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Kelly White

SPAC Chair Kelly White’s Experience Ensures Service Providers’ Viewpoint Heard on Lanterman Board

With over 20 years of experience working in a variety of areas in the field of developmental disabilities, Villa Esperanza Services CEO Kelly White has served on Lanterman Service Provider Advisory Committee for the past four years, and is currently the committee’s chair. In her role as chair, she is the sole representative of Lanterman’s service provider community on the board of directors.

White worked with youth and adults with mental illness in Minnesota and California. When she was offered the opportunity to manage a behavioral day program for adults in Orange County, she jumped at the chance and made the switch from mental health to developmental disabilities. After a couple of years, she then became a service coordinator at South Central Regional Center, where she worked for a year.

Looking for a shorter commute, White applied and was hired as a service coordinator at Lanterman in the Pasadena unit. She says, “While I was at Lanterman, I always carried a residential case load and gained valuable experience working with residential service providers, including Villa. The Center was very supportive of the staff pursuing their education, and I was also able to complete my master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at Phillips Graduate Institute.”

White spent five years at Lanterman before moving to Villa to become director of residential services. She adds, “It was a really nice transition as I knew many of the clients and families before I joined Villa.” During the past 13 years at Villa, a non-profit organization serving children, adults and seniors with developmental disabilities since 1961, White advanced to vice president of Adult Programs, followed by seven years as Villa’s chief operating officer, and one year ago to chief executive officer.

“I always wanted to work in human services and give back to the community. And I also felt it was important to work in the non-profit sector,” shares White. “Villa will be celebrating its 50th anniversary soon, and it’s important in this challenging economic time for all businesses, including non-profits, to look at how we do business and assess our systems and efficiencies. We need to have a business model, be mission driven and keep in mind our core values as we deliver quality cost-effective services to meet the individual needs of the community. This requires striking the right balance between the human element and the fiscal climate – and thinking outside of the box about different ways of providing services that offer the same benefit.”

White is also a member of a number of different coalitions and advocacy groups related to developmental disabilities. “I hear the perspectives of many different providers offering a range of services for children and adults with developmental disabilities during our meetings, which I believe makes me well positioned to represent the service provider community, ensuring we are heard by Lanterman’s board. I am glad that service providers’ viewpoints are a part of the decision-making process,” she explains.

Licensed with the state of California as a marriage and family therapist, White also operates a small private practice in Sherman Oaks. She enjoys skiing, scuba diving (warm water only), reading and just being outdoors.