Girls Incorporated of Orange County is governed by a volunteer board of directors comprised of respected community and business leaders from throughout Orange County.
Elizabeth Weldon is a partner in the law firm of Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. in Orange County, California. She represents companies and individuals in both business litigation and franchise litigation and speaks and writes about franchise law issues. She is currently the director of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Division of the Forum on Franchising in the American Bar Association and is the co-chair of the Franchise Law Committee of the State Bar of California. Prior to her efforts with Girls Inc., she served on the board and was president of Friends of Read/Orange County. She received her J.D. from the school of law at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.
Elizabeth has been a member of the board of directors of Girls Inc. Orange County since 2011. She wants the girls of Orange County to embrace who they are, understand their potential, take charge of their future, and become leaders in our community.
Bailey Weinberg is the Chief Strategist at Synergy Consulting Group, where she is able to focus on her passion for maximizing organizational performance by unleashing human potential. She leverages her years in operations (field and corporate) along with her HR expertise to help improve organizational effectiveness and build talent. Previous roles have included every imaginable HR role except for compensation and benefits, field operations, leading a new store and remodel team (no I was not the one wielding a hammer), leading a direct sales team (catalog and online) and orthotist in the US Air Force (yes I was active duty and think body braces not dental braces). Her years of experience have given her an appreciation for the heart and soul people put into their work often under demanding circumstances (think 2am on Thanksgiving Day preparing for a new store opening on black Friday). She is delighted at the opportunity to help girls be strong, smart, and bold!
Bailey received her BA in Psychology and MA in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from California State University, Long Beach. She pursued her PhD in Organizational Behavior at Claremont University and continues to stay fresh in the field by teaching at the Masters level as an adjunct professor at California State University, Long Beach. Bailey lives in Newport Beach, CA with her husband Paul.
Rajesh Luhar, Treasurer
Rajesh Luhar is a seasoned financial executive and Chief Financial Officer, well respected among his colleagues and in possession of a strong network of professional contacts. Financially savvy, his impressive career history is highlighted by significant achievements within the fields of finance and business development. Rajesh has over 25 years of finance and financial management, consistently adding calculable value to each company with whom he has been affiliated by reducing expenses, implementing improved systems, and pinpointing key areas for development, leading to increases in company strength, revenue, and profits.
Rajesh’s ability to view a company’s operations, sales, and marketing divisions from not only a fiscal but a business administration prospective brings added value to companies that engage his service, along with his unique blend of persuasive powers and expert advice.
In addition to his executive career, Rajesh has built a strong track record in the boardroom, serving as Treasurer and, eventually, Chair of a private recreational community club established in his own neighborhood. This club prospered and grew under his leadership until it was eventually donated to the YMCA in a benevolent community welfare gesture. Rajesh also harbors a keen interest in real estate and property investment and holds a seat on a number of property management boards, including his appointment as a member of the board of Trestle Property Management. Additionally, Rajesh is affiliated with several not-for-profit and community organizations as a testament to his philanthropic nature. Chief among these is his position as Financial Coach for Working Wardrobes, a community organization that provides fiscal training for at risk young adults, aiding with their integration back into society.
After decades leading and growing businesses for ADP and CDK Global, Janet Michels is on hiatus from her day job to focus her energies and experience on making it possible for more Orange County girls to be Strong, Smart and Bold! She has being involved with Girls Inc. for nearly 8 years, driving corporate fundraising and volunteerism to benefit the organization’s mission. Janet is passionate about Girls Inc. methodical and research based programming that help girls lead a successful, confident and productive life. She joined the board in 2013 and the Executive Committee in 2015.
She holds a B.A. in Mass Communications and English from the University of South Florida, and has taken a myriad of executive education courses from Wharton and Kellogg. In addition, she has completed all coursework for Certified Financial Planning and recently received her instructor designation for the MELT method, a body self-care method to eliminate and prevent chronic pain. Beyond girls and women’s issues, Janet is passionate about financial literacy, education, and quality aging.
Janet resides in Huntington Beach with her husband, Mike, daughter Emily and an 80 lb. rescue dog named Laney.
Debra Richardson is Professor Emeritus of Informatics and founding dean of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at UCIrvine. She joined UCI in 1987, and became ICS chair in 2000. Under her leadership, the department was promoted to the first (and still only) computing-focused school in the UC system.
Dr. Richardson is a long-time advocate of increasing the participation of women and other populations underrepresented in computing and STEM. She has served on the leadership team of the National Center for Women and Information Technology since its inception and leads UCI’s NCWIT PaceSetter team. She recently led the Extension Services team, which led to UCI receiving the 2016 Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award from NCWIT. She also manages the LA/OC regional affiliate of NCWIT’s Aspirations in Computing program, which recognizes high school girls interested in technology and computing.
