Dreams For Change Staff


Our core values drive decision-making and create meaningful change within the communities we serve.

Teresa Smith, PhD


Teresa Smith founded Dreams for Change in 2009 to provide comprehensive social services through innovative programming and research. Through her experiences, Teresa saw the need to promote a new generation of ideas, institutions, and business practices to meet the new set of social challenges.

Teresa started Dreams for Change to address the growing first-time homelessness occurring primarily as a result of the Great Recession. Teresa developed the leading model of Safe Parking for individuals and families who are homeless and residing in their vehicle, which is currently being replicated in multiple cities throughout the country. Teresa’s work with individuals experiencing homelessness also includes developing and implementing a Social Enterprise employment training program.

Teresa’s accomplishments include recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, San Diego LEAD Community Spotlight Award, Joy McAllister Advocacy Award, and a two-time USD Social Innovation Challenge Award.

Teresa’s educational experience includes a BS in Psychology from Western Michigan University, MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego, and a MA and Ph.D. in Human Sciences from the California Institute in Human Sciences. Teresa also served eight years in the US Army Reserves coordinating mental health services.

Teresa Smith


Board of Directors

Dreams for Change’s Board of Directors is intentionally diverse, representing the community and including individuals with lived experience of the issues being addressed.

Mary Gross


Kay Dendy


Business Development &

Client Relations Executive

Esther Gomez



El Centro, CA

Levi Giafaglione


Community Engagement Manager

Lived Experience Advisers

Sean Green PhD
Sean Green, Ph.D


Assistant Dean for Community Engagements in Spirituality, Mental Health, and Catholic Education, University of San Diego

Gerald Ramsey


Retired Vice President for Student Services, 
San Diego Miramar College

Scott Suckow


Affiliated Partner & Senior Consultant

VPI Strategies & Perry Communications Group

Kim Pike Walters, CPA
Kim Pike Walters, CPA


Sr. Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis


Advisory Board

The Dreams for Change Advisory Board offers valuable expertise and knowledge to support our organization and its programs. Their input helps guide our decision-making and helps us achieve our mission.

Georgette Gomez

Kevin Landry

Scott Grimes

Ravi Nemani

Directors & Managers

Leadership is the ability to turn a vision into tangible results.