Our Team

Meet Our Team

These are the individuals responsible of making The Children’s Partnership what it is today.

Board Of Directors

Ken Chawkins

Ken Chawkins

Chair of the Board
Ken is currently the Manager of Government Relations for Air Products, the largest industrial gas provider in the US. Ken’s work focuses on developing local and state legislative and regulatory strategies that seek to help California and Canada achieve their environmental goals through the widespread deployment of Hydrogen as a transportation and industrial fuel.  Ken has over 25 years of experience in Energy, having worked in the Electric and Natural Gas sectors. He has both external affairs expertise and operational experience.

Ken has a long history of civic involvement including service on non-profit boards focused mostly in Environmental Policy, municipal governance and youth development including Coro Southern California, Legacy Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation Executive Committee, Sustain OC and the Environmental Leadership Institute.  He holds a BA in Political Science from UCLA, a MA in Public Policy from Claremont and is a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs. He currently lives in Pasadena with his wife, Dr. Lan Nguyen-Chawkins and has two college-aged daughters, Dania and Emma.

Shari Davis

Shari Davis

Board Member, Secretary
Shari Davis is a long-time community activist in Santa Monica and currently serves as co-chair of Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), a nonprofit grassroots political action committee dedicated to advocating for increased financial resources for public schools. She also served as a leader of various campaigns in the last decade that now generates $37 million annually for Santa Monica-Malibu public schools.

In addition to her current role as Chair of the Board of Directors of The Children’s Partnership, she has been a program consultant on several TCP projects since 1996, including Computers In Our Future, for which she facilitated corporate outreach and donations. She also serves as the Co-Director of the Public Policy Institute at Santa Monica College and adjunct professor of Political Science.

Prior to her nonprofit work, Shari spent 12 years as a public affairs advocate and governmental relations consultant and has experience as a municipal finance investment banker. She is past chair of Covenant House California and served on the boards of the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles, the Weingart Center Partners, and Alternative Living for the Aging.

Shari graduated from the University of Southern California, where she double majored in political science and public relations.  She went on to earn her master’s degree in public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She and her husband have made Santa Monica their home for 30 years and have three children. She enjoys running, skiing, and enjoying the beach with her family.

Susan Fleischman

Susan Fleischman

Board Member
A seasoned clinician and healthcare executive, Susan Fleischman, MD, has excelled as a strategic business leader with expertise in Medicaid Managed Care policy, financing and care delivery with organizations including an integrated health plan and delivery system; she brings this vast experience and know-how to help guide HMA clients.

Prior to joining HMA, she served as national vice president for Medicaid, Charitable Care and Coverage for Kaiser Permanente where she was responsible for the creation and implementation of strategies for Kaiser Permanente to participate in Medicaid.

She has also served as a Medicaid health plan medical director providing medical oversight for a one million-member program serving members insured through government payers including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Her clinical experience includes serving as medical director and physician for a Federally Qualified Health Centers providing healthcare services to low-income uninsured individuals and families, including the homeless. She has also been an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) teaching community medicine to residents and medical students.

Dr. Fleischman is active in advocacy and improving programs and care for families in need. She earned a Doctor of Medicine degree and bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UCLA and is a graduate of the first class of the California Healthcare Foundation Medical Leadership Fellowship. She has also participated as faculty for the program.

She has two children in college, and enjoys running, spinning, yoga, music, and scuba diving.

Rebecca Pleitez

Rebecca Pleitez

Board Member
Rebecca serves as the Deputy Director of Grassroots Advocacy at California Primary Care Association. She is responsible for building advocacy infrastructure and civic engagement for community health centers and clinics statewide. Prior to CPCA, Rebecca worked on several political campaigns. She has over 15 years of experience working in health policy and community health.

Prior to her work in politics and CPCA, Rebecca held positions at Clinica Romero, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Council of La Raza/California State University Long Beach Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation, and Leadership Training, AltaMed Health Services, and the County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health.

Rebecca began her career as a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Edward Roybal Public Health Fellow for Congresswoman Roybal-Allard. Her work on cervical cancer and Latinas has been published in the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy entitled, “Latinas and Cervical Cancer, a Preventable Disease.” Rebecca is also the mami of three adorable and chaotic little humans. She strongly believes that as a mom, we are our children’s first learning models. Rebecca revels in drinking a cup of coffee and celebrating another day that she gets to be with her family, feeling supported by friends and coworkers, making memories. Even little ones. Maybe, if she’s lucky, her children will remember those the most. Rebecca was appointed to the Commission for Community and Family Services by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and serves on the Board of The Latina Public Service Academy. She holds a BS from Cal State Long Beach, and an MPH from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health. She lives in Whittier with her husband, Emanuel Pleitez, and three children, Suremikal, Ixnuukda, and Niyayuma.