Dr. Richardson strives to expand K-12 computer science education and pathways into computing degrees. She chaired Computer Science Education Week, endorsed by Congress in 2009 to recognize the transformative role of computing in society and the critical need to bolster computer science education for all. Dr. Richardson also chairs the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS), focusing on equitable access to computing education in California.
Richardson received her B.A. in Mathematics from UC San Diego, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science from UMass Amherst. Her software engineering research has been recognized with two retrospective impact awards from ACM SIGSoft, and also by her designation as Fellow of Automated Software Engineering.
Dr. Richardson served on the Girls Inc. of Orange County Board of Directors from 2001 through 2011 and re-joined the board in 2013. She serves as Vice President for Program and Volunteer Development.
Gena H. Reed, Member-at-Large
Gena H. Reed is a former Board Member of Girls Inc. of Orange County and served from 2004-2015. During her years of service Gena served in a variety of leadership roles – from being a Member at Large on the Executive Committee, V.P. of Fund Development and during her last term served as the President and Chair of the Board.
Gena is currently involved as part of the Champions for Girls leadership group and is actively involved as well as a mentor/coach via the Girls Inc. college-bound program
Gena has always been a champion and advocate for women in business. Most recent, Gena was the President & CEO and Co-Founder of Paragon Biomedical, Inc., a privately held Contract Research Organization that specializes in the management of clinical trials and clinical services to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.
Prior to Paragon, Gena worked in the pharmaceutical industry holding positions in Pharmaceutical Sales Management, Consumer Products Sales Management, and Human Resources at Merrell National, Merrell Dow and Marion Merrell Dow. While at Merrell Dow, she was one of five individuals selected to start a new health promotion business.
In addition to founding two businesses, Gena holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Cincinnati and received the 1998 Orange County Ernst and Young Entrepreneurs of the Year Award for Healthcare and in 2005 was recognized by NAWBO as the Business Woman of the Year.
Jennifer Baer is a Sr. Manager, Human Resources at Edwards Lifesciences, the global leader in the science of heart valves and hemodynamic monitoring. She has more than 15 years of experience working as a strategic business partner in human resources. She leads the Women in Leadership and Summer Extern initiatives for Edwards Lifesciences and sits on the Diversity Council which promotes diversity and inclusion for the organization. She holds a Bachelor degree in Business from California State University, Long Beach and a Master of Business Administration from Concordia University.
Rhonda M. Bolton leads the development and implementation of policies that are aligned with Kia Motors America Inc.’s philosophy to promote diversity and inclusion within its workforce, as well as its dealer network, customer base, supplier base, and local community.
Ms. Bolton joined Kia from Steptoe & Johnson LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm. Her legal expertise includes legislative, regulatory, and litigation matters focused on healthcare and financial services. She also helped to spearhead Steptoe’s first major diversity initiative as a leader of the firm’s Diversity Committee.
Before joining Steptoe, Ms. Bolton was a legislative aide to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
She earned a bachelor of science degree in economics from the University of Houston, and a juris doctor degree from the College William and Mary.
Ms. Bolton is currently Vice Chair of the U.S. Council of Diversity and Inclusion Executives, and an Advisory Board member of the California Diversity Council. Her charitable activities include board or advisory roles with UNCF-Los Angeles; Families Forward, an Orange County, California charity; and the Orange County Human Relations Council.
When you meet Sherry two characteristics quickly become apparent: her extremely gracious, warm personality and her incredibly organized mind. These characteristics have served .
Sherry’s clients well in her 20+ years as an investment professional where her focus has always been on planning and problem solving. At AllianceBernstein, Sherry ran the National Employee Communications Department responsible for educating and advising thousands of retirement plan participants on topics ranging from asset allocation, investment selection, managing expenses and saving for retirement. At AIG Financial Advisors and later at Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, Sherry worked with high net worth families on similar planning issues, while incorporating taxes, a greater focus on wealth preservation
and risk management. Sherry is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®) and a self-proclaimed ‘compulsive ‘ about details. However, Sherry’s extensive experience helping investors plan for the future has taught her that a successful investment plan starts by identifying aspirational goals, and she encourages her clients to plan carefully, then focus on living happily and enjoying life’s journey . Sherry joins her husband , Daryl, as a founding partner of New Market Wealth Management, and as the day-to-day manager of their family of eight.
