Suzanne first became aware of our organization 6 years ago, as our banker at WestAmerica Bank. She helped OFI purchase the building we currently occupy. She later got involved in organizing her staff at the bank to provide Money Management classes for our STEP participants. After gradually becoming familiar with our organization and providing banking services to many of our participants, Suzanne was asked to come on the Board. After two years, she stepped into her current role as Board Chair. Suzanne brings a wealth of experience in the health care industry and customer service and has been actively working with OFI on a range of projects. Suzanne currently lives in Novato with her husband and has two children in college.
MS Special Education, BCBA, Regular Education and Special Education Teaching Credentials
Laura has worked and played with children and adults with autism and other special needs since 1972. Her professional experience is broad and includes Director of Adult Work and Residential Services, and Non-Public School and Behavioral Services. Laura is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and has a Regular Education and Special Education Credential. She received a Master of Science degree in Special Education from Dominican University in 1987 and has served on many governmental and local committees focusing on autism and special needs as well as on the boards of seven non-profits across the Bay Area. From 1987 to 2006, Laura was the Director of Therapon Association, serving children and adults in a variety of residential and work setting. From 1997-2007 Laura was the Director of ABC Day Program and founded and served as the Principal of ABC School at the California Autism Foundation.
Beginning in 2007, Laura founded Cypress School and Behavioral Services under UC PNB, developed a new 10,000 square foot school site, and increased enrollment to 55 students, 25 after-school participants with autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, and emotional disabilities. In 2013 UCPNB started an additional service under Laura-new non-public agency Cypress Vocational and Therapeutic Services. These programs in Solano, Napa and Sonoma counties provide young adults with special needs ages 18-22, a unique alternative vocational education program on the sites of our adult social enterprise work programs, Gone for Good, Fairfield, WineBev Services, Napa and OADS, Petaluma.
As a leader in the field of special education and behavioral services, Laura was invited to Ljubljana, Slovenia in July 2006 and 2007 where she provided a four-day autism services training seminar for medical and educational professionals. Laura has taught and presented on autism, sensory regulation, positive behavior supports and transition services at SF and Sonoma State, Dominican University, Marin County Office of Education and Alliant University.
Joseph Strella has been practicing law since 1995. He specializes in employment law, representing employers and individuals in discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination actions. This includes matters involving Title VII and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. Clients include individuals, private enterprises and non-profit entities.
In addition to employment matters, Joe also defends clients in personal injury, general civil liability, construction defect, product liability, unfair competition, consumer warranty and landlord/tenant cases. He occasionally represents a plaintiff when the appropriate case is presented.
Prior to joining Clapp, Moroney, Joe spent three years representing clients in personal injury, medical malpractice, legal malpractice and product liability cases. He also spent one year at a small start up company providing guidance on First Amendment, compensation, and employment issues.
He was previously on the Board of Directors for Gates and Bridges pre-school in San Francisco, California.
Joe attended Duke University, graduating in 1988, with a BA in public policy studies. He obtained his JD, in 1995, from the University of Colorado School of Law. Joe is admitted to practice in California and before the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Joe is a member of the American Bar Association and the San Francisco Bar Association.
MS Curriculum and Instruction, Education Specialist Dual Credential Mild/Moderate and Moderate Severe, Certified CPI Trainer
Melinda Stuart has worked with students with special needs in a variety of settings since 2003. She began her career in Sausalito Marin City as a paraeducator while obtaining her Teaching Credentials. She attended UC Berkeley earning undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Education and Dominican University earning dual degrees as an Education Specialist for both mild/moderate and moderate severe as well as a Master’s of Science in Curriculum and Instruction. She currently works for Marin County Office of Education as a Special Day Class Educator teaching Math and Science for students with emotional dysregulations and as a CPI (Crisis Prevention Institute) trainer for teachers.
Tom co-manages a territory for a materials manufacturer, The Garland Company. In short, his job is to facilitate and manage projects within San Francisco and Marin County. This involves working directly with building owners (typically commercial) to dissect roofing and waterproofing issues and then to tailor a solution to fit the circumstances (budget, timeline, etc.). Because Tom works with numerous public agencies, it is important that he has a grasp of the various procurement routes available to them as well as the rules surrounding them.