Elevating Human Abilities Since 1967
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Leadership Team

 
Luana Vaetoe

Luana Vaetoe

Chief Executive Officer

Luana assumed her role as CEO in 2013, during this time BI has experienced significant organizational growth accompanied by a variety of positive outcomes for the clients it serves. Luana’s innovative mindset, program and business expansions has inspired individuals, foundations, and businesses to invest in Becoming Independent. Since Luana assumed the role of CEO, BI has experienced annual double digit increases in fundraising, helping to further fuel program growth and innovation. Luana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and is also a graduate of the University of Delaware’s National Leadership Institute on Developmental Disabilities. She is a recipient of The North Bay Business Journal’s (NBBJ) Nonprofit Leadership Award as well as their 40 Under 40 Award and most recently their 2020 Women in Business Award. Luana was also awarded the Jefferson Award for civic duty and engagement.
Luana is a member of the North Bay Leadership Council and Santa Rosa Metro Chamber Leadership Santa Rosa Class 37, and is currently attending the Executive Master’s in Business Administration program at Sonoma State University.

Paula Finley

Paula Finley

Chief of Services

Paula joined BI in February of 2011 and became Manager of the Production Services team in June of 2011. She had the privilege of leading BI’s vocational team through the transition from sub minimum wage to minimum wage in January of 2018. As Chief of Services, she continues to work to not only ensure BI remains a fun place to work but that it truly exemplifies its values in all areas, supports individuals to live self-determined lives and celebrates the staff who make BI the best. Paula is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities program through the University of Delaware. Her most recent accomplishments include working with program staff during COVID to re-imagine a 54 year old business model that relied primarily on face-to-face services. This program transition resulted in a robust Virtual Day Program that ensured hundreds of individuals remained connected and engaged during the pandemic.

James Cox

James Cox

Director of Community Services

James joined BI in 2013 and immediately developed and implemented a collection of meaningful volunteer opportunities across Day Services. The partnerships he established with local organizations such as The Council on Aging, Catholic Charities, and The Redwood Empire Food Bank created anchor activities for those served by BI to become active participants in supporting their local community. James’s diverse background in human services spans 30 years. His experience in Residential, Day Services, Supported Living, Transportation, Employment, Respite, and Behavior Management affords him a global perspective across the service spectrum. James’s experience, revolutionary philosophy on person centered services, and unwavering positive attitude is a valuable support to all facets of the organization. James is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities program through the University of Delaware.

JayJay Rico

JayJay Rico

Director of Operations

JayJay joined BI in 2012 and since that time has served the organization in several different capacities, including leading the expansive growth of BI’s Social Enterprise Division through the opening of the Kaiser Cafe and Mobile Secured Document Destruction before assuming his current role overseeing the agency’s operations in 2020. JayJay holds a Bachelor’s in Organizational Communications from Sacramento State University, a Master’s in Organization Development from Sonoma State University, and is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities program through the University of Delaware. He received The North Bay Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award for his leadership in creating meaningful, community based job training and employment opportunities for the individuals we serve. JayJay also volunteers in his community, serving on the Parks and Recreation Commission for the City of Rohnert Park, where he helps to advise the City Council on matters relating to city parks and cultural arts and recreation facilities and services.