Behind every successful organization are the people who won't settle for anything less. Founders, Xylina Bean, Kathy Icenhower, and Norma Mtume, harnessed this spirit when they formed SHIELDS. Today, the executive leaders of SHIELDS continue to break the mold, with 8 women leaders, 4 of which were part of the original management team - still in place and going strong. They credit their success as a team to their shared vision, a commitment to the organization's mission, and a passion for helping children, families and communities through innovative service delivery models.
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Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Kathryn Icenhower co-founded SHIELDS for Families with Dr. Xylina Bean and Norma Mtume, MA in the late 1980’s and officially incorporated the agency in 1991. Since then, SHIELDS has grown under her leadership to employ 380 staff with a $26 million dollar annual budget to provide comprehensive services through 35 programs across 15 locations for over 7,000 families annually.
Kathryn received her BSSW from Ohio State University and her MSW and PhD from the University of Southern California. She has worked in the substance abuse and child welfare fields for over thirty years in both clinical and administrative positions and has remained at the forefront of the field as an advocate for innovative, comprehensive and collaborative services for high-risk communities.
Under Dr. Icenhower’s guidance, SHIELDS programs have been nationally recognized and used as models by federal, state and local entities including HUD, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. In addition, SHIELDS has been recognized in special reports by the Children’s Defense Fund, the Washington Health Foundation, the National Economic Development and Law Center, Little Hoover Commission, and the Rockefeller Foundation for its innovative and effective models of service. SHIELDS has also been featured in articles in the Los Angeles Times, Parade Magazine and in local and national television features, including CNN, “Life Moments”, “A Place of our Own”, “48 Hours” and “Vh1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew”. SHIELDS has also received numerous awards from notable sources for its cost-efficiency, innovative programming, women’s empowerment, and more.
Kathryn sits on numerous local, state, and federal coalitions and advisory boards. She is a member of the California State Child Welfare Council, and was a founding member of the California Perinatal Treatment Network and the National Family Centered Treatment Director’s Coalition. She was also appointed by the California Speaker of the Assembly as a Commissioner for the State’s Children’s and Families Commission (First 5 CA) in 2011. Dr. Icenhower also serves as a consultant for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) and the National Registry for Evidenced Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) and has assisted the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) with policy development for Family Centered Treatment, as well as providing technical assistance on child welfare initiatives nationally through Casey Family Programs.
In 2005, Dr. Icenhower was given an “Innovator Award” from CSAT for her work in Family Centered Treatment. In 2009, she received the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for her piloting efforts in the child welfare and substance abuse fields. In 2011, Dr. Icenhower was recognized by Los Angeles Magazine as one of the 50 most influential women in Los Angeles.
Norma Mtume is the co-founder, Chief Financial and Operations Officer for SHIELDS for Families. She is also a co-founder of the SHIELDS Housing Corporation and UMMA Community Clinic, a federally qualified health clinic in South Los Angeles. Norma received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health sciences and safety studies, with an emphasis in administration, from California State University, Los Angeles. In addition, she has a master’s in marital and family therapy from Pacific Oaks College, with a certification in African American family studies.
A Los Angeles native, Norma has dedicated her professional career to helping nonprofit organizations succeed. For more than 35 years, she has shared her expertise in substance-abuse prevention and treatment services, as well as in administration, including operations, financial management, and human resources and administrative services. She serves as a national mentor for SAMHSA’s Women’s Addiction Services Leadership institute and mentors women across the nation.
Norma’s transformative leadership was recognized in 2006 and 2007 by the Durfee Foundation, which rewards creativity and risk-taking. She received the foundation’s Stanton Fellowship, a prestigious award that allows a select group of professionals to address intractable problems in their field and to develop solutions that will improve life for the people of Los Angeles. Concerned with the graying leadership in the nonprofit sector, Norma’s fellowship allowed her to research and develop the Emerging Leaders of South Los Angeles Project to train future nonprofit executives, with an emphasis on training young people of color in South Los Angeles. She continues to provide training and mentoring for young staff working in nonprofits across the nation to develop a new cadre of leaders who will continue innovation and excellence in the sector.
In 2012, Norma received the “Maya Angelou Award” from the Coalition of Mental Health Professionals, for being an inspirational leader in community healthcare and working to eliminate healthcare disparities. She was also recognized in 2012 by the California Black Women’s Health Project and received the “Women Who Dared: Our Legacy & Our Future Award” for leadership work in the field of women’s health.
Vice President of Program Development and Quality Improvement, Sara Tienda came to SHIELDS for Families in the fall of 1991 as an Administrative Graduate Student Intern from California State University, Long Beach’s Department of Social Work. As an intern, Ms. Tienda was the primary writer of a proposal to the Los Angeles County, Department of Children Services for a Community Family Preservation Program. SHIELDS was awarded the grant and became one of the two original providers of Family Preservation services for the city of Compton.
In July of 1992, Sara came on board full-time as Coordinator and later as Director of Program Development. During this tenure, Sara was responsible for the clinical oversight, contract and documentation compliance and training, and development of resources, policies, and procedures for all programs.
Sara became the first Director of Mental Health Services in 1999 until she was later promoted to Assistant Director of SHIELDS in 2003 where her primary responsibilities included overseeing quality assurance, and intake and assessment services. Sara was promoted to her current Vice President position in 2012 where she currently oversees program development activities and quality improvement for all of SHIELDS.
