Volunteer - Seneca Family of Agencies

Volunteer

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Community Liaison
Under the guidance and supervision of the Development Department, the Community Liaison will provide support in Seneca’s outreach efforts by attending community events as assigned.

Community Liaisons will attend an orientation meeting, become familiar with Seneca’s work, help with event setup, and provide information about Seneca’s programs and services to the community at various locations and times.

Crochet
When a child is adopted from Seneca, they receive a beautiful crocheted bear (like the ones pictured above). These bears are made by volunteers in the community, and we never have enough bears! If you’d like to crochet adoption bears for Seneca, click here to download the crochet instructions. You can also see the contact info below to request the crochet instructions via email, or for any questions or more info.

Other Opportunities
Seneca offers other occasional volunteer opportunities such as help with large mailings, coin rolling, help at special events, and more.

Gabilan Chapter Seneca hosts their annual Gabilan Wine & Food Tasting in San Benito County. This is advertised as California’s oldest wine tasting event and features more than 25 regional wineries and more than 25 local restaurants. Their mission is to raise funds and support Seneca’s foster care and adoption services in San Benito County and the Chapter has a long and distinguished history of service to adoption and child welfare. For more information or to get involved with Gabilan Chapter Seneca, visit their website.

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If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to call us at (831) 455-4713 or email [email protected].

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Honey Buns

Honey Buns was born in 2010 and is a Georgian Grande horse! He is a special breed of horse bred for his strength and smooth gaits. Honey Buns is originally from Virginia and came to us in 2022 and is on lease from a Texas ranch owner. We love his goofy personality and amazing hair!

Jet

Jet was born in 2009 and measured a horse at 16.2hh. He is a Standardbred, a very special breed known for harness racing. Jet came to Seneca as a rescue horse in 2021.

 

Maggie

Maggie was born in 1997 and she is a Bashkir Curly Horse - the only breed of horse with curly hair! Maggie measures as a horse at 15.1hh. Maggie used to compete in rodeos doing barrel racing!

Kyrie

Valkyrie, or 'kyrie' as we call her, was born in 2005. She is an Icelandic horse, measuring a pony at 13.1hh. Kyrie came to the program in 2012, Kyrie was orphaned as a foal, and was raised by people. Kyrie now has a strong bond with those who love her.

Padrini

Padrini was donated by the I Padrini group. He is a spunky, Norwegian Fjord born in 2008. He measures a pony at 14.2hh. Padrini LOVES attention. He was trained in South Dakota as a fancy dressage horse, but is enjoying the more relaxed nature of the GAIT program. Padrini loves to show off his funky hair and fun personality.


AMY KIRSZTAJN

[email protected]

1. Where you received your degree and/or any certifications you all have

Smith College School for Social Work

2. Where you began your career and what brought you to work at Seneca

After graduating from undergrad and traveling for a bit, I had the opportunity to work in a residential treatment setting with adolescent girls in the Boston Area. This opened my eyes   to the power of doing mental health work with a social justice lens. I was introduced to Seneca and its Unconditional Care model during my first-year grad school practicum when I worked closely with Senecans. I was immediately drawn to Seneca’s ability to cut through any red tape in order to flexibly and creatively meet the needs of the families we work with.

3. Why Seneca’s mission is important to you

Our inherent belief that people can change and grow and that they should not be defined by their trauma is what motivates me to come to work every day. The work that we do is emotionally challenging but working with co-workers who consistently show up with dedication, integrity and a willingness to do whatever it takes is endlessly inspiring.

4. What is/are things that you like to do outside of work

When I’m not working you can find me spending time with my family, biking around the greater Bay Area or curling up with a good book. I also have a huge passion for traveling and spend hours day -dreaming about where my next adventure lies.


AMBER FRETWELL

[email protected]

Amber Fretwell is one of the Executive Directors of School Partnerships with Seneca’s Unconditional Education “UE” School-Based Programs. She currently oversees school-based programs in Northern California/Bay Area (Berkeley, Contra Costa County, Marin County, San Francisco, the peninsula, and Santa Clara County), as well as our UE program in Los Angeles, CA. She has been working at Seneca since August 2007 and originally started with the agency as a therapeutic behavioral services (TBS) clinician because she has a passion for behavioral therapy, people, and using her creativity to help people. She is a Bay Area native, born and raised in Oakland, CA and received both her undergraduate degree and master’s degree in Counseling psychology from The University of San Francisco. It has been extremely meaningful for her to be able to work in programs where she has grown up and for an agency that shares her strong values of love, joy, hope, respect, curiosity, social justice, and equity.  She believes deeply in Seneca’s mission: to help children and families through the most difficult times of their lives and to work systemically to improve systems that have ultimately failed the children and families we work with and has worked to put that mission into action while working at Seneca. Throughout her time with Seneca, she has held multiple direct care and administrative positions which she is grateful for as she has been able to be a part of several people’s journeys, witness people reaching their goals, and learned invaluable lessons. Amber strives to maintain a healthy work life balance, so outside of Seneca she enjoys spending time with her friends (many of which she has had since high school) and family, exploring the fabulous new restaurants in the Bay Area, traveling, creating custom handwritten signs/art, and anything that supports her in enjoying life and living it to the fullest 😊.

