Chief Executive Officer
Tara Peterson is a recognized expert in the field of violence against women and is responsible for the executive and administrative leadership of YWCA Glendale and Pasadena. Peterson has played a pivotal role in revitalizing the organization’s 95-year legacy of supporting local women and girls by expanding programs and igniting a change in the culture and conversation around gender and racial equity in Glendale, Pasadena, and surrounding communities. Peterson co-founded and leads the Coalition for an Anti-Racist Glendale, which helped draft Glendale’s historic Sundown Town Resolution in 2020. In the resolution, the city apologized for its racially exclusionary history as a “sundown town.” This work earned the Coalition Housing Rights Summit Award the following year.
Peterson has led YWCA since 2016 and is responsible for ensuring high quality outcomes, financial sustainability, organizational viability, and exceptional service delivery. Under Peterson’s leadership, YWCA was recognized with the Maria Jacobsen Humanitarian Award from the Armenian National Committee of America – Glendale Chapter, and named the 2020 Nonprofit of the Year for Assembly District 43 for its work in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and to the community’s calls for racial justice. During her tenure, she has grown the organization’s operating budget from $1.3 million to $3 million and led the successful 2021 merging of the YWCA Glendale and YWCA Pasadena Foothill Valley subsidiary relationship, and the organization’s subsequent name change to YWCA Glendale and Pasadena.
Peterson brings more than 20 years of experience addressing domestic violence, youth violence, sexual assault, and reproductive rights. She spent a decade working at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, including five years as its Executive Director, leading statewide policy, legislative, and budget advocacy efforts. She is a fierce advocate with a long track record of successfully advocating for legislative change on behalf of survivors and their children, including leading initiatives to increase access to domestic violence services in underserved communities. Throughout her involvement in this movement, Tara has been called upon to advocate at the federal and state level to secure resources and funding to address the social justice issues amplified in YWCA’s mission.
She represents YWCA Glendale and Pasadena in advocacy efforts at the California State Capitol and with legislative policy makers in Washington D.C. As a recognized expert in the field of Violence Against Women, she encompasses the intersection of domestic violence and communities of color, and has been called upon to deliver speeches on these topics and has presented at several state and national conferences.
Peterson obtained her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sacramento in Ethnic Studies while on a full-ride softball scholarship. She also holds a master’s degree in Multi-Cultural Education. She has been recognized for her excellence in leadership, receiving the following notable recognitions and awards: the 25th Senate District Women Heroes of the Pandemic Award, the 25th Senate District Outstanding Non-Profit Executive Director Award, and the Soroptimist Glendale Wonderful Woman Award.
As our current Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Tori Fisk is responsible for managing our $3.6 million operating budget, safeguarding our assets, and ensuring sound and ethical financial management and reporting to the Board of Directors. She will step in as the Co-Interim Director during Tara Peterson’s sabbatical and will continue to provide financial and administrative leadership to our finance and human resources team, while also being responsible for maintaining vendor and consultant relationships, and work with the board to ensure strong management practices, appropriate governance infrastructure, and ethical culture are maintained. She will continue to ensure our corporate and stewardship responsibilities are fulfilled by working in partnership with our development team and board of directors.
In her role as the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Fisk ensures the day-to-day management of key functions including finance, accounting, human resources, technology, and general business operations. She came to YWCA Glendale and Pasadena as an accomplished senior management executive with many years of accounting, finance, and business operations experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Not only does she have deep expertise in business infrastructure, administrative management, and operational technology, she is also a process improvement expert. Tori is passionate about social justice, advocacy, and the importance of building stronger communities through social services. She has held leadership, board, and committee roles with nonprofit organizations focused on membership, media arts, social and human services, and social enterprise models including A Place Called Home, International Documentary Association, and National Assistance League. Fisk has a B.A. in Economics from UC Santa Cruz. She is also a CFO Leadership Council member and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) member, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus.
Elizabeth Sahagun oversees YWCA Glendale and Pasadena’s domestic violence community resource center, 24/7 crisis hotline, and its 16-bed emergency shelter. In this role, Elizabeth supervises all residential and non-residential case management, advocacy, therapeutic and legal services for adults and children. She played an instrumental role in transitioning the YWCA’s community services to telehealth platforms at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and in creating responsive programming to address the shadow pandemic of violence against women and children that resulted in an unprecedented demand for services. With her leadership, the shelter remained operational throughout the pandemic, ensuring that survivors had a safe refuge to heal.
Sahagun is responsible for overseeing $2.6 million in government contracts, by ensuring program and administrative compliance. Additionally, she provides leadership and supervision to the entire domestic violence team which includes case management, outreach and education, legal services, clinical services, an emergency shelter, and a housing and financial assistance program.
As Co-Interim Director, Sahagun will continue to ensure YWCA Glendale and Pasadena is a responsive program partner with our national, state, and local funding agencies, oversee operations at our Lexington campus and Sunrise Village Emergency Shelter, and maintain our existing collaborative partnerships to address domestic violence within the Cities of Glendale and Pasadena.
Sahagun has always held a strong commitment to promoting healthy communities. Prior to working with YWCA Glendale and Pasadena, she worked as a traveling program supervisor and program coach with L.A.’s BEST for 12 years. While there, she supported low-income families through positive engagement and served as a liaison between school administrations, community agencies, and families.
Fabiola Montiel-Tellez is the inaugural Director of Racial and Gender Equity at YWCA Glendale and Pasadena. She oversees all of our policy advocacy and gender and racial equity programs, including our Girls’ Empowerment Program. During Tara Peterson’s sabbatical, she will step in as the Interim Director of Policy and Communications, taking on key leadership functions and serving as the primary lead for informing and shaping YWCA Glendale and Pasadena’s policy positions for external audiences. Montiel-Tellez will serve as our policy point of contact at the national and state level and respond to any media requests related to federal and state legislative policy matters. She will work in partnership with other key staff, community stakeholders, and volunteers to ensure that our communications work is fully integrated into our programs and board-approved policy agenda.
Montiel-Tellez has over a decade of experience in multicultural communication and organizational leadership. She has worked on gender-based violence prevention, advocacy and policy change, early childhood systems change, and community transformation. Her recent work experience was as the Community Relations Manager and Communications Officer at First 5 LA, an early childhood advocacy and systems change agency. She developed strategies to build collaborative projects with civic organizations to advocate for early childhood well-being across issues and industry sectors and served as spokesperson for educational and advocacy campaigns. Montiel-Tellez also served as Education Coordinator at UCLA LOSH, a worker leader program to improve health and safety conditions for workers in Southern California. She was a violence prevention educator and counselor advocate at Peace Over Violence, a rape crisis and domestic violence support center. Fabiola started her social justice career as a Universities Campaign Coordinator for Partido Alternativa Socialdemócrata in Mexico City, a progressive political party.
Fabiola holds a Master of Arts in organizational leadership with a concentration in civic engagement from Claremont Lincoln University and a Bachelor of Arts in communication science from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. She is a board member of Esperanza Community Housing, a community development social justice organization in South Central Los Angeles.