Meet the Ocean Beach Town Council

by on June 20, 2019 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Here’s an opportunity to meet the members of the Ocean Beach Town Council – if you haven’t already – without getting out of your chair.

Over the last couple of months, the OB Rag has collected short biographical sketches of the members of the Board of Directors. We had asked them to answer a few basic questions, like where they grew up, their family, where they went to school, how they arrived in OB and why did they want to volunteer for the OB Town Council. We present edited versions of them below.

(Some Board members exercised brevity in their bios, others not; a few didn’t get theirs to us.)

Mark Winkie – President of the OB Town Council

Mark – recently elected to be the president of the Board – has been with the OBTC Board for over four years; he most recently served as vice president.

And the vice-president position is definitely not a kick-back gig. Vice-presidents are often charged with taking on major events, like the annual Street Fair or the Holiday Parade. And just to be accepted by the rest of the board, the vice-president must carry his or her own weight and then some.

Now as president, Mark runs the monthly meetings and his recent handling of the public meetings has demonstrated he’s a quick-thinker, adept at juggling different roles in front of a hundred people.

Mark grew up in and around London, across the Atlantic. He came to the US and went to University of Minnesota studying Communications. Passing through San Diego on their way to Cabo in 1983, he and his wife, Susan, fell in love with the city and Ocean Beach.

Mark and Susan landed back here in OB in 1985 and since ’91 they have owned an e-learning development company. Mark says, having seen the town grow and change over the years, he has a passion to maintain the OB vibe while finding ways to improve the community for everyone.

Jill Kent – Vice-President of the OB Town Council

Jill  – a northern California transplant – is now in her 10th year as an OBcean. She joined the OBTC Board of Directors in 2017 after volunteering at town council events for several years. She co-chaired the 2017 OB Holiday Parade and the 2018 Holiday Auction. Neither one of those are light-weight events.

For her day job Jill is an attorney working in downtown San Diego. Recently she represented indigent criminal appellants around California. She also spent over 10 years at the Northern California and California Innocence Projects – organizations that work to  free innocent victims of the state justice system. Before finding a home in criminal law, Jill worked in the graphic design, space exploration, night club, and video game industries. She is also partnered with another Board member, Dan Grofer.

Corey Bruins – Treasurer

Each month during the public meeting, Corey gives a rosy picture of the state of the treasury of the OBTC, and the rest of the Board is assured that their finances are in good hands. Corey has been on the Board for a handful of years, and worked actively on the 2017 Holiday Parade.

Jon Carr – Correspondence Secretary

When we asked Jon ‘where did you grow up?’ – he responded: “Who said I’m grown up?”

Biologically, at least, Jon grew up in Lemon Grove, with, as he told us, “the best climate on earth, and most fast food restaurants in a square mile.” Today, of course, he lives in OB with as he said, “My beautiful wife Tanya, our dog Chuy, and cat, Jimi.”

Back in the day, he attended Mt Miguel high school in Spring Valley, and Grossmont College in El Cajon. He started coming out to OB as a high school kid. “We were all punks and skater kids,” he said.

“So it was fun to come to a beach where you didn’t have to be a surfer or a super-bro to fit in. OB was perfect for us. We could spend hours at Cow records and then go get a nose piercing and skate around the streets of OB all day, and nobody thought we were weird.”

Jon had a good friend from college, who’d moved to OB in the late Nineties. She convinced him that OB “was the best place on earth,” and the rest is history, as they say. His friend is still here with her family and they’re still very close friends.

“Back then,” Jon said, “rents were still pretty cheap, and it was still pretty low key/laid back. By the year 2000, I was pretty much full time out here enjoying the parades, the parrots, the people, and of course shooting pool and whiskey at the old AZ!”

When asked why he joined the OBTC, he wrote this:

I sorta fell into it. I had an acquaintance who was on the board and kept pushing me to run for election. I didn’t really know what it was all about, and thought it was a government organization. Like many people still do today, I got the town council conflated with the San Diego city council.

Once I discovered that we are actually a local nonprofit organization that raises funds for the community and gives back by providing small grants and organizing all of the local events we cherish, I knew I wanted to be involved.

I had lived here for about 10 years by that point, and knew I was OB for life, so it was time to give back and get involved. Plus, we get to ride around in little golf carts and put on a holiday parade for the community! What’s better than that? The reason I’ve stayed on for almost 8 years now is because of the amazing relationships I’ve developed with my current and past board members and the people in this community that make it so special.

