Since 1972, SPIRITT Family Services has provided a critical range of mental and emotional health programs to children and families in Eastern Los Angeles County. Through adaptive education, case management, support, and counseling services, SPIRITT supports families in crisis stay together and learn ways to support themselves. By helping clients overcome the challenges of abuse and mental illness, SPIRITT improves thousands of lives in the community every year.

Diane Innes, Board President
Ms. Innes has served as a SPIRITT Board Member since 1994 and is Board President, beginning January 2017. As an educator, she began her career in the Whittier Union HS District. She has held a variety of positions in the area of Secondary Literacy in LA County Office of Education, LAUSD, and Pasadena Unified. As an adjunct professor, she taught at Whittier College and Cal State LA. She is currently retired and enjoying time to devote to a variety of interests.

Israel Cobos, Vice President
Mr. Cobos earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Houston and his Master of Science in Human Development and Leadership from Murray State University. Mr. Cobos has also been certified as a Professional in Human Resources since 2008. He currently serves as Director of Human Resources for 5.11 Tactical. His work experience includes Director of Human Resources for Slater’s 50/50 and Sr. Human Resources Manager for Panda Restaurant Group, Inc. where he spent over 7 years.  He also spent over 8 years in non-profit with the Boys Scouts of America in Los Angeles and Houston. Mr. Cobos is also an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Carolina Jauregui, Secretary
Ms. Jauregui joined SPIRITT’s Board in October 2016. Ms. Jauregui received her Bachelor of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a Masters of Public Policy from Mills College. She currently works for a statewide non-profit promoting walkability and pedestrian safety, California Walks. In addition to contributing her time to SPIRITT, Ms. Jauregui is an active participant of the Whittier Latino Coalition and she is a Community Advisory Committee member for West Whittier’s Pedestrian Master Plan.

Kevin L. Scherff, CPA, Treasurer & Chair of Finance Committee
Mr. Scherff has served as a Board Member since March 2006 and is currently the Chair of the Board Finance Committee. Mr. Scherff is a California CPA and he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from Southern Illinois University. Mr. Scherff has held several diversified positions in finance since 1985; including, Controller for Nestle Ice Cream Division, Case-Swayne Company, American Brake Supply, CFO for Staub Metals Corporation and currently the controller for Troy-CSL Lighting, Inc.

Members at Large

Sylvia Gonzalez, MD
Dr. Gonzalez has been a Board Member since April 2013 and served as the Board Secretary in 2015. Dr. Gonzalez is a Board Certified Pediatrician with PIH Health with prior experience in a community clinic. She earned both her Bachelor’s and Medical Degree at the University of California in Los Angeles and completed her Pediatric Residency at the Children’s Hospital in Oakland.

Henry Leong
Mr. Leong joined SPIRITT’s Board in March 2013. Mr. Leong is the Vice President of Quon Yick Noodle Company. He was a charter member of the Food Industry Business Roundtable (FIBR) and serves on the Board of Directors. Mr. Leong is the founder of the downtown Los Angeles Chinese Chamber of Commerce and has served on the Police Department Review Board. He also served as the President of the San Gabriel Valley Chinese Cultural Association.

Harold W. Schieve, CPA
Mr. Schieve joined SPIRITT’s Board in March 2010. Mr. Schieve received his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from California State University, San Jose, and has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1991. He has held various positions in the Finance and Business field. In addition to contributing his time to SPIRITT, Mr. Schieve is an active participant in the Whittier Sunrise Rotary Club International and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Roger Stoltenberg, Immediate Past President
Mr. Stoltenberg has served on SPIRITTs’ Board since January 2000 and was Board President from 2002-2015. Mr. Stoltenberg served as a Training Officer in the Army Airborne Infantry and spent 30 years in sales and management in the corrugated packaging industry primarily with Georgia-Pacific. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa. His second career was Director of Camping and Senior District Executive with the Los Angeles Council of Boy Scouts. Mr. Stoltenberg has devoted 40 years to community organizations and the non-profit sector. In addition to his work with SPIRITT, he is the current Chair of the Leadership Board of Special Olympics San Gabriel Valley and current Chairman of the host city for the Special Olympics World Games.

To learn more about board development visit BoardSource at https://www.boardsource.org/eweb

For more information on joining the Board of Directors or to visit one of our Family Centers, please contact Elvia Torres, Executive Director at (562) 903-7000 or send inquires to info@spiritt.org.


Elvia Torres, MS, LMFT, MBA
Executive Director

In 2002, Ms. Elvia Torres began her career with SPIRITT Family Services as an Associate Clinical Director overseeing the expansion of behavior health services and community capacity projects. In 2010, Ms. Torres was promoted to Executive Director, providing exemplary leadership during a time of growth and transition that included SPIRITT’s move to a more accessible facility in Whittier, opening an additional office in Bell Gardens and undertaking key capacity building activities. With over 20 years of clinical and administrative experience in not-for-profit organizations, Ms. Torres has the breadth of experience necessary to guide this organization as it continues to impact the lives of more than 6,000 high-need individuals each year.  SPIRITT’s clients have much to overcome – issues of child maltreatment, domestic violence, trauma, addiction and mental illness – which makes the organization’s nearly 70% success rate virtually unprecedented in the field.

