Susi Q Staff
Everyone who attends the Susi Q is treated with kindness, dignity and respect by our staff of dedicated and experienced professionals. Each person plays a key role, and they all work as a team to enable us to reach our goals and fulfill our mission.
As the Executive Director of Laguna Beach Seniors, Nadia brings impressive credentials to the post with over 40 years of experience spanning corporate, non-profit and government jobs. Prior to joining Laguna Beach Seniors, she managed the U.S. Commerce Department’s Census for 12 cities in South Orange County and served as development director for STOP-GAP, an educational nonprofit theatre group. Nadia’s corporate experience includes working as a structural engineer for 23 years designing commercial buildings in Orange County. Her passion for community work manifested in awards as Irvine’s citizen of the year in 2005 and recognition from the state Legislature.
Jo Ann Ekblad
As Susi Q’s Program and Marketing Director, Jo Ann currently researches, develops, and coordinates new and ongoing, day-to-day programming initiatives including educational presentations, classes, workshops, seminars, and special events. She is also responsible for overseeing, planning and evaluating the organization’s public relations and marketing efforts to drive in-person and virtual attendance, build strategic partnerships and increase brand awareness. Jo Ann provides creative direction, writing expertise and implements all online and offline marketing communications.
Prior to joining Laguna Beach Seniors in 2016, Jo Ann spent over 20 years in corporate brand management, marketing communications and strategic planning for some of the world’s best-known brands in media, hospitality, healthcare and publishing, including Fox TV, Marriott, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the American Bar Association. Jo Ann holds a BS in Communications from the University of Illinois. She is a proud baby boomer passionate about redefining the “senior generation”. She loves the Cubs, pickleball and is a 3-time, top to bottom Grand Canyon hiker.
Martha Hernandez completed her Master of Social Work with a concentration in mental health and sub-concentration in older adults and their families at the University of Southern California, and her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. Martha is also certified in home modification assessments and holds an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California, Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.
Before joining the Susi Q team, Martha worked with the Orange County Council on Aging as a volunteer Ombudsman, the Orange County Behavioral Health Older Adult Services, and the City of Irvine Senior Services. As a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and Director of Laguna Beach Seniors Care Management department, Martha provides direct services to seniors and their family members by providing a supportive role and linkage to vital services. In addition, she oversees care management services, provides training to staff in the care management department, and provides outreach to the Laguna Beach community regarding the Susi Q’s mental health programs. Martha has a passion for helping seniors and believes they are full of wisdom, each with their own unique and rich history, making each one special to all of us.
Judy Baker has been finance manager with Laguna Beach Seniors for over 15 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Cal State Long Beach and has worked for various accounting and non-profit groups throughout Orange County. Her volunteer work has been as treasurer for Boy Scouts of America, PTA College Park and Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade as well as counselor for Rancho Senior Center, Irvine. Judy is a former Laguna Beach Sawdust artist, currently serving as art coordinator for Gallery Q’s five annual exhibitions at the Susi Q. Judy has lived in Laguna Beach for the past 30 years. She enjoys her work at the Susi Q, riding her horse, mixed media painting, ocean swimming, hiking and DIY home projects.
Through a close bond with her grandparents and strong desire to help seniors, Christine Brewer joined Laguna Beach Seniors in 2009 as a part-time Program and Volunteer Coordinator. Over the years, and with the expansion of programs at the Susi Q, she took on more responsibility and assumed the role of Programs/Volunteers/Event Manager. Christine prides herself on delivering effective results in all aspects of management. She enjoys working with the staff and a great team of volunteers and the members of the community.
Prior to joining Laguna Beach Seniors, Christine worked in the corporate world as an Executive Assistant for over 15 years. She loves being part of the Susi Q family!
Rickie has 14 years of experience working with seniors, including with Alzheimer’s Orange County, where she managed their Memories in Making art program and exhibition, and SCAN Health Plan, where she was a Volunteer Engagement Specialist. With passion for education, creativity, art and community outreach, Rickie manages organizational priorities to best serve clients.
Rickie has a Bachelor of Arts with emphasis on Therapeutic Arts. She is a certified instructor of Birren Center for Autobiographical Studies and is currently training to be End-of-Life Practitioner.