March 2023

Vol 7: Issue 3


The Shadelands Scene

Your place for community news, updates, and insights




In December 2022, Susan Lee Vick officially joined Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) as its new CEO, stepping into the leadership position long held by Elena Bicker, who was with ARF in a variety of capacities for 30 years before retiring at the end of last year.

Susan most recently served as COO at Hugh Futrell Corporation (Santa Rosa), and has served in leadership positions at several prominent nonprofits, including Canine Companions (Santa Rosa), Point Blue Conservation Science (Petaluma), and Church Investment Group (NYC).

With her extensive experience in executive leadership and her nonprofit, mission-motivated approach to life, Susan hit the ground running and in her own words, now has the best job in the world.

"ARF was looking for a leader with experience scaling programs nationally, which I've done in my previous work," says Susan. "And they were looking for someone into teamwork, and inspired by ideals, and maybe more than a little bit 'rah-rah.' I guess that's me!

"I’m devoted to teamwork and collaboration, and creating excellence and thriving organizational culture. So I was thrilled to be offered the CEO position at ARF. The organization is at an important inflection point both in terms of scale and vision. That makes this an exciting time to be in this position, working alongside ARF's amazing staff, volunteers, donors, and partners."

For the next several months, Susan and ARF leadership are carefully assessing every aspect of the organization, and looking at where they would like to see ARF strategically in the next three years and beyond. For now, according to Susan, some themes are bubbling up, including vocational and educational opportunities that benefit individuals and communities, as well as ARF’s much-loved dog and cat shelter guests.

“Our dual mission is People Rescuing Animals . . . Animals Rescuing People, and we’re looking at ways to live into the second part of the mission more fully. For instance, we envision ARF as a hub for helping our communities meet animal welfare needs as well as employment needs by offering vocational training in pet grooming and internships in veterinary services. These opportunities can lead to meaningful and sustainable employment, while keeping our shelter animals in great shape and providing lower cost animal care services for the community."

ARF has come a long way from solely rescuing dogs and cats from shelters who are running out of time. Today, ARF takes a 360-degree approach to the human-animal bond, offering a wide range of programs for animals and for their guardians. ARF envisions a world where every companion animal has a safe and loving home, and every person who can benefit from the human-animal bond can form and maintain a lifelong relationship.

“Everything we do is going to feed into that vision.”

New ARF CEO Susan Lee Vick was "ready on day one to build on ARF's national reputation for excellence and innovation," says Board President Gregory McCoy.

Tony La Russa's 

Animal Rescue Foundation

2890 Mitchell Drive

Walnut Creek


ARF CEO Susan Lee Vick joined the organization with a passion for animals and a belief in the health benefits of the human-animal bond.

ARF CEO Susan Lee Vick and staff member Conrad check in on Gomez, a lovable and affectionate rescue looking for a forever home.

ARF CEO Susan Lee Vick makes the rounds on the adoption floor, stopping to visit Imogen, who is enjoying a healthy mid-day snack from a tube.

Read the engaging Q&A with ARF CEO Susan Lee Vick posted on ARF's website.

For more about Susan's background and professional work experience, visit her LinkedIn page.

Welcome to ARF and welcome to Shadelands, Susan!


Camp Community Arts offers creative studio and performing arts experiences for students ages 518 at the Center for Community Arts, Shadelands Art Center. Summer camps are held in a supportive environment that uses process-based learning to introduce children to new, arts-based skills. 

Staff and professional teaching artists provide individualized instruction, feedback, and critique as students learn new techniques and expand their artistic repertoire.

Students will learn about artists and techniques from around the world for inspiration as they produce their own works of art.

Artists Studio | Ages 510

Teen Arts | Ages 1118

Theater Camp | Ages 812

Learn more about the Camp Community Arts program and registration. Classes fill quickly.

Center for Community Arts

Shadelands Art Center

111 N. Wiget lane

Walnut Creek



Since January 2014, Shadelands Pediatric Dentistry (SPD) has been helping children and teens grow healthy smiles by providing a wide array of pediatric dental services with customized treatment plans, and educating children in the importance and practice of good oral hygiene, first with the help of their parents or caregivers, and then on their own.

As a part of its regular services, SPD also looks at pediatric airway health, evaluating children for conditions that might impede their ability to swallow or breath properly, especially at night, such as the shape of their mouth, their tongue, or the tissues connecting the tongue.

Within the welcoming and family-friendly space with five exam rooms and comfortable lobby, owner Melissa Lopez, DMD, and her team treat children from ages one through 18—and infants who were born with teeth. SPD also provides services for special needs adults.

Joining Dr. Lopez at the practice are Judyth Lee, DMD, and Lina Paek, DDS—all three are board certified specialists in pediatric dentistry—and a skilled and compassionate group of dental assistants and hygienists, front office staff, and communications coordinator.

