The Work of Family Ambassadors

Family Ambassadors have been participating in First 5 OC’s work since December of 2021. The group of six meets every other month, with focused meetings such as the Equity Commitment workgroup and the Protective Factors committee, in the intervening months. Family Ambassadors are compensated for their active engagement with First 5 OC, including reimbursement for child care when needed.

Six new Family Ambassadors are currently onboarding, and the previous six will be mentoring them in the role. 

Family Ambassadors:

  • Serve on workgroups
  • Speak as family representatives at community events
  • Bring their voice as parents of young children to community forums, Board meetings, and community events
  • Provide insight on First 5 OC programming
  • Attend community events alongside First 5 staff
  • Review organizational materials
  • Take part in discussions around organizational direction
  • Are involved in the co-creation of strategy

Family Ambassador Benjamin Juarez is a Community Schools Coordinator for Magnolia Public Schools. In the video, he shares how the Early Development Index results inspired him to work with others to create a TK Bridge program in his community so that students and their parents will feel more prepared going into the school year.

Recently, Child Care Aware of America created a committee of parent leaders across the United States to help develop its next strategic plan to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care. After receiving hundreds of applications, 12 parents were selected, including one of First 5 Orange County’s Family Ambassadors, Maritza Bermudez, who is the only parent representing California.

The project will build upon three core parts of Child Care Aware of America as an organization, including: 1) Supporting its early child care resource and referral members; 2) Partnering with the military; and 3) Integrating diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) principles and practices into all of what Child Care Aware of America does.

First 5 Orange County supported Maritza in her application and preparation for this new role and she will bring her learnings back to First 5 OC.

Meet the Family Ambassadors

First 5 Orange County continues to make great strides in our commitment to both family engagement and elevating family voices in our communities.

As part of that effort, First 5 Orange County would like to introduce the Family Ambassadors:

Stephanie Ayala

Stephanie has lived in north Orange County for the past 9 years. Her family consists of her husband and two girls, ages 2 and 6 years old, plus their latest addition to the family — a beagle puppy, Dora. Stephanie wanted to join this group because she’s passionate about early childhood education and sharing the resources that are offered. When she became a parent, she felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and unprepared for parenting responsibilities and working full time. It was a lot to balance.

After taking several childhood development classes, she now has the tools and strategies to utilize and wants other parents/caregivers to know about all the wonderful resources offered (many for free) to help them solve the issues they may be going through.

Maritza Bermudez

Maritza was born and raised in the City of Anaheim where she continues to live.

She has five children, ages 21, 13, 7, 5, and 4. Maritza is active in her children’s schools, PTA, Parent Leadership Institute, School Site Council, and many district committees at Anaheim Elementary School District and Anaheim Union High School District.

She also loves to volunteer in her community with different local organizations and be active in civic engagement within the city.


Benjamin Juarez

Benjamin has been in Orange County for the last 19 years.

During this time, he has focused his energy on serving families and youth facing some of the greatest challenges. His passion for serving others led him to launch two local after school programs and mentor more than 100 youth.

He is currently working for the Mix Academy, a local nonprofit. As a father of two, his passion has not dwindled and he has become a supporter, especially for those children with special needs such as his own.


Yohana Rojas de Jesus

Yohana is a mother of 2 children ages 12 and 5, and lives in Santa Ana. Since becoming a mother, she has started to be more involved in different community programs that support the well-being and development of children.

She is originally from Pueba, Mexico, and has lived in the United States for more than 13 years. Yohana has had culture clashes with education, language, and in general, all the systems of this country. But she has been motivated to learn more each day to guide her children as their interests are different due to their age differences. As a mother, Yohana wants to learn to balance their interests and her own, and establish equilibrium in her daily life.


Maria Sanchez

Maria lives in Orange County and is a mother of 3 children: a daughter, 14, and two sons, ages 11 and 4. She loves kids and is working in an elementary school district after working in a Catholic school for many years at her local church.

Maria loves to learn new things, especially topics related to the development of the physical and mental health of kids. She loves the First 5 program and believes in the importance of the first 5 years and psychological development.



Sara Ursenbach

Sara is an entrepreneur, advocate, and foster parent. She lives in La Habra with her husband, two adopted children, one foster child, and one very fluffy cat. She serves as the PTA president at her children’s elementary school, as the school board liaison for LHCSD PTA council, third-term School Site Council, and organizes community events such as the La Habra Children’s Business Fair and Read Across La Habra.

Working as a Family Ambassador furthers her advocacy efforts, strengthens her relationship with the community, and furthers her efforts to create a solid foundation of support for all children.

For more information on Family Ambassadors, please contact Lisa Burke at