Follow Rebecca on Twitter at @RebePleitez and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Robert Phillips

Robert Phillips

Board Member, Treasurer
As President and Chief Executive Officer of Social Interest Solutions (SIS), Robert oversees the strategic direction, fiscal stewardship, daily operations, and overall management of the national non-profit leading in the social technology industry. Robert is an accomplished executive with nearly 25 years of experience working in political campaigns, health policy, health systems, technology, philanthropy, and strategic consulting.

Prior to joining SIS as CEO, Robert led internal and external communications for Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit and Strategy functions. His work focused on fostering partnerships and developing campaigns to engage communities in achieving Kaiser Permanente’s vision for improving the health of the communities it serves.

Robert also has philanthropic leadership experience from his time working at The California Endowment and Sierra Health Foundation, where he led efforts around health care reform, health advocacy, community health, and improving the health of children and youth of color. Robert played a crucial role in helping these organizations pioneer several innovative initiatives. Many of these initiatives served as models for other nationwide philanthropic organizations such as the Health Justice Fund (previously the ACA Implementation fund), which provided over $30 million in support to organizations and campaigns in over 30 states.

Other previous roles include his work at PolicyLink, Service Employees International Union, and the AFL-CIO. Robert has also been involved in efforts to modernize enrollment into public programs using technology solutions, the implementation of electronic health records in community clinics, and expanding health coverage to all children in California.

Robert received a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Morehouse College in Atlanta, a master’s in public affairs from Syracuse University, a master’s in public health from Harvard University, and is ABD from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Follow Robert on Twitter at @RPhillipsAlluma and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Tamara Ritchey Powers

Tamara Ritchey Powers

Founding Board Member
Having “retired” from work in marketing and market research in order to raise kids, Tamara has devoted her efforts to nonprofit work.

Tamara served on the board of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles for nine years, including work on the Strategic Planning and Executive Committees. She has also served on the board of The Wonder of Reading, a literacy organization that helped build over 200 libraries in local public elementary schools; and on the board of The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor, where she served as Board Chair her last two years. Tamara is also on the Board of Pueblo Nuevo Education Group, the resource and advisory arm of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. She served on the State’s Rewards and Intervention Advisory Committee from 1997-2002, to help create the state’s Public School Accountability Act. And, after twenty years as an advisory board member for The Children’s Partnership, she is now a founding board member.
In 2013, Tamara chaired the Grant Screening Board for The Everychild Foundation, a women’s foundation that makes a single $1 million grant each year to a child-based organization in the Los Angeles area.

An active community volunteer, Tamara has led parent groups and fundraising efforts at both Chadwick School, an independent school, and at local public schools, as well as leading a local mother-daughter philanthropy group, including volunteering significant hours to a range of local non-profits.

Tamara received a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Stanford and an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and continues to be actively involved in fundraising for both.

Anthony Perez

Anthony Perez

Board Member
Anthony Perez is a principal at The Raben Group, providing strategic communications, advocacy, and planning support to clients in California, Texas, and nationally.

Anthony has worked with a broad range of clients focused on pushing progressive criminal justice reform policies and new safety priorities. In California, he has worked with Californians for Safety and Justice on the passage and implementation of Proposition 47. He worked with the client to build a broad coalition of Latino, immigrant rights and business leaders to support the ballot initiative and engage in its implementation. Anthony has also been working with a group of re-entry providers in LA County to integrate financial coaching into their service delivery model and help build a national model on asset building for formerly incarcerated individuals. Nationally, Anthony has been working with Alliance for Safety and Justice to help the organization build its visibility nationally and in seven of the nation’s top incarceration states.

Anthony helped with the firm’s expansion into Texas, working alongside colleagues to assess the needs and opportunities in the Lone Star State. Anthony has provided communications and advocacy support to The Borderplex Alliance and the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development (CREEED) as they tackle economic development and education issues in the Texas border region. Anthony has helped both clients build relationships with national reporters and influencers and gotten them featured in The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, and El Diario de Mexico. A few of Anthony’s other clients include The California Endowment, The Campaign for College Opportunity, and Diverse Asset Managers Initiative.

