Michele Harris is the Executive Director of First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission. Michele’s extensive experience in local government and non-profit leadership, organizational management and long-range planning will assist First 5 Solano to navigate the changing landscape of funding and advocacy for children’s issues.
Michele most currently served as Vice President for the Children’s Nurturing Project (CNP), a local non-profit focusing on early interventions in the areas of children’s mental and behavioral health issues, prenatal services and safety for children. Michele successfully helped CNP refine its vision and strategic plan and was responsible for streamlining agency operations and increasing fund development activities. Prior to her CNP experience, Michele spent 10 years at First 5 Solano as the Deputy Director. In addition to managing the agency’s multi-million dollar portfolio she developed the Commission’s Long-Term Financial Plan and established many of the policies and procedures that comprise First 5 Solano’s current healthy infrastructure. Michele also implemented many of the innovative funding strategies and programs that have fostered an environment of collaboration across service providers to maximize connecting at-risk children and families to resources they need.
These programs have contributed to healthier babies and families, children better prepared for school, and enhancing the community’s ability to work together and maximize the use of available resources.
Michele’s passion and dedication to improving the quality of services and care for young children and their families is a natural match with the mission and vision of First 5 Solano. Born and raised in Vallejo, Michele and her husband Tom are proudly raising their family in Solano County. The mother of twin 5-year old boys, their antics and wonder of the world regularly remind her of how important positive interactions during the first 5 years allow children to thrive and be happy.
Michele holds a Masters of Public Administration from Golden Gate University and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Administration/Economics from Sonoma State University. You may reach Ms. Harris at 707-784-1332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Megan has been with Solano County since 2006 and joined First 5 Solano as Deputy Director in 2013. Prior to coming to First 5 Solano, Megan served with Health &Social Services for 7 years in both the Public Health (BabyFirst Solano) and Mental Health (Mental Health Services Act Prevention & Early Intervention and Innovation) Divisions. Most recently, Megan managed the Family Health Services primary care and mental health clinics in Vallejo which averaged over 2000 patients visits a month. Megan’s focus on quality improvement, data collection and evaluation, and fiscal accountability make her an ideal fit for First 5 Solano.
Megan is also a doula (labor assistant), childbirth educator, and lactation consultant. She has a BA in Biology and Dance from Wesleyan University and just earned her Executive Master of Public Administration from Golden Gate University. A Benicia resident, she is mother to two young children, ages 2 and 6, who entertain and challenge her every day. She is passionate about educating and supporting women and families of all ages from preconception through parenting. You may reach Megan at (707) 784-1335 or at email@example.com.
Health Programs Manager
Chris Shipman has extensive experience in the health arena. She has provided effective leadership in managing rehab programs and hospital departments, working with medical chairs/directors of clinical laboratories, radiology, pediatrics, emergency care and clinics.
Over the years, Chris has worked closely with the entire spectrum of pediatrics and adult health care programs, preventive care, professional medical service, ancillary and support hospital departments.
Chris is not new to the First 5 community. Prior to joining First 5 Solano, Chris worked with an evaluation and data management company that included First 5 California and other counties.
As a community leader, Chris is a graduate of the Sacramento’s City Management Academy, a comprehensive hands-on learning experience that gives residents an opportunity to interact with City management staff and learn about the challenges facing municipal government today. The program is offered by the City Manager's Office, and has been recognized by the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University as being one of the "top 100 innovative ideas in the USA." Chris also hails as a graduate of the Sacramento County’s District Attorney’s Citizen’s Academy. This program helps to foster improved communication and relations between communities and the criminal justice system and enhance multicultural and multi-ethnic sensitivity in the criminal justice community.
Chris is past chair of the Sacramento County Children’s Coalition and serves on several Community Boards. She regularly volunteers at Loaves and Fishes, a program to feed the homeless and provides shelter to homeless moms and kids. Chris was very instrumental in gathering community support to have a charter engineering and science high school built in the community. She has spoken before local School Boards and is more than an occasional speaker at city council meetings. Chris also serves as a speech judge for local and State Academic Decathlon, a competition of a nine high school member teams from about 500 high schools in 42 counties and districts competing in academic events.
Chris holds a Master’s Degree in health administration from Columbia University, New York. You may reach Ms. Shipman at (707) 784-1339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Venis Jones Boyd
Family Support Programs Manager
A resident of Solano County for over 40 years and graduate of Vanden High School, Saint Mary's College Paralegal Certificate Program and Saint Mary's College Management Degree Program (BA). She has been with the Commission seven years and looks forward to her new role of assisting programs for children prenatal to five years of age in the family support arena. She spent 16 years with Tosco Refining Company as the Environmental Department office manager. Venis and husband Jerry reside in Vacaville. You may reach Mrs. Boyd at (707) 784-1337 or email@example.com.
Cherelyn Ellington Hunt
Early Childhood Education & Community Engagement Manager
Cherelyn was born in Fairfield and although she has lived in Alaska and Europe, she has always considered Solano County “home”. She attended local schools, and has a BS in Business with a focus in Technology. Cherelyn worked many years with a local government agency in the fields of Human Resources, Technology, Public Information and Community Engagement.
