Chairperson – Deborah A. Estes
Deborah A. Estes is the eldest daughter of Dr. & Mrs. James B. Peter, co-founders of Specialty Family Foundation and a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation. Deb serves as the Chair and President of Specialty Family Foundation. Deb also serves on the Board of Directors of FADICA, Inc. and LMU’s Center for Catholic Education Advisory Board. Deb began her professional career in the savings and loan industry. She was a member of the Board of Directors and Corporate Secretary for Specialty Laboratories, Inc., which was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. She has held leadership positions in the Catholic parishes in which she and her husband have belonged including School Board President, Chair of the Finance Council and Chair of the Campus & Facilities Committee. She has volunteered extensively at the Catholic schools attended by her three sons.
Executive Director – Joe Womac
Joe Womac joined the Specialty Family Foundation in 2013 as Executive Director, bringing with him extensive experience in education and charitable leadership. Prior to his appointment to his current role, he served as executive director of the Fulcrum Foundation (Seattle, WA) from 2004-2013, which raised more than $65 million in strategic support for 73 Catholic schools in the Seattle area. While he headed up the Fulcrum Foundation he led an effort that funded over 12,000 low income students’ attendance in inner-city and rural Catholic schools, and he co-implemented innovative programs that led to some inner-city school enrollments doubling in less than a year. During his time at Fulcrum not a single Catholic school closed in Seattle, with five Catholic schools opening. In recognition of these counter-trend results, the White House honored Mr. Womac in 2012 as one of nine national “Champions of Change” in Catholic Education. Mr. Womac is also the recipient of the University of Notre Dame’s Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education, and the NCEA’s Presidential Award. Prior to joining Fulcrum, Mr. Womac was both a teacher and a student in Catholic schools. Under the auspices of the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education, he taught and coached in Louisiana Catholic schools from 2000 to 2002. He received his B.A. in communication and political science from the University of Portland, his M.Ed. from Notre Dame, and his J.D. from Seattle University.
Director of Capacity Building - Julie Dwyer
A senior management executive who has broad experience in the private and nonprofit sectors, Julie serves as Director of Capacity Building for the Specialty Family Foundation in Santa Monica, CA. Prior to that, Julie served for nine and a half years at the Josephson Institute of Ethics. There she was the National Director of CHARACTER COUNTS! and Vice President of the Institute. In these roles, Julie directed the substantial growth, in size, scope and depth, of the most widely used character education program in the nation.
Julie began her professional career in the corporate world with Marriott Hotels and Resorts before transitioning to non profit management. She maintains strong ongoing engagement in volunteer positions including service on the CA YMCA Youth and Government Board, the St. Monica Catholic Parish Community ministerial leadership and $36M Capital Campaign, Literacy Volunteers of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and numerous community projects.
Special Initiatives Coordinator – Carol Rowe
Carol Rowe is currently serving as the Special Initiatives Coordinator for the Specialty Family Foundation. Prior to this position she served as the Director of Marketing and Development for St. John the Evangelist Catholic School as a member of the Catholic Schools Consortium. Her previous experience includes serving as the Executive Director of GrowingGreat, a non-profit nutrition and gardening organization serving inner-city elementary schools; as well as the Executive Director of the Manhattan Beach Business Association. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation, the Los Angeles Chapter of National Charity League and the Young at Art Foundation. She is an alumnus of Ernst & Young having served as a manager in the Consulting Division. Ms. Rowe earned a BA in Economics from UCLA and attended the University of Southern California Graduate School of Business.