Storyteller Children’s Center Welcomes New Leadership Team 

By Giving List Staff   |   August 11, 2022
Dr. Gabriella Garcia

The therapeutic early childhood education program for children whose families face economic hardships onboards a dream leadership team with Executive Director, Dr. Gabriella Garcia, and Program Director,Jacqueline Ryan

Storyteller Children’s Center is pleased to announce the onboarding of a new, experienced and talented leadership team, including Dr. Gabriella Garcia as Executive Director and Jacqueline Ryan as Program Director. 

Jacqueline Ryan

Dr. Garcia brings fifteen years of cause-driven leadership experience in the nonprofit industry primarily working with vulnerable populations. Before joining Storyteller Children’s Center, Dr. Garcia dedicated ten years to the Alzheimer’s Association in varying roles at the California Central Coast Chapter, California Southland Chapter, and Massachusetts/ New Hampshire Chapter. As a nonprofit leader, Dr. Garcia strongly believes in creating safe, inclusive, and equitable spaces in the communities where she serves and resides. At the beginning of her career, she worked as a case manager and child development specialist at the family resource center in her hometown. It was there that she realized the importance of recognizing disparities in our own communities. 

“I am honored to join Storyteller as the Executive Director and work on the other end of the life continuum,” noted Dr. Garcia. “As a mother, now more than ever, I understand the importance of providing high-quality education, support, and resources during such a critical time in a child’s life as they face adversity so early in their lives.”

Dr. Garcia holds a Doctor of Psychology degree in organizational development and a master’s degree in organizational behavior from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Fresno Pacific University. 

Jacqueline Ryan joins the Storyteller team in an entirely new position as Program Director where she will optimize and implement curriculum and learning models for students and families. Jacqueline is an experienced early childhood education specialist. Prior to her role at Storyteller, Ryan served in Head Start and YMCA programs from Lompoc to Santa Barbara. Her passion is in Learning Stories, a tool that supports creating a sense of identity for young children while fostering the development of teachers and educators alike. 

“As I continue to advance through my career and education, I always find myself back in the classroom to find innovative ways to support both our young students and the educators working with them,” noted Ryan. 

Ryan recently began her doctoral journey at UMass Global’s Doctor of Education program in organizational leadership. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood education with an emphasis in educational leadership and administration, a bachelor’s degree in education, and an associate degree in early childhood education.

“We are so fortunate to welcome Dr. Garcia and Ms. Ryan to Storyteller,” noted Storyteller Children’s Center board president, Michael Wasserman. “These two professionals complement our dedicated teachers and staff – and evolve and enrich our program and service capabilities. They will continue the momentum of setting our students up for academic success and social cognitive empowerment.”

About Storyteller Children’s Center

Founded in 1988, members of the Santa Barbara community came together to form Storyteller Children’s Center. This organization was founded to ensure all families, no matter their economic status or life circumstances, have access to the resources they need to build a healthy and happy future for their children. Storyteller is a full-time, therapeutic early childhood education program that supports nearly 100 families each year out of two Santa Barbara campuses ensuring students are kindergarten-ready, one of the most critical markers in the scholastic success of a child.


Storyteller Children’s Center

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(805) 730-0155
Director of Development: Heather Martinez


Storyteller is a therapeutic preschool that serves children and their families toward “Kindergarten Readiness.”

Storyteller serves Santa Barbara’s poorest families, those living below or close to the poverty guideline and who also meet the Federal definition of homeless. This segment of our community may have difficulty accessing and paying for quality preschool.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

Storyteller changes the trajectory of lives for vulnerable children and their families. I am constantly in awe of the strength and determination of our children! Watching them transform their lives is a gift and is why I am passionate about this organization.
Tiffany Foster
Advisory Board Chair

Help Support a Resilient Foundation for Young, Vulnerable Children

Storyteller Children’s Center’s operating budget serves the therapeutic and trauma-informed curriculums, building the foundation of resiliency that these students will tap into for their entire lives. 

This year’s Transition House expansion allows Storyteller to support children as young as six weeks through kindergarten, creating a true continuum of care throughout the earliest years of a child’s life. 

The added mental health services for this program cost $100,000 per year.

Key Supporters

Dr. Peggy Dodds, Co-Chair
Erinn Lynch, Co-Chair
Michael Wasserman, Vice Chair
Rachael Stein, Secretary
Craig Zimmerman, Treasurer
Jessica Phillips, Governance
Jon Clark
Gretchen Horn
Daisy Estrada Ochoa
Sharon Kayser
Dr. Anna Kokotovic
Dr. Patricia Madrigal
Danna McGrew
Ann Pieramici
Ken Radtkey
Kyra Rogers
Kenny Slaught
Dr. Carrie Towbes