Our Team Leaders and Board Members.

Lisa O'Connor

Lisa O'Connor

Chief Executive Director

With more than 19 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and youth development, Family Nurturing Center CEO Lisa O’Connor pours her whole heart into helping families in Southern Oregon. She currently serves on several boards, including the Southern Oregon Early Learning Executive Council and Umpqua board representing both Jackson and Josephine Counties, and when she’s not busy with work, she enjoys spending time with her four adult children, as well as traveling, camping, listening to live music and riding her motorcycle.

Within this mid-size, high performing agency, Lisa is the chief cheerleader. She encourages and inspires clients, employees, volunteers, donors and community partners to strengthen families one child at a time. As chief fundraiser, she engages in meaningful partnerships and collaborations to help further and deepen FNC’s work in the community.

And every day as CEO, she leads by example. She sets and protects the organization’s culture, develops programs, and determines policy. She plans future development, invests in staff leadership, creates and implements systems, and oversees program assessment, implementation, and evaluation.

Whitney Dennis

Whitney Dennis

Chief Operating Officer

Whitney Dennis, COO, has extensive experience in management in both the non-profit and public sectors. As executive assistant for the city manager’s office, Whitney became well-versed in policy development, preventative maintenance, budget and finance. Whitney grew up in the valley, has a servant heart and enjoys being part of a dynamic team working to make a social impact. Whitney enjoys spending time with her two children and family while taking regular trips to the beach.

The COO participates in long-term strategic planning meetings and provides detailed information to team members regarding the performance capabilities of each department, learned through regular meetings with department heads. Whitney oversees day-to-day operational activities including IT, data, finance and facility projects. Acts as liaison to the board for both finance and facility committees. Systems development and data integration are important components of her work, necessary to build a healthy foundation for the agency to prepare for future growth.

Beth Jaffee-Stafford

Beth Jaffee-Stafford

Clinical Director

Beth Jaffee-Stafford, Clinical Program Director has professional experience as a psychotherapist, family support coordinator, teacher, home visitor and program director. Her work history and education as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist has perfectly positioned her to be clinical director for an agency working with vulnerable families. Beth is thoughtful, responsive, professional and compassionate. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, watching her daughter dance and going to the movies.

Beth provides oversight of the therapeutic delivery of services for the agency. She supervises, trains and evaluates a diverse staff of service providers. She provides individual and group clinical supervision for program managers and mental health staff. She supports mental health staff to assess client needs, assign appropriate diagnoses, formulate recommendations for services, and deliver coordinated child and family-focused or group therapy. Beth collaborates actively with community partners and is part of the Community Family Court team.

Katie Lechuga

Katie Lechuga

Child & Family Program Director

After growing up in Southern Oregon, Katie earned her bachelor’s degree in Family and Human Services from the University of Oregon. Since then, she has spent her career working with some of Oregon’s most vulnerable populations. Now, we are lucky to have her putting her considerable skills and talents to work helping local families.

Katie takes pride in her ability to connect and work with community partners to best serve the needs of families and says she is excited to do this work in the community where she grew up. In her spare time, Katie enjoys being with her family, watching movies, going on outdoor adventures, and attending her children’s sporting events.

As Program Director, Katie is responsible for providing culturally specific, trauma-informed, child- and family-centric programming. She initiates and sets goals for programs in accordance with our strategic objectives. She also plans the programs from start to completion–setting deadlines, meeting milestones and overseeing processes. Katie provides leadership and support to program managers to ensure everyone meets FNC standards, adheres to our mission and uses best practices. Finally, Katie helps ensure that our programs and services are coordinated and aligned with Community Health Improvement Plans, all while engaging our stakeholders.

    Our Board Members

    Penny Klabunde

    Penny Klabunde

    Penny Klabunde is a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and St. Mark’s representative on the Family Nurturing Center Board.

    Penny was a public school teacher for 40 years, primarily kindergarten, fourth and fifth grades. She spent 38 of those years at Wilson School in Medford. She chaired the Wilson Site Council, designed Outdoor Education programs, directed the Student Council and planned school-wide activities and assemblies. Upon retirement, Penny enlisted the generosity of colleagues, friends and family to establish the Wilson School Scholarship to benefit former Wilson students seeking higher education.

    A 1976 graduate of Whittier College, Penny moved to the Rogue Valley the same year. She and her husband, Kevin, are thankful for the family life they each enjoyed as children, for the blessings of raising two daughters in Southern Oregon and for newfound joys as grandparents! The Family Nurturing Center is a welcoming, supportive place to “strengthen families so that children can live safely and develop fully in their parents’ care.” It is a privilege to be a part of such an endeavor.

    Michelle Blum-Atkinson

    Michelle Blum-Atkinson

    Michelle grew up in Southern Oregon and is a mom of two young daughters. She became involved with the Family Nurturing Center through a partnership with the Friends of the Medford Library when she helped deliver donated books to a very enthusiastic classroom. Michelle joined the board because she wants to help every child in Southern Oregon have the opportunity to learn and thrive in a healthy environment. Michelle also serves on the boards of Kids Unlimited Academy and Medford Food Project.

    Michelle is a graduate of South Medford High School and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from University of Oregon. She is former co-owner of Procare Software, a local business that makes childcare management and accounting software.

      Valerie A. Ljungkvis, MD

      Valerie A. Ljungkvis, MD

      Valerie Ljungkvist is a local pediatrician who has been practicing in the Rogue Valley since 2005. She joined the Family Nurturing Center board in 2022.  

       Valerie grew up in Humboldt County California and has lived in, and traveled to, many places in the world before returning back to the Pacific Northwest to join her partners at Southern Oregon Pediatrics. 

