Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. The center partners with family support organizations in San Luis Obispo County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority.

Helping families thrive.

Center for Family Strengthening Staff

Lisa Fraser – Executive Director

Lisa Fraser, Executive Director of the Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) since 2001, distinguishes herself through her vision to create and grow nine major programs, and two regional initiatives, each designed to strengthen families and stop the cycle of child abuse. 

In July 2016, The LINK Family Resource Center hired Lisa to provide executive director services and oversee a Nonprofit Administrative Consolidation for both organizations. She also serves as Board President of Alpha Pregnancy and Parenting Support, is a member of the San Luis Obispo County Children Services Network and Child Care Planning Council and is a preeminent leader in SLO County’s human service field.

While her legacy has had a tremendous impact on our SLO County community, Lisa’s talents and her commitment to families are recognized on a regional and state level. She provided coordination for the Coastal Tri-Counties Child Abuse Prevention Coalition, established the Regional Child Death Review Team for Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties and served on the California State Child Death Review Council. Lisa also participated in developing the California Family Support Standards, part of an ongoing initiative to define and promote quality in the field of family strengthening. 

Lisa designed and launched Parent Connection, a county-wide system of parent education resources and coaching services. She was also one of the founding leaders that established Martha’s Place Children’s Assessment Center for at-risk children. In 2016 Lisa was honored with the Cuesta Community College Women of Distinction Award in recognition of her tireless work to protect children in the community. 

With the support of the California Office of Child Abuse Prevention Lisa provides leadership in the Child Abuse Prevention sector and promotes Family Resource Centers as a primary approach to protecting children from neglect and abuse. In 2016 Lisa launched the Strategies 2.0 Southern California Learning Community funded by a grant from California Department of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP). The regional learning community is designed to build the capacity of California’s communities to create the conditions in which all children and families can thrive. Lisa serves as the Learning Community Facilitator and convenes leaders in the field of family strengthening throughout nine counties in Southern California. 

Lisa earned a B.S. Degree and a Single-Subject Teaching Credential at Cal Poly. She has also earned professional certifications including California Standards for Family Strengthening and Support certification, California Mandated Reporter of Suspected Child Abuse certification, non-Profit Development Officer Program certification, and a certificate in Facilitative Leadership-Interaction Institute for Social Change.

Lisa loves the “community spirit” of the Central Coast where she and Larry, her husband of 31 years, have raised two children, Brooke, and Dylan. She is an avid tennis player and active in social organizations and the arts.  

Erica Ruvalcaba-Heredia – Program Director

Erica Ruvalcaba-Heredia is the Program Director for the Center for Family Strengthening. She oversees the Promotores Collaborative of San Luis Obispo County, Innovative Partnerships, a regional grant funded by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP), in partnership with Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and coordinates the Child Advocacy System (CAC) of San Luis Obispo.  Erica is also a parent educator and mother of three beautiful sons. For twenty-four years she and husband have called the Central Coast home.

For over a decade Erica was a First 5 School Readiness Site Coordinator in Oceano. During this time, she worked with families struggling to meet basic needs, obtain health services and navigate the school system. Erica was part of the pilot program for Promotores that started in South County. She has been a fundamental part of the strategic planning, organizing and development of the Promotores educational trainings. Her own personal experience and knowledge of Latino culture helps to bridge gaps, create effective outreach opportunities, and empower the community.

Erica also serves as a First 5 Commissioner. She is devoted to advocate for the community’s needs. Today she works in collaboration with other agencies to ensure children and parents are receiving equal access to healthcare and services/resources needed to live a healthy life.

Erica is a graduate of the University of Santa Barbara and earned her Master’s Degree in Spanish and BA in Spanish and Latino and Iberian Studies. She holds an Educational Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the University of Laverne. She has also taught Spanish classes at Allan Hancock College for more than 15 years. Erica’s passion is to make a positive difference in people’s lives and her authentic leadership is exemplified in this John C. Maxwell quote, “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts.  It is about one life influencing another.”

Gwendolyn Garcia – Program Coordinator

Gwendolyn Garcia joins Center for Family Strengthening as Program Coordinator for CFS’ major programs: Parent Connection, Kidz Tool Box for personal safety, Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition and Postpartum Depression Support Services.

Garcia graduated from California Polytechnic University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Child Development and a minor in Psychology and also holds Associate Degrees in Early Child Development and Behavioral Sciences. Impressively, while completing her studies at Cal Poly, she received training through Active Parenting and Positive Discipline parent education curriculum.

She was a preschool teacher with Early Head Start at Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, where she worked with children ages infants to three years old. Previousvly, Gwen was a co-Teacher working with pre-schoolers at the County Office of Education in Paso Robles and Shandon.

Gwendolyn has lived in San Luis Obispo county for the majority of her life and loves the fact that she and her husband are raising their children here. In her free time she is a photographer and uses her creative energy on a variety of artistic projects.

27 August 2020

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25 February 2021

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