Edwin Weaver MSW
Edwin Weaver and his family came to the central coast in 2010 to serve the community as a Child Welfare Supervisor. As the Supervisor of the Assessments and Investigations Unit he saw families devastated by the impact of Drugs, Alcohol and Gang Violence. Although he still believes in the mission and importance of Child Welfare, in the position of Executive Director of Fighting Back Edwin saw an opportunity to prevent some of the situations he witnessed at Child Welfare.
Edwin earned a Master’s in Social Welfare from UCLA and a Master’s of Theology from Fuller Seminary. Edwin has served as a pastor, a social worker, family pastor, school counselor, mentor and youth worker. His whole career has centered around helping families that are in trouble. He has dedicated his life to helping families and is committed to helping families who are not being successful find their way.
Currently Edwin serves on the Governor’s Children’s Justice Act Task Force, Santa Barbara County Board for Alcohol and Drug Problems. The District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Task Force, Co-Chair of the Santa Maria School Attendance Review Board, Board member of Martha’s Meals, and is the Tobacco Use Prevention Education Coordinator for Santa Barbara County Education office.
Edwin is married to Julie a teacher and they have three children: Jake, Grace and Ean. Edwin and his family live in Santa Maria. Their favorite activities are going to the beach for some surfing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding or gardening in their backyard and watching their dog Volley and chickens play with each other.
Dawnette Smith is the Programs Director for Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley. In this position, she is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of all FBSMV programs and services.
Prior to her employment with Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, Dawnette worked in the real estate field and managed a small construction business along with her husband. During this time, Dawnette tragically lost her sister due to a drunk driving car crash, which has greatly affected her life. Through her loss she has committed to make a difference in the lives of others, which in turn has developed into a great strength for her.
Dawnette has worked in the Human Services field for nearly six years with a focus on prevention. She is passionate about the mission and services that Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley provides. She is invested in the long-term success and progressive improvement of the services we provide to families in our community.
Her personal strengths combined with her professional experience have proven to be a great asset to her in her work with Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley. She has managed and provided oversight on multiple projects including federally funded projects such as the STOP ACT Alcohol Prevention project, Safe School Healthy Students programs, Drug Free Community activities and many other prevention and intervention projects.
Dawnette enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, fishing, bow shooting and boating at the local lakes.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” – Edmund Burke
Aimee Bakar is the Office Administrator for Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley. She currently oversees office administration, handles the maintaining of accounts, bookkeeping and accounting, and provides administrative support for FBSMV programs.
Aimee has been with Fighting Back for over five years, and her years of administrative experience as well as her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Vanguard University have proven to be great assets to her success here. Along with Aimee’s professional experience, she also has many hours of volunteer work for different child- and youth-oriented organizations, including Royal Family Kids’ Camp, Mika Community Development Corporation, and her husband’s work as a local youth pastor. Her passion in being a positive role model for the youth of today clearly shows, and she is proud to be a part of an organization that continuously seeks opportunities to empower the youth of Santa Maria Valley and helps them see all that they are able to achieve. One of her favorite quotes is “Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do” –John Wooden
Aimee enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters. In her spare time she enjoys cake decorating, reading, puzzles, and making homemade projects.
Gina is a Prevention Specialist, with over 10 years of experience in working with at risk youth, families, prevention work in the community by overseeing the Drug Free Communities federal grant which focuses on underage drinking and marijuana use by youth, and coordinating and facilitating classes such as Parent Project and Daring to Thrive. Gina is certified in the Community Resiliency Model and has helped train professionals, students and families in both English and Spanish all throughout Santa Barbara County. Gina has received her Associates degree in Social Science and Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.
Gina’s favorite part of working with Fighting Back is being a helper to students, families and in the community.
Gina enjoys hanging out at the beach, scrapbooking, going to Disneyland and spending time with her daughter.
Chastity “CJ” Johnson
Chastity “CJ” is a Program Specialist and has a B.A. in Child Development from Cal State Northridge, with an minor in Childcare Administration. CJ has served at a variety of elementary and middle schools as a truancy mentor specialist. She has been with Fighting Back since 2005.
CJ’s favorite thing about her work at Fighting Back are the opportunities to leave an everlasting impression on the adults and youth that she works with everyday. When not at work, she enjoys coaching softball at Allan Hancock College.
Her passion for working with youth comes from her philosophy of H.O.P.E. – Hold On, Pain Ends. “I want to inspire young people. I want someone to look at me and say ‘because of you I didn’t give up.’”