Melinda Therkalsen – Recording Secretary

Melinda grew up on a farm outside West Lafayette, Indiana. But not one to be held back, when it was time to go to college, she moved to the big city and ended up earning an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Gender Studies from the University of Notre Dame.

You know what they say, ‘once off the farm …” So, Melinda moved to an even larger “big city” – New York City – and went straight on to graduate school to earn a masters degree in Social Work from Columbia University. After graduation, she worked for the City of New York for a year.

But then she decided it was time for a change and moved across the country, ending up in Pacific Beach in 2006. Two years later she settled in Ocean Beach. She and her husband Scott bought their home in OB in 2010 and got married on Sunset Cliffs in 2011. The big news: Melinda just had their second daughter last month. Their other daughter is 4 years old, She told us:

From the first time I visited Ocean Beach, I knew it was the place for me. I love the sense of community here and the passion of residents.

This community gives so much to me and my family, I joined the OB Town Council to give a little bit back.

Like everywhere, we have our issues but I believe if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Sitting around complaining doesn’t get things done. We plan to spend the rest of our lives here and want to make sure it doesn’t lose its character or sense of community. Change is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be bad.

Isaac Darby

Isaac was elected to the Board of Directors during its most recent election in February.

Scott Grace

Another newbie on the Board, Scott was born in Kentucky and grew up in a small town (less than 700 people, so technically a “village”) in southern Ohio coal mining country. He described it:

We were less than a mile from West Virginia and when the Ohio river flooded it came up almost into our yard. The fact that I even mention that probably gives an indication about how bustling our town was.

Scott attended Southern High School in Meigs County, Ohio (Mascot—“Tornadoes”), Ohio University in Athens, Ohio (ie “The Harvard on the Hocking”), and then he went to Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio. His family? He said:

My Dad is a former preacher in the Ohio United Methodist Church and an avid fan of Ohio and Kentucky sports teams, as well as an all around great guy. My Mom is the nicest person you could ever meet, and volunteers and works in social work/ hospice.

My older brother is a judge in Athens where my siblings and I all went to college. My younger brother is a preacher in the United Methodist Church in Westerville, Ohio.

When asked how he ended up in OB, Scott responded: “Ohio is a great place to grow up and a wonderful place to leave …” So, once law school was over, he headed to California. Why Cali? Mostly, he said, he was in awe of Yosemite National Park and wanted to be close enough to visit as much as possible. He continued:

A friend let me crash in LA to study for the bar exam, but I realized pretty quickly that LA wasn’t my scene. Fortunately, another college buddy had moved to OB and he invited me down for the 4th of July in 2004. When I got to OB I parked on Abbott Street and as I got out a wiffle ball bounced off my windsheild and my buddy yelled “Throw it back in, you’re in the outfield … watch out for dog poop!”

The sun was shining, everyone was wearing flip flops or no shoes, dogs were running around the apartment complex in a pack, and everyone was BBQing and hanging out, and I realized “I’m going to move here.”

It’s the only time I’ve ever felt that way about a place, and then when I discovered desert camping and all of the great ocean activities, it was just a matter of time. Over the next few years I pretty much spent all my free time and money on flights to San Diego, until I finally moved out in 2008.

Scott obviously fell in love with Ocean Beach; he says it’s the most “unique, amazing small town I’ve ever visited.” He has enjoyed all  the events that the Town Council supports and hosts, especially the chili cookoff and Holiday Parade, and when a friend encouraged him to run for the board it just made a lot of sense. Like many on the Board, he wants “to give back to the Ocean Beach community, and to work with the amazing members of the town council board of directors to preserve OB’s identity for future generations!”

Marin Green

Marin is originally from Lawrence Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!), ended up in Seattle but moved to OB about 8 years ago. After less than a year of living here, she was convinced by then Board member Gio Ingolia to join the Council. Over the last few years, she has been involved in a business with Gio, and more recently, has been spreading her wings with a new pursuit.

One of her jobs on the Board, she says, is to make sure the OB Christmas Tree is as crookedest as it can be. Her favorite OBTC event?  The Chili Cook Off during the OB Street Fair because, as she said, “who doesn’t want to eat spicy chili on a super hot day on the beach?”

Marin is a beach girl. Her “Favorite spot on the beach”? Tower 4. Her “Favorite sandwich to eat at said beach”? Turkey Provolone from Hungry Lu’s. Her favorite flip flop: Sanuks. And if you were wondering, Marin is a cats person.

