January 2024

Leaders in the Field

Orange County, with its vast population of around 3.2 million residents, poses a delightful challenge – selecting a mere 0.000039% to encapsulate a year's worth of incredible stories from this diverse and vibrant community is no small feat! Congratulations to our Network members for their recognition by the Orange County Register in their annual list of the 125 most influential people: LaVal Brewer, South County Outreach; Alison Edwards, Groundswell; Madelynn Hirneise, Families Forward; Mara James, Extraordinary Lives Foundation; Nahla Kayali, Access California Services; Bonni Pomush, Working Wardrobes; and Debora Wondercheck, Arts & Learning Conservatory.

You can read the entire article here.

Rickie Redman, Director, Aging in Place Services with Laguna Beach Seniors, was recently interviewed by Lorie Konish at CNBC for an article featuring Lifelong Laguna.

In a city renowned for its breathtaking beaches, a community initiative is taking center stage in assisting residents to gracefully age in place. Laguna Beach Seniors stands as a beacon, offering volunteer support, essential home modifications and repairs, and compassionate end-of-life care. Anchored by the Susi Q, this dynamic organization goes beyond, providing an array of programs, expert case management, supportive support groups, and caring counseling services; strengthened in collaborations with local nonprofits, including Age Well Senior Services and Sally's Fund Inc.

Read the article here.

Rickie is currently participating in our 2024 Executive Coaching Program.

Art & Creativity for Healing and the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) have partnered to provide Art4Healing® workshops for teens in ACCESS (Alternative, Community, and Correctional Education Schools and Services) schools. Since 2022, over 5000 students have participated in the program Raging Colors: Expressive Painting for Teens utilizing the Art4Healing® method promoting emotional healing through art and creative expression for teens struggling with mental health challenges.


The ongoing weekly workshops at all 24 OCDE ACCESS schools throughout Orange County have achieved positive results and feedback among students.

To learn more click here.


Laurie Zagon, Founder and Executive Director, participated in the 2005 Executive Learning Group and was coached in the 2006 Executive Coaching Program.

The Anaheim City Council voted to approve the installation of the "Little Arabia" freeway signs after more than a year since the official designation of Little Arabia. Rashad Al-Dabbagh is the Executive Director of Arab American Civic Council, which has been working with the City's Brookhurst Corridor Study Working Group to recommend improvements. The conclusion of Dudek’s study signifies the city’s commitment to investing in its diverse communities and presents a transformative vision for the future of Little Arabia. Led by the consulting firm Dudek, the Brookhurst Corridor Study has generated recommendations and improvements to enhance the district’s identity, foster community engagement, and create a vibrant urban space.

Read more here.

Rashad participated in the 2022 Executive Learning Group and was coached in the 2021 and 2023 Executive Coaching Program.

There is much to celebrate at Innovative Housing Opportunities! Congratulations to Network members Jenny Castro on her promotion to Director of Operations and Brenda Walters on her promotion to Director of Community Impact.

IHO is also being recognized for their Living EmPower House project in Santa Ana, listed as #1 of ten to watch by Energy Changemakers. Distributed energy allows us to rethink energy wealth and place more of it in the hands of individuals and communities. The Living EmPower House, a multi-family, multi-use green community in Santa Ana, California, transforms tenants into prosumers participating in a transactive energy program that applies energy savings to reduce rent. The project received funding from California’s EPIC program.

To view the project video click here.


Jenny participated in the 2023 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and Barbara participated in the 2022 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

Early this month, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an award recommended by Chairman Don Wagner of $500,000 to Working Wardrobes for their Rebuilding Careers program. This initiative underscores its commitment to providing individuals with the essential tools and resources for securing stable employment. This program goes beyond addressing immediate job placement needs; it also offers continuous support to help individuals sustain their positions and attain long-term success. 

Bonni Pomush, CEO, participated in the 2023 Executive Learning Group and is currently being coached in the 2024 Executive Coaching Program.

We are sad to report the passing of Misha Houser, Development Coordinator of Vital Link, who was a very active voice for philanthropy and enjoyed a long career in public policy before her most recent post at Vital Link. She served on the Long Beach City Council, Los Angeles Economic Development Program and had her own advocacy firm, Houser & Associates for ten years starting in 2000. We will miss her smile and are grateful to have had her company.  


Misha participated in the 2021 and 2022 Leadership Reading Groups.

Allen Peters Baldwin, Founding Executive Director of Orange County Community Housing Corporation, played a pivotal role in OCCHC’s mission to create affordable housing and uplift the lives of the less fortunate. He was not only a dedicated leader, but also a compassionate advocate for those in need. His tireless efforts have left an indelible mark on our organization and our community. Allen's legacy will continue to inspire "live simply, so that others may simply live."


Allen participated in the 2005 Executive Learning Group.

Kelsie Hamilton Salarda was promoted to Executive Director of First Fruit, Inc.  As Senior Program Officer, Kelsie implemented new granting strategies for the foundation and developed exceptional relationships with their grantees. In her new role, she will oversee the management and development of the staff and the Foundation’s daily operations, in addition to collaborating with the Board, going deeper into their interest areas to define new strategies and opportunities.


Kelsie participated in the 2021 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

A few staff members from Girls Inc. of Orange County had the pleasure of taking some of their girls to the Vice President’s arrival ceremony at LAX. Lucy Santana, CEO, shared, "I was filled with pride and joy in seeing the girls arrive at our office in preparation for their departure to LA. They were excited, giddy, and most of all, prepared. Even the youngest of our participants came prepared with her 'elevator pitch'...she was determined to shake the VP's hand with a firm handshake, ensure they made eye contact, and share that she is Strong, Smart, and Bold."

Lucy participated in the 2002 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group, was coached in the 2004 Executive Coaching Program and became a Fieldstone Coach in 2021.

Best wishes to Chris Baiocchi as he and his family move to Tacoma, Washington. Anticipating a fresh set of puzzles to solve, welcoming new challenges, and embracing the unexpected joys that lie ahead, he remains committed to his mission. Despite the relocation of his consulting firm, Resolute Philanthropy HQ, his unwavering dedication to supporting nonprofit organizations persists. He'll persist in working diligently to provide them with the confidence and clarity necessary to foster relationships and secure funds for their impactful missions.

Chris was coached in the 2018 Executive Coaching Program.

Welcome to our Newest Network Members!

2024 Executive Learning Group

Pictured (left to right): Robin Sinclair, FLN; Chris Hoff, California Family Institute; Monica Guillena, Hispanic Education Endowment Fund; Michael Valentine, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County; Stephanie Witkowski, 7000 Languages; Tim Anderson, Solidarity; Carrie Buck, Family Solutions Collaborative; Jaclyn Duarte, Fieldstone Leadership Network; Becky Firey, American Red Cross of Orange County; Susan Parmelee, Wellness & Prevention Center; Wendy Cullen, First Tee - Orange County; John Straw, Concern America; and Mary Cappellini, Save Our Youth.

2024 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group

Pictured (left to right - top row): Robin Sinclair, FLN; Teri Saydak, Concern America; Andy Cecrle, The Purpose of Recovery; Ray Cordova, Child Guidance Center; Elizabeth McKibbin, Casa Teresa; Cassie Oseguera, South County Outreach; Kathy Lopez, Families Forward; Jesse Hernandez, Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County; (bottom row) Hannah Clausen, Chapman University, Dodge College; Shaya Frum, Jessie Rees Foundation; Alejandro Lupercio, Meals on Wheels Orange County; and Kim Stinson, Pathways of Hope. 

2024 Executive Coaching Cohort

Pictured (left to right): Taryn Palumbo, Orange County Grantmakers; Robin Sinclair, FLN; Michele Silva, Families Forward; Maria Tinajero-Dowdle, Pretend City; Lisa Gestoso, Human Options; Rickie Redman, Laguna Beach Seniors; Donella Cecrle, The Purpose of Recovery; Diana Hill, Pathways to Independence; Jessica Hubbard, Casa Youth Shelter; and Stephen Holte, Cristo Rey Orange County High School. Not pictured: Bonni Pomush, Working Wardrobes.

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

in upcoming Leaders in the Field

publications, please direct your email here.

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