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Big Start to Year at West Valley Boys & Girls Clubs

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the West Valley Boys & Girls Clubs in Canoga Park – and if the next six months are anything like the first six, 2017 will be remembered as an action-packed year. After a nationwide search to replace retiring chief executive Jan Sobel concluded in March with the appointment of longtime Boys & Girls Clubs leader Tim Blaylock, the nonprofit announced on May 5 that it had added five new members to its board of directors. The governing group now includes John Donovan, audit partner and asset management practice leader at the Woodland Hills offices of KPMG; Kaiser Permanente Assistant Medical Center Administrator Marianna Jong; Sherry Lapides, vice president of customer relations at Replacement Parts Industries Inc.; Import Connection Design owner Peter Machuga; Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. Program Director William Munsch; and Steven Silvers, partner at executive services firm C Suite Financial Partners. All joined the 20-member board between January and May. “All of them come to the table with terrific professional experience and also personal interest in the club,” Chris Murray, vice chair of governance and 15-year board member, explained. The board reflects the Clubs’ objective of placing its affairs in the hands of Valley leaders, he added. Although the new additions are short on experience compared to other board members, all have demonstrated clear commitment to the mission of the organization through their personal and professional accomplishments, Murray said. “There is a steep learning curve, but all of the new members are outstanding,” he said. “We’re looking forward to working with them.” The board will convene in June to review its objectives and priorities for the coming year and beyond. On the table for discussion are upcoming fundraising efforts, such as sponsorship for the yearly Mile of Quarters event in September at Westfield Topanga and the annual gala and live auction in October, as well as longer-term goals. One such item will be the possibility of moving the Clubs’ Canoga Park headquarters into a new space, Murray said. “Obviously we’re fine with the building we’ve got, but these are our big dreams and aspirations,” he said. In the meantime, members will enjoy making use of the headquarters’ remodeled learning center and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) room, unveiled in a special ceremony on May 24. As part of the Clubs’ new partnership with B-STEM Project, a group that collaborates with organizations and businesses to provide technology solutions and educational supplies, the rooms were treated to fresh paint, storage and decor courtesy of IKEA, Dunn-Edwards Corp., Cloud 77 and Container Store Group Inc. “Our STEM program is a really quality program,” Blaylock said. “With these improvements, it’s going to be at an even higher level now.” Next-Gen Pilots As worries about a national pilot shortage continue to make headlines, Clay Lacy Aviation is working on a possible solution: Fund flight school for future generations of pilots. “Our interests are in the industry of business aviation,” said Scott Cutshall, vice president of marketing at Clay Lacy. “We love aviation, and we want the people coming after us to fulfill their career aspirations.” To that end, the Van Nuys private jet charter firm recently established a scholarship fund at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa for full-time students in the school’s aviation science program. Each award is valued at $3,750. By offsetting some of the cost for training, the grant will allow aspiring pilots to obtain their commercial flight certificates, the final step toward being paid to fly, Cutshall explained. While most graduates from Orange Coast College’s aviation program will need many more hours of experience in the cockpit before they qualify for positions at Clay Lacy, the scholarship gives them the means to move to the next rung on the career ladder, he said. “If we can help those people get those first certificates that allow them to get started and receive compensation to fly and therefore build time faster, then we can help create more pilots in this country,” he said. Clay Lacy’s expansion into Orange County markets made Orange Coast College a natural choice for the company’s scholarship fund, Cutshall said. The firm also offers scholarships through the University of North Dakota School of Aerospace Science and the Flight Path Learning Center in Los Angeles. Staff Reporter Helen Floersh can be reached at (818) 316-3121 or hfloersh@sfvbj.com.

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