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 Just in Time for Foster Youth 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 Just in Time for Foster Youth 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.
Diane is a graduate of the University of Michigan and 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. She entered into foster care at the age of three, having upward of 10 placements before aging out of the 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 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.
Investor Relations Manager
Michele comes to JIT, returning to the service side of nonprofit work, after many years working at local foundations. Her most recent role was at Alliance Healthcare Foundation (AHF) as the Senior Director of Programs. At AHF she led workflow and processes, directing the $2.5 million grants programs focused on homeless, vulnerable children, and working poor populations. She organized and implemented the community engagement efforts and iEngageU series throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties, and developed strategic goals, implementation strategies, and respective budgets for effective implementation of AHF’s programs.
Michele has more than 14 years experience in nonprofit management, philanthropy, and community development for health-focused organizations working in marginalized communities. She is a strong program leader and project manager that focuses on workflow optimization to meet and exceed goals. With her work spanning grassroots community based organizations to multi-million dollar funders she is a successful communicator across stakeholder constituencies and has a robust understanding of San Diego’s philanthropic landscape. Her previous work has focused on the underserved, whether through food systems, the Peace Corps in El Salvador, or immigrant worker health issues. Michele received her bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in City & Regional Planning and master’s degree from Brandeis University in Sustainable International Development.
Michele considers herself fortunate to be combining her passions, skills, and experience to increase investments and further engage a caring community to help transition-age foster youth achieve self-sufficiency and well-being. When she is not at JIT you can find her with her husband, boys, and new puppy in the mountains, camping and hiking.
Volunteer Engagement/Service Enterprise
Monica’s professional work experience spans over 20 years in sales, marketing, recruiting, and diversity and inclusion roles for organizations like the Walt Disney Company, UMass Memorial Health Care, Lutheran Family Services and Keck Graduate Institute, a Claremont College. Born and raised in the Chicago area, Monica earned her Bachelor of Science in Mass Media Communications from Oral Roberts University and her MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management.
Monica’s desire to serve foster youth began over 20 years ago when she served as a CASA-Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer, where she was dedicated to a foster child’s case and advocated for their best interests. Following her corporate career, Monica served as a child care worker in a Riverside County group home, trained foster parents and later recruited foster parents. Monica is passionate about connecting volunteers with JIT youth to help them become Confident, Capable and Connected.
Director of Operations
John’s professional experience spans over 20 years in the corporate environment with organizations such as Home Depot and VF Corporation, where he fulfilled leadership roles in Operations, Vendor Compliance, and Environmental Health and Safety. He holds a BA in Economics from San Diego State University, an MBA from California State University San Marcos and an MA in Psychology from Trinity College of Graduate Studies.
It was serving young adults during his Psychology practicum that John connected with this population and their well-being. He knew at some point in his future there would be an opportunity to fully draw on both his service experiences and his business acumen, and Just in Time was that opportunity. In his Operations role, he sets out to sustain and strengthen the organizational foundation that enables the JIT staff to deliver amazing results and fulfill the organization’s mission.
John is a native Californian who is well-rooted in Carlsbad with his wife and three kids. When not focusing on Operations, he can be found, wrench in hand, under an old Volkswagen or in the ocean enjoying local surf.
Being bounced around from placement to placement and high school to high school, Reshae finally established a relationship with Ramona High School. During the summer before 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 she 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 for her MBA.
Impact & Systems Strategist
From the moment she became a Career Horizons coach, Trish fell in love with the people and mission of Just in Time for Foster Youth. 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 the JIT staff 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’ connections with transition age 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.
Youth Services Coordinator
Nancy is a native San Diegan who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from California State University San Marcos and her 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 – debt-free!
As an advocate for youth to empower their voices, Nancy has also participated in several panel and speaking opportunities throughout the years with organizations such as Access, FosterClub, Junior League of San Diego and Promises2Kids.
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 with Sleep Train. He is a graduate of the International Professional School of Bodywork and certified as a Life Coach through Academic Life Coach (ALC). As an ALC, 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 such as surfing, hiking and camping, as well as writing and reading.
Youth Services Coordinator
Steven is a graduate of San Diego State University, where he received his Bachelor of Science in the field of Criminal Justice. He also has an associate degree from 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 foster care, 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 when it comes to dealing with hardships.
As a previous JIT participant, Steven can relate to our youth’s circumstances and knows how difficult it is to emancipate out of foster care with no resources to survive.
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 Just in Time for Foster Youth, 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.
Youth Services Coordinator
Allie recently graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication Studies. Her previous student leadership roles along with her passion for bringing people together make her the perfect addition to the Just in Time team. Allie was connected to the JIT community back in 2015 when she relocated to San Diego. She brings her own experiences of being in the foster care system along with her enthusiasm for helping others into her current role and hopes to utilize them to positively impact the lives of the many youth we serve.
