- Douglas G. EmslieMHA, Board ChairDouglas G. EmslieMHA, Board Chair
Douglas G. Emslie, MHA, Board Chair: has an entrepreneurial background and a great commitment to non-profit endeavors.Â He founded two companies, a non-emergency medical transportation company specializing in dialysis and chemotherapy patients and an emergency medical services creating Lifeline Medical Transportation which offered highly targeted interfacility critical care ambulance services primarily for neonatal and cardiac patients. These companies were merged into MedTrans, a multinational corporation, which is now the American Medical Response. He was Director of Operations, Director of Marketing and, Director of Critical Care Services. He currently works with food services in the film and entertainment industry. He has served on the Board of Managers-South Pasadena-San Marino (L.A. Metro) YMCA; Board of Directors-Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Los Angeles; Board of Directors-Partners in Care; Board of Directors (past president)-California Medical Transportation Association; Board of Directors (past treasurer)-Private Ambulance Providers™ Association of Los Angeles; Commissioner-Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Commission; Board member (past president)-Los Angeles County Ambulance Association; member Ventura County Ambulance Advisory Board; Board member (past president)-Oneonta Club.
- Teri BrewsterMBA, TreasurerTeri BrewsterMBA, Treasurer
Teri Brewster, MBA, Treasurer: works for KFICO Insurance Solutions on the life and individual health insurance, servicing the clients for 3 insurance brokers. She has been a member of First Congregational Church of LB since 1982 and is currently assistant treasurer and Co-Chair of the Board of Social Justice and Outreach. She also sings in the choir. She has a BA from Cal State Fullerton, a California teacher's credential in Elementary Education from Cal Poly Pomona, and an MBA from the University of Southern California. She was a legal assistant for Mutual Service Corporation, a broker/dealer for four years. She was presented the Ralph Pillsbury Award, First Congregational Church of LB in 2010 and Herrington Pathfinder Award, First Congregational Church of LB in 2013 for her various ministries within the church. She currently works as an office manager for an RIA firm KFICO, LLC.
- Richard H. GravesDPM, Website DirectorRichard H. GravesDPM, Website Director
Richard H. Graves, DPM, Website Director: A Board Certified podiatrist practicing in the Long Beach area since 1995. He graduated from the California School of Podiatric Medicine in 1993 and was valedictorian of his class. Dr. Graves grew up in Long Beach and is a graduate of Lakewood High School, Long Beach City College, and UC Irvine. He earned honors in track and cross country at each of those schools including high school and junior college state finalist and NCAA All-American. He still holds the 5000 meter record at Long Beach City. He continues to participate in long distance running events and finished the Boston Marathon. Dr. Graves™ interest in running is what fueled his desire to be a podiatrist. He now has two offices in Long Beach and specializes in sports medicine. He is also the team podiatrist for UC Irvine athletics. He has volunteered with Special Olympics for the past 15 years and is the Clinical Director of their Healthy Athletes-Fit Feet program. Dr. Graves enjoys his work and charitable efforts very much, but his favorite time is spent with his three granddaughters.
- Laura Lafoia Ava-TesimaleCommunity Relations DirectorLaura Lafoia Ava-TesimaleCommunity Relations Director
Laura Lafoia Ava-Tesimale, Community Relations Director, is a Pacific American businesswoman, humanitarian, community organizer, and interfaith peace activist. Her professional career spans over 30 years in Mortgage Banking holding positions such as Branch Manager, Account Executive, and Corporate Executive--managing production and operational divisions of multi-million dollar real estate lending firms. Since 2001, Laura has also been the CEO of AVA Consulting & Management, as well as Founder and President of One Global Family Foundation. In 2015, she established the Council of Interfaith & Indigenous Women. Laura has extensive experience serving on boards and committees, organizing and marketing events and conferences, as well as fundraising efforts. She currently serves as: Director of the Pacific Region for Give Light Foundation (building sustainable orphanages, providing sponsorship support and educational scholarships for children around the world); Global Ambassador for Free Wheelchair Mission since 2006 (serving the disabled poor in over 90 countries, including the Pacific Region); and through the collaborative efforts of her One Global Family Foundation and its community partners such as Be The Cause,Manav Sadhna,Project ALOFA, First Drops, RStar Foundation, Tiyya Foundation, UCO-DIC, SARAH, VICC, PICP, PACCC and others... thousands of underprivileged children and families, homeless communities, immigrants, refugees, and disabled poor are served both locally and globally. Laura is active on several interfaith council boards which work in alliance with the global Parliament of the World™s Religions, United Religions Initiative, Unity and Diversity World Council, and the Orange County Interfaith Network.
