June 2021
Leaders in the Field
We are so honored to have Barbara DeMarco Barrett, a published author, as our Leadership Reading Group facilitator. She was recognized in the June edition of the OC Register's supplement, Southern California News Group Bookish - Summer Reads. Barbara is also the editor of the upcoming "Palm Springs Noir" anthology, which includes contributions from 14 Southern California authors. If you want to be part of a group of fabulously diverse readers, fill out the application now for the 2021-2022 Leadership Reading Group!

For the complete article, click here.
Let it be known! The nonprofit formerly known as Blind Children’s Learning Center has a new name — Beyond Blindness — in a move to reflect the organization’s expansion as the primary resource for families of children with visual impairments and other disabilities in Orange County, California. In addition to the new name, the nonprofit unveiled its new logo and website.
“For nearly 60 years, Blind Children’s Learning Center has prepared children with visual impairments for a life of independence,” shares Angie Rowe, President and Executive Director of Beyond Blindness. “Our new name signifies our evolution and expansion to serve and positively impact a wider population of children with visual impairments and other disabilities and their families.”

For the complete press release, click here.

Angie is a current member in our Executive Learning Group and Kevin Fuhrmann, Director of Development, participated in our 2020 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and is a currently a participant in our Executive Coaching Program.
Congratulations to Chris Baiocchi! Chris is the new Chief Development Officer for Project Access where he will forge new relationships to build visibility, impact, and financial resources for Project Access as well as cultivate existing and new donor prospects and maintain and enhance relationships.

While it was hard to say goodbye to the remarkable fundraising team at Habitat OC, Chris looks forward to helping more families through education, engagement, and empowerment!

Chris was coached in the 2018 Executive Coaching Program.
Kudos to KellyAnn Romanych, Deputy Executive Director of Veterans Legal Institute who is now a Fellow with Leadership Southern California for the Class of 2021-22. Leadership Southern California (LSC) provides both virtual classroom and experiential learning, giving fellows exposure to the systems, trends and issues shaping Southern California, with a focus on solutions to some of the region’s most pressing challenges.

KellyAnn was coached in the 1999 Executive Coaching Program and participated in the 2020 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.
Best wishes to Natalie Julien, former Executive Director of Thomas House Family Shelter as she embarks on her new life in Kansas City with her seven children. For the last six years, she looked forward to going to work every day because she led a team that made a difference for the 180 families served during her tenure. You will be missed, Natalie!

Natalie participated in the 2018 Executive Learning Group and was coached in the 2020 Executive Coaching Program.
A big welcome to Shakoya Green, the new Executive Director of Thomas House Family Shelter!

Shakoya brings over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, previously serving as the Senior Vice President of Programs at Brotherhood Crusade.  Shakoya holds a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development and two master’s degrees in Human Behavior and Social Work. 
Congratulations to Angie Rowe, President and Executive Director of Beyond Blindness! She received the Junior League of Orange County's highest honor, the Kathryn Raulston Community Service Award. This award is given to a Junior League sustaining member whose commitment to the community sets an outstanding example for other volunteers. The 2014 Kathryn Raulston Community Service Award recipient Sally Lawrence (2018 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group) presented Angie with her award in a virtual ceremony. "Beyond her decades of leadership and participation in the Junior League of Orange County, it is Angie’s work outside the League that is most impressive,” said Lawrence. “She has taken her League training into the community for the greater good, benefitting such programs and organizations as the OC Marathon, Global Genes and now Beyond Blindness.”

To watch the presentation, click here.
Congresswoman Katie Porter joined Meals on Wheels Orange County in the #MarchForMeals at the Tustin Area Senior Center! Together, they raise awareness and provide assistance to seniors experiencing hunger and isolation in the OC community.

Delena Gutierrez, Executive Director, Social Services of Meals on Wheels is a current member of our Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.
Congratulations to Orange County Ronald McDonald House as they received the green light to serve twice as many families!

Orange County Ronald McDonald House serves families with seriously ill children being treated at local hospitals. This rendering of the revised plan shows the existing home on the left with plans for a catwalk that will connect to the new addition on the right. The expansion will allow them to serve more families — from 20 to 44 — with a three-story addition to its home on South Batavia Street in Orange.
Noel Burcelis, Executive Director, participated in the 2014 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and Katie Russell, Director of Operations participated in the 2018 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.
Congratulations to Adam Dodge, founder of EndTAB.org, who was recently appointed as an advisor to the World Economic Forum's Pathways to Digital Justice Advisory Committee. EndTab trains organizations to address and prevent the way victims are harmed online and, in this role, Adam will help develop best practices to address and mitigate the global impact of digital impersonation and deepfakes in the fields of gender-based violence, human trafficking, stalking and elder abuse.