Prior to joining The Raben Group, Anthony worked as a data analyst for The Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at USC, conducting quantitative and qualitative research on a broad range of policy issues such as immigrant integration, environmental justice, and movement building and publishing reports on these topics. Anthony also worked at The California Endowment, developing grant-making strategies on youth development and violence prevention in California.

Anthony is a native of Santa Ana, California, and child of immigrant parents whose story of adversity and perseverance navigating this country keep him grounded and committed to social justice. Anthony holds a master’s in Public Policy from the University of Southern California and received his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley.

Jessica Perez

Jessica Perez

Board Member
Jessica Perez is a Partner in Deloitte’s Healthcare & Life Sciences practice and serves as the national Healthcare M&A Leader and as Deloitte’s Global Life Sciences and Health Care Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader. Jessica has over 16 years of public accounting experience in the healthcare industry. Jessica has experience advising senior executives on M&A strategy and execution. Her experience includes advising both private equity and corporate clients on many aspects of acquisitions including; due diligence, accounting structuring, financial reporting, valuation considerations and financing documents. She also leads Deloitte Academy, a program that helps underrepresented students overcome obstacles on their path to college readiness, serves as the Dean of Students for the Advisory Summer Intern program, and leads the Hispanic Network in her local office. Jessica holds a BS in Accounting and BBA in Management from Loyola Marymount University.

Senior Advisors

The Children’s Partnership was founded in 1993 by Wendy Lazarus and Laurie Lipper to identify new trends and emerging issues that affect children and provide analysis and strategies for action.  Along with partners and supporters, The Children’s Partnership is now a leading children’s advocacy organization fighting to ensure access to health care and technology for every child, especially those most in need.
Today, our co-founders serve as Senior Advisors to the organization’s new president, Mayra E. Alvarez. The Senior Advisors are also engaged in efforts to support nonprofits in their transition of leadership. In May 2017, Wendy and Laurie’s article Six Strategies for Nonprofit Leadership Transition was featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. It provides helpful insights on how to successfully hand off your organization to the next generation.
Wendy Lazarus

Wendy Lazarus

Co-Founder and Senior Advisor
Wendy Lazarus is Co-Founder of and Senior Advisor to The Children’s Partnership (TCP), a national, nonprofit organization founded in 1993 to advance the interests of America’s children and families—especially those at risk of being left behind. In 2015, she co-led an executive transition, turning over leadership of the organization to Mayra Alvarez, the current President of TCP.

Ms. Lazarus is a leading advocate and policy expert on a wide range of children’s issues, having spent more than 40 years working on the front lines for children across the nation. Throughout the years, she has helped secure improved health care, child support, access to information technologies and other vital resources for hundreds of thousands of children and families.

Through her leadership at The Children’s Partnership, digital opportunity for children has become a forefront policy issue in the United States. Ms. Lazarus helped secure first-in-the-nation technology policy gains in California that directed technology resources and training to underserved children and their families.

She also carried out pioneering work on the content dimension of the digital divide, having co-authored the first comprehensive report on Internet content from the standpoint of the needs of underserved Americans. The Children’s Partnership also developed a portal to help low-income and underserved communities use and create online content and produced a widely used Parent’s Guide to the Internet.

In addition, Ms. Lazarus has worked to ensure that every child in America has access to quality health care and has led a number of health reform efforts, including major improvements in the federal Medicaid program for children. While at TCP, she helped create and lead the 100% Campaign, a California-based effort which succeeded in its goal of enabling all children to get health coverage. With Ms. Lazarus’s leadership, The Children’s Partnership also spearheaded the creation and roll-out of Express Lane Eligibility, pioneering a way to use technology to expedite enrollment in public health insurance programs for hundreds of thousands of uninsured children through other public programs in which they are already enrolled. Ms. Lazarus also developed the next frontier in health care for children—the deployment of new technologies such as telehealth to improve children’s health.

Prior to founding The Children’s Partnership, she served as the Children’s Defense Fund’s first national Director of Health, as founding Vice-President for Policy at Children Now, and as a consultant to the Conrad Hilton and Piton Foundations.

Laurie Lipper

Laurie Lipper

Co-Founder and Senior Advisor
Laurie Lipper is Co-Founder of and Senior Advisor to The Children’s Partnership (TCP), a national, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1993 to advance the interests of America’s children and families—especially those at risk of being left behind. In 2015, she co-led an executive transition, turning over leadership of the organization to Mayra Alvarez, the current President of TCP.