- Martha DuncanBS, CP, Grant Writing Committee MemberMartha DuncanBS, CP, Grant Writing Committee Member
Martha Duncan, BS, CP, Grant Writing Committee Member, is currently a Provider Contracts Manager at Molina Healthcare in Long Beach. She obtained her B.S. Public Administration degree from the University of Arizona and a Paralegal Certificate from Cerritos College. She holds a Certified Paralegal credential and worked as a paralegal for the Disneyland Resort. She is a veteran of the United States Army, serving as an Intelligence Analyst. She has been a member of First Congregational Church since 2005, serving on the Boards of Stewardship and Finance, Parish Life and Diaconate. For each of her board terms she served at least one year as Chair. She is currently the co-leader of the Guest Chef program at First Church that works with the Catholic Charities shelter in Long Beach to provide homemade dinners to their guests. She is also active with the Long Beach Playhouse as a performer and director. She currently works as a project manager for Molina Healthcare.
- Debra MooreB.A., M.Div., M.L.S., Grant Writing Committee MemberDebra MooreB.A., M.Div., M.L.S., Grant Writing Committee Member
Debra Moore, B.A., M.Div., M.L.S., Grant Writing Committee Member, has been a librarian at Cerritos College since 2001; she also served as Faculty Senate President at Cerritos from 2009-2012. Deb received her B.A. in religion from Oberlin College, her M.Div. from Andover Newton Theological School, and her M.L.S. from UCLA. Deb has been a member of First Congregational Church since 2005 and has served on the Board of Outreach and Social Justice and the Diaconate. She served as the Church Moderator in 2015. For several years, Deb served as a coordinator of the Guest Chef program at the church which provides meals to residents of the Catholic Charities™ shelter in Long Beach and was awarded the Ralph S. Pillsbury Service Award in 2012. Deb is an ordained Congregational minister, and while she served a church in Sherman Oaks, she also served as a board member for the North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry. Deb is happy to be working with Urban Community Outreach to serve the church™s neighbors in Long Beach. She is currently working as a librarian.
- Reverend John Forrest DouglasAssociate Minister of First Congregational Church of Long BeachReverend John Forrest DouglasAssociate Minister of First Congregational Church of Long Beach
Reverend John Forrest Douglas, Associate Minister of First Congregational Church of Long Beach, is a native of Ripley, Tennessee, graduated from Millsaps College in 2007. From 2007 to 2011, he worked in various agencies dedicated to serving people experiencing homelessness in the Washington, DC area. During that time, he began his course of study at Wesley Theological Seminary in DC. He earned his Masters of Divinity from there in 2011. In 2011, John Forrest began a position as the Interim Director of Children and Youth Ministries at Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ in Bethesda, Maryland. In his time there, he oversaw the Christian Education programs as well as the youth group. During the spring and summer of 2012, he completed Clinical Pastoral Education as a chaplain at Johns Hopkins Hospital-Bayview in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2011 and 2012, he served as a teaching assistant for the introductory worship course at Wesley Theological Seminary. He is deeply influenced by process theology. He loves the stories of the Bible and believes that we have the responsibility to take them seriously without taking them literally. He enjoys yoga, running, reading, cooking and baking bread.
- Israel RodriguezIsrael Rodriguez
Israel Rodriguez is currently a Senior Representative in the Enrollment Medicare department at Molina Healthcare Inc. in Long Beach CA. He also serves as the volunteer coordinator for employees at Molina Healthcare where they work with various non-profits which support the poor and underprivileged in the city of Long Beach enhancing the company’s vision and mission of community service. His previous background for over 20 years was in the Banking and Insurance industry where he has held various positions such as Development Consultant and Sales Manager. There he helped mentor and develop many young professionals who are now industry and community leaders. Since 2013, he has been a member and volunteer of the Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation (LAHTF). He has previously served on the Board of Directors of the LGBTQ Center Long Beach where he provided financial and human capital to grow awareness in the community. In addition to all of the above, Israel’s passion and drive has called him to volunteer and has played a major role in the Long Beach community and was awarded the GO Long Beach, Steward of the 2nd District, Long Beach Giving and Long Beach Heroes awards respectively.
