Nonprofit leader recognized as 2022 Woman of Distinction
by Steven Felschundneff | email@example.com
Cher Ofstedahl, CEO of Trinity Youth Services and Children’s Foundation of America, has been recognized by Assemblyman Chris Holden as Claremont’s Woman of Distinction for 2022.
“The 2022 Women of Distinction are dedicated leaders who improve the lives for thousands of individuals and families in the 41st Assembly District and beyond,” Holden said. “They demonstrate the power of giving to others and community empowerment.”
“The Board of Directors of Trinity Youth Services is pleased and proud to have our CEO, Cher Ofstedahl selected as the Woman of Distinction from Claremont,” said John Neiuber, former CEO and current president of the board at Trinity. “Cher is the personification of the word integrity. I always say she is the smartest person I know. She is creative, solution oriented, dedicated and selfless. She is a natural leader who cares deeply for the children the agency serves.”
Women account for 77% of the employees at Trinity Youth Services, which is common for nonprofits. However, until 20 years ago, leadership at the agency had been primarily male dominated. Through the leadership of Neiuber and Ofstedahl, inclusion and equity became important values at Trinity, and now many of the leadership positions are held by women. Following Neiuber’s retirement, and his subsequent recommendation of her to Trinity’s board, Ofstedahl became the first woman to lead the agency in its 56-year history.
Prior to 2020 she held a series of positions in the organization, including human relations director, development director, vice president of program operations, administrative officer and chief operations officer.
In her first year as CEO Ofstedahl launched the “DIVE” committee (diversity, inclusion, value and equity), which meets regularly to ensure policies and practices at Trinity “meet the highest standards of inclusion and equity for all stakeholders.”
“Ofstedahl advocates for children in need after experiencing her own childhood trauma. Her firsthand experience gives her unique insight into a mission to help children and families create a better future. Cher has worked in foster care for over 20 years and prior to that, she worked in the music industry and as a professional actress. In her spare time, Cher performs stand-up comedy professionally,” according to a news release from Trinity Youth Services.
“I’m incredibly grateful to Assemblymember Holden. Being awarded this honor is a big deal. I know Claremont isn’t the biggest city in the world. I know the number of lives I impact through my efforts is small compared to that of so many women who go unrecognized. I know my contributions to society will never be documented in history books or even make the six o’clock news. However, being named Claremont’s ‘Woman of Distinction,’ means the world to me because who I am today is the direct result of the many women of true distinction who made a significant, lasting difference in my life,” Ofstedahl said.
Those women include her second grade teacher, who made sure her face was washed and hair combed when Ofstedahl’s own mother could not care for her due to struggles with drugs and alcohol. The mothers of school friends who cared for her as if she were their own child. And of course, the women she works with daily who “lift me up and urge me onward when the burdens seem to outweigh the benefits.”
“These women will probably never receive the recognition they deserve but they are the reason I get out of bed with the intention of giving back in some way, each day. For the record, there are a great many good men who deserve recognition as well and I am blessed to have the support of some truly exceptional ones, but this award puts me in the fortunate position of being able to shine the light back on every woman who helps support and lift up others,” Ofstedahl said.
In addition to her professional career, Ofstedahl serves on several committees, including the Claremont Human Relations Committee, which oversees diversity, equity and inclusion in the city. She is also on the policy and practice commission for the Child Welfare League of America, and the juvenile justice steering committee for the California Alliance for Children & Families.
Ofstedahl holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Arizona State University and post-graduate certifications from Cornell University and Harvard Graduate School of Education. In 2019, Cher received her master’s degree in ethical leadership from Claremont Lincoln University, and her thesis focused on women in executive level management positions mentoring other women.
Previous Claremont Women of Distinction include Anne Turner, Shelly Vander Veen, Christy Anderson, Elizabeth Bingham, and Marilee Scaff.
Trinity Youth Services serves over 200 children and families daily through residential therapeutic services, mental health programs, foster care and adoption services. Claremont-based charity Children’s Foundation of America is a nonprofit arm of Trinity, and provides thousands of children in foster care, shelters, crisis centers, underserved school districts with care packages, scholarships, and grants.
The community is invited to the Children’s Foundation of America’s first Chari-Tea fundraiser on Saturday, May 21 at the Women’s Club of Claremont, where the office of Assemblyman Holden will present the Woman of Distinction award to Ofstedal. Tickets are available at https://childrensfoundationofamerica.org