       In her spare time she loves spending time going on adventures with her husband, daughter and son; eating and cooking good food; and looking for the small inspirations in her everyday life that spark creativity and joy. 

       “The Family Nurturing Center’s support of families and children, especially those who are going through stressful times, has such an important impact on the health of our community and is a beautiful extension of the work I do daily as a pediatrician. I am honored and thrilled to be a part of the board.” 

      Damien Rennie

      Damien Rennie

      Damien grew up in the Rogue Valley after his family moved here when he was 4-years-old. Graduating with honors from South Medford High School, he went on to pursue a business degree from the University of Oregon in Eugene. After two years of college, Damien was introduced to the game Texas Hold’em, and by 2005 was playing the largest stakes online poker had to offer. The following year, he went to the business side of the game, becoming a poker dealer/supervisor in Eugene and Las Vegas, even appearing on ESPN dealing the featured table during the World Series of Poker.

      In 2011, Damien decided to move back to Southern Oregon to be closer to family. In 2013, he re-enrolled at Southern Oregon University where he’s finishing that business degree, with a minor in Psychology and a Certificate in Applied Finance and Economics. In 2015, Damien wanted to use some of that casino experience to give back to Southern Oregon and formed Gamble-For-Good. The mission being to pair with Southern Oregon charities (like Family Nurturing Center) to form casino-themed events and send more money to where it counts!

      In his spare time, Damien will be found spending time with his son, Jordan, along with family and friends. He enjoys playing basketball, bowling, tennis, backpacking/camping and looks forward to improving his very rough golf game!

        Molly Bundy

        Molly Bundy

        Molly Bundy joined the Family Nurturing Center Board of Director’s in the fall of 2019 after volunteering with the FNC’s Farm and Food Program. She is a Supervisor at Costco in Medford, and a mother of four beautiful girls.

        Molly has the unique experience of having participated in several FNC programs including Therapeutic Early Childhood Classes for her three youngest daughters, Home Visiting, Respite Care, and participating in food groups and other parenting classes. Molly is a leader in the Parent Advisory Council, working to incorporate parent voices into the planning and mission of FNC. She is passionate about giving back to the community and helping other families find strength and support at FNC.

          Monica Morales

          Monica Morales

          Monica Morales, CFO of the Medical Eye Center, serves as our board treasurer and leads the finance committee. As a mother of two, Monica enjoys spending time with family, is an avid runner and flamenco dancer. Monica relocated to the US from Cadiz, Spain after falling in love with her spouse on a family vacation.

            Shala Helm

            Shala Helm

            (She/Her) 

            In May 2020, Shala fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming an attorney after graduating from the University of Oregon School of Law. Since graduating from law school, she has returned to her hometown of Medford and now works as a juvenile attorney at Southern Oregon Public Defender. Here, she is able to give back to her community and work with parents and children facing adversity. 

            Shala was thrilled at the opportunity to join the Board in 2022 after seeing firsthand the immense benefit the Family Nurturing Center and its services has on her clients and the community. She is inspired by the work being done at the Family Nurturing Center and looks forward to helping further its mission. 

            Don Kania

            Don Kania

            Don joined the board in 2019. He and his wife Renee moved to Southern Oregon in 2016 from the Portland area. They have 3 children and 2 grandchildren. On their small ranch, they breed quarter horses, raise Dexter cows, and have a 15 acre vineyard. Don is on the board of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the OHSU Foundation.

            Don and Renee met and married at the University of Michigan where Don received his Ph.D. in engineering and Renee her MSW. Don was a practicing scientist for 20 years before entering high tech management. He completed his management career as CEO of FEI Company (Nasdaq FEIC) in 2016 when the company was sold. Don currently advises several tech startups and is on the board of Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq ISRG).

            “Today many families are struggling with little hope of finding enough support to allow them to achieve stability. The Family Nurturing Center’s track record of success in the area is outstanding. The emerging plans on housing are visionary. The ongoing success of the FNC will continue to put families on a sustainable, positive path.”

              Laura Sutton

              Laura Sutton

              Growing up in a military family Laura was able to enjoy living in many wonderful places growing up.  She met her husband in North Carolina, and the moved to Bend, Oregon, where they were blessed with 3 wonderful children. Laura discovered early in her financial industry career the ability to use financial education and resources to help strengthen and stabilize families.  In Central Oregon she served on the board of many affordable housing nonprofits, and the local community action agency network.

              Laura and her family relocated to Medford in 2012, to continue her career in the banking industry.  When Linda Otto founded Grandmas2Go, Laura was so moved by their mission, she agreed to join their board.  Grandmas2Go® connects ‘women of wisdom and experience’ to become volunteer family coaches to support struggling new families to help their children thrive. When the Family Nurturing Center adopted the program, she joined the FNC as a member of the board.

                Hank O'Dougherty

                Hank O'Dougherty

                Hank O’Dougherty joined the Family Nurturing Center Board in 2020.

                Hank moved to Southern Oregon in 1989 and worked with Naumes, Inc. until 1998. He then joined Darex, LLC in Ashland as CEO until 2014. Since 2016 he has worked with Work Sharp (Darex) in the position of CFO. Hank graduated from University of the Pacific with a BS in Business Administration concentrating in accounting. He held a CPA license until 2016.

                He is the father of three adult children and enjoys most outdoor activities.

                Other board experience includes past President of the Mt. Ashland Association board and past President of the Siskiyou School board.

                “I have always wondered how I can be happy and fully enjoy life when many in our area are struggling. From my perspective, poverty is a huge drain on our community. By breaking the cycle of poverty through helping those that want help we can improve the quality of all our lives. Every child that gets off to a good start is one more helper in the future.”