About Us

About Us

Seneca Family of Agencies (formerly Seneca Center) was founded in 1985 as a small Bay Area residential and day treatment program with a simple but powerful mission: to help children and families through the most difficult times of their lives. Since then, Seneca has expanded to provide a broad continuum of permanency, mental health, education, and juvenile justice services, which today reach over 18,000 youth and families throughout California and Washington State each year.

The agency’s growth has been guided by a commitment to our Unconditional Care® model – doing whatever it takes to help children and families thrive, even when faced with tremendous challenges.

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Mission & Values

Seneca’s mission is to help children and families through the most difficult times of their lives. We are driven by the fundamental belief that children and families do not themselves fail, but rather are failed by systems unable to meet their complex needs. Guided by our core agency values of love, compassion, joy, hope, courage, respect and curiosity, Seneca refuses to fail the young people and families we serve. We offer each child and family a profound promise: you will be supported every step of your journey, no matter what challenges you face along the way.

Service Philosophy

Across all our programs and services, Seneca is guided by our agency philosophy and clinical treatment model of Unconditional Care®. As a service philosophy, unconditional care is a commitment to do whatever it takes to support the young people and families we serve. As a clinical practice model, Unconditional Care integrates three streams of assessment and intervention: relational, behavioral, and ecological. This philosophy and approach has remained central to all programs and is best articulated in our book, Unconditional Care. As a leading innovator in family-focused treatment services for children and families across the fields of education, mental health, permanency and juvenile justice, Seneca is driven by our commitment to Unconditional Care, strengths-based service planning, individualized and trauma-informed care, cultural humility, and interagency collaboration.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Many of the children and families who access our services are disproportionately impacted by systemic and institutionalized oppression, racism, and discrimination. To best serve our clients and families and provide the most effective and supportive services possible, all aspects of every family’s cultural identity must be engaged and used to inform treatment, and must be a focus of Seneca’s overall agency values. This work begins with the recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce that reflects the racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic traditions of the children and families supported within our programs. In addition, Seneca is committed to supporting historically underrepresented communities and informing agency policies and practices through its agency-wide DEI Initiative and DEI Advisory Board. Our agency’s values of love and compassion, hope and courage, respect, curiosity, and joy anchor our work across all programs, ensuring our staff leverage the cultural strengths of the families and communities we serve. Seneca is committed to fostering an agency culture that is welcoming, cooperative, and inclusive of diverse peoples and worldviews.  

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Boards

Board of Directors Neil Gilbert, Chair; Leticia Galyean, President; Dion Aroner, Secretary; Geoffrey LePlastrier, Treasurer; Rochelle "Shelley" Benning, Member; Jeff Davi, Member; Gwen Foster, Member; Sylvia Pizzini, Member; Nancy Peña, Member

Bay Area Leadership Board Rochelle "Shelley" Benning; Jamie Church; Jason Citron; Zach Cohen; Zach Hill; Venus Ke; Anders Mortensen; Dwayne Redmon; Hong Thatch; Stephanie Gaywood
Central Coast Leadership Board Nicki Pasculli, Chair; Tabitha Cook, Jeff Davi, Joe Desmond, Linda Dorris, Susan Guidotti, Lisa McMahon, Kathy Tiffany, Hiram Yanez
Orange County Leadership Board Geoffrey LePlastrier, Chair; Roger Grad; Carl Neisser; William Pugh; Dean Riley; Dustin Steeve; Vanessa Vigoren; Harry Winters
Southern California Advisory Board Tom Rogers , Chair; John Evans; Erin Anderson; Jim Bieber; Mary Dirk; Patrick Dirk; Carole Geronsin; Hon. Evelyn Hart; Harald Herrmann; Ron Hodges; Sinan Kanatsiz; Pat Poss; Jim Riley; Hon. Tom Wilson; Sharyn Buffa
Washington Leadership Board Nick MacPhee

Service Locations

Seneca’s range of child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice, and education services annually reach more than 18,000 youth and their families in over 150 distinct programs throughout California and Washington. The agency’s programs span four key geographic regions: Northern California, the Central Coast, Southern California, and Washington state, with local administrative office hubs within each region.  