DAWN HENSON

[email protected]

JESSICA DONOHUE

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Jess got her BA in Women and Gender Studies at The College of New Jersey.  She started her career in social services in New Jersey, volunteering at an emergency shelter for youth and then working as a counselor in a large residential treatment program for boys.  During these experiences, Jess learned how important it was for young people experiencing the hardest times of their lives to have compassionate, present, respectful adults caring for them.  Jess received her Master’s in Social Work from Smith College School for Social Work and moved to the Bay Area shortly after graduating.

Jess was drawn to Seneca’s mission and values, which were aligned with the ways she wanted to work with people – with curiosity, humor, and love.  Beginning as a clinician in one of Seneca’s former residential programs, she experienced those values in action and was inspired by what she saw: a true community committed to ensuring that kids got to be kids, that kids had opportunities to know their best selves, and that families were treated as the most powerful forces in healing.  Jess earned her LCSW in 2013, and has been honored to work alongside the most innovative, creative, persistent, bright colleagues in upholding these ways of working with kids and families at Seneca for nearly 13 years.

When not at work, Jess likes to spend time connecting with friends and family, exploring all the beauty and fresh food the Bay Area has to offer, walk, hike and cook.

 

JOSIE AYE ROEMHILD

[email protected]

 

KATE WALKER

[email protected]

Kate Walker received her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from Santa Clara University in 2007 and her Master’s of Science in Social Work from Columbia University in 2009 with a concentration in School-Based Services. Post graduate school, Kate returned to California and began working as a Classroom Therapist with Seneca at Pleasant Hill Middle School providing individual, group, and family therapy to youth in Special Education. Kate then had an opportunity to design and build Catalyst Academy, a new Non-Public School in El Sobrante, CA providing intensive behavioral health and Special Education services to students in grades One through Twelve. After working as the Director for the first two years of operations at Catalyst, Kate then spent six months flying between the Bay Area and Greater Seattle Area to support the early expansion of Seneca services in Washington State. Shortly thereafter, Kate had the opportunity to move abroad to the United Kingdom. Kate lived in London for three years and worked for an Education-Technology charity focused on youth employment and a mission to address the skills gap. Kate worked closely with entrepreneurs, businesses, and educators and focused on development and community engagement while also leading a team of educators, community partners, engineers, and data scientists. Upon returning to the States in 2018, Kate settled in Washington and was eager to return to Seneca and refocus her work on mental health and social justice. Kate became the Regional Executive Director in Washington State in early 2019 and currently oversees the School-Based and Community-Based Programs in King and Pierce County. Outside of work, Kate enjoys spending time with her family and exploring the Pacific Northwest.

 

LILY CIANCUTTI

[email protected]

Lily Ciancutti received her undergraduate degree at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2002, and her master’s degree in Social Work from California State University, East Bay in 2006.  Lily gained her pre-licensure experience working in Seneca’s Non-Public School located in San Leandro in addition to other local public school settings providing psychotherapy, family therapy, and case management to youth ranging in age from Kindergarten through High School.  Lily then spent four years living in Massachusetts and working in an adolescent Partial Hospital program, and shortly after obtaining her LCSW, returned to California and Seneca Family of Agencies.  Lily was eager to return to Seneca as her values aligned with the agencies, specifically relating to the commitment of unconditional care.

Since her return to Seneca, Lily has worked as the Clinical Director at James Baldwin Academy, Program Director for Seneca’s STEP Partial Hospitalization programs, and since 2020 in the position of Executive Director, Crisis Services.  Lily believes that everyone experiences periods of time where a little extra help and support is needed, and the importance of youth and families being able to quickly and easily access high quality mental health care should be a smooth, friendly and respectful process.  Outside of work, Lily enjoys spending time with her two 9-year-old daughters, going for bike rides, and soaking in as much sunshine as possible.

LAUREN CRUTSINGER

[email protected]

Lauren Crutsinger is the Regional Executive Director of Seneca Family of Agencies’ North Bay Programs where she oversees and administers all program, contract, and service delivery operations for the community-based programs in Sonoma and Marin counties in addition to the innovative Petaluma COMPASS placement program. Graduating with a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of the Pacific in 2005, Lauren went on to complete her Master’s in Social Work from Humboldt State University in 2007. Lauren obtained a Juvenile Justice & Child Welfare Multi-System Integration Certificate through Georgetown University in 2010.

