The Glue

Monica Utley teenager

I AM EMPATHETIC
My Age in this Photo: 17

Monica
Utley

Executive Director
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Monica Utley is currently serving as Executive Director for Tilly’s Life Center (TLC) where she joined in June of 2015 in an effort to build awareness for their mission and help grow the organization. With 14 years previous experience in youth culture as the Director of Marketing for Tillys national retail chain, Monica brings a unique and authentic perspective to the charity. At Tillys, she was instrumental in developing the company’s overall marketing team and efforts – laying the groundwork for a successful retail, direct mail and online business. Monica was also a key player in the preparation and outreach surrounding Tillys’ Initial Public Offering in May of 2012.
Prior to Tillys, Monica worked at PureMarkets in San Francisco as their Marketing Manager during the innovative Dot.Com boom and as Marketing Coordinator at Kingworld Productions in New York City. In line with Monica’s unique and varying interests, she hold a B.A. in Psychology, with an emphasis on Neuropharmacology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Monica currently lives in the beautiful canyons of Orange County with her husband and young son.

Amy Diaz teenager

I AM POSITIVE
My Age in this Photo: 17

Amy
Diaz

Development Director
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Amy Diaz was born and raised in the heart of the action sports industry. Currently serving as the Development Director for Tilly’s Life Center (TLC), she is responsible for the organization’s fundraising and outreach efforts. With a keen sense of organization, event marketing and relationship-building experience, Amy brings a fresh and innovative approach to TLC’s overall marketing strategy.
Previously at Tillys for over 20 years, Amy held multiple roles as Women’s Branded Merchant where she was instrumental in developing the women’s business and as the company’s first Fashion Coordinator, driving key seasonal trends and identifying potential business opportunities. Amy was also involved in shaping the overall marketing direction of the company. Amy holds a B.A. in Business from Chapman University where she focused on Organizational Leadership. She currently resides in San Juan Capistrano with her husband and three young sons.

Christine Carey teenager

I AM CREATING A GLOBAL MOVEMENT
My Age in this Photo: 15

Christine Carey

Curriculum Development Director
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Christine Carey has been involved with teaching and guidance in the field of recovery for over 20 years. She produced and hosted a television program, Solutions, where she provided social-interest interviews addressing solutions to current maladies through education and guidance for those seeking a healthier life. The programs focus was to also help promote charitable organizations. She was a contributing journalist for the accompanying magazine.
Christine is licensed to facilitate groups, conduct workshops and coach individuals, and holds a Heal Your Life Workshop Leader Certification. She has developed tailored curriculums based on the philosophies of Louise Hay. Her programs present life healing techniques through educational activities and exercises enabling participants to create self-appreciation.

Beth LaVallee teenager

I AM PASSIONATE
My Age in this Photo: 17

Beth
LaVallee

Program Administrator
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Beth is currently the Program Administrator and Lead Facilitator for Tilly’s Life Center (TLC) working with the team of program facilitators to empower teens by teaching them life skills that build confidence, inspire compassion, and encourage them to pursue their dreams. Beth has always had an affinity to help people change their lives. She has been educating and inspiring the fitness industry for over 30 years. As the former Education Director for a California based fitness company she oversaw the mentoring and training of the Master Trainer team. She worked with fitness facilities across the country to bring fitness programing to their facilities and educating hundreds of fitness instructors. She also presented at top industry conventions, is featured on several fitness videos and contributed to a fitness based internet TV and blog. As a past high school cheer coach Beth loved working with student athletes cultivating the rewards of cohesive teamwork which inspired dedication to something larger than themselves. With her training as a certified Nutritionist, Heal Your Life® Workshop Leader and Life Coach Beth has guided many to a healthier way of life; mentally, physically and spiritually.

