

Witnessing the passion and commitment of so many incredible changemakers was truly inspiring. Together, we're building a stronger and more compassionate world!

Huge kudos to Taryn Palumbo, Executive Director at OC Grantmakers for creating a remarkable event.

Taryn participated in the 2023 Executive Learning Group.

Congratulations to our 2023 Learning Group Graduates!

Executive Learning Group

Pictured (left to Right): Robin Sinclair, FLN; Monique Davis, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County; Yesenia Ochoa, MECCA; Taryn Palumbo, OC Grantmakers; Nithin Jilla, Dreams for Schools; Diana Hill, Pathways to Independence; Adita Arya, Afghan Literacy Foundation; Samar Aziz, Sabil USA; Jessica Hubbard, Casa Youth Shelter; Bonni Pomush, Working Wardrobes; and Noel Burcelis, OC Ronald McDonald House.

Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group

Pictured (left to Right): Robin Sinclair, FLN; Katie Holst, ULI OC/IE; Francisco Flores, American Family Housing, Inc.; Esther Kim Le, Alta Med Dental; Kimberly Fry, Impact Giving; Cristina Yanez, Girls Inc. of OC; Erin DeRycke, 211OC; Mia Ferreira, Friendship Shelter; Yvette Ahlstrom, HomeAid Orange County; Melinda Ramos, Waymakers; and Norma Lopez, OC Human Relations.

Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group

Pictured (left to Right): Robin Sinclair, FLN; Natalie Rodolfo, Families Forward; Sarah McClellan, Pathways of Hope; Shirley Bojorquez, Meals on Wheels OC; Maria Tinajero-Dowdle, Pretend City; Christy Weissmann, Be Well OC; Lia Chacon, Laura's House; Luz Soto, American Family Housing; Katy Vandermost, Child Creativity Lab; Rubi Becerra, Child Guidance Center; Crystal Tosello, Grandma's House of Hope; Josue Montenegro, Casa Youth Shelter; and Alycia Capone, Radiant Futures.

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

achievements in the community.

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