Ms. Torres received her Bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University, a Master in Counseling from California State University, Los Angeles and a Master in Business Administration from Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles. Her background as a licensed clinician, businesswoman, and as a parent have proven integral to SPIRITT’s success in maintaining a positive growth model, establishing new partnerships with corporate and private foundations and building a network of support that will continue to allow SPIRITT to maximize resources while providing proactive, culturally competent and evidence-based programs and services. Ms. Torres is a member of several professional and community organizations including the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, El Monte/South El Monte Community Alliance, National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), the Eastside Child Abuse Prevention Council and the County Child Welfare Coalition.  Ms. Torres is a current Board member of California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives (CAADPE) and serves as a Member of Re-development Dissolution Oversight Board for the City of La Puente. She was recently the recipient of a Woman of the Year award for 2015 by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez and appointed by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor Hilda Solis to the County Commission for Older Adults. She resides in the San Gabriel Valley with her husband and four children.

Sofia A. Burns, BS
Director of Finance and Administration

Ms. Burns joined SPIRITT Family Services 2017. She graduated from CSULB with a bachelor’s of science degree in public accounting. She developed interest in the nonprofit sector after joining Gilbert Vasquez & CO, a CPA firm. With over twenty five years of experience as head of Finance, she has improved various community based organizations, resulting in their growth and a noticeably stronger financial position.  She also serves as an active Board Member of several nonprofit entities. “I have chosen to work in the nonprofit sector because my passion has always been to help under-served communities”.

Perla Pelayo, ASW, MSW 
Director of Programs and Research

Ms. Pelayo is currently the Program Manager for the Mental Health Program, funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Her prior experience includes holding a position as SPIRITT’s Organizational Development Manager where she was responsible for the agencies Strategic Planning, Fundraising, Program Evaluation, and Grant Management. Ms. Pelayo holds a Masters Degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Community Organizing, Planning and Administration, from University of Southern California. Ms. Pelayo also received her Bachelor degree in Psychology and Social Behavior from University of California Irvine, in 2006.

Ms. Pelayo has over 14 years of experience in the field of social services, which includes both clinical practice and administrative experience, particularly working with families in the areas of mental health, child abuse prevention, drug and alcohol prevention, early intervention, and family centered services. Her clinical experience includes working with individuals and families at various capacities including the following: Clinician, Mental Health Outpatient Program; MSW, Intern, Suicide Prevention Department and Mental Health Department Long Beach Veterans Affairs Hospital; MSW, Intern, Child Development Center Rancho Santiago Community College District; Youth Specialist, SPIRITT Family Services, Juvenile Court Advocate, Napa County; and as a Youth Services Coordinator, Nuestra Esperanza a community based organization.

Norma Yoguez, MS, LMFT
Program Manager

Ms. Yoguez has a License in Marriage and Family Therapy with specialization in working with the Latino population and is a certified Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Counselor. Ms. Yoguez joined the SPIRITT team in 2003. For the past 12 years, she has been responsible for the oversight of the Family Preservation, Family Support, Substance Abuse, Prevention and Aftercare, CAPIT, and the Up-Front Assessment. Programs. Ms. Yoguez has been a key contributor to the development and implementation of programs for under-served communities of the City of Whittier and Santa Fe Springs and the surrounding areas since 2003. Norma Yoguez is a member of the National Association of Forensic Counselors, California Association of Marriage and Family Therapist (CAMFT), and currently serves as Chair of the Los Angeles Child Abuse Prevention Council for SPA 7. And just recently Ms. Yoguez, was certified as an Ayurveda Educator from the Southern California University of Health Science.

Irasema Sandoval, MS, LMFT 
Manager, Community Resource Development

Ms. Sandoval has her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. Ms. Sandoval joined the SPIRITT team in 2005. For the past ten years, she has provided therapy for clients diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, at-risk adolescents, young children with behavioral concerns, and individuals experiencing a variety of complex mental illnesses. Her experience in the field includes providing services under Department of Mental Health, Department of Children and Family Services, First 5 LA, and Department of Public Health.

Laura Samuel, MS 
Program Manager

Ms. Samuel has a Bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Services and a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and Special Certification in Child Maltreatment and Family Violence. Ms. Samuel also completed a certificate program in Substance Abuse and 40 hours certificate program in Domestic Violence. Ms. Samuel has 24 years working in the social field that includes areas probation, foster care and adoption and family preservation. Ms. Samuel joined SPIRITTT Family Services in August 2006. Ms. Samuel has had the oversight of Family Support, Substance Abuse (CARE), Up Front Assessment, running support groups for women. Currently she oversees the Family Preservation Program and ensures the implementation of the policies and procedures in the contracts provided by the Department of Children and Family Services. She is trained in Windows Between Worlds Domestic Violence Workshops, Motivational Interviewing, Seeking Safety, and Nurturing Parenting.

Connie Preciado-Gonzalez, MS, MFT-I 
Manager, Birth to Five Programs

Mrs. Preciado-González, MFTI has over 9 years of experience working with at-risk children and families at SPIRITT, including her current role as Program Manager for both Partnerships for Families and Healthy Families America Programs. Prior roles at SPIRITT has been as PFF Collaborative Coordinator, PFF In-Home Clinician, and KEYS Mental Health Outreach Coordinator. She has 8 years of experience working with infants and toddlers prior to working at SPIRITT, and is trained in the following EBP’s: Triple P Parenting (Standard and Teen/Levels 4 & 5), Incredible Years, Child Parent Psychotherapy, Seeking Safety, Managing and Adapting Practices, Crisis Oriented Recovery Services, and Motivational Interviewing. She is bilingual/bicultural and experienced in coordinating data collection and management for program outcomes as well as collaboration with community partners.