Behind every successful organization are the people who won’t settle for anything less. Founders Xylina Bean, Kathy Icenhower, and Norma Mtume harnessed this spirit when they formed SHIELDS. Today, the executive leaders of SHIELDS continue to break the mold, with a majority female leadership team still going strong. They credit their success as a team to their shared vision, a commitment to the organization’s mission, and a passion for helping children, families and communities through innovative service delivery models.

Photo Credit: AlbaVisuals

Kathryn S. Icenhower, Ph.D., LCSW
Chief Executive Officer

Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Kathryn Icenhower co-founded SHIELDS for Families with Dr. Xylina Bean and Norma Mtume, MA in the late 1980’s and officially incorporated the agency in 1991. Since then, SHIELDS has grown under her leadership to employ 380 staff with a $26 million dollar annual budget to provide comprehensive services through 35 programs across 15 locations for over 7,000 families annually.

Kathryn received her BSSW from Ohio State University and her MSW and PhD from the University of Southern California.  She has worked in the substance abuse and child welfare fields for over thirty years in both clinical and administrative positions and has remained at the forefront of the field as an advocate for innovative, comprehensive and collaborative services for high-risk communities.

Under Dr. Icenhower’s guidance, SHIELDS programs have been nationally recognized and used as models by federal, state and local entities including HUD, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. In addition, SHIELDS has been recognized in special reports by the Children’s Defense Fund, the Washington Health Foundation, the National Economic Development and Law Center, Little Hoover Commission, and the Rockefeller Foundation for its innovative and effective models of service.  SHIELDS has also been featured in articles in the Los Angeles Times, Parade Magazine and in local and national television features, including CNN, “Life Moments”, “A Place of our Own”,  “48 Hours” and “Vh1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew”. SHIELDS has also received numerous awards from notable sources for its cost-efficiency, innovative programming, women’s empowerment, and more.

Kathryn sits on numerous local, state, and federal coalitions and advisory boards. She is a member of the California State Child Welfare Council, and was a founding member of the California Perinatal Treatment Network and the National Family Centered Treatment Director’s Coalition. She was also appointed by the California Speaker of the Assembly as a Commissioner for the State’s Children’s and Families Commission (First 5 CA) in 2011. Dr. Icenhower also serves as a consultant for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) and the National Registry for Evidenced Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) and has assisted the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) with policy development for Family Centered Treatment, as well as providing technical assistance on child welfare initiatives nationally through Casey Family Programs.

In 2005, Dr. Icenhower was given an “Innovator Award” from CSAT for her work in Family Centered Treatment. In 2009, she received the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for her piloting efforts in the child welfare and substance abuse fields. In 2011, Dr. Icenhower was recognized by Los Angeles Magazine as one of the 50 most influential women in Los Angeles.

Sara Tienda, MSW
Vice President, Behavioral Health Services

Vice President of Behavioral Health Services, Sara Tienda came to SHIELDS for Families in the fall of 1991 as an Administrative Graduate Student Intern from California State University, Long Beach’s Department of Social Work. As an intern, Ms. Tienda was the primary writer of a proposal to the Los Angeles County, Department of Children Services for a Community Family Preservation Program. SHIELDS was awarded the grant and became one of the two original providers of Family Preservation services for the city of Compton.

In July of 1992, Sara came on board full-time as Coordinator and later as Director of Program Development. During this tenure, Sara was responsible for the clinical oversight, contract and documentation compliance and training, and development of resources, policies, and procedures for all programs.

Sara became the first Director of Mental Health Services in 1999 until she was later promoted to Assistant Director of SHIELDS in 2003 where her primary responsibilities included overseeing quality assurance, and intake and assessment services. Sara was promoted to her current Vice President position in 2012 where she currently oversees program development activities and quality improvement for all of SHIELDS.

Sara Tienda is an expert in the provision of child welfare, mental health, and substance abuse services in high-risk communities such as South Los Angeles. Throughout her career, she has worked as a social work field instructor and participated on many committees for Los Angeles County, Department of Mental Health and Children and Family Services. Sara has provided technical assistance to substance abuse programs both locally and nationally, and has presented at national conferences on Family Centered Treatment and Up-Front Assessments in relation to the child welfare field.

Prior to coming to SHIELDS for Families, Sara worked as a secretary and then as a counselor at  Westside Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled in Culver City, California (1988-1992). Her first paid job in social services was at the Volunteer Center of Orange County-North in Fullerton, California (1986-1988). At the Volunteer Center, Sara worked with both community volunteers and with the agency’s Court Referral/Alternative Sentencing Program.

Sara was born and raised in Orange County, California and received her Bachelor Degree in Sociology from California State University, Fullerton and her Master Degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach.

Naveen Sangwan
Vice President, Family and Community Services

Vice President of Family and Community Services, Naveen Sangwan recently joined SHIELDS for Families. She provides oversight to multiple programs and represents the organization in various forums. Naveen is responsible for building and strengthening community partnerships and for maximizing the impact in the community.

Naveen is a Public Health Professional and a Leadership Coach with extensive international experience and a reputation of developing and executing strategic plans, leadership development, program design, management, quality improvement, evaluation and maintaining strong relationships with key stakeholders. As a certified leadership coach, she has facilitated several strategic planning, communication, conflict resolution, change management and leadership development workshops/retreats.

