We remain dedicated to serving our service members through the COVID-19 pandemic. In an abundance of caution, our STEP staff will be working remotely as much as possible. Our application process will remain the same and all client services will continue on a scheduled basis. We are suspending community outreach, special events, and unscheduled office visits through March 31. If you need to reach a STEP team member please leave a voicemail at (858) 695-6810 or contact STEP at email@example.com. The safety of our team and our community is the foremost priority. We appreciate your continued support during these uncertain times.
A vocal advocate for the public support of our military community, Mr. Teravainen assumed his position as President and CEO in February 2014 after serving as a STEP board member and volunteer since 2009.
In this role, Tony oversees the positioning of STEP as a successful, trusted and viable partner to San Diego’s military population. Under his guidance, STEP has assisted more than 5,000 military and veteran families in financial crisis move to self-sufficiency through financial counseling and $1.7 million in issued grants.
Being the son of a career Air Force father, Tony knows firsthand the hardships young military families endure. After a medical condition abruptly ended his career as a U.S. Navy submariner, he experienced the difficulties of a rushed transition to civilian life. This is why Tony sees himself, his mother, his father, and his brother, each time a young child, a military spouse, a fellow veteran or service member visits the STEP office.
Tony holds undergraduate degrees in business management and nuclear engineering, as well as a master’s degree in executive leadership from The University of San Diego. He holds licenses in Six Sigma, project and change management, holds one U.S. patent, and earned the Submarine Service insignia during his military service.
Married to Jaclyn with two daughters and a son, Tony resides in the Highland Valley area of San Diego County where he enjoys farming and raising his many animals.
CEO & Co-Founder
Tony Teravainen, USN (Ret.)
Kathi admires the men and women who make American freedoms possible through their sacrifice on behalf of our nation. She brings her passion for helping people use their own skills and knowledge to STEP and the heroes STEP serves. Kathi loves meeting new people who want to improve their lives starting with their financial situation. When not at work, Kathi enjoys being with her family, including her two young children, traveling within the United States and reading audiobooks.
Client Services Supervisor
Shelby joined STEP in 2016 as a part-time Case Manager, and in 2017 she was promoted to Client Services Supervisor. Shelby earned her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from San Diego State University and her Master of Social Work from California State University San Marcos. She is currently working toward becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. In addition to her degrees, she is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor.
Sara is married to an EOD Tech in the Marine Corps and orders brought her family to Camp Pendleton in Summer 2017. As a USMC spouse, Sara understands the struggles military families face and uses that experience to assist military families achieve their financial goals. Sara earned her Bachelors of Arts in Social Work from the University of Northern Iowa where she is originally from and in addition to her degree, she is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor.
As a Navy Veteran having served 10 years and command ombudsman for 2 commands Jennifer understands the struggles military families may face as well as appreciating what this organization can offer. Her family has been in San Diego since 2005 and enjoy beach trips, weekend movie nights, and competitive family games like Sorry and Mario Kart.
Armed with a dual BA in Journalism and International Studies from Miami University, Kathleen is the queen of grants. Originally from a small town in Ohio, Kathleen recently moved to San Diego with her husband, Santiago, who is a logistics officer in the United States Marine Corps.
Community Engagement Cooridnator
Boston bred Tracie is a San Diego transplant pulled to STEP by her passion for nonprofits. Her specialties include driving awareness and building communities via social media, partnerships, and programming. Tracie has a dual BA in Economics and Global Entrepreneurship from University of Massachussets Amherst. During her free time, you can find her hiking, running on the beach, or exploring breweries. On Sundays, she can be found cheering on her beloved TB12.
Laura White Ludvik
Director of Development
Laura has been fundraising for San Diego organizations she's passionate about since 2005. Joining STEP in 2016, Laura comes from an Army family and commitment to doing what's right for our military and veteran families. A Carlsbad native and terrible golfer, she and her husband Matt recently had a baby girl, Delaney.
Jori is the glue that holds our office together! She expertly brought her administrative skills to the nonprofit world 4 years ago and in her words, "couldn't be happier." Jori married her high school sweetheart 16 years ago and is the proud mother of twin 10-year-old girls.
Community Engagement Coordinator - Orange County
Shannon joined STEP just over 2 years ago. As the wife of a Navy veteran, Shannon knows the financial hardships our young military families endure. Shannon resides in Costa Mesa with her husband Eddie, 2 sons Alex and Gabriel, and their 1 dog and 2 cats. She enjoys spending time with her sisters, cooking, comedy, and riding motorcycles
As a Navy Spouse and mother of two, Tara has a great deal of insight and passion for STEP's mission. She has obtained a Master's degree in counseling through Regent University in Virginia and a Bachelor's in Psychology through Georgia State University. Her family arrived in San Diego in 2018 and enjoy sight seeing, hiking, theme parks, and getting to know other military families.
Tracy Owens, USN (Ret.)
Community Engagement Coordinator
As a 30-year Navy Veteran, who served in both the enlisted and officer ranks, Tracy understands and has seen the struggles young military families face first hand. That is why she is so passionate about this organization. Tracy has been in the San Diego area since 2008 and enjoys going to the beach, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.