Board & Staff

Founder & Executive Director – Katie Ritchey

Born and raised in Palo Alto, Katie Ritchey has long-held a dream of opening a women’s center to serve all women living in the Bay Area. She believes that a woman’s life experiences help form her outlook and personality, and also uniquely equips them with empathy in order to help and serve others. Graduating from Notre Dame de Namur University with a degree in Human Services, Counseling Emphasis, and more recently, a Masters of Science in Clinical Psychology, she is living out her passion of providing a safe and welcoming environment for women. Deborah’s Palm brings together a myriad of services and programs in one place, and also allows women to connect and form supportive and nurturing relationships.

Katie’s first career was in the biotech world, working at Syntex (now Roche) as a biologist, in the pathology/toxicology department. She was married and had three children who are now young adults. Her interests shifted to community service work, establishing school wide programs for students. She became a mentor for teens, a lay counselor, teacher, and trained to be a chaplain for Stanford University Hospital, working on the bone marrow transplant ward. As a breast cancer survivor, she has facilitated support groups and participated in fund-raising events for cancer research. She is familiar with the realm of caring for aging parents, as she nursed her mother for nearly four years, after she suffered a debilitating stroke.

Katie enjoys hiking, reading, knitting, football, movies, plays, music, and gardening. Her children, granddaughters, and friends are her source of joy and keep her laughing and focused. After so many years in Palo Alto, she now resides in Danville to be closer to her family.

Board Member & Former Executive Director – Katie Cooney

Ms. Cooney has over 20 years as a proven leader in marketing, fundraising and project management. Her experience includes communication strategy, client relations, and special events management.

Katie was the Communications Manager at Philips Semiconductors, a micro controllers and processors company, during the SAP implementation. She led the Tri Media customer demonstrations at CES in Las Vegas. She went on to hold special events positions at start-up companies, until she became a consultant in special events and fundraising. She also owns a photography company.

Ms. Cooney received her BS in Human Development and minor in Psychology from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California and received both her MBA in Global Business and her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California.

Katie has volunteered at several local non-profits focused on women, education and animal welfare. She volunteered at the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharmsala, India working with special needs children. She has most recently worked with the Rwandan Development Board in Kigali, Rwanda on eco-tourism and the survival of the silver back gorillas. Katie volunteers in fundraising and photography for the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) based in Namibia.

Katie lived in an orphanage and worked as a teacher in a hospital for severely handicapped children while studying abroad in Japan. She has traveled to over 85 countries to date and is currently writing a biography on two-time World Rodeo Champion Jack Roddy.

In her free time she enjoys time with family, friends, her two dogs, practicing yoga and adventure travel.

Board Member – Susan Groves

Susan Groves is the owner of In Full Bloom, a floral design business in Palo Alto ( and for 22 years has helped clients plan for their weddings, special events and corporate parties. Susan comes alongside clients to help navigate the many decisions, acting as a support and a trustworthy guide.

Prior to establishing her business, Susan spent 11 years as a Nursing Assistant (CNA II) at Stanford University Medical Center. While a single mom, Susan also worked as a staff artist as a publishing company, bartender, horse exerciser, lab tech, waitress, and started her first business “Dough-Riginals” in 1977 and later sold her dried flower wreaths at various boutiques in the area. Susan has facilitated an “Exceptional Florist” group for 5 years, started the “Book Club Babes” 9 years ago with neighbors and friends, and currently teaches floral design classes.

One adult daughter and three grandchildren are Susan’s joy along with her son-in-law and his mom, loves all things British, having lived in England as a child. Her other interests include: reading, movies, finding out what makes people tick, knitting, listening to music and gardening.

Susan joined the Board in 2007 with a heart to support and give to others.

Board Member & Mentoring Program Manager – Nina Homnack

Originally from Germany, Nina moved to Palo Alto in 1983. Initially she worked at Stanford Hospital providing patient care in Orthopedics, Neurology and Heart Transplantation as Physical Therapist until 1990. While working at Stanford Hospital, she helped her husband start a software translation company in 1984, where she remains an active director, specializing in health care translations and being involved in HR and Finance related matters. With offices also in Boston, Dublin, Ireland and Berlin, Germany she travels at least once a year to visit their employees and clients in those locations.