 Dan Grofer

Dan is another new member of the Board. He’s been helping the Board and partner Jill Kent out so much at OBTC events, he decided to get on board.

Stephanie Kane

When we asked Stephanie Kane – another new Board member – where she grew up, she replied: “All over, was a daughter of Army Ranger so moved every three years.” So, an “Army-brat” (join the club, sister, we’re everywhere in this Navy town). Stephanie is married and has a younger sister, who is also an Army Officer.  For schooling, Stephanie attended Virginia Tech.

What brought her here? She said, “the beautiful beach and a town that felt like home after the first time I visited.” And now that she’s on the Town Council we wants “to make an impact in the community and dedicate my free time to supporting the town I love.”

Trudy Levenson

Board veteran Trudy grew up in Petersburg, VA, and went to same high school as Moses Malone (NBA basketball player) and Blair Underwood (actor). She has 3 siblings – 2 brothers and a sister – and an 86 year old mother who lives with her in OB.

Trudy went to St Andrews College and the University of Northern Colorado; she hasa Master’s Degree in Business/ Psychology. These days, she counts as her major life experiences – her traveling throughout Mexico, studying the ruins and meeting the men.

Trudy also participated in being a part of a real life scenario put on by First Responders a few years ago; there was a large drill with a simulated plane landing in the ocean right off the OB Pier. Others? She said: “Saving a friend from a fire. Helping the underdogs of life. Making a change in many women’s lives by fitting them with wigs as they went through chemo.” One of the biggies, she said was “BEATING CANCER!!!!!!”

How did she get to OB? Trudy just got tired of living in Mission Beach but wanted to stay by the ocean; she looked around – and like many others – fell in love with OB. Trudy attended an OBTC meeting and decided she wanted to do more in the community. And she has: here are the OBTC events she works on: First Responders Picnic, Chili-Cookoff, the Obie Awards, Raffle at Pier Pancake Breakfast, head of the announcers at Holiday Parade and getting seniors singled out at the Food and Toy Drive. Amazingly, Trudy has been on the Board for 11 years – and counting, as she says.

Grace Quigley

Grace grew up in Marblehead, Massachusetts, a small, coastal town north of Boston. She went to Marblehead High School and then for college, to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania where she majored in Political Science and Environmental Studies.

And even though Grace has strayed, her whole family still lives in Marblehead; her parents Bill and Betsy Quigley – they both grew up in Marblehead (in the same neighborhood where Grace grew up) – and all her three siblings. Grace is the oldest. She added, “My parents also took in foster children when I was growing up, so have about a dozen foster siblings over the years.”

Grace told us she “always had my heart set on moving to West,” so after graduating college in June 2013, she and one of her best friends from Marblehead packed up her car and drove to San Diego, not knowing anything about the area.  However, as she said:

I didn’t start off living in OB, but my first job in San Diego was working at Dreamgirls on Newport Avenue. I worked at the clothing store for about six months, and in that time, became completely infatuated with OB and its dynamics.

Working at Dreamgirls I became familiar with so many local customers, and loved the consistency of seeing the same faces inside and outside of the store. I soon came to realize that this was the same for all of OB – it functioned much like the small town I grew up in, where people recognize each other, and feel inherently connected to each other.

Grace made the move, and gathered up her belongings and drove over from PB to OB in May 2015. She currently lives with three of her best friends she’s met in Ocean Beach (one of whom is Stephanie Ritter.. also on the board). They have a 3 year old dog named Rooney.  Today, she works as a Project Coordinator at an environmental consulting company called Insignia Environmental.

When asked why the OBTC? She responded:

I walked past the Masonic Lodge one day when a OBTC meeting was going on and popped in. My reaction was basically, “Oh my god – there’s a cool group of people behind all of the cool events and things I love about OB ?! .. I need to know more!!!”

Grace began going to the meetings, and then eventually volunteered at some of the events – and she decided she wanted to join the Board.  She described it:

“For me, getting involved with this community has had such a ripple effect…. as soon as I stuck my toe in, it didn’t take long until I wanted to be fully into it. I’ve always had strong OB-passion, and I think the more you know about the community, and the wonderful people and organizations that help it retain it’s character, you can’t help but want to be super involved.”

