About Us

Who is Families Forward?

Who is Families Forward?

Our Story

Starting with 5 rented apartments in 1984, Families Forward has expanded to work with hundreds of families to regain economic independence and find a stable home for their children. Our vision is to end homelessness for local families.

Our Mission

Families Forward exists to help families in need achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through housing, food, counseling, education, and other support services.

Our Values

Families Forward holds strong to our commitment to the values of dignity, empowerment, accountability, community spirit, and hope.

  • Dignity – Honor each individual through an atmosphere of respect, trust, and confidentiality.
  • Empowerment – Inspire self-sufficiency through the development of courage, confidence, and pride.
  • Accountability – Accept responsibility for commitments and accomplishing our goals.
  • Community Spirit – Realize our vision through teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration.
  • Hope – Share a belief in new beginnings and allowing dreams of the future to emerge.

The Hidden Orange County

One of the fastest growing segments of the homeless population is working families with children struggling to make ends meet. The high cost of basic living, including rent, transportation and childcare, coupled with the significant lack of affordable housing, puts many families at risk. More than 28,000 school-age children are homeless or housing-insecure. These are the families we see every day.

How We Help

Housing Program: Placing homeless children and families into stable housing. Families Forward works with homeless families to find realistic solutions for sustainable housing and build individualized plans to return each family to self-sufficiency. By stabilizing these families and giving them tools to build a future, we create a stronger community for all of us. A key factor for success is Families Forward’s commitment to collaborate with many organizations to end family homelessness in Orange County, including Orange County United Way, the Commission to End Homelessness, the Children and Families Commission and many other partner agencies and foundations. Only together will we be able to end homelessness in Orange County. Visit the Housing Program page for more information.

Community Services: Providing supportive services to improve lives. Families Forward also reaches out to low-income families to help reduce the pressures that can cause homelessness and help them maintain their stability. Through various safety-net services, those at-risk are given access to assistance such as our on-site food pantry, counseling, career coaching, and financial and life skills education. The goal of the program is to help families recover from a financial crisis so they can maintain their self-sufficiency. Visit the services page for more information.

Take a look at our Quick Facts to learn about Families Forward’s 2017 Impact.

How You Can Help

It’s fun and easy to get involved with Families Forward. Consider one of our many volunteer opportunities listed in our Volunteer section. Or visit our Donate section to see how your support can help families build a path to self-sufficiency.

Your support will help change a child’s life and create hope for a brighter future.



Brian Arzate, Property Coordinator

Regina Bienstock, Counselor

Rose Bermudez, Grant Compliance Manager

Jacqulene Bond, Housing Resource Specialist

Amanda Bravo, Operations Coordinator

Andrew Castillo, Family Service Navigator  – Family Solutions Collaborative

Eduardo Castillo, Case Manager

Nancy Cerda, Family Service Navigator – Family Solutions Collaborative

Ghislaine Chavez, Counselor

Elizabeth Childs, Director of Human Resources

Tyler Choi, Grant Coordinator

Isis Cortina, Data Quality Coordinator

Cristina Cota, Housing Resource Specialist

Danielle DeBerg, Controller

Alexandra Del Castillo, Operations Manager

Victoria Epperson, Staff Accountant

Ashleigh Gonzales, Community Outreach Coordinator

Yadira Gonzalez, Housing Resource Manager

Jen Granger, Director of Development

Marissa Hall, Volunteer Manager

Edith Hernandez, Supportive Services Coordinator

Heidi Herrera, Housing Resource Specialist

Madelynn (Montoya) Hirneise, Director of Program and Strategic Initiatives

Hanna Ibrahim, Career Coach

Diane Ilan, Director of Community Counseling

Briana Iniestra, Volunteer Assistant

Mimi Kahn, Counselor

Frank Lopez, Case Manager

Kimberly Marmolejo, Case Manager

Jaqueline Martinez, Housing Program Manager

Marika McCall, Development Manager

Kristin Oliphant, Housing Resource Specialist

Josie Perez, Data Entry Clerk

Heidi Prescott, Career Coach

Madison Rachels, Case Manager

Ashley Rebai, Case Manager

Alec Rivera, Facilities Assistant

Soledad Rivera, Family Service Director – Family Solutions Collaborative

Estela Salgado-Cohen, Counselor

Rebecca Samaha, Supportive Services Manager

Paul San Felipe, Housing Resource Specialist

Andy Sepulveda, Data Entry Clerk

Sayed Sohil – Facilities Assistant

Amy Spencer, Family Navigator

Kim Strohm, Senior Marketing Manager

Sarah Stokes, Marketing Specialist

Lauren Ullom, Development Assistant

Mayra Vargas, Family Service Navigator – Family Solutions Collaborative

Margie Wakeham, CEO

Mike Young, Director of Community Relations


Board of Directors

Board of Directors

During fiscal year 2017-2018, 100% of our Board of Directors made financial contributions to support the work of Families Forward. THANK YOU for the advocacy and commitment you have shown to families throughout Orange County!


