Sabbatical Program
Grantmaking for a Healthier California
Introduction | News Release | Biographies | Honoree Photos


2010 TCWF Sabbatical Program Award Honorees


David Ashby, Executive Director, New Morning Youth and Family Services

David Ashby has served as executive director for New Morning Youth and Family Services (New Morning) since 1997. During his tenure, the organization’s annual budget has grown from $470,000 to $2 million, and its emergency shelter and professional counseling services for at-risk children and youth reach as many as 2,000 vulnerable young people each year. New Morning is El Dorado County’s only provider of shelter for runaway and homeless youth and is the largest provider of mental health services for children in the county. Ashby received both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from California Polytechnic State University. He served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala for three years and subsequently spent almost a decade managing Peace Corps operations in different countries in Africa.


Joan Benoît, Executive Director, Native American AIDS Project

Joan Benoît has been a part of the Native American AIDS Project (NAAP) since 1999, before the organization existed as its own entity. It was a small program within a larger Native American health provider in San Francisco. She took the lead in transitioning NAAP’s programs and services into a separate nonprofit organization, established in 1995, that now provides HIV prevention and care services for more than 3,200 individuals each year. NAAP is the only Native-specific HIV/AIDS service organization in California, drawing upon Native cultural, spiritual, behavioral and medicinal traditions to communicate HIV prevention messages and to care for HIV-positive clients. In addition to her work with NAAP, she serves on two San Francisco Mayor’s Working Groups on Native American issues. Benoît is affiliated with the Chippewa of the Thames, First Nations.


Paula Cohen, Executive Director, Mendocino Coast Clinics, Inc.

Paula Cohen has been the executive director of Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) since it was established in 1994. MCC is a nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center that provides medical, dental and behavioral health care to Mendocino coast residents, regardless of their ability to pay. Last year, 8,400 patients received services at MCC. Cohen has led the organization through periods of growth and expansion and is now part of a shared services project with the other health centers in Mendocino County, as they consider how best to meet the needs of their communities in the rapidly shifting health care environment. Cohen serves on the board of directors of the California Primary Care Association and was its chair for two years. She received her bachelor’s degree from UCLA and is a Registered Health Information Administrator.


Margaret Diaz, Executive Director, Victor Valley Domestic Violence, Inc./“A Better Way”

Margaret Diaz arrived in Victorville in 1984, fleeing from Oklahoma to escape an abusive marriage. With her personal commitment that no one should have to leave their home and family to escape abuse, she started Victor Valley Domestic Violence in 1989, holding peer-support group meetings and providing day care services from her home before opening a safe house the following year. Since then, the organization has grown to include a 26-bed shelter with two transitional housing sites. More than 2,000 victims of domestic violence annually benefit from its services, which include intervention, prevention, education and community awareness. Earlier this year, Diaz was recognized by Woman’s Day magazine as one of “50 Influential Women Who Are Making a Difference and Changing the World.”


Gloria L. Flaherty, Executive Director, Lake Family Resource Center

Gloria Flaherty has served as executive director of Lake Family Resource Center (Lake FRC) since 1997. In her previous position as county legislative analyst, she was charged with helping shepherd the process of creating this new nongovernment, nonprofit community action agency. Today, more than 1,400 families annually receive its services, which include: family violence prevention, intervention and treatment; child and youth development; parenting education; and health and wellness programs. Flaherty studied anthropology at Sonoma State University. She served for 10 years on the Kelseyville Unified School District Board of Trustees and represents Lake FRC on a number of community groups, including the Health Policy Council and the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council.


Marqueece Harris-Dawson, President and CEO, Community Coalition

Marqueece Harris-Dawson became president and CEO of the Community Coalition in 2004, after previously serving as the organization’s director of youth programs and as associate director. Based in South Los Angeles, the Community Coalition uses community-organizing strategies to help influence public policy and transform social and economic conditions that foster addiction, crime, violence and poverty. Harris-Dawson identifies the organization’s work in improving conditions in public schools as among its most important accomplishments, as successful outcomes for students help cut off the supply of youth to the underground economy and its resulting community violence, incarceration and breakup of families. In recognition of his community-organizing work, he was honored with the Liberty Hill Foundation’s Change Maker Award. He received his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta.


Abdi Mohamoud, Executive Director, Horn of Africa Community

Abdi Mohamoud helped establish Horn of Africa Community in 1995 as a volunteer organization that provided information and referrals, translation and interpreter services for the growing community of refugees from East Africa resettling in San Diego. He became the organization’s first part-time staff person and then its executive director in 1996. More than 1,500 individuals and families now participate in programs such as family support and home visitation, gang prevention, and a health access program that links mothers and children with health care. He is a past chairman of the San Diego Refugee Forum and serves on the San Diego Police Department’s African Advisory Board. Mohamoud was born in Ethiopia and came to the United States as a refugee. He has a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University and a master’s in management from the University of Redlands.


Clare Mounteer, Executive Director, Monterey County Rape Crisis Center

Clare Mounteer has served as executive director of the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center (MCRCC) since 1986. Under her leadership, the organization’s budget has grown from $100,000 to more than $800,000 and its geographic scope has expanded to cover the entire county. MCRCC provides comprehensive support services to sexual assault/abuse survivors, including 24-hour crisis intervention, individual and group counseling for male and female survivors, accompanying survivors to the hospital and through the court system, and prevention services that start with kindergartners. MCRCC serves 500 clients each year, provides prevention education to 15,000 adults and 10,000 students, and fields 1,200 information/referral calls. Mounteer is the past chair of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Monterey County and is a member of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of San Francisco.

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