After four years as a Social Worker for Child Welfare Services in Humboldt County, Lauren began her career with Seneca in 2009. She was drawn to Seneca’s mission of Unconditional Care and commitment to innovative practices and continues to experience fulfillment through opportunities to contribute to local and statewide systemic change across our public systems. Seneca’s mission aligns with Lauren’s passion and dedication to ensuring children, youth, and families receive high-quality support, strengthened relational connection to those they care about, and opportunities for healing when they need it most.

Outside of work, Lauren enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, exploring the outdoors, building local community, gardening, and encouraging others to live into their giftedness.

 

MELISSA LAWTON

[email protected]

Melissa Lawton (she/her) is the Regional Executive Director for Santa Clara County.  She has a BS from West Point, a MFCC from San Francisco State University and is a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Melissa came to Seneca after years of public service in the Army, as a firefighter/EMT, and as an adjunct professor.  Informed by her personal experience surviving and thriving in the oppressive systems that Seneca families navigate, Melissa has a deep understanding and personal stake in changing those systems.  Motivated by Seneca's commitment to unconditional care, Melissa's 10 years with the agency have spanned from direct service to leading a team of 160 people.

Outside of work, Melissa enjoys all things two-wheels. Most mornings, she’s on her Peloton and on the weekends, you’ll find her on a bicycle climbing hills in the East Bay or on a dirt bike tackling the trails in Metcalf Motorcycle Park.

 

SHELBY HOWARD

[email protected]

Shelby Howard, has been with Seneca Family of Agencies since starting as a wraparound clinician in 2008 in our San Francisco program.  Shelby was drawn to Seneca’s value of “unconditional care” and loved working in the wraparound program for the ability to flexibly meet the needs of families that were involved in both the child welfare and probation systems. Shelby studied Child Development and then Marriage and Family Therapy at California State University, Chico and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  She was drawn to working with children since her time as a summer camp counselor with the YMCA.  Through her schooling she came to understand that the way to truly help children, is by supporting families and she was enthusiastic about transitioning into leading our Resource Family programs (foster care and adoption) in 2013.  Shelby is passionate about ensuring we are providing the best possible families to children who need to be placed away from their families, while working towards family preservation and reunification whenever possible.

Outside of work Shelby is busy keeping up with her own young children, and spends as much time with them outside as possible.  Shelby still maintains connections to the YMCA camps she’s worked with and cannot wait until her children are ready to be little campers.

 

SAMA HROMNIK

[email protected]

Sama received her undergraduate and honors degrees as well as her teaching certificate from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She has a master’s in special education from Sacramento State University and a master’s in education and an admin credential from UC Berkeley.

She began her career in education, teaching English and Life Skills to high school students in South Africa. After moving the US, finding work as a teacher at Seneca allowed Sama to share her love of teaching with her passion for supporting students with significant mental health and emotional and behavioral challenges – the perfect way to use the combination of her studies in Psychology and Education. She also tries to represent and share a different perspective with kids, families and colleagues, through her bi-racial and multi-cultural identity and background.

Seneca’s mission to provide unconditional care and to serve and support kids and families in the greatest amount of need provides the foundation for Sama’s desire to continue her work for well over a decade in the non-public schools, along with Seneca’s commitment to innovation, out-of-the-box thinking, unstoppable dedication and creativity. These underpinnings, along with working side by side with like-minded colleagues who are also passionate about real change that results in greater equity, access, inclusion and as a result joy for those who need it most, is what drives Sama in her work every day.

When not at work, she can be found outdoors: running, open-water swimming in the Bay, hiking, riding her bike or reading in the sun – all with her puppy by her side (and a cup of tea and something yummy)!

 

TOSHIA COOPER

[email protected]

Where you received your degree and/or any certifications you all have

Bachelors of Science, Business Administration

Concentration: Marketing

San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA

 

Master of Arts, Counseling

Concentration: School Psychology

Saint Mary’s College of California, Moraga, CA

 

Where you began your career and what brought you to work at Seneca

I started out my professional career working as an account manager for Kaiser, because I thought I wanted to be the high-powered businesswoman that you see in the movies. That all changed when my younger cousin (like me, also raised by my grandmother) struggled with the absence of her parents. In turn, she exhibited externalizing behaviors that continued to escalate, and none of the support staff assigned to her knew what to do. I stepped in to support since my grandmother had no clue what to do with her either, and we eventually agreed during a family IEP meeting she required a higher level of care to unpack the layers of trauma she had experienced, and she landed at James Baldwin Academy, a Seneca NPS program.

Her and I were on a journey together to change the trajectory of her future, and I was committed to supporting her the entire way. That was my first introduction to Seneca, engaging in that level of therapeutic work and experiencing firsthand someone's ability to reshape their future with the right support in place, when the system is designed to support no matter your circumstance, and when people are committed to your success. It was life changing, for the both of us. From there,  I ended up working at JBA as a mental health counselor in 2009, and the rest is history!

