Dan Pittman, Chairman
Dan Pittman and Associates Public Relations
Dan Pittman, president of Dan Pittman & Associates, Inc., is an award-winning public relations and marketing professional with more than 40 years of experience who is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America. Prior to establishing his own practice in 1999, Dan has held senior posts at BSMG Worldwide Public Relations and Bozell Worldwide; Salvati Montgomery Sakoda; Cochrane Chase, Livingston; and Cunningham & Walsh. His corporate background includes PR roles with Toyota Motor Sales, Inc., National Hot Rod Association, and California Dental Association. He began career at the Associated Press (Chicago/Los Angeles bureaus). He holds a B.A. Degree in English from ASU and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from USC.
Judy Cole, Co-Chair
Social Security Administration
Judy Cole is a retired administrator from the Social Security Administration. As District Manager for 38 years, she joined the Board of Project Independence to assure that adults with developmental disabilities had a voice in Sacramento and the services to build independent lives. Judy is a former Board Chairman. It has been her greatest reward to be a Board Member for over 20 years.
Del Hart, Treasurer
Crown Capital Securities, L.P.
Del Hart is a practicing financial consultant with Crown Capital Securities, L.P. He has served as Chairman of the Board of Project Independence and Chairman of the Finance Committee. His financial expertise continues to aid Project Independence in securing independent lives for over 600 adults throughout Orange County living with developmental disabilities.
Jami Countryman, Member
Jami Countryman has been an educator for over 27 years. She has a Masters Degree in special education and is a mother to two boys with developmental disabilities. She has spent years in the community volunteering for both her church in San Clemente as well as for many causes that serve those living with developmental disabilities. She is honored to bring both her personal and professional experience to the Board of Directors to Project Independence serve its population as they build their lives of independence and inclusion.
Debbie Miller, Member
Debbie Miller is the president of Social Hospitality, a boutique digital marketing agency that helps brands develop their online identities, create engaging content, and build their social media presences. Primary services offered include digital strategy consulting, social media, SEO, as well as copywriting and editing for websites, blogs, and email marketing campaigns. The Social Hospitality blog is a leading industry resource, too. Miller is active in numerous social, business, volunteering, and networking groups in Orange County. She is also on the board of the UCI Alumni Council, president of her Toastmaster’s club, member of the Greater Irvine Chamber, and a “Big Sis” with Big Brothers Big Sisters of OC. She regularly speaks at industry events and has been featured in various business publications. Miller is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine.
Diane Pritchett, Secretary
South Coast Metro Alliance
Diane Pritchett is the executive director of the South Coast Metro Alliance. She is also a member of the Board of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce. Prior to her leadership role with the Alliance, Diane was the national sales manager at The Westin South Coast Plaza. Her other work experience includes serving as sales manager of Char Tours of San Francisco and as a public relations professional with Fredrick Chusid & Company, an international consulting firm. She previously served on the Boards of the Girl Scout Council of Orange County, Girls Inc., South Coast Symphony, YMCA of Orange County and the Southland Economic Development Corporation. She was the Costa Mesa Woman of the Year in 1989. Diane has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Ohio State University and holds a California Real Estate License.
Ian Rice, Member
Ian Rice is a Benefits Consultant for Alera Group. He has been a founding partner of two employee benefits firms and a tech company that helped make fantasy sports a household phrase. Throughout his career, he has helped more than 100 small and medium sized businesses make data driven decisions while designing a benefits package that helps them achieve their strategic vision. He taught public speaking at San Jose State University, where he published research and received his master’s degree in Communication Studies. Despite being the newest member of the Board, Ian has had long standing relationships with Project Independence and has always been committed to the mission of promoting civil rights for people with developmental disabilities through services which expand independence and choice.
Harry Stahl, Member
Law Offices of Harry Stahl, P.C.
Harry Stahl is a corporate attorney and businessman. He has been a member of the Project Independence Board of Directors for over 25 years. Previously he served as the President of the Orange County Food Bank. A Vietnam era veteran, he is also a proud member of American Legion Post 291 in Newport Beach. He and his wife reside in Irvine, California.
