Staff & Board
The Los Angeles House of Ruth (LAHR) Support Staff and Lead Personnel, along with our Board of Directors, share a common goal: to empower women to move from abuse and dependency to success and independence.
Our Executive Director
Jennifer Gaeta, SSS, LCSW, has over 38 years of nonprofit management experience in Los Angeles County, 27 of which have been spent as the Executive Director of LAHR. Her earlier nonprofit management experience includes positions as the Executive Director of the Chris Brownlee Aids Hospice and the Executive Director of the Regis House Community Center. Ms. Gaeta has also held supervisory, direct-service, and clinical positions at St. John’s Child Study Center, Los Angeles County Mental Health Clinic, Stella Maris Adult Day Treatment Program, and Camp Mariastella.
Our Lead Personnel and Support Staff
LAHR employs 18 full-time and 5 part-time Support Staff members who provide 24-hour services to our families. These trusted members of our team serve with empathy while modeling success to our clients. Additionally, our Executive Director, Project Manager, and Finance Director bring professional organizational skills to LAHR.
The heart of our program is found within the loving care of our Case Managers, Child Care Staff and Overnight Client Supervisors. Half of our staff are former clients and know the stress and the needs of our population intimately. It is unique to have so many former clients in direct service to client families.
Our Project Manager has 18 years of experience helping families obtain permanent housing, and has been with LAHR for 9 years. She is highly sensitive to the obstacles faced by homeless and low-income families. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from UCLA.
Our Finance Director oversees all aspects of LAHR’s finances. She holds a Master of Business Administration in Nonprofit Management & Marketing from Northwestern University.
LAHR’s Support Staff includes Licensed Clinical Social Workers, childcare staff, case managers, night and weekend staff. All Child Care Staff members are qualified in Early Childhood Development and certified in First Aid and CPR.
Our Board of Directors
LAHR is overseen by an extremely dedicated volunteer Board of Directors who generously give of their time and personal resources. Every Board member has a strong community presence in Los Angeles County.
Anthony Saldana holds an MBA from Whittier College. He brings extensive knowledge and skills honed by a 40-year career in operating and manufacturing. He has a strong presence in the Los Angeles community through board member affiliations with The Commerce Industrial Council, Salesian High School, The Rio Hondo Boys & Girls Club, and The Southeast Community Development Corporation.
Joanne Saldana holds a MA in Reading and Literacy Skills as well as a BS in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. She has more than 12 years of experience teaching grades kindergarten through third grade, and more than 25 years of volunteer experience overseeing educational programs in Los Angeles County schools. She is responsible for coordinating after school programs for at risk junior high females at five different Los Angeles County school locations.
Peggy Starr has a 36-year career as a Registered Nurse for The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, working as a Public Health Nurse and then as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. She has a strong volunteer presence on several foundations in the Los Angeles Community.
Mickey Payne spent a nearly 40-year career in Nursing at The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and UCLA Medical Center. She has Board affiliations on several Los Angeles County foundations.
Jeanne Ruiz retired from her alma mater, Mount St. Mary’s University, after 32 years of service. Among the positions she held were Assistant to the Vice President, Director of Donor Relations, and Director of Alumni Relations and Volunteer Engagement. She currently volunteers her time helping women in need in Los Angeles County.
Guy Nemiro holds an MBA from The University of Southern California and a BA from The University of Denver. He currently works as an Enterprise Sales Executive with Verizon Business Group in Los Angeles. He has more than 25 years’ experience in the IT industry and is the published author of two books.
Betsy Azariah began her career in 1966 working for The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, where she is currently the Regional Administrator. She has been an active LAHR Board Member for many years.
Jane Covner has created Grammy, Emmy, and Oscar award winning publicity campaigns. Her long career began at age 16 as the youngest columnist for The Stamford Advocate. She has since held Executive and Publicity Director positions for motion picture directors and Grammy winning artists. She has represented many people throughout the years including Jane Goodall, film director John Badham (Saturday Night Fever), and many classical superstars including violinist Joshua Bell and flutist Sir James Galway.