Her experiences living and travelling in other countries and a short stint teaching in the local school district emphasized the importance of ensuring that all children get a healthy physical, mental and emotional start in their developing years. She believes that among the most important things we can give children are the abilities to read and communicate well. She serves on the Solano County Library Board and is completing her Master's in Library and Information Science.
Outside of work Cherelyn, her husband Mike and son James (8) spend as much time as possible outdoors, usually with their labradoodle, Lucy in tow. Contact Mrs. Hunt at (707) 784-1334 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Policy and Fund Development Manager
Ciara Gonsalves began her career with First 5 Solano as a college intern assisting with First 5 Futures efforts, rejoining First 5 Solano in 2013 as the Policy and Fund Development Manager. Ms. Gonsalves brings a diverse range of skills and experiences to the First 5 Solano team. Her past work experiences range multiple counties and sectors, with past responsibilities: managing healthcare marketing campaigns; developing and reporting a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) for 2 counties; participating in a grant-making process; conducting internal audits and preparing for external healthcare services audits for NCQA; project management; and improving inefficiencies using LEAN methodology.
More recently, Ms. Gonsalves has been instrumental in bringing community and government partners together to identify options to sustain the early childhood system in Solano County. Ms. Gonsalves holds a BS in Health Services Administration from CSU Chico and a MS in Health Care Administration from Grand Canyon University. Ciara and fiancée Brett have 2 sons who are the center of their world. You may contact Ms. Gonsalves at (707) 784-1338 or CCGonsalves@solanocounty.com
Office Assistant III
Christiana Lewis began her Solano County career in 2013 with Health & Social Services in the Administration Hiring Division. Before long, she was welcomed aboard the First 5 Solano Family in 2014 as an Office Assistant III. Her duties include administrative support for the Executive and Deputy Directors, and Contract and Program Managers. She is currently earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Phoenix.
Christiana was born on Travis AFB and hails from Solano County where much of her family also resides. In 2009 her husband received orders to USAG Humphreys, South Korea and she couldn’t pass the opportunity to travel abroad and experience life immersed in another culture. For nearly three years she lived in Eastern Asia while working as a Contractor for the U.S. Army. During her free time, Christiana can be found spending time with family, reading, playing volleyball, or enjoying a “day-cation” somewhere local. Her greatest blessings and proudest accomplishments are her two sons, Jordan and Javon. Both boys provide Christiana and her wonderful husband, Sean, with daily doses of laughter and keep them focused on the meaning of life.
Please feel free to contact Mrs. Lewis at (707) 784-1492 or email@example.com
Office Assistant II
Amanda Holmes has been an employee of Solano County since 2012, when she began as an office aide for Animal Care Services. She transferred to First 5 Solano in 2013. A lifelong Solano County resident, Amanda was homeschooled K-12 and earned her BA in History from Bob Jones University. Her interest in working with youth was sparked by working several summers as a camp counselor and staff member. She hopes to eventually be involved in full-time camp work or youth ministry, but currently enjoys providing clerical support for the wonderful team at First 5 Solano.
Outside of the office, Amanda loves spending time with family and friends, being involved at church, hiking, working with horses, and trying to cook. She has two four-legged kids: Yankee, a toy fox terrier, and Aero, a chihuahua mix. You may reach Ms. Holmes at (707) 784-1336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashley Forsyth, Community Engagement Intern
Ashley Forsyth is a 20 year, life long, Solano County resident. She graduated from Angelo- Rodriguez High School and is currently enrolled at Napa Valley College. Currently she is pursuing her degree in Psychology and Sociology with a minor in Photography. Her love of anything artistic and getting to know people on a personal level drives her at her current job and future career. She hopes to be a psychiatric counselor one day or a teacher at a high school but until then, she loves working with all her coworkers at First Five Solano. All three of her Uncles and her Father have been civil servants of some form and she is excited to be following in their footsteps.
In her free time Ashley loves to do anything creative. She has her own photography business and Etsy, a website for artists and craftsmen to sell their goods, and enjoys being involved in theatre and music, of which she did four years of in High School. She has a deep love of anything nature, baked goods, the lovely 1800’s, the arts, and God.
You can contact Ashley at (707)-784-1341 or email@example.com
Courtney Perry, First 5 Futures Intern
Courtney is a master’s student attending the California State University of Sacramento focusing on a Master’s of Arts in Sociology. Courtney believes that the most precious things in our lives are the conversations and moments that we share. Money can buy items within the materialistic realm, but cannot purchase or replace moments exchanged. Working with First 5 Solano allows Courtney to participate in something that is both meaningful and impacts the community at large, which is important to her. Her own childhood experiences compelled her to engage in an organization that supplies children and their families with essential tools that allow for the upmost potential to be reached.
Raisa Ballesteros, Safety Net Summit Intern
Raisa attends Sacramento State University in the Masters of Social Work Program (MSW). In addition to interning for First 5 Solano, she also interns with a local mental health division assisting with Integrated Behavioral Health/ Care Coordination. Raisa likes to challenge herself in the most positive ways possible by stepping out of her comfort zone and trying new activities and exploring new places.
Raisa’s work with First 5 Solano focuses on working with the Safety Net Summit on ending poverty in Solano County. Poverty is one of the biggest issues facing families. Strong families help produce strong and resilient children, working to end poverty helps families recognize their strengths and provides supports to keep children healthy.