Our Team

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Executive Director

William Hurst

Bill Hurst is the Executive Director of FirstServe Community Services, and Senior Pastor of First Lutheran Church and School in Torrance CA. He is a graduate of Queens College (CUNY), and holds the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Originally a working actor, Bill also managed telemarketing and sales teams in the healthcare and technology industries before becoming an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In addition to serving three parishes, he served as Assistant to the Bishop for communication and interfaith affairs in Metropolitan New York from 1996 to 2004. 

Bill has served on a number of not-for-profit boards, including Wartburg Lutheran Services in Metropolitan New York, the Diakonia Lay Education program, the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association, and California Lutheran Homes and Community Services.  Bill also serves FirstServe as a program leader for bereavement and counseling services, as well as representing our programs in the Greater South Bay area. A published author, he also enjoys songwriting and other literary pursuits, as well as consulting with area non-profit organizations. 

Email Bill at firstservesouthbay@gmail.com.

Board of Directors

David Julifs

President

David Julifs

David is President of the First Serve Board.  He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois and a MS in Electrical Engineering from USC, and he currently works as an Engineering Project Manager at Raytheon Company. David also serves as the Vice President of the First Lutheran Church Counsel, Secretary of First Lutheran Church, is a Board member of the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Illinois, and Division Coordinator for youth basketball tournaments.

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Treasurer

Martha A. Avila

Martha A. Avila joined the FirstServe Board of Directors in 2021, and currently serves as Treasurer. She is a member of First Lutheran Church in Inglewood CA.  Ms. Avila graduated from UC Riverside with a Bachelors Degree and Teaching Credential, and later completed two Master Degrees from Cal State Los Angeles.  She has been an Elementary School Teacher for LAUSD for 13 years.  A leader in her local congregation, Martha has served on Church Council, and among her many roles is also also a member of the church's Praise Band. She has served the wider Lutheran Church as a member of the Southwest California Synod Council, as well as with their Executive Committee. She enjoys singing, cooking, gardening, and spending time with her family.  Serving God and community is a major focus of her life. As she says, "Jesus was the perfect example of how to serve -- especially to the less fortunate -- and we should follow in his footsteps."  

Janice Saruwatari

Secretary

Janice Saruwatari

A baptized child of God and active member of First Lutheran Church. Retired from accounting in 2016 and now spend working at various Garden Ministries, volunteering at various food pantries, working with the Torrance Department of Children and Family Service office (DCFS) through the Regional Community Alliance and the Faith Council and a mentor with Fostering Hope LA in their Jobs for Life Program. A member and secretary for the FirstServe Board since 2017 and a participant in many of the First Serve Programs.

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Board Member

Nancy J. Ackerman

Nancy is a Vice President of Netzel Grigsby Associates, Inc. She has a B.A from Pennsylvania State University and has a Certificate in Fundraising from UCLA Extension. 

Nancy brings nonprofit management and fundraising experience in the health, education, human services, arts and faith-based sectors. Her expertise includes: capital campaigns, major gifts, prospect identification and cultivation, endowments, board development and strategic planning. Nancy is a Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

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Board Member

Jane Nayagam Thomas

Jane is Co-Founder of Kora, a marketplace that brings skilled cooks to the homes of people who appreciate the flavors and benefits of home cooked food. Jane brings over 20 years of experience as a Human Resources executive with Fortune 500 companies, namely Pepsi and American Express. Having relocated over 10 times in the last 20 years, from California to New York, Canada and Hong Kong, she has returned to her native Southern California with her husband Danny and son Bond. Jane holds her BS in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, and her MBA from the University of Southern California. 

Dean Nelson

Board Member

Dean Nelson

Bishop Emeritus Dean Nelson was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1944 and attended public schools in that city. He was confirmed at St. Timothy Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chicago in 1958. He graduated summa cum laude from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota in 1966, with a major in English and minors in German and philosophy. He attended Harvard Divinity School in Massachusetts, interned at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Santa Rosa, California and graduated from Luther Seminary in St. Paul in 1970. He was ordained in the former ALC, a predecessor body of the ELCA, in 1970. He served congregations in Enid, Oklahoma, Chicago, Illinois, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and was Senior Pastor here at First from 1995-2001. In 2001 he was elected as the third bishop of the Southwest California Synod, ELCA, and served two terms, retiring in 2013. He is married to the former Marianne Anderson, a retired fourth grade teacher from First Lutheran School, and is the father of Kirsten Nelson Calabrese and Mark Nelson, and the grandfather of Henry and Lena. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of First Serve, he chairs the Synod’s Middle East Peace Task Force, serves as an area representative for Bright Stars of Bethlehem, and serves on the boards of both Opportunity Palestine and Providence Little Company of Mary Hospitals of Torrance and San Pedro. He continues to provide pulpit supply both at First and at congregations throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and sings with the Long Beach Camerata Singers. He and Marianne also enjoy traveling both nationally and globally.

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Board Member

Margarita C. González

Margarita joined the First Serve Board in 2021. She is also the South Bay Conference representative of the Southwest California Lutheran Synod. Margarita is retired, after careers in business and educational fields. In the past five years she has been Treasurer of the Rotary e-Club of Puerto Rico y Las Américas, a non-profit organization.  Margarita graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a BBA in accounting, and her M.Ed. from State University of Texas and M.A. in Counseling from Loyola Marymount University. Her passion is to serve the community through organizations that promote the well-being of the community. 

Patrick Henry

Board Member

Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry is an evangelist for entrepreneurs and helping them to connect and acquire resources to support their ventures.  He believes that entrepreneurs have been and always will be the growth engine of the U.S. economy. For the past16 years he has brought his entrepreneurial passion to the next generation of entrepreneurs Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies within the USC/Marshall School of Business. He retired from faculty May 2020 and has been awarded title of “Professor Emeritus“ in recognition of his impact on students and the university.

 

Patrick has been involved in two non-profit organizations that create career building entrepreneur programs with under-served middle and high school students.  He is Professor in Residence for Academy of Business Leadership (www.goabl.org) and on the Los Angeles board of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (www.nfte.com). Previously, he had an extensive career in Consumer Products and Consumer Electronics as a Consultant, Advisor and New Venture Executive with Mattel, Sega Genesis, Tyco Toys (acquired by Mattel), Duracell, Sea World, and Caesars’ Casinos.  Patrick has an MBA from University of Southern California and an Undergraduate degree in business administration from California State University at Northridge.  He has been married to Diana for over 50 years and has two Trojan alumni sons and four future Trojan grandchildren all living nearby.

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Technical Director

Thom Spadaro

Thom, over the years has worn several hats, including the one you see here. His original career was as a cook and later managing owner and chef at too many restaurants to count. He has driven future movers and shakers toward furthering their education and changing the world as a school bus driver. He has done a fair bit of acting, directing, writing and producing in the theatrical, video/TV, and radio realms. And, along with his wife and partner Susan, is Co-Curator of the (mostly) annual “Broadway At First” benefit series on the Faith Hall Stage. At present, he’s Senior Support Specialist for CRS Solutions, a reseller for Restaurant Manager point of sale systems and Shift4 Payments.