Valerie Coachman-Moore, Executive Director
Valerie has over three decades of professional experience in organizational and community development. Since 1987, she has been principal and owner of Coachman Moore & Associates (CMA), an organizational development consulting firm based in Pasadena, CA. Valerie is well regarded for her expertise in strategic planning, leadership development, fund and resource development, planning for executive transition and succession, community and organizational research and assessment, program design and implementation, policy analysis, and board governance training for faith, community and civic groups, foundations, schools, and municipal bodies. She is a skilled executive coach and facilitator and has a long history of successful interventions that have mobilized individuals and groups to implement sustainable solutions for a variety of complex organizational, neighborhood and community issues.
As a civic leader, she is involved in the community as a volunteer and is currently a board and executive committee member of the Pasadena Child Health Foundation. She has also served as an officer and trustee/board member of numerous organizations including the American Public Health Association, Jack & Jill of Pasadena, the Pasadena Waldorf School, and St. Mark’s School.
The product of a caring and supportive family, Valerie is from a small rural community in southwest Georgia. The youngest of four children, she is steeped in the lore and stories of people who understood the art and struggle of envisioning and achieving change, no matter the odds. Community listening is a hallmark of her work with groups and was learned through observing her elders who toiled unrelentingly for social and economic justice for all people.
Valerie received a Bachelors of Arts degree from Pomona College, Claremont, CA, a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was a postgraduate fellow in adolescent health at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She and her husband, Solomon are the parents of three children Asha, Amir, and Salim.
When Valerie moved to Pasadena in the mid 1980s, she was a member of Holman United Methodist Church under Rev. James Lawson in Los Angeles. She now attends All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena.
Amy Cardenas, MS/HS STARS Program Intern
Amy Cardenas was born and raised in Pasadena; she is a product of Pasadena Unified School District, the LACF Mentoring Program, and STARS. She was the first in her family to not only graduate High School (Pasadena High School Class of 2010), but also attend college. She began STARS back in the 2nd grade and has now returned as part of the LACF staff with her recent internship with TechMission Corps. Her family is well involved with STARS with her mom and aunt being a part of the parent committee and her younger brother Daniel Cardenas (class of 2016) being vice president of the STARS Youth Council.
Amy recognizes her leadership potential and aspires to be a leader in her community. Her altruistic personality allows her to follow her passion of helping her community. Amy hopes to help upcoming STARS students/families with grade improvement, guidance support, FAFSA, college application, and career paths. She aspires to major in Political Science, Community Development, or Business. Growing up in STARS Amy has been a witness to the many changes, improvements, and obstacles LACF has faced. She dreams of one day being LACF’s Executive Director. Amy feels that the Lord has blessed her by giving her the opportunity to intern with STARS and surrounding her with an amazing staff to learn from. She trusts that God has a plan for her and is excited to continue learning and making a small difference each day.
When Amy is not at work she enjoys spending time with friends and family, going on hikes, running the Rose Bowl, walking down for a day in the sun at Old Town Pasadena, and spending time with her dog Nala.
Anna Ochoa, Parent Engagement Specialist
The oldest of two, Anna grew up in Cudahy, California, a small city near Huntington Park and Bell. She was raised in a community where gangs prevailed and the education system was very bad. Despite the challenges, Anna graduated from Bell High School in 1992 and then left to Colombia, South America. Anna completed her first three years of college there and then came back to the United States to finish her degree at Cal State Fullerton (go Titans!). Anna received her Bachelor of Arts. in International Business in 1999.
Anna has worked in many different fields from Fashion design to media planning, but never felt fulfilled. She reached out to God to guide her and it was then that He showed her which direction to take.
Anna wanted to work in a place where she could help people and that is when she came to Lake Avenue Community Foundation. She has worked with LACF and the STARS program since December of 2001. She is passionate about her work and strives to empower the youth and their families by showing them God’s love.
Anna has over ten years working in ministry. Prior to STARS, she taught Sunday School for two years and also did ministry work in Colombia going to the poorest towns and teaching the children their letters, numbers, and how to read.
Anna is married to Gerardo (a fireman for LA City) and they have two beautiful girls. She loves spending time with her family and friends. She also enjoys dancing and singing!
