YWCA   Santa Monica / Westside  |  Closed June 2016
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WCA Santa Monica / Westside staff is hard working, well educated and deeply committed to social service and the Mission of the YWCA. Each individual is uniquely qualified for his/her position and all of our programs benefit from staff experience and diversity.


Executive Director

Julia Miele, Executive Director

Julia Miele is the Executive Director of the YWCA Santa Monica / Westside, whose mission is to empower women and girls at every life stage by creating opportunities for growth, progress and success. Julia came to the YWCA from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), where she served as Director of Fundraising supporting AHF's worldwide HIV/AIDS treatment and care programs. Her experience prior to AHF includes Director of Community Services with the American Cancer Society in Los Angeles and work Population Services International in India and Washington, DC. Julia lives in Santa Monica with her daughter, Isabella, their two guinea pigs, Princess Mabell and Cinnamon, and their two mice, Chocolate and Vanilla.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Julia Miele Julia Miele


Maria Abenes, Director of Housing and Education

Maria came to the YWCA from the YWCA in Central Orange County) where, for the past seven years, she served as the program director of a similar transitional housing program for emancipated foster females, and later, executive director of the association. She began her career at Phoenix House, one of the nation’s largest drug and alcohol treatment facilities where she held various positions such as counselor, case-manager and outreach liaison. Maria received her B.A. in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University, and M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University. She is currently working on her Doctorate in Counseling and Non-Profit management (Dissertation Phase). Maria has worked in the social service field for almost 12 years, focusing on at-risk youth and the barriers - substance abuse, homelessness, lack of life skills - that hinder their success and ability to live self-sufficiently.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Maria Abenes Maria Abenes

Sharon Donaldson, Director of Lifelong Wellness

Sharon Donaldson has been with the YWCA since 1984. In addition to managing our recreational programs, Sharon also runs the Encore program, a free exercise and peer support program for women with cancer. Sharon earned her BA from Cal State University, Northridge and is a certified fitness instructor with the American Council on Exercise. She is also a National Trainer for the YWCA of the USA for the Encore Program. Sharon’s passion is health, fitness and the great outdoors. She lives in Topanga Canyon with her husband, Rick, and three parrots, “Big Boy” (Umbrella Cockatoo), “Chewie” (Triton Cockatoo) and “Ollie” (Blue Fronted Amazon). This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sharon Donaldson Sharon Donaldson

Nina Moench, Director/Teacher of Family Cooperative Preschool

Nina Moench has been an Early Childhood Educator for over 10 years.  She has a BFA from Otis Art Institute and has studied Child Development at SMC and UCLA Extension.  In opening the YWCA Family Cooperative Preschool in 2011, Nina was able to merge two of her passions in life, environmental design and early childhood education.  She is a certified level 1 specialist in The Outdoor Classroom Project and is especially proud of our preschools' new natural playscape.  Nina is a 3rd generation California native and lives in Santa Monica with her husband and two children. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



 Nina Moench Nina Moench

Sheelagh O'Connor, Director of Member Services

Sheelagh O’Connor came to the YWCA in October 2013 from different careers - as a Social Worker in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to Software Development with Symantec (Norton Anti -Virus), to online advertising with Edmunds.com. As a long-time resident of Santa Monica, Sheelagh is thrilled to be at the YWCA where she meets up with many new and old friends of the surrounding community, encouraging all to be aware of the wonderful variety of programs and fun that we offer. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 Sheelagh O'Connor Sheelagh O'Connor


Barbara Olinger, Senior Director of Family Development

Barbara Olinger has a Master's degree in Social Work and has worked with children and families in educational and therapeutic settings for over 30 years. She began her relationship with the YWCA taking post-natal exercise classes (her son is now 24 years old!). Following this, she started volunteering (facilitating a New Mom's Support Group), became an Independent Contractor teaching Toddler and Me classes, and then joined the YWCA team as a part-time employee supervising and writing grants for several programs. In 2004, she became a full-time staff. Currently, Barbara facilitates Infant/Toddler and Me classes, leads Parent Support Groups, and supervises Cottage Activity Time and the YWCA Family Cooperative Pre-School. Barbara has two sons and lives in Venice. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Barbara Olinger Barbara Olinger


