Meet the Walden team: Cheryl

Did you know March is Professional Social Work Month? In honor of such, we’d like to feature some of the incredible social workers that serve the foster and adoptive children and youth of Walden.

This month, we’ll introduce you to staff from our offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino. You’ll meet social workers who work in each of our main programs; including foster care, adoption, transitional housing plus foster care (THP+FC), and prevention services.

Meet Cheryl:

1.) Why did you choose social work or what path led you to the profession?

Most of all, I really enjoy helping others. In the past I’ve worked with children who have developmental delays and physical disabilities, and as a behavioral interventionist with foster children and biological families to help the child meet his or her developmental milestones. I also spent some time as a foster parent, and am in the process of becoming a foster parent again through the County.

Currently, I am working towards my BCBA certification as my specialization is Applied Behavior Analysis. Having a 6-year-old on the Autism Spectrum has made me very passionate about helping all children and families in need of additional support and resources.

2.) How long have you been at Walden? 

I’ve been at Walden for about 7 months, right after I received my credentials! I came from the California Correctional Center for men, where I was a social worker for men who were mentally and physically disabled.

3.) What’s your favorite part of your job?

The impact I’m able to make on a youth’s life.

5.) Tell us a Walden success story involving a client.

I have one client who just graduated from our THP program, having done remarkably well. She’s just so grateful to Walden and how our program has changed her life and helped her learn life skills.

6.)    How do you like to spend your free time?

In my free time I enjoy family outings, especially special needs movie nights in my community. The theater is placed outside for those with special needs, and in wheelchairs or other mobility devices. It’s a place where they don’t have to worry about being loud or expressing themselves.

Meet the Walden team: Julie

Did you know March is Professional Social Work Month? In honor of such, we’d like to feature some of the incredible social workers that serve the foster and adoptive children and youth of Walden.

This month, we’ll introduce you to staff from our offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino. You’ll meet social workers who work in each of our main programs; including foster care, adoption, transitional housing plus foster care (THP+FC), and prevention services.

First, meet Julie:

1.) Why did you choose social work or what path led you to the profession?

I graduated college with a BA in Communication from Point Loma Nazarene University here in San Diego, and afterwards I moved to Seattle.  The first job I got was in a Residential Care facility and I really enjoyed it.  I then got hired as a Social Worker at Bethany Christian Services, licensing families for foster care and really loved it.  I realized I had a passion for helping people and I decided to go back to school and get my Master’s Degree in Social Work.

2.) How long have you been at Walden? How many years in the industry?

I have been at Walden since April 2016.  I have been in Social Work for over 18 years, but I did take a break for several years to teach English in South Korea and Taiwan, and to travel.  I have worked as a Residential Care Worker.  I was Executive Director of a six-bed residential care facility for boys between the ages of 6 to 12 from the foster care system. I worked as a Social Worker for Pregnant and Parenting Teen mothers. I’ve licensed families for foster care and done home studies.  While in Korea, I was contacted by a Social Work agency and did home studies and supervision part-time for military families that were adopting.

3.) How did you come to Walden?

I had just finished working in Russia and moved back to San Diego.  I knew I wanted to go back into social work and started looking on the websites of foster family agencies to see if they had any employment openings listed, and Walden had one for a Recruiter/Housing Specialist.  I was immediately attracted to the job as I like doing a variety of things in my work, enjoy working with people, and the idea of finding housing for youth who really need it seemed especially appealing.  I interviewed and was hired.  The rest is history…

4.) What’s your favorite part of your job?

I love working with people.  Every day I talk to over probably at least 15 people, from Walden employees, to foster families, to THP+FC youth, to Property Managers.  No day is the same and I never just sit in the office.  I get to travel around San Diego and look at apartments to put youth into housing, I get to license families for foster care.  I love the variety my job provides and that at the end of the day I am always helping people.

5.) Tell us a Walden success story involving a client.

I recently had two clients were who friends, who had applied for the THP+FC program separately, and it worked out that I was able to place them together in a 2-bedroom apartment. These two are doing so, so remarkably well together and it’s wonderful to see them enjoy their lives, go to school and hold down jobs. I look forward to watching them continue to flourish thanks to the program.

6.)    How do you like to spend your free time?

I have the travel bug and am always traveling, either internationally or here in the U.S.  I just came back from Portland and am heading to San Luis Obispo this weekend.  Last year I went to Cuba and Guatemala.  I  am very social and often out with friends at dinner, or an event.


Walden Awarded $50,000 Annenberg Foundation Grant

We are pleased to announce that the Annenberg Foundation has awarded Walden Family Services a $50,000 grant.

