August 2023

Leaders in the Field

Project Access officially marked its 100th Project Access Resource Center at Crossings at Cherry Orchard in Anaheim, California with new partners, Urban Housing Communities and Anaheim Supportive Housing. As a nonprofit and national leader in providing critical onsite health, education, and employment services to families, children, and seniors in affordable housing communities in 16 states nationwide, Project Access helps to prevent homelessness. It gives families and seniors the resources to stabilize and thrive.

You can read the complete article here.

Kristin Byrnes, CEO & President, participated in the 2006 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group. Allison Stanley, Human Resource Manager, participated in the 2017 and 2020 Leadership Reading Groups.

Dreams for Schools, a nonprofit providing STEAM education programs to underserved students, has officially fully moved into their first dedicated office space in Santa Ana in its 7th year of operations. Located closer to the communities they serve, the new office will allow Dreams for Schools to expand their programming and provide even more students access to high-quality STEAM learning opportunities. As they settle into their new home, the organization looks forward to continuing their mission of nurturing children's creativity and inspiring future innovators and leaders in STEAM fields. The move represents an exciting milestone for the growing nonprofit as they further establish themselves as leaders in Coding, Engineering & Technology programs.

Nithin Jilla, Executive Director, participated in the 2023 Executive Learning Group.

Congratulations to The Wooden Floor for being named one of Orange County Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for 2023. The OC's Best Places to Work is the result of months of surveying employees and management at hundreds of Orange County businesses. The final list of 100 companies represents those that scored highest on a proprietary ranking done for the Business Journal by Houston-based Workforce Research Group.

Dawn Reese, CEO, participated in the 2007 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group, was coached in the 2012 Executive Coaching Program and became a coach in 2013. Payal Kumar Avellan, Director of Communications & Marketing, Tianna Haradon, Director of Development, and Vanessa Rodriguez, Chief Operating Officer, all participated in a Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

Congratulations to Angie Rowe, President & CEO of Beyond Blindness, for her appointment to the First 5 Orange County board of directors. First 5 is a dynamic, mission-driven public agency that invests in programs and projects to improve the system of care for young children and families through partnerships and strategic resource allocation.

Angie participated in the 2021 Executive Learning Group and the 2021 Leadership Reading Group.

There is not a lot of glamor in running a shelter for youth in crisis.

So it’s really special when someone like Diana McBride uses her platform, and her glamor, to highlight the work at Casa Youth Shelter. Jessica Hubbard, CEO, was featured as one of Modern Luxury Magazine’s Dynamic Women in the September issue! Shedding a light on CYS brings Casa Kids out of the shadows and makes their stories harder to forget. Kudos to ModLux for sharing the less glamorous side of Orange County… like youth shelters, housing insecurity, foster care system and the youth mental health crisis… and adding a little sparkle and lipstick along the way.

Jessica was coached in the 2018 Executive Coaching Program, and participated in the 2019 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and the 2023 Executive Learning Group.

Ajit Thind, partner at Rutan & Tucker LLP, the second largest law firm based in OC, began contributing to Groundswell (formerly Orange County Human Relations)—which researches hate-crime related activity in OC and offers anti-bias trainings—in 2018. Ajit and Alison Edwards, CEO of Groundswell, were featured in the Orange County Business Journal OC Execs Fight Rise in Hate Crimes.

You can read the entire article here.

Alison participated in the 2008 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and was coached in the 2013 Executive Coaching Program.

Kudos to Nithin Jilla, Executive Director of Dreams for Schools, who joined a panel of esteemed professionals,including Chelsea Bowers, Director of Community Engagement with Giving Children Hope and Jacob Mize, Development Director at Mercy House Living Centers, at the Orange County Advisors in Philanthropy discussion "Top Nonprofit Trends that Every Professional Advisor Should Know"a conversation on the evolving nonprofit landscape and helping ensure advisors stay up-to-date on key trends and issues impacting the sector.

Nithin Jilla, Executive Director, participated in the 2023 Executive Learning Group.

Congratulations to Dan Stetson, Executive Director of the Nicholas Endowment who will serve as the new Chair of the community panel for San Onofre nuclear plant. The organization convenes meetings with the public to discuss the decommissioning of the now shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, as well as the storing of 3.55 million pounds of nuclear waste and other issues at the plant. Dan previously served as the panel’s vice chair.

More information can be found here.

Dan participated in the 2000 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group and hopes to participate in the 2024 Executive Learning Group.

More than 267,000 residents worry about where their next meal will come from in Orange County - a need that continues to be a part of what the Anaheim Family YMCA thrives to address. Through their partnership with Feed the Children, over 400 Y families received food to supplement a week’s worth of meals, as well as household items to help alleviate some of the burden and stress that families may carry during these hard times of economic inflation. The Y expressed its gratitude to Feed the Children, Shaklee, and all volunteers for making this event happen. They all serve as a beacon of hope, reminding us that together, we can make a significant difference in the lives of those facing adversity.

Brent Finlay, President & CEO participated in the 2022 Executive Learning Group.

Hats off to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County! Together with the help of the Santa Ana PD, Access California,Youth Centers of Orange, Elks Lodge of Santa Ana, Clipart, For Goodness Cakes, and Vans, they equipped their littles and their siblings with the necessary tools to begin a new school year. During the event, children were provided with backpacks and supplies and a fresh new haircut. Additionally, their families received new shoes, and back-to-school sweets.

Brianna Rios, Associate Director of Transitional Programs, participated in the 2020 Nonprofit Leaders Learning Group.

Welcome to Rickie Redman, the new director of Aging in Place Services at Laguna Beach Seniors, which operates the Susi Q Center. She is a dying and death educator and creates personalized care plans for older adults and those who are nearing end of life. Her goal is to empower individuals to embrace their own version of aging and death, meeting it with dignity, grace, and serenity, while focusing on quality of life.


Her education offerings are rooted in the intersections of art, curiosity, self-reflection, and community. She provides practical tools, resources, and opportunities for people to contemplate death, thus weaving more intention into their life. For the past 14 years, Rickie has worked with older adults in the nonprofit sector. Her focus has always centered on education, advocacy, program development, art, and socialization. 

Congratulations to Working Wardrobes’ Senior Director of Client Services Ashley Vlcan for her 40 Under 40 Class of 2023 nomination! Each year, the Greater Irvine Chamber recognizes the next generation of business leaders and advocates who are impacting their respective industries and the business community in Orange County, as well as outstanding students making a positive impact in the local community and beyond.

As a fearless leader, Ashley oversees the entire client services team at Working Wardrobes. In addition, she is committed to creating lasting change within Orange County by directing the Public Affairs committee and engaging local elected officials with Working Wardrobes’ mission."

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

achievements in the community.

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