ABOUT SPECIAL SPIRIT
MEET OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
In 2005, Eva opened Moonshadow Ranch, a small ranch in the heart of Shadow Hills. Moonshadow Ranch is committed to enriching the lives of both horses and people. Eva developed a passion for helping children at an early age. Growing up in her native Sweden, she lead special needs children around the arena at her riding school, as a way to earn lessons for herself. In Sweden, almost every riding school has a special needs riding program and Eva discovered that the effect riding had on these kids was tremendous. In 2007, Eva volunteered at the "Special Olympics" at Hansen Dam, and was reminded of her childhood encounter with special kids .Eva holds a Certificate for Therapeutic Riding from the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) and Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, (EAGALA). Autism awareness is a subject close to her heart, as Eva is the godmother of Jake, who is autistic. Jake is a tremendously brave person, with a heart of gold and a pure soul.
Jan is new to the Special Spirit family but comes with a love for children and horses, no better combination for growth and health. She is a mother of 5, grandmother of 7 with her sweetheart Bill. She has had a full career as an RN and now an NP. She had a brief run as a horse owner and learned to leave them for the experts but continues to ride and care for horses.
Jan has been on several other Non-profit boards, including most recently president and now past president of the Greater Pasadena Chapter of California Assoc of Nurse Practitioners. She has worked with Girls Scouts and girls' and women's church groups organizing and running camps and conferences, activities and fundraisers. Jan has a deep love for children and helping them grow up and reach their potential. We do this at Special Spirit.
Molly is currently a stay at home mom of 5 children, with four still living at home. Previous to having children, her professional career was in education, where she primarily taught elementary and junior high students for many years. She also spent many years teaching Human development courses at the highschool level and participated in several courses for child development and parent education. In addition to a career in education, she has served on several church and PTA boards as a volunteer. Molly reflects fondly on her childhood growing up in Idaho working and playing with horses, and was led back to them when she began observing how equine therapy impacted family members in such a positive way. She has a passion for the animals and the special work they do and looks forward to serving Special Spirit and seeing it flourish to help others in need.
Gina is a law firm executive with over 30 years’ experience managing professional legal firms of all sizes, from boutique specialty firms to regional offices of a large global firm, managing financial budgets in excess of $30MM in revenues. In her capacity as Executive Director, she is responsible for all non-legal aspects of a law practice, including finance and budgeting, technology, human resources, compensation and benefits administration, recruiting lawyers and staff, marketing, facilities and operations, office lease management, commercial insurance policies, and vendor contract negotiation and implementation. Gina is well versed in California employment laws and regularly reviews and recommends revisions to policies and procedures of the Firm. In addition, she advises the Firm’s Partners on strategic planning, business development, attorney performance reviews and other Firm initiatives.
Gina oversees all members of the Firm’s support staff including administrative managers in the areas of information technology, accounting and marketing . She is also an ex-officio member of all partner committees and is responsible for identifying and developing Firm priorities for Partner consideration, preparing agendas and supporting documentation as well as leading the regularly scheduled meetings . In her leadership role, Gina provides direction and support to all attorneys, staff and management through effective collaboration and communication while facilitating harmonious relationships between firm members and the legal community.
Gina graduated from University of Redlands with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. She is a long standing member of the Association of Legal Administrators and served on the board of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter for several years in various roles including Newsletter Chair, Program Director, and Chapter President. She has continued to serve in an advisory role on the Membership Committee and as a mentor to new association members.
Mark is a registered investment advisor in Pasadena who is the founder and managing director of Pacific Trust Wealth Management. Mark found his way to Special Spirit via his interest in the outdoors and livestock, specifically dairy and pack goats. He was touched by the great programs Special Spirit offers and the impact they have on the participants’ wellbeing. He views the opportunity to volunteer for Special Spirit a privilege.
Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson is a former high-powered television producer turned author and activist on the subject of fearless aging and autism awareness. She co-authored Not Your Mother’s Midlife: A Ten Step guide to Fearless Aging (Andrews McMeel) and Fearless Women: Midlife Portraits (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). She wrote and performed in the stage show “Boomer Babes” and has done motivational speaking to sold out audiences around the country. Alspaugh-Jackson is an Emmy-Award winning television producer and executive who pioneered the magazine program format with Westinghouse’s PM Magazine. After serving as Vice-President of Group W Productions, she served as executive producer for a number of network and nationally syndicated programs, including the long-running NBC talk show, LEEZA. She has been honored with the United Press International Award, the Associated Press Award, the Gabriel Award, the Genesis Award, as well as having been named one of the Hollywood Reporters “Women to Watch”.
Having grown up with a younger brother with Down Syndrome, Alspaugh-Jackson was aware of the challenges families face raising special needs children. She feels it was no accident that she was given a special needs child to raise herself.
