JOE GOMEZ, CPA, President
Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
“As someone raised by working parents, and raising their own family where there are two working parents, I have experienced firsthand the impact that early education and quality child care can have. Connections for Children is a leader in early childhood matters, and an organization that I am proud to be active with. Connections enables me to use my professional and personal skills to give back, and impact the lives of the youngest members of our community for the better.”
Joe is a tax partner and leader for PwC’s Private tax practice in the Southwest. For well over 20 years, he has served various privately held, multistate and multinational businesses. Joe works very closely with shareholders and management teams to make sure that the business and shareholder needs are aligned. Joe completed his undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley and graduate studies at the University of Southern California. He enjoys spending time with his family and watching and participating in sports when not working or volunteering with Connections.
SHARON PERLMUTTER GAVIN, Ph.D., Vice-President and Secretary
Former Chief Scientist, AOL
“Connections for Children’s mission aligns perfectly with my own passions to help improve the lives of children in our community and to ensure that children benefit from access to early education programs. I am pleased to offer my expertise to help the dedicated staff and board of CFC pursue their vision.”
Sharon is an award-winning scientist who previously served as chief scientist and head of an international research and development group for AOL. She obtained her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UCLA, earned her M.S. in Electrical Engineering, M.S. in Statistics, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, and has been granted 32 patents. Sharon is also very active in community service and has held board positions with many non-profit organizations, including the Mirman School, Rotary Club of Santa Monica, Santa Monica Family YMCA, Santa Monica Chamber Foundation, and the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club. She draws on her methodological approach to problem solving and community relationships to support the mission of Connections for Children.
JENNIFER HO, Ph.D., Vice President
Deputy Director of Impact, Assessment & Learning, James Irvine Foundation
“I have a passion for examining impactful ways to address deeply rooted social challenges through systemic inquiry. Supporting early childhood is crucial to ensuring families and children can thrive at home, at school, and at work. Board service at Connections for Children allows me to connect our community together through meaningful and critical care—supports I have certainly benefitted from as a mom with young kids!”
Jennifer is a seasoned learning and evaluation specialist with 15+ years of accomplishment in program evaluation, mixed-methods social research, and strategic learning with an emphasis on public education, social welfare, and international development. She is currently the Deputy Director of Impact Assessment and Learning team at the James Irvine Foundation and previously served as a Senior Evaluation and Learning Officer at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy from Boston University, a Master in Education in International Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a doctorate in Social Research Methodology and Program Evaluation from UCLA. Jennifer also brings her perspective as a former client who utilized CFC’s referrals to find child care options for her young children.
STUART LAFF, Treasurer
Associate Principal, Rottet Studio
“I am proud to serve on the Board of Connections for Children. Our work is critical to helping families, particularly low-income families, access the services they require to help them have a better life.”
Stuart Laff is a real estate expert and head of a consulting arm of Rottet Studio, an international architecture and interior design firm. He has been in the real estate industry for more than 50 years and has worked with a wide range of clients, including some of the biggest names in the industry. He is Board Chair, Emeritus, with the Los Angeles Community College District. Stuart’s extensive business and leadership experience is a valuable resource for Connections for Children.
AMY RIGGS, Immediate Past President
Former Controller, Acutane
“I am inspired by the unique blend of services Connections for Children provides. In addition to resources for children and families, CFC also supports child care providers in running their businesses and offering quality care. CFC offers trainings on early childhood curricula, licensing requirements, and other industry best practices. All of this combines to create access to quality care for families and a boost for the local economy.”
Amy Riggs is an accounting and finance professional with over 15 years of experience. Most recently, she served as Controller, International at Auctane (formerly known as Stamps.com) where she oversaw accounting of the company’s European business units and consolidated financial reporting. Prior to being taken private in 2021, Amy directed Stamps.com’s public reporting and other significant projects. Amy started her career in public accounting where she spent seven years proving assurance and consulting services to both nonprofit organizations and commercial clients. Amy graduated from UCLA with degrees in Business Economics and Spanish and achieved her MBA at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.
SVP, Chief Legal Officer, First American Financial
“As a parent, I understand how critical it is for families to have access to education and resources that allow children to be set up for success. I am passionate about Connections for Children because I know how important it is to have a quality child care system in place.”
Lisa Cornehl is the Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary at First American Financial. As a member of First American's executive team, she is responsible for setting the company’s legal strategy and overseeing its legal affairs. She also serves on the board of directors of various First American subsidiaries. Lisa draws on Board governance and legal expertise in helping CFC achieve its mission of promoting quality child care for all families.
Film Producer, Duplass Brothers Productions
“I am dedicated to working with Connections for Children on strategizing how best to support children’s mental health and healing generational trauma.”
Shuli Harel is an accomplished media executive, committed to using her platform to affect positive social change and help others. Shuli serves as Head of Production & Producer for Duplass Brothers Productions, advising on all active productions and development and supervising the company’s Human Resources and Business Affairs needs. A native Angelino, Shuli draws upon her extensive network and media background to advance CFC’s mission.
