For Vicki Law, 55, life has been full of adventures. She was born in Longview, Washington but soon after, her family began to move, having her experience living in six States including Oregon, Alaska, Las Vegas, California, Illinois, and Washington. Her father was an executive for FW Woolworths, and that required him to move every two to three years.
“This taught me flexibility and appreciation of different local cultures and locations,” Law said.
Fast forward to now, it is those experiences that have shaped her into the current caring Executive Director for Partners For Peace (P4P). “Vicki cares about everyone she interacts with and you feel it wholeheartedly,” said Board President, Dana Edgull. “She is a treasure and an amazing visionary leader.”
In 2014, Law was the Parent Project Program Director for P4P and was instrumental in adding the prevention program Loving Solutions. Three years later, she had the opportunity to lead the organization.
“I really believe that parent education should be required for all families - to give parents the tools they need in today’s world,” she said.
Program Manager, Leticia Molinero says that Vicki really loves her job and it shows. “She goes above and beyond to make sure the parents/families in our community have what they need to thrive; as a result she is highly involved in the community and is always looking out for opportunities to provide our services,” Molinero said.
Vicki’s love for the communities she lived in began as she traveled from state to state. Her nonprofit career began with an entry level position with Girls Scouts of Napa-Solano in 1989.
After almost 10 years, she got the opportunity of a lifetime! She began to work for Girl Scouts USA Overseas North Atlantic as Director of Membership and Marketing. She worked in 56 locations, in nine countries on military bases/posts. She worked with Colonels to get permission to sell Girl Scout cookies and organized Girl Scout activities with host nation Girl Scouts while providing training to local volunteers.
After five years she was transferred from Europe to the West Pacific and managed training, membership, and marketing to volunteers on mainland Japan, Okinawa, and South Korea. She enjoyed her work with the Girl Scouts and creating opportunities for engagement at the international level.
In 2006, she moved back to California and became the Chief Operating Officer for what is now the Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast. Soon after, she met John, go married and gained. a bonus daughter who has recently made them grandparents of two girls.
“Vicki makes sure that families are able to get their needs met, whether that be for concrete assistance, family education, or simply a warm smile and compassionate acceptance,” said Edgull.
For her, knowing that her team at P4P makes a difference in the lives of families of Monterey County is priceless. “You can see it,” she admits. “Families come with their arms folded and desperate on day one; on the last day of workshops, they have learned to say ‘I love you’ to their child every day and pick up the parenting tools needed for 21st century youth!”
At Partners For Peace, parents learn to reconnect with child and report improvements in communication. Parent/caregiver and child learn to listen to each other’s dreams according to the data.
“Her passion and experience are as parent educator – she mentors and encourages others with the same interests and that's something I enjoy learning from her,” said Molinero.
Of course Vicki thinks the world of her staff. “My staff gives 150%!” she said. “They are amazing and do the work all for the right reasons; they believe in strong families and we reflect the diversity of our families and the community.”
The Board of Directors is another key element that shows its diversity and respect for each other and the guiding work of the organization. 100% of the board makes financial contributions to Partners For Peace each year – they give their time, talents, and energies to ensure that Partners For Peace is strong so the organization can inspire strong, thriving families.
In her spare time, Vicki loves to go hiking, enjoys gardening, and flipping furniture. Many will be surprised to know that she took up cooking at 32 and has turned out to be a great cook.
In the coming years, Vicki has big plans for Partners For Peace. “I want to increase the footprint of P4P in Monterey County; I want to continue to serve families both online and in-person, and give them the tools and compass they need to navigate the challenges that their youth face in today’s world.”
It was back in 2011 when Leticia Molinero joined the efforts of Partners For Peace (P4P) as a volunteer in the Strengthening Families Program.
Leticia’s goal was to become a family therapist, thus her educational journey led her to Southern California as a double major in psychology and child development at Cal State University San Bernardino. She stayed in Orange County working at a Kinder Care facility and later at the Refugee Immigrant Shelter.
