Leadership Meet our team

Walter Team Pic

Walter Philips

Chief Executive Officer

Walter has been at the helm of San Diego Youth Services as the Chief Executive Officer since 2000. He reports directly to our 14-member Board of Directors on our agency performance, including the 17,000 youth we help annually, our more than 200 staff members and 100 volunteers. During Walter’s tenure, SDYS has grown from a small agency with a $6 million annual budget and 16 programs to one of San Diego’s largest youth serving agencies, with a $24 million annual budget and more than 30 programs. Walter has worked in San Diego County as a social worker for three decades, including more than 25 years in leadership positions. 

SDYS Leadership Richard Gutierrez

Richard Gutierrez

Chief Financial Officer

Richard has been a Chief Financial Executive in the nonprofit sector for more than 20 years. He has extensive experience in fiscal oversight and operations, spearheading complex projects, identifying new opportunities and providing financial consultation. At San Diego Youth Services, Richard oversees and implements long-term financial and operational strategies, oversees our financial activity and manages our finance and accounting teams. Richard’s team consists of six staff members who manage over 70 separate federal, state and local contracts. Prior to joining SDYS, he was the Chief Financial Officer for Casa Pacifica.

Steven Headshot

Steven Jella

Chief Program Officer

Steven is the Chief Program Officer at San Diego Youth Services. He is a licensed psychologist and a licensed marriage and family therapist. Since 2008, Steven has designed, implemented and overseen SDYS’ programming, including juvenile diversion, prevention and intervention, homelessness housing and support, mental health treatment, LGBTQ+ services, suicide and anti-bullying prevention and intervention, human trafficking prevention, domestic violence prevention, foster care services, workforce development and adoption support. He also manages program funding, analyzes the effectiveness of programs and develops strategies to improve existing programs, as well as oversees program directors and staff.  

SDYS Leadership Kristen Diggs

Kristen Diggs

Chief Human Resources Officer

Kristen is San Diego Youth Services’ Chief Human Resources Officer. She has held leadership positions in nonprofit organizations for the past 17 years. Kristen oversees all aspects of human resources, including analyzing and improving existing HR policies, practices and operations, as well as developing strategies and policies that promote sustainable growth. In addition, Kristen also ensures business objectives are achieved, manages talent acquisition, SDYS' diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, employee relations, compensation and cultural development. Before joining SDYS, she served as the Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Board of Directors

San Diego Youth Services

TDucker

Chair

Timothy Ducker

Principal & Owner, consulTD

Tim has held multiple executive positions across both the for-profit and non-profit sectors and currently leads a bespoke consulting firm that is focused on delivering tangible impact for organizations and communities alike. Tim specializes in developing actionable strategic plans for social impact organizations, as well as facilitating large-scale employee engagement efforts and working with organizations to improve their operational effectiveness and improve capital available to support front-line workers and communities. Tim has served on the boards of various non-profits across the US and Europe for the last 10 years and acts as an advisor to a number of small San Diego business owners. 

Monique

Vice Chair

Monique Myers

Deputy Attorney General, CA Department of Justice

Monique Myers has practiced law since 2013. She is a Deputy Attorney General in the Appeals, Writs & Trials section of the California Attorney General’s Office. Previously, she was a Deputy District Attorney in San Diego County.

Precious Jackson-Hubbard

Secretary

Precious Jackson-Hubbard

Principal, San Diego Unified School District

Precious has spent 15 years in education as a K-12 educator and administrator where she is working to advocate for students who require additional supports and services. Precious is a member of the local chapter of the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa Inc., a sorority of educators and counselors who provide mentoring and professional and professional development. 

CKurth Photo

Treasurer

Christian Kurth

Vice President, JMI Equity

Christian works at JMI Equity, a growth equity firm focused on investing in leading software companies, and previously worked in the technology investment banking group of Wells Fargo Securities. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California.

Ron

Director

Ronald Garnett

President & CEO, Council for Supplier Diversity

Ronald is President and CEO of the Council for Supplier Diversity, which has a mission to use Supplier Diversity initiatives as an engine for economic development in economically under-served communities. He is a Certified “Master Trainer” and his broad background in executive management, sales, distribution, operations, and human resources provides a unique combination of experience and competency when it comes to improving strategy.

Ashanti Hands

Director

Ashanti Hands, Ed.D.

President, Mesa College

Ashanti is responsible for 25+ departments rooted in student success and equity with services supporting basic needs, foster youth, formerly incarcerated, undocumented students and more. Her WHY is to create conditions that matter for students to succeed. She is 100% invested in Mesa’s vision of becoming the leading college of equity and excellence.