Kurt Yeager, Vice Chair
Stradling, Yocca, Carlson & Rauth
Kurt Yeager retired in 2018 from Stradling, Yocca, Carlson & Rauth where he practiced public law since 1978. While still practicing law, he joined the Board of Project Independence to guide them through the merger with Vantage in 1977. He continues to proudly serve the mission of Project Independence. He retains an interest in Stradling as principal shareholder.
Nick Westphalen, Member
Nick Westphalen, a Costa Mesa resident, is a client of Project Independence, where he has received support since June of 1998 that has helped him develop his skills and confidence. He enjoys his daily walks to Starbucks and the supermarket, where he greets the staff and customers with a broad smile. Nick is very close to his family and a big fan of singer Katy Perry and reality TV shows. He is passionate about advocating for the rights and needs of people with intellectual disabilities and ensuring that Project Independence continue to provide high-quality and person-centered programs.
(714) 549-3464 ext. 232
Stepping up from his role as associate director at PI, he replaces retired CEO Debra Marsteller. In 2007, after 26 years leading former Vantage Foundation and building the first integrated work supports system for people with the most complex lives, Marsteller joined with Watson in conducting a successful merger with Project Independence that seamlessly blended the two programs into one, keeping the focus on those served while promoting independence and choice. While serving as associate director at Project Independence, Watson has also been a member of the Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC) Board of Directors. He has chaired the RCOC’s Behavior Programs on the Vendor Advisory Committee (VAC). During his time on the Board, he testified before a legislative subcommittee advocating for rights of individuals. Watson joined Vantage in 1994 as a job coach while attending graduate school at Cal State Fullerton. He quickly rose to area manager, then regional director where he was responsible for growing the partially site-based day program. He was instrumental in transitioning Vantage Foundation into a totally community-based program with an emphasis on employment for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Dorothy M Blubaugh
Dorothy Blubaugh is the chief operations officer and director of community day services ay Project Independence. Previously, she served as director of operations for California-based Institute of Applied Behavior Analysis, which provides positive behavior practices in a range of services, for children and adults with disabilities and autism, both internationally and within the United States. She was previously IABA’s director of community-based Behavior Day and Employment Services.
(714) 549-3464 ext. 282
Bernard is the Controller for Project Independence. Bernard started his journey with Project Independence in October 1999. Bernard, a former Administrator for an Adult Residential Facility, manages Payroll and Accounting and oversees the IT functions of the organization. Bernard, not only brings administrative skills but also hands on experience as well.
714 549-3464 ext. 227
Meka Green has worked at Project Independence, initially in direct support of the clients directly and now in her current role as the Director of Human Resources. Meka works diligently to assure that Project Independence recruits, trains and supports staff that will go the extra mile to serve those who need us most. Meka takes great pride in the strong relationships she maintains with both field staff and management. Meka maintains a strong commitment to always having an open door for questions, concerns or any other issue that needs a supportive and constructive response.
(714) 549-3464 ext. 224
Mike Voegele is the Director of Independent Living and Supported Living at Project Independence. Independent Living services teach the skills needed for consumers to live independently in their own apartments. Supported Living services provide the needed in-home support and care that consumers may need in order remain successfully living in their own apartments. Mike began his career at Project independence as in Psychology intern from Cal-State Fullerton in February of 1994. He was hired as a full-time Independent Living direct staff in May of 1994. Mike later became an Area Manager in October of 1997, where he managed a caseload of about 35 consumers and was responsible for assigning and supervising the direct staff. In November of 2004, Mike was promoted to Director of our Independent and Supported Living departments.
Experienced fundraiser, educator, theater producer, and disability community professional Chad Costello has joined Project Independence as director of fund development. Costello’s career highlights include serving as the manager of the independent living and supported living programs with Project TEAM, a Riverside Unified School District vocational program for young adults with disabilities. A key achievement was the coordination of a sports clinic that partnered with professional sports teams. While at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Riverside, he was responsible for multiple student theater productions along with fundraising events. In 2010, he founded the Peanut Gallery, an anti-bullying program incorporating improv and acting that quickly attracted over 400 students. He is a graduate of California Baptist University, earning a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in education.