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DMCC Board of Directors



The mission of Del Mar Community Connections is to support and serve the senior population of Del Mar so they may age independently at home. DMCC helps seniors live active, vibrant lives by providing transportation, education, and social activities. Incorporated in 2000, DMCC is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of dedicated community members, operated by a small staff of nonprofit professionals, and championed by dozens of volunteers.

Board of Directors

Bob Gans is an attorney who arrived in Del Mar from New York City 21 years ago with his wife, Melissa (a long-time Board member of the Del Mar Garden Club), and their two children, Seth (now 27 and practicing as a marriage and family therapist in Rancho Bernardo), and Leah (now 25 and the owner of clothing/jewelry boutique in New York).  Bob is a former member of the City of Del Mar Finance Committee, and served in various positions on the Board of the Del Mar Foundation from 2012 to 2020, including as President from 2016 to 2018.  Bob has also served as President of the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation, Treasurer of the La Jolla Country Day School Board of Trustees, and as a Nation Leader in the Magdalena-Ecke YMCA “Y-Guide” and “Y-Princess” Programs.  He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and New York University School of Law.


Bog Gans


Katie Militello, Vice President of Strategic Planning

Katie Militello

Vice President of Strategic Planning

Katie Militello is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) who moved to Del Mar from Buffalo, NY 12 years ago with her husband and two of their three children, who were still in high school. Prior to moving to Del Mar, Katie was a Marketing Executive working at Fisher-Price, Mattel and for a medical device company based in Buffalo. Katie’s business skills include strategic planning, product development, marketing and sales support. After working in major corporations, Katie went on to provide marketing consulting for family-owned businesses in Buffalo. This led to her interest in counseling. When Katie moved to CA, she switched careers and participated in internship programs at hospice, Carlsbad grade schools, and the UCSD Maternal Health Clinic.

Tema Halpern, Board Secretary

Tema Halpern


Since moving to Del Mar in 2013, Tema has been actively involved with Newcomers Club of San Dieguito, most recently as President, and has worked on the Hospitality Committee of the Del Mar Foundation.  While living near Seattle, where her two children were born, she was involved primarily in PTA and Junior League.  After moving near Pasadena, she served in many roles on the board of Assistance League of Flintridge and also served on the boards of various education-related organizations, including as President of Caltech Women’s Club.  Tema and her husband Dave feel very fortunate that their son, his wife and three grandchildren also live in Del Mar.

Wayne Otchis, Board Treasurer

Wayne Otchis


Wayne moved to Del Mar 20 years ago with his wife Linda.  He has maintained a CPA practice for 45 years and recently became semi-retired.  He has been a volunteer driver for DMCC and is looking forward to serving as Treasurer on the new board.  He has 2 grandsons in Texas and 2 granddaughters in Colorado, so Wayne and Linda spend a lot of time on Southwest Airlines.  He is active with Seacrest Foundation and is also active with the San Diego Chapter of the Stanford Alumni Association.  Hobbies include travel, snorkeling, and collecting old political items, especially from 1912.  He loves walking around Del Mar and also belongs to a walking group in Encinitas.

Judd Halenza, Development Chair

Judd Halenza

Development Chair

Judd and his wife Susan moved to Del Mar in 1969 while both were serving as officers in the US Navy. After Judd completed 2 tours in Vietnam as a carrier pilot he left active duty and he and Susan moved to LA where he managed movie stars for 2 years. They then decided to make a permanent move back to Del Mar to raise their family. Judd then became involved in San Diego real estate where he is still active through the family company. Judd graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and attended Stanford University where he received a Master of Science degree in statistics. He has served on numerous City of Del Mar committees and was on the board of the Del Mar Foundation for eight years serving as president from 2004 to 2006.

