Board of Directors

Denise McCain-Tharnstrom, PhD, JD, MPP

Founder, President and Board Chair

Dr. McCain-Tharnstrom is the founder and leader behind Our Community LA and the WIN What I Need mobile app. A committed leader in the area of children’s policy and philanthropy with strong interests in leveraging philanthropy ‘beyond the grant’, Dr McCain-Tharnstrom has a long history of leading efforts that improve connections between not only the homeless and needed services, but also in training women to become effective children’s policy advocates, raising awareness about environmental policy impacts on children’s health, and promoting investments that support the unique needs of infants and toddlers. As the founder, Board Chair and President of Our Community LA, (OCLA), (originally founded and known as Our Children LA until the nonprofit changed its name in January 2021)) she oversaw the 2012 creation of a Directory of Services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth for the use of Los Angeles City Library. Since January 2014, she has led OCLA’s expansion of the Directory countywide, guided both the creation and on-going development of the accompanying mobile application, WIN What I Need,  and the OCLA  website, a community web-center supporting policy changes to benefit the homeless which also hosts a PDF of the Directory and the Web Version of the WIN App

She has been active in a variety of philanthropic and policy-driven community initiatives benefiting children. She has been a member of the Everychild Foundaion since 2001, (a LA-based private foundation which funds non-profits providing services alleviating the suffering of local children)She is the longest serving chair of ECF’s Grant Screening Board (2003-2006), and served as Treasurer of the Board from 2004-2007. In 2007 she co-founded ECF's Public Policy Committee. As founding chair, she worked to train her committee members in children’s policy and advocacy issues from 2007-2014. In 2010, she rejoined the ECF Board of Directors serving through March 2014 and conceived of and oversaw the ECF State of Our Children Conference held at Rand in 2013. She was a member of the steering committee for the Los Angeles Partnership for Early Childhood Investment (LAPECI) (2007-2013) founded its public policy committee and served as LAPECI chair from 2011-2013. She was a member of the board of Healthy Child Health World (2011-2014) and the Children’s Nature Institute. (2011-2014), and is currently a member of the Children NOW Leadership Council. She has been a featured policy speaker at area conferences as well as national conferences around homelessness and technology

A former litigator, she received her undergraduate degree from Duke University and her law degree from the University of Florida. Early in her career, she served first as an assistant state prosecutor, then as a  commercial litigator and appellate attorney. In 1990 she took a career leave to provide home care for her young children while serving on her town’s Environmental Review Board. Following her family’s transfer to Los Angeles, she entered the University of Southern California’s School of Public Administration’s Masters in Public Policy program. Recipient of the Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Graduate, she graduated with honors in 1999.

In 2007, she melded her interests in environmental policymaking and children’s policy, and returned to USC to research her dissertation. In December of 2008 Dr. McCain-Tharnstrom received her doctorate with honors for her work examining the adequacy of political representation of children’s health interests in federal environmental policy implementation. She has taught as an adjunct instructor in the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and the Political Science Department, co-authored Bureaucracy, Politics and Environmental Policy in the America West in Environmental Politics and Policy in the West ed. by Zachary Smith and John C. Freemuth. (University Press of Colorado, 2007 and 2015).

Other Illustrious Members of OCLA's 2021 Board of Directors

 Tuan Le, Founding Board Member

Software Applications Manager, Southwestern Medical Services

 

Barbara Moore, Founding Board Member

Children’s Advocate & Co-Chair Optimist Youth Homes Advisory Board

 

Melissa Schoonmaker, Board Member

Project Director, Child Welfare and Attendance, LA County Office of Education

 

Jeff Hamilton, Treasurer of Board

CPA,/Independent Financial Consultant

 

Austin Haye, Board Member

 Mobile Application Visionary & Founder, The Influx

 

Pamela Banner Krupka, Board Member

Managing Partner, Krupka Law Group, P.C.

 

Anne Costin, Board Member

Retired Citigroup Global Investment Banker & Columbia Business School Lecturer

 

William Finkelstein, Board Member

Retired Senior Counsel, Steptoe & Johnson LLP

 

Sharyn Church, Board Member

Managing Director, Arabella Advisors, Los Angeles Office

Laura DiMaggio, Board Member

Partner, Nigro Karlin Segal & Feldstein LLP