2013 Woman Of The Year Nominee: Elizabeth Seipel
Nominated by Circle of Hope
Biography of Elizabeth Seipel:
Elizabeth Seipel was born in September, 1942, in Oakes, North Dakota, to Jim and Dorothy Gross. Liz started her career in service as a Girl Scout, selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door. She decided as a teenager that she wanted to be of “service” to others. She majored in elementary education, with a minor in French, graduating from the U. of M. in 1964 with a B.S. She married and moved to Los Angeles, CA to work for the LA School District. She began her teaching career teaching 3rd graders in a school in San Fernando Valley. During the next 10 years she taught, had two children, and worked as a substitute teacher in both Simi Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley. After moving into Canyon Country in 1973, Liz became a preschool teacher at St. Stephen’s Nursery School in Valencia to augment the family income. At St. Stephen’s, she formed an immediate bond with two colleagues, Carol Gelsinger, another preschool teacher, and Katie Clark, the school’s director. The three began to discover that there were children who needed more than the usual preschool curriculum could give them. There were children with emotional/behavioral problems that interfered with their ability to learn and development healthy relationships, and they and their families were not receiving the help they needed to become successful. Eventually, the St. Stephen’s program expanded to include a parent support and training group for those families whose children’s behaviors were out of control. Over the years, the “school” became a nonprofit “agency,” as it dealt with an ever-increasing array of behavioral health issues. It became an official 501(c)(3) charity, a Board of Directors was formed, its location (from the church to a temple to a strip mall to Hillside), and even its name changed a few times, but the central mission of serving kids and their families remained constant and strong. The growing need for services in a burgeoning community was the other remaining constant that catapulted the agency forward. Liz was officially named CEO and served as such until her retirement three years ago.
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