Board of Directors

Union Rescue Mission’s Board of Directors is a diverse governing board of highly qualified Christian professionals representing a wide range of experience and backgrounds. They offer governance, guidance, accountability, and support to help URM achieve our mission. The URM Board members selflessly volunteer their time, talent, and treasure to help fight homelessness in LA.

David Wood

Chairman of the Board
Board Member since 2019

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David Wood is a retired Executive Director and Senior Client Executive of JP Morgan Chase in the Real Estate Banking Group.  In that roll, he cultivated and managed relationships with top tier institutional and private real estate developers/investors and provided comprehensive solutions for their debt, capital markets and commercial banking needs.

David’s career in commercial real estate finance and banking began in 1979 at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York.  In 1980, he was asked to relocate to Los Angeles to help establish the bank’s first real estate loan production office outside of New York City.  During his long tenure with the firm, David served in a variety of senior positions including Director of Commercial Property Lending, Regional Executive for the Pacific Coast, and National Head of Underwriting for Real Estate Banking.

He is a former member of a number of local and national real estate organizations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Urban Land Institute-Inland Empire Chapter; Free-N-One, a national substance abuse prevention program; and the Board of Trustees at West Angeles Church of God In Christ.

Currently, David is an author, mentor and advisor with a commitment to promote faith-based financial literacy and is active in the pursuit of solutions to end homelessness.

He is a native Bostonian and a graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor’s degree in finance.  He loves to cook, earned a degree in culinary arts, and ran his own catering company for a short period of time.  David and his wife Lorene have been married since 1980.  They have two adult sons, Christopher and Jordan, and two grandchildren.

Steve McKenzie

Vice Chairman of the Board
Member since 2021

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Steve McKenzie is the founder and managing partner of Channel West Group, a boutique real estate investment and advisory firm based in Malibu, California.  Channel West makes investments in hotel & resort, residential, and industrial properties via direct property acquisitions, debt vehicles, and ownership of operating platforms.  Primary focus markets are the Western U.S. and Hawaii.

Prior to founding Channel West Steve was a Partner and Managing Director of the commercial real estate investment banking firm Eastdil Secured.  He has been active in commercial real estate finance and investments since 1986 and has invested in or arranged over $10 billion of property over the course of his career.

In addition to the Union Rescue Mission Board, he is also on the board of directors of the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

He received his B.A. in Economics from Wheaton College.

Steve and his wife Alyson are the parents of three children and reside in Malibu.

Caryn Ryan

Programs Chair

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Caryn Ryan is the Founder and Managing Member of Missionwell LLC, a virtual business office encompassing accounting, finance and human resources and strategy services for non-profits and religious organizations in Southern California and, increasingly, nation-wide.

She was previously the Chief Financial Officer for World Vision International, responsible for their microfinance operations, global field financial operations, governance, compliance, an emerging shared services unit for accounting/reporting and establishing a world class global Treasury center.  Prior to that, she spent 20 years with Amoco Corporation and BP plc (which merged in 1998).  Key positions included CFO of the Oil Trading International business based in London, England, VP Finance for Amoco’s retail and commercial marketing operations based in Chicago, IL and business development roles in both Houston, TX and Moscow, Russia.

Caryn has an MBA from Northwestern University and an undergraduate degree from Albion College, from which she received an Albion College 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award.  She sits on the board of directors of Union Rescue Mission, dedicated to eliminating homelessness in Los Angeles County, and chairs the Programs Committee and serves on the Executive Committee.  She is also a director of a southern California credit union, where she chairs the Business Development and Board Risk Management Committees, serves as Secretary of the corporation, and assists with strategy and governance best practices.  She is a past President/Finance Committee Chair of La Canada Presbyterian Church, and past board member of Oasis USA, which focused on poverty alleviation in India and human trafficking.

Caryn enjoys being a resource to the non-profit community, teaching courses at the Center for Non-Profit Management and Christian Leadership Alliance on financial sustainability and governance.

She has two wonderful adult children living and working in Seattle, spends time hanging out with her rescue dog, Russell, and enjoys travelling the world to visit dear friends and see new places.

Evan Taranta

Philanthropy Chair

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Evan Taranta has had a long career in public policy and government affairs. She currently leads public affairs and partnerships at Better Place Forests, a conservation start-up in the end-of-life space. She has previously worked as an in-house lobbyist for Fortune 500 companies like Target in Minneapolis, MN and Apache Corporation in Houston, TX. Prior to that she was the Legislative and Policy Director for Consumer Energy Alliance. She started her career in Washington, DC as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill.

Evan graduated from Duke University where she was a member of the women’s varsity volleyball team. She earned a double major in Political Science and Public Policy Studies with a minor in Spanish. She is passionate about homeless policy and finding real solutions that help the most vulnerable in our community.

