The Cal-Learn Program of Walden Family Services

A retired US Navy officer and warship commander, Captain David Schnell now maintains responsibilities as the vice president of operations for the Electronic Tolling Collection division of Xerox’s Americas Commercial and State Government Transportation Group (ACGST). Captain David Schnell balances his professional responsibilities with his dedication to a number of charitable organizations, including his role as a board member of Walden Family Services.

While it focuses primarily on foster care placement and adoption services, Walden also offers various programs for teens and emancipated foster youth, such as the Cal-Learn Program. A statewide program, Cal-Learn works with pregnant and parenting teens in an effort to help them complete their high school education, become independent, and raise a healthy family.

When teens join Cal-Learn, they are connected with a Walden case manager, who is responsible for helping them establish goals and secure the resources necessary to earn a GED or graduate from high school. The case managers also provide comprehensive support services as they work with teen parents and their families to overcome everyday challenges. By meeting with a case manager and completing life tasks, Cal-Learn participants earn “Parenting Bucks” that they can use to purchase important parenting items at Walden’s Teen Store.


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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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