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Director

Jesse Johnson

Sr. Processing Developmental Engineer, Illumina

Jesse is a process engineer serving to bring STEM focused initiatives to underserved communities and expand inclusion of people of color. In his spare time, he tutors students of San Diego Refugees. He enjoys basketball and all things NBA.

Lauri Picture

Director

Laurie Olague

Owner & Principal Consultant, L Factor Consulting and Coaching

Laurie is a social impact consultant and certified coach who earned her M.A. degree in Nonprofit Management and specializes in social enterprise business operations, CSR, and program development. She has served in the nonprofit sector for the last 15 years as a volunteer, advisor, and program director at some of Los Angeles’ top nonprofits and employment social enterprises.

 

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Director

Laura Shanley

Principal, Laura Shanley Consulting

Laura spent 14 years in Employee Communications and Engagement at a Fortune 500 company in San Diego. She has since transitioned to part-time consulting to have more time with her three children. 

Jefferey Sherrif Picture

Director

Jeffrey Sheriff

Senior Associate, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Jeff works in the field of Intellectual Property Law. His professional highlights include being named the 2020 Distinguished Pro Bono Attorney of the Year at the Casa Cornelia Law Center; 2019 Pro Bono Publico winner at the Casa Cornelia Law Center; and the Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman Working Father of the year in 2020. Jeff and his wife Katie are the proud parents of three active kids.

SV

Director

Sobeida Velázquez

Lecturer at University of San Diego and San Diego State University  

Sobeida Velazquez has been in education
for over 20 years. She has been a classroom teacher, a resource teacher, a charter school CEO/Principal and an Elementary School principal. She is currently a lecturer at USD and SDSU while completing her Ph.D. in Education for Social Justice at the University of San Diego. 

 
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Director

Katie Wu

Teacher, Poway Unified School District

Katie is a high school teacher in Poway Unified School District. She was named 2018-2019 San Diego County Teacher of the Year. She was also the Youth in Transition Coordinator for the district by serving homeless families.  

 

 
Sade Burrell Photo

Director

Sade Burrell

Associate Dean, Cuyamaca College

Dr. Sade Burrell is a socially conscious leader with a deep commitment to diversity, access, and student success. She has dedicated over 15 years of her life and career to serving members of the community. This includes her roles as a tenured faculty member and as an Associate Dean at Cuyamaca College. She serves on community Boards such as San Diego Youth Services where she provides insight as a person who experienced foster care. It is through her ongoing efforts to eliminate child abuse that she finds her passion and commitment to ensuring families and communities are provided with every opportunity to become successful.

 

San Diego Youth Foundation

KELS

Chair

Kelly McGeehan

Deputy City Attorney, San Diego City Attorney's Office

Kelly has been on the Board for nearly 11 years. Kelly graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 2001.  She has served her community as a prosecutor both in San Diego County and in Cook County, Illinois.  After nearly ten years in that field, Kelly transitioned to civil law, and now serves
as a Deputy City Attorney for San Diego defending the City in a variety of lawsuits.

Yandro Valdez

Vice Chair

Yandro Valdez

SVP, Commercial Banker
at U.S. Bank

Yandro has been involved with various charities and not for profit organizations. He is an associate board member of The Covenant House, active with the Chamber of Commerce, volunteers for Junior Achievement, and is an advocate for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Heather

Secretary

Heather Stewart

Community Member

Heather is a self-proclaimed nerd who has over 15 years working in the tech industry with a special focus in children's video games and internet safety. Her philanthropic focus is mentoring today's youth while hoping to spark their passion for math, science, engineering and technology.
 
CKurth Photo

Treasurer

Christian Kurth

Vice President, JMI Equity

Christian works at JMI Equity, a growth equity firm focused on investing in leading software companies, and previously worked in the technology investment banking group of Wells Fargo Securities. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California.

Cynthia

Director

Cynthia Austin

President & Chief Visionary Officer, Shyne

Cynthia Austin has over twenty years of experience in the non-profit and youth development fields. She is the Founder of Shyne, a national small business consulting agency for human trafficking survivor entrepreneurs. Mrs. Austin is a proud San Diego native who received her degree from SDSU. She enjoys giving back to the community through social impact investing, helping the homeless and mentoring youth.

