We are dedicated to supporting secure beginnings in all families with children 0-5 regardless of ability to pay, by nurturing the earliest relationships, where our deepest patterns are set.
We are dedicated to the nurture of children pre-birth to five, through inspiring partnerships and community resources that address pre and post-natal well being, infant/ toddler development, and parent education and support.
In partnership with parents, health professionals, educators and the community, we create opportunities to connect, to explore, and to engage directly in the development of healthy approaches to early childhood education.
What we offer:
- Infant, Toddler, Sibling and Parent Playgroups and Classes
- Counseling for Mothers, Fathers and Families
- Teen and Young Parent Program
- One on One Parent Consultations
- ParentCare Newborn Home Visit Program
- Breastfeeding Support CareLine
- Family and Community Gatherings
- Professional Infant/Toddler Caregiver Training
- Special Needs Support
The Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center is designed as a responsive environment where parents can be present with their babies or toddlers who initiate and extend their own self-mastered exploration and discovery through play.
Recognized and awarded as an Ojai Valley Living Treasure for her great contributions to our community, Nan was passionate about the wellbeing of young children and families within the Ojai Valley.
In the 1970’s Nan Tolbert drew a large percentage of pregnant women from Ventura County to Ojai Hospital with her expertise and progressive birthing techniques. She was part of a remarkable group, along with Dr. Robert Skankey, who practiced innovative and healthy birthing techniques that are more mainstream today.
Director of Family Services
Carol Castanon has been Executive Director of the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center since 2008. In addition to being a Parent Infant Coach, she is a mediator and holds a degree in Human Development. Carol has multiple certificates specific to child development and attachment. She has worked with schools and families for 40 years having begun her work with special needs and inner city youth. Carol currently has a private business consulting with both local schools and families on issues related to building successful relationships at home and in classrooms.
A note from Carol:
“I am honored to be part of this community, supporting the enduring and profound work of Nan Tolbert. Nan and I worked together for several years, sharing the love and challenges of young families. Our past director, Elizabeth Thasiah sustained Nan’s legacy and commitment to families pre-birth to three years of age. I thank them both for the foundation on which the Ojai Valley Birth Resource and Family Support at the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center will continue to grow. My dream is for caregivers, parents, and children to have a second home to love, learn, play, support each other, and simply get good at being together.”
Marsha McKeon, Ph.D.
Marsha McKeon, Ph.D. directs the doctoral internship program at the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, with a special interest in early infant attachment and its effects throughout the lifespan.
She has been training and supervising Ph.D. and MFT psychology students since 1997 in her capacities as Clinical Director at Jewish Family Services, adjunct faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute and Clinical Supervisor in private practice. She is currently supervising the Ph.D. interns at Nan Tolbert and leading the Attachment Seminar for staff and interns.
Dr. McKeon also has an active private practice in Ventura, California where she sees adults and couples for psychotherapy.
Renee Mandala, M.A.
ParentCare Program Director
Renee Mandala, M.A., is Director of NTNC’s ParentCare Home Visit Program, which she helped develop in 2012. She also provides Marketing & Outreach for the Center. Since 1998, when she became a Certified Birth Doula, Renee has been working with new and expectant families. Much of her work was in private practice as a Certified Postpartum Doula, Lactation Counselor/Educator, and through her business, Mothers Guild, where she provided lactation education and support via groups and private consultation for many Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeleno families. At NTNC, Renee has been a facilitator of the breastfeeding helpline, breastfeeding support group, pre-natal breastfeeding class, newborn/ infant and caregiver groups, and co-founded the peri-natal wellness group. Having been a colleague of Nan Tolbert, she helped found the Center in 2007. Renee believes Nan would be happy to see the rich programming, the skilled and compassionate staff, and the wonderful families – all of us learning about family – at the Center in Nan’s name.
Young Parent Coordinator
Gina has worked as a nanny and a birth doula since 2012 supporting families with young children all over the Conejo Valley. A young mother herself, Gina understands the challenges and rewards that come with being a young parent. She is dedicated to supporting families and is grateful for the opportunity to work with the center that has provided her and her family with a safe place to learn and grow.
Bilingual Outreach Coordinator
Jessica’s professional background includes developing and managing grant programs for government and non-profit organizations. She has led a wide range of educational and social service initiatives, including Fulbright international exchange programs, leadership development projects in Hispanic communities, support services for homeless families, and after-school programs for at-risk youth.
Jessica has a Master’s in International Education Policy from Stanford University, and a dual B.A. degree in Psychology and Spanish Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a Gates Millennium Scholar and is bilingual (Spanish/English) and bicultural. Jessica recently moved from Mexico City to Ojai with her husband and young daughter. Besides the thrill and delight of being a new parent, Jessica’s other favorite activities include family hikes, pottery, and reflective writing.
Programs Director and Core Class Facilitator
Terra Lepine began facilitating classes at the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center after graduating with a BA in Psychology from the University of California Santa Cruz. Since joining the Nurturing Center she has become a certified postpartum doula providing, through her private business, in-home support to help families make the transition to life with a new baby. Terra completed a parent-infant coach certificate program in 2014. She continues to learn and grow along with the families at the Nurturing Center.