Jenny Dinnen is President of Sales and Marketing at MacKenzie Corporation a family run data analysis and market research company. Driven to maximize customer’s value and exceed expectations, Jenny carried a can-do attitude where she goes. Jenny is a big-picture thinker who is continually pushing the limits and looking for new innovative ways to help her clients understand and connect more effectively with their customers. Having started out on the creative side of marketing, Jenny is always looking for new ways to merge the analytic side of marketing with the creative side.
Before joining MacKenzie, Jenny worked at HD Supply as a Marketing Manager and Household Auto Finance in their marketing department. Jenny received her undergrad degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado (Boulder) and her MBA from the University of Redlands. Jenny is an active member of the Center for Family Business at Cal State Fullerton and the Market Research Association. She also volunteers and is very involved with Girls Inc. of Orange County and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Trish Elliott is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of TRx Talent, a national healthcare staffing firm headquartered in Newport Beach, California. Prior to TRx, Ms. Elliott was the Vice President of Global Human Resources at Stanley Black & Decker. In that role, she led 13 integration teams representing 40,000 employees during the mega-merger between Stanley Works and Black & Decker. Ms. Elliott’s impressive career also includes leadership roles in Supply Chain and Procurement at Fortune 100 and other large global organizations in the motorcycle, mortgage, and home improvement industries where she managed $200 million in labor contracts and structured deals that reduced corporate waste without sacrificing quality. Ms. Elliott attributes her success to her collaborative leadership style and high standards for excellence.
Ms. Elliott received special recognition by the California Senate and Legislative Assembly in 2017 for her success and achievements as an Orange County business leader. Ms Elliott also received the Woman of Influence Award in 2015 from L.A. Biz Journal which highlights and commends female business leaders for their success and innovation, as well as their generosity in paying it forward. Her philanthropic work is deeply rooted in programs supporting women and children. She is the recipient of the Spirit of Community Award from Families Forward and the Giving is Living Award by OneOC in 2011 for her fundraising efforts. Ms. Elliott is a Partner and Grant Committee member for Impact Giving, a women’s collective giving organization. She serves on the Gala Committee at Families Forward and is an active participant in the career support programs, community awareness events, and food pantry programs that Families Forward offers Orange County families in need. Ms. Elliott is also a regular contributor to Human Options, an organization providing safe haven and life changing programs to help abused women and their children rebuild their lives.
Lisa Haines is responsible for creating and implementing effective public affairs strategies at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California while enhancing relationships with the media, local and state government, industry associations and community organizations. Lisa joined the Disneyland Resort team in 2008 as vice president, communications. Prior to that, she served as vice president, external communications for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
Before joining The Walt Disney Company in 2004, Lisa served as vice president, corporate communications for Health Net, Inc., one of the country’s largest managed health care corporations.
Prior to her Health Net experience, Lisa served for six years with McNally Temple Associates, Inc., a Sacramento-based political consulting, public relations and public affairs agency. Lisa got her start in politics in 1987 with former Congressman Norman Shumway of Stockton, California, serving in both his district and Washington, D.C. office, as well as on his campaign team.
Lisa serves on the board of directors for the Orange County Business Council, the leading business advocacy group in Orange County, and Girls Inc. of Orange County. Lisa is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a degree in political science. She lives in Tustin with her husband, Larry, and their two children.
Christopher K. “Chris” Looney is a Principal & Managing Director of CCS Fundraising, a strategic fundraising firm partnering with non-profits for transformational change. He has been involved with Girls Inc. for 5 years, first as a consultant and later as the founding member of Dads for Daughters.
Now in his 19th year with CCS, Chris maintains responsibility for managing the firm’s operations in Southern California. Chris has assisted several hundred organizations, large and small, in raising hundreds of millions of dollars to increase capacity and impact.
Chris is a member of the CCS Training Institute faculty and frequently lectures at conferences across the country. Chris is actively involved with chapters of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) throughout Southern California and recently served on the Boards of the AFP International Foundation for Philanthropy and AFP Orange County Chapter.
A graduate of Princeton University, Chris is the former President of the Princeton Club of Orange County. He represents CCS on the boards of the Giving Institute and Giving USA Foundation. Chris resides in Irvine, California with his wife, Anisha; their two sons, Gavin and Griffin; and their daughter, Giselle.
