Advisory Board

Jennifer Higgins


Jennifer Higgins received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach in 1999. Jennifer’s second year internship placement was at UC Irvine, Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1998 and upon graduation she was hired as a per diem Clinical Social Worker.


She initially worked in the Medical Surgical and Oncology inpatient units but knew that her passion was working with oncology patients in the outpatient clinics. Jennifer is a member of the Professional Oncology Social Work Association and Social Work Network in Palliative and End of Life Care.


Jennifer is a clinical social worker at UC Irvine Health, Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. As part of the healthcare team, she provides support services, advocacy, individual counseling and resources to patients diagnosed with cancer as well as their families. Jennifer facilitates the Head and Neck Cancer Support Groups, educational programs, holiday celebrations, coordinates with volunteers, and mentors second year Master’s level social work interns.


She attends ongoing educational seminars and most recently participated in an NCI grant sponsored event on Caregivers. As a result of this program Jennifer worked with administration and staff on presenting a “Care for the Caregiver” event in 2012. She has been a member of the patient advocacy committee and cancer committee at UC Irvine.

James G. Jakowatz, MD


Dr. James Jakowatz activity as a faculty member at UCI involves teaching oncology fellows, surgical residents, and medical students, clinical research, directorship of Melanoma Center and a clinical surgical oncology practice.


Since coming to UCI in 1985, he was awarded the American Cancer Society Career Development and Clinical Fellowship Award (salary support awarded to the Department of Surgery from 1986-1989); established a Melanoma Center in 1986; established his own labrorator as an independent investigator with a federal merit Review grant through the VA from 1990 to 1993; established clinical trials at UCI in melanoma where none had previously existed; and published in basic science and clinical research.


Dr. Jakowatz was raised to rank of Associate Professor of Surgery in 1992-1993 because of these works and accomplishments, and promoted to a Clinical Professor of Surgery in 2006. In more recent years his work has revolved around teaching, continuing to build the Melanoma Center as a strong clinical center, and working closely with Drs. Frank Meyskens and John Fruehauf in continuing to build a translational research program in melanoma.


Dr. Jakowatz completed his undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Kansas and his residency in General Surgery at Rush-Presbyterian St. Lukes Medical Center/Rush Medical School in Chicago. During his residency he also obtained a Masters Degree in Anatomy at the University of Illnois. His interest in cancer surgery developed during his residency and continued through his fellowship at the City of Hope National Medical Center.

Chief Jeff Kirkpatrick (Ret.)


Police Chief (Ret.) Jeff Kirkpatrick joined our board with more than 35 years of leadership, managerial and executive level experience. He served with the Seal Beach, CA; La Palma, CA; and Los Angeles Santa Fe Railway police departments, and held nearly every major position within the La Palma PD. He commanded all divisions in both La Palma and Seal Beach police departments.


As the Chief of Police for the Seal Beach, CA police department, he lead that full-service police agency for over six years and directed its $9.93M budget. A more complete outline of his experience is available on LinkedIn. Chief Kirkpatrick received the ‘Police Medal of Valor’ and was twice selected ‘Police Officer of the Year’. He was selected the ‘2009 Chief of the Year’ by the California Tactical Officers Association; and, the California Police Chief’s Association, Benefitting the Southern California Special Olympics Charity. He teaches at the community college level and has served on California P.O.S.T. Commission research committees defining statewide standards for LEO’s and Dispatchers. He has chaired and served many support organizations and committees during his career.


He holds a BS, Cum Laud graduate in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco; an MA in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from California State University-Dominguez Hills; is a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy in Quantico, VA; the Federal Department of Justice Southwest Command College; and the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development program. He holds California P.O.S.T. Advanced, Supervisory, Management, and Executive Certificates.


