Pastor Jim Ayars has been in full-time ministry of various kinds for 48 years. He sang Bass with the King’s Heralds Quartet for 28 of those years. With them, he has recorded in 33 languages (he has studied and is able to speak in 12), and performed in over 50 countries. He has also recorded several solo albums. He has also worked as a research writer for The Voice of Prophecy Radio Broadcast, has a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology (with emphasis in Apologetics; he has published articles in several journals, and written a textbook for high school students on Basic Christian Doctrine), and has served on the Boards of Directors for several non-profit organizations. He plays classical/folk guitar, blue grass banjo, mandolin, celtic harp, and jazz slap bass. He also plays the great Highland Bagpipes. He has lived in Ventura County for 37 years, and has pastored the Ventura Seventh-day Adventist Church since 2005.
Jeanne Benitez –
I have been dedicated to helping the hungry in Ventura County for the last 12 years and through this work I saw that many of those in our community also had other challenges. I am passionate about helping those in our community in need, the families struggling to make ends meet, people one paycheck away from being on the street, friends who have spent their savings dealing with medical problems, and that’s why I approach all who I meet with a smile and a warm hello. I am proud to be part of the solution helping those who want to get off the street a hand up and hope for a brighter future ahead. I am thrilled to join The City Center Board as a way of giving back to the community and am thrilled to work with those hoping and helping for a brighter future.
I was fortunate to have been adopted by wonderful parents, Gerald & Eleanor. They loved the relaxing and rejuvenating sound of the ocean waves and a family day spent at the beach or on the boat. This love of sailing and the sea, prompted my family to purchase a property in beautiful Ventura, so I have been visiting for as long as I can remember. The homeless population was something we noticed as children, and my parents taught us that … “There but for the grace of God, we too could be walking in their shoes”. My parents were wonderful examples of the need to appreciate all our blessings, never to judge by outward appearances and the responsibility to help others less fortunate. After moving full time to Ventura 17 years ago I have grown to love this city and all its inhabitants. I enjoyed a long career at FOOD Share where I was passionately working to help feed the hungry, especially children, in our community. Like a sponge, I tried to absorb all the knowledge I could around the issue to be better able to serve and provide services to those in need. After years of working and collaborating with my friend Jim Duran, he honored me with an invitation to join The City Center board and put my skills to work for the benefit of the transitional living project. I am honored and excited to be selected to serve on The City Center Board. I am committed to putting all my passion and energy into helping this wonderful mission to end homelessness in Ventura by providing a “hand up” to our friends living on the streets, while helping to rebuild their lives with dignity and respect.
“I am committed to putting all my passion and energy into helping this wonderful mission to end homelessness in Ventura by providing a “hand up” to our friends living on the streets, while helping to rebuild their lives with dignity and respect.”
Jim Duran was born and raised in Ventura and has a passion for this city. Jim currently serves as the Lead Pastor of The River Community Church in Ventura, a ministry his team began in 2004. Jim has a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies and a Master of Arts Degree in Theology from Channel Islands Bible College & Seminary.
In 2014, The Ventura Family YMCA presented Jim The Golden Triangle Award, one of its most prestige’s honors. In 2010, The California Assisted Living Association selected Jim as “Executive Director of the Year”. He was honored with the 2010 “Hometown Hero” award for the city of Ventura, and in 2009, Jim was selected as Ventura’s Citizen of the year by the Ventura Chamber of Commerce.
Pastor Jim serves on the Board for the Ventura Chamber of Commerce and the Ventura Family YMCA. He is the Vice President of the Ventura Buccaneer youth football organization and serves on many other committees. He is actively involved with the Homeless to Home collaboration, Ventura Social Service Task Force, Project Understanding and others.
Jim and Pam have been married for over 25 years and have six children, a daughter-in-law and a brand new grandchild. Jim’s passion is to serve the community and to be a blessing to his neighbors.
John Exell – Senior Church Executive | Community Presbyterian Church
John is currently serving as the Senior Church Executive at Community Presbyterian Church in Ventura where he manages the finances, facilities & human resources for the church. His passion is the behind the scenes enabling of ministry at CPC and now at City Center. He currently serves as the Corporate Secretary for the City Center, helping with all the paperwork and managing the finances.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, he has a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Michigan and a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. John spent 30 years in the US Navy mostly overseeing construction and repair of ships, moving 18 times, achieving the rank of Captain and had the honor of leading two commands, one here in Port Hueneme at the Engineering Duty Officer School.
John and his bride Jane live in Ventura, have been married 45 years, and have two grown children, Liz a Social Worker in Oxnard and Jeremy who works for a non-profit in Washington DC. He is an avid gardener.
