STAFF

The CHEA staff employs several employees who all work remotely from their homes.

 

Dena Bless

Dena Bless

Dena joined the CHEA Staff in 2020. Being married over 25 years and homeschooling both their daughters all the way through high school graduation, Dena Bless hopes that her experiences can be used to encourage and support others. She and her husband, Ed, are also the Bay Area/Nor-Cal RABs, and Dena is taking on leadership of the PSP she belonged to for several years. Having a heart for families and being sold out to the benefits of private, Christian home education, she is excited to support and mentor others in any way possible.
Portia Fiedler

Portia Fiedler

Education Consultant

Portia and Mike have been married since 1979. They began praying and investigating home schooling when their first daughter was two. By the time she was ready for school, they knew God had called them. They home educated their four daughters through high school. Cassandra has a psychology education but chooses to stay home to homeschool her own children, Crystal is the Client Engagement Studio West Coast Director, Candace is an ICU/PACU nurse, and Catherine is a hospital house supervisor/ICU nurse.

Portia and Mike operated a PSP in Long Beach for 24 years. She taught group classes in Latin and computer literacy. They began attending CHEA conventions in 1986 and were part of CHEA’s Regional Advisory Board for the greater Los Angeles Area. Portia has been the Education Consultant for CHEA since 2014. She has a BA in Business Administration/Management.

Portia is grateful for many years of homeschooling with the assistance of CHEA and Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Her goal, with God’s help, is to encourage and provide information to those seeking Home Education.

For homeschooling help, call Portia Monday through Thursday 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. or Saturday 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at 562-544-7875.

Jessica Hicks

Jessica Hicks

Exhibits Coordinator

Jessica Hicks officially joined the CHEA staff in January of 2020. She and her husband Larry have been married since 1997. They have two daughters who have been homeschooled from birth; the oldest graduating in 2020. Jessica is a second-generation homeschooler.

She first worked for CHEA when she was 14 years old and her mother was on staff. She grew up attending CHEA conventions. Over the years she has volunteered for CHEA in a myriad of positions. Jessica is also the Controller for Orange Coast Musical Arts, a music program for homeschool families.

Katie Julius

Katie Julius

Communications Manager and Editor

Katie Julius joined the CHEA staff in April 2018. She is married to her husband, John, and has been homeschooling their only daughter since 2017. She serves on the leadership team of her homeschool support group, LIFE Homeschool in Pomona, CA. She has a passion for helping guide homeschool families on their journey, especially those just starting out, learning the ropes.

Katie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design from Azusa Pacific University while also serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the yearbook. She then earned a Master of Arts in Educational Counseling, also from Azusa Pacific University. She taught graphic arts, photography, and yearbook, and then worked as an administrative assistant for four-and-a-half years before making the decision to stay home to raise her then, 15-month-old daughter. In addition to her work for CHEA, she continues to use her design and administrative talents as the Troop Coordinator for her daughter’s American Heritage Girls troop.

Rebecca Kocsis

Rebecca Kocsis

General Manager and Support Network Director

Once a homeschooler, always a homeschooler? “We homeschool our kids,” the pastor declared. He then posed the question, “Does anybody else?” Rebecca was quick to raise her hand. Then she realized that she hadn’t actually homeschooled in a number of years. She and her husband Ed had graduated of their youngest child in 2006, thus completing 22 years of home education, graduating all five of their children from their homeschool.

She first began serving CHEA while it was still a fledgling organization in 1986 by opening mail and filling requests for information and materials. As her family grew, both in size and number, she could no longer cover the mail and materials requests, though the whole family remained involved as Annual Convention staff running the Used Curriculum Exchange.

Rebecca served for 15 years as a private school satellite program (PSP) administrator and several years on CHEA’s Regional Advisory Board. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors, she currently serves as General Manager and Support Network Director overseeing CHEA’s statewide network of homeschool groups, writing a bi-monthly newsletter for leaders, and organizing leadership conferences that are held in conjunction with our Conventions. Rebecca is also the author of “Let Not Your Feathers Be Ruffled” a devotional for homeschoolers. She counts it a privilege to still be serving the homeschool community after all of these years. Yes, once a homeschooler, always a homeschooler.

Hunter McKoy

Hunter McKoy

Technical Liaison

Hunter became a part of the CHEA staff in July 2014, but before that he volunteered with his parents, Gerald and Cecily, to handle many of the tasks required for the Annual CHEA Convention. He was homeschooled beginning in kindergarten and graduated high school in 2015, participating in the 2015 CHEA Graduation Ceremony. While in high school, his parents gave him the opportunity to dual enroll at his local community college, Victor Valley College. Through this path, Hunter graduated with Double Associate of Science degrees (the first in Math and Science, and the second in Computer Information Systems in June 2016.

Hunter “interned” with his father, Gerald, in the areas of coding and website management for a year before CHEA decided to bring him on the team, and he enjoys the changes and updates he gets to perform for the website. However, he also continues to join CHEA each year to volunteer in the Exhibit Hall: “There’s a joy in working together in person that isn’t easily found behind a computer screen,” Hunter said.

While Hunter is not busy maintaining the CHEA Website, he also works as the receptionist at Calvary Chapel Apple Valley. In addition, he also serves his local church by playing in the worship band and assisting in the High School youth group. His long-term goal is to become a YA novelist, and he has currently published 2 YA novels under a pen name.