Why Seneca’s mission is important to you

I have an unwavering commitment to leading for equity, which embodies the values of both Unconditional Care and Unconditional Education. At Seneca I am able to engage in transforming unfavorable situations impacted by various systems into positive outcomes for the students, families, and communities we serve by challenging, disrupting, and transforming systems to support equity and inclusion for all. I am able to advocate for education and mental health services to be designed to accelerate progress and close the educational achievement gaps experienced by students from low-income communities, students of color, and students enrolled in special education programs. The cherry on top is that I get to do this work while pouring back into our most underserved and under-resourced communities, which happen to be the same communities that raised and shaped me! Seneca’s commitment to doing whatever it takes to disconfirm previous experiences of institutional harm, simply put, is my passion and my life’s work.

What is/are things that you like to do outside of work

I love being a wife and mom! My 6-year-old is amazing, and I enjoy watching him learn, grow, and explore the world all while being proud to be his most authentic self.

 

Kimberly Wayne, MSW

Kimberly Wayne is the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. In this role, Kimberly is responsible for leading and managing the organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion priorities and initiatives. Kimberly began working at Seneca in 1997 as counselor in the Residential Treatment Program. During her tenure she has led residential, school and community-based programs.

In her current role, Kimberly manages the oversight of the agency’s DEI Advisory Board, identity-based employee resource and professional learning community groups, as well as language related (interpreting and translation) services. Leading this work for Seneca means re-imagining and developing equitable practices to offer employees from marginalized communities a more inclusive workplace experience. Kimberly believes that when the agency’s employees experience the full benefits of an inclusive workplace, the youth and families served will receive more culturally appropriate and responsive services.


Greg Ridout

Greg earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Elementary Education from Colby College and went on to earn a master’s degree in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. After two years of direct services in child welfare, Greg launched what has grown into a 25-year career in nonprofit management. After spending the last 20 years leading youth development and workforce development programming in New York City, Greg has recently located to Northern California and returned to child welfare, serving as Chief Program Officer for Community-Based Programs at Seneca Family of Agencies. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Services.`

Dion Aroner

Dion Aroner began her professional career as a county social worker with the Alameda County Social Services Agency in 1967, after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. Dion had the opportunity to work with families receiving assistance under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, with seniors and the disabled in the Old Age Security (OAS) program, now called SSI/SSP, as well as with single men and women receiving the county assistance program known as General Assistance.

Concurrently, Dion was active in the Social Services Union Local 535, a statewide union affiliated with the Service Employees International Union.  Eventually she became the President of Local 535 – the first woman and youngest person to serve in that position.

In 1972 Dion left county service to join the campaign of Tom Bates who was running for an open seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. With Tom’s successful election, Dion returned to county service but as an Executive Assistant to then Supervisor Tom Bates. She established the first constituent services program at the Board and staffed the County Arts Commission during the development of 1% for the arts in new county buildings. When Tom ran for the California State Assembly in 1976, Dion joined him first as his District Administrative Assistant before moving to the State Capitol to become Chief Consultant to the Assembly Human Services committee which Tom chaired at the time. Dion served as Chief of Staff to Tom’s personal staff at the same time until he was termed out in 1996.

Dion succeeded Tom as the Assemblywoman from the 14th Assembly district in 1996 representing the East Bay cities of Richmond, Hercules, Pinole, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont and North and West Oakland. Dion became the Chair of the Assembly Human Services (HS) committee and led the state’s efforts to adapt our programs to federal “welfare reform” passed by President Clinton in 1996, developing the most progressive response in the country. In addition to chairing the HS committee, Dion sat on the Assembly Budget, Appropriations, Revenue and Taxation committees, among others. She also held a leadership position and chaired the Assembly Democratic Caucus in her last two years in office.

In 2002, Good Housekeeping magazine honored Dion with the prestigious “Award for Women in Government” along with United States Senators Olympia Snowe and Barbara Mikulski.

After being termed out in 2002, Dion became the Legislator-In-Residence both at U.C. Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and the Center for Labor Research and Education at the Institute of Industrial Relations. At the same time, she opened her own lobbying firm with two of her former staffers. While no longer a lobbyist, Dion continues to consult with clients in the caring professions. She is a frequent speaker on public issues, including California’s budget and local impacts.

Dion has been a member of Seneca’s Board of Directors for many years and serves as the Board’s Secretary. In addition, she is a member of the Women’s Foundation of California Board of Directors and has had the privilege of chairing their Women’s Policy Institute’s annual mock legislative hearing. Most recently Dion was appointed by the Senate Pro Tem to sit on the Little Hoover Commission, a statewide body that studies critical issues facing California and makes recommendations to the Legislature and the Administration to improve the quality of state programs.

Dion lives in Berkeley with her husband, David Aroner, and is a parent of two children and a grandparent to four wonderful kids.

