She replaces longtime director Rhonda Meister, who steps down after 22 years
The St. Joseph Center has served the community for over 30 years, and with the re-opening of their facilities in Venice, they will be under new leadership for the first time in 22 years.
Va Lecia Adams, who is a native of Culver City, will be taking over for former director Rhonda Meister. Meister felt that it was time for a change, and Adams is the right person for the job.
Adams’ resume speaks volumes for her. She received her B.A. from the University of Southern California, an M.A. from Ball State University, and a Ph.D. at Stanford University.
Throughout her doctoral program, she researched the factors that create stress (such as poverty, academic under-achievement, and family problems) in ethnic minority youth. This work resulted in a chapter (co-authored with Dr. Teresa LaFromboise) entitled, “Relational Group Therapy with African American Female Adolescents and Their Mothers,” published in the book The Intersection of Race, Class, and Gender: Implications for Multicultural Counseling.
Adams was looking at a career in law while at USC, as she worked as an intern for Mayor Tom Bradley. While at Stanford she began to consider a career in non-profit work.
After receiving her doctorate’s degree, Adams worked in Cerritos with high school students who needed help with the college admissions process.
She has spent the past six years as the Director of Transitional Living for United Friends of the Children. While there she helped create and oversee Pathways. Which is an 18-month transitional housing program that assists former foster youth with housing, college readiness, career development, financial assistance, mentoring and individual counseling.
Adams will be taking over an organization that started in a small storefront with just two programs only 12 people in 1976. Today the St. Joseph Center has over 100 employees and 10 programs housed in seven different Westside locations. The center serves about 7,000 people a year, catering to the homeless and low-income families.
Their re-opened site is 30,000-square-feet. There are family, homeless, and money management services at the site.
The family services are geared towards low-income families and individuals with programs designed to help them achieve lasting self-sufficiency.
The homes services helps people meet their most basic needs and, when they are ready, assists them with the move from the street into shelters, transitional housing, and permanent housing.
The money management services provide individuals suffering from mental illness and substance abuse with representative payee services and ongoing financial counseling.
More information about the St. Joseph Center can be found on their website. www.stjosephctr.org.