Gary Cohn, Chairman of the Board, Marx|Okubo

Robert Davis, Chairperson – Strategic Planning, HNTB Corporation

Ryan Warne-McGraw, Chairperson – Program, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Sandy Avzaradel, Chairperson – Governance, Community Leader

Peter Reynolds, Chairperson – Audit, Community Leader

Khairulnissa Hotaki, Co-Chairperson – Fund Development,  U.S. Bank

Mark Engstrom, Co-Chairperson – Fund Development, Deloitte & Touche LLP

Mark Henigan, Treasurer, Irvine Company

Meg English, Secretary, Community Leader 

Mark Harryman, Chairperson – Human Resources, Unire Real Estate Group




Kfir Ben-Zvi, PIMCO

Sherry Benjamins, S. Benjamins & Co. Inc.

Dr. Jim Berman, Internal Medicine

Rhonda Bolton, Community Leader

Deborah Coombs, AvalonBay Communities

Bradley Comp, Ayco, A Goldman Sachs Company

Bassam Fawaz, Qualidas Solutions

Shige Itoh, Rutan & Tucker, LLP

Michael Kaufman, Community Leader

Susan McClintic, Early Childhood Educator

Anna Mendoza, Tierra Development Advisors

Jon Radus, Lieutenant, Fullerton Police Department

Alex Razo, Wells Fargo

Trish Scarborough, Community Leader

David Snow, Distinguished Professor – UCI

Debbie Thomsen, Community Leader

Lori Torres, Parcel Pending

News and Updates

News and Updates

Thank you for your interest and support of Families Forward. We’re excited to share our latest news and information on helping disadvantaged families build a brighter future for themselves.

Please sign up to receive Families Forward emails to get information on upcoming events and quarterly newsletters.

Review our most recent eNewletters:

Families Forward News


Families Forward Videos

For press inquiries, please contact:

Sarah Stokes

Marketing Specialist



About Families Forward – Since 1984, Families Forward has worked with families in need to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through housing, food, counseling, career coaching, education, and other support services. Operating with a guiding principal of support with accountability, last year Families Forward improved the lives of over 11,500 children and adults by providing safety-net services through the framework of our values: Dignity, Empowerment, Accountability, Community Spirit and Hope.

Financial Information

Financial Information

Committed to Accountability & Transparency

Families Forward is consistently ranked as one of the best run charities in Orange County. Families Forward participates with Charity Navigator, Guidestar, and Connect OC, operated by the Orange County Community Foundation, to ensure supporters have easy access to information about our organization.

For the eighth year in a row, Families Forward earned Charity Navigator’s top 4 Star rating, placing our agency among the top 2% of rated charities nationwide.

Charity Navigator Icon

Guidestar Icon

Connect OC

2016-2017 Audited Financials at a Glance

Families Forward understands the importance of having a diverse funding base. The strength of our budget comes from a balanced approach of government, corporate, foundation, and individual contributions to implement our programs and services.

This past year, significant capital contributions from local cities accounted for the majority of income in excess of expenses for the year. In addition, there were significant unrealized gains on our investments.

FY 2016-2017 Revenues $5.5 M

For every $1.00 donated to Families Forward, $0.90 directly funds programs and services to client families. This is a direct result of Families Forward’s careful management of resources, an extensive volunteer corps and thousands of food and product donations.

FY 2016-2017 Expenses $4.8 M

Annual Report

Families Forward’s Annual Report provides a yearly overview of our programs and services and our impact on homeless and disadvantaged families in Orange County. Click here to view our 2016-2017 Annual Report.

Form 990

The Form 990 is a yearly report which all nonprofit organizations are required to file with the IRS. Families Forward’s most recent filing is the 2015-2016 Form 990.


Families Forward’s latest Audit of Financial Statements (2016-2017) is also available. This audit includes information about our internal accounting and financial reporting processes and controls.

