Our Team

Our Team

Each day, our compassionate and dedicated staff help to effect positive change in the lives of real people – our neighbors – working hard to improve the quality of their lives. To tell these stories of commitment and success; to applaud those who have both made their way, and those who helped them make it; to inspire our community to join in our mission of transforming vulnerable lives into vibrant ones, is rewarding and worthwhile work.

Chief Officers

  • Gerald McFadden

    President & CEO


    For the past 34 years, Gerald's vision and steady leadership at Volunteers of America Southwest have garnered great respect. So much so that, in 2016, Gerald was nominated and became a finalist as one of San Diego's Most Admired CEOs by the San Diego Business Journal. Gerald considers Volunteers of America Southwest his "family" and prides himself on our responsibility to serve, teach and help mend lives.

  • Marie McKenzie

    Chief Operations Officer


    When we say that Marie helps bring it all together, we mean it. With leadership over the day to day operations within the programs, Marie is the go-to person for all the details. And she really knows her stuff! With over 35 years of service to Volunteers of America Southwest, Marie is invaluable in making sure we achieve a high standard of excellence within our programs and in the care we provide.

  • Jim Miller

    Chief Financial Officer


    When it comes to the numbers, Jim Miller is "the man". With an absolute attention to detail, Jim and his staff make sure that all dollars are accounted for. As such, Volunteers of America Southwest is efficiently operated under Jim's financial guidance. A little bit of trivia about Jim – he saw Elvis in Vegas at the International Hotel.


  • Luda Bruce

    Director, Human Resources


    Luda Bruce is Director of Human Resources at Volunteers of America Southwest. Luda is an accomplished HR professional with over 12 years of experience in the non-profit and private sectors. She has extensive hands-on experience leading HR initiatives including policy design, compensation, performance management, recruiting, HRIS implementations, HR workflow development, training and development, and benefits administration. Luda is responsible for the development of all HR strategies, and the delivery of HR services and programs that enable Volunteers of America to recruit, train, and retain a high performing and motivated workforce. Luda also leads the organization’s talent management, benefits, learning and development, leadership development, workforce planning, employee relations, compensation, and diversity initiatives.

  • Laurel Marie Bruch

    Director, Mission Advancement and Communications


    As DMAC, Laurel is our chief story-teller and people-connector; responsible for leading Development, Marketing and Communications initiatives such as donor and community engagement and appreciation, major gifts, planned giving, and fund raising events; public and media relations, on-line giving, digital communications, key messaging, and branding. Laurel has a varied background in both corporate and social services management, as well as a life-long passion for building up families and watching them grow and succeed. Laurel enjoys meeting and learning about people—bridging people into new friendships and inviting those friends to fulfill their own generous hearts through partnerships that transform vulnerable lives into vibrant. Laurel loves singing, road cycling, and social dancing; she and her husband Mike have 7 children, and make their home in Del Mar.

  • Doreen Mulz

    Administrator Program Operations


    Under Doreen's leadership, the growth of the Educational and Social Development program at Volunteers of America Southwest has exploded. With a loving heart, Doreen's focus is always on those in need (animals and humans). Her commitment and dedication to quality education consistently takes our educational and social development programs to new heights.

  • Nagham Hakeem

    Controller/Accounting Manager

    Nagham comes to Volunteers of America Southwest with multiple years of nonprofit finance and accounting experience. She previously worked as a Controller for a large nonprofit agency in Chicago called Thresholds. As the Controller/ Accounting Manager, Nagham oversees the day to day operations in the finance department. She specializes in contracts management and cashflow projections. Nagham holds a Bachelor in Accounting and an MBA.

