October 2023

Leaders in the Field

In an upcoming episode of CBS Sunday Morning, as part of a feature story covering the art of rug making in Afghanistan, Adita Arya, Executive Director of the Afghan Literacy Foundation (ALF) was also interviewed. Adita is known for her 14-year commitment to providing relief and development initiatives that focus on preventing child labor and promoting literacy among impoverished children in Afghanistan. Tracy Smith, respected CBS correspondent, delved deep into Arya's expertise, shedding light on her significant work in transforming the lives of Afghan children through education.

Adita participated in the 2023 Executive Learning and Executive Coaching programs, and is a current member of the 2023 Leadership Reading Group.

Elizabeth Andrade is Orange County United Way’s Executive Director for 211OC. In her most recent role as Chief Executive Officer of Family Assistance Ministries, she oversaw the organization’s strategic direction and led a team of dedicated professionals in delivering essential services such as food, housing and case management to South Orange County communities. One of Liz’s first projects will be to hold listening sessions to engage leaders and stakeholders in shaping the vision, scale and impact of 211OC. Backed by Orange County United Way’s network of staff, volunteers, supporters and partner agencies, 211OC is poised to expand and have an even greater impact serving more residents seeking assistance.

Elizabeth participated in the 2015 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group, was coached in the 2022 Executive Coaching Program.

Becks Heyhoe, Executive Director of a division of Orange County United Way: United to End Homelessness, was featured in The Orange County Register article "Can Public Opinion Reduce Homelessness in Orange County? Experts Say it Might." Locals recently told UCI pollsters the county's biggest problem is homelessness and lack of affordable housing. People who work with the unhoused see opportunity.

To read the complete article, click here.

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

Ciara Jones, Director of Administrative Operations at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts recently completed her Executive MBA through Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics after two years of full-time studies. This is something that she wholeheartedly credits her Executive Coach Margie Wakeham, who encouraged her to pursue this goal, and stated, "I owe her the biggest thanks ever!"

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

Gina Cunningham, Executive Director of HomeAid Orange County received the Barbara J Stewart Award for Women's Achievement at the 50th MAME Greater Sales + Marketing Council Event. The Barbara J Stewart Award highlights her tremendous accomplishments as a marketing professional and her willingness to share her knowledge, time, and resources with others. It also gives important and well-deserved recognition to outstanding women like Gina!

Gina participated in the 2002 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group, was coached in the 2014 Executive Coaching Program, was a member of the 2019 and 2020 Leadership Reading Group, and participated in the 2021 Executive Learning Group.

Child Creativity Labreceived the Outstanding Arts Organization award from Arts Orange County. Since 2012, Child Creativity Lab has worked tirelessly to foster the next generation of critical thinkers, problem solvers, innovators and leaders through hands-on creativity-enhancing exploration in the form of STEAM programs such as its Makerspace-on-Wheels and Professional Development that teached teachers how to bring new ways of thinking to the classroom.

Katy McInnes, Director of Partnerships, participated in the 2023 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

To better serve the community and deepen their impact, Youth Employment Services (YES) and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast have merged! The marks a significant milestone in addressing the workforce gap in Orange County, where there is a disparity in the skills and qualifications of the workforce and the requirements of a specific job position. It allows the Club to create two new offerings: YES Workforce Development for young adults looking to enhance their professional soft skills and career opportunities beyond graduation and YES Workforce Solutions for employers seeking a pool of qualified entry-level candidates. With BGC of Central OC’s established track record and robust infrastructure, the new offerings will create opportunities for efficiencies and cost-savings and ensure equitable access to essential skills and training for local youth, while providing Orange County companies with enriched candidates.

Read more here and watch the excitement of our community as they unveiled this partnership. 

