Board of Directors
Michael Wilson ~ President
Michael currently serves as president of the board of directors of ATOU. An active participant in sports of all kinds, he was also involved in coaching with the Eureka Youth Soccer Club and Lakeside Little League over a 15 year period when his boys were younger.
Michael is an Associate Geologist with Fugro in Sacramento, California where he has spent much of the last 26 years plying his trade in the field of Geotechnical Engineering. Prior to moving back to California he spent 8 years working in a similar capacity with Herbst Benson Associates in Baltimore, Maryland. Michael enjoys the variety of projects he has participated on in the last 30+ years, which run the gamut from high rise office structures and major highway interchange projects to remote dams and unique single-family residences. Michael stresses his commitment to quality in every project he undertakes, realizing that the secret to maintaining good client relationships is to provide a quality product in a timely fashion.
Michael was a 15-year member of the Rotary Club of Granite Bay and enjoyed the opportunity to “give back” to the community. Michael was privileged to serve as club president during the 1996-97 year, where coincidently he became reacquainted with Leslie DeDora and her incredible mission. Michael is also proud to be the president of the Board of Directors for A Touch of Understanding. “My longevity with ATOU comes down to two things – Participating in an organization that is touching lives and making a difference and the opportunity to be around some of the most amazing people I have ever met and be privileged to call them my friends.”
Michael and his wife Barbara have 3 grown boys and enjoy being “empty nesters”. Michael and Barbara enjoy traveling and spending time with friends and taking in as many baseball games as possible!
Kody Fernandez is a law enforcement officer with the State of California. He has also held positions within the private, public and non-profit sector. He earned A.A. degrees from American River College in Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. He also earned his B.S. degree from California State University, Sacramento in Recreation Administration with a concentration in Recreation and Park Management and a focus in Community Recreation Management.
Kody has been involved with A Touch of Understanding (ATOU) since 2010. His involvement with ATOU began with his time as an intern where he needed to complete his service learning requirement for his degree. After completing that requirement he became a regular, consistent, weekly volunteer. He later joined the staff working as the Volunteer Coordinator. Kody moved on, after attaining a position with the State of California. He soon returned as an intern to complete the internship requirement for his bachelor’s’ degree. After receiving his B.S. degree Kody wanted to be more involved in the organization that has helped him grow both personally and professionally. In 2016 Kody joined the Board of Directors and is now even more involved with ATOU.
“One reason ATOU is so important to me is I’ve had the opportunity to see the positive impact that this program has on children and adults. I’ve seen that “switch” turn on in students and I’ve seen how this program can break down those barriers that people have when they perceive others as different. ATOU is creating a community of inclusion and understanding, the type of community I want to raise my children in.”
I have always been interested in working with special needs people. Before children, I worked with Advocacy for Retarded Citizens (ARC) volunteering with clients and was on the board. Then when I had children, I volunteered with them in school, sports, and church. After my children graduated from high school, I started working with ATOU with their fundraiser, Art from the Heart which is now Evening of Insight. And now I am a board member.
I believe special needs people are special people from God and we need to protect and provide for them the best we can. ATOU teaches people about being kind, accepting, respecting and compassionate to special needs and all of people which I agree wholeheartedly.
Kim currently serves on the board of Directors for Capital Public Radio and is a former Board member and President of the Roseville Area Chamber of Commerce. Kim is a long-time fan and supporter of ATOU, seeing the value in educating others in school, and in the workplace, about the importance of acceptance and inclusion.
Kristi has worked in the Eureka Union School District where ATOU got its start, and she has been a fan and supporter for many years. Kristi‘s passion for helping students with special needs began when she was in high school, where she worked as an aide, supporting students on the Autism Spectrum during her summer breaks. She taught special education in a variety of settings, including a nonpublic school for students with emotional disturbance, high school special day class programs, and elementary resource programs. Kristi has served the Eureka Union School District as the Director of Student Services for the past ten years. Before then she was a principal at Oakhills Elementary School. She strives on finding the positive in each situation and understanding the perspectives of all team members. Her favorite quote which guides her is: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” John Wesley