 

 

Rochelle "Shelley" Benning

Rochelle (Shelley) Benning – A business leader with 20+ years of experience in Audit, Risk, Compliance, and Finance, Shelley currently serves as the Chief of Staff and Executive Director – Office of the Chief Technology Risk Officer for Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed healthcare organization in the United States. Previously she worked as a Director of Internal Audit for Charles Schwab & Co and the Operations Finance Director for Levi Strauss Europe Middle East and Africa. Shelley has worked in support of Oakland children for a number of years, and is a co-founder and the board chair of East Bay Innovation Academy, a grades 6-12 public charter school serving 650 students in Oakland. She also co-founded and serves as a board member for Oakland Athletic Rowing Society, a competitive youth rowing club focused on expanding the access and reach of the sport of rowing to all Oakland children. Shelley has served on the Seneca Family of Agencies board for several years; served as a founding board member for Enroll Oakland Charters; and was named as a Pahara – Aspen Education Fellow in 2019. She has an MBA and BS degrees from San Francisco State University, and holds Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and Project Management Professional (PMP) professional certifications. Shelley lives in Oakland with her husband and two sons.

 

Sylvia Pizzini, DPA, MSW

Sylvia Pizzini retired in 2016 after a 52-year career in social services. She is now enjoying time with her husband, children, and grandchildren in addition to volunteer work. An avid (very slow) runner until a few years ago, Sylvia now takes long walks everyday with friends and family members.

Sylvia began her career in 1964 as a Social Worker for Los Angeles County and held successive positions of responsibility as Social Work Supervisor, Program Analyst and Deputy Regional Administrator. In 1981 she went to the California Department of Social Services as Chief of the Office of Child Abuse Prevention, and in 1984 she became Director of Family and Children’s Services for Santa Clara County. After completing her doctoral work in 1994, she became Manager of Program Resources for Casey Family Programs. In 2000 she was appointed by the Governor as Deputy Director for Children and Family Services within the California Department of Social Services, and in 2004 she returned to the nonprofit sector, working for Casey Family Programs and Seneca Family of Agencies until she was appointed Assistant Secretary for the California Health and Human Services Agency in 2011.

Sylvia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California, Berkeley; a Master of Social Work degree from Hunter College, New York; and Master and Doctor degrees in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. Her dissertation, Responses of Child Welfare Services to Changing Economic Incentives, received the Henry Reining, Jr. Award from the University of Southern California’s School of Public Administration for outstanding dissertation of the 1994-95 academic year.

 

 

Jeff Davi

Jeff Davi is a real estate broker with many years of experience in the real estate field.  He is a Broker with Keller Williams in Carmel where he works as a member of the Monterey Peninsula Home Team on real estate sales and he is also a principal at A.G. Davi Property Management which has been a family owned and operated company for three generations.  Jeff has significant experience in real estate sales residential and commercial, leasing, management, and financing.

It wasn’t by luck or accident that Jeff Davi became the 22nd Commissioner of Real Estate for the State of California, he earned it. “Double Deuce”, as he is affectionately called by his former colleagues, has over 28 years of experience in real estate sales, leasing, management and financing. He has been a licensed California real estate broker since 1992. He is a past member of the Board of Directors for the California Association of REALTORS®, selected REALTOR® of the year by his peers and served as president of the Monterey County Association of REALTORS®. His experience in real estate has spanned everything from selling real estate to managing his family real estate business to serving as an industry regulator. As Real Estate Commissioner, he was instrumental in passing legislation that help better protect consumers from unscrupulous loan modification schemes.

Jeff has served as a Chairman of the Board of REInfoLink now known as MlsListings.  He also served as president of the Economic Development Corporation of Monterey County, was a co-founder of the Affordable Housing Steering Council of Monterey County and was on the founding board of directors of the Monterey County Visitor and Convention Bureau.

But….. he most proud of his family and his community. He is a third generation Monterey Peninsula native and as a caring member of that community he has raised millions for non-profit boards, schools and foundations throughout Monterey County.  Jeff currently serves as a Board member of Seneca family of Agencies which is dedicated to providing a family, education and opportunities to children in need.   He has given freely of his time, reputation and money to help support those things that make the Monterey Peninsula such a special place.

Just ask him what he loves about his home, obviously it is the natural beauty, the fabulous weather and the resort atmosphere but even more than that, Jeff says his real love is the people in this very special community.

 

 

Neil Gilbert

Neil Gilbert is the Milton and Gertrude Chernin Professor of Social Welfare and Social Services. Dr. Gilbert is director of the Center for Comparative Family Welfare and Poverty Research and was the founding director of the Family Welfare Research Group.

