Business Meeting

Our Board of Directors

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 Jan Zatorski, MPA


Jan has 33 years of public service and executive level experience, as well as extensive involvement with a variety of volunteer organizations. She retired to Ventura County, where she became a Court Appointed Special Advocate. 

Why does she believe in Step Up Ventura?

“Step Up Ventura works to create healthy communities and care for our youngest and most vulnerable populations. I am honored to assist with its critical mission to help families affected by homelessness become self-sufficient. I truly believe we must address the early developmental and educational needs of our youngest members to maintain a productive society.”

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Marina Porter, BFA


Marina, a native Angeleno, currently resides in Ventura with her family. She holds a BFA in Interior Design, and after a fantastic 15-year career as an Interior Architectural Designer who worked on multi-million dollar projects with high-profile clients, she felt a calling to play a bigger game when her son, Lincoln, was born in 2015. 
Her time as a designer working and living all over Los Angeles, the homeless people she encountered, extended family tragedy, and her own experiences, led her to a new career path within the insurance industry. Marina creates access for people from all walks of life to obtain proper supplemental and/or life insurance coverage to protect their families from financial disaster. 
She actively engages with displaced families to help them find immediate resources, volunteers at the Mission Church as a room leader for the 2-3 year olds, is the 2018 Co-Chair for the Young Professionals Group through the Ventura Chamber, is actively involved in community events with the Ventura Police Department K9 team and Relay for Life events with the American Cancer Society, and is Step Up Ventura's current Marketing Outreach Chair.
During her downtime, you can find her playing at the beach with her family, or shooting pool with her friends.
"Today's children are the future leaders of our community. Step Up Ventura provides a desperately needed resource that many people overlook when considering the homeless community. I believe that together we can transform the lives of the most disadvantaged, vulnerable children into true success stories, instead of ignoring them and allowing them to remain in the cycle of homelessness.”

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Diana Nelson, BA

Treasurer, Operations Chair

With over 25 years experience in accounting, Diana, the owner of A B & B Services, brings a wealth of expertise to her service as Step Up Ventura’s Treasurer. She is devoted to the cause of helping homeless children achieve their highest potential. She is also passionate about the civil rights of individuals with disabilities and has served as the President of the Board of Directors of Disability Rights California.

“I believe that stepping in to provide young children with a good foundation will affect their entire life.  It is imperative to give children from a difficult background the knowledge base from which they can build a better life for themselves.”

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Mary O. Kerrigan, MSW 

Program Director

Mary has thirty years of experience working with families as a child and family psychotherapist. As a therapist, her work focused on helping children and parents resolve early childhood traumas and form healthy attachments. She views helping family members build on their strengths and responding to their difficulties with compassion as essential aspects of meeting a family’s needs.  

Mary has been an instructor for graduate schools of social work and has conducted trainings on attachment and trauma on both the local and national levels.  She has managed programs for several nonprofits, the last as the executive director of Center for Attachment and Trauma (formerly the American Foundation for Family Attachment) before relocating from the Washington, DC, area to Ventura. She believes Step Up Ventura offers a unique educational and emotional support to young homeless children and their families and is grateful to be part of furthering its mission.

“Step Up Ventura is a place to develop strong relationships that will prepare children for success throughout their lives.”

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Judy Alexandre, PhD, LCSW

Past President

Judy has pursued Shalom for the community, others, and herself in many ways. Professionally this has been lived out in her work with: child welfare services; domestic violence; a private practice of over 30 years; 25 years at Westmont College teaching social work skills, policy, intimate partner violence, child welfare, contemporary marriage, family, grief and loss, and communication classes; as well as training and supervising interns at local non-profits. She has also volunteered in local non-profit agencies, particularly those that work with people experiencing poverty and homelessness.

“Step Up Ventura makes a difference for parents who are struggling to provide their children with the opportunities they need.” 