Her work at The Children’s Partnership has been recognized for its foresight and leadership, especially in the area of children and digital media. In 1994, she co-authored the first comprehensive report on how digital society impacts children, followed by co-authoring an award-winning, first-of-its-kind parenting resource for the information age. In the following years, she authored multiple publications about children and the digital society and led the development of several digital projects including the first website focused on creating content for low-income Americans. She created and managed communications for many successful advocacy campaigns, securing increased health care and dental care for California’s children, the expansion of next-generation technologies for health care through telehealth, and numerous efforts to close the digital divide.

Ms. Lipper was founding Vice President for Communications at Children Now, a California-based policy organization, where she developed groundbreaking communications strategies for child advocacy. Her work at Children Now included several innovations such as fashioning the marketing elements and releasing, in 1989, the first California Report Card on how the state’s children are faring. This technique spawned a generation of data-based accountability tools supported by communications presentations and messaging in child advocacy. She also developed a model media and communications program for children’s issues, including public opinion research projects, the blending of policy and communications outcomes in strategy development, and the creative development and production of the print, digital, and video advocacy tools for the organization.

Previously, she was Deputy Campaign Manager for a California campaign reform initiative, Proposition 68, and Marketing Director of Hands Across America, a one-of-a-kind mega-event that raised awareness and funds to alleviate hunger and homelessness. She served as Executive Director of The Nation Institute, a New York-based organization that promotes civil liberties and debate on foreign and domestic policy.

Throughout her career, Ms. Lipper has fostered innovative approaches to advocacy. She has been adept at anticipating emerging issues and developing them into advocacy platforms. At The Children’s Partnership, she also honed the structure of the organization to support 22 years of co-leadership and a virtual organization with multiple offices. She has worked to recruit and mentor young advocates interested in pioneering new approaches to advocacy and she has designed organizational structures to support innovation.

In 2017, Laurie Lipper co-founded Kids Impact Initiative, a nonprofit project started to improve the lives of the nation’s 74 million children. After more than three decades as an advocacy organization executive, Ms. Lipper launched Kids Impact to support and strengthen the child advocacy field as a whole. Kids Impact analyzes advocacy trends and lessons across a broad range of issues, advancing new ways to reinforce effective efforts already underway and ratchet up accountability and advocacy for children. Currently, Ms. Lipper serves on the Washington Advisory Council of Common Sense Media. She is an accomplished speaker to schools and parent groups, and to the media. Ms. Lipper received her undergraduate degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara and resides in Washington, D.C.

Our Staff

Mayra E. Alvarez

Mayra E. Alvarez

President
malvarez@childrenspartnership.org

Under her leadership, TCP is building strong community partnerships, conducting forward-looking research, and advancing informed policy that betters the health and well-being of underserved children in California. She combines her decade of experience in health care policy and community outreach with her personal conviction that every child and family should have the opportunity and resources to pursue their dreams.

Angie Franchino

Angie Franchino

Vice President
As Vice President, Angie oversees all operations for TCP and is passionate about ensuring that nonprofits’ internal operations are in alignment with their external values. Angie came to TCP after a decade at Step Up, a national nonprofit empowering girls in underserved communities fulfill their potential. Angie left Step Up as Chief of Staff after having helped grow the organization in a number of roles from after-school instructor to Managing Director to VP of Fundraising & Operations. Prior to Step Up, Angie held membership and marketing roles at UCLA, and worked in meeting planning for the American Staffing Association, a nonprofit trade association in Washington, DC. Angie received her B.S. in journalism from Boston University. Angie is passionate about public service and volunteering and currently serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate with CASA LA.
Kristen Golden Testa

Kristen Golden Testa

Director, California Health Programs
ktesta@childrenspartnership.org

Kristen has worked with TCP since 2001 to expand and improve health coverage and enrollment for children, focusing on Medi-Cal, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Covered California. She also leads on federal health coverage issues affecting children to secure the sustainability of children’s health insurance programs and continue to improve upon children’s ability to easily enroll in coverage and access care.