Jennifer-Annes-17

I AM OPTIMISTIC
My Age in this Photo: 17

Jennifer Annes

Development Administrator
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Jennifer Annes has been involved in working with youth for over 20 years. She is passionate about making sure that each individual knows how much potential they have. She has opened her home to children and teens of all ages from the foster care system, juvenile programs, and international students. Jennifer began her career in retail management and explored other areas such as real estate and banking before gaining a strong desire to work supporting teens in environments with missions she believed in. She was the director of a crisis line as well as the director of an international student exchange program. As soon as she found out about Tilly’s Life Center, she knew that she needed to become part of the TLC family. She lives in Irvine with her husband and oldest daughter. She has three children and a grandchild on the way.

Chris French

I AM INSPIRED
My Age in this Photo: 15

Chris
French

Program Coordinator
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Chris French has worked with thousands of elementary, middle, and high school youth for over 20 years. Along with directing summer camps and after school programs, his endeavors include creating character development programs for schools and youth based companies. Additionally he has successfully managed fundraising events, capitol campaigns, and collaborations with local communities. Through his passion for helping youth obtain their highest potential Chris created an educational program called BNICE. His program is offered in elementary schools across the nation, introducing students to his simple, yet powerful message of ‘being nice”. Also a children’s musician, he’s performed in front of thousands of kids at camps, community and school events. He is inspired by the work good people do everyday to make this world a better place.

Jacqueline Kerr

I AM MAKING AN IMPACT
My Age in this Photo: 15

Jacqueline Kerr

Operations Assistant
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Jacqueline Kerr is a true California native and is currently the Operations Assistant at Tilly’s Life Center. She was born and raised in Orange County and crossed paths with TLC for the first time when she was in high school. Jacqueline’s involvement with non-profit organizations began early on and continued through high school and college, where she was a member of a co-ed community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Upon graduation from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2016, Jacqueline returned to her roots in Orange County with her degree in Psychology and Communication.

Prior to TLC Jacqueline interned for the Pacific Symphony under the Senior Executive for Special Campaigns & Major Gifts. This experience was the perfect combination of her passion for the arts and non-profit involvement. Jacqueline further pursued her desire to improve the lives of others and joined the marketing department of WHW. Here she took advantage of social media and online networking to increase awareness and the online presence of WHW. Jacqueline has experience both working and volunteering for non-profits and a lifelong passion for dance and the arts. She brings her desire and willingness to help others and Orange County roots with her every day to help empower teens at TIlly’s Life Center.

The Facilitators

Jose Antonio Covarrubias

I AM STRONG
My Age in this Photo: 16

Jose Antonio
Covarrubias

Lead Facilitator
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Jose Antonio Covarrubias is a co-facilitator at TLC with a BA in Psychology. After having taught a writing workshop for Models of Pride, his interest for working with youth piqued. He has been writing for the last ten years and would love to share his skills and passion for the craft with others. Having worked in West Hollywood for the last seven years, his writing deals with the many issues and virtues surrounding the gay experience. He looks forward to becoming an English teacher and inspiring others to learn the true wonders of writing. He also dreams of one day collaborating with his idol and beacon of hope and support for the LGBT youth, Lady Gaga.

Wannessa Badger teenager

I AM A GIVER
My Age in this Photo: 14

Wannessa
Badger

Lead Facilitator
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Wannessa Badger earned her degree in Child Development and Family Studies at California State University, Long Beach. She also earned a certificate in Family Life Education. Wannessa’s understanding of the complexities wired into coming-of-age for teenagers and the related challenges that families can face during those growing times are the driving forces behind her passion to help. Wannessa believes in sharing education that can support the individual, the family, and our community.

Justin Brusca

I AM SUPERSTAR
My Age in this Photo: 18

Justin
Brusca

Lead Facilitator
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Justin M. Brusca: Actor, Writer, Comedian, Virtual Vaudevillian, Father, Scorpio, Southern California Native. Justin has always sought to entertain people, from childhood to present day. Throughout his acting studies, Justin has participated in various workshop in New York, Texas and California, both in performance and self success. Justin also has a passion for traveling, cooking and Kung Fu.

