Meet Our Team
Don Wells is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in Psychology, History and Political Science and certification to teach secondary education. In 2004, he also earned a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology.
Wells began his career as a high school history and psychology teacher before beginning an award-winning media career spanning three decades as an artist/animator, writer-producer, news director, project manager, and communications consultant. The one constant throughout the years has been his commitment to use his talents and influence to serve the community.
Don was instrumental in the early formation of JIT and used his leadership position at KGTV/ABC10 San Diego to help produce the My First Home Extreme Makeover segment, giving JIT much needed visibility in its infancy. Since then, Don has been a consistent supporter of Just in Time, joining the board in 2009 and assuming the duties of Executive Director in 2010.
Diane is one of the JIT Co-Founders who served on the JIT Board of Directors for eight years, first as Vice Chair and then as Chair.
As the current JIT Development Director, Diane’s responsibility is to ensure the financial sustainability of the organization.
A graduate of the University of Michigan, Diane is also a graduate of the Hudson Institute of Coaching and was formerly a senior account representative for First American Title Insurance Company in Rancho Santa Fe and Del Mar, California.
Youth Services Director
By her own admission, Vanessa’s experience growing up in foster care was not the greatest. Entering into foster care at the age of 3, having upward of 10 placements, Vanessa aged out of the foster care system at 18 years old completely unprepared for adulthood. Through perseverance, faith, hard work, and the support of her church family she slowly began to build a life for herself. At 19 years old, when faced with the possibility that her two younger sisters that had remained in foster care were possibly going to be moved into different homes, Vanessa felt compelled to take on the responsibility of caring for her sisters.
While working and going to school, Vanessa became a licensed foster parent with Casey Family Programs and worked tirelessly to provide the stable, loving home for her sisters that she had never experienced.
Professionally, Vanessa’s passion for public speaking and community education has opened up many doors for her. During her tenure at Wells Fargo Bank, she taught financial literacy courses to nonprofits and has also volunteered her time with Casey Family Programs.
Grant & Sponsorship Manager
Aimee Halfpenny has been working as a fund development professional for over 15 years and spent that last seven years serving as the Director of Development for Mama’s Kitchen before joining Just in Time for Foster Youth. Aimee has fundraised for Project Concern International, Manhattan Theatre Club and Plant with Purpose among others.
Career highlights include managing a scholarship program for school aged girls in Nicaragua and traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico to work with rural farmers. Aimee participated in the Fieldstone Foundation’s Emerging Nonprofit Leaders program is a former AFP San Diego Chamberlain Scholar.
Impact & Systems Strategist
From the moment she became a Career Horizons coach, Trish Horton fell in love with the people and mission of JIT. She developed an amazing bond with a former foster youth and felt how everyone was working tirelessly to help youth like her become self-sufficient. After one year of volunteering, Trish joined JIT as its Volunteer Engagement Manager. Trish combines her professional experience as a Strategy Director with her personal experience as a JIT Volunteer, to implement strategies that deepen volunteers’ connection with transitioning foster youth.
Collaboration is the cornerstone of Trish’s approach, which she leverages to empower volunteers and integrate them into the organization.
Trish earned her MBA from the Yale School of Management. She holds three coaching certifications and has served as President of SANDAPT (San Diego Chapter of the Association for Psychological Type). Trish’s career in the for-profit sector spans 20 years and includes employment at American Express, Lexus, iCrossing, Toyota Financial Services, and North Star Coaching.
Being bounced around from placement to placement, and high school to high school, Reshae finally established a relationship with Ramona High School. The summer beginning her senior year, she moved to a placement in Hillcrest. Wanting to stay at Ramona High School, Reshae advocated for herself and helped established the passing of AB490. AB490 allowed her to continue her senior year in Ramona while residing in Hillcrest and was the first student in San Diego County to utilize the benefits of the bill.
After high school, Reshae enrolled herself into San Diego Job Corps to start the process of getting on her feet. She has been a speaker throughout the years with College Connection, and spoke on the panel for Foster Care Changes in Sacramento with Karen Bass and Darrel Steinberg. She has worked as a child care worker in San Diego with New Alternatives, has been with Just in Time for Foster Youth since 2016, and is currently studying Business Management.
