Board of Directors

Lessie Nixon Schontzler


Lessie was born in West Virginia. She graduated from the University of Kansas, started law school in Oklahoma, moved to Santa Barbara in 1974 and was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1979.

Her daughter Jessica (1965-1994) had been diagnosed as having Down syndrome, epilepsy and other challenges. Lessie and other caring people in the community (particularly Milton Schmerzier) worked to establish a safe and loving home for Jessica and other young people who needed special care in this area.

The Jessie Hopkins Hinchee Foundation (JHHF) named after Jessica’s Grandmother, was opened in 1981. The second Hinchee Foundation Home, Jessica House, was established to care for more physically fragile residents, this is where Jessica spent her final years.

Having her daughter safe and secure and being able to keep in close contact with her through her brief lifetime allowed Lessie to practice Family Law in Santa Barbara.

Lessie has been on the Hinchee Board since the creation of the JHHF. It has been a joy for her to work with her fellow Board members and the wonderful staff. It is also particularly satisfying for her to see the Hinchee Foundation grow into a well respected and financially stable organization serving people with disabilities and their families.

Robert Dibley


Financial and Wealth Management Advisor with Northwestern Wealth Management Company. Retired from the British Army after serving throughout the world and in Indianapolis as the British Exchange Officer.

Karen T. Harris, PHR-CA, SHRM-CP

Vice President

Working in Human Resources for 35 years with Covenant Ministries and currently Director of Human Resources at Covenant Living at the Samarkand, a continuing care retirement community in Santa Barbara.  Karen’s expertise has been invaluable to Hinchee in the few years she has been active on the Board.

Colette Piacentini


Mother of Christine (1964-2003) who had severe disabilities and was one of the first residents of Milton House. Born and educated in France, long accounting and business management experience is various local non profit.

Ley Wertz


Master’s Degree in Social Work, worked for the Dept. of Social Services, retired from Tri-Counties Regional Center where he worked with adults residing in licensed residential care facilities.

Vicky Diaz Pagenkopf, MSN-FNP

Patricia Chafin

Board Member

B.S in Social Welfare; has a history working in non-profit organizations and currently works for one; has a long history in finance

Patty Lummis

Family Representative

Patty is a dedicated community volunteer and philanthropist and has served in leadership positions on a variety of non-profit boards.  She is experienced in development, communications and presentations.