Jill Hillabrant teenager

I AM HAPPY
My Age in this Photo: 18

Jill Hillabrant

Lead Facilitator
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Jill is a graduate of Michigan State University where she majored in Behavioral Sciences & Education. She has been in education ever since. She has taught elementary school, junior high and currently teaches Basic Math & English for Capistrano Adult School. She has also worked for Mira Costa College at Camp Pendleton, where she taught marines to help them earn their high school diplomas. Jill has always been passionate about her students and truly enjoys helping them.

Sarah Noone teenager

I AM EMPOWERED
My Age in this Photo: 18

Sarah
Noone

Lead Facilitator
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Sarah Noone is a participating co-facilitator with a BA in Film Production & Media Studies from California State University, Long Beach. During her college career, she won several awards for her documentary films and research in film and feminism. Born in Orange County, to Irish parents, Sarah lived in Europe, San Francisco and New York due to an illustrious career in the fashion industry. Currently, she is writing a book about the Val de Travers region in Switzerland, and is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children.

Kiki Remsen Cates teenager

I AM BRAVE
My Age in this Photo: 18

Kiki Remsen Cates

Lead Facilitator
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Kiki Remsen Cates started her career in the motion picture industry as an actress. She had roles in sitcoms, film, and theatre. Her vast experience as an educator and acting coach has enhanced her gifts of bringing laughter and light to others. Her passion is educating others through building self-esteem and empowering young people with diverse backgrounds, to reach their true sense of self through her artistry of acting and education.

Chris Tompkins teenager

I AM WORTHY
My Age in this Photo: 12

Chris Tompkins

Lead Facilitator
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With more than 15 years of professional business, leadership, and community advocate experience, Chris Tompkins is on a road trip to love. No really, both literally and figuratively. He’s the owner of A Road Trip to Love, a spiritually-based business whose mission is to reconnect folks with their spirituality or help them to find it for the first time through coaching, teaching, workshops, and speaking. Chris is also a licensed Heal Your Life Workshop Leader, which is what led him to begin facilitating with Tilly’s Life Center. Chris has a lot of experience working with youth and is very passionate about this work. He strongly believes getting kids to really love and appreciate themselves is the most important thing we can do. Chris does a lot of work with the LGBT community and believes that using spiritually-based principals is the answer to anything from bullying to marriage equality. He is currently enrolled in a Practitioner Training with Project: Service Los Angeles, a spiritual leadership program based in LA. He’s excited to be facilitating with Tilly’s Life Center and honored to be able to share this life-enhancing information to kids all over.

Nathalie Eshel

I AM AN ETERNAL OPTIMIST
My Age in this Photo: 16

Nathalie
Eshel

Co-Facilitator
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Nathalie was born in Paris and immigrated to Israel as a young child. When she was 18, Nathalie enlisted in the military and served for three years. She was a lieutenant in the Air Force and served as a women’s officer in charge of the well-being of 300 women soldiers.

Nathalie got her B.A degree in English/ French Literature and Linguistics from Beer Sheva University (Israel) and became a high school teacher in one of the well-known secondary high schools in Israel. She launched the school’s debate program, won a national tournament and was appointed social activity and extra curricular activity coordinator for the sophomore grade (300 students).

In 1998, Nathalie relocated with her family to Boston, MA. In 2001, she completed her M.Ed in Special Needs (5-12) and started to work at Dearborn Academy, a Trauma based therapeutic day school for students with emotional and behavioral issues. Nathalie managed multiple areas of education including classroom teaching, curriculum development, student career preparation, Individual Educational Plan (IEP) development, behavior management and new teacher mentoring.

As an educator she was dedicated to the creation of a stable learning environment for the student and motivating them to be their best. Nathalie is an energetic, resourceful, team-oriented teaching professional with genuine interest in students’ cognitive and social growth.
Recently, she taught workshops at Middlebury College Vermont and trained Hebrew teachers (in the Master’s program) on how to integrate students with learning disabilities in the regular classroom.