“We are so grateful to the Annenberg Foundation for this important award that will allow us to fill critical funding gaps in our mission of supporting the lives of Walden’s children, youth, and young people in foster care,” said Teresa Stivers, CEO of Walden Family Services.

The Annenberg Foundation funding will support high-need programs at Walden’s sites in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties including move-in costs and educational/employment counseling for young people ages 18-21 in our Transitional Housing Plus Foster Care program; baby items for pregnant and parenting teens, a nurse consultant for our foster children with special health care needs, and foster family recruitment.

“The Annenberg Foundation is pleased to support the work of Walden Family Services and the programs it conducts, which make lives better for the community and individuals it serves.”

The Annenberg Foundation awards grants on a rolling basis through a competitive application and review process. To learn more about the organization, visit their website.

Walden CEO Teresa Stivers Named Influential Woman of the Year

We are pleased to announce that our very own Teresa Stivers, CEO of Walden Family Services, was named a 2017 Influential Woman of the Year by The Daily Transcript. Click here to read the article.

Foster Care Alumni of America Seeks New Board Members

The national organization, Foster Care Alumni of America (FCAA), is seeking applications for new board members for its recently expanded Board. The organization is working to harness the knowledge and strength of alumni of foster care, and believes that the firsthand knowledge alumni have of the foster care system gives them an expertise that is powerful for improving foster care policy and practice.

It’s National Board of Directors is responsible for guiding the organization and is accountable for organizational performance.

The board is in need of individuals with several skill-sets to fill the newly opened board positions. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Fundraising
  • Finance Management
  • Communications/Writing

For more information and to view all of the requirements and process for applying, visit their website.

Simone Biles hopes to inspire other foster care kids to pursue their dreams.

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is speaking out about her hardships growing up, being in foster care, and how she’s giving back now.

The gold medalist was placed in foster care when she was 3 years old, because her mother was addicted to drugs and alcohol. Her grandfather and his wife eventually adopted her and her younger sister, but the sisters still had to spend some time in foster care first.

“I was so young, I didn’t quite understand what was going on,” she said. “But I recall some of the kids coming to the foster home with only the clothes on their back and a backpack.”

“This is such a personal cause for me, because I know firsthand what it’s like to be in foster care — struggles and all,” Biles said. “I came from a foster home and went on to achieve everything I’ve achieved. I’m just hoping it can inspire other foster kids to never give up and to always pursue your dreams. And to play sports and get good sleep!”

For Hunter Industries, Donating Holiday Gifts Celebrates Family, Citizenship

Hunter Industries believes strongly in supporting the local community. In fact, they have a charitable giving charter centered on core values like family and citizenship. And last week, employees celebrated these values by donating holiday gifts for 93 Walden children and youth.

Gifts for children in Walden’s foster care and adoption program ranged from toys and dolls to bikes and scooters. For older youth in the transitional housing program, Hunter Industries’ employees purchased household items, gas cards and other necessary items. Employees also donated gifts for pregnant and parenting teens enrolled in Walden’s Nurturing Parenting and Cal-Learn programs.

Walden is grateful for Hunter Industries and the dozens of corporate partners committed to brightening the holidays for children and youth involved in Walden’s foster care, adoption and parenting programs.

You can still bring joy to a child in foster care this holiday season. Just make a donation online by December 31 for tax-deductible credit in 2016.

Balboa Travel Marketing Communications Director Joins Walden Board

Photo of Balboa Travel Director of Marketing Communications Andrea da Rosa

Andrea da Rosa, Balboa Travel Director of Marketing Communications

Balboa Travel Director of Marketing Communications Andrea da Rosa has been appointed to the Walden Family Services Foundation board of directors, joining business and community leaders from throughout San Diego. Da Rosa and her wife, Deborah Llewellyn, are longtime supporters of Walden.

“Walden Family Services creates a path for foster youth to succeed during a period of unprecedented change in the foster care system,” said da Rosa. “And by building a better future for these youth, we have an opportunity to enhance our community and the future for us all.”

Da Rosa brings a wealth of marketing experience to her board role, including 19 years contributing to the unprecedented growth of Balboa Travel, which consistently ranks among the top 1% of corporate travel agencies nationwide. She previously led the Vacations and Leisure department for the company, which was founded by her aunt and father in 1971. Da Rosa also sits on the board of San Diego’s ASTA chapter.