When she’s not working, Allie loves to spend time in the kitchen creating delicious meals or to be in the outdoors with her family. She loves learning, and is committed to spreading love and positivity where ever she goes.
Youth Services Coordinator
Omar is a graduate of San Diego State University where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts 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 worked with middle-school-aged foster youth, meeting with them once a week for 14 weeks to cover topics such as goal setting, peer pressure and stress reduction.
Right after obtaining his Psychology degree, Omar worked 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, where he would run up to three groups at once throughout San Diego County. During 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 most is helping others grow, strive and succeed. His passions for helping others and for psychology developed when his family got torn apart as a youth, causing him to be placed in foster care. Omar’s biggest belief is that with the right attitude, we can use life’s tests to grow and become stronger mentally, physically and spiritually.
Youth Services Coordinator
Amanda is a graduate of California State University Fullerton, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an emphasis in Entertainment and Tourism Studies. At Cal State Fullerton, she was heavily involved with the College of Communications and the Entertainment and Tourism Club. Halfway through her college journey, she became a student assistant for the CSUF Events team where she assisted with alumni events, concerts and the college’s commencement. As a student and a post-grad, Amanda also volunteered for a non-profit organization that helps people with eating disorders pay for treatment and receive resources.
After she graduated, Amanda received a job as a commercial coordinator at NBC Universal. She valued this experience and loved working in entertainment but realized that she wanted to dedicate her time to help and influence others in need. She had little financial support and at times, worked two jobs to support herself and graduate debt-free. Amanda takes pride in her financial responsibility and hopes to help others achieve financial security. She participated in multiple Just in Time programs and wants to spread awareness about the amazing opportunities and resources available through JIT.
When she’s not working or volunteering, Amanda is passionate about surfing, social movements, traveling and challenging herself to learn new things.
Brand, Communications & Marketing Coordinator
Rachel is a graduate of San Diego State University, where she graduated magna cum laude from the School of Journalism & Media Studies with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and an Allied Discipline in Marketing. She began her professional career at a full-service advertising firm in San Diego, where the start-up environment combined with her strong work ethic allowed her to grow from an intern to an executive in just a few short years. She excelled in the creative side of things, especially copywriting, which allowed her to establish a new position as Creative Services Manager for the company.
While she loved her clients, coworkers and the creativity that went into working in an ad agency, Rachel didn’t feel entirely fulfilled in the advertising world. She wanted to use her talents in a way that more directly helped those around her while providing more life balance. She resigned from her position and began doing freelance writing and marketing consulting until she found the perfect position – which led her to Just in Time for Foster Youth.
From the moment Rachel read JIT’s values and mission, she knew she wanted to be a part of it – whether as a volunteer or a team member. As a new addition to the JIT team, she looks forward to sharing the amazing stories of the youth we serve – and learning a lot from them along the way!
Outside of the workplace, Rachel enjoys live music, singing, movies and art, and is a house rabbit enthusiast.
Youth Services Coordinator
“If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise,” said Rupi Kaur. Janeth lives with this quote in mind. Her life experience as a scholar, immigrant, foster youth and, most importantly, a human, has given her the opportunities to fall and capacity to rise time and time again, renewing herself and creating a stronger more empathetic person.
In 2013, Janeth faced the decision of moving to San Francisco or San Diego. After finding out about Just In Time for Foster Youth, Janeth reached out and was offered the support and community she needed to succeed. This prompted her to make the drive and move to San Diego where she attended and graduated from the University of California San Diego with a major in Political Science and minors in Environmental Studies and Regional Specialization of Latin America and the Multi-Ethnic United States. Throughout her time at UC San Diego, Janeth went through several transformative phases; questioning the inequalities she’s faced, the social conditioning she’s been through and the beliefs she was attached to led her to change her diet, perspectives, behavior and outlook on life. Today Janeth prioritizes her purpose in life: to help herself and others. Her involvement with JIT, devotion to environmental stewardship and passion for humankind fuels her to do better, be better, fall and rise.
Investor Outreach Coordinator
In 2014, Victoria connected with Just in Time for Foster Youth 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 JIT’s Investor Outreach Coordinator, spreading awareness of life after foster care and how JIT has helped her become Confident, Capable and Connected.
Currently, Victoria is a senior at San Diego State University pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a double minor 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.
Kyra M Kurita
Youth Services & Volunteer Engagement Administrator
Kyra Kurita is an ambitious student pursuing two bachelor’s degrees from San Diego State University in Psychology and Speech Language & Hearing Sciences. She previously graduated from El Camino Community College with three associate degrees in Early Childhood Education, Communication Studies and General Studies of Culture & Communication. Her goal is to be a life-long learner, as she sees knowledge as the key to opening every door. She hopes to earn a doctorate in either Speech Language Pathology or Psychology.
Prior to her engagement with Just in Time, she struggled with her identity as a former foster youth, however it is now her passion. JIT helped Kyra accept her history in foster care and advocate for those in her community. Her goal is to help every individual find their own voice and learn to express themselves; communication is the essence of human connection in her opinion.
