You’ll meet some of the most interesting people serving on the KidWorks’ Board of Directors. In addition to their dedicated commitment to the students and families we reach, they are also all highly accomplished and generous individuals in their own right.
Recently, we welcomed two new members to our board, and another who took on an expanded role. We’d like to introduce you to each one. First, we deeply thank these exceptional departing board members, who have completed their terms:
Jayme Acosta, KidWorks’ founding Director and philanthropist, who is still strongly connected with us.
Stephanie Bernardy, a philanthropist, who volunteers through our WINGS auxiliary group and chaired the KidWorks Dan Donahue Grand Opening event.
Sharon Kline, who continues to serve on our Fund Development Committee is still a staple around KidWorks.
Scott McPherson, will be joining our Advisory Council and continues to champion KidWorks.
“It is impossible to adequately thank Jayme, Scott, Stephanie and Sharon for the leadership, wisdom and contributions they made while serving on our board,” says David Benavides, Executive Director. “The entire KidWorks team is forever grateful that all three continue to be part of our journey in other equally vital ways. It’s such a blessing to be able to continue benefitting from their experience.”
Here’s a bit about our new Chair and two new board members:
Erlinda Martinez, Ed.D, is KidWorks Board Chair and President Emeritus, Santa Ana College. With 40 years of experience in higher education, Erlinda is the perfect choice to lead our board. She served as president of Santa Ana College from 2005 to 2016, and fully appreciates KidWorks’ goal that every student earns his or her high school degree and then pursues higher education at a college or university. Erlinda is not new to our board; she’s served as a member for nine years.
“I'm excited that we've been able to complete the capital campaign for the Dan Donahue Center expansion and to provide services for more children and families,” she says. “It was difficult to know that we had a waiting list for children and youth to join KidWorks’ programs. The expansion eliminates that wait time. It will be important that as we grow, we cultivate sustaining donors and develop a solid financial base that matches our growth and our enthusiasm.”
Looking forward, Erlinda says: “Our mission is to change neighborhoods one person at a time. It is a mission we take seriously. It changes a person, a family and can change a generation. I've seen it in my own family. It makes sense to invest in children and young people. There is a return on investment that can be measured by achievement, economic development, jobs and social stability.”
Erlinda is a person of many interests. “I am a frustrated violin player and golfer,” she laughs. “Both activities take lots of practice. I love to travel. Since my retirement I have been to Peru, Amsterdam, Cuba and Botswana. I also went to Idaho this summer to see the eclipse.”
Scott Homan is a KidWorks Board Member, and Chief Financial Officer, City Ventures, an Irvine-based homebuilder: Scott is the perfect example of how the first step of taking a tour of KidWorks can evolve into a much deeper, long term involvement. For Scott, that tour several years ago led to his personally sponsoring a table at our premier Foundation for Success luncheon. His commitment to our students and the families we serve took off from there.
This is how Scott describes his passion for KidWorks: “I am moved by the powerful positive difference this organization has made in the lives of a vulnerable segment of our community. I see this in the staff and volunteers’ passion and delectation to the mission. Students return to KidWorks after graduation to help others, and that’s a significant indicator of the success and the belief in KidWorks by the community.”
Scott clearly understands the big picture when he describes KidWorks’ opportunities and how he is committed that potential:
“KidWorks goes beyond providing much-needed hope to those we serve; we also give life meaning and connection to a broader world and outcomes. This pulls young minds forward rather than pushing them from behind. That allows these young minds to dream. There is no gift more powerful than to give someone the opportunity to dream bigger.”
Scott has a real sense of adventure, exemplified by his love of mountain climbing. He’s scaled Mount Baldy 40 times—and also reached the peaks of Rainer, Shasta and Whitney—sometimes again and again. He also enjoyed Go Kart racing with his son.
Gabe Potyondy is a KidWorks Board Member and Managing Director, Commercial Real Estate at BBVA Compass. From his earliest years, the struggles he and his family endured in Eastern Europe under Communism gave him deep compassion for families who live in underserved communities such as central Santa Ana.
“I was born in Budapest, Hungary and my family defected to the United States when I was four and a half years old,” Gabe says. “My parents were both doctors, and I turned five in a refugee camp in Austria. It was their faith in God, a strong educational foundation, perseverance and dreaming big that propelled them forward and ultimately helped them to succeed in America, despite not speaking any English. I see many parallels with my life and the KidWorks children who come from equally humble beginnings.”
While Gabe is new to our board, he’s far from new to KidWorks. In fact, his association goes back 14 years, when he attended a fundraiser that provided the monies to purchase what became the Dan Donahue Center, newly expanded and modernized this year.
Gabe has been “all in” since then. “I’ve been involved for nearly three years serving on the Fund Development Committee,” he says. “In addition, I helped organize a ‘Day With A Banker’ program the past two summers, attended by 15 to 20 KidWorks students each time. We conducted workshops on resume writing, dressing for success and interviewing.”
Gabe and his family enjoy snow skiing in the winter and water skiing wakeboarding in the summer. As big a fan as he is of KidWorks, he is also loyal to the home team. “I love USC football,” he says. “Fight on!”
“I am so excited to welcome our new board members and those with increased responsibilities,” says David Benavides. “We have such big plans for our centers and for those we serve. This stellar board is providing the strategic leadership and vision that keeps us on track to play an even larger role in helping central Santa Ana to continue to grow and thrive.”
By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer