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Promises2Kids Names Stephanie Brown as Chair of the Board of Directors and Merrilee Neal as Vice Chair

Also Names Four New Members to its Board

San Diego CA— Promises2Kids, one of San Diego’s foremost nonprofits, with a focus on foster care and children’s welfare, has announced Stephanie Brown as new Chair of the Board of Directors and Merrilee Neal as Vice Chair. Stephanie has been on the board for 5 years and Merrilee for 3.5 years. In addition, Promises2Kids has added four new members to its Board of Directors; Mia Park, Dana Zhang, Emily Green Lake, and Lisa Matich.

New Board Chair Stephanie Brown currently serves as Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Manchester Financial Group. Brown joined the Manchester Financial team after serving as the Senior Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Stephanie received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing with a minor in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame, in which she was a distinguished student-athlete receiving numerous honors and awards. Upon completing college, Ms. Brown received an NCAA post-graduate scholarship and was drafted to play professional softball for the Chicago Bandits.

Promises2Kids’ newly appointed Vice Chair of the Board Merrilee Neal graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She has more than 12 years of experience as a small business owner and is a 2013 graduate of LEAD San Diego. Neal has recently acquired certificates in both public speaking and non-profit management. A 35-year San Diego resident, she and her husband, Mike, have been active philanthropists, supporting Promises2Kids since 2013. Merrilee is a eight-year breast cancer survivor who has become one of the top fundraisers for Susan G. Komen San Diego’s Race for the Cure.

“Promises2Kids is truly honored to have Stephanie as our new Board Chair and Merrilee as our Vice Chair. Their passion and dedication to our mission has truly inspired us,” said Tonya Torosian, MSW, CFRE, the organization’s CEO. “I would also like to welcome Mia, Dana, Emily, and Lisa to our Board. Together they bring a wealth of expertise and leadership to Promises2Kids. We’re excited about their vision and enthusiasm for our mission.”

Promises2Kids annually provides over 3,000 current and former foster youth in San Diego County with the tools, opportunities, and guidance they need to address the circumstances that brought them into foster care, overcome the difficulties of their past and grow into healthy, happy, and successful adults. Promises2Kids supports these children through its programs: A.B and Jessie Polinsky Children’s Center, Camp Connect, Guardian Scholars, and Foster Funds.

New board member Mia Park serves as Editor-in-Chief of Ranch & Coast Magazine and is committed to maintaining the magazine’s role of keeping our community connected. In 2019, Park and R&C Publisher Bob Stefanko were honored with the San Diego Press Club’s Jim Reiman Award for Outstanding Media Management. Raised in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Park attended UCLA, graduating with a degree in music. She helped launch the career of Grammy award-winning rock act Switchfoot, becoming their day-to-day manager. After her move to San Diego, she continued to oversee Switchfoot’s annual charitable event, the BRO-AM, for the next 11 years. Park serves as a member of the Board of Directors of The Country Friends, and in 2011, she served as chair of the nonprofit’s annual Art of Fashion event. Park has also helped organize galas for Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs, Kids Korps USA, and Shelter to Soldier. In 2019, she was honored as a Woman of Dedication by The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary of San Diego County.

New board member Dana Zhang, Vice President of Finance at Ambrx, has over 20 years of pharmaceutical industry and international business experience with an emphasis on finance, operations, process improvement, and business development. She has extensive experience with marketing partnerships, acquisitions, and debt and equity financings. Previously, she served as head of finance for Kalypsys, AnaptysBio, and Cylene Pharmaceuticals. Zhang is a Certified Public Accountant. She earned her B.S. in Biology from Harbin Normal University in China, and an MBA in Finance from the University of Phoenix.

Emily Green Lake, a 17-year San Diego resident, became passionate about assisting foster youth during her tenure teaching Literacy at San Pasqual Academy, a residential high school for teenagers in care.  During her time as a member of The Junior League of San Diego, eventually serving as President in 2019-2020, Green Lake began volunteering with Promises2Kids, where she became deeply committed to the organization’s purpose and mission. Just prior to joining the Board of Directors in the spring of 2020, Emily coordinated pizza deliveries to Promises2Kids’ Guardian Scholars so that they knew someone was thinking of them during the height of Covid-19 quarantine. In her professional career, she owns Sisters Pizza, a community-focused pizzeria located in the Hillcrest neighborhood.

Lisa Match is a Regional Financial Director with KFMB Stations, a television broadcaster which owns the CBS and CW affiliations in the San Diego market and has joined the Promises2Kids board.  She started her career as a CPA with PriceWaterhouse and then went on to do an eight-year stint in New Zealand which included being a CFO of large utility.  During her career she was also head of performance management and planning for PacifiCorp, a seven-state utility in the Northwest.  Lisa grew up in San Diego until she left to attend UC Berkeley where she studied Business Administration.  She grew up sailing and is a member and former Treasurer of Southwestern Yacht Club.

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