Tag Archives: nonprofit

CALM is for Kids

April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month, so naturally our very own Child Abuse Listening Mediation has some special activities planned. CALM is half-a-century old and the only nonprofit in Santa Barbara County that specializes in the prevention and treatment of childhood trauma. This organization, just like every other nonprofit, has had to forgo its typical fundraising events in the wake of our global coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, it’s had to postpone November’s 50th anniversary gala, “Lighting the Way;” its seafood soirée “Crabfest for CALM;” the CALM Auxiliary’s quarterly Antiques, Decorative Arts & Vintage Show and Sale at the Earl Warren Showgrounds; and even its special event, “Courage & Resilience: An Afternoon with Elizabeth Smart,” with the victim of one of the more notorious child abduction cases. Smart’s ongoing recovery stands as an inspiration for human perseverance in the wake of horrific trauma.

Instead, while Ladies Get Loud 2021 will still happen as a virtual “Night In” at the end of April, that month’s events will focus less on fundraising and more on CALM’s ambitious agenda to lead. It plans on developing and implementing trauma-informed, evidence-based programs and services that treat child abuse and promote healing as well as programs that have proven successful in preventing childhood trauma through strengthening and supporting the family. 

So “Inside CALM” has transitioned from open houses into a series of short virtual presentations held on Facebook Live. Here, it broadcasts information about therapy modalities and innovative programs that are open to anyone, and it hosts a Q&A. These will be open to the public. CALM’s Facebook and Instagram sites will also host a month-long social media campaign focused on building resilience and strengthening families; these feature a daily dose of practical tips. And its online Community Conversation Series resumes late April with a webinar about the bell curve of trauma that our community will face as it moves into the post-pandemic phase. Fortunately, CALM will focus on what the next few years of mental-health awareness will look like, and how the organization anticipates treating our community’s needs.

In truth, imagining a better future is nothing new to CALM; the nonprofit has always envisioned a time when childhood trauma becomes a thing of the past. Under the five-year-long stewardship of President and CEO Alana Walczak, the organization has continued to evolve from its origins as a volunteer-staffed “warm line” for stressed parents in Santa Barbara, to a well-trained therapeutic staff of more than 100 specialists across the county. CALM’s prevention and positive-parenting programs have doubled in size since 2003; they take up more than half of its budget and staff’s time. Its approach stems from understanding that strengthening the entire family is the best way to prevent the abuse of a child.

“A lot of people don’t realize that CALM has really shifted its focus,” Walczak said. “We will always be here for kids and families in Santa Barbara County, we will always provide clinical therapy sessions. But now, 50% of our work is prevention, and working with families that have risk factors for trauma before the trauma occurs. We want to load up those families with support and education and resources to prevent harm from happening.” 

Such an ambitious endeavor doesn’t come easily, even for a seasoned organization, Walczak said.

“When you’re trying to move the needle on such a complex issue as preventing and treating childhood trauma, no one organization can do that on its own. If we want to see long-lasting change – the third part of our mission is to build resilient communities – we have to work in partnership with other organizations that serve children and families. That’s why we’re starting to see ourselves as a social service agency that will absolutely serve every single child that comes to us for clinical services. But we’ll also work within systems to really anchor permanent changes.” 

CALM has created partnerships with preschools, universities, medical centers, social sector agencies, and local governments

CALM has created partnerships with preschools, universities, medical centers, social sector agencies, and local governments. The organization has a presence in pediatric clinics and in 33 learning centers. It acts as the preferred mental health provider for Santa Barbara Unified School District and has a presence in every school in that district, from pre-K through sixth grade, Walczak said.

It’s all about helping other systems become “trauma-informed environments,” said Ashlyn McCague, CALM’s Director of Development. That means helping teachers and administrators at our schools understand what motivates the behaviors of “difficult” students in classrooms.

“They’re probably not kids just who are trying to ruin their teacher’s day,” she explained. It might be that Bobby just left home where daddy was beating up mommy or where mom was so depressed, that she hasn’t gotten out of bed for three days, leaving the young boy to feed his younger siblings. Then the child comes to morning circle and he’s unable to sit still or he’s hitting his friends. Maybe he’s demonstrating signs of a trauma but doesn’t have the words to explain it.

Similarly, CALM knows how important it is for pediatricians to know about the trauma history of a baby’s parents so that they can discern where the family’s challenges and vulnerabilities might be. In those cases, CALM can provide parenting or therapeutic support to help the family develop a new, healthy path.

“It’s kind of blowing the frameworks of those professionals up a bit,” Walczak said. “It’s about helping to educate everyone. Teachers are teachers, not mental health professionals, but they’re dealing with mental health issues all the time. For example, some of it is just helping them understand a bit about the brain chemistry of trauma.”

Nowadays, CALM is blowing up outdated ideas in the general population by putting effort into letting the community know that it serves everyone, all kids and families who are at risk for trauma. 

