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.

Jeff Hudson

Board Member since 2008

jeff-hudson-lgJeff Hudson, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Walker & Dunlop, began his professional career in Real Estate Finance in 1978. In 1992 Hudson joined the George Elkins Mortgage Banking Company as Chief Executive Officer. In 2016 he and his partners sold the company to Walker & Dunlop. Hudson has arranged more than $10 billion of Debt and Equity in the financing of properties across the country.

Hudson graduated from University of California at Santa Barbara where he received his B.A. in 1974. He subsequently attended Woodland School of Law, where he received his Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1978. The State of California admitted him to practice in 1978, and the following year he was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court. In 1979, Hudson received his certification to teach the subjects of Law, Banking, and Finance at the Community College Level. More recently Hudson has been enrolled in the Masters of Education program at Mount Saint Mary’s in Los Angeles.

Some of his memberships in professional associations include the California State Bar, The Mortgage Bankers Association of America, and the Commercial Real Estate Secondary Market and Securitization Association. He is a former member of the Faculty of the Practicing Law Institute in San Francisco, and a former member of the Board of Directors of Kennedy Wilson International. Hudson and his wife, Sandy, attend Calvary Church in Pacific Palisades where he has served as an Elder. They have three grown children.

Lisa Meeske Sloan

Board Member since April 2015

Scan 1Lisa Meeske Sloan was born the youngest of four children in Detroit, Michigan. She’s received a BFA from the University of Michigan and married Tim Sloan in 1982. She worked at Valassis Printing Company in the design department for two years.

The Sloan’s moved to Chicago in 1984, where Lisa worked as a graphic designer for Handelan – Pedersen. In 1987 they moved to the San Gabriel Valley. Lisa worked for the next 25 years as a stay at home Mom to their three children.

During those years she volunteered for the San Marino public schools, San Marino Community Church and Nursery School, San  Marino National Little League, National Charity League, and the local Girl Scout and Boy Scout programs. After becoming an empty-nester, Lisa started a small home renovation business called Silk Purse Renovations, LLC. She is presently an elder and chair of the Worship Committee at San Marino Community Church and a board member of Villa Esperanza Services in Pasadena.

Evan Taranta

Board Member

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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.

David Wood

Board Member since 2018

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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.

Francisco J. Leon

Board Member since 2019

Board of Directors 15 Francisco J. Leon is Executive Vice President, Corporate Development & Strategic Planning at California Resources Corporation, the largest oil and natural gas producer in California. Francisco is responsible for the company’s capital allocation process and business development initiatives including mergers and acquisitions.

He has over 18 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, and expertise in a multitude of disciplines, including Management, Corporate Finance, Economic Evaluation, Domestic and International M&A Transactions and Planning.

Mr. Leon holds a B.A. in International Business from San Diego State University where he received distinction in his major, a B.A with highest honors from International Business at Centro de Enseñanza Tecnica y Superior (CETYS) in Tijuana, Mexico, and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas, Austin.

Francisco and his wife, Brenda, have two children and reside in Valencia, CA.

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.

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.

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.

Steve McKenzie

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

Board Member

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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.