- Peter W. JanssensBoard MemberPeter W. JanssensBoard Member
Peter W. Janssens, Board Member, was raised in New England and attended Clark University in 1989 with a BA in Psychology. He started his career path in retail management and entered the Decorative Home Furnishings Industry in 1995, where he played a key role in Marketing and Sales for a Quimper Faience, LLC, a French Pottery manufacturer. After stints in France, Belgium and Chicago, Peter brought his industry experience to the West Coast in 2014, as the Sales & Showroom Manager for Alan & Leigh, an upscale gift wholesaler at the LA Gift Mart.
Peter Janssens moved to Long Beach in 2016, where he found UCO. With experience in past church ministries and local food banks, he immediately connected to UCO, its clients and operations staff and prospered from Volunteer to Volunteer Coordinator to Board Member.
Peter’s close association with the UCO Volunteers and Coordinators allows for a fluidity of dialogue between the volunteer structure and the UCO Board. In his free time, Peter writes a travel blog which highlights visits throughout the world to understand more about life, culture and humanity abroad.
- Cheryl DoorbarCheryl Doorbar
Cheryl Doorbar, B.A. is a native of Southern California. She received her B.A. in Social Science from Chapman University. Cheryl worked as a Major Subcontracts Procurement Agent for the Boeing Company for over 25 years. She has been a member of First Congregational Church of Long Beach since 2006, serving on the Boards Social Justice and Outreach, Cultural Arts and Parish Life. She currently is a volunteer for the Guest Chef program at First Church, helping to prepare and serve meals to residents of the Catholic Charities shelter in Long Beach. Cheryl currently works as a Procurement Compliance Auditor for Boeing.
- David L. PlowmanDavid L. Plowman
David L. Plowman, BA, has been a member of First Congregational Church since February, 2017 and frequently attended services there many years prior to that. David’s association with UCO dates back to 2014, where he helped served meals to guests, and volunteered with the Grant Writing Committee. David also volunteers with the Guest Chef program. David has held various staff and freelance writing positions, and more recently has been providing administrative support services for an organization in the aerospace industry.
- Kimel ConwayKimel ConwaySince January 2018, Kimel Conway has been a weekly volunteer at our drop-in community center. He has been a member of First Congregational Church since November, 2017 and was recently appointed to the Board of Stewardship & Finance. Retired after 37 years of public sector service in the fields of Parks and Recreation and Urban Planning, he has a B.S. in Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia and a Master of Urban Design from Harvard Graduate School of Design. He has served on the Board of Trustees at South Coast Botanic Garden Foundation for over 5 years. He has also been a volunteer reader to six kindergarten classes at Longfellow Elementary for 18 years. Originally from Maryland, Kimel has been a resident of Long Beach since 1990.
- Larry ForesterLarry Forester
Council Member Larry Forester was elected to the Signal Hill City Council in 1998. He was re-elected to his sixth term in March 2015, serving as Mayor in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2015. Larry retired in March 1995 from the Okonite Company as a Technical Sales Engineer Due to HIV/AIDS. Larry was diagnosed HIV positive in September 1985; and diagnosed with AIDS in June 1994. Larry has been living with AIDS due to successful “Triple Drug Therapy” and the Grace of God.
From 1995 to 2005, Larry served as Chair of the Board “Being Alive Long Beach,” a peer lead HIV advocacy group: providing education, support, and compassion for those living with HIV/AIDS. Being Alive is a 501(c)(3)Corporation formed in 1987. From 1998 to 2005, Larry chaired the Board “Being Alive Housing” (formerly St. Francis House), transitional housing and a Residential Care Facility for people with HIV/AIDS. Since that time Larry has kept a focus on HIV/AIDS through the CARE Program at St. Mary’s Hospital and other HIV/AIDS fund raisers – Long Beach AIDS Walk, CARE, etc.
Larry has also served on the boards of the following organizations:
- 1994-1998 – AIDS Walk of Greater Long Beach.
- 1999-present – Board Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts.
- 2000-present – Steering Committee for Coalition for Practical Regulation (CPR) – an ad hoc group of 39 Los Angeles County cities.
- 2001-present – Board Member, Conservation Corps of Long Beach, Chair 2005 to 2009
- 2001-present – Advisory Board Long Beach Unified School District.
- 2002-present – Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Energy and Environment Sub-Committee and Water Quality Task Force.
- 2006-present Board Member Los Angeles County Division League of California Cities
- 2007-present – Gateway Cities Council of Governments, I–710 EIR/EIS Committee.
