Letter from the CEO and Board Chair

Dear Friends,

In 2017 Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) focused on our organization’s purpose to change the way the world defines and views disability by making profound positive differences in people’s lives every day.

Our services achieved many milestones in their support of the more than 10,000 people who rely on ESSC each day. Autism Therapy Services celebrated its fifth anniversary, having grown from a completely new service line to providing over 6,000 families and individuals with vital behavior, speech, occupational and physical therapy services. Adult Day Services began implementing a person-centered approach, revitalizing this service for both associates and participants. Our Bob Hope Veterans Support Program assisted its 500th veteran to gain employment and WorkFirst continues its outstanding efforts to support people with disabilities to find meaningful work. Living Options opened two new residential homes to support individuals moving out of institutions to community-based living. Our Child Development Services remain among the best offered and received exceptional federal quality reviews.

We launched the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge in partnership with actor/comedian and ESSC board member Nic Novicki. The Challenge addresses the underrepresentation of people with disabilities in film and television by giving filmmakers—with and without disabilities—the platform to collaborate, tell unique stories that showcase disability in its many forms and support Easterseals’ goal to change the way disability is viewed. The Challenge has connected Easterseals with new partners including SAG-AFTRA, CBS Entertainment Diversity, Deadline, Variety, United Talent Agency, Universal Pictures and Dell.

ESSC’s achievements extend to our fundraising efforts. We had significant growth in our Presidents’ Council, our premier donor giving program. The Strides for DisAbility run/walk saw a 33% increase in revenue and we launched our first-ever Comedy Night fundraising event.

All of these achievements furthered our purpose in many ways and positioned the organization to achieve more great things in the years to come. There is still much work to be done, but we are proud of all we have accomplished, and look forward to working together with our generous supporters, community partners and staff to make a positive, lasting impact in people’s everyday lives. As we prepare for Easterseals’ 100th anniversary next year, the future is bright!

With appreciation,

Easterseals board and staff at Disability Film Challenge Event

Easterseals Disability Film Challenge Logo
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Easterseals board and staff at the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge awards event. From left: CEO Mark Whitley, board members Mark Bertrand, Mary Platt, Chief Development Officer Nancy Weintraub, board members Jodi Huston and Andre Filip.

Group photo backstage at Fundraising comedy event

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Backstage at “A Night of Comedy” fundraising event at Irvine Improv Comedy Club are (from left): Steve Lee, Johnny Cardinale, Easterseals Board member Nic Novicki, D.J. Demers, Brian Swinehart and Cristela Alonzo.

There is still much work to be done, but we are proud of all we have accomplished, and look forward to working together with our generous supporters, community partners and staff to make positive, lasting impact in people’s everyday lives.

Strides for Disability Logo

Strides for DisAbility, formerly called Walk With Me, celebrated its 17th year.

CVS Health presenting Easterseals team with $4,000 donation check

Bob Hope Legacy LogoCVS Health presents a check at Petco Park in celebration of Easterseals Bob Hope Veterans Support Program’s (BHVSP) 500th employed veteran. From left: BHVSP founding donor Linda Hope; Chair/CEO, Joe Balla, Director of the Harbaugh Foundation; John Funk, Director, BHVSP; CEO Mark Whitley; Easterseals So Cal board member Doug Palmieri, CVS Pharmacy Regional Operations Manager; and client Tony Piazza, the 500th veteran to gain employment.

Board of Directors


Molly Pyott, Chair

Andre Filip, First Vice Chair

Mark Bertrand, Second Vice Chair

Hans Getty, Secretary

David Wolf, Treasurer


Maureen E. Cormier

Jodi Huston

Dr. Barsam Kasravi

Paul Kott

Kim Michel

Mike Murtaugh

Nic Novicki


Tony Pagano

Mary Platt

David Ritblatt

Beatriz Sandoval

Lewis Shiro

Claudia Villamizar

Jenni Wilson