Core Class Facilitator
Rebecca received her Bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas in Economics and Urban Studies. After working as a city planner in both Santa Paula and Encinitas, Rebecca and her husband moved back to Ojai while she was pregnant with their first child to be closer to family. Rebecca began attending classes at the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center when her first child was three months old. During her time as a parent at the Center, Rebecca discovered her passion for working with young children and families. After working towards her teaching certificate at UCLA specializing in early childhood development and many years of training under Carol Castanon, Rebecca is delighted to join a team that has given so much to her young family.
Core Class Facilitator
Lindsey holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and has worked with students of all ages at tutoring centers and universities. She is a public speaking consultant and coach who helps people craft and deliver messages that are meaningful and memorable. Lindsey came to NTNC as a parent and joined the team to conduct workshops on playful parenting and to facilitate core classes.
Darcy Wronkiewicz, CD(DONA) (Certified Doula), CLEC (Certified Lactation Educator & Counselor)
Lactation Specialist and Core Class Facilitator
Darcy Wronkiewicz has been serving families in the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas since 2009, providing breastfeeding support and education as well as birth doula services. Darcy’s foundational belief in her work is that loving support makes a significant difference in how competently and confidently parents of newborn babies approach their new role.
Today Darcy continues her education through workshops, reading excellent books on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and related topics, and exchanging ideas with other birth and breastfeeding professionals. However, her most profound learning has come from the families she has served and the many mothers who have shared their birth and breastfeeding experiences with her.
Darcy lives in Ventura with her husband and three young children.
Heather King is most profoundly moved by the relationship between children and nature. “Nothing else has the same mirror to the nature of being human; A sense of calm, a surge of energy, a marvelous moment that lasts a lifetime, these are the gifts of nature, and I can only hope to create the space for that connection to happen more often”. Heather has two daughters (her best teachers) and is married to Greg Grant. With a Masters Degree in Outdoor Education Administration, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Education and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, she continues to seek new insight and knowledge of nature, kids and herself. She is a professional outdoor educator and mentor with over 25 years of experience. Her broad range of positions have included outdoor education coordinator and science teacher at Oak Grove High School, wilderness educator for the International Center for Earth Concerns on the Taft property in Ojai, the Sunbow Ecology Center in Ojai, and Naturalists at Large in Ventura among many other programs around the country and internationally. Currently Heather continues her work as Education Director and instructor for Once Upon a Watershed in Ojai, and in 2009 Heather co-founded Ventura Wild and continues as the director and lead instructor with a growing team of leaders and a community of families and collaborators. This is a heartfelt profession for Heather, who is committed to fostering a playful sense of discovery and wonder that leads to a joyful curiosity about life and learning.
Bronwyn Talbot, LMFT, ®RCST, IDME, IFECMH, RPF-II
Clinical Group Supervisor and Cranial Sacral Consultant
Bronwyn is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Infant Developmental Movement Educator and Registered Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist specializing in parent-infant relationships, child development and women’s health. Additionally, Bronwyn is endorsed by the CA Center for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health as an Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health specialist (IFECMH) and a Reflective Practice Facilitator II (RPF II). With an interdisciplinary approach, utilizing psychodynamic, trauma focused, developmental, and somatic practices, Bronwyn has worked in community mental health, adoption and foster care for over fourteen years supporting health and resilience in family relationships. In order to more directly address the body-mind connection and the lifelong significance of early relationships in shaping the people we become, Bronwyn now primarily features movement and light touch therapies in her work. Currently, Bronwyn has a biodynamic craniosacral therapy practice and offers infant developmental movement education in Ojai, CA where she works with all ages from birth through adulthood to support optimal health and development <www.sowithin.us>. Bronwyn also offers a monthly by-donation craniosacral therapy and infant developmental movement education clinic for parents and infants at the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center.
Core Class Facilitator/Clinical Intern
Marcella gained experience working with families as a preschool teacher in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara. She received her bachelor’s degree from Cal State Long Beach, and completed her studies in Early Childhood Education and Reggio training at Santa Monica College. Inspired to continue her work with families as a therapist, Marcella enrolled at Pacifica Graduate Institute in 2016 to earn her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.
Charlie Walton’s experience with the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center began as a new parent. He attended Toddler Play and Forest Program classes with his daughters. Inspired by the care and support that NTNC offers the greater-Ojai community, Charlie began attending the Attachment Seminar for clinical interns led by Marsha McKeon. He currently co-facilitates the Circle of Parenting class, and provides individual and family psychotherapy. He is a post-doctorate psychological assistant to Marsha McKeon, Ph.D.
Siobhan McDevitt first came to NTNC with her husband, just after the birth of their second daughter in 2008. She attended infant-parent groups, then toddler-parent groups, and supported the NTNC Board through fundraising and event planning. Her appreciation for NTNC, curiosity about child development, and interest in supporting new families eventually brought her to co-facilitate NTNC classes for newborns, infants, toddlers and their caregivers. In 2011, Siobhan and Renee Mandala co-founded a perinatal wellness group at NTNC to support parents through the emotional transitions of welcoming a new baby into the family. She has also taught in the Early Childhood Program at Oak Grove School and currently sees individuals and couples as a Marriage and Family Therapy intern at Community Counseling and Education Center in Santa Barbara where she recently completed Parent-Infant Coach Certification.
Finance and Development
Shannon has a Bachelor’s degree from UCSB and over seven years of experience in banking and finance and five years of experience in business development including for-profit and non-profit management. Shannon has served as a board member for the center since 2009 and is delighted to take a more active role in sustaining and expanding NTNC’s mission and vision.
Ambassador to CMH and the Maternal Mental Health Coalition