Aracely Navarro

Aracely Navarro

Associate Director, Government & Community Relations
Twitter: @navarro06
anavarro@childrenspartnership.org

Aracely Navarro, Associate Director, Government & Community Relations, is responsible for managing TCP’s legislative and budgetary agendas as well as supporting our external work to advance a health equity agenda. She joined TCP with over a decade of healthcare and policy experience in Sacramento. Most recently, Aracely worked on the expansion of outreach and enrollment under
the Affordable Care Act and advocacy on state and federal legislative and budgetary health care issues through for the most vulnerable through a social justice lens.

Gabriella Barbosa

Gabriella Barbosa

Policy Director
gbarbosa@childrenspartnership.org

Gabriella is Policy Director at The Children’s Partnership, where she helps shape, lead, and execute TCP’s policy and advocacy agenda to improve the wellbeing of children in immigrant families. Gabriella provides advice, support, and analysis on child health equity issues, particularly with regard to how social determinants of health, especially immigration issues, impact children’s wellbeing. Gabriella has eight years of social justice advocacy experience, with a focus on improving the lives of children in immigrant families. She previously served as the Policy Director for a local elected official and a non-profit advocacy organization, as well as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in the Children’s Rights Project at Public Counsel. Gabriella has utilized various advocacy tools to achieve a more just and equitable society, including community-centered policy-making, legal research and advocacy, coalition-building, and community education. Gabriella is a proud daughter of immigrants. She received a B.A. and a J.D. from Columbia University.

Angela Vazquez

Angela Vazquez

Policy Director
Angela is Policy Director at The Children’s Partnership, where she helps shape, lead, and execute TCP’s policy and advocacy agenda, specifically focusing on mental health. Throughout her career, Angela has worked to ensure marginalized young people, like foster youth, have better access to mental health services and education supports for which they are entitled to through policy and administrative regulation analysis. In doing so, she has always worked to uplift the voices of impacted communities. She received a B.A. in Psychology/Religious Studies from Claremont McKenna and her M.S.W. from USC. Angela sits on the Board of Trustees at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena.
Nancy Olivares

Nancy Olivares

Senior Communications and Outreach Liaison
nolivares@childrenspartnership.org

In her role as Senior Communications and Outreach Liaison, Nancy works to coordinate community engagement projects and support the execution of communication strategies. Nancy supports in developing and strengthening relationships with community individuals and partners to build permanent relationships. Nancy also supports communications activities such as monitoring social media accounts, press outreach, and updating website. She has served as a Press Intern for the House Democratic Caucus, a Campaign Fellow for the Hillary for America Campaign, and as a member of LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis’ team.

Luke Mondragon

Luke Mondragon

Development Coordinator
lmondragon@childrenspartnership.org

As the Development Coordinator at The Children’s Partnership, Luke Mondragon supports a full range of development and fundraising activities. Working closely with the President and Chief of Staff, Luke serves as primary support on grant writing, editing, reporting, and administration. Prior to joining TCP, he served as Grant Writer at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and held an internship at ECMC Foundation. Luke received his BA in Economics from Pomona College.

Dania Ruiz

Dania Ruiz

Administrative Assistant
druiz@childrenspartnership.org

In her role as Administrative Assistant, Dania is responsible for supporting and ensuring the efficacy of the management team and the wider organization in support of TCP’s mission. Her work includes overlooking finance, organizational logistics, and handling day-to-day operational needs. Dania also serves as the President’s primary support for administrative tasks. She is a recent graduate of Smith College with a double major in Neuroscience and Spanish. Before TCP, she spent time abroad in Latin America as a student medical volunteer in partnership with organizations like Global Medical Brigades and Love Volunteers.

Marwa Abdelghani

Marwa Abdelghani

Communications Manager
mabdelghani@childrenspartnership.org

As the Communications Manager for TCP, Marwa Abdelghani oversees and leads internal and external communications in order to provide a consistent, targeted and impactful message for the organization. Marwa has dedicated the greater part of her career in social change using digital advocacy. Previously, she served as the Communications Manager for UNITE-LA, where she helped establish the organization as an independent entity and uplift its presence in the Los Angeles region. As the Communications Coordinator for the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, she communicated the importance of education equity to the business community. At UNITE-LA and the L.A. Area Chamber, Marwa elevated equity issues related to education, early childhood and workforce development. Throughout college and after receiving her B.A. in Literary Journalism at the University of California, Irvine, she continued working as the Media Analyst for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), where she engaged with reporters and producers in improving perceptions of American Muslims. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, bowling, and watching reruns of Friends, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Marvel Universe and Harry Potter.

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