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Joan Lansing-Eigenhuis, MEd

Program Chair

Joan grew up in Ventura and has lived here ever since.  She is passionate about the healthy development and education of young children.  Joan is now retired and spent her career as a preschool teacher, preschool director, and college professor in the Child Development Department at Ventura College. 

She has served as an accreditation validator for the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and as a director mentor for the California Mentor Program.  She also facilitated the Ventura Area Preschool Directors Group at Ventura College for several years and holds a master's degree in Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Education from California Lutheran University. 

Joan is a life-long member of Community Presbyterian Church where she has served on the board of elders and in many of the church's ministries, especially those serving children.

“I want to use my education and experience to support the optimal development of our youngest and most vulnerable children, and I am excited about the work and vision of Step Up Ventura."

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Jennifer Raymond, MPH

Communications Co-Chair

Jennifer Raymond is currently working towards her Doctorate in Public Health. She is most interested in global health and the prevention of infectious diseases. She has spent most of her career working with the University of California to conduct clinical trials in viral diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Recently, she made a career change to work with the Center for Community Engagement at CSU Channel Islands. She has participated in medical mission trips to Cuba, Uganda, and Peru and is a current volunteer with the American Red Cross Central California.

She previously worked with Step Up Ventura as an AmeriCorps VIP Fellow where she recruited several board members and volunteers.

“Homelessness is a major public health issue in Ventura County. I believe that Step Up Ventura has a great mission and the ability to make a difference in the lives of those affected by homelessness. ”

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Rev. Liz Williams, MAT, MDiv

Communications Co-Chair

The Rev. Liz Williams, a native Californian and ordained Episcopal priest, serves in the children and family ministries at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. With an extensive experience in teaching prior to entering the priesthood, she has a passion for providing childcare and serving our homeless children. She also has a passion for education and considers herself a lifelong learner. Reverend Liz’s motto, from the High Desert Fire Department, is “Desire to serve. Courage to act.”

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Corrine Thomas, MSW, LCSW

Fund Development Chair

Corrine comes to Step Up Ventura with extensive experience with families experiencing homelessness, as well as families experiencing SPMI and/or among its members. As part of her graduate education, she was part of a multi-disciplinary team serving undocumented immigrants, becoming more familiar with legal, social, and cultural challenges associated with immigration status and mixed status families. While living in Las Vegas, Corrine also volunteered with Parenting Project, an organization for families involved with Child Protective Services.

Corrine currently serves as the Founder of Principal Provider and the President of Ventura Toastmasters. She is a traveler, adventurer, firewalker, square peg and perpetual student.

“Children who've suffered trauma and damaged attachment become adults who are ill prepared to thrive. If the cycle of instability is to be interrupted, it must start at the level of families.”

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Cathi Nye

Board Member

Cathi comes to Step Up Ventura with extensive experience and connections to the community regarding homelessness. She currently works as a Homeless Education Coordinator with the Ventura County Superintendent of Schools Office where she provides technical assistance and resources to school districts regarding the rights of students living in homelessness. Cathi also collaborates with local agencies that work with the homeless and is a Board Member of the Housing Trust Fund Ventura County. I provide district support to the students enrolled in the VCOE school & programs that live in homelessness.

"I know the impact of homelessness can severely impact the cognitive development of children and the mission of Step Up Ventura has always been of interest to me.”


Dolores Mata Gonzalez

Board Member

Born in Valle De Guadalupe, Jalisco, Mexico, Dolores moved to Ventura and started working on her long career in education. Dolores started off as a playground supervisor and worked her way up to become a Bilingual Paraeducator for Ventura Unified.  She also worked for a non-profit for over a decade, has had a strong focus on low income children, and offered free after-school tutoring. I

Dolores has three children of her own, two daughters and a son ages 26, 24 and 9 - who keep her very busy!

"My life has always revolved around children. I feel like my calling in life is serving them in any way I can." 


Annual Reports 

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Annual Report 2019


Annual Report 2018