CDSA is led by a Board of Directors, made up of dedicated representatives from member organizations. The Board stays informed about CDSA activities and directs major priorities based on the needs of our membership. The staff who carry out these priorities come from a variety of backgrounds, bringing years of experience from other associations, large companies, nonprofits, and government together in service to our members.
CDSA is led by a Board of Directors, made up of dedicated representatives from member organizations. The Board stays informed about CDSA activities and directs major priorities based on the needs of our membership. The staff who carry out these priorities come from a variety of backgrounds, bringing years of experience from other trade associations, large companies, nonprofits, and government together in service to our members.
On My Own Services
Michelle Ramirez is Chief Executive Officer for On My Own Independent Living Services and On My Own Community Services, which provide training and support to more than 700 adults with developmental disabilities and their families across 13 counties in northern California. Michelle has more than 15 years of experience in the developmental disabilities field and serves on Vendor Advisory Committees at Alta and North Bay Regional Centers, as well as the statewide Developmental Services (DS) Task Force. Active in CDSA for more than 11 years, she chairs the Membership Committee and serves on the Public Policy and PR Committees and the Capital Caucus.
Wendy Forkas is Chief Executive Officer of Adjoin, which serves 1,000 adults with intellectual and physical disabilities in San Diego, Imperial Valley, Santa Clara, Salinas, Stockton, and the Central Valley. Adjoin provides Supported Employment, Day Program, Tailored Day, Crisis, Supported Living, Independent Living and Transportation services. Wendy has more than 25 years of experience in developmental disability services. In more than 12 years of CDSA membership, she has served on the CDS Institute Board and held Director and officer positions on the CDSA Board. She currently serves on the Membership Committee.
The Arc of Fresno and Madera Counties
Tamica Hill is Assistant Executive Director at The Arc of Fresno and Madera Counties, which serves more than 600 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Tamica has worked in the field for over 13 years, holding key roles such as Program Director of Supported living services, Program Manager of Family Home Agency, Area Director overseeing FHA, Day Programs and Intermediate Care Facilities and Regional Director of Operations over seeing Behavioral Day Programs. Tamica has been active in the Valley Coalition for 5 years, serving as secretary for the last two acting.
Harry Bruell is CEO/President for PathPoint, serving more than 2,800 people, in Kern, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties. PathPoint supports people with developmental disabilities and people with behavioral health diagnoses in living the life they choose. Harry joined PathPoint in 2017 and has since been an active member of CDSA, serving on the Public Policy Committee and State Budget Subcommittee. He is also engaged in several stakeholder committees with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).
John Brauer is President and Chief Executive Officer of New Horizons, which serves more than 1,100 individuals in the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas. New Horizons offers a wide variety of services, including community-based day programming, full-service training and employment, residential and community living options, and a number of specialty programs such as the Mobile Monarch program and Youth Navigation Center. John has worked in the disability field for over 32 years, working in both California and Virginia. He currently serves as co-chair of the CDSA Membership Committee.
Since 2016, Elizabeth Clary has served as Executive Director of Alchemia, a nonprofit organization that supports Marin and Sonoma County residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities to share their artistic voices through the visual, performing, and creative arts. Alchemia’s approach is unique in that they are staffed with a team of working professional artists who serve as mentors. Elizabeth is an active member of CDSA, supporting our advocacy work by building relationships between Alchemia and legislators.
Home of Guiding Hands
Edward Hershey is Vice President of Operations for Home of Guiding Hands (HGH), based in in San Diego County, which serves more than 3,800 infants, adolescents, and adults with developmental disabilities. HGH provides a continuum of services from Early Childhood Development, Residential services, In-home Respite, a Community Living Program, Counseling & Family Support Services, and a variety of quality of life programs. Edward has over 25 years of wide-ranging experience in the profit and nonprofit sectors. He also serves on the CDS Institute Board and the CDSA Public Policy Committee.
Ron Killingsworth is Director of Communications for PSW, which serves more than 850 people with developmental disabilities in the Central Valley through employment, day, and independent living programs. Ron has more than 20 years of experience in developmental disability services and holds numerous leadership roles in the community and with the Central Valley Regional Center. Ron has held all CDSA Board officer positions and has served as Director on the CDSA and CDS Institute Boards. He is currently chair of the Central Valley Caucus and serves on the Public Policy and PR Committees, both of which he previously chaired.
Cheryl White is the Associate Executive Director at Cedars, which supports nearly 200 adults through residential services and day programs throughout Marin County, such as Cedars Fine Arts Studios, Cedars Textile Arts Collaborative and Cedars Community Connection. Cheryl is approaching 30 years in developmental services between her combined experience at service provider organizations and at the Golden Gate Regional Center, where she still serves as a voting member of the Service Provider Advisory Committee. She serves on the CDSA Public Policy Committee and as Co-Chair of the Residential Provider Forum.
As Executive Director, Barry leads our lobbying and public policy, as well as CDSA and CDS Institute operations. He cultivates strong relationships with Administration officials, legislators and relevant staff members, and colleagues at stakeholder organizations to ensure CDSA members are well represented in Sacramento. Barry was named Executive Director in August 2020, after five years as CDSA’s Director of Government Affairs. Barry came to CDSA with legislative and management experience, and previously served as the in-house counsel to a regional human rights and fair housing commission. A native Southern Californian, Barry has developed NorCal bona fides as an alumnus of UC Davis and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. He enjoys life in Sacramento as part of a small menagerie including his wife, two kiddos, chickens and dog.
As Associate Director, Jim manages income-generating activities, IT services, contracts, business management and associated processes. Jim brings a strong corporate sector background from both California and Colorado. His experience includes world-wide distribution, business administration, marketing, product support, North and South America product sales, and start-up operations management. In addition to his corporate experience, his nonprofit responsibilities included class development/instructor and building refurbishment foreman. His foundation includes faith, his wife, family, friends, and camping off the grid.
Lauren Bettendorf Dow
Public Affairs Director
As Public Affairs Director, Lauren works with CDSA members and coalition partners to develop communications and engagement strategies that support our mission. Lauren has spent her career in nonprofit and government service. Before joining CDSA, she worked in fundraising and executive support for a national human rights nonprofit in Washington, DC, and was previously appointed to a federal agency where she worked on policy and public engagement. In her home state of Missouri, she handled veterans’ casework from the district office of a U.S. Senator. She’s now enjoying the west coast with her husband and their budgies, Basil, and Brie.
As Business Assistant, Dylan advances the CDSA mission and membership through administrative, finance, and communications support. Dylan has a nonprofit operations background and has worked previously in policy, marketing, and entertainment. A lifelong student, they recently finished their Master in Legal Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Dylan spends their free time attending live music events and tending to their rescue dogs and cats.
Public Policy Associate
As Public Policy Associate, Abigail empowers our advocacy for disability services by supporting our government affairs and policy work. Abigail is a recent UC Davis graduate with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Professional Writing. Prior to joining CDSA, Abigail worked to improve policy, community outreach, and advocacy for the AAPI community in Sacramento and throughout California. As an amateur bike mechanic and self-taught pâtissier, Abigail is passionate about using her free time to connect with the community through bikes and bakes.