Nathan has been part of the Just in Time community for several years — first as a participant, then a volunteer, and now as a staff member. Prior to working with Just in Time, Nathan was a licensed massage therapist and had a successful sales career at Sleep Train. He is a graduate of the International Professional School of BodyWork, and also certified as a Life Coach through Academic Life Coach (ALC). As an ACL, Nathan provides a coaching platform based on his life’s philosophy to be K.I.P — short for Keep It Positive.
Outside of the workplace, Nathan spends his time fostering his youngest sister, looking after his nephews and enjoys outdoor activities like surfing, hiking, and camping, as well as writing and reading.
Lead Youth Services Coordinator
James Monroe, a San Diego native, began his undergraduate studies at California State University of Monterey Bay. At CSUMB, he studied Collaborative Health and Human Services with an emphasis in Public Policies. After three years in Monterey County, James transferred to California State University of San Marcos where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Literature and Writing with an emphasis in Writing.
James has experience working for New Alternative Inc. as a Mental Health Worker assisting foster youth to develop their independent living skills in order to strengthen self-sufficiency and maintain healthy relationships.
James, a former foster youth himself, has spent his teenage years moving from group home to group home where there is a lack of family structure. Prior to the foster care system, James was exposed to domestic violence and drug abuse, eventually losing his brother to a heroin overdose. James has a determined mindset to live his life at its full potential, and is devoted not to be a victim of his past. He has a positive outlook on making a difference within the fostering community, and is eager to establish long lasting relationships here at Just In Time.
Youth Services Coordinator
Steven Silva is a college graduate from San Diego State University, where he received his Bachelors of Science in the field of Criminal Justice. He also received his Associates degree at Golden West Community College in Applied Arts.
One of Steven’s biggest talents is his unique ability to relate to a variety of audiences on a personal level; he attributes this gift to working in the service industry for over seven years, supporting teens as a youth group leader in his church, and growing up in the foster care system. Steven spent 10 challenging years in the foster care system where he had to overcome many obstacles brought on by moving to 30 different homes before he turned 18. He believes by moving and interacting with so many foster families and group homes, he was made a stronger individual in dealing with hardships.
As a previous JIT participant, he can relate to their circumstances and he knows how difficult it is when a youth emancipates out of the foster care agency and has no resources to survive.
Youth Services Coordinator
Omar Chavez is a graduate of San Diego State University where he obtained his B.A in Psychology. He also interned for the San Diego State Research Foundation as a Life Coach for Project Links under the supervision of Dr. Joseph Price. As a Life Coach, Omar got to work with middle school aged foster youth where he would meet with them once a week for 14 weeks to cover topics such as goal setting, peer pressure, and stress reduction techniques.
Right after obtaining his B.A Psychology degree, Omar starting to work at SAY San Diego as a Co-Facilitator for their foster/kin parent support group Project Keep. He soon moved up to become a Facilitator were he would run up to 3 groups at once throughout San Diego County. His last months at SAY, Omar worked as a Student Advocate/Mentor at O’Farrell Charter School in Skyline.
Omar’s passions are exercising, Psychology, skateboarding, and playing the guitar, but what he enjoys the most is helping others grow, strive, and succeed. His passions for helping others and psychology developed when his family got torn apart which caused him to be placed in foster care. Omar’s biggest beliefs is that with the right attitude we can use life’s test to grow and become stronger mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Youth Services Coordinator
Terrance Lewis is a Volunteer Coordinator who works with Just in Time for Foster Youth to ensure volunteers are placed within a JIT program that best utilizes their talents, skills, and passions. Terrance knows that the work he does benefits foster youth like himself, who are wanting to be part of a caring community.
Terrance previously worked in his hometown of Philadelphia, PA., for a non-profit called Children of The Arts (C.O.T.A), which provides inner-city youth the opportunity to work with professional artists and entertainers to learn the fundamentals of acting, dancing and singing.
While studying at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, Terrance completed an internship at the Philadelphia Film Society and found a lifelong passion working with a team of interns reviewing independent screenplays. When he isn’t working, Terrance loves to volunteer for THON, the largest student-run philanthropy committed to helping families impacted by childhood cancer. He also spends his free time rock climbing, hiking, biking, taking trips to the beach, and developing his skills at designing and screen-printing t-shirts.
Youth Services Coordinator
Nancy Tran is a native San Diegan who earned her Bachelors of Arts in Liberal Studies from California State University San of San Marcos and an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts from San Diego Mesa College. As a former foster youth, she has been connected to the Just in Time community as a participant, volunteer, and staff member since 2009.