“There’s the stereotype that we only work with families from the lower east side of Santa Barbara,” Walczak said. “Yes, the majority of our clients are Latinx, and most of our clinicians are bilingual to make sure that no matter what language you speak, we can provide quality trauma treatment. But there are a lot of other communities that need support, too. One of the pediatric clinics we’re embedded in now is Sansum, and everybody seems to go there. For upper-middle-income families, it’s sometimes even harder to access services because nobody expects them to be really struggling. Who do they tell? There’s so much secrecy and our culture doesn’t create space for folks of all economic classes or races to have needs. We’re trying to debunk that myth, and to make sure that everybody has access to the help that they need.”

CALM has also been quick to respond to the challenges of the pandemic, pivoting to virtual services in the course of just three days last March, and taking a look at its own protocols in the wake of last summer’s protests about racial justice. 

“Like many organizations over the last year, we’ve been really looking at diversity equity and inclusion,” explained McCague. “A lot of clinical work comes from the field of psychology, which has been historically a very white, upper-echelon group. There are new modalities that are coming out of communities of color. We’re exploring them so that we can serve our own diverse community in the county. Having modalities that reflect the people with whom we’re working is really important to us.”

What it all adds up to for CALM is that every month is Child Abuse Prevention Month. The nonprofit’s mission to eradicate childhood trauma is an ongoing effort that never ebbs, and one that has economic as well as health and societal benefits.

“Identifying, treating and healing trauma as early as possible saves everyone a lot of pain and money in the end,” McCague said. 

To learn more about CALM, visit CALM4kids.org or call (805) 965-2376.

Four Local Leaders Join Leading From Within Board

Four new members – Katya Armistead, Ashley Costa, Alma Hernández, and Kiah Jordan – have joined the Board of Directors of Leading From Within, marking an important transition as the 12-year-old nonprofit expands its board by one member and embarks on a strategic plan in 2021.

Leading From Within’s volunteer Board of Directors works closely with the organization’s Executive Director and president to oversee and support the nonprofit’s commitment to its mission to invest in people who drive and create change in Santa Barbara County.

“We are no longer a start-up organization,” said Edward France, Executive Director of Leading From Within. “It’s a testament to Leading From Within that trustees with great depth of experience would say yes to joining our Board. Each new member contributes to civic leadership for our community in their own way, and they are complementing the whole of our board of directors in coming together to support leadership programs that improve our communities.”

Katya Armistead

Katya Armistead, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Student Life at UC Santa Barbara

As the Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Student Life at UC Santa Barbara, Katya Armistead serves as the control point for ten Student Affairs departments and works on special projects often related to campus climate and diversity. Armistead also teaches a leadership course at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and is a certified trainer for The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, a research-based curriculum that she co-facilitates at Leading From Within. Armistead’s involvement with Leading From Within dates back to her participation in the Katherine Harveys Fellows program more than a decade ago. She also serves on Leading From Within’s alumni committee and participates in one of the organization’s peer learning circles.

“I have so enjoyed my work with Leading From Within and have personally received so much value through my involvement with the organization,” said Armistead. “It’s an honor to be part of the Board.” 

Katya brings more than 30 years’ experience in education to her Board position, as well as her perspective as a woman of color who is passionate about and experienced in supporting issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I think it’s important to have thoughtful yet challenging conversations that we may have avoided,” she said. “It’s critical to engage in civic dialogue and provide spaces to amplify voices that are not often heard. Leading From Within recognizes the value of this work.”

Armistead is also a member of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs’ executive committee and a member of the Chancellor’s Senior Officers’ group. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1988 and her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership in 2012, both from UC Santa Barbara. She served for a decade on the Board (including as co-chair) for the nonprofit Family Service Agency. Katya has been a mentor for CADA’s Fighting Back Mentor Program, and helped create and is a mentor for The Fund for Santa Barbara’s Youth Making Change program. When she isn’t working or volunteering, Katya enjoys early-morning walks, reading, and dining out.

Ashley Costa

Ashley Costa, Executive Director of the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization

Ashley Costa is the Executive Director of the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization which facilitates the Healthy Lompoc Coalition, a partnership of local leaders and volunteers working together to improve the health of Lompoc Valley residents. Some of the nonprofit’s greatest accomplishments include collaborating on a volunteer committee and partnering to raise $1.6 million toward the capital overhaul of a community track and field in Lompoc. Costa’s organization has also served as advisor and participant to the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan and for the past six years has worked in partnership with the Santa Barbara Foundation to better assist seniors and caregivers in the Lompoc Valley.

Costa participated in the Emerging Leaders Program at a pivotal time in her young career and she credits the Leading From Within program with giving her the confidence and courage to step into a larger role and accept her first-ever Executive Director position.

“I was just 28 years old and considering the transition to Executive Director,” explained Costa. “The Emerging Leaders program was so impactful in not only providing skills and leadership development but also in building my confidence and network, which ultimately gave me the encouragement that I needed to accept that promotion.”

Having now spent six years in her Executive Director role, Costa said she’s delighted to have the opportunity to give back to Leading From Within. 

