Dana Stevens
Board President
Executive Director, Community Action, Service & Advocacy (CASA). 

Ms. Stevens’s 20 +year experience in policy work has led to cutting edge initiatives featured in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA),the cover of the Los Angeles Times, and television news programs including HBO, 60 Minutes, 48-Hours and Fox Life Lessons documentaries. Her projects have been recognized with prestigious awards including Golden Mike Award for Documentary (2004), Health Communicators Gold Award for Advocacy (2008). She has been a community organizer and champion for the underserved her entire adult life. Among her numerous recognitions and awards, Ms. Stevens has been recognized as the Public Health Champion for San Diego County (2016) and with the UNITY Award from Palomar Health (2008). Dana holds a bachelor’s degree from UCSD in Urban Studies and Planning and certificate in Nonprofit Management from USD. Currently, Ms. Stevens is the Executive Director at Community Action, Service & Advocacy (CASA). The agency has been serving the East Region of San Diego County for 30 years providing capacity building for residents as social change agents and policy advocacy to solve community problems that impact public health and safety.

Read more

Sal Sarkis
Board Vice President
(Transit Use Training Project Coordinator).

Carol Lewis
Board Secretary
Coordinator for the El Cajon Collaborative (ECC).

Ms. Lewis is no stranger to social services, having spent eight years as the Community Liaison for a group of San Diego community health clinics and as chair of the Mountain Empire Collaborative. She received the 2013 Public Health Champion East Region Award

for her efforts strengthening the Mountain Empire Collaborative, working to bring better access to healthy foods through a rural store conversion and community and school gardens throughout the region.

Carol Lewis is the Coordinator for the El Cajon Collaborative (ECC).  In this role, Carol brings together social service agencies, community and faith-based organizations and county programs to build relationships, leverage resources and promote best practices to enhance the quality of life for families and seniors in El Cajon and East County.   The ECC Coordinator also serves as the property manager for Little House Family Resource Services, a centrally located resource center housing five service agencies.  In 2016, El Cajon Collaborative was awarded the Directors Award for HHSA’s Public Health Champion for the Communities of Excellence Project (CX3), sharing the award with five other San Diego collaborative organizations.

In addition to her professional role serving the community, she can always be found volunteering for organizations such as Kiwanis Club of Alpine and the American Cancer Society.  Carol brings her passion for people to organizing events around the county to benefit youth, cancer survivors, seniors and the underserved populations. She was recognized for her volunteer work with Kiwanis and San Diego Blood Bank with a 2012 Healthcare Hero Award from the Grossmont Healthcare District.

Today, Ms. Lewis’s passion is working with the refugee community in East County. ECC hosts a Newcomers’ Collaborative Work Group that brings together agencies and community members to collaborate and expand services to El Cajon’s refugee population.  This group has been meeting since 2007.  The work group holds two community resource-rich workshops each year held in our newcomers’ languages.  She also advocates for homeless services and housing through a new Homeless Work Group with ECC.

Read more


Dan Bender 
Board Treasurer 
Assistant to the Director of the Family Welcome Center.

Dan has earned a BA, an MRS and a MABS all from the Southern California Seminary in El Cajon, CA. He is the Mission Pastor of the Meridian Baptist Church, part of the missions program at Journey Community Church (in La Mesa) and has served in a cross-cultural capacity with Tecate Mission International for 23 years.

He helped to open the Family Welcome Center in El Cajon where he serves as full-time Program Director. He teaches and serves the refugee community day and night and at times on the weekends, too. He loves intereacting with the refugee community. He lives in La Mesa with his wife and partner of 43 years, Debbie. He and Debbie have 3 grown children and 8 grandchildren. Dan is slowly finishing his fourth degree at the local community college in Intercultural Studies and Cross-cultural communication.

Read more

Dina Polus
Board Member
Languages: (Chaldean, Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish, English).

Ayad Mathews
Board Member

A student of criminology at San Diego State University where he ultimately graduated with honors (magna cum laude), managing in the interim to engage in many on-campus organizations that aimed to empower the socioeconomically disadvantaged members of society. He is heavily involved in the community of El Cajon and has made it his life goal to become an attorney who devotes his time and effort to giving indigent people accessible and effective counsel representation—an element he believes to be paramount for justice. Ayad first year in the United State was 2009. 

Read more

Mohammad Sarferaz
Board Member
Languages: Farsi, Pashto, Dari, Urdo, & English.

Sarferaz is a newcomer from Afghanistan. He was awarded a special immigration visa in 2013 due to his contributions to the U.S mission in Afghanistan by working at the U.S Embassy in Kabul. Sarferaz has a bachelor’s degree in English Language and speaks English, Farsi, Pashto, Dari, and Urdo.

Currently, he is a member of a local committee called the Afghan Community of San Diego.

Sarferaz received many awards and recognitions such as: Certificate of Appreciation for the U.S. Mission in Afghanistan, U.S. Department of State, Recognition in Customer Service Training, U.S. Department of State, Certificate of Appreciation for the Office of Mobile Communications, U.S. Dept. of State, and Certificate in Surveillance Detection Unit, U.S. Embassy Regional Security Office.

Read more

Khalil Khalil
Board Member