Although exiting foster care was not the smoothest transition, Nancy was able to get connected with various programs that provided the necessary tools to help acclimate young adults into the world of adulthood. With support from Change a Life Foundation, CSUSM ACE Scholars Program, Fostering Opportunities Dollars for Scholars, Just in Time for Foster Youth, My Girlfriend’s Closet, Promises2Kids Guardian Scholars Program, and the YMCA she was able to complete her undergraduate studies – debtfree!
As an advocate for youth to empower their voice, she has participated in several panel and speaking opportunities throughout the years as well with organizations such as Access, FosterClub, Junior League of San Diego and Promises2Kids.
Investor Outreach Coordinator
In 2014, Victoria joined JIT as a College Bound participant and later realized JIT offered many more services that would nurture and support her as parents would do for their children. Now, she is on the Development Team, as the Investor Outreach Coordinator, spreading awareness of foster care and how JIT helped her become Confident, Capable and Connected.
Currently, Victoria is a senior at San Diego State University pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and double minoring in Educational Leadership and Business Administration.
With personal experience in foster care, Victoria is passionate about advocating on behalf of underprivileged youth who are transitioning into adulthood without the necessary support and knowledge it requires. She loves sharing her story as it allows her to see her progress out of care and into the independent young woman she strives to become.
Youth Services Coordinator
Felicia Reyes is a recent alumnus of the University of Southern California where she graduated with a degree in American Studies & Ethnicity and a minor in Spanish. Throughout her time at USC, Felicia had many opportunities to travel, volunteer and conduct
research. She interned in D.C. with the Children’s Defense Fund, and had the opportunity to research the issues immigrant youth, both documented and undocumented, face in the juvenile justice system. Prior to coming to JIT, she spent a few years working with the USC Vice Dean for Diversity and Strategic Initiatives and helped implement diverse programming for different student communities on campus.
A highlight of Felicia’s education was when she completed an honors thesis that looked at community organizations and how they can better address the need of undocumented youth in the juvenile justice system. With the completion of her thesis, she graduated with a departmental honors distinction, magna cum laude, and the Order of Troy.
As a former foster youth, Felicia spent time in placements both in California and Georgia. Once in college, Felicia became an advocate for former foster youth through the Trojan Guardians Scholars Program, and she hopes to continue being an advocate both in her role at JIT as well as in her personal life.
Our Support Team
Investor Stewardship and Events
Karen joined Just in Time’s staff in 2015, but was very familiar with the organization as she had been involved as a volunteer or friend since its inception. She is thrilled to be a part of this dynamic nonprofit.
Previously, Karen worked at USO San Diego in Development. She has been a volunteer, board member, and president for various organizations in San Diego County including: St. Germaine Children’s Charity, The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, San Diego County Federation of Republican Women, La Jolla Republican Women, Federated and the La Jolla Opera Guild. She has also chaired the major fundraisers for all of the above organizations.
Karen and her husband have had six AFS exchange students – students in their senior year of high school. Their “children” live in Denmark, Chile, Germany, Slovakia and Italy. Their daughter from Ukraine immigrated to the US in 2003 and is now an American citizen. Through Just in Time, the Miller’s now have another daughter – Victoria, a former foster youth, and a welcome addition to the family!
Prior to her work with nonprofits and volunteer organizations, Karen was a Senior Buyer at San Diego Gas & Electric. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in Foreign Languages, majoring in German and minoring in Russian.
Marc Emmelmann joined the Just in Time community in 2016, and has been serving in marketing and communications capacities throughout the organization. He designed the new Just in Time for Foster Youth website, conducts social media, and assists with email communications.
Having worked in group homes, a safe home, and alternative education programs, Marc is no stranger to social services. After a brief, 1-year stint in NYC, and yearning for warm weather and a fresh start, Marc moved to San Diego in 2008. He was soon hired by the San Diego Performing Arts League and served as Membership Services Coordinator, and later as General Manager and Executive Director. He also has served as Co-Chair on the board of The Actors Alliance of San Diego and helped launch the inaugural San Diego Fringe Festival.
Marc eventually launched his marketing agency, Falco Strategics, focused on branding, website design, SEO, video and social media marketing. Since living in San Diego, he has produced a children’s music album, Epic Kids Songs, which puts a positive spin on classic kids songs and baby songs, and he also publishes the blog, San Diego Blog Time. When he isn’t working, he loves being with his dogs and playing softball.