Prior to joining Deborah’s Palm in 2010, she was part of the Stephen’s Ministry program since 2005 at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, where she learned very useful skills in regards to being supportive to women facing life’s Transitions. Nina now leads the mentoring program at Deborah’s Palm, which has assisted about 50 women to date on a one-on-one basis once  a week, until the mentees feel they have developed some new tools and are ready to “leave the nest and fly.”

Nina has been married to her husband Mark for 27 years and has a son and daughter, who thankfully keep her involved in their lives though they are adults now.  She is a passionate gardener, loves to cook different cuisines, travel internationally and spend time with her friends of many years. She is also very thankful and excited to be a new board member, to help expand the role Deborah’s Palm is playing in the community and reaching as many women in need as possible!

Board Member & Career Faculty – Philippa Perkin

After emigrating to the US with her husband, Philippa made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom to her son for a number of years before launching her business, Tools4Communication. Philippa brings a wealth of expertise in Anger Management, Stress Management and Assertiveness Training. Her passion is to offer nurturing, restorative workshops with a high emphasis on empowerment by providing practical tools that women can easily implement. She has served women including at-risk youth, women inmates, drug & alcohol rehabilitation centers, business women and mothers.   Philippa completed her Coaching Credential at Western Seminary for Transformational Coaching, and is a member of International Coaching Federation.

In her spare time, Philippa volunteers at her church, Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Palo Alto, and speaks at different public events. She loves to explore different places, and tends to be less competitive at board games than other family members. You’ll find Philippa to remain true to her “Britishness” by drinking tea, while watching Maggie Smith or Judy Dench grace the screen.

Board Member – Kelly Lind

Hailing from Texas, Kelly ventured west to California in 1994 and has never looked back.   Kelly’s long history of volunteering in the community and sitting on several non-profit boards gives her a unique edge in the non-profit sector. Currently, she is the accounting manager at Peninsula Bible Church. With her finance background and acumen she successfully navigated and secured non-profit exemption status for several local organizations.

Outside of work she enjoys parenting her athletic son Dom and coached his baseball, basketball, football and rugby teams. She led the Cub Scout den and enjoyed volunteering in many of her son’s extracurricular activities. Kelly’s warm, down-to-earth, no-nonsense style makes her a favorite to all and “adopted” mother too many.

Kelly also serves and is acting treasurer on the boards of Green Pastures and the Christian Management Association.

When Kelly’s not on the sidelines of her son’s college lacrosse games or parenting one of her “adopted” sons, she enjoys hiking, wine tasting and exploring the great outdoors.

Advisory Board Member for Corporate Partnerships & Development –
Elaine Fung

Elaine Fung is a content strategist and has worked for high-profile internet companies in Silicon Valley including eBay, PayPal and Before moving into online content, Elaine worked as a Marketing Communications Manager and advertising copywriter for various Bay Area companies. She supports pro-choice and animal rights causes and is a huge advocate for women. Elaine has traveled throughout the world, but has decided to stay put for a while. In her spare time, she likes to dance, play with her dogs and read good non-fiction.

Advisory Board Member for Finance – Joy Hemp

Joy is a native to the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been in the professional bookkeeping service for 25 years and is the owner of “A Positive Balance”, a bookkeeping service. Joy is a speaker and workshop leader on bookkeeping procedures and works with small businesses. She is also the founder of Peninsula Bookkeepers Association. She was a former Board Member of Thrive Alliance of Non-Profits of San Mateo County, and is currently a member of the Finance Committee for  both All Stars Helping Kids, Inc. and Deborah’s Palm.

Joy is the creator of affirmation cards with over 500 fans on Facebook. Her page is called  “Affirmation Cards.” Her personal interests include: fitness, retreats, and tea parties with friends.



Photo Credit: Viktoria Vidali