“The incredible support we received through my daughter’s early childhood education program made me realize how critical early intervention can be. As a Board Member at Connections for Children, I feel like I can pay forward my gratitude by supporting a wonderful organization that brightens the future for thousands of children each year. I believe that every child deserves that strong start to life through the receipt of quality childcare and early education.”
Alison has a B.A. in Psychology from Georgetown University and a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. She spent her full-time career as a Human Resources Consultant. Alison has spent over 10 years fundraising as a Board Member for the Santa Monica Education Foundation, the fundraising arm for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and served in various leadership and fundraising roles within SMMUSD.
Chair of the Education/Early Childhood Education Department, Santa Monica College
“The vision and mission of Connections for Children aligns with my own goals to build a better system to support the children, families, and providers in our community.”
Gary Huff is an early childhood expert, professor, and Chair of the Education/Early Childhood Department at Santa Monica College. His work focuses on professional development for the current and future early care and education (ECE) workforce, as well as quality improvement efforts to ensure that children and families have access to ECE services that meet their needs. Gary also serves on the Santa Monica Early Childhood Task Force Steering Committee and the SMMUSD Early Learning District Advisory Committee. In addition to his ECE expertise, Gary brings his experience in community engagement, fundraising, and advocacy to CFC.
Founder/President, Alliance of Women Filmmakers
“I want to give back by helping Connections for Children, who helped me when I was a client. I can tell you firsthand that finding the right support at the right time can make all the difference in your child’s life and in yours as well.”
In January 2000, Diana Means began her career in the entertainment industry at ABC Television Network in the Finance Department. Diana joined the Creative Services team at Warner Bros. in June 2006. During her time at Warner Bros. Diana served on the Board of Women of Warner, where she helped to create and produce events that engaged Warner Bros. employees in dialogues about the image and roles of women in entertainment. Diana received the highest tribute given to employees by Time Warner, the Richard D. Parsons Community Impact Award, for exceptional contributions in public service. She currently works in Business and Legal Affairs for FIFTHSEASON. Diana is also the founder of Alliance of Women Filmmakers and the producer of Visionary Voices podcast.
Vice President, Accounting and Corporate Controller, Crexi
“All families should have access to high quality, meaningful child care particularly before the age of five, as these are among the most critical years in a child’s development.”
Sherman Misa is VP Accounting & Corporate Controller at Crexi, where he directs all operational and general accounting areas. He held similar roles at The Honest Company and Proactive. Sherman applies his background in finance and accounting to provide support and guidance to the finance, audit, and investment committees at CFC and also helps build awareness of CFC among corporate partners. As a parent in a two-working parent family, Sherman understands the challenges that could exist in obtaining quality child care that meets families’ needs.
Founder and Managing Partner, LAG Strategy Corp.
“As a father of a special-needs child, I understand how difficult it can be for parents to find quality resources and child care options for their children. I strongly believe in Connections for Children’s mission of providing access to early education and quality child care to families.”
Stuart Pfeifer is a strategic communications professional with 20+ years’ experience in journalism and public relations, including reputation management, earned media, social media, and digital communications. Stuart is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of LAG Strategy Corp., a public relations firm based in Pasadena. Stuart worked 15 years as a reporter for The Los Angeles Times, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting in 2004. Stuart provides pro bono consultancy for families and organizations needing communications support, including successfully lobbying a local school district to accommodate a special-needs student. Stuart is leveraging his skills and media relationships to increase awareness of CFC and to elevate the importance of early childhood education.
Vice President, Ares Management LLC
“I am from a family of educators, and I've seen firsthand how much impact quality early childhood education has on a child's development. I want every child to have access to the kind of support that Connections for Children offers, so they can succeed later in life.”
Erin Shea is a Human Resources Technology leader, creating business solutions that lead to enhanced recruiting, retention, and optimization of human capital. She is a Principal at Ares Capital Management and previously held leadership roles at Activision Blizzard and Northrop Gruman Corporation. Erin brings her knowledge of Human Resources, Information Technology, and Resource Management to help CFC strengthen its internal capacity and improve efficiencies. Further, Erin draws on her vast network to raise awareness of the critical importance of quality early learning experiences through fund development activities.
Former Senior Staff Attorney, Public Counsel
“I am happy to bring my expertise in nonprofit corporate and tax law, board governance, and public policy to help CFC scale its impact.”
Sarah is a retired senior staff attorney for the Community Development Project of Public Counsel, where she worked with nonprofit organizations that serve low-income and underserved communities in Los Angeles County. Specifically, Sarah worked with childcare providers on issues related to licensing and operating their small businesses. She is keenly aware of the challenges faced by childcare providers to sustain their programs and the struggles of working parents with limited resources. Sarah is the Vice President of Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and served as a member and as chair of the City of Santa Monica Commission for the Status of Women.
Find Child Care
Connections for Children helps parents balance the challenges of work and home life. Our caring staff members offer a wealth of free information and resources on child development, parenting, and high quality child care.
Child care is costly. Perhaps we can help your family on the way towards self-sufficiency though our financial assistance subsidies. Take the first step and apply for our Eligibility List to see if you qualify.
Improve your skills and knowledge as an early childhood educator. We offer a breadth of educational training, resources, and expertise for those at all experience levels. Most programs are free.