Ms. Lowe is an executive vice president and account manager in the Newport Beach office, focusing on corporate clients. She also oversees the Client Events Cabinet for the Americas. Prior to joining PIMCO in 2006, she was with JPMorgan Private Bank as a global investment specialist with client responsibilities in the Middle East, Brazil and the U.S. She is also a member of the board of directors of Girls Incorporated of Orange County. She has 20 years of investment experience and holds an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles. She received an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Lori Lyons-Williams is Vice President, Sales and Marketing, at Allergan, Inc., a global leader in pharmaceuticals, with more than $23 billion in annual revenue, and more than 30,000 employees, worldwide. Lori leads a team of ~120 Commercial employees in Sales, Marketing, Consulting, and Training, as head of the U.S. Urology organization, where she has full P&L responsibility. In addition to physician and direct-to-consumer promotion of BOTOX®, Lori’s team is responsible for the broader Allergan Urology portfolio.
Lori has spent 14 years at Allergan, in varying roles throughout the organization. She has extensive experience in Sales Leadership, including Sales Force Deployment, Incentive Compensation Planning, Performance Management, and Talent Development. Lori also has led several Marketing teams in her tenure, where her responsibilities included development of Long-Term Strategic Plans, Sales Forecasting, Budget Ownership, and oversight during all phases of Lifecycle Management (Pre-Market Planning, Pre-Launch, Launch, Growth, Mature Brands, and Loss of Exclusivity). Additionally, she reviews business development opportunities and has played a role in several key acquisitions. In recent years, Lori has piloted a Women in Leadership group that has now been adopted more broadly across the organization.
Lori is originally from Virginia, holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Virginia Tech, and considers herself a proud Hokie. Lori also holds a MBA from the Carlson School of Management, at the University of Minnesota, where she graduated Beta Gamma Sigma.
Lori is active in the community, with United Way of Orange County and has been recognized as a member of The International Women’s Leadership Association. In addition to her Board position at Girls, Inc. of Orange County, Lori serves on the Board of Orange County Business Council, as well as the National Association for Continence, where she is also Vice Chair of the Executive Committee. Lori and her husband, Patrick Williams, have been residents of California for the past 8 years. They reside in Aliso Viejo, with their sons, Beckett, and Paxton, and their daughter, Keaton.
Susan Merritt is a Senior Vice President and the Senior Fiduciary Officer for The Northern Trust Company in their Orange County region. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the region’s fiduciary practice including oversight of all trust relationships, management and mitigation of fiduciary risk, review of all new trust business, and oversight of all court related matters. Susan also works with select clients and their advisors to develop integrated tax, investment and estate plans.
Prior to joining Northern Trust, Susan was a practicing attorney with a large business law firm in Vancouver, Canada and she also spent several years with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in its Canadian tax department.
Susan received her Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta and her Law Degree from the University of British Columbia. She is a member of the State Bar of California and is a non-practicing member of the Law Society of British Columbia. Susan is a former Toastmasters International member and is a member of the Board of Directors with Girls Inc. of Orange County.
Jeff Morin is the Director of External Affairs at AT&T. In this role Jeff provides community relations and legislative public affairs support throughout 20 cities in Orange County. His responsibilities include working with city staffs, and local, state & federal elected officials within the region to address government-related concerns. Additionally, his duties include the role of corporate liaison with various non-profit organizations in the region.
Jeff has more than 35 years of experience to his credit at AT&T. Beyond his recent role in the public affairs arena, Jeff has gained in-depth experience of the company working in various positions within AT&T’s network construction, maintenance, and engineering organizations as well as sales contract negotiations & development, corporate procurement, and merger integration.
Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Pepperdine University, and an Executive Masters of Business Administration from Golden Gate University. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for Girls Incorporated, Jeff currently serves as President of the Boards of Directors for Coastline Community College Foundation, and the Executive Board (Secretary) for the Boys & Girls Club of Anaheim.
Cheryl Osborn is President and Founder of Casco Contractors, Inc., a commercial general contractor in Southern California specializing in tenant improvement. Ms. Osborn graduated from California State University, Long Beach with degrees in both Construction Management and Interior Architectural Design.
In order to accomplish her goals in a predominantly male dominated field, Cheryl pioneered a concept of construction that combines time tested management and trade experience with sophisticated new age technologies and unique levels of communication that successful business women have been incorporating for years.
Cheryl is an Orange County native who enjoys spending her free time with her husband, Jeff, and their two beautiful daughters. Although the balancing act of running a successful corporation while maintaining her commitment to her family and personal goals is a challenge, Cheryl approaches her personal life as she approaches her professional life, with unwavering commitment and a dedication to her core values.
Kate E. Phelan
As a Trust Relationship Manager for The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank, Kate provides personalized service and day-to-day management of trusts and estates to individuals and families at all stages of life. She also supports accounts for corporations and non-profit organizations. Kate specializes in creating custom strategies based on the complex issues of trust and estate management to help her clients meet their unique needs.
