Walden Family Services Serves Southern California Youth

After a career in the US Navy that spanned more than 25 years, Captain David Schnell currently serves as vice president of operations for the Electronic Tolling Division of Xerox Corporation. During his distinguished career, he commanded several warships, including the amphibious aircraft carrier USS Peleliu and the guided missile frigate USS Ford. In addition to his professional responsibilities at Xerox, Captain David Schnell volunteers his time to the Christ Kitchen in San Diego, where he is executive director, and to Walden Family Services, where he serves on the foundation board.

Walden Family Services began in 1976 as a private, not-for-profit corporation to care for neglected and abused children in group residential facilities. Seven years later, it transitioned into foster care, and it expanded again in 1994 to open its doors to young people with developmental disabilities.

During the 21st century, Walden Family Services has expanded its services and broadened its appeal, serving foster youth both before and after emancipation, as well as those with special health care needs. It established a program for pregnant teens and those who are themselves parents. It also developed an education program with the objective to advocate for and safely place foster youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ).

Walden secured an adoption license in late 2008, which enabled it to serve as a comprehensive adoption agency from family assessment through post-adoption support. Walden today serves more than 250 youth daily in more than 180 foster homes throughout Southern California.


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A U.S. Navy veteran with more than 26 years of experience as an officer in increasingly challenging roles, including the command of two naval warships, David Schnell has a vast background in executive leadership, management, and team building. David Schnell’s military service offered him the chance to develop a wide range of skills in business management, crisis management, financial planning, and problem solving. He served in multiple deployments to the Arabian Gulf, provided combat support to ongoing military operations in the Middle East, and led thousands of sailors from a variety of different professional backgrounds. During his naval career, David Schnell served as Commanding Officer on board the USS Peleliu, an amphibious aircraft carrier and flagship for an expeditionary strike group, and the USS Ford, a guided missile frigate in support of an aircraft carrier strike group. During both commands, he led a total of 1,250 sailors and oversaw the security of 1,800 Marines in combat and support operations. David Schnell also held several staff positions in Washington, DC, including Staff Officer to the Chief of Naval Operations Deep Blue Directorate, where he offered technical guidance and expertise on emerging warfare concepts, and Branch Chief to the Joint Staff in the War on Terrorism Directorate, where he worked on anti-proliferation issues concerning weapons of mass destruction as well as biological and chemical agents. Schnell retired honorably from the Navy as a Captain and currently works in San Diego as Executive Director of Christ Kitchen, an organization that provides thousands of meals to people who are homeless and families in need. David Schnell also serves on the board of Walden Family Services and is a counselor with Royal Family Kids Camp, two organizations that offer assistance, support, and developmental activities to foster children.

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