Executive Team

Katherine M. Karpé, CFRE: Chief Executive Officer

Katherine (Kathy) Karpé, CFRE, serves as the dedicated Chief Executive Officer and a prominent advocate for children, leveraging her extensive experience of two decades in collaboration with progressive organizations to address the needs of underserved children and youth. Since 2003, Kathy has dedicated her time, talents, and fundraising acumen to Casa de Amparo, where she initially served as Director of Development.

Through vigilant stewardship and strategic planning, Kathy oversees all aspects of Casa de Amparo’s programs, services, and administration, aligning with the organization’s mission of treating and preventing child abuse and neglect. Kathy oversees strategic partnerships and donor relations, including leading the development team responsible for capital and major gifts efforts, grant writing, special events, volunteer recruitment, marketing and public relations, and gift drives. Kathy’s excellent interpersonal expertise, human resource management skills, and social intelligence make her a results-driven leader, evident by her 2018 Spirit of Carol Sigelman Award, presented to her by the North County Philanthropy Council in celebration of her effort to help others in North County San Diego.

While serving as Casa de Amparo’s Director of Development, Kathy was instrumental in the construction of the TrueCare & Lennar Foundation health center, an on-site healthcare facility situated on the San Marcos Casa Kids campus. The center alleviates the challenge that foster youth face in accessing health care while providing a safe space for young women at Casa de Amparo who have suffered severe trauma.

Kathy has been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for more than 20 years. When she’s not out making the world a better place for the Casa kids, she is with her husband, raising a teenage daughter, or enjoying time as a dog mom.

Scott Ryder: Chief Financial Officer

As CFO, Scott Ryder is responsible for directing the fiscal functions of Casa de Amparo. He has 25+ years of executive leadership experience in finance and operations in the non-profit and for-profit sectors

Before joining Casa de Amparo, Scott Ryder was the CFO of Motivating the Masses, Inc. whose mission is to help clients develop the strategy, motivation, and accountability required to succeed in their business and personal lives. He also served as CFO for The ManKind Project USA, a global nonprofit charitable organization with nine regions around the world. Previous to his work at The ManKind Project USA, Scott was the COO / CCO for McGladrey Capital Markets, a global mid-market investment bank. During his tenure, the company sold more than 300 companies and generated more than $8 billion in liquidity for its clients.

Scott earned an M.B.A. from the Paul Merage School of Business at U.C. Irvine, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from University of Redlands. He lives in Carlsbad with his wife Lisa, son Wyatt, daughter Nora and their dog, Apollo.

Erin Gospodarec, BA, Chief Operations Officer

Erin Gospodarec has held many key positions at Casa de Amparo since joining the organization in 2006. In her current leadership role, she oversees the Finance, Human Resources, Quality Assurance and Information Technology teams while developing strategies and policies that promote the agency’s sustainable growth and improved outcomes.

Erin currently represents Casa de Amparo and other residential treatment providers on the County of San Diego’s Child and Family Strengthening Advisory Board and serves as Casa de Amparo’s Privacy Officer. Her passion for ensuring that children and families have access to safe, high-quality, effective behavioral health care guides her commitment to creating efficient agency-wide systems that promote accountability and continuous compliance.

Erin attended the University of San Diego, where she was received a Bachelor’s Degree in English and was a captain on the Torero’s NCAA Division I Softball team. Today, Erin enjoys spends her time enjoying San Diego with her family.


Denisse Lucero, Director of Residential Services

Casa De Amparo prides themselves on having leaders with not only the knowledge, but the understanding and passion for children that they serve. With more than 15 years of experience in foster care, residential, wraparound and social services, Casa De Amparo’s Director of Residential Services Denisse Lucero builds strong relationships with foster children and youth by providing consistent support to both children and staff. She is a graduate of California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and a mother of two. Her passion for working with at-risk youth, seeing their positive outcomes and being a part of their permanency planning always keeps her coming back. She leads a diverse staff and sets the pace for data driven innovative and solution-based work. She fosters direction that is passionate, people-first and supports culturally sensitive efforts to meet the needs of the child, the families, and the staff each day.

Elyse James, Director of Transitional Housing

With over 12 years of experience, Elyse James, the Director of Transitional Housing, has dedicated her career to supporting a diverse range of individuals across various sectors, including healthcare, government, non-profit, private, and medical social work. Her expertise lies in helping individuals overcome trauma, emotional, and behavioral challenges.

Elyse’s journey with Casa de Amparo began in 2017, where she served as an Advocate, Program Manager, and eventually as the Director for the New Directions Transitional Housing Program until 2022. Her earlier role as a San Diego County Protective Services Worker ignited her passion for working with system-impacted individuals, leading her to contribute significantly to Casa de Amparo’s mission.

Demonstrating proven leadership, team-building, and organizational skills, Elyse is committed to expanding the reach of New Directions to serve more young people in the community. Her focus extends to sustaining positive community connections, fostering a healthy work environment for staff, implementing trauma-informed practices for youth, and facilitating individual growth, knowledge, and resource acquisition for participants, preparing them for a healthy and sustainable life beyond Casa de Amparo.

In 2023, Elyse rejoined Casa de Amparo after obtaining her LCSW and working as a psychotherapist specializing in perinatal mental health and reproductive loss. This additional therapeutic knowledge enhances her ability to support the transformative years of youth at Casa de Amparo.

Beyond her professional commitments, Elyse finds joy in outdoor activities, walking trails, practicing yoga, and indulging in abstract art. She values quality time with her husband Christopher, along with their pup Penny and cat Remington.

Heather Jenkins, M.A., CFRE, Director of Development

Heather Jenkins has over 13 years of fundraising experience and joined Casa de Amparo in 2019. Leading a dynamic development team, Heather oversees all fundraising operations, including grant writing, special events, volunteerism, marketing & public relations, corporate partnerships, in-kind donations, and board relations.

Before her tenure at Casa de Amparo, Heather contributed her skills to two prominent national healthcare fundraising organizations while specializing in peer-to-peer events and major gifts. She obtained her Master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego. Heather is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and holds the Certified Fund Raising Executive designation.

Beyond her professional achievements, Heather is a native San Diegan, finding joy in sunset walks along Sail Bay and spending time with her family.

Board Of Directors

Chair of the Board

Debbie Slattery
Senior Vice President & Business Center Manager, California Bank & Trust

Vice Chair of the Board

Marilou Dela Rosa
Owner, Access Care Culture of Caring

Immediate Past Chair

Kayleen Huffman
CFO, Bassett Home Furnishings


Michele Lambert
CFO, Vista Community Clinic


Michael Platis
Senior Project Manager, Cumming Construction Management

Board Members

Kerry Forde | Chief Operating Officer, Kaiser Permanente

Jim Grant | President, Grant General Contractors

Katharine Krul-Manor | CEO & Founder, KKM Leadership

Vanessa Negrete | Attorney, Negrete Law Group, P.C.

Dr. Jon Montgomery | Medical Officer, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

Allen Owens | Owner, Owens Training & Consulting

Jerry Stein | Member of the Board of Directors, Stein Family Foundation

Sharon Stein | Member of the Board of Directors, Stein Family Foundation

Alan Willingham | Vice President of Operations, Lennar

Honorary Board Members

Mary Ann Bosanac

Lou Ferrero

Stephanie Hanson

Stephen Hoffman

Paul Judge

Duffy Keys

Diane Martin

Corky Mizer

Dustin Plantholt

Jeffrey Strauss