IFF Board
of Directors

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Gary Huffaker

Gary Huffaker, M.D., Chairperson.  Dr.Huffaker was a pediatric ophthalmology fellow with Dr. Linn Murphree in 1979-1980.  Many years later, while obtaining his MA in Integral Theory, he became involved with the Institute for Families.  His senior thesis analyzed the function of the Institute, using Integral Theory as an organizing theme.  In 2012 he joined the Board and became Chairperson in 2013.

Elva Tamashiro

Elva comes to IFF with more than more than 20 years of experience working with children and their families as a Child Life Specialist. Her expertise includes child and parent development, assessment and early intervention, and therapeutic play for children with acute and chronic illness. In addition, she has provided training for early childhood educators, and is responsible for forging community and interagency partnerships. Prior to IFF, she taught undergraduate Child Psychology courses at CSU Dominguez Hills, and was the Director of Child Development Services at Braille Institute.

While at Braille Institute, Elva supervised consultants working with infants, young children and their families with visual impairments. Her work at Braille Institute has provided her with knowledge of childhood eye diseases, and the impact they may have on a child and the family's development. Elva's professional career has come full circle. Her career began in 1987 as a Child Life Specialist at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, where she was fortunate to work alongside Nancy Mansfield. Under Nancy's guidance and mentorship, Elva worked in close partnership with the families from the Institute.

Elva is excited to join the team at Institute for Families, and to continue to honor the work of founder, Nancy Mansfield.

Paula Denney 

Paula is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist providing psychosocial and emotional support to children and their families. Paula had the opportunity to work under the supervision and mentorship of Dr. Nancy Mansfield for over 2 years starting in 1998. She returned to the Institute for Families in November of 2010 after Dr. Mansfield's unexpected passing to help carry on Dr. Mansfield's goal of helping children and families where cancer or other diseases have impacted vision.

Paula graduated with a Master of Science degree from California State University. She has been in private practice in Pasadena, CA, since 1999. Her experience working with families in her Pasadena practice, as well as her experience in working with Dr. Mansfield, provides her with valuable experience for her position at IFF.

Gary Bess

Gary Bess, Ph.D., is the owner of Gary Bess Associates (GBA), which provides grant writing, program evaluation and consultation to nonprofit and government agencies (www.garybess.com).  GBA specializes in public and private grant writing for the human services, including Federally Qualified Health Center programs and serving Native American communities, and has worked with The Institute for Families for more than 15 years providing evaluation services and grant writing in the interest of improving programs and services.

Shannah Hess

Shannah Hess, GBA grant writer, has had the privilege of working closely with the Institute since 2012. She is our grant writer par excellence, understanding as she does the unique work of the IFF as well as the multitude of perspectives various organizations take when considering their financial support for organizations such as the IFF.

Grant Writer
Gary Bess Associaties
6931 Skyway Paradise CA 95969
530/877-3426 ext. 111

Bill Takeshita, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.C.O.V.D.  

Dr. Takeshita is a pediatric low vision optometrist. He first became interested in the Institute during the time hat he was the chief of low vision optometry at the Center for the Partially Sighted and he was searching for a place to refer families of his patients with low vision. In 2012, Dr. Takeshita joined the Board of the Institute.

Eric and Joni Dahl

 Eric and Joni Dahl are long-standing board members at IFF, based on their own experience of parenting a child with retinoblastoma. They have recently stated that “We are so happy to serve on the Institute for Families board.  As parents of a daughter with retinoblastoma, this organization is very close to our hearts.   It's critical for a family in crisis to have educated and caring support when a child is sick.”

Adam Mansfield