Additionally, Nathalie is a certified sleep trainer for babies and young children and teaches parents how to achieve a full night sleep for themselves and for their children.

Wendy Katz

I AM COMPASSIONATE
My Age in this Photo: 15

Wendy
Katz

Co-Facilitator
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It’s been said by many that Wendy has never met a stranger! Her warmth & friendliness make her easily approachable and a safe haven for sharing & comfort. Wendy graduated high school in three years, starting college at the young age of sixteen. It’s no wonder that she chose to major in Communication, as she was a leader in both her sorority and in her partner fraternity, often coaching fellow students through stressful times. Growing up in New York gave Wendy a solid foundation in conflict management and a respect-worthy resume in Sales & Marketing. Wendy earned a scholarship in the department of Communication at New York University, at the graduate level, followed by a fellowship that placed her in the position of Teaching Fellow. While earning her Master of Arts degree, she taught classes in Interpersonal Communication; Presentation Skills; Conflict Resolution, Intercultural Communication & Non-Verbal Communication. Wendy has been a Girl Scout Leader for five years and uses all of her skills to manage her growing Girl Scouts. She also is a successful jewelry designer. Being a part of Tilly’s Life Center is the fulfillment of all of her life’s experience, work and heart!

Ralph Rangel teenager

I AM WELL ON MY WAY
My Age in this Photo: 17

Ralph
Rangel

Co-Facilitator
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Ralph Rangel is a two-time cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient. Ralph knows firsthand the emotional and physical struggles many teens experience when dealing with a life threatening or chronic illness. Ralph is Tilly’s Life Center’s first student graduate to join the TLC team as a facilitator. He currently co- facilitates the “I Am Healthy” program at CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange. Ralph’s goal is to give former and current hospitalized teens courage and encouragement by sharing his experience.
Ralph is attending Irvine Valley College. He is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.

Tania Valtierra

I AM A WORTHY, CONFIDENT, POWERFUL LEADER
My Age in this Photo: 16

Tania
Valtierra

Co-Facilitator
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Tania Valtierra is a Licensed Psychotherapist practicing in Los Angeles and Orange County. Tania earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from California State University Los Angeles and her Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Mount St. Mary’s University. Tania has over fifteen years of experience providing a wide range of professional services to low socioeconomic and culturally diverse communities, including the community she was raised in. Tania has personally participated in personal development workshops, which she believes positively changed and powerfully impacted her life. Tania’s vision for the world is that every single teen knows that they matter because they are a beautiful gift to this world with individual special talents they get to share with the world.

Isabella Haden

I AM POWERFUL
My Age in this Photo: 18

Isabella
Haden

Assistant Facilitator
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Isabella was a soccer star and was being trained by the LA Galaxy, a professional soccer team in Los Angeles. With straight A’s and a bright light ahead, she was devastated to learn she had cancer in the 6th grade. After numerous surgeries, treatment and tremendous loss, Isabella went back to school to try to get her life back.  It was a very rough transition and she found that not only did her peers not understand her situation, but they teased her and called her names once her hair started growing back. Concerned for her daughter, her mother enrolled her into TLC.  It took a while for Isabella to get her footing, but once she realized that the program actually cared, she has come to realize the benefits that will continue to help her into her adult life. She is excited to be an Assistant Facilitator where she can share her experience with others.  Isabella still loves soccer, paddle boarding and is on her school’s varsity culinary team. Her favorite color is purple and her dream vacation is in Fiji. “Be who you want to be and you’ll figure out who you’re destined to be.”

Cristian Marron

I AM POWERFUL
My Age in this Photo: 18

Cristian
Marron

Assistant Facilitator
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Cristian Marron, a graduate of Dana Hills High School and all three Phases of Tilly’s Life Center (TLC)’s “I Am Me” program. Most recently, Cristian participated in TLC’s Ambassador program and has come full circle to give back to the curriculum that helped empower him to be the teen he is today. He currently serves at an Assistant Facilitator at TLC. Cristian is passionate about photography, helping others and is active in student leadership.

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