Adam participated in the 2015 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.
Congratulations to Melinda Wilkes, the new Director of Volunteer Services with OneOC. Melinda brings over 17 years of experience in the field of volunteer engagement and is excited to bridge the nonprofit community to success. She will be advancing OneOC's mission of accelerating nonprofit success by building strong volunteer capacity and infrastructure through partnerships and connections. She is excited to be back involved in the world of AmeriCorps - leading local AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps initiatives to support nonprofits in building volunteer capacity, supporting DEI initiatives, and directly supporting organizations with COVID-19 vaccination sites and relief. She will also be supporting corporations and community groups with wrap around services for community service projects and networks. With the 20th anniversary of 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance coming up, she is ready for action!

Melinda was a member of the 2021 San Diego Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and moved to Orange County in 2017 and is a treasured facilitator in our Fieldstone4U program.
Collaboration at this finest! National CORE is excited to expand their footprint of affordable housing communities in Orange County with the help of Santa Ana Methodist Church and Mercy House. Legacy Square is a transit-oriented, multi-purpose, 100% affordable housing development adjacent to a future Orange County Streetcar station located at Santa Ana Boulevard and French Street owned by the church. The development will feature 93 beautiful apartment homes, more than 1,750 square feet of ground-level flexible space, and a 3,800 square foot community center to serve as a neighborhood hub for events and activities. Mercy House will provide comprehensive support services, focusing on economic mobility and overall well-being.

Greg Bradbard of National CORE and the Hope Through Housing Foundation participated in the 2000 Executive Learning Group and was coached in the 2010 Executive Coaching Program. Larry Haynes, Executive Director of Mercy House was coached in the 1997 Executive Coaching Program and was trained as a coach in 2011.
Maricela Rios -Faust, CEO of Human Options, along with Elizabeth Eastlund, Executive Director of Rainbow Services, and Nikki Brown, Advocate and Survivor of Intimate Partner Violence were featured in the Take Two broadcast on 89.3 KPCC to talk about the biggest secret no one talks about: domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness among women. It's estimated at least HALF of unhoused women are pushed into this situation as a direct result of domestic or intimate partner violence. They discussed how abuse leaves people vulnerable to homelessness and what possible solutions there are to prevent it.

To listen to the complete broadcast, click here.

Maricela participated in the 2007 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and was coached in the 2010 Executive Coaching Program.
Great work is being done at Friendly Center! Through their Family Engagement events, they offer clients a chance to engage in bonding activities with their children that may otherwise be out of reach. These events come at no cost to families; include a meal, and are planned with working parents’ schedules in mind. The second Family Engagement Event this year was held at Orange’s Regional Irvine Park where families visited the OC Zoo, enjoyed lunch, and completed a nature project together. From baseball games to Bingo nights, these cherished Family Engagement events allow Friendly Center to truly take a holistic approach to stabilizing and empowering families in need.

Cathy Seelig, President/CEO of Friendly Center and was a participant in the 2018 Executive Learning Group and Arian Ghiacy, Director of Development, is in the current Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.
Congratulations to Paula Neal-Reza! After spending more than 20 years working to positively impact people’s lives through a variety of non-profit positions, Paula has joined the staff at Family Assistance Ministries (FAM) as the new Director of Housing Strategies.

In her new role, Paula oversees FAM’s housing programs including two shelters for families and single women, a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program, the Project RoomKey program, and several other housing-related programs. FAM, located in San Clemente, provides a variety of services focused on helping those who are at-risk and/or those who are unhoused. 

Paula shared, “I am excited to be here at FAM. I really believe in what we do and that every one of our clients deserves to know that someone is ‘on their team.’ We are in a period of exciting growth and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings.”

Paula was a participant in the 2006 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and the 2016 Executive Learning Group.
Great work is being done by LaVal Brewer, CEO of South County Outreach, along with the help of his staff AND his daughters, Jenna, Kacey and Sydney! LaVal was highlighted on Spectrum News 1 for his outreach to fathers all over south Orange County on Father's Day.

Click here to see the coverage!

LaVal was a participant in the 2017 Executive Learning Group.