Our Team

The people of CASA in SLO County

Members of the Central Coast community working to make the lives of abused and neglected children in the County Court system better, by standing on their behalf.

board members

Teresa Tardiff

Executive Director

Teresa Rothe Tardiff has been Executive Director of CASA for Children of San Luis Obispo County since 2005, and on staff since 2002. She is an attorney, a graduate of UOP McGeorge School of Law, and has undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Early Childhood Education.

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.”

Kelly Sanders


Kelly grew up locally on the Central Coast. After graduating from area schools, she went on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at UC Santa Barbara and a Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California.
She currently serves as President of Movement for Life, locally known as San Luis Sports Therapy. In her personal time, Kelly enjoys snow skiing, outdoor activities, reading and spending time with her husband and two young children.

Kirk Vaughn

Vice President

Kirk Douglas Vaughn graduated from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in finance and business management along with a minor in economics.
His banking career starting as a residential wholesale mortgage lender for New Century Mortgage in 2003 before joining Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Community West Bank in the commercial banking/lending divisions. Currently, he is a Vice President/Senior Relationship Manager with Pacific Premier Bank. He also serves on the finance committee for Habitat for Humanity and is a member of the Arroyo Grande Rotary Club.

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.

Tom L. Dobyns

Immediate Past President

Tom L. Dobyns has served as Chief Executive Officer of Mission Community Bank and Director of Mission Community Bancorp since November, 2011.
His banking career started as a teller, commercial lender and branch manager at Bank of America almost 40 years ago, before assuming executive positions at First Interstate Bank of CA, Great Western Bank and Home Savings of America.

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.

Debbie Peterson


Debbie has been a local to San Luis Obispo since 1973. She received her Bachelor’s in Business Administration concentrating in Accounting from Cal State Fullerton. pon graduation Debbie returned to SLO where she worked for the French Brothers in residential construction industry.
In 1994 Debbie helped start Visual Systems / CygNet Software where she was the Director of Finance. After the company was acquired in 2011 by a Houston based company, she went to work for Mainstream Energy / REC Solar part time. Currently, Debbie is enjoying the semi-retired life and working part-time for Movement for Life. Debbie and her husband, Joel, have raised 2 children, Elyse and Kyle. Debbie has also served on the Board of the San Luis Obispo Swim Club and was on the Site Council at Los Ranchos Elementary School. She and her husband now reside in Avila Beach. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and crafts.

Carrie White


Carrie White joined the CASA Board in November 2017. Although originally from New Jersey she has called the Central Coast home since 1998 and lives in Atascadero with her husband and two children.

She works in Administration at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center as the Executive Assistant to the Central Coast Market Chief Executive Officer. Carrie has been an active member of the San Benito Road Elementary School PTA Executive Board since 2014 and currently serves on the Executive Board of the 24th District PTA. Carrie is very proud to dedicate her time as a volunteer and advocate to help enrich the lives of our future generations.

Lindsay Waylett

Board Member

Lindsay served on the CASA board from 2007-2013 and rejoined in 2017. CASA keeps her inspiration for those who help children that cannot speak for themselves.
She also values the concept of having a healthy constant in a child’s life to guide them into adulthood to benefit the child as well as our community as a whole. Lindsay was born and raised in Atascadero. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Business with an emphasis in Finance from San Diego State University in 2001. She moved back to the Central Coast and starting her career in commercial banking. She is currently serving the small business community by helping grow and expand local businesses as a SBA Business Development Officer for Umpqua Bank. With an office in Templeton and residing in Atascadero she enjoys taking full advantage of all the Central Coast has to offer. Whether it be going to the beaches, wine tasting, hiking, or so many other local activities it is easy to enjoy so many beautiful spots this area has to explore. She values spending time with her family, especially her son, Tommy, who is a complete joy to watch grow.

Elise St. John

Board Member

Elise is a SLO county native, Cal Poly graduate, and member of San Luis Obispo Leadership Class XXVII. She became aware of CASA SLO 15 years ago when her family directly benefited from CASA’s important work in advocating for children and supporting families within the court system.
Elise received a Ph.D. in Educational Policy, Organizations and Leadership from the University of Washington, Seattle where she was a U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Predoctoral Fellow, and her work currently examines the political and organizational dynamics of educational reform, particularly with regard to issues of equity.

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.

Suzy da Silva Hamilton

Board Member

A Native of Southern California, Suzy has been living on the Central Coast for the last 20 years. She is the CEO of Competitive Edge Media and Marketing (CEMM), a National media placement and marketing company, based out of San Luis Obispo.
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.

Eleze Armstrong

Board Member

Eleze relocated from northern California to the Central Coast in 2010. She currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and has held various leadership positions at Twin Cities Community Hospital and Sierra Vista over the course of the last 8 years.
Eleze graduated with a National Diploma in Radiography from the Addington School of Radiography in South Africa; a Bachelors in Healthcare Administration from the University of Ottawa, Kansas; and a Masters in Healthcare Administration from Arizona’s Grand Canyon University. Pismo Beach is home to her and her spouse. She is passionate about serving her the patients, staff and the physicians in her workplace, as well as the community at large.

Dr. Gilbert H. Stork

Board Member

Gil grew up in San Luis Obispo attending local schools graduating from SLOHS. He attended Cal Poly SLO receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mathematics. Gil was also a student-athlete playing football at Cal Poly and was a survivor of the 1960 plane crash that took the lives of sixteen of his teammates.

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 Heisinger

Board Member

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.

Karen Kelly

Board Member

Karen has lived in SLO county for most of her life, specifically in Arroyo Grande. Karen attended Cuesta College where she received her degree in nursing. Karen went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree from California State Dominguez Hill, and her Master’s Degree from Grand Canyon University.

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 Headshot

Kelli Blackburn

Board Member

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.


Bret Colhouer

Board Member

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.

PThrough 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 Graff-Radford

Board Member

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


Katie Robinson

Program Director

Melanie Barket

Training and Recruitment Manager

Jeanne Eggert

Educational Advocate

Heidi Turbow

Mentor Program and Advocate Supervisor

Nicole Perotti

Advocate Supervisor

Sarah Deyoung

Advocate Supervisor

Pat Miljanich

Advocate Supervisor

Matt Moore

Advocate Supervisor

Rayne Rice

Advocate Supervisor

Daniella Barion

Recruitment & Retention Specialist

Aileen Foley

Program Associate

Jenae Walters

Events and Development Coordinator

Patty Smith

Office Support

Pete Skarda

On Leave

volunteer Staff

Adrienne Walker

Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator

Linda Rawlings

Office Support

Allyson Krugh

Office Support

Elaine Wilcox

Office Support