Kym Headshot

Director

Kym Dinehart

 Director, Business
Transformation Ray Savings Solution, LLC

Kym is a finance executive with a career that spans over 3 decades primarily focused on helping facilitate the expansion of financial systems and processes for emerging markets within the healthcare industry.  As her family arrived in the US as political refugees from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975, it seemed unimaginable that Kym would someday have a successful career in leadership with titles including CPA, Controller, Treasurer, and Business Transformation Director.  However, that experience has created a personal passion to give back and help others achieve their full potential.  Through volunteering, supporting, and serving as an advisory board member for strong community-centric organizations, Kym hopes to pay it forward by inspiring others and creating opportunities in our community.  

TDucker

Director

Timothy Ducker

Principal & Owner, consulTD

Tim has held multiple executive positions across both the for-profit and non-profit sectors and currently leads a bespoke consulting firm that is focused on delivering tangible impact for organizations and communities alike. Tim specializes in developing actionable strategic plans for social impact organizations, as well as facilitating large-scale employee engagement efforts and working with organizations to improve their operational effectiveness and improve capital available to support front-line workers and communities. Tim has served on the boards of various non-profits across the US and Europe for the last 10 years and acts as an advisor to a number of small San Diego business owners. 

SDYS Leadership Mary Gafner

Director

Mary Gafner

IT Project Manager, Staff, Qualcomm  

Mary is an experienced Project and Program Manager currently working at Qualcomm, a semiconductor company headquartered in San Diego.  She has over 20 years of experience in technology, specializing in application development, implementation, and management.  Mary serves on the board of Qualcomm Women Employee Network and has been involved with multiple non-profits supporting San Diego youth including Big Brother Big Sister, Junior Achievement, and Voices for Children.

 
Jessalyn

Director

Jessalyn Hines

Senior Manager, PHD Media  

Jessalyn has 7+ years of advertising and marketing experience in digital and traditional media.  One of her first jobs was an intern in the Marketing & Development Dept. at SDYS while studying for her undergrad degree at SDSU.  She is a recent graduate from Pepperdine University with her MBA specializing in marketing.  She is passionate about helping the children of San Diego and has been a volunteer with since 2013.

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Director

Cathy Lloyd

General Sales Manager, iHeartMedia

Cathy works at iHeartMedia, a leading global media and entertainment company specializing in radio, digital, mobile, social, live events and on-demand entertainment. She prides herself on supporting fellow women through networking and mentorship, and served on boards that help women and children throughout San Diego.

SDYS Leadership Stephanie Lloyd

Director

Stephanie Lloyd

Real Estate Broker

Lida Leadership Photo

Director

Lida Rafia, Ph.D.

Principal Consultant, Self-Employed

With over 15 years of professional experience in higher education leadership, Lida has served in various leadership roles in community colleges, where she has been instrumental in leading strategic change. Her areas of expertise include program and curricula design, training and facilitation, executive coaching, strategic planning, and organizational development. As a Principal Consultant, she serves as a thought partner to leaders across health, higher education and business organizations to renvision their internal policies and procedures to reflect and promote greater equity.

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Director

Marni von Wilpert

Councilmember (District 5),
San Diego City Council

Marni von Wilpert is a member of the San Diego City Council, representing District 5. She and has spent her life in public service, including serving in the Peace Corps, working for the Obama Administration in Washington, D.C., and starting a legal clinic in Mississippi.

SDYS Leadership Sabina Widmann

Director

Sabina Widmann

Principal, Widmann Henderson Enterprises, Inc.

Sabina Widmann is the owner of Widmann Henderson Enterprises, a firm that provides coaching and consulting for business and life. She previously oversaw operations of TelevisaUnivision Communication Inc.’s (UCI) radio stations, and worked at Earthshare of California and the Environmental Health Coalition. In addition, Sabina is a proud board member of the San Diego Youth Services.  Widmann is bi-lingual and bi-cultural having lived over 5 years of her adult life in Latin America, and she is now raising her two daughters in San Diego.

Director

Jenny Tsoulos

Sr. Director, HRBP ServiceNOW

Foundation Trustees

Trustee

Damon Melda

Vice President, Tenant Representation
Jones Lang LaSalle

Trustee

Richard M. Segal, Esq.

Community Volunteer

Trustee

Fern Steiner, Esq.

Attorney
Smith, Steiner, Vanderpool & Wax

Trustee

Tambra Wayne

Community Volunteer

Trustee

Taft Zitoun

CEO, Revenue Frontier

Trustee

Trevor Allan

Senior Vice President, Alliant Insurance Services

Trustee

Catherine Baker

Senior Manager, Public Relations, Qualcomm

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