Anna is currently studying to become a Marriage and Family Therapist.
Beth Winton, Volunteer Coordinator
Beth Winton is a native of Southern California. She grew up in Burbank and attended Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, where she received her Bachelors of Science in Engineering in 2006. While in college, she was a part of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, which made a significant influence on her faith life and enlarged and enhanced her view of Jesus Christ, especially in regards to seeking justice and serving others.
For two years after college, she worked full time as a civil engineer in Pasadena, and spent her spare time serving with Servant Partners ministries (an organization that emphasizes ministry in low-income urban areas). During this time, she felt a tension between her work and ministry. Beth realized that while working as an engineer was a good living, it was not fulfilling. After seeking God’s guidance, she felt led to leave engineering behind her and pursue a career with non profits and community development organizations.
Beth now works with volunteers, helping them to get plugged into LACF and serve the surrounding community. She loves helping volunteers get involved and be a part of God’s vision for loving our neighbors and serving one another.
Beth is a member of Pasadena Church, swing dances almost every Thursday night at LindyGroove, and is an avid sailboat racer on her Dad’s J120, “Shenanigans.” She loves singing, reading, knitting, skateboarding (long boards), chilling with friends, and drinking coffee. She is also trying to learn the guitar and desperately trying to learn Spanish!
Bryan Mayer, Mentor Coach
Bryan’s love for serving students began as a volunteer for Camp Kemo, a summer camp for pediatric oncology patients. He currently serves as a small group leader with Lake Avenue Church Student Ministries and has been with a group of guys navigating through Jr. High and High School. Bryan also helps lead a church, Church in the Park, for the homeless community near Old Town Pasadena. His passion for students and for service has led him to his current position as a Mentor Coach.
Bryan was born outside of Myrtle Beach and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. Growing up, he was active in the Boy Scouts and was an academic and art nerd in High School. As a junior, his relationship with Christ began through the guidance and relationship of a youth mentor at his church. He went to the College of Charleston and earned a B.S. in Biology. While there, his faith blossomed while serving with Campus Crusade for Christ as a small group leader and as the emcee for their weekly meetings. Bryan moved to Pasadena in 2006 to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
Bryan and his amazing wife Lynn are active members of Lake Avenue Church and love serving together as small group leaders and as leaders for Church in the Park. They enjoy camping, hiking, and travel. Bryan performs improv and sketch comedy and strives to share great and compelling stories with the world.
Christine Brinn, Elementary STARS Program Manager
Christine has lived and worked in Northwest Pasadena since 2010. She was raised in the Pacific Northwest and attended Gordon College where she received her Bachelors in Spanish and Biblical Studies in 2006. In college, Christine spent her free time teaching adults ESL and tutoring local elementary students. Christine moved to Southern California 5 years ago to work with a bi-lingual church plant in San Diego. It was there that she fell in love with urban families and youth, and God solidified her desire to work in urban community development. To become better equipped in working with urban families, she moved to Pasadena to attend Fuller’s MFT program. She graduate in 2011 and has stayed in the area since! Before working as STARS Program Manager, Christine was a Family Therapist at a local school-based public mental health agency. Christine loved the families she worked with, but hoped also to work in faith-based community development.
Christine cares deeply about mental health and community psychology. She is excited to use her training and experiences to create opportunities for positive youth development and local community transformation through her new role as STARS program manager.
In her free time, you will likely find Christine reading a book, hiking a mountain or eating at Yogurtland with friends.
Curt Gibson, Associate Director
Since 1985, Curt Gibson has worked full-time as a passionate advocate for students. Curt began his career as youth pastor and after for 15 years he felt called to focus on under resourced and at-risk students. Often times, these obstacles make it difficult for students to become thriving adults. In response to this reality, Curt founded Lake Avenue Community Foundations (LACF) Mentoring program in Pasadena California in 2002. By establishing mentoring relationships with positive role models, LACF focuses on students at a convictional level, which will bring about marked changes in a student’s identity, and in turn affect their value system bringing about a positive change in their behavior and lifestyle. Curt works in partnership with the STARS tutoring program, the Pasadena Unified School District, the Department of Child and Family Services, and other existing programs and ministries in Pasadena to communicate and bring about change in the lives of students.
