Judy Cole, Chair
Dana Halle, Vice-Chair
Dan Pittman, Secretary
Del Hart, Treasurer
Harry Stahl, Member
Kurt Yeager, Member
Diane Pritchett, Member
Robert Spitzberg, Member
David Blankenhorn, Member
Tony de Almeida, Member,
Debra Marsteller, President and Chief Executive Officer
Advocate, trainer, mentor and enthusiastic supporter of people with developmental disabilities, Debra Marsteller has worked for 38 years with and for people with disabilities. A graduate of University of Northern Colorado with a teaching credential in Special Education, Debra continued on to get her Masters in Education from San Diego State. In 2007 after 26 years leading Vantage Foundation and building the first integrated work supports for people with the most complex lives, Debra led the merger with Project Independence. Combining the Positive Behavioral Support expertise of Vantage with the Independent Living and Supported Employment capacities of Project Independence, the two organizations look to our next 40 years making our community a better place for everyone to live, work and recreate. Debra grew up in Orange County and continues to make the area her home.
Tim Chervenak, Director of Employment Services
Tim Chervenak is the Director of Employment Services for Project Independence. Tim has worked in the field for over 20 years, and has worked at Project Independence since 2003. Tim oversees the Supported Employment program, serving almost 200 people employed in jobs throughout Orange County. In addition, Tim also manages the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance project, a cooperative agreement with Social Security, a project that gives beneficiaries the tools to make informed decisions about returning to work and achieving independence from government benefits. As chair of the Habilitation subcommittee, Tim has served on the Regional Center of Orange County Vendor Advisory Committee for 8 years. Tim taught political science at several community colleges in Orange County for over 10 years. Tim has served on the board of directors for the California Disability Services Association for the past six years, and is currently serving as Board President.
Robert Watson, Associate Director
In 1991 Bob began working in the field of serving people with developmental disabilities. He began his career with Vantage Foundation in April 1994 as a job coach in the Behavior Management Program. Bob was then promoted to an Area Manager, then Regional Director and finally Associate Director and Director of Community Day Services. With the merge of Vantage and Project Independence in 2007, Bob remained in both positions. Prior to working with Project Independence Bob worked as a Junior High School Teacher, an administrator in the Federal Government, as well as in hospitality, entertainment, and real estate. Bob has always maintained a personal priority of serving those in need including working with the Orange Police Department Crisis Unit.
Kristen Cook, Director of Human Resources
Since 1991 Kristen has worked at Project Independence, initially in direct support of the clients directly and now in her current role as the Director of Human Resources. Kristen works diligently to assure that Project Independence recruits, trains and supports staff that will go the extra mile to serve those who need us most. Kristen takes great pride in the strong relationships she maintains with both field staff and management. Kristen maintains a strong commitment to always having an open door for questions, concerns or any other issue that needs a supportive and constructive response.
Kathy Grunwald, Controller
Kathy Grunwald is the Controller of Project Independence. Kathy manages all financial aspects of Project Independence including the accounting, payroll, financial reporting as well as oversight of the IT functions of the organization. Kathy is responsible for all financial aspects of Project Independence including internal and external financial reporting and budgeting. She is also responsible to ensure all areas of financial compliance are achieved and is responsible for the fair presentation of the annual consolidated financial statements. Kathy joined Vantage Foundation in March of 1999. Project Independence and Vantage Foundation merged in 2007 and she resumed her role as Controller over both organizations. In addition to her experience at Project Independence, her background includes cost accounting for manufacturing industries and government subcontracting industries. She has over thirty years of experience in the accounting field.
Mike Voegele, Director of Independent Living and Supported Living
Mike Voegele is the Director of Independent Living and Supported Living at Project Independence. Independent Living services teach the skills needed for consumers to live independently in their own apartments. Supported Living services provide the needed in-home support and care that consumers may need in order remain successfully living in their own apartments. Mike began his career at Project independence as in Psychology intern from Cal-State Fullerton in February of 1994. He was hired as a full-time Independent Living direct staff in May of 1994. Mike later became an Area Manager in October of 1997, where he managed a caseload of about 35 consumers and was responsible for assigning and supervising the direct staff. In November of 2004, Mike was promoted to Director of our Independent and Supported Living departments.
Todd Eckert, Director of Development
Todd is the Director of Development for Project Independence. Todd serves as the leader responsible for creating a rigorous development program in support of Project Independence and for expanding on the current donor base. In partnership with the Chief Executive Officer, Todd works each day to raise awareness and support of PI. Prior to joining Project Independence in 2015, Todd worked for a hospital foundation in Annapolis, Maryland. He was recruited from a decade in commercial real estate due to his ability to naturally cultivate and solidify community relationships. His diverse background including business ownership, entertainment and non-profits, helped Todd develop his inherent talent to speak to a broad-ranging audience. He lives in Newport Beach with his wife and his two daughters.