Prior to joining US Bank, Kate was an estate planning attorney in Phoenix, Arizona.
Kate received her law degree at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State, and her undergraduate business degree at the University of Arizona.
Pam Policano enjoyed a 20-year career in higher education before moving to Orange County in 2004. At the University of Wisconsin, Madison School of Business, Policano began her career as Alumni Director, later becoming Assistant Dean of External Relations and then Assistant Dean of Marketing and Corporate Relations. She has extensive experience building and maintaining relationships with donors, boards of directors, students, faculty, businesses, government officials and the community.
Policano also served as President of the Center for Advanced Studies in Business, Inc., a non-profit executive education corporation, for 14 years. Her role included strategic planning, acquiring financing, and overseeing construction of the Fluno Center, a $24 million executive education facility. In Wisconsin, she served as mentor for many students, as academic advisor for numerous university student organizations and as a board member for various community organizations. She is a current member of the Dean’s Leadership Circle of The Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine and a past member of the Women’s Philanthropy Fund of Orange County’s United Way.
Melissa Pollard is a Senior Relationship Manager in Middle Market Lending with Comerica Bank. Pollard has been in banking since 1988 and with Comerica Bank since 1998. During her tenure she has led such initiatives as co-founding and chairing Comerica Bank’s Western Market Women’s Initiative and creating the Comerica Bank Women’s Business Symposium benefiting Girls Inc. of Orange County. Pollard earned a BS in Psychology and BA in Communications with a minor in Business from the University of Richmond in Virginia. She has been a member of Girls Incorporated of Orange County’s Board of Trustees since 2008.
Deborah Rodriguez is the Senior Vice President of Talent for ALPHAEON Corporation, a lifestyle healthcare business based in Irvine, CA. In this role, she works closely with her executive leadership team to develop and implement strategies for the business that attract, retain and develop great talent for a unique corporate culture whose core values include freedom and courage. Prior to joining ALPHAEON, Deborah held a number of leadership positions in both Fortune 100 and mid-sized public and/or global companies including Johnson & Johnson, GE Capital, Alliance HealthCare Services, and Allergan. In each of these organizations, she joined the business or division at a critical point of acquisition, start up, high growth, turnaround, or other significant transformation.
She holds a Master’s degree in Human Resources Development, is Six-Sigma trained as an Executive Black Belt and is a certified executive leadership coach. Her practical application of organizational development and Six Sigma principles across multiple industries and her ability to develop a human resources team that can influence and effectively diagnose (and resolve) issues are keys to helping drive positive change in an organization.
Deborah has guided her current and last organization in the formation and ongoing leadership of Lean In Circles. She is a Partner and Grant Committee Chair for Impact Giving, a women’s collective giving organization whose purpose is to make an IMPACT both locally and globally by supporting positive sustainable social change where most needed.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduation she moved to Los Angeles, and got involved in an orphanage (Vista Del Mar). This experience was the catalyst for her wanting to work and support youth-in-need programs. Shortly after re-locating to Orange County she became involved with Children’s Home Society and served as president of the Santa Ana Auxiliary. After her children were raised took a keen interest in theater and served on the Board of Trustees of SCR until termed out after 9 years, but remains a Trustee Emeritus. She started volunteering at Girl’s Inc. in the 90’s and became a Board member in 2001. She continues as a strong supporter of Girl’s Inc. as well as several other charitable organizations.
Daisy has almost 20 years of financial services experience, beginning her career with JP Morgan’s Private Bank in New York City. Prior to joining Bank of the West Private Client Services, Daisy was in a Leadership role with Mass Mutual as a Partner in the Atlanta office and a Vice President at US Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management managing about $1 billion assets under management with her team.
Daisy has received her Executive MBA at the University of Georgia, Terry School of Business, a BS in Finance and a double minor in English Literature and Philosophy from The State University of New York at Geneseo, and has also studied at Oxford University, England. In addition, she has received the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®) designation through Wharton’s School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She is Series 7, 24, 53 and 66 licensed with FINRA, and has her California Insurance License.
Pei Pei joined Windes & McClaughry in 1991 and is a partner in the firm’s Audit and Assurance Services department. Her practice focus includes assisting privately held business owners and employees in all aspects of business financial planning, including reports on financial statements, business mergers and acquisitions, general consulting, and employee benefit plans.
Pei Pei serves a wide variety of clients in the transportation and trade, manufacturing and distribution, nonprofit, real estate, and construction industries.
She received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Accounting from California State University, Long Beach and is a member of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Association For Corporate Growth, and California Society of Certified Public Accountants.