Education: BS Civil Engineering University of Notre Dame 1969
MS Ocean Engineering Catholic University of America 1971
- Jorge PantojaJorge Pantoja
Jorge Pantoja knows first-hand the challenges of being homeless. When he came out to his family at the age of 17, they booted him out of the house, forcing him to live in his car for several months before he found more permeant housing.
But rather than let the experience embitter him, it emboldened him, and taught him the value of giving back. “I think everyone needs a little help in order to be guided toward a better direction.” Jorge said. Indeed, Jorge helped guide many people since he was homeless. Prior to joining the UCO Board, Jorge spent three years volunteering with Children’s Hospital Orange County and various nursing homes and read stories aloud to the old and young, Jorge has also fundraised for AIDS Walk for five years, and has completed the walkathon in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Orange County.
When he isn’t volunteering, Jorge works as a Sales Executive in the food industry.
- John Taylor KnessAdvisorJohn Taylor KnessAdvisor
John Taylor Kness, Advisor, retired as a Director of Current Schedules from America West Airlines in September of 1999. He has been in the airline industry since 1967. Since retirement, he has done consulting work with Sabre Technologies in Bahrain and Polar Air Cargo in Long Beach. Mr. Kness has a Masters Degree in Education from Northern Illinois University. He is a Viet Nam veteran. He has been a member of First Congregational Church of LB for ten years.
- Rev. Jerry StinsonAdvisorRev. Jerry StinsonAdvisor
Rev. Jerry Stinson, Advisor, was a magna cum laude graduate of Occidental College and the Divinity School at Harvard. He retired as Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church of Long Beach at the end of December, 2012. He has served as a United Church of Christ minister for 41 years. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the following four organizations: The Southern California American Civil Liberties Union, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, The Christian-Muslim Consultative Group and the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition. He is also a volunteer staff member for the Center for Progressive Christianity.
- Alison MoralesMA, SecretaryAlison MoralesMA, Secretary
Alison Morales, MA, Secretary: graduated with a degree in Special Education from the Pennsylvania State University in 2005 and earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from National University in 2007. For the past ten years, she has served as a special day class teacher for the Long Beach Unified School District, specializing in working with students with significant cognitive and physical delays and those requiring access to mobility opportunities and augmentative and alternative communication programs. From 2006-2008, she served as the Director of Youth Programming at Community Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) in Los Alamitos, CA. From 2010-2013, she served as an Adviser for the Southern California Nevada Conference of the UCC Youth Roundtable. From 2011-2012, she served on the Pilgrim Pines Board and the Outdoor Ministry Team for the Southern California Nevada Conference of the UCC. She has been a member of First Congregational Church, Long Beach since 2011.
- Gary SheltonAdvisorGary SheltonAdvisor
Gary Shelton, Advisor, served on the UCO board as an active member from 2010 until 2015 when he found that he could no longer attend all the meetings due to his obligations elsewhere. His sister, Janet Rhodes, was the founder of the Drop-In-Center in 2009. Gary is a steady advocate for the rights and well being of seniors, lower-income people and the homeless. He is currently the chair of his senior building’s tenant association and represents it as a member of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants, working for justice in senior Section 8 housing. He is on the board of ICO (Interfaith Community Organizations) and has served on the boards of the Greater Long Beach Homeless Coalition, Friends of Lincoln Park and Social Justice & Outreach of the First Congregational Church. He has also served the City of Long Beach on the Community Development Advisory Commission and the Homeless Services Advisory Committee.
- Justine SchneeweisBA, J.D., Grant Writing Committee Member, Community LiaisonJustine SchneeweisBA, J.D., Grant Writing Committee Member, Community Liaison
A Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. She works out of the Long Beach office with the Supporting Families Workgroup, which encompasses both immigration and family law for low-income communities of Los Angeles. Most of Justine’s work involves assisting survivors of torture, domestic violence, and sexual assault in their immigration matters, as well as staffing the Domestic Violence/Family Law Clinic at the Long Beach Courthouse. In addition to providing direct legal services, Justine’s work also involves educating immigrant communities and service providers in Long Beach and the Greater Los Angeles area about their constitutional rights in the wake of an era of increased immigration enforcement. Prior to joining Legal Aid, Justine was a Staff Attorney at Public Law Center in Santa Ana and an Associate Attorney with the Law Office of Carol A. Sobel, where she worked on civil rights impact litigation cases affecting homeless communities in Los Angeles.
Each board member contributes annually to Urban Community Outreach.