Family Homelessness in OC

Family Homelessness in OC

Lack of Affordable Housing

There is a significant lack of affordable housing in Orange County, making affording an apartment extremely difficult for families struggling to make ends meet. As reported in the Orange County 2018 Community Indicators Report, Orange County needs approximately 92,738 more units of affordable housing to keep up with the current need.

Additionally, the hourly wage needed to afford a median-priced one-bedroom unit in Orange County was $28.71, equivalent to an annual income of $59,720. In comparison, a minimum wage earner would have to work 104 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment.

Families earning less than the median income in Orange County are spending at least 78% of their income on rent, leaving 22% or less for all other living expenses. This challenging ratio of income to living expense leaves many families on the cusp of – and vulnerable to – homelessness. In addition, many families do not have any safety-net resources such as savings or local family to support them through a challenging time.

High Cost of Living

Due to the high cost of basic living needs in Orange County, including rent, transportation and childcare, families can lose their housing with any slight unforeseen expense or disruption. This challenging ratio of income to living expense leaves many families on the cusp and vulnerable to homelessness. As reported in the Orange County 2018 Community Indicators report, 5.8% – or 28,450 – Orange County students have insecure housing. Since the 2007-2008 school year, the number of unsheltered students has risen 512%. At 5.8% of total enrollment, Orange County has proportionately more students with insecure housing than the statewide average and all California regions including Los Angeles county and San Diego county.

Many families do not have any safety-net resources such as savings or local family to support them through a challenging time. A job loss, sudden illness or rent increase can often push the family beyond their financial limits and result in them losing their home. This is the case for the vast majority of literally homeless families who come to Families Forward for assistance.

Poverty and Hunger

According to the 2018 Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 49.1% of students, or 235,275 individuals, in 2016/2017 qualified for free and reduced price meals in Orange County. This number is widely viewed as a proxy for the number of children at or near the poverty line and indicates a rising level of need for safety net services in O.C. Our food pantry is one of our many basic safety net services provided that allows families to focus on their journey towards self-sufficiency.

OC Cost of Homelessness Report

Families Forward is proud to be a contributor to important research that dispels many of the myths of the homeless in our neighborhoods. We encourage you to read more about the OC Homeless Cost Study and Report.

Last updated: 12/9/2018

Request a Tour

Request a Tour

Would you like to learn more about Families Forward and how you could get involved with our mission? Complete the form below to request an information session or tour of our Program Center at 8 Thomas in Irvine.

Contact Us

Contact Us


8 Thomas, Irvine, CA 92618, US

Driving Directions

Click here for an interactive map

Hours of Operation:

Monday-Thursday 9AM-5PM and Fridays 9AM-1PM

Families Forward is a 501(c)(3) organization

Federal Tax ID #: 33-0086043

Get in Touch with Us

Would you like to learn more about what we do and how you can get involved? Call us during business hours at 949-552-2727.

Or fill out this form below to learn more about our services, volunteer opportunities or how you can support our mission to end homelessness for local families.


Employment Opportunities

Do you have a strong desire to make a positive impact in your community? Do you see yourself thriving in a dynamic, constructive, and collaborative workplace? Then Families Forward might just be the place for you!

We are committed to making a difference in the Orange County community. Families Forward is a non-profit, community-based organization that provides housing, food, counseling, education and other support services to families and individuals facing homelessness in the Orange County, California area and provides programs to help such families and individuals become self-sufficient.

Families Forward is an organization with a solid history since 1984 and a growing future with career opportunities in case management, counseling, workforce development, fund development and more.

Values-Based Culture

Our core values are the foundation of culture at Families Forward. We seek people who share a common commitment to integrity and excellence, and who demonstrate these five core values:

  • Dignity: Honor each individual through an atmosphere of respect, trust and confidentiality.
  • Empowerment: Inspire self-sufficiency through the development of courage, confidence and pride.
  • Accountability: Accept responsibility for commitments and accomplishing our goals.
  • Community Spirit: Realize our vision through teamwork, cooperation and collaboration.
  • Hope: Share a belief in new beginnings and allowing dreams of the future to emerge.

See below to review current openings and application instructions. No employment inquiries via telephone please. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Current Openings



Academic Internships

Families Forward offers academic internships in a variety of departments, including: Finance, Fund Development and Marketing & Communications, and Program & Operations. For more information on our internships, please contact our Volunteer Manager, Marissa Hall, at internship@families-forward.org or (949) 716-2731.