Service Types

Seneca’s continuum of care includes mental health, education, permanency, and juvenile justice programs designed to meet the holistic needs of children and families. Over the years, Seneca has used the lessons we have learned supporting youth facing profound challenges to reshape systems and build programs that can both reach young people at the first sign of struggle and unconditionally serve youth with the most acute and extraordinary needs. Services are designed to be highly accessible and responsive to the needs and goals of each youth and family, reaching them in their homes, schools, and communities.  

 

Publications

Unconditional Care This book presents Seneca’s clinical model for supporting children and families whose lives have been touched by the child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice, and special education systems. Strengths-based and family-focused, Unconditional Care (UC) (Oxford University Press, 2010) is a promise made to every child and family served through Seneca’s programs. Unconditional Education This book aims to engage education leaders around the principles and practices of Unconditional Education (UE) (Oxford University Press, 2019) a belief in working tirelessly to protect the rights of those students who are most readily disenfranchised by the existing education system. These students are living in poverty, exposed to chronic stress and trauma, and sometimes involved in the child welfare or probation system; they are often English Language Learners, and students with disabilities and/or mental health diagnoses. There is ample evidence that our current education system is failing these students.


ROBIN DETTERMAN

Robin Detterman serves as Seneca’s Chief Program Officer of Educational Services where she provides leadership for the agency’s continuum of district and charter partnerships and five non-public schools, serving over 100 districts and schools in California and Washington State each year. Ms. Detterman started working at Seneca in 2005, and her experience asa special education teacher and administrator informs her current role. In this role, she supports Seneca’s education teams in the development and implementation of high quality, individualized services for students who need additional support at school while working to transform whole schools and school systems into places where all students are welcomed and can thrive. Ms. Detterman holds a MA degree in Special Education and is a graduate of Stanford University, where she earned a Masters degree in Education Policy and Organizational Leadership. She is the co-author of Unconditional Education: Supporting Schools to Serve All Students (Oxford University Press, 2019).


NATHANIEL FOSTER

Nathaniel Foster is the Chief Advancement Officer of Seneca Family of Agencies. His focus is on development, fundraising, venture philanthropy, marketing and branding for the whole organization. Nathaniel came to Seneca with a clarity and depth of fundraising knowledge that has accelerated our overall efforts. Nathaniel graduated from the University of Denver with a BS in business and also has his Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership from Seattle University. He has over a decade of experience in the non-profit development & management world, working with local, national, and international organizations. Previously Nathaniel was the Executive Director of Playworks, anonprofit that serves over 700,000 children every school day, concentrating on conflict resolution, leadership skills, emotional intelligence and increased physical activity for elementary schools throughout the country. Before that, he was the Chief Development & Marketing Officer at Lincoln, formerly Lincoln Child Center. He has spent his entire nonprofit career in development, fundraising, board development, venture philanthropy, and communications and is very excited to be working with an organization as wonderful as Seneca Family of Agencies. In addition, he was co-chair for the Oakland Quality Community Schools Committee, currently sits on two for-profit boards, and is a member of the San Francisco Chapter of the Private Asset Liaison Group


MICHAEL ALONSO

Michael Alonso is the Chief Information Officer for Seneca Family of Agencies. Since joining Seneca in 2003, he has provided leadership for all technology related operations throughout the organization. He is responsible for IT strategy and vision as well as oversight for the teams that create and maintain a robust information technology environment in addition to the teams that develop, deliver and support innovative applications specifically created for Seneca’s unique blend of services.Michael is passionate about designing and producing creatively unique solutions to increase efficiency and improve service delivery and is personally involved to a significant degree in Seneca’s application development process. In addition to internally-focused activities, Michael engages with organizations at the county, state and federal levels to represent the technology-related interests and perspective of both Seneca and the broader community of behavioral health providers. These organizations includecounties, other behavioral health providers, state advocacy groups and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONCHIT). Before coming to Seneca, Michael worked in the custom software industry, developing applications tailored for a wide variety of companies representing numerous industries such as healthcare, retail, technology, non-profit and more. During this time, he took an interest not just in the software development process, but also in the broader perspective of organization-wide information technology environments. Michael holds a B.S. in Computer Science from CSU Hayward (now CSU East Bay)