Sara Tienda is an expert in the provision of child welfare, mental health, and substance abuse services in high-risk communities such as South Los Angeles. Throughout her career, she has worked as a social work field instructor and participated on many committees for Los Angeles County, Department of Mental Health and Children and Family Services. Sara has provided technical assistance to substance abuse programs both locally and nationally, and has presented at national conferences on Family Centered Treatment and Up-Front Assessments in relation to the child welfare field.
Prior to coming to SHIELDS for Families, Sara worked as a secretary and then as a counselor at Westside Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled in Culver City, California (1988-1992). Her first paid job in social services was at the Volunteer Center of Orange County-North in Fullerton, California (1986-1988). At the Volunteer Center, Sara worked with both community volunteers and with the agency’s Court Referral/Alternative Sentencing Program.
Sara was born and raised in Orange County, California and received her Bachelor Degree in Sociology from California State University, Fullerton and her Master Degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach.
Vice President of Family and Community Services, Charlene Smith joined SHIELDS for Families in 1991 as the Child Development Coordinator for the Genesis Day Treatment Program.
In 1993, Charlene was promoted to Child Development Director overseeing all Child Development services for the agency. In 2001, Ms. Smith took oversight of the federal HRSA Healthy Start Program, under the auspices of SHIELDS. Charlene was promoted to her current Vice President position in 2012 where she currently manages nine programs within the Child Development Division, including four collaborative programs. In addition to her duties at SHIELDS, Ms. Smith continues to also serve on various local, county and governmental committees pertaining to maternal, child and adolescent health.
Charlene hails from Ohio where she studied Early Childhood Education at Kent State University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1979. She taught in the public school system of Oberlin, Ohio for many years before relocating to Los Angeles where she returned to graduate school and received her Master Degree in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling from Phillips Graduate Institute.
Director of Substance Abuse, Da-Londa Groenow joined SHIELDS in 1993 as a driver in transportation services for clients.
Da-Londa quickly worked her way up through the ranks from driver, to program manager, to her current promotion to Director in 2012 where she became responsible for overseeing nationally recognized Family Centered substance abuse treatment, prevention, criminal justice and recovery programs that provide services to a variety of clients, including women and their families and adolescents with co-occurring disorders.
Da-Londa is an expert in managing family-centered services. She has been able to develop a unique style which focuses on collaborative involvement and strategic planning that allow for flexible solutions for service delivery. In addition, she has been recognized by the County of Los Angeles Department of Mental Health for successful interagency collaboration, leadership, and recruitment activities.
Da-Londa is known as a high-energy, client-oriented, and goal-driven executive. Her story of success is a testament to her community that the possibilities are endless through hard work, dedication, education, and faith and reflects the SHIELDS motto of Believing, Building, and Becoming…
Da-Londa, who was born and raised in Compton CA, still resides there today. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services at California State University, Dominguez Hills, a Master of Arts in Behavioral Science at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and an additional Master of Arts in Management at University of Redlands.
Director of Mental Health, Katherine Erickson started at SHIELDS as the Manager of the School Based Mental Health Program.
Katherine has worked for SHIELDS Mental Health programs for 13 years and was promoted to her current position as Director in 2012. Katherine specializes in providing evidence-based mental health services for children, families, and individuals in high-risk communities. Katherine’s goal is to help programs adapt to the rapidly occurring changes in the mental health services industry.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) for over 20 years, Katherine has spent most of that time providing, managing and overseeing comprehensive mental health services in South Los Angeles. Some of her previous experience includes working in County, private and non-profit settings such as Kaiser Watts Counseling and Learning Center, LACUSC Hospital Emergency Services, and Augustus Hawkins Mental Health Center.
Katherine is a native Californian who grew up in Huntington Beach and Simi Valley. She received a Bachelor’s Degree from University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master’s Degree from California State University, Long Beach. She is enjoys photography and traveling.
Director of Human Resources, Deanette Brewer joined SHIELDS for Families in 2010. Her responsibilities include overseeing and directing the overall provisions of Human Resource services, policies and programs for the agency.
Having acquired extensive human resource management experience within a non-profit academic institution, she was a key participant in the facilitation and implementation of new technologies, efficiency processes and infrastructure improvements to achieve organizational goals. Since arriving at SHIELDS, Deanette has been instrumental in ensuring the agency is compliant with all regulatory HR requirements and is a strategic business partner with synergy as her focus. She keeps her thumb on the pulse of human resource trends and best practices. In addition to her duties at SHIELDS, she is also an active member of several Human Resource professional organizations.
Deanette is a native of Compton, CA. She received her Bachelor Degree from Wiley College, located in Marshall, Texas, “the home of the Great Debaters”, then received her national professional human resources certification in 2010. In addition to having over 25 years of human resources experience, Deanette enjoys volunteering for organizations that provide support services to teen mothers and adult women. Her passion is mentoring teenagers and young adult women. Deanette’s personal mantra is “service is the rent we pay for being alive” – Marian Wright Edelman
Director of Accounting, Cynthia Lee, joined SHIELDS in 2012.
Cynthia has gained over 20 years of experience as a professional in a variety of corporate positions and industries which has provided her with a strong knowledge of GAAP and general accounting skills.
Cynthia is originally from the South and received a Bachelor Degree in Accounting and Business Administration from CSUDH and a Master Degree in Non-profit Leadership from Azusa Pacific University.