Dr. Gilbert served as the School's acting dean (1994-96) as well as chair of the doctoral program for a five-year period. His University service has included posts as vice-chair and chair of the Berkeley Senate Faculty's Graduate Council, and membership on the Senate Divisional Council, the Committee on Privilege and Tenure, the Statewide Senate Faculty Coordinating Committee on Graduate Affairs, the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects, the Committee on Committees, the Committee on International Education and the L & S Executive Committee.

Additionally, Dr. Gilbert was a senior research fellow at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in Geneva. He was a recipient of the Senior Fulbright Research Fellowship, which enabled him to study the changing structure of social services in the British welfare state. He has served as a visiting Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University. He was awarded a second Fulbright Fellowship to study European Social Policy as a visiting scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science and at the University of Stockholm Social Research Institute. In 1993 and 1997, Dr. Gilbert served as a visiting scholar at the International Social Security Association in Geneva. In 2010 he was a visiting scholar at Oxford University Department of Social Policy and was a visiting professor at the University of Hamburg in 2016 and  in 2020 a visiting professor at the Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia in Madrid.

His numerous publications include 15 books, 18 edited volumes and over 145 articles that have appeared in The Wall Street JournalThe Public InterestSocietyCommentaryThe American Interest, The Atlantic and leading academic journals. Several of his books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Italian. His book, Capitalism and the Welfare State (Yale University Press) was a New York Times notable book and also reviewed in the New York Review of Books. His 1995 book, Welfare Justice: Restoring Social Equity (Yale University Press) was reviewed in the Wall Street JournalPartisan Review and The Washington Times. In 2002, Transformation of the Welfare State (Oxford University Press) was reviewed in the New York Review of BooksThe New Republic and well-known academic journals. His 2008 book, A Mother's Work: How Feminism, the Market and Policy Shape Family Life (Yale University Press), was reviewed in the Atlantic Monthly. His most recent book is Never Enough: Capitalism and The Progressive Spirit (Oxford University Press). Vanguard essays adapted from this work have been published in The American Interest(link is external) and The (link is external)Atlantic Magazine(link is external).

Dr. Gilbert has served on many editorial boards, including Journal of Social Policy (British), Social WorkThe Journal of Social Service ResearchChildren and Youth Services Review and Gender Issues. He chairs the editorial board of the International Journal of Social Welfare and is co-editor of the Prentice Hall Series in Social Welfare, the Praeger Publication Series on the Social Services, Oxford University Press series on International Policy Exchange. He is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford University Press Library on International Social Policy.

Dr. Gilbert was the US Delegate to Oxford University Press for Social Work and Sociology, served on the board of trustees of the Head-Royce School and is chairman of the board of Seneca Family of Agencies. In 1987, he was awarded the University of Pittsburgh Bicentennial Medallion of Distinction. In 2000 he was voted the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare Teacher of the Year.

 

Geoffrey LePlastrier

Mr. Le Plastrier founded LDC in 1983.  LDC is a developer of large land development projects throughout the US. From 2005 through 2015 LDC was the principal consultant and independent fiduciary for CalPERS, managing the System’s $12 billion investment in land, housing and urban mixed-use projects. In addition, he was appointed to an internal board for CalPERS that oversaw the performance and evaluation of over 90 investment managers in the System’s real asset investment program.

Prior to forming LDC, he held senior level positions with Lend Lease Corporation, Bixby Ranch Company and Janss Corporation.  Professionally Mr. Le Plastrier is an urban planner and licensed architect as well as a California licensed contractor and real estate broker. He has also managed numerous complex commercial litigation claims on behalf of financial institutional clients.

He serves on the board of Olson Urban Housing and several non-profit organizations, including the Seneca Family of Agencies and the Pacific Art Foundation (PAF).

He is a graduate of the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia; Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Concord Law School.

Outside of business activities he is a licensed pilot (private, aerobatic, instrument and multi—engine ratings) and manages two art collections (PAF and LDC) focused mainly on the art of California.

 

Gwen Foster, MSW

Gwen holds a B.A. from Mills College, and an MSW from UCLA. She began her career as a clinical social worker and administrator in children’s mental health programs in the Bay Area. She provided mental health services at Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (ACBHCS) and served as Children’s Mental Health Coordinator for ACBHCS before moving into academia. As a field work consultant and lecturer at the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare, she taught courses and developed internships for graduate students in public and nonprofit mental health settings. Taking social work into another area, Ms. Foster served as a grant maker at Zellerbach Family Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and The California Endowment (TCE). At TCE, through recommending proposals for funding and implementing two statewide strategic initiatives, she worked with agency leaders, advocates, and policymakers to improve access to health and behavioral health services for vulnerable populations.