Chief Kirkpatrick and Carolyn, his wife since 1976, reside in Southern California. They have a daughter, son-in-law, and young granddaughter. Never diagnosed himself, many of his family members, friends, and co-workers have suffered from one deadly cancer form or another. He understands firsthand the need to support those coping with, enduring, and surviving cancer.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell


On December 1, 2014, Jim McDonnell took the oath of office and was sworn in as the 32nd Sheriff of Los Angeles County. Sheriff McDonnell is a Boston native who grew up in a working class neighborhood a stone’s throw from Fenway Park. He came to Los Angeles over three decades ago with little more than a dream to be part of protecting and serving the public.


He was born to immigrant parents who instilled in him the values that have served as the guideposts throughout his life: hard work, integrity and treating all people with respect. He began his law enforcement career in 1981 as a twenty-two-year-old graduate from the Los Angeles Police Academy. Sheriff McDonnell served for 29 years at the Los Angeles Police Department, where he held every rank from Police Officer to second-in-command under Chief Bill Bratton. During his time at the LAPD, he earned that Department’s highest honor for bravery, the Medal of Valor, and led LAPD through the implementation of significant reforms. He helped create the blueprint for LAPD’s community-based policing efforts that have now become a model for law enforcement agencies throughout the nation.


For five years, Sheriff McDonnell served as the Chief of the Long Beach Police Department. In that role, he implemented numerous improvements that resulted in safer communities, increased morale, and enhanced community relations. From his first day on the job, Sheriff McDonnell has stressed the importance of treating all members of our community with respect, being transparent with and accountable to the individuals that the LASD serves, and creating an environment that recognizes and rewards character, competence and compassion. He is committed to ensuring that safe streets and neighborhoods enable all residents and businesses in L.A.’s diverse County to thrive. He is also a believer in prevention-oriented strategies and dedicated to proactively addressing the root causes of crime — including mental illness, homelessness and the challenges facing youth at risk. Sheriff McDonnell brings to the LASD decades of experience and strong relationships with law enforcement and government leaders.


He is a proven and respected voice in local, state, and national criminal justice organizations, having served as President of the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association, President of the California Peace Officers’ Association, a member (appointed by both Governor Brown and Governor Schwarzenegger) of the California Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards & Training (POST), and a board member of the Peace Officers’ Association of Los Angeles County. While Sheriff McDonnell never served inside the LASD, he served alongside it his entire career. He has both an outsider’s ability to assess areas that might warrant new thinking, as well as an insider’s knowledge of a Department he has admired through his decades of work in Los Angeles.


From 2011 to 2012, he became familiar with challenges facing the LASD during his service as a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence — a blue ribbon group created by the County Board of Supervisors to investigate the validity and causes of allegations of excessive force within the LASD’s Custody Division. The Commission issued a detailed report, including 63 recommendations that have become a roadmap for change within the Department.


Sheriff McDonnell is also a believer in the importance of education, both in the classroom and on the job. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He is also a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Executive Institute and has completed executive education programs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He and his wife Kathy live in Long Beach. He has two daughters — Kelly who is in law school and Megan pursuing a graduate degree in film school.

Chief Eric Nuñez


Chief Eric R. Nuñez had previously been with the La Palma Police Department for nearly 25 years. He rose through the ranks from police officer to his appointment to Chief of Police in December of 2010. In 1994, he received the La Palma Police Department’s Life Saving Award and was selected as the Officer of the Year that same year. He has subsequently been awarded a number of commendations and recognition for his performance and leadership.


He is currently serving as the 9th Chief of Police for the City of Los Alamitos and was appointed in January of 2016.


He was recently voted in as the 3rd Vice President of the Executive Board for California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) with him ascending to the Presidency in 2020. He is also the Chair of the Emerging Issue Committee, Vice-Chair of the Legislative Committee and Vice-Chair on the Finance Committee and serves on the Political Action Committee for CPCA. Chief Nuñez is the Immediate Past President for the Orange County Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs Association (OCCPSA). He is also the Immediate Past Chair on the Integrated Law and Justice Agency of Orange County (ILJAOC), Vice-Chair of the Orange County Remote Access Network (OCRAN) Board, a 10 year member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and has been a California Peace Officer Association (CPOA) member for 20 years.