  • Chris Gardner

    Executive Chef, Food Service Director


    Chef Chris is responsible for the program development and management of Volunteers of America Southwest's Food Service Social Enterprise and our Fresh Food Factor, as well as building the Catering for a Cause program. Chef Chris leads a staff of 12, preparing and transporting more than 1800 meals per day! He began his career with Sea Galley Restaurant Group, and worked for Marriott and W Hotels, RUI Restaurants, and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, before taking the helm at Volunteers of America Southwest's Corporate Kitchen. Chef Chris likes the human factor of his job, and the remarkable changes he has the opportunity to witness as Volunteers of America Southwest's clients grow and change. "My job is like a snowflake -- not one moment is the same as the last". Chef Chris and his wife have two daughters, and two beagles, and he loves growing roses, cactus, a wide variety of heirloom flowers, as well as passionately searching for and growing the world's hottest peppers. When he's not cooking or gardening, he also likes to lake fish, mountain bike, golf, go to concerts, and camp.

  • Cori Cotner

    Executive Assistant & Corporate Office Manager


    Cori has twenty years of extensive experience supporting corporate executive leaders and managing the affairs of a corporate office. Additionally, her experience is enhanced by a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a Master’s degree in Human Behavior. Cori is an avid reader, hiker and enjoys long walks on the beach with her husband and children. She is happy to discuss why Crime and Punishment is one of the best classics ever written.

  • Reverend Everett Lundgren



    “Rev Ev” has served as the Chaplain for Volunteers of America Southwest since 2011. Previously, he has served over thirty years as the pastor of churches, three years as a high school music teacher, and nine years as a businessman. As Chaplain, he is concerned about developing the spiritual well-being of staff and clients through prayer, bible studies, spirituality groups, pastoral care, social justice advocacy and ministry leadership.

Behavioral Health

  • JM Evosevich

    Division Director, Behavioral Health


    J.M. comes to Volunteers of America Southwest with many years of experience in healthcare, social services and education. He has held leadership positions at behavioral health organizations and has been honored with awards for innovation in program design to meet the needs of unique communities. Dr. Evosevich holds a doctorate degree in Psychology, is a LMFT, CADC, BCBA, RN and RCP.

  • Georges Djanabia

    Director of Addiction and Treatment Services

    Georges has more than 10 years of experience in behavioral health treatment for various organizations across the country. He holds a BS in Health Management and Policy from the University of New Hampshire. Georges is originally from Cameroon in Central Africa. Before working in behavioral health, he was a professional basketball player in Europe, playing in Germany, France, and Denmark.

  • Amanda Ladagana

    Project Director

    Amanda comes to Volunteers of America Southwest with numerous years of experience in administration, Medical-Cal compliance, and team development. She previously worked at Vitas Healthcare in multiple departments, from marketing to financial compliance. Her specialties being, process improvement, contract management, and team building. Amanda holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting and entrepreneurship and is currently in her last year of completing her MBA. Amanda’s passion for her work comes from her desire to make an impactful difference in the lives of others.

  • Bruce Pinney

    Program Manager, Carlton G. Luhman Center


    Bruce has devoted the bulk of his career to Mental Health Services. There are few who put as much heart and soul into their work. Bruce recently oversaw the total installation of all bedroom furnishings at the Luhman facility while juggling his obligations to his residents and staff. His attitude and focus never waivers as he insures quality services for all those in his care.

  • Holly Tracy

    Program Manager, Troy Center for Supportive Living


    Holly has worked in mental health for 12 years. She is currently completing the final year of her Master's in Mental Health Counselling, so she can further devote her career to helping those with mental illness. She also likes anything involving the ocean, such as surfing. Says Holly: "They say therapists need therapy, and that's my therapy!"

  • Steve Anderson

    Program Manager, Hawley Veterans Services Center

    Steve comes to Volunteers of America Southwest with many years of program management experience. Steve works hard to create an environment that is comfortable, safe and sustaining to both staff and clients. The principles of social and restorative justice motivate him to continue to work to help others find the resources they need to improve their lives and the lives of their families. He is especially honored to work with the Veterans at Hawley Veterans Services Center.

  • Pamela Thomas

    Program Manager, Residential Multi-Service Center


    Pam is a proud grandma of four, a line dancer and a singer. As if all that is not enough, she still does an amazing job as a Program Manager at the Renaissance Center. After over 8 years with Volunteers of America Southwest, we know one thing about Pam- she always has a friendly smile and a contagious laugh.

  • Teresita Nelson

    Program Manager, Supportive Services for Veteran Families


    Teresita has been with the organization since May 2015. For over 15 years, she has served in the area of advocacy for at-risk youth, veterans and individuals with substance abuse, mental illness and other disabilities. Teresita has a heart for people. She admires the devotion and service our veterans have rendered. She counts it a privilege to assist homeless veterans with accomplishing stability and success in the next phase of their lives.

  • Maxine Kibble

    Job Readiness Coordinator


    Maxine has been with Volunteers of America Southwest for four years and is the Job Readiness Coordinator for the Renaissance Treatment Center. Maxine helps her students increase their skill level in computer software and hone their interview techniques to get back in the job market. She is a former New York Alvin Ailey Modern Dancer, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and an advanced PsyD student in clinical psychology. When she is not on the job working passionately to help her students find work, she enjoys gardening and watching old black and white movies with her husband.

Child Development

  • Marrietta Gilliard

    Division Director, Child Services


    Marrietta is a former Head Start Child and Parent and Teacher. She has over 15 years’ experience working with Children and Families. Marrietta earned her Bachelors Degree in Human Services and earned her Masters Degree in Education from the Loyola Marymount University. Marietta’s personal philosophy is rooted in providing quality early education services to children and their families.

  • Ashley La Soya

    Program Manager, Fontana Preschool


    Ashley comes to Volunteers of America Southwest with numerous years of Early Education experience. She has experience in both the classroom and management. Ashley specializes in direct staff training including Trauma Informed Care and curriculum. Ashley holds a MAED from University of Phoenix and a Bachelor's degree in Child Development from California State University Los Angeles. In addition, she holds a Site Supervisors Permit from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

  • Wendy Marquez

    Program Supervisor, Early Head Start | El Centro


    Wendy's Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education degree is put to good use in her role as the Early Head Start Program Supervisor in El Centro, CA. Wendy ensures the implementation of quality early education programming and the development of positive relationships with the children, parents, and families in the community. She is also a mother of three adorable children.

Child Education

  • Shannon Brandner

    Principal, Ballington Academy for the Arts and Sciences | San Bernardino


    "Flexiblity is the key to good education," says this principal! Shannon grew up in Southern California, where she eventually obtained her Master's degree and Administrative Credential from Point Loma Nazarene University. She taught 3rd and 5th grade for 12 years, and has been an administrator of charter schools since 2004. We're glad to have Shannon with us!

  • William Anderson

    Principal, Ballington Academy for the Arts and Sciences | El Centro


    When it comes to running a "student focused" atmosphere, there are few better that Bill Anderson. Bill's quick wit and dedication to the learning atmosphere have made him a favorite with students, parents, and staff. Bill's leadership has taken Ballington Academy higher and higher in the rankings.


  • Christine Esquer

    Community Administrator, Cambridge Gardens Senior Housing


    As manager of the Cambridge Garden Senior Housing community, Christine's attention to detail and concern for those in her care have earned her the Excellence in Housing award for 2015. Christine leads a team of highly dedicated and caring staff.

  • Micah McFadden

    Community Administrator, Palomar Apartments


    Micah has been with Volunteers of America Southwest for over 18 years, having previously served in the vehicle donation program and development departments. As the Community Administrator for The Palomar Apartments, Micah and his team are responsible for creating an environment where all people, regardless of background and ability, can grow, make choices, and be valued members of the community. Micah derives personal joy through assisting people in achieving their personal goals, whether that be by helping a family get assistance with paying rent during rough times, or helping a parent find grants or scholarships for their first child attending college. Micah is outgoing, fun and loves to laugh. His hobbies include: basketball, hanging with friends, trying new restaurants and traveling.