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Who We Are

First 5 Riverside County, the Riverside County Children & Families Commission, is a department of the County of Riverside. The Commission is funded by tobacco taxes generated by Proposition 10 (California Children and Families Act), which passed in November 1998. The act created a system of programs that promote, support, and improve the early development of children from the prenatal stage to five years of age.

First 5 Riverside County 2022 Communications Plan

Our Focus Areas

Quality Early Learning

Quality Early Learning

Children, birth through age 5, benefit from high-quality early education, early intervention, family engagement, and support that prepares all children to reach their optimal potential in school and life.

Comprehensive Health & Development

Comprehensive Health & Development

Children, prenatal through age 5, and their families access the full spectrum of health and behavioral health services needed to enhance their well-being.

Resilient Families

Resilient Families

Families and communities are engaged, supported, and strengthened through culturally effective resources and opportunities that assist them in nurturing, caring, and providing for their children's successes and well-being.

First 5 Riverside County devotes funding and resources in these three focus areas directly related to our Strategic Plan. The programs and initiatives we support, that prepare our youngest children and their families for success, are within this framework.

Our Mission

First 5 Riverside County invests in partnerships that promote, support and enhance the health and early development of children, prenatal through age 5, their families and communities.

Our Vision

All children in Riverside County are healthy and thrive in supportive nurturing and loving environments, and enter school ready to learn and embrace lifelong learning.

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About Us

To help direct Proposition 10 funds at the local level and support the healthy development of young children in their communities, County Commissions were established in each of California’s 58 counties.

The Riverside County Children & Families Commission is comprised of nine members. The Commission includes members appointed by each of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, a member of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, the Riverside County Health Officer, and an individual responsible for the management of one of several enumerate County functions (County Ordinance 784.11).

The Commission typically meets bi-monthly on the second Wednesday of each month at 2 p.m. at First 5 Riverside’s business offices, located at 585 Technology Court, Riverside, CA 92507. All of our meetings are open to the public; we invite and encourage our community partners, local organizations, and individuals to attend and participate.

Commission Meeting Materials

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    Zachary Ginder, Psy.D.

    ZACHARY GINDER, Psy.D.

    EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INLAND EMPIRE AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER ASSESSMENT CENTER OF EXCELLENCE
    Commission Chair
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 1

    Dr. Ginder comes to the Inland Empire Autism Assessment Center (AAC) with two decades of leadership experience within the fields of health, human services, and post-secondary education. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science from Illinois State University, a Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in Industrial/Organizational Social Work from the University of Southern California (USC), and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from California Southern University (CalSouthern). His direct practice, administrative, and organizational leadership experience comprises a diverse portfolio of work in homeless and residential services; service populations include homeless families and children, runaway and foster youth, transitional age youth, and individuals and families impacted by HIV/AIDs. Ginder has taught graduate level coursework at California State University, Northridge, and received tenure as a faculty member at Copper Mountain College (CMC), before becoming the Dean of Instruction. In 2018, Ginder was provided the opportunity to pair his passion for helping through organizational leadership with the extraordinary work performed by the AAC.

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    Jose Campos

    JOSE CAMPOS

    DIRECTOR OF PARENT INVOLVEMENT AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH, JURUPA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
    Commission Vice Chair
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 2

    Jose Campos serves as Director of Parent Involvement and Community Outreach for the Jurupa Unified School District. In 2012 he co-founded the Jurupa Community Collaborative (a Riverside County Models of Excellence award winning program) which supports the ongoing collaboration and building of partnerships across a multitude of agencies. Through these partnership and community focus came the establishment of a model resiliency program in the Jurupa Valley Community focused on meeting the many needs of the community.

    Additionally, under Mr. Campos’ leadership, Jurupa Unified School District operates various home visitation and center-based programs. He is a certified trainer for the Strengthening Families Framework, Triple P Parenting, Parent Child Home Program Coordinator, and Common Sense Parenting. He currently serves as Commission Chair for the Riverside County Children and Families Commission, Board Member for the HOPE Collaborative, Riverside Community Health Foundation, Rubidoux Family Resource Board, and as President of the Jurupa Valley Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Campos feels that relationships and systems are necessary to truly impact families and communities and has been recognized for his programs and achievements from the local level to the national level including Riverside County Administrator of the Year, County Public Health Champion of the Year, California’s Golden State Bell Award, and Kaiser Thriving Schools National Honor Roll.

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    Dr. Edwin Gomez

    EDWIN GOMEZ, Ed.D.

    SUPERINTENDENT, RIVERSIDE COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION
    Commissioner
    Represents Riverside County Office of Education

    Dr. Edwin Gomez serves as the 13th Riverside County Superintendent of Schools. In his role, Dr. Gomez works with the county’s 23 school districts and the staff at the Riverside County Office of Education to ensure high quality education that invests in all students while developing and sustaining strong collaborative relationships with students, teachers, parents, and the community for student success.

    Dr. Gomez began his educational career teaching in grades K-8. He has served as a principal in various social-economical communities, led a school out of program improvement status, subsequently resulting in nomination for a National Blue Ribbon Award.