JANET BRIGGS

Janet Briggs, Chief Financial Officer of Seneca Family of Agencies, began her endeavor in finance by achieving her bachelors’ degree in Business Economics with an Accounting Emphasis from the University of California Santa Barbara. Janet began her career in Public Accounting working in various industries gaining extensive experience in accounting and business management and then specializing in providing audit and accounting services for various not for profit social service agencies as a CPA. Her in-depth understanding of accounting issues and regulations unique to not for profit agencies has distinguished Janet as a knowledgeable source and leader for this company. Since coming to Seneca in 2002, Janet has supervised and trained an ever-growing accounting staff on various accounting policies and procedures pertaining to Seneca programs. Not only does she review and monitor numerous county and state contracts, Janet also oversees all fiscal activity for over 150 programs in 20 different counties. Attending monthly fiscal program meetings, Janet is dedicated to effectively communicating with directors and managing the financial integrity of Seneca. In an effort to constantly improve practice and management skills, Janet regularly attends conferences and trainings specific to her role at Seneca. In addition to her successes here at Seneca Family of Agencies, Janet also is a mother to two wonderful boys.


KEN BERRICK

Ken Berrick is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Emeritus of Seneca Family of Agencies, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing Unconditional Care to children and families through comprehensive mental health, education, juvenile justice, placement and permanency services. Since its founding in 1985, Seneca has developed innovative programs ranging from Wraparound and Intensive Treatment Foster Care, to integrated mental health services in schools, and a crisis continuum of care for youth and their families. Mr. Berrick is Governor-appointed Commissioner on the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. He is also a Governor’s Appointee on the California Child Welfare Council, where he co-chairs the Behavioral Health Committee, tasked with developing best practice recommendations to guide policy and inform statewide efforts to effectively address the behavioral health needs of children involved in or at risk of involvement in the child welfare system. Mr. Berrick is a two-time former President of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services and serves on numerous policy planning groups in California at both the county and state-level. He is an elected member and Past-President of the Alameda County Board of Education, and Past-President of the California County Boards of Education. In 2014, he was recognized by California Mental Health Advocates for Children and Youth as Advocate of the Year. In 2017, he was a recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, and in 2021, a recipient of the Jefferson Bronze Award. He is co-author of the books, Unconditional Care: Relationship-Based, Behavioral Intervention with Vulnerable Children and Families (Oxford University Press, 2010), and Unconditional Education (Oxford University Press, 2019).

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LETICIA GALYEAN

Leticia Galyean is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seneca Family of Agencies, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing Unconditional Care to youth and their families throughout California and Washington State. She received both her Bachelor’s degree and Masters of Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley.

Leticia began her career with Seneca in 2001 as a Wraparound counselor inspired by the passionate belief that the effects of childhood trauma should be patiently and persistently supported in the context of family and community. Throughout her tenure at Seneca, Leticia has served as Program Director; Regional Executive Director; Executive Director of Data, Evaluation, and Strategic Initiatives; and Chief Operating Officer.

She has developed, led, and evaluated numerous programs across the Bay Area and Central Coast, assisting youth and their families to meet their behavioral health, academic, and permanency goals. Leticia is a frequent presenter at national conferences on Seneca’s Unconditional Care treatment model and behavioral health interventions. As CEO, Leticia oversees all aspects of Seneca including 150+ programs, with 1,400+ employees, serving 18,000+ youth and their families, annually.

She has served as a member of several policy development groups in California at both the county and state-level. Leticia also serves as an active member of the California Alliance for Child & Family Services, California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and is a Board member of SOAR for Youth. From the time she was a counselor through her entire tenure at Seneca, Leticia has led with the vision to strengthen the larger systems of care for our most vulnerable youth and their families.