He earned an Executive Master of Leadership (EML) degree from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of La Verne in Public Administration and is a recent graduate of the POST Command College (Class 57). During Command College he wrote an article titled, “Recruiting for Emotional-Social Intelligence (ESI): Enhancing Leadership, Performance, Community Trust, and Savings Lives”, which was recently published in the Journal of California Law Enforcement, September 2015 issue. Chief Nunez is also a graduate of the Sherman Block Supervisor Leadership Institute, West Point Leadership Program and holds a POST Executive Certificate.


Locally Chief Nuñez serves as on the Board of Directors for Casa Youth Shelter and is a member of the Los Alamitos/Seal Beach Rotary Club. Last year he had the honor to serve as an assistant coach for the Los Alamitos High School Varsity Football Team, when invited by Head Coach Ray Fenton.


Chief Nuñez and his wife, Molly, make their home in Fullerton and have four children, Kyle, 27, a United States Air Force Captain and Pilot, Shelby, 24, a sales associate for a large car dealership, Haley, 17 a Junior in High School, and their youngest Emily, 9. They recently celebrated the 1st birthday of their first grandchild, Charlotte Rose the daughter of Kyle and their daughter in law Felicia.

Maria M. Rohaidy


Maria M. Rohaidy is a partner with the law firm of Taubman, Simpson, Young & Sulentor. Maria received her B.A. and Juris Doctorate degrees (with Highest Honors) from the University of Miami. After graduating from law school, Maria became a research attorney for the Long Beach Superior Court. She joined the firm of Taubman, Simpson, Young & Sulentor in 1991. She is now the firm’s managing partner. The firm is the oldest in the City of Long Beach, having been founded by E.C. Denio in 1891.


Maria practices law in the areas of real estate, probate, estate planning and trusts, business law and environmental law. Maria is rated AV by Martindale Hubbell, the highest rating attainable for a lawyer. She has been active in the Long Beach Bar Association, serving on its Board, as Program Chair, and as its President in 2009. She has also been the Secretary/Treasurer for the Joseph A. Ball/Clarence Hunt Inn of Court. She is a supporter of the Long Beach Women’s Shelter and Boy Scouts of America.


In 2005, she was appointed by Mayor Beverly O’Neill as Commissioner for the Long Beach Community Development Advisory Commission. Maria has lived in the City of Long Beach for the past 26 years. She is married to Richard Rodriguez. They have a four year old daughter named Rebecca.

Dr. Leonard Sender


Dr. Leonard Sender is Medical Director of the CHOC Cancer Institute and Division Chief of Pediatric Oncology for Pediatric Subspecialty Faculty at CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange, California. Furthermore, he is Director of the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Programs at CHOC Children’s Hospital and at UC Irvine Medical Center’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Adolescent patients (up to age 21) of the combined multi-nstitutional program are seen at CHOC and the young adult patients (up to age 39) are seen at UC Irvine.


Dr. Sender received his medical education in South Africa and his pediatrics internship and residency at UC Irvine Medical Center. His pediatric hematology/oncology subspecialty training included Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Dr. Sender subsequently developed expertise in adult hematology/oncology at the University of Kentucky, where he was a faculty member in the School of Medicine. He is board-certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.


Outside of the University and CHOC, Dr. Sender serves as chairman of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance Cancer Centers Working Group, chairman of the ’m Too Young for This (i[2]y) foundation, and is the founding member and chairman of, an AYA cancer advocacy foundation. Dr. Sender’s clinical interests lie in the treatment of AYAs with cancer. Along the way, he strives to also address his patient’s “ancillary” needs including preservation of fertility, management of acute and chronic effects of treatment, and being sensitive to the psychosocial impact that a cancer diagnosis imparts to those just at the beginning of their “productive years.” To that end, he has established collaborative relationships both inside and outside his institutions to ensure a truly comprehensive approach towards patient care and subsequent survivorship.