In addition to being the Associate Director of LACF, Curt has moonlighted in writing, evaluating, speaking, and brainstorming for various organizations on mentoring including Fuller Youth Institute, Word Action, Youth Specialties, Urban Youth Workers Institute, the Christian Community Development Association, and the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative.
If Curt is not at work you will probably find him Building something in his woodshop.
Curt studied Outdoor Christian Ministries and Youth Ministry at Rockmont College in Lakewood, Colorado. He and his wife Kathy, (a Realtor) have resided in Sierra Madre, Altadena, and now Pasadena since 1989.
Diana Bravo, Elementary STARS Program Manager
Diana Bravo was born and raised in Pasadena. She graduated from Pasadena Highschool (class of 2009) and is also attending college. She began STARS back in 4th grade and has now returned as part of the LACF staff with her recent internship with Techmission Corps. STARS had a major impact in her life as a child and now she wants to help students not only get more involved in their community but also to help achieve their academic goals. Diana trusts that God will use her talents to help and inspire those around her. She is also thankful and feels that God has blessed her with great staff and an amazing group of children to work with. She hopes that each and every day will be a great opportunity to impact these kids lives in positive ways.
When Diana is not at work she enjoys spending time with family and close friends, going to museums, painting and enjoys spending time with her cat.
Eric Johnson, STARS Program Manager
Born and raised in Southern California, Eric is a product of Pasadena having attended Audubon and Loma Alta Elementary Schools, McKinley Junior High, Blair High School and Pasadena City College where he studied Business Administration. He then worked for 10 years as an accountant with various companies around Pasadena including 6 years at JPL.
But Eric’s heart has always been youth ministry, having served as a youth director/pastor in Pasadena for 32 years in Baptist and Full Gospel churches. “Pastors and mentors reached out to me as a teenager dealing with abuse and molestation. They gave me hope and let me see my God-given value. Ever since then my passion was to give that same hope to others.” As a result, he has shepherded thriving Christian Clubs at Muir, Blair and PHS, created a foundation to foster academic achievement in at-risk youth, coordinated and instructed CAHSEE and Life Skills programs at Pasadena City College and is currently serving a 15-month training cohort with the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative.
When he’s not out saving the world, Eric is writing scripts for film, TV, animation and comics with his partners in their trans-media company, Pitch Block. “I love storytelling!! I love how this medium can impact people in a way that no pulpit can. I have no doubt that if Jesus was walking the Earth today, his parables would have been films and TV!”
Eric loves to cook, which is why there is always a home-cooked meal at the home church he and his wife, Ana Maria pastor. They live in Pasadena with their daughter, Daniella (19) and Oreo the cat.
Joanna Quintanilla, MS/HS STARS Program Leader
Born in Los Angeles California and raised in Pasadena, Joanna is a product of Pasadena Unified School District, having attended Webster Elementary, Wilson Middle School and Blair High School where she received her diploma. She then attended Pasadena City College where she plans to obtain her AA degree.
Growing up at risk herself, Joanna strives to serve at places where she can assist students in similar situations. In 2006, her passion led her to volunteering with St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Pasadena.
By having two younger sisters in the STARS Program (Diana and Viviana), Joanna was very familiar with the work of LACF. So it comes as no surprise that when the opportunity presented itself, she was excited about working for an organization that has been a big blessing to her family and emulates her passion to care for others.
Joanna and her husband, Jorge, love to spend time with their four year old son, Bryan. And now they are expecting their second child, a baby girl that will be born in the beginning of July of 2012! They are so happy and grateful for the opportunity to experience new things with their boy and girl.
John Bowlin, Mentor Coach
John Bowlin was born in Vinita, a small rural town in Oklahoma and moved to California in 1972 after serving 4 years in the Air Force. He attended El Camino Junior College where he studied Business Administration. John worked in the Information Technology industry for 29 years, and the last 18 years he was the Operations Manager at the third largest law firm in California. After his career in IT, John worked at Pasadena City College as a College Recruiter for the CAHSEE and Life Skills programs where he recruited students from the Pasadena Unified School District.