Annette has lived in Ventura for 21 years. She believes that giving is receiving, whether it be her time, her smile or her unconditional love for others. Annette pours out hope, joy and inspiration on everyone she meets. Her current career is in Sales, as a Business Consultant and Document Specialist. Prior to Sales, she was a Construction Manager and an Electrical Estimator in the commercial sector for over a decade. She is an Ambassador for the Ventura Chamber of Commerce and enjoys participating in community events.
She is the founder of A Heart of an Angel, a program that focuses on Spiritual and Physical Fitness for Children. Annette is a former Fitness Competitor, Certified Personal Trainer and member of the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). She is a youth mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBS). Annette is a Worship Warrior in her own right, and a member of Armed and Faithful Ministry with Swoop Brown, who are also Ambassadors for Teen Challenge, a faith based addiction recovery program. (Armed and Faithful is a non-traditional worship team spreading the Gospel through music).
With Mental Illness running three generations deep in her family, she is no stranger to the struggles of homelessness. Annette watched her mother battle mental illness and chronic homelessness most of her life. In 2009, by the Grace of God, she rescued her oldest mentally ill sister from the streets of Los Angeles County. She is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and serves on the NAMI walks committee.
Annette loves being in nature, she is an avid hiker, fitness enthusiast, and enjoys a good read. She is grateful for the opportunity to join the Board of The City Center where her desire to serve others will be put to good use!
Jann Huling was born and raised in Ventura County. Graduating from Ventura High and UCLA.
She is with ServiceMaster by Integrity in Oxnard as the business development manager . ServiceMaster by Integrity is a disaster restoration company handling fire, flood, smoke and mildew and commercial cleaning.
Jann has 1 grown son Ian and has adopted his childhood best – friend Bobby. Both of her sons also work for ServiceMaster by Integrity. She has one granddaughter Meadow Lily. She has one niece Chelsea and her 4 children that are her pride and joy, also.
I believe in putting a name to every homeless neighbor I meet and believe they are not hopeless they are homeless.
Coral Hanson has been married for almost 20 years and is loved by 4 children and 6 grandchildren. She is a lover of animals and has years of experience serving charitable organizations through board membership. Her expertise in accounting is invaluable to the City centers mission.
Coral Hanson believes in paying it forward and being grateful for the friends and family she has.
Bud Harley is involved in City Center because when he heard the stories of people at the center God called him to be involved. His mission is to see city centers expand to other cities in Ventura County and throughout Sothern California with the current property being the flagship facility.
Bud Harley believes that the very basic needs to assist the homeless population are based on Christ-centered principles. Helping families transition and be restored so they can rebuild their lives to be self-sufficient.
Lisa is from the little town of Santa Paula and has lived in the City of Ventura for the past 10+ years now. Lisa is a Licensed Sales Producer for Allstate Insurance Company and currently works at the Jill Olivares Insurance Agency in Oak View. She is licensed in property casualty, health, life, commercial and also has her series 6, 63, and 26 licenses.
In addition to being passionate about educating her clients about their insurance needs, Lisa is very passionate about helping those in her community that may not have a means to help themselves. She currently serves as the Junior Regent at the Ventura Moose Lodge where fundraising for the community is flourishing. Lisa is also a board member for Project Understanding where she believes in their philosophy of a hand up and not a hand out. She is the current chairperson for the Ventura Marathon fundraising event and participates by running a ½ marathon(13.1 miles) all while raising money for Project Understanding and its many services.
Lisa was very instrumental in creating the first “purple room” at the City Center Transitional Living where a survivor of domestic violence and their family was able to find a safe place they can now call home. She is extremely honored to now be serving as an official board member for the City Center and looking forward to the opportunity of having more purple rooms for those affected by domestic violence.
Lisa has two beautiful daughters and one amazing son but it gies her great joy spending time with the love of her life, her grandson Gauge! She loves running in her spare time and hopes to run a full marathon in the future, Lord willing. She believes that putting God first in her life makes all things possible and for that she is truly grateful!
Brian Meyer – President | Coast Water Solutions of Oxnard
Born/raised in Oxnard, Graduated from SDSU 1976 , Married Kathy in 1980 at Community Presbyterian Church Ventura, been members every since, 3 adult children Derek , Michael, and Alyson. I have been actively involved in youth ministry at CPC for over 30 years. Also “Huddle leader” for Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Ventura High School for 7 years. President of Coast Water Solutions of Oxnard, an Ag Irrigation Supply Company serving farmers throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. 34 years in the industry. Hobbies include workouts at the gym, snow skiing, basketball, surfing and tennis.
