Therese Steadman, Interim Executive Director
Therese is a native Californian, growing up in the orange groves of the San Fernando Valley. She’s always considered herself a ‘Valley Girl’, having lived most of her childhood in ‘the Valley’!
In 1980 Therese, and her husband Chuck, moved to Hemet. Here they raised their four children: Chris, Tim, Katie and Danny. From 1982-2006 Chuck served the community as a Police Officer and later Sergeant with the Hemet Police Department. Therese stayed at home raising their children until their youngest son started Kindergarten in 1991.
With her children in school full-time Therese turned her attention to the goal of completing her college degree. In 1992 she en-rolled in Mt. San Jacinto College, attending classes while the children were in school. Evenings at the Steadman home found mom and kids at the kitchen table doing homework. Therese earned her AA in English in 1993 and transferred to California State Univer-sity, San Bernardino. There she continued to work hard, graduating in 1995 with a BA in Liberal Studies and an emphasis in English.
With her degree in hand, Therese began working as a substitute teacher in both Hemet and San Jacinto Unified School Districts. It was never her goal to work full-time; she wanted to be available to spend time with her family and not be tied down to a job. She was a ’sub’ for 11 years, retiring when Chuck retired from Hemet PD, in 2006.
At least they thought they had retired!
In 2007 an opportunity to purchase a local print shop presented itself to the Steadman’s. On November 1, 2017 they became the proud owners of Curry Copy Center of Hemet, Inc.! Little did Therese know how much work being a business owner would be, but, more importantly, how many good people in the community she would come to know. Chuck and Therese ran a very successful business and supported many of the local non-profits in Hemet—one of which was C.A.S.A. In about 2010 Therese was asked to join the Board of Directors, which she gladly did, jumping in with both feet to help support this worthwhile and needed Agency.
Time passed, in fact 10 years passed, and Chuck and Therese decided it was time to retire . . . Again. On October 23, 2017, they sold Curry Copy. Now they were ready to spend time with the 10 grandchildren that had joined their family during the past 14 years. But then, opportunity came knocking again.
This time, C.A.S.A. needed help. So, a short-lived retirement came to an end on February 1, 2018 when Therese agreed to fill the position of Interim Co-Executive Director, along with Gregg Hillis. She and Gregg Hillis resigned from the Board and took over the reigns at C.A.S.A.
Sitting on the Agency’s Board was not preparation enough for working as the ED. However, as Therese told the staff on day 1, “I don’t know what you do, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, but I promise I will give 100% and will work hard to make this Agency successful.’
And work hard is what Therese and Gregg have done. This has been a crash course in grant writing, budget modifications, audits, and program reports. The staff at C.A.S.A. have worked hard too, helping Gregg and Therese learn the ins and outs of the Agency. Therese has found that her 10 years working at Curry Copy introduced her to many of the good people in the community who are willing to support the mission of C.A.S.A.
Of life’s twists and turns Therese said: It’s interesting to see where our life leads us. We go about each day, unaware of how we are creating something bigger than ourselves. We work, we meet people, we serve others and along the way something amazing is being created—but we often don’t realize it’s happening. Sometime it seems as though our life is like the backside of a tapestry—just a jumble of threads of various colors, not looking like much of anything. Then, every once in a while, we get a glimpse of the front side. Then we see how those threads have come together—how all those people and experiences have formed a beautiful pattern that has become our life. The following poem, The Weaver, reflects my thoughts:
The Weaver My life is but a weaving Between my Lord and me, I cannot choose the colors, He worketh steadily.
Oftimes He weaveth sorrow, And I in foolish pride Forget He sees the upper And I, the underside.
The dark threads are as needful In the Weaver's skillful hand As the threads of gold and silver In the pattern He has planned.
Not till the loom in silent And the shuttles cease to fly Shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reasons why.
- Author Unknown
Gregg Hillis, Interim Executive Director
Gregg worked in the field of education for 42 years, 39 years in the Hemet and San Jacinto Unified School Districts. Gregg has a Masters in Marriage, Family & Child Counseling and a Pupil Personnel Services Credential in School Counseling and one in School Psychology. He held positions in HUSD as an Elementary School Counselor, Assistant Principal, and Coordinator of Child Welfare and Attendance. In SJUSD he served as a Middle School Counselor, District Counselor and the Coordinator of Student Services. SJUSD recognized Gregg as the District Support Employee of the Year in both 2009/10 and 2013/14 school years.
Gregg has been involved with numerous non-profit agencies in the San Jacinto Valley over the years. In the early 1980s, Gregg was a Hemet Hospice Patient Care volunteer, Speaker Bureau and Bereavement Group volunteer as well as a Hospice Social Worker. He and his wife, Annette, continue to provide Hemet Hospice Youth Bereavement Groups as volunteers.
Gregg has also been involved with the Valley Youth Foundation, Community Pantry and the San Jacinto Police Activities League over the years. In 2017, Gregg was honored by Molina Healthcare as a “Community Champion” for his years of service to the Valley.
Gregg knew and worked with Gene Preshaw and Mary Coss who were teachers in HUSD and who are considered as the founders of C.A.S.A. In 1985 Gene, Mary and a group of local dedicated women established C.A.S.A. as a non-profit agency. Gregg became a Board Member in 1986 and was the Board President from 1986-1991. In 1988, he co-wrote the Office of Criminal Justice and Planning application that established C.A.S.A. as a State Certified Rape Crisis Center. He was recognized that year by Soroptimist International of San Jacinto-Hemet Valley as a “Persons Making a Difference for Women” for his work with C.A.S.A. Gregg returned to C.A.S.A. in 2010 as the Board Secretary until this past February when he stepped down from the Board and accepted the position as Interim Co-Executive Director.
Rachel Leal, Program Director (Director of Advocacy)
Rachel joined C.A.S.A. in November of 2014 as a volunteer advocate. She chose our agency to complete her practicum hours while finishing her Master’s degree in Psychology, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. After completing her degree in June of 2015, she continued with C.A.S.A. as an MFT Intern (#89530) and has since been promoted to the position of Program Director.
Rachel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a concentration in Early Childhood Development. She has previous professional experience as an on-site behavioral therapist at a group home for children with emotional disorders. She previously worked as a teacher at the Pre-K and First Grade levels.
In addition, Rachel is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and has earned her CA State Certification for Advocacy in the fields of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Human Trafficking.