Administration & Staff

Lisa Buono, Ed.D.

 (805) 493-3663

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Where I’m From: Los Angeles, California


  • B.A. Dramatic Arts, Distinction, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • M.S. Counseling & Guidance (PPS Specialization), California Lutheran University
  • Ed.D. Higher Education Leadership, California Lutheran University

Professional Experience: Dr. Buono began her professional career working in the film industry at Egg Pictures.  Deciding to change careers, she attended Cal Lutheran, seeking a master's degree in counseling and guidance.  Simultaneously, Dr. Buono began teaching in the MFA Producer's Program at UCLA.  After completing her degree, Dr. Buono completed her career transition and joined the faculty at Cal Lutheran in 2004.  She earned her doctoral degree in 2011.  In 2012 she was appointed the Interim Director of the Adult Degree Evening Program (now the Bachelor's Degree for Professionals program).  After a national search, she was selected to be the Director of the Professionals program in 2013.  In 2020, Dr. Buono became the founding Dean of the School for Professional and Continuing Studies.  

Bachelor's Degree for Professionals

Jessica Waddell, M.S.

 Director, Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals
 (805) 493-3169

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Where I’m From: Orlando, Florida


  • B.A. Sociology, California State University Channel Islands
  • M.S. Counseling & Guidance (College Student Personnel), California Lutheran University

Professional Experience: Jess spent several years working in the sports memorabilia industry while enrolled in both her undergraduate and graduate programs.  After finishing graduate school, she transitioned to a career in higher education.  Jess initially worked for the Graduate School of Psychology at Cal Lutheran, where she held the position of Program Specialist from 2013-2015.  She supported the Masters programs and advised students pursuing MFT degrees.  Jess was hired as the Associate Director of the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program in 2015 and promoted to Director in 2020.

Kristy Fenstermaker, M.S.

 Associate Director, Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals
 (805) 493-3515

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Where I’m From: Novato, California


  • B.S. Psychology, California Lutheran University
  • M.S. Counseling & Guidance (Pupil Personnel Services), California Lutheran University

Professional Experience: After completing her undergraduate coursework, Kristy spent time working in mental health as a Behavior Specialist where she found her passion for working with students, particularly in education.  While pursuing her Master’s degree, Kristy worked in K-12 in the private sector and upon completion of graduate school, worked as a School Counselor at a Charter School for at-risk students in grades 6-12.  After several years in K-12, Kristy decided to make a change to higher education and in 2011, returned to Cal Lutheran and was hired as an Academic Advisor in the Adult Degree Evening Program and in 2020 was promoted to Associate Director of the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program.

Yolanda Alvarez, M.S.

 Academic Counselor
 (805) 493-3130

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Where I'm From: Jalisco, Mexico


  • B.A. Psychology, California Lutheran University (Bachelor's Degree for Professionals program)
  • M.S. Counseling and College Student Personnel, California Lutheran University

Professional Experience: Yolanda's professional background started as a housekeeper in 1999.  Yolanda was undocumented at the time and did not have access to a wide range of opportunities.  In 2009, she came out of the shadows and transitioned into a Customer Support Representative position for a credit card processing company, where she worked for 8 years.  Once she finished her graduate program, she volunteered at various events at Cal Lutheran and Cal State Channel Islands to gain experience.  In 2018, she was hired as an Academic Counselor for the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program. 

Ruby Ortega

 Program Specialist
 (805) 493-3543

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Where I’m From: Oxnard, California


  • B.S. Business, California State University Channel Islands

Professional Experience: Ruby worked as a Main Line Operator and IT help-desk Assistant at CSU Channel Islands when pursuing her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and Emphasis in Marketing.  Upon completion of her degree in 2017, Ruby was hired at Deutsch Advertising Agency as a Digital Media Trafficker.  As a Digital Media Trafficker, she provided creative direction for one of their clients on regional and national campaigns.  In 2019, she was hired at Cal Lutheran as a Program Specialist for the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program.  

Center for Nonprofit Leadership

Dena Jenson, M.P.P.

 Director, Center for Nonprofit Leadership
 (805) 493-3677

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Where I’m From: Dena grew up in Anaheim, California, calls Ventura, California home


  • B.A. Political Science, California State University Long Beach
  • M.P.P., University of Southern California

Professional Experience: With nearly 25 years of combined executive and nonprofit management experience, Dena's first nonprofit job was as the public policy director of a small advocacy organization in Los Angeles.  She served as Vice President and director of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership at the Ventura County Community Foundation for ten years before joining the Cal Lutheran family in 2016.  Dena frequently serves as a speaker and trainer on leadership development, organizational capacity, board governance and nonprofit business development.  She believes deeply in the power of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector’s role in creating a just society.  From small efforts taking shape around a kitchen table to our community’s most recognized charitable organizations, Dena is committed to the Center’s mission of “helping nonprofit leaders do better at doing good”.

Leanne Blackwell

 Program Coordinator, Center for Nonprofit Leadership
 (805) 493-3740

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Where I’m From: Simi Valley, California


  • B.A. Communication, specialized in Public Relations & Advertising, California Lutheran University

Professional Experience: After graduating in 2013, Leanne spent time working as a digital communications manager at a Ventura County-based marketing and PR firm, which provided services to many nonprofit clients in the region.  In 2016, Leanne joined the Center for Nonprofit Leadership when the Center opened its doors at Cal Lutheran.  She has served as the program coordinator for the past three years.  She is currently pursuing her MBA in Marketing at Cal Lutheran.