 Evan and her husband Ethan are raising four young children in Los Angeles. They are active in the St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Community in Westwood. Evan also volunteers at their parish school and as youth sports coach and referee. Her hobbies include driving her kids to their hobbies, skiing, and playing beach volleyball. She also enjoys competing in sprint triathlons.

Karen Preston

Board Member since 2017

Our Team

Karen Preston joined the Board of Directors of URM in November 2016.  She serves on the Program Committee and maintains an active role as a volunteer teacher and mentor at Hope Gardens Family Center.

In 1992, Karen and her husband, Mike, moved to Melbourne, Australia, and so began the years of raising a family and volunteer work serving children including American Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Children’s Hospital (Melbourne, Australia), two terms of service on the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education, Two Hearts Foundation, Spiritual Care Guild for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Young Life, and Lake Avenue Church.  She Co-Founded & Co-Owned Lizzie Driver, a women’s golf apparel brand. She received a B.S., Kinesiology from UCLA, where she met her husband during a weekend Campus Crusade retreat at Lake Arrowhead.

Karen and Mike have been married since 1988 and have two grown sons, Danny and Steven.

Helen Easterling

Board Member since 2019

Helen Easterling Williams has spent over 30 years building effective educational communities. Helen is a transformational and disruptive innovator that uses technology, emotional intelligence, and
external partnerships to effectively lead diverse populations to thrive in their purpose while being culturally and financially healthy. A collaborative leader, she is known for making data-driven
decisions that focus on market, margin, and mission to insure productivity enhanced with social responsibility. She has held several leadership roles
at the intersection of teaching, social responsibility, and corporate management.

Scott Watt

Board Member since 2020

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J Scott Watt became a member of the Union Rescue Mission Board of Directors on February 28, 2000. He is currently Executive Chairman of the Board of Watt Companies. Scott joined Watt in 1976 as Senior Vice President of Forward Planning. Prior to joining, Scott founded and led Scottfield Building Corporation, a company that built more than 1,000 residential units and a shopping center during its six year history. During his time as SVP of Forward Planning, Scott completed $50 million in office buildings, shopping centers and industrial building development. In 1986, he became President of W & B Builders, parent to several Watt subsidiaries. Under his leadership, the division completed over a million square feet of commercial and industrial properties during a three year span. Scott took over as Chairman of Watt Companies in 2009 and has successfully engineered the transition from Founder to 2nd generation. Watt Companies has grown from revenues of $117,000,000 in 2009 to $174,000,000 in 2014.

Scott is a graduate of the University of Southern California and holds a Master’s Degree in Education, with an emphasis in counseling, from the University of Miami. Scott is, or has served as, a Board Member for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, Chairman for Christian Associates Los Angeles, and the Board of Brentwood School. He was a chapter chairman of the Santa Monica Bay Chapter of the Y.P.O.

He is currently a member of the University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work Board of Directors, the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate Executive Committee, the USC School of Business Advisory Board and a past member of the USC Alumni Executive Board of Governors. Scott is also an Elder at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church. Scott has four boys; James, Donny, Kanaga, and Dax, with his wife Obaida.

Eugene Tsai

Board Member since 2020

Board of Directors 18Eugene Tsai is an orthopedic hand surgeon.  He received his undergraduate and medical doctor degrees at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.   After also completing his orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Michigan, he spent an additional year of training in hand and microvascular surgery at the Indiana Hand Center in Indianapolis.

He joined Kaiser Permanente in 2006 and currently serves as the Assistant Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center.   He has been actively involved in Cub Scouts, San Marino Community Church, various youth sporting and musical groups as well as Special Olympic events including the World Games in 2015.

Eugene and his wife, Julie, have resided in the San Gabriel Valley since 2000.  They have two children, Danielle and Zachary.

D. Michael Van Konynenburg

Board member since 2023

D. Michael Van KonynenburgD. Michael Van Konynenburg (“Mike VK”) is President of the global real estate investment banking firm Eastdil Secured. At Eastdil Secured, he is responsible for overseeing numerous large, real estate transactions including financings, joint ventures, sales, and M&A transactions for institutional real estate owners and lenders. Eastdil Secured arranges over $200 billion of capital market transactions globally each year. Eastdil Secured has offices in the US, Europe, and Asia.

Mr. Van Konynenburg was formerly the President and Chief Executive Officer of Secured Capital Corp (“SCC”), a real estate investment banking firm that he co-founded in 1990. SCC merged with Eastdil Realty in early 2006 to form Eastdil Secured. In 1997, Mr. Van Konynenburg also co- founded and served as the CEO of Secured Capital Japan (“SCJ”), an Asia based, real estate private equity platform which subsequently went public in 2003.

Prior to co-founding Secured Capital Corp, Mr. Van Konynenburg was a Senior Vice President in Drexel Burnham Lambert’s CMBS and High Yield Bond divisions in Beverly Hills, where he was responsible for trading and structuring various CMBS securities and real estate financings for non- investment grade corporates, as well as trading distressed mortgages.