Dr. Sender’s primary research interests lie in better understanding cancer and its impact on the AYA cancer patient. This interest is comprehensive and multidisciplinary extending from epidemiological components (incidence, prevalence, root causes) to biological factors (genetic or cellular differences) to the psychosocial impact of disease in the population, to long-term cancer survivorship.

Lara Turnbull


Lara Turnbull, MPH, CHES is currently a Public Health Professional with the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. She is the Program Director for the Network for a Healthy California funded Healthy Active Long Beach program. Ms. Turnbull has worked worked for the LBDHHS for the past 11 years and has worked in the field of public health and social services for over 16 years in the areas of nutrition, obesity, HIV/AIDS, youth health education, early childhood education, and children and adolescent mental health. Ms. Turnbull is committed to the field of public health and has a strong interest in health education, chronic disease prevention, and health policy.


In addition to her work at LBDHHS, Ms. Turnbull is an Adjunct Faculty Instructor at Long Beach City College in the Life Science Department, a volunteer with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, and is active in multiple community collaborative groups and professional organizations related to public health and chronic disease prevention.


Ms. Turnbull serves on the Governing Council for the Southern California Public Health Association and was President of the organization in 2010. Ms. Turnbull also serves as a member of the Network for a Healthy California’s Statewide Steering Committee and Operations Subcommittee.


Ms. Turnbull received her BA in Clinical Psychology from San Francisco State University and MPH in Health Promotion and Education from Loma Linda University. Ms. Turnbull is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).

In Memorial

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens (1955-2021)


Sandra Hutchens was the 12th Orange County Sheriff and the first to be selected by the Board of Supervisors to serve out the term of a sheriff who retired. She was selected from a field of 48 candidates after a nationwide search.


Sheriff Hutchens was born in Monterey Park and raised in Long Beach, where she graduated from Woodrow Wilson High. Shortly after graduating from high school she was hired as a secretary for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, where she met some Deputies who convinced her to apply for a Deputy position. After graduating from the Basic Training Academy, she was sworn in 1978. Deputy Hutchens was first assigned to the Sybil Brand Institute, a women’s jail, and subsequently to the Lynwood Station and the Metropolitan Bureau. She promoted to Sergeant in 1986 and returned to Sybil Brand and then Temple Station, Field Operations Region I Headquarters and the Office of the Undersheriff.


In 1994 she promoted to Lieutenant and, once again, she was assigned to Sybil Brand. After her tour at Sybil Brand she worked as Watch Commander and Operations Lieutenant at the Norwalk Station. She promoted to Captain in 1999 and was named Commander of the Norwalk Station.


Her next promotion was to Commander in 2001 and she was placed in command of Field Operations Region II and as Sheriff Lee Baca’s Executive Assistant. Sheriff Baca named her Chief of the Office of Homeland Security in July 2003. Chief Hutchens became involved with all aspects of local homeland security for the County of Los Angeles and commissioner on the Los Angeles County Emergency Preparedness Commission. She commanded more than 1,000 personnel and supervised police service contracts for 40 cities. Her units included Aero Bureau, SWAT, K-9, mountain search and rescue and the Transit Service Bureau, which polices MTA and Metrolink.


Chief Hutchens was also involved in the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Program, responsible for coordinating crime prevention, Town Hall meetings, and community relations. She was an instrumental leader in the development of the Joint Regional Intelligence Center, a convergence of the Department of Homeland Security, Los Angeles County Sheriff, LAPD and the FBI. This created a much needed central repository for intelligence information.


Her career at LASD also included serving as Legislative Liaison in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. She developed cross-cultural and community relations skills; and a diverse education, including counterterrorism training in Israel, FBI National Academy training, participation in the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative Program at Harvard University, and Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from the University of La Verne.


Sheriff Hutchens passed in 2021 after a long fought battle with breast cancer. She is survived by her husband, Larry, a retired assistant police chief for the Los Angeles Unified School District and their dog, Tucker. She will be sorely missed.