Leadership Team

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Tara Peterson, 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 the YWCA Glendale and Pasadena, which strives to eliminate racism and empower women. Tara has played a pivotal role in revitalizing the agency’s 95-year legacy of supporting local women and girls by expanding programs and reach and igniting a change in the culture and conversation around gender and racial equity in Glendale and surrounding communities. Tara co-founded and leads the Coalition for an Anti-Racist Glendale, which helped draft the City of Glendale’s historic Sundown Town Resolution apologizing for its racially exclusionary history as a “sundown town.” Tara has led the YWCA since 2016 and is responsible for ensuring high quality outcomes, financial sustainability, organizational viability, and exceptional service delivery. During 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.

Tara 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. Tara is a fierce advocate and has a long track record of successfully advocating for legislative change on behalf of domestic violence victims and their children and leading system change initiatives to increase access to domestic violence services to underserved communities. Throughout her involvement in the Violence Against Women 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 exemplified by the YWCA 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, encompassing the intersection of domestic violence and communities of color, Tara has been called upon to deliver speeches on these topics and has presented at several state and national conferences. Tara 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.

Under Tara’s leadership, the YWCA was 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. The Coalition for an Anti-Racist Glendale was honored with the Housing Rights Summit 2021 Award for its work to pass the Sundown Town Resolution. In 2019, the YWCA was recognized with the Maria Jacobsen Humanitarian Award from the Armenian National Committee of America – Glendale Chapter. Tara has also been recognized for her excellence in leadership, receiving the following notable recognitions and awards: the 2021 25th Senate District Women Heroes of the Pandemic Award; 2019 25th Senate District Outstanding Non-Profit Executive Director Award; and the 2021 Soroptimist Glendale Wonderful Woman Award.

 

Heather Masterton, Chief Strategic Engagement Officer

As the Chief Strategic Engagement Officer, Heather oversees the YWCA Glendale and Pasadena’s fundraising strategies, develops the organization’s external messaging plans, and oversees the Development/Communications and Community Engagement Teams, leading key community events, campaigns, and engagement efforts. Heather brings over 25 years of experience in executive management and direct service experience in the field to end domestic violence. Prior to joining YWCA Glendale and Pasadena, she served as Vice President of Development of actress and activist, Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation, a national organization focused on ending sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. In this role, she oversaw national fundraising strategies, institutional giving, CA donor events and stewardship of regional major donor committees in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Her past leadership positions include: Executive Director of South Valley Sanctuary, a 57-bed domestic violence shelter program in Utah; Director of Development for Peace Over Violence, Los Angeles’ first rape crisis and domestic violence support center; and Statewide Coordinator of Domestic Violence Programming for 46 municipalities with the Mexican government’s national social services institution in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Heather is a graduate of Herbert Hoover High School and Glendale Community College, and holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She also holds a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) accreditation and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Heather is a founding board member of the Good Deed Corps, a nonprofit advancing nonpartisan voter education and registration efforts. She is also a core member of StandUp4America which produces “unique content for noble causes,” including celebrity videos, online events, and live variety shows to raise funds for progressive candidates and causes.

Tori Fisk, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer

As the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Tori ensures the day-to-day management of key functions including finance, accounting, human resources, technology and general business operations. Tori comes to our organization 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/or committee roles with various types of nonprofit organizations focused on membership, media arts, social/human services, and social enterprise models including A Place Called Home, International Documentary Association, and National Assistance League. Tori 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, Director of Domestic Violence Programs and Operations

Elizabeth 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. Elizabeth has always had 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. There she supported low-income families through positive engagement, serving as a liaison between school administrations, community agencies and families.

Fabiola Montiel-Tellez, Director of Racial and Gender Equity

Fabiola Montiel-Tellez is the inaugural Director of Racial & Gender Equity at YWCA Glendale and Pasadena. She oversees the creation and delivery of racial and gender equity programming in alignment with the YWCA mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, and dignity for all, and YWCA’s public policy and advocacy agenda. Fabiola 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. Fabiola’s recent work experience was as Community Relations Manager 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. Fabiola also served as Educator Coordinator at UCLA LOSH, a worker leader program to improve health and safety conditions for workers in Southern California, and as Communications Officer at First 5 LA. 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.