Executive Director Welcome!
FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Thank you for your interest in Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center! I am deeply grateful to the many loyal donors and community partners who share our dedication to providing services and opportunities so that the Santa Cruz community thrives. This past year focused a great deal of observing, assessing, and relationship building. I have enjoyed getting to know the broad spectrum of services provided by Walnut Avenue and the committed and skilled staff members who make it all happen. It has also been a pleasure exploring the many partnerships that help create a web of care for our program participants.
Among my tasks this year, I intentionally prioritized quality management and have been working with staff to assess current practices and adapt procedures when appropriate to increase efficiency and effectiveness. With the help of the Board of Directors and various consultants and community partners, we have a solid plan in place to ensure the financial stability and sustainability of the organization for many years to come. This includes our new Endowment Fund and the kick off of a ‘Friends of Walnut Avenue’ group to support development endeavors. Another exciting highlight this past year was a generous donation to upgrade our technology systems. The Board and I have outlined strategic plans to guide us in the year to come. With solid board committees in place to support me in the areas of Finance, Communications, Operations, Development, and a Board Advisory group, I am confident that Walnut Avenue will continue to grow even stronger and reach even more of those in need of our services. I plan to prioritize staff and program development, assessment of best practices in our fields of expertise, and developing systems that acknowledge and keep us connected with donors and volunteers. We also look forward to the flourishing of Shannon Collin’s Memorial Garden and the possibilities involving the community and Walnut Avenue programs engaging with the garden. As always, I personally invite any feedback or questions about how you can become involved with the organization.
Julie P. Macecevic, Ph.D, Executive Director
Dr. Julie P. Macecevic is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience working in various human services roles. Julie studied psychology because she wanted to devote her career to helping people achieve holistic health. Roles over the years have included Preschool Teacher in a child development center, Profile Writer for Black Adoption Services, Therapeutic Staff Support, and Residential Counselor for an Independent Living Skills Program for foster youth. Julie also spent 27 months as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco teaching health and sanitation skills in collaboration with a village nurse. Also in Morocco, Julie helped organize a Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) empowerment camp for young Moroccan women. Most recently, Julie spent eight years with a large non-profit organization in San Mateo County. As Department Director of Youth Empowerment Services, Julie oversaw the management of youth-development focused programs serving homeless and runaway youth, youth and families in crisis or struggling with mental health challenges, as well as youth leaders and activists. Clinical experience includes individual, group, and family therapy with a client-centered and trauma-informed focus as well as clinical supervision for psychology interns. As an adjunct professor, Julie taught Neuropsychology at Sophia University.
Cathy Lusk, Early Childhood Education Director
Cathy Lusk has over 30 years of Early Childhood Education (ECE) experience and has worked at Walnut Avenue Family & Women's Center since 1998. Cathy's ECE experience began when she volunteered in her son's kindergarten class. She now has over 58 college units in ECE and she still loves her job. Cathy enjoys watching the children learn, working with her team of teachers, supporting teachers' professional development and working with the parents to support children's learning. A long time member of the Walnut Avenue Leadership team, Cathy plays a critical role in the success of our agency. Cathy is a member of the National Association for the Education of the Young Child, and the Central Coast Association for the Education of the Young Child. When not working hard at ECE, Cathy loves to spend time in the outdoors with her family. She is a grandmother of five adorable children. Cathy earned a BA degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from San Jose State University. She holds a Program Director's Permit from the California Commission of Teacher Credentialing.
Denise Gonsalves, Community Engagement Coordinator
Denise Gonsalves has several years of experience in recruitment, staff development, and community outreach. She has training in children’s grief support and working with adult survivors of domestic violence. Her non-profit experience includes volunteer work with the Resource Center for Non-violence, Habitat for Humanity, Cabrillo College Peace Library, and she was a Childcare Center Director for YMCA of the Redwoods after-school program. In 2011, she completed a year of service with the AmeriCorps VIP Fellow program and created our agency volunteer infrastructure. Her current agency responsibilities as Community Engagement Coordinator include managing the agency volunteer infrastructure, recruitment and on-boarding of volunteers, college school-credit intern supervision, social media management, website support and engaging local business and groups in our agency mission. Denise earned her B.A. degree from San Jose State University in Child & Adolescent Development.
Gloria Quiroz, Front Office Manager
Gloria Quiroz has worked for Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center for over 11 years. Before coming to Walnut Avenue she worked with Barrios Unidos and a local legal services office. Gloria has lived in Santa Cruz County all her life, growing up in Watsonville with a large family. Living in a small community (Watsonville) she learned from many life experiences that have been so important to the work she does today. Gloria has special training in working with adult survivors of domestic violence and she graduated from Vocational School for Office Administration. Gloria is our Front Office Manager as well as coordinator of our Food Bank Program. Managing the front office, Gloria is the first person our donors, participants and community members interact with. She welcomes them with respect and kindness. As the Front Office Manager she also supports our agency fundraising events, donation program and is an integral part of building our community connections.
Maria "Mary" Rivera, Family Support Services Manager
Maria Rivera has worked with Walnut Avenue since 2002. Her warm, caring manner easily facilitates relationships with local businesses, community members and donors. Maria manages the Family Support Services program, which includes our Food Bank, Carriage House Donation Room, campaigns and our annual event. Our agency campaigns include: Back-to-School, Turkey Drive, and Adopt-a-Family. Maria is instrumental in overseeing Walnut Avenue’s general facility and auto management. She also supervises the front desk/office manager. As a mother of three, grandmother of 11, and great-grandmother of 5, her family is a long-time member of Grace Works Bible Church in Watsonville. Maria is a life-long community member. What she loves most about her job is the opportunity to meet and foster relationships with a wide array of community partners.
Martha Welden, Director of Advocacy & Prevention
Martha Welden has several years of experience in program management, development and working in non-profits. Before coming to Walnut Avenue Family & Women's Center she managed the shelter for Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse at Live Violence Free in South Lake Tahoe. At Live Violence Free she provided personal, social, legal, criminal and medical advocacy for participants and facilitated programming for children and teens. Martha has completed well over 80 hours of training in domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, crisis intervention, prevention and child/teen case management. As the Director of Advocacy & Prevention at Walnut Avenue, Martha’s responsibilities include management of staff advocates, overseeing program operations, grant management and interfacing in our community to increase awareness about domestic violence. Martha has a BA in Art Education and has a passion for using art as a means of healing and processing. She is currently pursuing her certificate in Addiction Studies and plans to apply this to her work at Walnut Avenue.