Mr. Van Konynenburg graduated with highest honors from the University of California at Davis with a bachelor’s degree in Managerial Economics. He is a founding board member of the Ziman Center for Real Estate at UCLA Anderson School of Management and a member of Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee (RECPAC). He is a governing trustee of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), and actively involved with the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles.

Jackie Lacey

Board member since 2023

Jackie grew up in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles in a working-class family. Her father was a laborer for the city of Los Angeles and her mother was a cook for the LA Unified School District. She has one younger sister, Carol. After graduating from Dorsey High School, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Irvine and a law degree from USC. She was the first in her family to go to college. With her infant daughter in her arms and her 2-year-old son and her husband by her side she was sworn in as a licensed California lawyer in 1983.

In1986, she started as a prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. During her tenure, she was a prolific trial lawyer who made history in 1998, when she obtained a murder conviction against white supremacists who killed a man in Lancaster because he was Black. It was the first conviction under a newly enacted California hate crime statute.

After spending years working in the courtroom, she decided to run for office. In November 2012 she was the first woman and the first Black to be elected District Attorney in its 160-year history. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is the largest county prosecutor’s office in the nation with 1,000 lawyers. She was re-elected again in 2016 without opposition.

While District Attorney, she created the Criminal Justice Mental Health Taskforce. She published the “Mental Health: Blueprint for Change.” She received an award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for establishing an academy to train law enforcement on de-escalation techniques. She created the first Human Trafficking Unit. She established the first Complex Child Abuse Unit. She served as a mentor to several girls and women who later went on to pursue careers in the legal field. She retired from public service in December 2020, after losing her re-election bid.

She was raised in the church. At 11 years old she was baptized at Trinity Baptist Church in Los Angeles. She is a member of Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch. At Shepherd, she and her husband were Life Group Leaders for 10 years. They were supporters of the Union Rescue Mission.

She and her husband, David were married for nearly 42 years. He passed away in 2022. They have two adult children. She enjoys walking, reading, and spending time with her family.

Sheryl Kataoka Endo

Board member since 2023

Sheryl Kataoka Endo is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry, Division of Population Behavioral Health, at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior. As a child psychiatrist and health services researcher who has provided mental health care in school-based health centers to students and families, she has focused her research on improving the access to mental health care in schools for ethnic minority youth and their families living in under-resourced communities. For over two decades, she has partnered with school systems to develop interventions for youth who have been exposed to trauma and has worked to provide early identification and treatment to those in need. She has also served as Training Director for the UCLA Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship, a two-year training program for those physicians subspecializing in child psychiatry. Sheryl has also served in leadership positions for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and as a committee member for the National Academy of Sciences. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles and her Medical Degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. She completed her Residency in General Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship at the UCLA Semel Institute.

Sheryl and her husband Richard Endo live in Cheviot Hills in Los Angeles and have two adult daughters, Elizabeth and Emily. Sheryl is actively involved in her church, St. John’s Presbyterian Church, having served as an elder and deacon and currently serving as Board Chair of the St. John’s Presbyterian Nursery School.

Jonathan M. Lee

Board member since 2019

Jonathan is Executive Managing Director of Colliers and overseas the financing activity of several West Coast markets on behalf of the firm. He and his team focus exclusively on structured finance for the acquisition, development, and refinance of commercial real estate.

Prior to his current position, Mr. Lee served as President of George Smith Partners. Mr. Lee began his tenure as an Analyst in 2006 and was eventually named the firm’s President in 2022. During his tenure GSP averaged $3 Billion a year in financing, grew offices in Denver, Seattle and New York, and increased staff levels 20%. Jonathan specializes in ground up construction, perm and bridge financing and has personally arranged over $10 Billion in debt, pref equity and JV equity structures in his career. As a former developer, he leverages his experience in ground up development to customize a client plan that manages risk profiles and maximizes returns. His expertise includes underwriting and structuring commercial real estate investments, negotiating transactions and term sheets, financial modeling, market research, and evaluating business plans through the stages of an investment cycle. He utilizes an extensive network of debt, life insurance, CMBS, Fannie/Freddie and equity relationships to achieve his client’s goals.

Jonathan is an active community and civic leader. He serves on the board at the Union Rescue Mission and supports the Ronald McDonald House. Jonathan is also a Board Member at Liberty Bank in Irvine, CA. He is an active member of YPO and most recently served as the Chair of the Golden West Chapter. Mr. Lee graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and formerly worked at the U.S. Department of State.

Professional and Academic Affiliations:

• Liberty Bank, Board Member/Credit Officer (Current)

• Union Rescue Mission, Board Member/A&F Chair (Current)

• YPO Member, Chapter Chair (2022-23)

• Member of UCLA REAG, MBA, and ICSC

• Member Oceanside Christian Fellowship, El Segundo CA