Sharon Leahy has nearly 40 years’ experience in nursing management at several Los Angeles County hospitals. She served as a faculty member at CSU Los Angeles, Mount St. Mary’s University, and CSU Dominguez Hills. Twenty-seven years of her nursing career were spent as a Public Health Nurse and Nurse Manager for The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, as well as 8 years spent as a Nurse Manager for The Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services. She currently holds Alumnae and Regent positions for Mount St. Mary’s University as well as volunteer positions at several Los Angeles foundations.
Ellen Johnston is a Los Angeles native who majored in History and Political Science at Golden West College and Cal State Long Beach. She is a small business owner who started with one small store that has grown to three stores with 25 employees and a large online business. Ellen currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Committee of Professional Women, which is an affiliate group that supports the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra this organization. She also belongs to several other charitable groups that support literacy. As a single mom who raised three children, she has a deep level of compassion for the mothers and children served by The Los Angeles House of Ruth, and is proud to serve on the LAHR Board of Directors.
Cheryl comes from a long line of family committed to helping the community. She started her charitable service in high school by founding a teen urgent hotline in an era when it was not condoned. Following her education at Russell Sage College and Cornell University, Cheryl began a distinguished career in technology. She has held executive posts at companies including IBM, Verizon, Hewlett Packard and Sun Microsystems bringing a new mastery of technological knowledge to our board. Passionate about community outreach which helps improve the lives of others, Cheryl’s focus as a board member will be to increase corporate sponsorship, create events to drive contributions and expand the positive message of success which the Los Angeles House of Ruth has achieved since its formation in 1978 as a safe haven for women and their children who are victims of domestic violence and homelessness.
Zoraya Gudelman has 20 plus years of experience in higher education, helping traditional and non-traditional students navigate their educational journeys. She holds a Master of Science in Education and Counseling, with a concentration in Student Development in Higher Education, from Cal State Long Beach.
Zoraya is a Program Developer at Cal State LA and formerly an Associate Director of Student Services at Cal State Long Beach. As a program developer, she works with subject matter experts to develop courses and training programs centered on enhancing the workforce skills of adult learners. Both roles have allowed her the opportunity to meet and work with a diverse student population. Over the years, she has been part of support networks for suicide prevention, students with disabilities, undocumented students, and military-connected students. Most
recently, she got certified as a coach, focusing on helping people take steps
in their careers, life transitions, and personal growth.
Zoraya enjoys time with family, nature, and traveling near and far. She is also part of the Alzheimer’s Association community and has participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the last several years.
“The Los Angeles House of Ruth is centered on family, which is very important to me. Families start at LAHR because of something horrible but find support to get to safety and independence. Being part of the board will give me a chance to be part of this amazing and hardworking team. I am excited to keep learning more about the families and their success stories.”
Kimberly Miranda is a first-generation PhD student at UCLA in Chicana/o and Central American Studies where her focus is on the intersections of race, gender, class, and housing in Los Angeles’ Eastside. Her time with the Los Angeles Center for Community Law and Action (LACCLA) in Boyle Heights has been foundational in amplifying stories of aggrieved tenants in Los Angeles. Miranda also has experience in popular education efforts, motivated to critically unpack systemic injustices around housing in an accessible manner for tenants. She has led workshops and lectures on tenants’ rights, the history of redlining and gentrification.
Miranda also wrote and advocated for rent control in unincorporated Los Angeles between 2018-2019. The collective effort of tenants and community organizers successfully granted rent control across all unincorporated areas, a law that caps rent from being unreasonably high and protects tenants from unjust evictions. Her master’s thesis was titled, “Latinas for Housing Justice: The Fight for Rent Control in Unincorporated East Los Angeles”.
“I’m excited to join the board of the Los Angeles House of Ruth because I can continue to advocate for aggrieved peoples and do work in my community.”
Miranda holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chicana/o Studies from UCLA and is a current recipient of the Ford Foundation Fellowship.