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.

Kathy Burba


Her sister is a resident of Milton House. Retired Army Colonel with 27 years of experience in logistics, humanitarian support and strategic planning. Master’s degrees in operations, strategic studies and business.

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.

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.

Walter Powers


Retired from wholesale bakery business. His son Chris (born in 1974) has been a resident of Hinchee Homes since 1991, Walter joined the Board In 2000 and continues to support all the residents through dedicated services.

Angela De Bruyn

Executive Assistant

Angela has eleven years combined experience working as the Executive Assistant for two local non-profits serving the developmentally disabled population. In addition to her administrative knowledge, she is currently training for her CNA certification.