After leaving the field of philanthropy, Gwen was Director, Mental Health Programs at the California Social Work Education Center, UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare. In this role, she administered a statewide stipend program funded by the Mental Health Services Act to prepare a diverse and culturally responsive social work workforce for public and contract mental health settings. Gwen is currently an independent consultant, writing proposals, searching for grant opportunities, reviewing proposals and applications with nonprofits and public agencies. Recent clients include Building Futures with Women and Children; Felton Institute; United Advocates for Children and Families; Asian Health Services; California Mental Health Services Authority; California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

 

Nancy Peña, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Behavioral Health Consultant

Nancy is a consultant working with the California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions (CIBHS) where she serves as the Co-Director of the CIBHS Leadership Institute, a leadership development program for public sector behavioral health leaders, provided by CIBHS in collaboration with the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.  She began her career in 1980 as the Mental Health Director of a community-based non-profit health agency in San Jose, California. In 1984, she joined the Santa Clara County Mental Health Department (MHD) where she worked in a variety of positions, including Director of Inpatient Social Services and Child and Adolescent Intensive Services; Director of Children and Family Services; Deputy Director; and Director of Mental Health, a position she held for 14 years until her retirement in December 2014. At that time, the MHD served over 28,000 clients each year through a large network of county and contracted providers, with a budget of $350 million. Nancy was active in the California Mental Health Directors Association, now the California Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA), where she served as President of the Board, Co-Chair of the Children’s System of Care Committee, and Co-Chair of the Social Justice Advisory Committee.  She is a former Board member of the California Institute of Mental Health, now the California Institute of Behavioral Health Solutions (CIBHS); the California Mental Health Advocates for Children and Youth (CMHACY); and the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA). She currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Santa Clara County Domestic Violence Intervention Council, and on the Board of Seneca Family of Agencies. Her passions are supporting public sector leaders and the organizations and clients they serve, and spending time with family and friends.

 


ROBIN DETTERMAN

Robin Detterman serves as Seneca’s Chief Program Officer of Educational Services where she provides leadership for the agency’s continuum of district and charter partnerships and five non-public schools, serving over 100 districts and schools in California and Washington State each year. Ms. Detterman started working at Seneca in 2005, and her experience asa special education teacher and administrator informs her current role. In this role, she supports Seneca’s education teams in the development and implementation of high quality, individualized services for students who need additional support at school while working to transform whole schools and school systems into places where all students are welcomed and can thrive. Ms. Detterman holds a MA degree in Special Education and is a graduate of Stanford University, where she earned a Masters degree in Education Policy and Organizational Leadership. She is the co-author of Unconditional Education: Supporting Schools to Serve All Students (Oxford University Press, 2019).


NATHANIEL FOSTER

Nathaniel Foster is the Chief Advancement Officer of Seneca Family of Agencies. His focus is on development, fundraising, venture philanthropy, marketing and branding for the whole organization. Nathaniel came to Seneca with a clarity and depth of fundraising knowledge that has accelerated our overall efforts. Nathaniel graduated from the University of Denver with a BS in business and also has his Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership from Seattle University. He has over a decade of experience in the non-profit development & management world, working with local, national, and international organizations. Previously Nathaniel was the Executive Director of Playworks, anonprofit that serves over 700,000 children every school day, concentrating on conflict resolution, leadership skills, emotional intelligence and increased physical activity for elementary schools throughout the country. Before that, he was the Chief Development & Marketing Officer at Lincoln, formerly Lincoln Child Center. He has spent his entire nonprofit career in development, fundraising, board development, venture philanthropy, and communications and is very excited to be working with an organization as wonderful as Seneca Family of Agencies. In addition, he was co-chair for the Oakland Quality Community Schools Committee, currently sits on two for-profit boards, and is a member of the San Francisco Chapter of the Private Asset Liaison Group


MICHAEL ALONSO

Michael Alonso is the Chief Information Officer for Seneca Family of Agencies. Since joining Seneca in 2003, he has provided leadership for all technology related operations throughout the organization. He is responsible for IT strategy and vision as well as oversight for the teams that create and maintain a robust information technology environment in addition to the teams that develop, deliver and support innovative applications specifically created for Seneca’s unique blend of services.Michael is passionate about designing and producing creatively unique solutions to increase efficiency and improve service delivery and is personally involved to a significant degree in Seneca’s application development process. In addition to internally-focused activities, Michael engages with organizations at the county, state and federal levels to represent the technology-related interests and perspective of both Seneca and the broader community of behavioral health providers. These organizations includecounties, other behavioral health providers, state advocacy groups and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONCHIT). Before coming to Seneca, Michael worked in the custom software industry, developing applications tailored for a wide variety of companies representing numerous industries such as healthcare, retail, technology, non-profit and more. During this time, he took an interest not just in the software development process, but also in the broader perspective of organization-wide information technology environments. Michael holds a B.S. in Computer Science from CSU Hayward (now CSU East Bay)

