The people of CASA in SLO County
Before becoming a staff member, Teresa was a CASA advocate for 8 children. Teresa is an active member of the local Blue Ribbon Commission on foster care and Dependency Court Stakeholders. She served two years on the California CASA legislative committee and was previously an elected member of the Avila Valley Advisory Commission. In 2010 she was honored to receive the San Luis Obispo County Bar Association’s John L. Seitz Award for Community Service. Teresa is also a recent graduate of San Luis Obispo Leadership Class XIX. “I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of such a wonderful program that makes such a positive impact on the lives of children in our community. Our volunteer advocates are dedicated, caring people from all walks of life who share a commitment to helping children.”
Suzy da Silva Hamilton
Suzy attended CSU, Chico for her undergrad and LMU Film School where she obtained a MFA in Screenwriting.
She looks forward to using her media and marketing background to help increase the CASA brand and grow their volunteer and fundraising efforts.
Suzy is married to Cameron and lives in Templeton with her two boys, Andrew (11) and Colby (8). They enjoy sports, camping and tending to their numerous farm animals.
Tom L. Dobyns
Immediate Past President
More importantly, he’s very lucky to have a wonderful bride (Martha), 3 amazing kiddos (Khloe, Andrew, and Parker), and a yellow lab (Brady). In his spare time, he enjoys playing tennis, poker, and enjoying all the outdoor activities the central coast has to offer.
Most recently, he was president and CEO of American Security Bank in Newport Beach, California, before becoming CEO of Mission Community Bank. Tom also served for 22 years on the board of the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, an Orange County non-profit with a mission to provide life-changing programs and one-on-one support for abused and neglected children and at-risk families to end the cycle of child abuse.
Elise St. John
In addition, she holds an elected office with the American Educational Research Association (AERA), serves on local district and school-level accountability boards, and supports schools and non-profits in the design of their own research studies. Prior to her doctoral training, Elise worked as a researcher for governmental and non-profit research organizations, and interned for the United Nations and the U.S. Senate. Elise also holds a MA degree in Sociology from San Jose State University and a B.A. in Political Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Elise resides in SLO with her two children.
Dr. Gilbert H. Stork
Choosing the field of education, Gil taught math and coached at SLOHS for three years, then joined the faculty at Cuesta College in 1967. This began a fifty-one year career at Cuesta serving in many capacities including: math teacher, football coach, dean of sciences and mathematics, vice-president of student services, and superintendent/president. During that time he completed his doctoral studies in educational administration at Brigham Young University.
He retired in June of 2018 after nine years as president and was named President Emeritus by the Cuesta College Board of Trustees. Active in the community, Gil has served on many local boards of directors including Friends of Prado, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, SLO Chamber of Commerce, Casa Solana, Community Counseling Center, and the Rotary Club of SLO. Over the last forty years, Gil has raised over $3 million for local non-profit organizations serving as a volunteer auctioneer.
Gil and his wife, Janice, have been married since 1964 and have five adult children and ten grandchildren.
Karen has worked in the financial industry for over 35 years. She earned her BS in Business Management and her Executive MBA from the University of Phoenix. She also graduated from Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington. Karen enjoys cycling, cooking and spending time with her family. She is married with four children.
Although new to the San Luis Obispo area, Alex has considered SLO his “home away from home” for over 20 years. With local family roots that ultimately drew he and his wife, Camille, here permanently, Alex moved to SLO over 3 years ago after living in various large cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and Irvine.
They moved with the dream of starting a family here and are blessed to now have a daughter, Lila, that is nearly 2 ½ years old.
Alex graduated from UC San Diego with a BS degree in Computer Science & Engineering, where he specialized in learning about distributed systems and Cloud Computing. When not studying in the lab or working to put himself through school, Alex volunteered his time helping Jr. High students in various youth programs throughout San Diego. When he lived in Irvine, Alex served on the Board of Directors for Mary’s Shelter, a non-profit dedicated to helping young women in the foster care system who chose the brave decision of carrying and mommying their babies.
As Chief Product Officer, Alex leads the Product & Engineering division of Unanimous AI, a local technology startup that enables business teams to make highly optimized decisions. Prior to leading a startup, Alex held several leadership positions at technology companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Mindbody and Lockheed Martin. When not working, Alex and his family enjoy getting into the outdoors, mountain biking, camping and spending time with friends that also have little ones.
Karen has worked as a nursing leader in the community at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, Twin Cities Community Hospital, Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, and Marian Regional Medical Center.
Karen and her husband Joe live in Arroyo Grande, and have 4 grown children.
Kelli Blackburn is currently the Market President of Bank of the Sierra’s San Luis Obispo County region. As Market President she oversees a team of commercial and small business relationship managers and credit support staff.
Prior to joining Bank of the Sierra Kelli worked for various Community Banks in the San Luis Obispo area including Coast National Bank, American Perspective Bank, and Premier Valley Bank. Kelli has over 15 years’ experience in Banking, primarily serving in commercial lending capacities. She is currently attending the Pacific Coast Graduate School of Banking.
Kelli is a native of the San Luis Obispo California area and is a graduate of California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
As the founder of Simply Clear Marketing, Bret Colhouer has over 15 years
of experience in the marketing and advertising industry and leads an
experienced marketing team dedicated towards delivering tremendous value to
San Luis Obispo County businesses.
Through dedication to growing with evolving technologies, Bret remains passionate about building a successful,
local community using client-centered relationships combined with innovative marketing strategies. He enjoys life on the Central Coast with his beautiful wife, Lani, and his 3 children, Cheyanne, Lily and Makena. In his free time, he plays pickleball, golf and soccer.
James received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and his juris doctor from Tulane University in New Orleans. His legal career began in his hometown of Palm Springs. There, he worked for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office before going into civil practice, in Orange County and Palm Springs, for 5 1/2 years. In 2014, James returned to the Riverside County DA’s Office, and in October 2015, he began his career at the SLO County District Attorney’s Office. Of his four years in office, two were spent in the juvenile division where he was introduced to CASA.
He has been involved with numerous nonprofits including coaching mock trial, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Desert, and the San Luis Obispo County Bar Association. In addition, to practicing law, he also teaches a legal writing class at the San Luis College of Law. His hobbies/interests include golf, working out, reading, watching movies, and people.