Her role on the OBTC board is Events Chair, which means she is to oversee all of the events they put on. She is also co-chair of the Craft Fairs (with Stephanie Kane) and of the Holiday Parade (with Corey Bruins).

Cameron Reid 

Cameron began life in picturesque Santa Barbara, CA and lived there till he was 11. For another 5 years, he lived up in Marin County. He stayed in Wenatchee in rural central Washington State for nearly a year but moved back to Santa Barbara and finished his last year of high school there.

He has no siblings and his mother lives in Cabo San Lucas, while his father is in Santa Barbara. He has an extended family in the Pacific Northwest, in San Francisco and New Zealand.

After high school, he did a year stint in San Francisco, and then Cameron moved west – way west, all the way to Auckland, New Zealand for a year. Then for college, he moved to Brisbane, Australia for 3 years and earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Chemistry and Forensics from the Queensland University of Technology.

After college, Cameron found Ocean Beach and lived here for two years. But then for the next few turns of the planet, he bounced back and forth between Wenatchee and San Fran, ending up back here in OB two and a half years ago.  He said:

Upon leaving Australia I was looking for my next adventure and many close friends who attended UCSD told me that they had moved to OB and planned on staying for awhile. Soon after I moved to OB and started working at Bo-Beau’s.

And why the Town Council?

I wanted to take a more active role in our amazing community and connect with other like minded and passionate individuals who also care about the betterment of our little bit of paradise. It has been such a pleasure to be apart of the OBTC the past 16 months, I couldn’t imagine ever not being apart of the organization.

Cameron has jumped in. He’s currently the Community Enhancement Chair, the Pier Pancake Breakfast Co-Chair and the Holiday Food and Toy Drive Co-Chair.

Stephanie Ritter

Stephanie has been in OB for 6 years, and works for San Diego Coastkeeper, a major environmental and influential organization. She began attending OBTC meetings and was inspired to become involved in its volunteer efforts, such as the Street Fair. She also likes the positive environmental direction of the Board, as it conforms with her own ecological slant on life.

Stacie Woehrle

After growing up by moving all over the Western U.S., Stacie finally settling in Washington where she lived for 23 years. She graduated from Washington State University and shortly thereafter met and married her husband Chad. They’ve been together for 28 years and have two awesome kids: Nate, who lives and works here in OB while attending SDSU, and Jake, who lives in New York and is a student at NYU.

Stacie’s folks, Ron and Darlena, are going on 60 years together and now live in Sun City, AZ. She says she “made it to OB three years ago by sheer will, a little luck, and lots of good karma.” Stacie told us:

I decided to get involved with the OBTC because I treasure the unique sense of community and tradition here, particularly during the holidays!

I wanted to do my part to make sure the important events that mean so much to people, like the Parade, the Food and Toy Drive, etc, continue to happen for years to come. I am so grateful to call OB home, and to have the opportunity to collaborate with such a fun group of talented, caring people at the OBTC!

There you have it, my friends, the Ocean Beach Town Council. Notice a trend? People who grow up in small towns tend to really come to appreciate OB and want to give back to the neighborhood.

For more info on the OB Town Council, they’ve just updated their website and now it’s awesome! Check it out.

Here’s a special message:

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar ZZ June 21, 2019 at 4:09 pm

Thank you to Frank for writing this article and the OBTC members for their hard volunteer work to create events so many thousands of people enjoy.

Reply

Avatar Derek June 24, 2019 at 7:08 pm

Great introductions to them all! Kudos to all of you for being involved and the last sketch really does show what being a leader can feel like sometimes… Herding cats! But don’t be discouraged, you ARE appreciated even when no one is saying so.

Reply

Avatar Jon Carr June 25, 2019 at 10:03 am

I suspect Frank’s ‘special message’ is related to trying to wrangle 15 busy volunteer board members to answer bio questions. A challenging undertaking indeed.

Thanks for the write up Frank! I feel privileged every day to work with such a talented and dedicated group of people who love this village. For the readers, please take a look at our new and improved website obtowncouncil.org

We have a lot of events coming up and are always in need of more volunteers. Tomorrow night is our monthly town hall at the Masonic Lodge starting at 7pm. This month we will be hearing from the local YMCA regarding their upcoming remodel. Hope to see lots of locals there.

Reply

Avatar George Gonzales June 29, 2019 at 11:52 am

What happened to my beloved Ocean Beach?
The locals used to control the area, kept it clean, were friendly, and we all knew each other.
What happened?

Reply

Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: