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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Associate Director, Development
Aly is always right on message. She never waivers in her mission to get the word out and to help the public understand the work Volunteers of America Southwest does in our community. She loves befriending anyone and always keeps a happy attitude. She's also a pretty tough girl – practicing Muay Thai Kick Boxing in her spare time.
Executive Assistant & Corporate Office Manager
Jennifer comes to Volunteers of America with over 20 years of experience supporting C-Level Executives and managing day to day office operations. Born and raised in New York City, Jennifer learned early on in her career the key to success is hard work, passion, commitment and knowing there is no job to big or small when it comes to her supporting role. Jennifer has a desire for technology and enjoys bringing technology and creativity together. Outside of the office, you can most likely find her at a Girl Scouts event or a kid's birthday party, Jennifer has three beautiful daughters that are her greatest blessings.
Reverend Everett Lundgren
What can we say about "Rev Ev"? Everett serves as the Chaplain of Volunteers of America Southwest and works with clients, volunteers, and staff. For some, he's a spiritual guide. For others, he's the friendly face to talk to when times are tough. Throughout, he is the man who keeps us focused on our faith-based mission.
Director, Treatment and Rehabilitation Services
After 27 years with Volunteers of America, we know a couple of things about Mike. In addition to being highly dedicated to those in his care, Mike loves the outdoors and San Diego. His passions range from classic cars to gardening and surfing. He's a well-rounded, sincere and dependable guy who takes a genuine interest in every person who walks through the doors of his programs.
Program Supervisor, 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.
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!"
Program Manager, Hawley Veterans Services Center
Jeffery has worked in health and human services for over 30 years, where he got his start by assisting patients with developmental disabilities. Before coming to San Diego, Jeffery worked to address housing insecurity and homeless through the YMCA in Ohio. In 2016, he and his family moved to San Diego to join Volunteers of America!
Program Manager, Renaissance 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.
Program Manager, Residential Multi-Service Center
Paul is a proud father of two wonderful children. His passions include serving in spiritual leadership and playing basketball. As a manager and direct service provider. his goal is to motivate and empower spiritual wellness and healthy development for individuals, families, and the community.
Program Manager, Supportive Services for Veteran Families
Teresita has a heart for people. She admires the devotion and service our US veterans have rendered. She counts it an honor and pleasure to assist homeless veterans with accomplishing the stability and success in the next phase of their lives.
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.
Division Director, Education and Social Development of Young Children
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.
Center Coordinator, Ballington & Early Head Start | San Bernardino
Keith Walker has worked in education for over 30 years. In addition to founding and operating his own childcare center, Keith has also managed state-funded, federally-funded, faith-based, and nonprofit childcare centers throughout Southern California. He holds both a Master's Degree in Education and an M.B.A. in Business. Keith is also a avid football fan and roots for the Las Vegas Raiders. Go Raiders!
Program Manager, Rialto Preschool
When the young students look up at Paula, they see an educator who cares about getting them off on the right start. As Program Manager for our Rialto Child Development Center, Paula has done an amazing job. She's also a highly diverse proud grandmother of five who enjoys swing dancing and spending time with her military family – including a son in the Air Force.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.