Board of Directors
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.
Mr. Cobos has served as a Board member since 2007. 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 and SHRM-CP since 2015. His work experience includes leadership positions in the area of Human Resources in the public and private sectors. Mr. Cobos has worked in a variety of industries with several organizations including Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, 5.11 Tactical, Slater’s 50/50, and Panda Restaurant Group, Inc. 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).
Ms. Gallegos has served as a Board Member for SPIRITT Family Services since June 2008 and has served as SPIRITT’s Board President from 2016-2017. She is a long standing Whittier resident and enjoys participating in Community events and issues. She is a Family Law Specialist, Certified by the California State Bar, and is deeply involved in her community and various Attorney bar Associations. Ms. Gallegos is a former President of the Southeast District Bar Association and recipient to the Attorney of the Year Award. Ms. Gallegos retired as U.S. Army Reserve Officer in Military Intelligence. In November 2017, SPIRITT Family Centers honored Ms. Gallegos with the Strengthening Families Award for her continued commitment to Community Service. In her spare time Ms. Gallegos enjoys traveling & music.
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.
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.
Members at Large
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.
Ms. Innes has served as a SPIRITT Board Member since 1994. As an educator, she began her career in the Whittier Union HS District. She worked primarily in the area of secondary literacy for Los Angeles County Office of Education and districts within the county. 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.
Ms. Ruedas joined SPIRITT's Board in April 2017. Ms. Ruedas graduated from Azusa Pacific University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of La Verne. She is the founder of JULIA Children’s Services, whose mission is to help families with access to quality and affordable child care services. She is an Instructor at the University of California Davis Extension. Her efforts support the next generation of early childhood education leaders. Ms. Ruedas is an advocate for availability, affordability and quality early childhood education throughout Los Angeles county, Sacramento, and Washington DC. In November 2018, Ms. Ruedas was elected as a Governing Board Member for El Monte City School District. In January 2019, Ms. Ruedas was also elected as a Delegate for the California Democratic Party.
Mr. John Ford has been an active member of SPIRITT’s Board, serving on the Programming/Planning Committee. Mr. Ford has been an active member of the community engaged in many non-profit public benefit organizations or initiatives serving homeless veterans, families, and more. In addition to SPIRITT’s Board, Mr. Ford serves on the Board of the Hispanic Outreach Taskforce, and the Hacienda Heights Improvement Association. Professionally, Mr. Ford is the founder of a successful real estate firm where he leads his team to help their clients. Mr. Ford and his wife Jackie enjoy life with their two children sharing their passion for business and non-profit community work as a family. John’s passion to help people, fueled by his family’s immigrant story and his wife’s immigrant story, has been evident in his community involvement and his business life.
Mr. Montes joined SPIRITT's Board in January 2021. Mr. Montes began his community involvement with Hispanic Outreach Taskforce over ten years ago, serving as a General Board Member for four years, and Executive Board Member for six years, and President for three years. He was also a Board Member for Jovenes, a Boyle Heights group that provides housing for homeless boys from 18-25 years. In addition, he is currently a Board Member of Whittier YMCA, and the Whittier Museum. His mission continues to be to bring an awareness of the Hispanic culture to the Whittier community.
Raquel Torres-Retana, ED.D.
Pasadena City College
Whittier Union High School District
Retired – LA County Office of Education
Hispanic Outreach Taskforce
Rio Hondo College
El Monte City School District Board Member
Montebello Unified School District
University of Southern California
Former SPIRITT Executive Director
Chief Executive Officer
Elvia Torres, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) joined SPIRITT in August 2002 as an Associate Clinical Director in charge of overseeing the expansion of behavior health services and community capacity projects. Ms. Torres was promoted to Executive Director in 2010 and to her current position as CEO in October 2020. As CEO, Ms. Torres oversees all of the organization’s operations and is actively engaged in building a robust network of partners and supporters that will continue to allow SPIRITT to maximize resources while providing proactive, culturally competent, and evidenced-based programs and services.
Under her leadership SPIRITT Family Centers expanded into higher disenfranchised communities and several programs earned three-year accreditations for maintaining quality standards. 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 and is licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 1996. With nearly 30 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 7,900 high-need individuals each year.
Chief Operating Officer
Perla Pelayo, Chief Operating Officer (COO) first joined the organization as the Collaborative Coordinator in November 2008 and has held numerous roles in the agency including Director of Programs, Interim Executive Director, and Associate Director before assuming the COO position in March 2021. In her current role as COO, Ms. Pelayo provides direct supervision to all four Agency Program Directors as well as direct oversight to program policies and procedures and works closely with SPIRITT’s Clinical Director, Program Directors, and Program Managers to provide consultation and direction on daily operational activities including quality clinical flow, staff productivity, referral management, and risk management.
Ms. Pelayo is responsible for program planning and aligning daily fiscal and operations to achieve contract requirements and agency strategic planning. She also works closely with SPIRITT’s CEO to implement human resources and agency-wide policies and procedures. Ms. Pelayo holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Community Organizing, Planning and Administration, from University of Southern California and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Social Behavior from University of California, Irvine. Ms. Pelayo has more than 20 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.
Department and Program Directors
- Daniel Gaytan, CPA – Director of Finance and Administration
- Mayra Pintor – Director of Human Resources
- Norma Yoguez, LMFT, MBA – Director of Community-Based Services
- Nancy Othman, MS, LMFT – Clinical Director
- Karla Perez-Pussman, Ph.D. – Director of Family-Based Services