Leadership

Leadership2017-08-03T15:46:52+00:00
Louis Mendoza
Louis MendozaManager, WA State Father's Network

After a career as a corporate trainer I became a stay at home dad for 3 years after which, while remaining the primary caregiver for my two daughters, I worked for 10 years in the Northshore School District as a Para educator for children with special health care needs.  After leaving the school district I spent 8 years at United Way of King County training people of color to serve on the boards of nonprofit organizations and helping corporate employees find ways to volunteer.   I was fortunate to start this current position in September of 2015 and am proud to be a part of the important work of supporting men as they become competent and compassionate caregivers for their children.

Steering Committee

Mike Etzell
Mike Etzell

My wife and I have four kids and we happily reside in the sticks of Whidbey Island.   I joined another dad (to support him, right?) to a Father’s Network meeting back in 1998 which was early in our parenting journey.  Men of the Network have been part of our lives ever since.

Through the years I have found that often men go about parenting in different ways than women.  Go figure.  It is in connecting with other guys about highs/lows/challenges/triumphs of all of our children and a great deal more that I find the power of each of us multiplied.  I discovered that connecting with other guys who share realities of parenting in general, and special needs in particular, to be both a wealth of knowledge and rich potential for depth of friendship and connection.  The stories, friendships, and dark humor are  backbones in my two decades of parenting thus far.

Cliff Gillett
Cliff Gillett

Hi. My name is Cliff Gillett. About 11 years ago, I found myself struggling as a full-time single dad raising 2 autistic children. I attended a conference where one of the speakers was James May, who is one of the founders and driving forces of the Fathers Network. I was captivated by his story of a group of dads who get together and share stories and hints for navigating the world of raising special needs children. When I spoke with him afterwards and he told me about the annual Campout in Anacortes, I was hooked.

I live in Maple Valley and attend the groups whenever I have the opportunity. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge available from the other Dads. Whatever I am dealing with at the time, be it schools, insurance, doctors, personal relationships or family members, etc., somebody will invariably offer up how they dealt with the same issue when it happened to them. Suddenly, I am reaffirmed that I’m not alone navigating the world of special needs, but I have a group of close friends who have been, or are still going through the same process as me.

James Hall
James Hall

My wife and I live in Kirkland with our 2 year old son, who was recently diagnosed with a genetic condition called Klinefelter’s Syndrome. I’ve been a member of the Network for about 12 months. I joined because as a new parent, I was involved in other group situations which became difficult as our son started showing signs of delays and it became hard to relate to the experience of other group members. Connecting with dads of different ages and cultures with similar experiences parenting special needs children has helped normalize my own experience and helped me realize I’m not alone. It can be very comforting to share your story and have people in the room relate to it on many levels – not to mention the ability to give back and offer the same support to others.

James Loaris
James Loaris

I live in North Marysville and joined the Network about 4 or 5 years ago.   My wife, Amanda, and I have five children and two of them are low functioning autistic.   I joined because it can be scary to be on this journey alone and I stay because I realize that there are many fathers out there with no support group.  For me the network has been helpful by providing information, support and new friends.

Eddie Sanchez
Eddie Sanchez

I live in Everett, WA.  My wife and I have 4 boys, 2 on the autism spectrum. We received our diagnosis 6 years ago and I have been with the Network for 4 years. Until joining the Network, I had never found a group of guys that allowed me to share my life’s frustrations without judgement. The funny thing is that I didn’t realize I needed the network until I was part of it.  One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is that I have been able to connect with fathers of different cultures and life experiences. In the end, I am thankful for all the help and advice the network has given me and I will do all I can to return the favor.

Receiving a diagnosis was an unexpected detour….luckily with the Fathers Network… I can stop and ask for directions..

John Weisenfeld
John Weisenfeld

Pasco, WA is home and my wife and I have  two children and one dog.  I joined the Fathers Network in the summer of 2005.  I remember because my wife had been suggesting I join ever since she suspected that something wasn’t typical with our child.  I held out against her suggestions until we had a diagnosis around 12 months.  At that point, I felt that I really needed help and I wanted to talk to the “experts” in the Network.  I joined WSFN because I was a new dad with a lot of questions about how to care best for my child with special needs.  I stayed with the Network because I want to give back to dads that are going through situations similar to what our family went through.   Through the network I have made acquaintances and friends that have encouraged and blessed me and my family in many ways.   But most what I have gotten is a listening ear, a good laugh, a swift kick in the butt, and a shoulder to cry on—not necessarily in that order.