Less than two years ago, Leticia returned to Salinas and reconnected with Partners For Peace. Executive Director, Vicki Law, welcomed her with open arms as outreach assistant. A few months later, she would be promoted to program manager.
“It’s great to be back,” she said. “I am doing what I intended with my degree; I can relate to clients and I understand what they are going through.”
Leticia has a beautiful baby boy, Elias, who is almost two-years-old.
She says that the team at P4P is supportive.
She says that parents should not be afraid to ask for help. “We are here to make families stronger,” Leticia said.
Brenda Almaraz, 35, was born and raised in Salinas, CA. She is not new to Partners For Peace. Nearly a decade ago, she volunteered for the Strengthening Families Program when these were being hosted at the National Steinbeck Center.
"I enjoyed seeing the transitions the parents and children would have from the beginning to end of the course - I could see a big difference," she said. Brenda made sure that the doors were open for all parents and children to have an accessible facility for everyone. She also ensured everything was ready for the childcare provided to parents attending the classes.
As the new Office Manager for P4P, she organizes and coordinates administration duties such as customer service, invoices, scheduling meetings, keeping a database of important information, and participating in outreach events, among others.
"I feel very proud to be part of an amazing program; it's very fulfilling," she said. Brenda is happy being involved with the community that saw her grow up. She thinks it is amazing to be able to help with education in prevention and intervention for families, youth, and caregivers. Since she has been part of the community all her life, she is familiar with the community's needs and areas of improvement. What she loves most about this job is the contribution to change and the giving back to others.
Working with the staff has been a delight for her. "The staff is very nice,” she said. "I feel comfortable working with them." She adds that communication is key and when she needs help, the team is there to guide her.
With the experience to be gained at P4P, Brenda wants to be more involved and hands-on to make significant changes for youth and families in Monterey County.
Brenda looks forward to traveling more to learn and see things and places that are still unknown to her. She currently lives with her family in Salinas, CA, and loves watching scary movies and playing video games.
It was 10 years ago that Vanessa Urrea joined Partners For Peace as an administrative assistant. This mother of three worked her way up to Program Manager and has big goals for her future that may include founding her own non-profit.
“Vanessa is extremely smart and talented,” said Executive Director, Vicki Law. “She not only serves our families, but she takes time to get to know them.”
Urrea lives in Salinas with her husband Trozki Urrea and children. She graduated from Hartnell College and is currently in her last year at Brandman University to earn her bachelor’s in Social Work. She will continue with a master’s degree.
“When I first started here, I was not so involved in the programs, but when I started teaching, I was hooked,” she said. “Parents are so appreciative and thankful and I look forward to helping these families who want to make a change in their lives.”
She is certified to train all 3 programs: Strengthening Families Program, Parent Project® and Loving Solutions.
“I like teaching them all,” she said. “But my favorite is the Strengthening Families Program because of the interaction with parents, caretakers, and youth; it’s more work, but I love it!”
She credits previous Executive Director, Kathy Bauer for her training and passion to help families. Urrea uses this training in her own family life and confessed that her 15-year-old daughter is doing much better than she was at that age, “that’s how I know I am doing a good job.”
Vanessa says that some parents come into the program feeling discouraged, thinking that they will be put on the spot and be judged as a ‘bad parent,’ which is all they are used to hearing from everyone else. Vanessa came up with her own motivational and inspiring quote that says, “Perfect parents don’t exist, but amazing parents do and you are one of them.”
“People see the outcomes and the transformation because we are all working as a collaborative - staff, facilitators, volunteers, and community partners,” she said.
The parents’ perspective and attitude change once they know that the Partners For Peace team is on their side.
Urrea loves family time. At home, they enjoy board games, arts & crafts, hiking, camping, swimming, movie night, and more. During a normal year, she loves to visit Lake Tahoe. As a hobby, Vanessa is serious about couponing – saving money is her area of expertise!
At the end of the day, she is happy to be making a difference in the lives of many.
“It’s rewarding at the end of each series,” she said. “You get to see the change in families, even if it’s a little.”