John attends Pasadena Church and currently serves as Director of Intercessory Prayer. He lives with his wife Maria in South Pasadena and has been in the area for the past 10 years.
John enjoys spending time with his wife and studying the Word of God. They like to take long drives as a way of relaxing and enjoying each others company. They have four children, Asia, Shana, Mark and Gregory.
Krystina Daniels, Elementary STARS Program Leader
The oldest of three, Krystina is a native of Northern California. She was born and raised in the Bay Area and attended Pomona College in Claremont, CA where she received her Bachelors in Neuroscience in 2010. During her time in college, she was part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and was one of a handful of Black students who planted a Black student ministry, which made a life-changing impact on her faith, leadership, and view of Jesus and the world. After participating in a 2-week summer urban project in the low-income Lowell neighborhood of Fresno, CA, Krystina’s desire to seek Jesus’ heart in matters of racial reconciliation and ethnic identity development grew even more. During the summer of her junior year in 2009, Krystina served as a summer intern with InterVarsity’s Los Angeles Urban Project (LAUP). It was this summer Krystina worked with Northwest Neighbors and was first introduced to STARS. During her 6 weeks living in the neighborhood, Krystina served as a camp counselor and dance teacher to youth and got a taste of Jesus’ power and presence in a way that truly impacted her life. During this time, Krystina felt a tension between her original plan to attend medical school and her growing desire to pursue ministry. After seeking God’s guidance, Krystina felt led to become an intern with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and plant a new Black student ministry at Cal State University, Northridge (CSUN).
During these two years at CSUN, Krystina worked with a range of students at CSUN and was challenged to grow in many ways. When she wasn’t hanging out with students on campus or leading Bible studies in the dorms, Krystina worked as a part-time Math and English tutor for elementary through high school Latino students in San Fernando Valley. During her two years as an intern with InterVarsity, Krystina led two summer mission trips. To her amazement, she was appointed to lead the Northwest Pasadena LAUP team and returned to work with Northwest Neighbors in Summer 2011. She and her team served many children who are currently enrolled in STARS. After seeking God’s guidance the following year, Krystina felt led to leave campus ministry, but had the awesome opportunity to close out her internship by co-leading a team of InterVarsity college students on a summer project to Ghana, West Africa.
Krystina now works at STARS and is excited to return to a place that holds so much spiritual and emotional significance in her life. She attends Vision Christian Fellowship, enjoys running, dancing, reading, and daydreams about one day being a contestant on the TV show “The Amazing Race” with her younger sister.
Krystina is currently studying to become a nurse practitioner.
Nancy Stiles, Mentor Coach
Nancy Stiles is a mentor coach and the liaison to Teen MOPS, which supports and mentors teen moms in the immediate neighborhood of Lake Avenue Church. Before becoming a LACF staff member, Nancy served as the coordinator of the Teen MOPS program for four years. Nancy’s experience also includes being a middle school and community college math instructor, working in children’s ministry for 10 + years, and involvement in various volunteer capacities with PUSD.
Nancy grew up in the Pasadena area and graduated from UCSD with a degree in math. She also has a master’s degree in math from UCLA-go Bruins! Nancy and her husband Adam live in Pasadena with their three children. She loves to go trail running, cook (and eat!), hang out with her family and cheer on her children’s many sports teams.
Tonie Neuwirth, Data Systems Coordinator
Tonie volunteers as Data Coordinator. She is retired and came to volunteer in the Foundation office during the start up of the Ministry Campaign several years ago, then stayed on to help. As the Data Coordinator, her duties include processing donations received from our generous donors. She is continually blessed by the support of donors – large and small.
You can find her on Thursday mornings in Morning Break (a women’s Bible Study) as a co-Leader of Table 4 and you might also see her in a Lake Avenue Membership Class as a Table Host or in other in areas where she volunteers.
She is married to Tom. Her interests include gardening, and Japanese flower arranging (Ikebana – the Ohara School). Friday mornings are reserved for Ikebana class at the Arboretum. The Foundation is truly blessed by Tonie’s regular gifts of flowers, her creativity, her Godly wisdom and her extraordinary commitment to serve..