    Dr. Gomez has been a district Chief Academic Officer and served as a District Superintendent for Adelanto Elementary School District and Coachella Valley Unified School District.

    Prior to his appointment as the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Edwin Gomez served as the Riverside County Deputy Superintendent of Schools and as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Riverside County Office of Education, overseeing the day-to-day operations and coordinating the legislative link between the County Office and state and federal government officials.

    Dr. Gomez earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Studies from Pitzer College, his multiple subject teaching credential from the University of Redlands, and Masters of Arts and Doctorate degrees from the California State University, San Bernardino.

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    V. MANUEL PEREZ

    V. MANUEL PEREZ

    RIVERSIDE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, DISTRICT 4
    Commissioner
    (** Alternate: Chuck Washington, Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 3)

    Supervisor Victor Manuel Perez represents the County’s Fourth District, which covers the eastern two-thirds of Riverside County, stretching from Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs, south to the Salton Sea and east to Blythe and the Colorado River.

    Born and raised in the Coachella Valley, the son of immigrant farmworkers, Manuel attended local public schools and graduated from the University of California, Riverside. He taught at a local middle school, and went on to earn a Master of Education degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University.

    He worked as a youth advocate and director of community health and advocacy for Santa Rosa Del Valle-Borrego Health, at Centro Medico Coachella and Centro Medico Oasis. From 2004 to 2008, he served on the Coachella Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees, where he led the passage of a $250 million bond to construct and renovate schools in the eastern Coachella Valley.

    In 2008, Manuel was elected to the California State Assembly, representing eastern Riverside County and Imperial County. Entering office during the great recession, he worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Governor’s Office to bring forth fiscal accountability, health care reform, renewable energy growth and job creation legislation.

    A champion for eastern Riverside County, Manuel had more than 60 pieces of legislation signed into law to help create jobs, jumpstart the local renewable energy industry and make neighborhoods safer. In the Assembly, Manuel became majority leader and worked closely with the Assembly Speaker on the day-to-day functions of the statehouse. He served as the chairman of the Jobs and Economic Development Committee, founding Vice Chair of the Select Committee for the Status of Boys and Men of Color as well as Chair of Stimulus, Economic Recovery and Jobs (SERJ).

    Manuel resides in his native city of Coachella with Gladis, his wife of 23 years. They have two sons, Ruben, who graduated from UC Davis and Alejandro, from UC Santa Barbara.

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    Charity Douglas

    CHARITY DOUGLAS

    DIRECTOR OF DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SOCIAL SERVICES, RIVERSIDE COUNTY
    Commissioner
    Represents the Riverside County Human Service Portfolio

    Charity Douglas is the Director of the Department of Public Social Services in Riverside County, overseeing Children’s Services, Adult Services, and Self Sufficiency Services. The department is dedicated to the safety, well-being, health, and independence of Riverside County’s children, families, and adults. The department serves more than 1 million people each year.

    Charity has over 20 years of experience driving supportive and innovative programming within multifaceted social service systems. She is driven by a belief in the transformative power of community partnerships. She is a passionate advocate for strengthening prevention and early intervention pathways to address poverty and combat abuse, particularly within the most vulnerable populations.

    Charity has a Bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master’s degrees in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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    STEPHANIE YOST

    STEPHANIE YOST

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, AGE OF LEARNING
    Commissioner
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 3

    Stephanie Yost received a B.A. in Communications Studies from UCLA in 1984, and until 1987, produced recorded music, live shows, and television commercials with her then-husband while living in Rancho Mirage. Following a visit to the San Jacinto mountains, they moved their studio and residence “up the Hill” to Idyllwild and Pine Cove. Leaving the area in 1990, Stephanie switched directions to attend Southwestern University School of Law, receiving her J.D. in 1994, and then clerking on the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. She began her law career as a media litigator at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and then became an IP/new media transactional attorney at Troy & Gould. In 2000, Stephanie joined Neopets, Inc., owner and operator of the popular kids’ website Neopets.com, as General Counsel. After Neopets was sold in 2005 to Viacom, Inc., she remained with the same management team as they founded the education technology company Age of Learning, Inc. From 2007-2015, Stephanie served as EVP of Content and General Counsel, during which time they launched their flagship product, ABCmouse.com and, in 2019, Adventure Academy. In 2015, Stephanie returned to her production roots, serving as Sr. EVP of Content Production and Design until 2018, and currently as Executive Producer, where she produces the company’s music and provides creative leadership for content development. She is a member of SAG-AFTRA and NARAS, as well as a Grammy nominee. Having never forgotten her love of the mountains, in 2008 Stephanie and her husband Steve Olson purchased a cabin in Idyllwild. In 2015, they purchased a full-time home, which they renovated and moved into in 2017.