Alspaugh-Jackson feels her most important assignment came after her adopted son Wyatt was diagnosed with autism at the age of three (Wyatt is now 13 and making tremendous progress). Although Wyatt started displaying signs of autism at the age of 2, he was not diagnosed with the disorder until three and a half and did not receive effective treatment until the age of four and a half. Wyatt, like many children with autism, often had violent tantrums, sometimes as many as ten a day. She recalls a turning point in her life after one of these instances.
“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” I was screaming so loudly my throat was raw. Wyatt wailed like a hurt animal. I was hyperventilating but I held onto him. We were both soaked with tears and I had bleeding scratch marks and bites all over me. My shirt was torn. Where had this dream of having a baby to love, turned into this nightmare? What was happening to my life, and to my precious son? I sat on the floor of my living room, rocking Wyatt in my arms, and I started to pray. God, if you help me find out what this thing is that has taken my child, I swear I will do anything you need me to do. Just give me the answers.”
The answer was that Wyatt had autism. It was out of this ordeal that Alspaugh-Jackson found her calling as an advocate and activist for other families. "Wyatt should have been diagnosed earlier, and the answers regarding treatment should have been easier to find." She saw an urgent need for families to have somewhere to turn to for advice and assistance when dealing with this devastating disorder. “As difficult as it was getting the diagnosis for our son, we have never forgotten that we are the lucky ones in that we have the resources to find help – what about those families that don’t have the time or money to access treatment and care?” With that in mind she began the annual Denim and Diamonds for Autism fundraiser to benefit ACT Today! at the ranch home she shares with her husband, Fox Television executive Read Jackson. A short time after creating this fundraiser, Alspaugh-Jackson was asked to become the executive director of the foundation by Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, the founder of ACT Today!. Denim and Diamonds has become ACT Today!’s gala events, entering its 10th year.
Nancy has now been at the helm of ACT Today! for the last 8 years, overseeing its numerous annual fund raisers, special events and campaigns. In the last 7 years, ACT Today! has distributed 2.8 million dollars to families across America for autism care and treatment, and launched the first national campaign for military children with autism, ACT Today! for Military Families and the first national campaign for Latino Families, Autismo Y Familia . In addition, she has raised awareness for the need for effective treatments for the multitude of individuals living with autism. She is a Lay Minister and the Director of The Exceptional Families Ministry at Prince of Peace Episcopal Church in Woodland Hills, Ca.
B Brian Martin
B Brian Martin, Founder and Council Chair of AnalysisLAB, is a proven finance executive with a prodigious business background in retail, hospitality, entertainment, and real estate development. B Brian’s expertise in key facets of capital structuring, private placements, contract and lease negotiations, project developments, and corporate finance underscores his analytical and strategic acumen for expanding proof of concepts and accelerating brand expansions. His professional background includes large scale entertainment developments and accelerated-growth strategies of notable national restaurant and nightlife brands.
From entrepreneurial startups and proof-of-concepts through brand expansions and exit strategies, B Brian's successful undertakings include significant industry innovators and leaders like Universal Studios CityWalk & Theme Parks, Innovative Dining Group, sbe Restaurant & Nightlife Group, and House of Blues Entertainment, Kingsmen Creative, SusieCakes Bakeries and Bungalow Hospitality Group.
Current projects include a $2.1B strategic acquisition and repositioning of Ciudad de la Luz Studios in Alicante, Spain. A $20MM structured equity raise for development and expansion of Nerf Action Xperience Centers and $25MM development and equity raise for Los Angeles based hospitality group.
B Brian is graduate of University of Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Science in Management with a dual concentration, Accounting and Finance, and Minor in Economics, Master of Science in Business Analytics candidate at Texas A&M and Congressional Nomination recipient, United States Military Academy, West Point.
In the late 1970, as Kathy was attending college, she volunteered as a coach for the Special Olympics. Thirty years later, after changing her major from nursing to education, she finds herself again working with special needs children. Currently, Kathy works at a LAUSD elementary school and is a special needs advocate. In the past, Kathy managed group homes in San Diego and assisted the agency in public relations and fundraising. For five years, Kathy has been the completion coordinator for the Kiwanis Club of Warner Center Therapeutic Horse Show. Kathy’s son Paul, who is autistic, has been riding since he was 10 years old and is considered an “A” rider. Kathy’s passion for horses, children and education is a great blend for Special Spirit.
Paul is the owner of CSB Contractors, a leading design/building company specializing in recording studio construction. Initially trained as a recording engineer, Paul worked with such industry giants as Jimmy Lovine and Don Smith on projects by U2, Tom Petty, and Stevie Nicks, among others. Paul is the father of Jake, a 17-year-old autistic boy, who inspires all who come to know him. Jake splits his time between California and Maryland and is active with the Special Olympics in both states. Paul's inspiration for Special Spirit Inc. came when he did a "Polar Bear Plunge" in Maryland, to raise funds for the Special Olympics. The formation of Special Spirit Inc. is the culmination of years of brainstorming with Eva as to how they could become active in the special needs community. Paul and Eva have been business partners on joint ventures in many varied successful projects and apply the same principles to Special Spirit Inc. Jake's sisters, Shawn and Emily, who are both college students, are also deeply involved.