Board of Directors
North By Northwest Capital Inc.
Melvin Jackson, Jr.
Southern California Association of Governments, rtd.
Wayne Chen, M.D.
Blue Shield of California
James Gallagher, Esq.
Pillsbury Law, rtd.
Carrie Hidding, CPA, MBA
David L. Hirsch, Esq.
MASCO Corporation, rtd.
Alicia Jacobs, MBA
The Ajament Partners
Margo Kaatz, RN, MA, Esq.
Kennard Design Group
Raymond Perry, M.D., M.S.
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
William Vasquez, CPA, Esq.
Vasquez & Company
Mr. Vasquez is the president of The Huntington Group, which owns and manages office, retail, and multifamily properties. He was a partner in the accounting firm of Vasquez & Company LLP for 15 years and currently provides IT consulting services to the firm. Mr. Vasquez has worked as both a CPA and lawyer. He previously worked for Ernst and Young and Transamerica. Mr. Vasquez was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he obtained degrees in Economics/Business and Law.
Charlene Dimas-Peinado, L.C.S.W., E.M.L.
President and CEO
Charlene Dimas-Peinado is the President and CEO of Wellnest, a seasoned and visionary executive with over 25 years of experience. Throughout her career, Ms. Dimas-Peinado has been inspired by the communities and people she serves. “Every child and family have a story and their stories have meaning and like a ripple of water … they affect our community,” she has said. “Our objective is to make a positive impact on those we serve — one that improves a life, one that improves our community.” She combines the big-picture strategic perspective of a hands-on executive and the insights of an experienced psychotherapist in her quest to help children, young adults and families lead emotionally healthy lives.
As President & CEO of Wellnest, she provides the overall organizational leadership and strategic direction for one of the regions’ most innovative mental health service providers. She has broadened the organization’s base of financial support and expanded its best-in-class, compassionate, trauma-informed care to underserved children, youth and adults in Los Angeles. She provided the leadership for the organization’s new brand identity – Wellnest; the capital campaign and construction for the Avis & Mark Ridley-Thomas Life Learning Center; and, expanded core services to include transitional housing for TAY (transition age youth). Additionally, Ms. Dimas-Peinado serves as the organization’s overall spokesperson, representative and executer of change, and cultivates strong working relationships with elected officials, public agency leaders, community leaders, donors and others.
She previously served as CEO of The Whole Child, a Whittier-based mental health and social services organization, which served abused, homeless and at-risk children and families. Under her strategic leadership, the agency increased its overall operating budget three-fold which resulted in serving significantly more children and families. In addition, The Whole Child expanded its school-based mental health services in Southeast L.A. County, introduced an Early Success School Program, Birth to Five Services, and developed a range of housing services to aid homeless families or those in need of housing interventions.
Ms. Dimas-Peinado has a double Masters Degrees, a Master of Social Work (MSW) from California State University, Long Beach, and an Executive Master of Leadership (EML) from the University of Southern California. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with training in psychotherapy and serves on multiple boards: Board of Governors, Natural History Museum of L.A. County; Empowerment Congress (Second Supervisorial District) Mental Health Committee Co-Chair; Board of Directors, Rotary LA5; and, Board of Governors, City Club LA.
Lisa Hirsch Marin, L.C.S.W., M.S.O.D.
Chief Operating Officer
Lisa Hirsch Marin is a bilingual/bicultural Mental Health-Child Welfare-Community and international Organizational Strategist. Lisa brings more than 25 years of experience leading organizations that create opportunities for the most vulnerable children, youth and families to heal from trauma living with community violence and poverty, abuse and neglect, and homelessness. A strategic thinker and creative problem solver, Lisa leads teams to innovative solutions, implements and evaluates initiatives that break through barriers so that children, youth, families, and communities lead healthy, thriving lives. Her specialties include leading organizations that utilize evidence-based, clinical prevention, and intervention programs to ensure positive, measurable outcomes for children and youth 0-25. Prior, as Vice President of Programs at Para Los Niños for ten years, she led seven mental health, family support, and community development divisions, integrating services within pre-schools and charter schools, impacting 8,500 children a year. Lisa has double Masters Degrees, a Master of Social Work (MSW) from UCLA, and a Master of Science in Organization Development and Leadership (MSOD) from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). In the past two years, Lisa has co-created and led organizational leadership and development workshops in Washington D.C.; Lyon, France; San Jose, Costa Rica, and Datong, China. She lived in Central America and Mexico alongside psychologists and social workers working with children, youth, and families healing from war trauma. Lisa has been recognized by the Los Angeles County Commission for Women as Woman of the Year award recipient.