The Muckenthaler Center opened their new $2 million dollar, cutting edge, Pat and Rose Young Arts Studio, as the global headquarters for their arts education division led by Stephannie Vicuna, Chief Education Officer and Farrell Hirsch, CEO.  With 50 feet high vaulted ceilings and majestic mission-style features, this is the first building project on the 9-acre campus in almost half a century.

Stephanie was coached in the 2018 Executive Coaching Program and Farrell participated in the 2019 Executive Learning Group.

Congratulations to Network members for their recognition as an Orange County Visionaries by the LA Times B2B: Brateil Aghasi, WISEPlace; Nadia Babayi, Laguna Beach Seniors; LaVal Brewer, South County Outreach; Monique Davis; Habitat for Humanity of Orange County; Alison Edwards, Groundswell; Madelynn Hirneise, Families Forward; Jessica Hubbard, Casa Youth Shelter; Nithin Jill, Dreams for Schools; Ronnetta Johnson, Waymakers; Taryn Palumbo, Orange County Grantmakers; Bonni Pomush, Working Wardrobes; Maricela Rios-Faust, Human Options; Angie Rowe, Beyond Blindness; Lucy Santana, Girls Inc. of Orange County; Chris Simonsen, Orangewood Foundation; Nicole Suydam, Goodwill of Orange County; and Debora Wondercheck, Arts & Learning Conservatory. Orange County’s education and nonprofit sectors feature tireless professionals who have dedicated their careers to the betterment of the OC community, guiding their institutions through challenges and allowing them to emerge stronger and poised for success.

You can find the complete list here!

Michele Rinehart is the new Chief of Staff for the Irvine-based nonprofit Team Kids whose mission is to empower children to change the world through innovative youth service and leadership programs. They implement research-based and empirically-validated positive youth development programs, alongside on-duty firefighters, police officers, and university interns, at no cost to students, youth, and families.

Michele participated in the 2020 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and was coached in the 2022 Executive Coaching Program.

Network member Lauren Brand, Executive Director of Operations at BeWell OC and Bonni Pomush, CEO of Working Wardrobes were panalists at the Merage Jewish Community Center’s Inspirational Jewish Women Luncheon, moderated by Dana Susson. They shared about their organizations, their leadership journeys and what inspired them, and how being Jewish women influences their leadership. Before they wrapped with open Q&A, Lauren provided mindfulness and relaxation techniques to help curb anxiety, especially during these troubling times.

Lauren participated in the 2016 Executive Learning Group, is a trained Creative Encounters by Fieldstone facilitator, became a Coach in 2017 of the Executive Coaching Program, and was a member of the 2019 and 2020 Leadership Reading Group. Bonni is a recent graduate of the 2023 Executive Learning Group and will be coached in 2024.

Congratulations to these fabulous Network members for their nomination at the Women in Business Awards presented by the Orange County Business Journal luncheon: Gina Cunningham, HomeAid Orange County; Alison Edwards, Groundswell; Madelynn Hirneise, Families Forward; Jessica Hubbard, Casa Youth Shelter; Ronnetta Johnson, Waymakers; Taryn Palumbo, Orange County Grantmakers; Bonni Pomush, Working Wardrobes; Maricela Rios-Faust, Human Options; Angie Rowe, Beyond Blindness; and Lucy Santana, Girls Inc. of Orange County! The award recognizes outstanding professional women who have made significant contributions to their organizations, their professions and the Orange County community.

Be Well OC marked the groundbreaking of the new Irvine campus, joined by officials representing the State of California, County of Orange, Cal Optima, City of Irvine, local nonprofit hospital partners, and multicultural and multifaith partners. The Irvine campus, set to open in 2025, will provide best-in-class clinical services for mental health and substance use for children, adolescents, adults and families, plus wrap-around wellness support to the entire community. Drawing from the initiatives put forth by the state, the county has forged a path that combines accessibility, inclusivity and a holistic approach to mental health services.

Christy Weissmann, Executive Assistant/Project Manager, participated in the 2023 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

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

achievements in the community.

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