“It’s refreshing that Leading From Within genuinely wants to learn from my experiences and I know I’m not just checking a box and filling a Board seat but will be respected and engaged for my ideas and opinions,” said Costa.  

In addition to sharing her ideas, Costa hopes to bring the North- and Mid-County perspectives to the board room and to cultivate leadership in the Lompoc Valley.

“There’s a silver lining to the unprecedented times that we find ourselves in, driving us to be more innovative and flexible, and more accepting of change,” said Costa. “It’s an exciting time to be joining a board that is leaning into this unchartered space.”

A native of Lompoc, Ashley graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a B.S. in Political Science. She was elected to the Lompoc City Council in 2010 and served until 2014. Ashley began working with the Healthy Lompoc Coalition as a volunteer in 2010 and as Director of Community Health in 2013. Two years later she accepted the role of Executive Director. Costa practices what she preaches as a fitness enthusiast. She loves working out in her home gym and hiking with her husband and dalmatian.

Alma Hernández 

Alma Hernández, District Representative for County Supervisor Joan Hartmann

Alma Hernández has over 20 years’ experience working in rural, largely immigrant, communities developing leadership through cooperative efforts and by placing community members at the forefront of decision-making processes. She currently serves as a District Representative for County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, where she has worked for the past three years building leadership opportunities for underserved populations. 

“Local government doesn’t necessarily reflect our population, especially in the North County,” explained Hernández. “We need to create pathways that enable our Latinx community to make connections, access resources, and gain confidence in their skills.” Hernández is dedicated to increasing diversity in leadership and ensuring that all voices are respected and heard. She will bring this expertise and passion to Leading From Within.

“I am excited to join the Board of Leading From Within, where I hope to expand the network of North County and Latinx leadership,” said Hernández.

As a graduate of Leading From Within’s Leading for Community Impact program, Hernández knows firsthand the transformational power of the nonprofit’s programs. She participated in the cohort while working as director of Guadalupe’s Little House by the Park, where her focus included the promotion of open, communal, multicultural, and artistic spaces. She credits her Leading for Community Impact “passion project” with giving her the confidence and providing guidance to help her work in collaboration with others to successfully establish Santa Maria’s first Cultural and Creative Arts Center. Hernández said she worked closely with community partners to create an open and safe space for teens to connect and express themselves through art.

Hernández has also served as chair of the Dune’s Center Internal Affairs Committee and Board, Vice President on the CAUSE Board of Directors and as a Board Member for The Fund for Santa Barbara. She was born in Arizona to a first-generation immigrant family from Mexico and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cal Poly and a Master’s in Public Administration from Cal State Northridge. In her spare time Hernández loves the outdoors, hiking, biking, and running.

Kiah Jordan

Kiah Jordan, founder of Impact Family Office

Kiah Jordan is the founder of Impact Family Office, a family office dedicated to aligning clients’ financial resources with their values to generate the greatest impact. Jordan works with clients, supporting their objectives while implementing long-term perspectives on the impact of, not only his clients’ balance sheets, but also their succession plans, wealth transfer plans, and philanthropic engagement.

Prior to starting Impact Family Office, Jordan worked for Santa Barbara Capital, a real estate investment firm, and it was during this time that he completed his Certified Financial Planner™ designation and found a passion for applying a holistic planning perspective to personal finances and business operations. 

An advocate for socially conscious ventures and entrepreneurship, Jordan dedicates much of his time to start-ups and organizations that benefit the Central Coast, including Leading From Within. He graduated from the Katherine Harvey Fellows program at Leading From Within and remains involved with the organization through peer learning circles and alumni networks.

“Leading From Within was extremely beneficial in helping me think through my contributions in the community,” commented Jordan, who credits the nonprofit with helping leaders apply their passions and talents to improve the communities they serve.

Jordan brings a keen and creative financial lens to his work at Leading From Within. His educational background transcends the nonprofit and for-profit realms while his work bridges fiduciary and philanthropic worlds. He says this cross-sectional experience will benefit Leading From Within which similarly straddles and serves diverse sectors.

“Leading From Within promotes leadership growth in the for-profit, nonprofit and social sectors, and I hope that my experience thinking strategically across these industries will help the organization blend these distinct worlds in effective and innovative ways.”

Jordan is a founding board member of the Sustainable Change Alliance and serves on the Executive Committee for the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network, and on the board of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. Additionally, he is a National Certified Guardian by the Center for Guardianship Certification and a licensed Professional Fiduciary by the California Professional Fiduciaries Bureau. Kiah graduated from Westmont College, where he now serves as an adjunct professor. He completed his master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. 

Outside of the office, Kiah enjoys outdoor adventures with his wife and three children and plays soccer in a local recreation league. He and his wife recently recertified as a resource family for children in the Santa Barbara foster care system.

Founded in 2008, Leading From Within invests in people who drive and create change in Santa Barbara County. Its leadership programs, alumni education, and impact networks cultivate leaders who are renewed, prepared, connected and collaborating for the greater good. For more information, visit http://leading-from-within.org.