Margarita Rozenbaoum, Director of Marketing and Operations

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Angela Walton Soto, Director of Youth Development

For the past nine years, Angela Walton has worked with youth in various settings across Los Angeles County. Throughout college, she worked for the award winning, Venice-based, Inside Out Community Arts program. There she helped to empower at-risk youth through theater, poetry, music and art.  In 2009, Angela earned her B.A. in Humanities Interdisciplinary Studies from California State University Northridge. After graduating, she joined the YWCA staff as the Girl Central Facilitator where she further developed a passion for youth development, particularly with middle school and high school youth. Angela returned to the YWCA staff from the California Science Center where she was a leader in their Education Department's Public Programming Sector. She is excited to be implementing the new STEAM program which is offered to middle school girls as a way to educate and excite them about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. In her free time, Angela enjoys reading and spending time with her nephew, David, and niece, Kristianna. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 Angela Walton Angela Walton

Program Staff


Gordon Ewing, Lead Teacher, Cottage

Monica Colvin, Lead Teacher, Cottage

Kathy Salinas, Teacher, Cottage

Melissa Harrell, Teacher, Cottage

Grace Jupiter. Teacher, Cottage

Karla Mireles, Teacher, Cottage

Maria Miranda, Teacher (Cottage and Preschool)

Gina Oster, Lead Teacher, Preschool

Henriette Backer, Lead Teacher, Preschool

Jaklin Hai, Teacher, Preschool

Amanda Harris, Teacher, Preschool

Paula Murray, Teacher, Preschool

Amanda Blair, Girl Central Facilitator

Jean Thompson, Assistant Director, Housing and Education Program

Mallory Bissic, Program Assistant, Housing and Education Program

Cynthia Lopez, Program Assistant, Housing and Education Program

Jessica Medina, Program Assistant, Housing and Education Program 



Support Staff

Patricia Cavanaugh, Evening/Weekend Receptionist

After years of managing creative departments in the cosmetic and marketing industry, and now semi-retired, Patricia Cavanaugh stopped by the YWCA to inquire about the life drawing class. She is an artist and a breast cancer survivor. To her delight, she discovered not only art, but the YWCA’s Encore program for cancer survivors, which allowed her to enjoy and benefit from the pool exercise, yoga classes, and peer-support. Patricia truly cherishes the time she is able to interact with YWCA members and staff. When not at the YWCA, Patricia spends time with her two sweet grandchildren, husband, family, and artistic pursuits.

Patricia Cavanaugh Patricia Cavanaugh

Pedro Garcia, Facility Maintenance

Pedro Garcia began work with the YWCA in 2006, but has been associated with the organization since 1998. In fact, Pedro helped to build (and rebuild after the 1994 earthquake!) the beautiful residence that houses our Transitional Housing and Education Program. He also was the individual who placed in the house's walls a time capsule that holds all past records of the residence, which was formerly a home for girls operated by the Amaranth Matrons and Patrons Association. Pedro worked for the late Norm Berg, who was the general contractor for the YWCA property and donated hours of his time to the beautification of our surroundings. Pedro and his wife, Flor, live with their son, Sergio, and dog, Doby, in Los Angeles.

Pedro Garcia Pedro Garcia

Robert Lock, Facility Maintenance

Robert Lock has been with the YWCA for over 20 years. Robert keeps the YWCA beautiful by doing everything from cleaning mirrors, to vacuuming floors, to watering lawns, to cleaning bathrooms. Prior to coming to the YWCA, Robert worked for Allan Mason Cleaning at Crossroads School and the Boys & Girls Club. What Robert likes best about the YWCA are the people and YWCA members. In his spare time, Robert runs marathons, plays basketball, rides a bicycle, and dances the two-step, tango, and salsa. Robert lives with his mother and his parrot, Michael, in Inglewood.

Robert Lock Robert Lock

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