In her previous association, she has served in various roles including Chief Operating Officer,

Program Director, Program/Policy Manager, Senior Program Officer and Senior Research officer. She has represented, partnered and collaborated with various organizations – local, national and international organizations like WHO Collaborating Agency, The Futures Group International, USAID, UNFPA, and UNICEF.

Naveen’s academic qualifications include Masters in Business Administration, with specialization in marketing from India and a Masters in Public Health with specialization in systems diagnosis and strategic planning from University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill. Additionally, she is a certified professional coach and a certified Energy Leadership Master Practitioner. She is the recipient of McGaw’s Medal for Academic Excellence and Leadership Potential, UNC, Chapel Hill. She is also the recipient of STAR Award by Perinatal Advisory Council: Advocacy, Leadership and consultation for her role in leading the organization through transformational change and ensuring fiscal solvency.

In addition to her duties at SHIELDS, Naveen continues to serve on various boards, committees and coalitions pertaining to maternal, child and adolescent health. She engages herself as a volunteer life and leadership coach in supporting youth, women, executives and non-profit organizations to manifest their vision into reality.

Deanette Brewer, PHR
Vice President, Human Resources

Vice President of Human Resources, Deanette Brewer joined SHIELDS for Families in 2010. Her responsibilities include overseeing and directing the overall provisions of Human Resource services, policies and programs for the agency.

Having acquired extensive human resource management experience within a non-profit academic institution, she was a key participant in the facilitation and implementation of new technologies, efficiency processes and infrastructure improvements to achieve organizational goals. Since arriving at SHIELDS, Deanette has been instrumental in ensuring the agency is compliant with all regulatory HR requirements and is a strategic business partner with synergy as her focus. She keeps her thumb on the pulse of human resource trends and best practices.  In addition to her duties at SHIELDS, she is also an active member of several Human Resource professional organizations.

Deanette is a native of Compton, CA. She received her Bachelor Degree from Wiley College, located in Marshall, Texas, “the home of the Great Debaters”, then received her national professional human resources certification in 2010. In addition to having over 25 years of human resources experience, Deanette enjoys volunteering for organizations that provide support services to teen mothers and adult women. Her passion is mentoring teenagers and young adult women.  Deanette’s personal mantra is “service is the rent we pay for being alive” – Marian Wright Edelman

Patrick Coffin
Chief Information Officer

As SHIELDS for Families’ Chief Information Officer, Patrick Coffin brings to the organization over twenty-seven years of technology consulting experience, with an emphasis on information security and privacy compliance. Patrick oversees SHIELDS for Families’ IT staff, manages its vendor relationships and agreements, and provides its executive management with guidance regarding the intersection of computing and business, ensuring that SHIELDS for Families’ technological investments, strategies and tactics are as effective as possible.

Patrick possesses subject-matter expertise in a variety of domains, including telecommunications and networking, database systems, software application development, systems administration, and system integration, with a focus on Macintosh, Windows, Linux and IBM AS400 systems. Patrick is an active member of the Apple Consultants Network and has carried Apple Technical Certifications since 1990.

Patrick has architected, and led the development and implementation of, many data and process management systems across a wide variety of industries, including apparel manufacturing, entertainment management, film and television post-production, advertising and graphic design, forensic and investigative, architectural, retail and eCommerce, international intellectual property rights management, and veterinary medicine, among others. In the non-profit sphere, he developed a fundraising tracking system for Environmental Media Association, and managed the development of the website for Play It Forward (where he maintains a seat on the Board of Directors).

Prior to joining SHIELDS for Families, Patrick held positions with Electronic Data Systems, and the University of California, Los Angeles. He also maintains a standalone IT consultancy, Island Technologies, whose staff specialize in meeting the technological needs of a variety of high-profile clientele. Patrick graduated from the ITT Technical Institute with honors in 1985.

Patrick has been an active participant in the Boy Scouts of America since 2002, serving as Scoutmaster of Troop 549 of Granada Hills, California, from 2009 to 2013, and he currently mentors Eagle Scout candidates, serving on the Eagle Scout Board of Review for the West Los Angeles County Council of the BSA. He is married to his high school sweetheart, and has two sons, a daughter, and one granddaughter (and a Labrador puppy). Patrick resides in the Northridge area of Los Angeles with his family.


Renee Becraft
Clinical Director, Behavioral Health

Clinical Director of Behavioral Health Services, Renee Becraft came to SHIELDS for Families in 2000 as a Consultant providing clinical supervision to unlicensed therapists. In 2005, she became a Clinical Coordinator allowing her to continue to provide clinical supervision and over all clinical management for several programs.  During this time she has prepared numerous therapists for the California State Licensing exams and in 2012 developed an intensive 8 week License Prep course to further assist our therapists.  

Renee was promoted to her current position as Clinical Director where her primary responsibilities include ensuring clinical oversight for both the Substance Abuse Programs and Mental Health Programs. Renee believes by taking an integrative approach the focus is always on the whole person. 

Renee received her undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland and later received her Master Degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach in 1992.  She became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 1995. 

Donna Icenhower
Director of Development