“One of the biggest differences between pediatric dentistry and general dentistry is the focus on creating positive experiences for young children and teens," says Dr. Lopez. "We help those who, at first, come in fearful of the dentist's chair and tools, to grow through their discomfort and come to love coming to the office for their appointments.”

To do that, the team gets to know their patients and families, focusing on addressing their individual needs and expectations, adjusting practices, and tailoring treatments and procedures to fit those needs and comfort levels.

“We ask parents to help their children with brushing and flossing at least once a day until they are 10 years old. That has to do with the development of fine motor skills in their wrists and to be able to make the movements that will help them keep their teeth that, at about age 6 or 7, become the teeth they’ll need for their entire lifetime.”

The dentists work with their young patients, telling them, "You're seven and this is the tooth that you’ll need when you're one hundred and seven. That’s a long time, so you have to let your mom and dad help you."

Dr. Lopez (r) and Dr. Lee (l) examine an x-ray of a young patient's growing molar.

Shadelands Pediatric Dentistry

520 Lennon Lane, Suite A

Walnut Creek


SPD dental assistant Lily prepares a young patient for a routine exam and teeth cleaning.

During school visits around the East Bay, SPD dental hygienist Denise and pal Dino the Dinosaur show children how fun it is to brush, floss, and visit the dentist.

They've discovered that when they put it that way, children take ownership of their teeth and understand the importance of brushing and flossing and developing healthy habits.

"And they come back in proud of themselves and their teeth," says Dr. Lopez. "And those are the greatest gifts we can give—education and a positive experience around dental health."


It’s showtime for Contra Costa School of Performing Arts (SPA). Five dance majors in the school’s COCO Elite Dance Company have earned a place on the stage at the 2023 National High School Dance Festival, the largest dance festival in the U.S. showcasing excellence in high school dance programming, hosted this year by Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA.

Open to high school students grades 9–12, the prestigious dance festival annually welcomes more than 1,200 students from more than 70 high schools across the country and abroad to participate in auditions, concerts, and more than 200 master classes. And while all high schools are invited to attend the festival, only dancers and dance companies that have been approved by the NHSDF selection committee to perform and compete can make their way to the concert stage to showcase their art.

Under the guidance of SPA dance instructor and advisor Tajh Malik Stallworth, who is the director of the pre-professional COCO Elite Dance Company and the COCO Junior Dance Company, the five dancers created five original dance pieces for consideration by the festival committee. The school and dancers got the good news during winter break that two of the five pieces were chosen to be presented at the festival, which runs March 1–5, a first time invitation for SPA.

The company is presenting Five Friends, performed by Jackson Adkins, Sarah Boos, London Hill, Beulah Munoz, and Dasia 'Jupiter' Norcome; and Epiphany, a solo dance choreographed and performed by Jackson Adkins.

Five Friends is the first work that Tajh and the company began creating as a group in the fall, with five chairs, five dancers, and a piece of music.

“This is about the experience of feeling alone and that there's nothing left,” says Tajh. “But then, you look around and see the people who lift you up. It’s about the joy of finding found family in a group of friends.”

Jackson's Epiphany is his journey from a starting place to an ending place, always in a difference space physically and emotionally, offering audience members a visceral experience as they join him on his journey.

Contra Costa School of

Performing Arts

2730 Mitchell Drive

Walnut Creek


SPA dance instructor Tajh Malik Stallworth (second left) works with students on technique, performance, and expression. [Jami Breese]

COCO Elite Dance Company members (top l-r)

London Hill, Jackson Adkins, Dasia 'Jupiter' Norcome; (bottom l-r) Sarah Boos, Beulah Munoz. [Katie Niemann Photography]

COCO Elite Dance Company prepares for its showcase performances at the 2023 National High School Dance Festival. [Jami Breese]

“We’re all very proud of the dancers and thrilled for them and this opportunity," says Tajh. "Both pieces represent what we do here through dance expression and artistry at the highest level.”


Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation's (ARF) Animals on Broadway is one of ARF's biggest and most visible fundraisers of the year, raising essential funds that allow for more life-saving work.

This year's Animals on Broadway fundraiser, pet walk, and free community festivalwhich features animal products and services, games, and entertainment for the whole familywill be held on Sunday, May 7, 10:30am–2pm, when animals and their people gather at Broadway Plaza to celebrate the human-animal bond.

Animals on Broadway annually attracts hundreds of visitors and participants, and is a great way to give back to the community through individual and corporate sponsorships and team fundraising.

For information about becoming an event sponsor, hosting a vendor booth, and forming a company team, contact ARF at

ARF Animals on Broadway

Sunday, May 7


Pet Walk & Community Festival

Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek

Tony La Russa's 

Animal Rescue Foundation

2890 Mitchell Drive

Walnut Creek




Spring and summer are right around the corner, so now is the perfect time to start thinking about healthy smoothies, juices, and snacks for nourishment and heat relief, says Tamara Gerlach, owner of Joozi Juicery, located in the Shadelands SportsMall.