Kyra has experience creating inclusive environments that support the growth of self-confidence having previously been a manager for a music school, a preschool teacher and a tutor. In all of those positions, she worked tirelessly with numerous individuals with compassion and patience. No matter what job she has been assigned, she assures that her work positively impacts the lives of those around her and she connects on a personalized level.
Youth Services Coordinator
Virgo Villajin immigrated from the Philippines in 2000 and transferred to San Diego State University from Fullerton College in 2015. He recently graduated from SDSU with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. One of his long-term goals is to obtain a master’s degree in Higher Education and promote the success of former foster youth in underrepresented fields such as niology. He hopes that his impact on others will lead them to embrace their experience and celebrate their achievements.
Virgo has invested his time at SDSU as a voice to empower his peers in the former foster youth community. Through his student leadership positions in SDSU’s Guardian Scholars program and Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity for gay men, he has learned how to represent his community and love his intersecting identities. His passion for leadership stems from his desire to establish brave spaces for his peers that are inclusive and encourages them to share their experiences.
Originally only drawn to Just in Time for the physical resources, Virgo has since learned the impact that can be created by a team with a shared vision. This impact motivated him to leave his previous employment as a dialysis technician and join the revolution that is changing the perception of foster care.
Our Support Team
Investor Stewardship and Events
Karen joined Just in Time for Foster Youth’s staff in 2015, but was very familiar with the organization as she had been involved as a volunteer and 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 Millers now have another daughter – Victoria, a former foster youth and welcome addition to their 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.
Changing Lanes Auto Access Advisor
Cori Fusselman graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, and has grown over the past 13 years as a mortgage professional. Cori was well versed in many mortgage lending programs and especially enjoyed working with first time home buyers. With this knowledge, she volunteered numerous times as a guest speaker and educator in Just in Time’s Financial Fitness program, teaching the necessary steps to prepare for future home ownership.
Cori previously volunteered with Promises 2 Kids as a mentor in their Guardian Scholars program. In 2012, she and her husband became foster parents through Angel’s Network to their now adopted 6-year-old daughter. They also have two boys, 8 and 10 years old. Cori enjoys watching her oldest son play soccer and both boys practice Martial Arts, and her daughter loves ballet, tap and hip-hop dance.
Cori exited the mortgage business in December 2017 to pursue working full-time with foster youth. She is excited to combine her passion in serving foster kids with her professional knowledge and experience in lending and finance to help young adults gain auto financing access within Just in Time’s Changing Lanes program.
Chief Financial Officer
Gayle is a certified public accountant with a degree in accounting and an MBA from Arizona State University in Tempe. She spent the first five years of her career as an auditor with Deloitte, where she audited not-for-profit organizations, regional governmental groups and publicly held companies. After receiving her MBA and raising her family, Gayle joined PricewaterhouseCoopers in Los Angeles and spent the next 11 years providing accounting and consulting services to multinational corporations, not-for-profit organizations and various governmental entities within the federal government of the United States and the countries of Moldova, Ukraine, and Russia.
As an experienced auditor and consultant, Gayle has helped organizations achieve best-in-class finance and accounting functions through the implementation of enabling technology, re-engineered processes, redesigned procedures and training. After leaving PricewaterhouseCoopers and settling in San Diego, Gayle spent the next few years as Controller for the Information Technology division of Sony Electronics. She thought about retiring but after reading an article about Phillip Rivers, his Rivers of Hope Foundation and its assistance to youth at Just in Time for Foster Youth, she volunteered on the Audit Committee of JIT and was soon asked to be its part-time CFO, which she gladly accepted in 2012. Fully committed to the JIT mission, Gayle uses her skills and experience to help keep the finance and accounting functions running smoothly so everyone else can do what they do best in order to serve JIT’s youth.
Lori has spent her entire adult life doing bookkeeping but when her two children went off to college, she became a certified bookkeeper and QuickBooks user to launch her own bookkeeping company. Her clients have included non-profit organizations, property management companies, real estate agents, attorneys and people just wanting to get their bookkeeping out of the shoe box and organized professionally.
Lori’s relationship with Just in Time for Foster Youth began in 2009 when she was contacted and hired as bookkeeper by one of JIT’s founding members. In those early days at the Casey Family Programs Building, there was only one office and one staff member. As JIT grew, Lori helped it evolve with its transition to QuickBooks Online and customized the accounting process, researched payroll and insurance needs, and implemented new filing systems to better serve JIT’s specific business model as a non-profit organization assisting transition age foster youth.
Lori has been a constant at JIT for almost a decade, reconciling accounts, making sure the bills are paid, and managing the financial tasks of accounting and record keeping with strict attention to detail. Lori appreciates JIT’s mission, loves working with the young people on staff and seeing the youth served become better prepared to go out into the world on their own. Her dedication has helped JIT become the strong organization it is today.