Dianne Padget

Dianne Padget

Administrative Assistant

If Dianne Padget’s name looks familiar, it’s because she has been working with CHEA for many years in the Used Curriculum Sale (UCS). She joined our staff as Administrative Assistant to Rebecca Kocsis, our General Manager, in 2018. Dianne and Tim, her husband and best friend, have been married since 1975. They homeschooled their three children from 1988 until 2007, when their last graduated. Dianne and Tim opened their small business in 1987, so there were some very busy years as they learned the intricacies of both running a business and homeschooling! Dianne has remained involved in her homeschool PSP, helping lead performing arts classes.
Nathan Pierce

Nathan Pierce

Legislative Consultant

Nathan is CHEA’s Legislative Consultant, as he serves as Senior Legislative Liaison at Family Protection Ministries (FPM). FPM exists to assure that state laws protect the God-given and constitutional rights of parents to direct the education and care of their children. CHEA and HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) asked Roy Hanson (FPM’s Executive Director) to establish FPM in 1986.

Nathan was homeschooled kindergarten through high school. He literally “grew up” with CHEA, attending his first convention in a stroller. As a teenager he volunteered at CHEA conventions as often as possible and dreamed of a time he could take on a larger role. After graduating from high school he went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in political studies from The Master’s College. While in college, he was asked to intern under the founder of FPM, Roy Hanson. He realized his passion for public policy, homeschooling, CHEA, and the families of California was God working to prepare him for the mission of advocating on behalf of private home education through the ministry of FPM. He now has over 17 years of experience doing advocacy work at the State Capitol. He works behind the scenes at the Capitol, meeting with legislators to advocate on behalf of private homeschoolers. Nathan currently serves as FPM’s Senior Legislative Liaison and Director of Operations.

Nathan Pierce met his wife Betsy while attending The Masters College and they were married in 2004. She also has a homeschooling background and carries a passion for supporting the families of their local private home education support group, of which she is a co-leader. They are blessed with seven children and have considered themselves homeschooling parents from the day their oldest was born! Their family enjoys spending time exploring lakes and rivers in the Sacramento area, as well as board games, family singing around the fire pit, and serving together in their local church.

When asked why Nathan and Betsy love homeschooling their own family, this was their response: “Homeschooling allows our family to live every day pursuing knowing who God is and what it means to think biblically. The Christian worldview instructs and guides our children’s education and allows us to consider the unique individuality of each child while educating them and training them in character and knowledge for the good work that God has prepared for them to do. (Eph 2:10.)We want to consider first of all that which is of first importance: the gospel message that Christ died for our sins, was buried and raised according to the scriptures. (1 Cor 15:3-4.) We can’t imagine any other life than this crazy, busy, sleep-deprived and wholly parent-sanctifying lifestyle where every moment of mayhem is a learning opportunity.”

Nathan Walborn

Nathan Walborn

CHEA Advertising

Nathan Walborn joined the CHEA staff in December of 2018. Before joining CHEA as their Advertiser, he worked with Kidcare, a non-profit organization that has outreaches in Tanzania and Corona.

Nathan graduated from Allegiant Christian School in 2013 and has had many jobs since then ranging from cleaning pools, filming, photography, and maintaining servers and websites. He has helped coach basketball and theater since 2014 at Allegiant Christian School. Nathan’s passion is photography and videography.

“I think with homeschooling we have an amazing opportunity to teach these kids to be greater than we are now. Lead them to be better leaders than we are so that when they enter the world they are paving the way and the world has to keep up with them.”

Anjuli Watanabe

Anjuli Watanabe

Events Manager

Anjuli Watanabe joined the CHEA staff in March of 2017. She married her husband, Bryan, in 2001. Together they homeschool their three children, grading their oldest in 2021, and know the benefits far outweigh any challenges in homeschooling.

Anjuli received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications/Public Relations from Chapman University. She worked for many years in the hospitality industry bringing conventions into the Anaheim area. She later went back and obtained her Master’s in Education from University of Phoenix and worked as a teacher for two years before God called her to homeschool.

“Ever since I joined CHEA I have had a passion for its mission. I feel so blessed to be able to work here!”

Susan Beatty

Susan Beatty

CHEA Founder, retired

“I had no idea that when God called me to begin homeschooling and establish CHEA of California, I was embarking on a life-long career,” Susan said with chuckle about her 35-year involvement with homeschooling and CHEA of California. “It has been an honor and a blessing to be called to the Lord’s homeschooling ministry.”

But in March 2017, God finally called her to retire from CHEA and the homeschooling community and on to a new ministry.

Susan and her husband Larry began CHEA of California and started homeschooling their three children in 1982. In addition, Susan ran a private school satellite program from 1985 to 1998. She even found time to write An Introduction to Home Education recently renamed The California Homeschool Manual.

They graduated all three children, the last child in 1998, and Susan continued to be an integral part of CHEA, as a member of the Board of Directors, general manager, and events manager, for 19 more years.

As a spokesperson for the home education community, Susan was often interviewed for radio, television, and print media, and, along with her husband, were founding board members of The National Alliance for Christian Home Education Leadership, a ministry to statewide homeschool leaders.

Susan’s new ministry involves writing contemporary Christian fiction and using her expertise in event management to be a staff volunteer for two Christian writers’ conferences.

“People often ask me how I’m enjoying retirement. I’m only retired from a pay check! Retirement for a Christian only means a new direction in ministry. I am excited to see what the Lord has planned for my ‘sunset years,’” Susan said of her retirement.

Susan is a professional writer/journalist with a BA degree (1971) from Cal State University Los Angeles and a graduate of CLASS (Christian Leaders and Speakers Seminars).