Charleen Morla – Owner, Graphic Design | Charkey Graphix
When she is not rockin’ out on stage, performing and playing the keyboard for her band Dirty Rice, Charleen gives back to her community in numerous ways including: serving as Vice President for Project Understanding of San Buenaventura and organizing their annual gala fundraiser the Starlight Supper Club and Hope Worth Giving Breakfasts and serves as President of the Oxnard Monday Club. She is very active in the Filipino Community in Ventura County serving as Vice President for the Filipino Community of Ventura County, Inc. (FCVCI) and Associate Director for the Filipino-American Council of Ventura County, Inc. Charleen has also founded the #200CoatProject providing coats for those less fortuante every winter. With several natural disasters hitting her homeland, the Philippines, Charleen played an active role in leading the Filipino community and her church in the Rise Above: Typhoon Haiyan Relief efforts which in a four week span, raised over $70,000 for typhoon victims. In 2015, Charleen was recognized as the Community Advocate of the Year for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).
Thomas L. Nelson – creator of THE HUNT
…a service business that assists business owners, organizational leaders, coaches and individuals that want higher levels of productivity, both in business and individual development. Emphasis on spiritual development as a component of total effective living.
· 1982-2010, joint owner of Nelson and Nelson, a financial planning and Investment Company that specializes in portfolio development and asset growth for businesses and families. Trained financial advisors for American Express from 1984-1995
· 1964-1978 Baseball Coach and Ass’t Professor of Education at Azusa Pacific University. Taught numerous classes in Master Degree completion programs for advanced educational degrees for educators. Specialize in leadership development.
· Educational Degrees from Azusa Pacific, BA 1962, Master Degree from Point Loma University 1964, Graduate Studies in Higher Education, University of Southern California, 1972-1978. CFP degree in Finance, 1992.
· Community involvement; Westmont College Board of Trustees from 1992 to present. Current responsibilities, serve as Treasurer of Westmont College, and currently serve on the Finance Committee, Investment Committee, Academic Committee, & Diversity Committee. In addition, served as advisor to the Athletic Program and assist coaches in fund raising endeavors.
· Served as Elder of the Community Presbyterian Church, past involvement in governance of investment portfolio and consultant with staff as needed
Paul Paulin – Retired | Insurance Broker
He had 67 employees in his agency. He is past president of the Western Association of Insurance associations representing the 100 largest brokerages in California, Oregon, Washington & Alaska. For eight years Paul has served as the Chair of the California Senate Advisory for the California business community. For the past 36 years he has been a member of the City of Hope Insurance Council. He was past president of the Channel Islands Research Institute which was located in Port Hueneme harbor. Paul is a Deacon at the Community Presbyterian Church.
Shonda Vielbig – Salesperson | Consolidated Electrical Distributors (CED)
Shonda is a “Sooner” transplant to California. Born and raised in Oklahoma, she moved to San Diego immediately upon graduation from OU, where she received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering. While there, she performed in The Singing Sooners, as well as several bands as a vocalist and keyboardist. She began her career at San Diego Gas & Electric and quickly shifted into the electrical distribution industry working for GE as an outside salesperson. It was there she met Eric, her husband of 25 years, who grew up in Ventura. They resided in Encinitas and attended Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, while raising their three young children during her years as a stay-at-home mom. Shonda served in Bible Study Fellowship and Community Bible Study for 18 years, as well as 8 years as co-director of music for VBS and Kids’ Games, a faith-based summer camp for kids. She regularly served at church and her community as a vocal soloist.
In 2005 she and her family relocated to Ventura, where she began serving at Community Presbyterian Church and in the community. She volunteered extensively in local sports organizations and the school district for years, working to revamp the VUSD Acceleration Policy, as well as ongoing assistance in classrooms, administrative offices and libraries. She was the director of the Mound Variety Show for 6 years, which involved over 100 families, entertained audiences over 800, and raised funds for local charities.
After 19 years as a homemaker, Shonda has returned to the workforce as an outside salesperson with Consolidated Electrical Distributors (CED). Now attending Ventura Missionary Church, she is involved in music ministry, small group discipleship and mission trips. Shonda and Eric have two kids in college, Joe and Emma, and Jack attends Foothill Tech High School. They have supported Project Understanding, Casa de Vida, Tender Life Maternity Home, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission and The City Center for years behind the scenes with a heart for those in need. It is only recently that God has shown Shonda that her background gives her true common ground with those being helped through these organizations. Growing up in a home with alcoholism and several forms of abuse, she knows well what many have experienced. She now feels led to share her “story” and be used by the Lord to provide hope and healing to others. When asked to serve on the board for The City Center, she felt this was an answer to prayer how God could use her, and possibly her music gifts, in this way.
Po Wang started his public service after college working for the Mayor’s Office of Boston as a Civil Right’s Investigator. After graduate school he worked in the financial service industry for over 20 years as a program manager and senior business analyst. Po is currently working in the technology industry as Senior Program Manager. His wife and him are also the owners of Red Brick Pizza in Ventura, a community focus business.
Board experience: Asian American Resource Workshop and Boy Scout’s Troop 50
“Empowerment = Independence”