Meet our Board Members

Step Up Ventura Board members are dedicated to the belief that every homeless child in Ventura County benefit and deserves quality childcare and therapeutic services.

Our Board of Directors is comprised of community and national leaders with expertise in a range of areas. They bring a wealth of experiences and expertise to Step Up Ventura. United by their passion for our mission, it's our pleasure to introduce them to you.


Judith Alexandre



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Cathi Nye, MA


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 of Ventura County. She provides 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.”


Paula Francis

Secretary, Communications

Paula is a recently retired elementary school teacher from
the Ventura Unified School District. Her educational
experience includes teaching grades 2 through 5 for the
past 39 years. She also worked as a district language arts
support teacher and brings with her an abundance of
knowledge in beginning reading and intervention of
reading/writing skills. She has her M.Ed. in Curriculum and
Instruction and enjoys being a lifelong learner. She has
volunteered with Teen Adventure foster youth summer
camps, organized and lead community outreach projects
and worked as a middle school Sunday School
teacher/leader with her husband Doug for over 20 years.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a
fire.” W.B. Yeats


Doug Francis

Operations Chair

Doug brings with him over 35-years in biomedical device
and pharma. His experience is in data science, analytics,
engineering, and continuous improvement. He has served
the Ventura community as an elder in his church,
volunteered with Teen Adventure foster youth summer
camps, organized and lead community outreach projects
and worked as a middle school Sunday School
teacher/leader with his wife Paula for over 20 years. He
has a passion for outdoor adventures and serving others.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can
use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

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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 focuses 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.”