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    KIM SARUWATARI, MPH

    KIM SARUWATARI, MPH

    DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH, RIVERSIDE COUNTY
    Commissioner
    Represents Riverside University Health System - Public Health

    Kim Saruwatari is the Director of RUHS - Public Health for Riverside County, California. Ms. Saruwatari began her career in Public Health 20 years ago in San Diego County as a senior epidemiologist for Public Health, with an emphasis on communicable disease investigations and emergency preparedness. In Riverside County, Ms. Saruwatari was Chief of Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response for the Department of Public Health and was on several emergency preparedness committees for the California Department of Public Health. Working with other administrators and outside agencies, Ms. Saruwatari oversaw the development of plans for Public Health responses to emergencies such as a pan flu epidemic, bio terrorism attack and natural disasters.

    Ms. Saruwatari also served as the first ever Director of Emergency Management for Riverside County. In this position she was responsible for creating a new model for emergency management by combining all-hazards preparedness and response with public health emergency management under a single department. She holds a B.A. in molecular and cell biology, and a Masters in Public Health in infectious diseases, both from the University of California, Berkeley.

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    Commissioner Elizabeth Romero

    ELIZABETH ROMERO

    ASSISTANT VICE CHANCELLOR OF GOVERNMENT & COMMUNITY RELATIONS, UCR
    Commissioner
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 4

    Elizabeth F. Romero is a lifelong resident of the Coachella Valley and daughter of immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador. A first-generation college graduate, Elizabeth attended College of the Desert and transferred to the University of California, Riverside earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. She holds a Masters of Politics, Economics and Business from Claremont Graduate University and recently completed the Institute for Educational Management (IEM) program at Harvard University.

    In 2006, Elizabeth was first elected to the Coachella Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees at the age of 23. Currently, Elizabeth serves as an elected member of the Riverside County Board of Education representing Coachella Valley, Desert Center, Desert Sands, Palm Springs and Palo Verde Unified School Districts.

    Professionally, Elizabeth serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Governmental & Community Relations at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). As the chief government and community relations officer, Elizabeth advocates and advances support for public higher education. UCR is widely recognized as one of the most diverse, inclusive institutions within the prestigious 10 campus University of California system.

    Prior to joining UCR, Elizabeth served as the Director of Community and Government Relations for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest in Riverside and Imperial Counties. Elizabeth also managed the Building Healthy Communities Initiative funded by The California Endowment and has worked for Desert Arc, University Center for Developmental Disabilities and served as a Legislative Assistant to the late Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor Roy Wilson and late Supervisor John J. Benoit.

    Elizabeth is an alumnus of the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) Leadership Institute and Women’s Policy Institute sponsored by the Women’s Foundation of California. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Regional Access Project Foundation, Inc., LifeStream Blood Bank and Youth Leadership Institute. Elizabeth and her husband, Luis, reside in Indio with their four-year-old son Aarón Eduardo.

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    Angelica Hurtado

    ANGELICA HURTADO

    PROGRAM MANAGER OF MULTILINGUAL EDUCATION, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
    Commissioner
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 5

    Angelica Hurtado currently serves as Program Manager of Multilingual Education for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools. She has been in bilingual education for over 25 years and has taught primarily in bilingual classrooms K-6. Angelica holds a BA in Liberal Studies from the University of California Riverside and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from California Baptist University. Angelica is an Education Doctoral candidate in Organizational Change at California Baptist University.

    In addition, Angelica has served as a bilingual Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) Support Provider, where she mentored 23 teachers for five years full-time. She has also been an English Learner Programs District Coordinator, leading the professional development offerings for 800 teachers in her district. Angelica has also been an Elementary School Principal, where she empowered her staff and her community to work collaboratively to benefit the students. Furthermore, Angelica has also been a Director of State and Federal Programs, where she helped school administrators stay in compliance with State and Federal guidelines. Presently, Angelica proudly serves 33 districts in San Bernardino County in the implementation and development of their multilingual programs.

    Angelica is a champion and advocates for all students from cradle to career in hopes of helping them achieve success in a global economy. Angelica is a servant leader that enjoys uplifting others and networking with colleagues. She resides in Moreno Valley. 

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    Malinda Margiotta

    MALINDA MARGIOTTA

    RETIRED EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION CHILD CARE CENTER OWNER/DIRECTOR
    Advisory Committee Chair
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 3

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    Kari Middleton Hendrix

    KARI MIDDLETON HENDRIX

    FINANCIAL ADVISOR/BUSINESS OWNER
    Advisory Committee Vice Chair
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 4

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    Eli Mast

    ELI MAST

    CEO/CO-FOUNDER, JOINT EARLY LEARNING IDEAS
    Advisory Committee Member
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 2

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    Agam Patel

    AGAM PATEL

    EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UCR - PALM DESERT CENTER
    Advisory Committee Member
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 4

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    Jiles Smith

    JILES SMITH

    CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, JS CONSULTING
    Advisory Committee Member
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 1

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    Jose Campos

    JOSE CAMPOS

    DIRECTOR OF PARENT INVOLVEMENT AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH, JURUPA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
    Commission Vice Chair
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 2

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    STEPHANIE YOST

    STEPHANIE YOST

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, AGE OF LEARNING
    Commissioner
    Represents Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 3