Steve Torres is a Program Specialist who has a passion to see youth from the community achieve their potential in life by developing resilience. For the past 19 years Steve has been a certified alcohol and drug counselor. Steve Torres has also worked with 12-18 teens for the past 27 years in the criminal justice and juvenile community environment of being incarcerated, and needing drug and alcohol treatment, those involved in the gang lifestyle, and those who have been expelled from their home schools.
Most importantly, Steve Torres has been married for the last 28 years with three children and three grandchildren.
Program Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org
Maggie grew up in Santa Maria Valley. She is one of our newest staff and has her Bachelor’s in Nutrition. Maggie enjoys working with the underserved community and teens. One of her favorite things about her job is being able to work with teens and making an impact in their daily lives.
Maggie enjoys cooking, baking, taking her dog on walks and being with her family.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”
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Alyssa Limon was born and raised in the Santa Maria Valley and currently works as a Program Specialist for Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley. Growing up in an Old Orcutt church gave her a heart and service passion for all people, especially children and seniors.
She started working through the City of Santa Maria Recreation & Parks Department at the young age of 16 and had the opportunity to work with various groups and schools for many years such as: P.L.A.Y. People for Leisure & Youth, A.S.E.S. After School Education & Safety Program (Arellanes & Liberty, Adam & Tunnell Elementary School) Summer & Winter Camp Programs, Therapeutics and Senior Services through the Elwin Mussell Center. She has been able to help plan and be a part of many community events over the years which she has thoroughly enjoyed.
In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and cheering on her girls at their wrestling tournaments. She has also moonlighted the past 15 years as a face painting and body artist for birthday parties and other events, as a creative outlet all over the Central Coast!
A servant at heart, Alyssa is excited to be a Program Specialist through Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley at various Santa Maria Bonita District Schools, to do more and give back to the community that has helped mold her into the person she is today!
Jay is a Program Specialist and has extensive experience working with youth as an Outreach Consultant, Substance Abuse staff at a treatment facility for adolescents, a Facilitator for both Parent Project and Joven Noble, a truancy intervention specialist, and a Facilitator for the Long Term Offender Program at California Men’s Colony. Jay has studied drug and alcohol prevention at the California Association of Addiction Recovery Resources and has numerous certifications.
His favorite thing about working at Fighting Back is being part of an amazing team that has helped him be a better helper and professional in our community.
Jay enjoys spending time with his family and can be seen at various youth sports games in the community.
Program Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org
JoJo Murdock knows firsthand that foster youth need to know their past does not define them but it’s the choices they make now that build them into who they will become. JoJo is a mother, wife, 1st generation college graduate, an avid advocate for foster youth and alumni of the foster care system herself. As a Program Specialist for foster youth kindergarten through 9th grade and a mentor to teen/former foster youth JoJo helps foster youth build confidence, creates support systems and shows foster youth of all ages that their voices are important, that their futures are filled with opportunity and they have a community of supporters rooting them on.
Program Specialist araceli@Fbsmv.com
When children, youth, and adults experience any type of trauma and stressors in life, it is not easy to “move on” and “forget about it,” it takes time to heal, process, and progress. One of Ms. Cruz’s greatest passions is helping others overcome their fears and bringing about healing by guiding them to become resilient.
Araceli Cruz is a Program Specialist at Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley. Ms. Cruz is one of the Homeless Liaisons for our Santa Maria Bonita School District, a position which entails assisting her clients who include children, adults, and families who are homeless.
Her educational background includes a B.A. in Criminology from City University of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, an A.A.S. in Criminal Justice from State University of New York, Westchester Community College, and a Certificate of Completion in Mixteco from City University of New York, Lehman College in Bronx, New York. Ms. Cruz is currently enrolled at Allan Hancock College for Fall of 2019 and will be pursuing her M.A. in Linguistics at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California.
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Born and raised in Santa Maria by her loving grandparents She is a proud mother of two wonderful boys who are active in sports and in their education. She is currently attending Allan Hancock College studying to get her Associates in Phycology and has previously worked in the helping profession as a Case Manager for homeless families and individuals. April is passionate about life, instilling hope strength and showing love and empathy, she believes children and young adults are the most important people and need love, encouragement and support. There is so much character, wisdom and strength that is developed with in the years of youth. She wants to share the gift of finding the will and strength inside to reach your full potential. April is proud to be part of the Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley team as Santa Barbara County Cannabis Educator.
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” – Maya Angelou
Program Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org
Samantha Yruegas is a Prevention Specialist at Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley. Her prevention efforts focus on underage drinking, excessive drinking, underage marijuana use, and opioid misuse. She works closely with community leaders to implement environmental prevention strategies and to educate all ages on the harms of substance abuse through media campaigns and presentations. As a Santa Maria native, Samantha is passionate and committed to serving the community that helped raise her to be who she is today. A former Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley Youth Group president, Samantha is very knowledgeable in prevention and has led successful advocacy campaigns. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family or watching the newest Marvel film at the RPX theater.
“Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being and will go out of his or her way to help them — even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.” ― Stan Lee
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Raul Reyes is a Program Specialist and has M.A. in School Counseling with the PPS Credential from National University. He has B.S. in Criminology from California State University, Fresno Raul has been with a FBSMV since 2015 implementing Foundation for Success, Conflict Mediation, and Restorative Justice Approach at Pioneer Valley High School. Raul Reyes is a Community Resilience Model Teacher. Additionally, Raul teaches several different parenting classes in the community.
Raul’s greatest passion is being able to advocate for all youth who at times are not heard.
Raul is very committed to his career, when he is not working, he is traveling the world. He is a lifelong learner. Raul enjoys reading, listening to music and spending time with his loved ones.
Program Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org
Teresa was born in Mexico and came to Santa Maria at the age of seven, where she was raised and educated. Teresa graduated with a B.A. in sociology from California State University, Northridge. In her position, Teresa serves as a truancy mentor and facilitates parenting classes. She enjoys giving back to our community and making a difference in the lives of our youth in Santa Maria. Teresa’s upbringing, being a first generation college student and coming from an immigrant family, has allowed her to build trustworthy relationships and empathize with the families of our community. In her spare time, Teresa loves spending time with her two year old son and her family.
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Lisa Coker is a Program Specialist for Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley. In this position, she serves as the Homeless Liaison for Santa Maria Joint Union High School District. Lisa is also a facilitator for Parent Project, Nurturing Skills for Families, and the Within My Reach programs. She received her Associate’s degree in Liberal studies from Allan Hancock College and her Bachelor’s degree from Chapman University in Social Science.
Lisa is, second generation, born and raised in Santa Maria Valley and loves this community. She believes this community is hard working and family oriented. She gets the greatest joy from working with youth and believes that serving our younger generation is how best to leave a positive footprint in her community. Lisa is a mom most importantly and finds the most fulfillments in this role. She is a foster mom and spends a lot of her time giving her children life experiences that they might not otherwise have had. She enjoys camping, skiing, and traveling and a lot of her spare time is spent on a pool deck watching swim meets and water polo games.
“In a world where you can be anything… BE KIND!”
Board of Directors
Dr. Mark Richardson has been the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Superintendent since September 2012. He previously served as the superintendent of the Taft Union High School District, a high school principal and held a variety of administrative, teaching and coaching positions in the Kern High School District. Dr. Richardson was named FFA State Administrator of the Year in 2012 and has served as a Visiting Committee Member for WASC ( Barstow, West Covina, Cuyama, Cabrillo and Highland high schools).
Dr. Richardson has worked in education since 1988 and as a public education administrator since 1995. He earned his doctorate in organizational leadership from University of La Verne in 2007, his master’s degree in educational administration from California Lutheran University in 1992 and received a bachelor’s degree in history at UC Berkley in 1985.
Bob Bush spent 42 years in the Orcutt Union School District, as a teacher at Patterson Road Elementary, Lakeview Junior High, Joe Nightingale and Pine Grove. He then went on to be Prinipal at Patterson Road Elementary and Lakeview and Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent for Orcutt Union School District. He also coached multiple sports at Lakeview and Righetti High School. Bob retired in 2014. Click here for more information on Mr. Bush.
Carrick Adam, M.D., MSPH
Dr. Adam is a Pediatrician in Santa Maria and attended Tulane University. He is a member of the American Board of Pediatrics and is affiliated with Marian Medical Center. Dr. Carrick does training for the Santa Barbara County Probation Department and has served on the Board of Allan Hancock College.
Alice Patino has served Santa Maria for many years. She began her career as a teacher, then a board member in the public school system, and holds various leadership positions with the City of Santa Maria, where she grew up and attended Allan Hancock College. In November 2012, she was elected as Mayor, becoming the first female Mayor in Santa Maria’s history. She has service in the Rotary Club of Santa Maria, the Minerva Club, Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, Santa Maria Valley Republicans and other groups. For more information about Ms. Patino click here.
Deborah Blow is the Superintendent of the Orcutt Union School District. Blow spent 10 years in the classroom as a teacher in all grades kindergarten through high school, and served as an assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent of educational services before becoming a superintendent. She has a strong background in technology integration, visual and performing arts, and working with charter schools. Blow earned a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Wyoming, as well as a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of La Verne. For more information on Ms. Blow click here.