Linda Chisari, Board Member

Linda Chisari


Linda grew up on the East Coast, attended Mount Holyoke College and graduated with a BS and RN from Columbia University. After practicing pediatric nursing for several years, she and her husband relocated to Del Mar in 1973. Linda gave piano lessons to young children for 10 years while returning to Mesa College to study Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design. In 1981, she began a 35-year career as a Landscape Designer. She subsequently designed more than 800 residential and commercial landscapes in San Diego County, including more than 150 in Del Mar. Linda has been a member of the Del Mar Garden Club and the City’s Parks and Rec Committee for many years. She has led and accompanied DMCC’s ‘Singing Together‘ program since 2003. Linda's website is

Phyllis Mirsky, Board Member

Phyllis Mirsky


Phyllis Mirsky, longtime volunteer for Del Mar Community Connections and 2022 Volunteer of the Year, has served in various leadership roles, including a previous six-year term as Secretary of the Board of Directors. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Phyllis received a master’s degree in librarianship at the University of Michigan and a BS in Social Welfare from the Ohio State University. Mirsky’s career as a librarian spanned 40 years, most of it spent within the University of California both at UCLA and UC San Diego. Active professionally, she became one of the most influential health sciences librarians in the world, culminating in being honored as one of the Medical Library Association’s “100 Most Notable.” She currently serves as an emerita mentor to UCSD’s Chancellors Scholars, a cadre of 1st Generation students who have demonstrated academic excellence and financial need.

Judy Schuckit, Board Member

Judy Schuckit


After graduating with a degree in research psychology from Washington University, Judy moved to Del Mar in 1971 with her husband Marc.  This was Judy’s first trip west of the Mississippi.  Del Mar was quite a change from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and St. Louis, Missouri. She worked at UCSD until 1980 when she started a small business buying and selling estate and antique jewelry. This business fits well with her deep interest in art and in history.  This interest has led to a number of lectures to the public focused on the changes over time in both the style and the manufacture of jewelry as women’s roles in society have changed over time. Judy has served on the Boards of the Del Mar Foundation, The Friends of the Powerhouse and the Del Mar Garden Club.  She last spent seven years on the Board of DMCC as Treasurer. 

Sheila Sharpe, Board Member

Sheila Sharpe


Sheila is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in La Jolla. During the past 30 years she has served on the Board of the San Diego Psychoanalytic Center and on the steering committee of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training Program. She also teaches in this program. For the past two years, she has served on the DMCC Salon Committee and is now working on the strategic planning committee of NeverAgain, an organization dedicated to banning the gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Sheila has a BA from Connecticut College, an MSW from San Diego State University, an MFA in painting and film criticism from UCSD, and a PhD in clinical psychology from the Fielding Institute. She and her husband Michael have lived in Del Mar for 18 years.

Al Sweedler, Board Member

Al Sweedler


Alan Sweedler recently retired from San Diego State University, where he was Associate Vice President in charge of the university’s international programs, Director of the Center for Energy Studies and Professor of Physics. He has been a leader in developing energy policy and researching energy issues for over 40 years, especially in the greater San Diego region, including Mexico. He was the founding Chair of the San Diego Regional Energy Office, the precursor to the current Center for Sustainable Energy and was a founding Board member of Clean Tech San Diego. Sweedler is a 44-year resident of Del Mar and currently serves on the Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC) and is Del Mar’s representative to the Community Advisory Committee for the Clean Energy Alliance. His wife is retired from UC San Diego where she was a reference librarian at the Geisel Library.

Mary Walshok, Board Member

Mary Walshok


Mary Walshok is a thought leader and subject-matter expert on aligning workforce development with regional economic growth. She has authored more than 100 articles, reports, and book chapters on regional innovation, workforce development and the role of research institutions in regional economies. As an industrial social scientist focused on the dynamics of regional economic development and transformation, Walshok has studied various communities across America. She has evaluated 13 WIRED regions funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, studied three innovative regions for a National Science Foundation-funded project and assessed one region’s efforts to grow an industry for a Lilly Foundation-funded endeavor.