Fresh, organic juices and smoothies provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants the body needs for optimal health—and midday pick-me-ups. They also add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, which can help you reach your 5-a-day WHO recommendation.

“As part of the Shadelands SportsMall, we love that we get to offer our athletes and their families pure, natural, healthy options with no sugars or syrups, that provide a boost of energy before or after a workout,” says Tamara, who notes that Joozi is a central location for all people who work in Shadelands. “Walk on over during your break or grab a drink for your trip home.”

In addition to Joozi’s most popular items, the juicery now offers Strawberry Sunrise, Chocolate Delight, PB&J, Strawberry Split, and Coffee Freeze smoothies; a tangy Citrus Splash juice blend made from fruits that come from Tamara’s own Suisun Valley orchards; and greater healthy snack choices such as yogurt parfaits, fruit slices, and protein bars.

Joozi Juicery is located on the Encore Gymnastics side of the SportsMall across from the American Swim Academy, and has expanded its hours, M–F, 11am–7:30pm, and weekends 9am–4:30pm.

Joozi Juicery

2640 Shadelands Drive

Shadelands SportsMall

Walnut Creek


Joozi Juicery owner Tamara Gerlach rings up a thirsty young athlete.

For a happy, healthy heart, try Joozi’s signature blend of apple, carrot, beet, lemon, ginger, and cinnamon, served up here by Jasmine.


Contra Costa School of Performing Arts (SPA) teachers encourage their students to be bold, be brave. The cast of the upcoming Greek tragedy Clytemnestra, a 2012 play written by Welsh poet and playwright Gwyneth Lewis in the style of the Classics, will be doing just that as they take on the story of the Greek murderess who sought revenge for the killing of her daughter, Iphigenia, who was sacrificed to the gods by the girl’s father, Agamemnon, before the Trojan War.

Mel Martinez, SPA associate director of theater, teaches advanced acting classes and directs one show per year. She was thrilled to secure the rights, with the help of SPA Director of Theater and Dance Aejay Mitchell, to perform Lewis’ original work.

The play runs March 17–19, with four performances staged on campus in the Black Box Theater. Of note is that the March performances will be the play’s United States premiere.

“The kids who came out and made the choice to take on this mature work are amazing, talented actors,” says Mel, who adds that, among the 12 cast members, two vocal majors have taken a leap into acting.

“This is an intense Greek tragedy written with contemporary language, so the dialogue will not be alienating. And audiences don’t need to be familiar with Greek mythology or tragedy to appreciate the play’s story,” says Mel.

“But, this is a story about loss, grief, and revenge in Classical Greek style.* There is violence and stage combat and a lot of blood. PG-13, I’d say—not suitable for little ones, but great fun, as a theatrical performance experience, for everyone else.”

*Written in the playbill is a trigger warning: death, chains, ropes, knives, blood, violence, loud noises.

Contra Costa School of

Performing Arts

2730 Mitchell Drive

Walnut Creek



by Gwyneth Lewis

A retelling of an epic Greek legend

March 17–19 | 1pm & 7pm

SPA student actors rehearse lines and staging for the U.S. premiere of Clytemnestra, a 2012 play by Gwyneth Lewis.

SPA's Black Box Theater will be transformed into a slaughter house by students of the Design & Production Department for the staging of Clytemnestra.



The Diablo Valley Farmers' Market is the place to find a colorful variety of tasty and nutritious potatoes, in season now.

Did you know that potatoes are rich in Vitamin C and potassium, and are naturally fat-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free?

Potato Facts

• Originally cultivated by the Incas in Peru dating back to 8ooo B.C. 

• Potatoes are the world’s fourth most produced staple after corn, rice, and wheat.

• There are about 100 varieties of edible potatoes grown in the United States, with more than 1,000 varieties grown worldwide.

Enjoy the bounty of fresh, organic, in-season produce picked at the peak of ripeness, from farm to table.

Find more produce information and seasonal recipes on the Diablo Valley Farmers' Market website.

Diablo Valley

Farmers' Market

Saturdays, 9am–1pm

North Wiget Ln. at Mitchell Dr.

Walnut Creek

Open year round, rain or shine


If you missed attending the February 14 Civic Affairs Forum, The Future of Office in Walnut Creek, hosted by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce, you'll find the full recording online.

Moderated by Ed Del Beccaro, TRI Commercial Real Estate Services, the enlightening presentations and panel discussions featured Brandon Farrell, Hall Equities Group; Teri Killgore, City of Walnut Creek; Breck Lutz, Newmark; and Alexander Quinn, JLL.

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