Board of Directors

Foundation Board President

Danny Ritchey

​System Engineer, Alion Science & Technology

Dan draws on a distinguished 20-year career in the United States Navy to offer entertaining and common-sense approach to Non-Profits. He is responsible for donor relations, operations, marketing and building relationships with the nonprofit community.

He has volunteered and supported numerous community youth organizations as a mentor, coach, counselor and positive male role model for troubled youth. Some of the many community youth organizations he has supported range from Boy Scouts, Youth Baseball/Softball, Pop-Warner and High School Athletics, and Christian Youth Theater. He currently is a Systems Test Engineer for Alion Science & Technology and supports Testing and Evaluation of numerous Navy activities.

Foundation Board Treasurer

Toni Ritchey

Attorney, Fischer & Ritchey, LLP

Toni has been practicing law in North County since 2004, when she became a partner in one of the few mother-daughter attorney firms in San Diego County. Her practice focuses on business law, non-profit matters and trust and estate issues with an emphasis on innovative tax and estate planning for individuals, small businesses and corporations. Prior to founding Fischer & Ritchey, LLP, Toni worked for many years as a Certified Financial Planner assisting individuals with retirement planning, gifting strategies and investments.

Toni especially enjoys working with her non-profits clients and is actively involved with the committees or boards of several non-profit organizations, all of which engage in serving youth and young adult empowerment projects and educational issues, and include such organizations as the CSUSM Foundation Board; CYT, Inc. (Christian Youth Theater) National Board; and Empower Me Up. She and her husband, Dan, a retired Navy veteran, are passionate about giving back to the community, and in addition to raising four children, were foster parents for several years and together have mentored or coached many other young people.

Toni is a graduate of San Diego State with a BS in Finance, and the University of Louisville where she received her Juris Doctorate Degree (with honors). In her free time, she enjoys hiking, the great outdoors, reading and reminding young people that it’s not “impossible” – it’s “I’m Possible.”

Foundation Executive Director

Michelle Ellis

Michelle has a unique and diversified background. She built a successful career in the Commercial Insurance Industry; achieving Asst. Vice President responsible for all ten Southern California Counties. She resigned in 1999 to pursue a career as a full-time mom. She has an extensive background in working with youth. She volunteered with high school students for five years and mentored a small group of girls; working with them on a weekly basis. She also served as a camp counselor for multiple summer projects. She has over 12 years experience working with teens as a director of a youth theater program and worked directly mentoring and instructing students and parents.

She has passion for young people. She is a single mother of three remarkable children as well being “mom” to those who need to know acceptance, need guidance, an ear to hear or a strong shoulder to lean on. Michelle worked with the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, a non-profit performing arts management company. She was responsible for their venues and managing front of house for all events and concerts.

Recently, Michelle has joined Empower Me Up as our Executive Director. She is working to build and grow our programs as well as networking to build our relationships and reputation with individuals, institutions and organizations within our community.

Director

Kelly Johnson

Senior Team Leader, / Parent Volunteer

With two active teenage boys in my life, there is very little spare time to be apart of other organizations that my children, are NOT apart of. When I do have a moment, I love sharing time with other women and organizations who strive to make our youth feel empowered, strong, capable, loved, understood, forgiven and trusted. Whether it’s fundraising through Origami Owl or on my own, I have the honor of empowering our youth through DRA in Utah, Girls Rising, a local group of women at the Grauer School who look to empower women globally, the Rancho Bernardo Pageant of teens for scholarships and of course CYT Tri City (Christian Youth Theatre).

When I do have some free time, I love to tinker on Pinterest, LOVE… I am also starting to enjoy crafting… an avid quilter.

Director

Dave Johnson

Dave graduated from UCLA in 1992 with a BA in Psychology. Technology sales and unified communications has been his field of expertise since. Currently, Dave is President and co-owner of Collaboration Solutions, Inc. and has been for three and a half years. During this time he has helped lead the company’s growth from a one state AV dealer to a full service audio video integrator with national reach and capability. Before coming to CSI, he was most recently a Regional Sales Manager for SMART Technologies, the worldwide leader in interactive whiteboards and related technologies. He was responsible for a sales staff of 18 people and over $100M in annual revenue across 17 states and 8 Canadian provinces.

His primary focus and passion was improving student outcomes through the use of interactive technologies. He worked for SMART for 9 years and worked for projector manufacturer InFocus for the five years prior. In both rolls, he provided strong leadership, employee mentoring, customer training, in-service sessions and end-user seminars related to the adoption of technology in the classroom and in enterprise environments. Mr. Johnson has been in the audio visual industry for the past 18 years helping a wide range of students, teachers and business leaders overcome collaboration challenges with the use of technology.