Tanya Young, Board Member

Tanya Young


Tanya Young is an artist working in oil, gouache and digital media. She grew up in Chicago and moved to Del Mar with her young family in 1986. She has created paintings for homes and corporations including a commission of multiple works for the research facility and offices of Eli Lilly and Company in San Diego. Tanya’s daughter Madeleine works in Philanthropy at La Jolla Playhouse, and her husband Michael is a practicing Adult and Child Psychiatrist. An avid gardener, Tanya is serving her third year on the Board of the Del Mar Garden Club. She is very honored to join the DMCC Board! 


Ashley Simpkins, Executive Director

Ashley Simpkins

Executive Director

Ashley Simpkins was named the first Executive Director of Del Mar Community Connections in 2023. In that role, she works with the Board of Directors to supervise the overall management, development, and strategic planning of the organization. Before joining DMCC in an administrative role in 2017, Ashley worked in pharmaceutical sales and served on charitable boards in her free time. She earned a BA in Psychology and a Certificate in International Studies from Binghamton University in 2004. She earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from NP Solutions/UMass Global in 2023. Ashley lived in 5 states before she was 10 years old, but her family eventually settled in Syracuse, NY. In 2011, when she decided she didn’t want to live anywhere that experiences true winter, she moved to the San Diego area and made her home in Oceanside. In her free time, Ashley loves to travel internationally, read fiction, cross stich sassy phrases, and stand-up paddleboard.

Kara Adams, Program Manager

Kara Adams

Program Manager

Kara Adams is the Program Manager of Del Mar Community Connections (DMCC). In her role, she oversees the organization's transportation programs, manages office administration, coordinates volunteers, assists in program development and implementation, and assists with community outreach. In addition to her position at DMCC, Kara also works at the San Diego Air and Space Museum, where she coordinates children's birthday parties and gives tours. Prior to joining the DMCC team in August 2019, Kara gained extensive experience in the customer service and hospitality industries. She then served as the Museum Associate Coordinator of the Coronado Historical Association for three years, where she discovered her passion for working with nonprofit organizations. Kara earned her BA in Photography from Santa Fe University of Art and Design in May 2014. After relocating to San Diego and taking a break from school, she pursued her Masters in Nonprofit Administration online from North Park University, which she completed in December 2020.

Founders Message

Nancy Weare

How We Came Together - Nancy Weare

The impetus for creating Del Mar Community Connections evolved from my great appreciation of the nurturing assistance given by the Senior Center in my parents’ town during the period of my father’s death. A counselor was dispatched to the hospital from the Senior Center because someone from the town was terminally ill. Even though we didn’t ask for the help, it made this deeply sad event much more meaningful and uplifting for all of us.

Upon telling my friends in Del Mar of this experience, they spoke about their own or neighbors’ needs, the difficulty of finding support and information in stressful situations, and the absence of local mechanisms to help.

I called a long-time Del Mar activist, Ann Silber, and shared my desire to form an organization dedicated to bringing support services and information to Del Mar's seniors and specific needs population. Since our City was too small to afford municipal Social Services, there already existed an informal network of many caring, active people in Del Mar who regularly and quietly reached out to help others.

Del Mar Community Connections was born in Ann’s living room where we had our first community discussions in September 1999. Everyone without hesitation said let’s get going. With the help of these energetic neighborhood volunteers, a 501 (c)(3) organization was developed with a Founding Board of Directors, all willing to roll up their sleeves and build programs making aging in place in Del Mar more possible for seniors and those with specific needs.

DMCC Founders

The inspirational community volunteers who had a vision of an organization that could help their senior neighbors, wrote a mission statement, identified seed funding, created initial programs, and incorporated the organization in 2000.  

Chiquita Abbott

Penny Abell

Sarah Dubin-Vaughn

Brooke Eisenberg

Mary Ann Emerson

Jerry Finnell

Charlotte Gumbrell

Teddy Hopper

Shirley King

Arlene Lighthall

Karen Lockwood

Lorraine Rouse

Joanne Sharp

Ann Silber

Florence Stevens

Nancy Weare

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