“Andrea’s marketing expertise will be a great benefit to Walden’s board as we expand our outreach,” said Teresa Stivers, CEO of Walden Family Services. “Plus, her background in developing strategic partnerships will be vital to building partnerships with business and community leaders so that more children in foster care grow up with loving families and opportunities to thrive.”

Da Rosa will serve on the board’s Marketing Committee, which oversees the nonprofit’s direct mail, media relations and digital communications. Da Rosa’s three-year term on the board will end in 2019.

About Walden Family Services
Walden Family Services is a nonprofit provider of foster care, adoption and parent training programs. Founded in 1976, Walden connects children—infants, sibling groups and children with special needs—with loving foster and adoptive families. We also provide transitional housing and services for youth who choose to remain in foster care to pursue their education or employment, and coach birth families to develop nurturing parent-child relationships and break the cycle of neglect and abuse. Based in San Diego, Walden has offices throughout Southern California, including Encino, Riverside and San Diego.

Other members of the Walden Family Services Governance Board of Directors include Arlene Lieberman (Chair), Executive Director, Barney & Barney Foundation; Leslie Levinson (Vice Chair), CFO, The Campanile Foundation; Jaye Connolly-LaBelle (Treasurer), COO, RippleNami; Sheila Ferguson (Secretary), Finance Professional; Stephanie Brownell, CFO, Hunter Industries; Cherie Enge, Esq. Law Office of Cherie A. Enge;  Rajah Gainey, Individual and Corporate Gifts Manager, Promises2Kids; Denise Jackson, President & CEO, Balboa Travel, Incorporated; and Emily Shults, Vice President of Energy Procurement, San Diego Gas & Electric.

The Walden Family Services Foundation Board of Directors include Art Candland (Chair), AJW Facilities & Construction; Dale Ganzow (Vice Chair), Sales Manager, San Diego Business Journal;
Lisa Betyar (Treasurer), Partner, Lindsay & Brownell, CPAs; Cheryl Goodman (Secretary)Executive Director, Athena San Diego; Dalia Cohen, Community Advocate; Kristi Craft, Community Advocate; Cheryl Doss, Community Advocate; James Lauth, Founding Partner, Beamer Lauth Steinley & Bond, LLP; Chris Powers, Vice President, CBRE; and Jorge Ruiz de Castilla, President, The Chip Merchant.

Intuit, Jack in the Box Fulfill Holiday Wishes

Holiday gifts donated to kids in foster care by Intuit

Holiday gifts donated to kids in foster care by Intuit

Employees from Intuit and Jack in the Box stopped by the San Diego office Friday with cars fulls of gifts to fulfill the holiday wishes of children and youth in foster care.

A Razor scooter and helmet for Leo. A Princess Fantasy Dress Up Chest for Bethany. And pots and pans, blankets and other household necessities for youth in Walden’s transitional housing program.

Intuit, a leading provider of business and financial management solutions, has a long history of employee giving to benefit children in foster care. This year, San Diego-based Jack in the Box joined in granting holiday wishes with presents for older youth who are moving into their own apartments.

Holiday gifts from Jack in the Box to furnish apartments for foster youth

Holiday gifts from Jack in the Box to furnish apartments for foster youth

Walden is grateful for all of our corporate partners for their generous in-kind and financial gifts throughout the year.  If you would like to join our corporate partners in brightening the holidays for a child in foster care, you can make a donation online. Make your gift by December 31 for tax-deductible credit in 2016.

What’s Your #MyGivingStory?

What inspires you to give your time, talent and financial gifts to Walden Family Services? In honor of #GivingTuesday, take a few minutes to share your #MyGivingStory about why you support children and youth in foster care. You could help Walden win up to $10,000.

Submit Your Story

Write a short story (150-600 words) about a time you were inspired to give to Walden. Be sure to include the name of the organization, why you give, and our website URL ( For added impact, you can upload a photo or video.

Submit the story using the #MyGivingStory tab of #GivingTuesday’s Facebook page. Submissions must be received before 2 p.m. PT on December 31, 2016.

Get the Word Out

Share your story with family and friends on social media. And if you let us know you’re writing a story about Walden, we’ll help you share it via our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

How to Win

The 20 essays with the most Facebook “likes” will be sent to a panel of judges who will select the winner. Two additional honorable mentions for “Best Use of Original Video” and the top two submissions in Spanish will be awarded. Winners’ nonprofit organizations will be notified that they received grants in mid-January 2017.

Need Inspiration?

Watch a former foster youth share her story about foster care, or listen as Walden governance board chair Arlene Lieberman talks about how a friend inspired her to pay it forward as a volunteer, mentor and donor.