Margaret Lopez, CPA, MAcc
Chief Financial Officer
In her position as chief financial officer at Wellnest,, Margaret Lopez, a certified public accountant, oversees all agency business matters including banking, finance, registrations and filings, tax returns and investments. She supervises two staffs at Wellnest: financial operation and government contract billing. In addition, among her many duties, she is playing a significant role in the agency’s $5.3 million capital improvement project of the Life Learning Center.
Margaret brings more than two decades of professional experience in the nonprofit sector. Before coming to Wellnest, Margaret served for eleven years as controller, director of financial services and senior director of financial services for Hillsides, a residential children’s mental health agency located in Pasadena. Margaret received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Accounting from University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Paco Retana, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.
Vice President of Programs
Paco Retana’s passion is serving underserved and marginalized communities. As Vice President of Programs at Wellnest, he is responsible for all clinical services, including program evaluation and training. He also oversees Wellnest’s Division Directors in areas of outpatient, early intervention, intensive services, and life learning/transition-age youth services. Previous roles Paco has held include: Clinical Supervisor at Green Dot Public Schools, Regional Director of Community Mental Health Services at Children’s Institute, Inc., Director of Outpatient Services at Wellnest, Co-founder of the Youth Development Project of St. John’s Health Center, and Clinical Coordinator of the Child and Family Development Center at DiDi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center.
Paco is the co-chair of the Latino Underserved Cultural Communities for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH) and was a voting member of the System Leadership Team and former co-chair of the Service Area Advisory Committee for South Los Angeles. Paco is a Board of Director for the UCLA Alumni Association and serves as the co-chair for its Diversity Advisory Committee. As an expert in Boys and Men of Color work, he is invited to conferences and forums as a panelist, speaker, and mental health expert.
Paco is the recipient of the Humanitarian Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice, and an Honoree of NAMI Urban Los Angeles. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Masters in Social Welfare from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Laura Alvarez, PHR, SHRM-CP
Vice President of Human Resources
Laura Alvarez is the Vice President of Human Resources at Wellnest. Ms. Alvarez is responsible for providing strategic leadership and direction to support the Clinic’s objective to recruit, develop and retain the best talent to advance their mission. She oversees the areas of benefits administration, compensation, compliance, employee relations, performance management, recruitment, training, and development.
Prior to joining Wellnest, Ms. Alvarez served as the Vice President of Human Resources for Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, the largest charter school network in Los Angeles. During her tenure at Alliance, she led the development and implementation of the organization’s HR policies, procedures, and programs to support the organization’s rapid growth in their first decade. Prior to that, Ms. Alvarez served as a Certificated Personnel Specialist & Credential Analyst for Soledad Enrichment Action, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to providing high-risk youth with tailored educational services and a variety of wrap-around and support services. There, she supported the restructure of the organization’s HR department, which helped her gain the foundational knowledge and skills to excel as an HR professional. Ms. Alvarez has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Southern California. In 2014, she obtained a Certificate in Human Resources Management from Cal State University, Long Beach and obtained her PHR and SHRM-CP certifications.
Vice President of Advancement and External Affairs
As Vice President of Advancement and External Affairs for Wellnest, Andrea Salazar is responsible for overseeing all development activities for the organization in addition to raising awareness for Wellnest’s innovative initiatives and programs throughout Los Angeles County. A highly creative, results-driven, professional, Andrea has over 18 years’ experience in development and is skilled in cultivating strategic partnerships to secure funding for some of Los Angeles’ leading non-profit organizations. Before coming to Wellnest, Andrea held key leadership positions in fundraising and development for Olive Crest, the Whole Child, Boy Scouts of America, and Good Shepard Center for Homeless Women and Children. Andrea’s drive and passion for service comes from a desire to use her skills, personal experience, and influence to make a difference in the lives of underserved communities – in particular at-risk youth and children who have been in foster care.
Andrea received her Bachelor of Science in Business with an Emphasis on Organizational Management, from the University of La Verne. She also serves on the Board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Los Angeles.
Adam W. Sternberg, Psy.D.
Director of Outpatient Services, Exposition Park Office
Alina Molina, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.
Director of Clinical Training and Intern Development
Amanda De Loera-Morales, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.
Director of Life Learning and Housing
Amber Rickert, L.C.S.W., M.P.H.
Director of Outpatient Services, Leimert Park Office
Evelyn Vega, L.M.F.T.
Director of Intensive Services
Jenna Haeflinger-Kurtz, L.M.F.T., I.F.E.C.M.H.S., R.P.F. II
Director of Early Intervention and Community Wellness
Socorro D. Gertmenian, Ph.D.
Director of Total Quality Management