JANET BRIGGS

Janet Briggs, Chief Financial Officer of Seneca Family of Agencies, began her endeavor in finance by achieving her bachelors’ degree in Business Economics with an Accounting Emphasis from the University of California Santa Barbara. Janet began her career in Public Accounting working in various industries gaining extensive experience in accounting and business management and then specializing in providing audit and accounting services for various not for profit social service agencies as a CPA. Her in-depth understanding of accounting issues and regulations unique to not for profit agencies has distinguished Janet as a knowledgeable source and leader for this company. Since coming to Seneca in 2002, Janet has supervised and trained an ever-growing accounting staff on various accounting policies and procedures pertaining to Seneca programs. Not only does she review and monitor numerous county and state contracts, Janet also oversees all fiscal activity for over 150 programs in 20 different counties. Attending monthly fiscal program meetings, Janet is dedicated to effectively communicating with directors and managing the financial integrity of Seneca. In an effort to constantly improve practice and management skills, Janet regularly attends conferences and trainings specific to her role at Seneca. In addition to her successes here at Seneca Family of Agencies, Janet also is a mother to two wonderful boys.


KEN BERRICK

Ken Berrick is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Emeritus of Seneca Family of Agencies, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing Unconditional Care to children and families through comprehensive mental health, education, juvenile justice, placement and permanency services. Since its founding in 1985, Seneca has developed innovative programs ranging from Wraparound and Intensive Treatment Foster Care, to integrated mental health services in schools, and a crisis continuum of care for youth and their families. Mr. Berrick served as Governor-appointed Commissioner on the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. He also served as a Governor’s Appointee on the California Child Welfare Council, where he co-chaired the Behavioral Health Committee, tasked with developing best practice recommendations to guide policy and inform statewide efforts to effectively address the behavioral health needs of children involved in or at risk of involvement in the child welfare system. Mr. Berrick is a two-time former President of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services and serves on numerous policy planning groups in California at both the county and state-level. He is an elected member and Past-President of the Alameda County Board of Education, and Past-President of the California County Boards of Education. In 2014, he was recognized by California Mental Health Advocates for Children and Youth as Advocate of the Year. In 2017, he was a recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, in 2021, a recipient of the Jefferson Bronze Award, and in 2022, a recipient of the Jefferson Silver Award. He is co-author of the books, Unconditional Care: Relationship-Based, Behavioral Intervention with Vulnerable Children and Families (Oxford University Press, 2010), and Unconditional Education (Oxford University Press, 2019).

Leticia Galyean

Leticia Galyean is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seneca Family of Agencies, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing Unconditional Care to youth and their families throughout California and Washington State. She received both her Bachelor’s degree and Masters of Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley.

Leticia began her career with Seneca in 2001 as a Wraparound counselor inspired by the passionate belief that the effects of childhood trauma should be patiently and persistently supported in the context of family and community. Throughout her tenure at Seneca, Leticia has served as Program Director; Regional Executive Director; Executive Director of Data, Evaluation, and Strategic Initiatives; and Chief Operating Officer.

She has developed, led, and evaluated numerous programs across the Bay Area and Central Coast, assisting youth and their families to meet their behavioral health, academic, and permanency goals. Leticia is a frequent presenter at national conferences on Seneca’s Unconditional Care treatment model and behavioral health interventions. As CEO, Leticia oversees all aspects of Seneca including 150+ programs, with 1,400+ employees, serving 18,000+ youth and their families, annually.

She has served as a member of several policy development groups in California at both the county and state-level. Leticia also serves as an active member of the California Alliance for Child & Family Services, California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and is a Board member of SOAR for Youth. From the time she was a counselor through her entire tenure at Seneca, Leticia has led with the vision to strengthen the larger systems of care for our most vulnerable youth and their families.


LETICIA GALYEAN

Leticia Galyean is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seneca Family of Agencies, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing Unconditional Care to youth and their families throughout California and Washington State. She received both her Bachelor’s degree and Masters of Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley.

Leticia began her career with Seneca in 2001 as a Wraparound counselor inspired by the passionate belief that the effects of childhood trauma should be patiently and persistently supported in the context of family and community. Throughout her tenure at Seneca, Leticia has served as Program Director; Regional Executive Director; Executive Director of Data, Evaluation, and Strategic Initiatives; and Chief Operating Officer.

She has developed, led, and evaluated numerous programs across the Bay Area and Central Coast, assisting youth and their families to meet their behavioral health, academic, and permanency goals. Leticia is a frequent presenter at national conferences on Seneca’s Unconditional Care treatment model and behavioral health interventions. As CEO, Leticia oversees all aspects of Seneca including 150+ programs, with 1,400+ employees, serving 18,000+ youth and their families, annually.

She has served as a member of several policy development groups in California at both the county and state-level. Leticia also serves as an active member of the California Alliance for Child & Family Services, California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and is a Board member of SOAR for Youth. From the time she was a counselor through her entire tenure at Seneca, Leticia has led with the vision to strengthen the larger systems of care for our most vulnerable youth and their families.