Our Kids Hosts

Nicole Suydam is a non-profit executive with nearly 20 years of management and leadership experience working with local and national organizations dedicated to meeting human service needs. Growing up in a low-income, single-parent home and losing her father at age seven gave Nicole a unique perspective and passion to help children and families who struggle to meet their basic needs.

As Chief Executive Officer of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County since 2012, Nicole is committed to ending hunger in Orange County and engaging the community to support its mission through food donations, philanthropic support, volunteerism and advocacy.

Her desire to end hunger also extends beyond Orange County as she serves on the Board of Directors of the California Association of Food Banks and Feeding America’s National Council to represent other food bank members.

Nicole received her B.A. degree in History and Political Science from Vanguard University of Southern California and is a current member of their Board of Trustees and President of their Alumni Association.

She continues to maintain her Certified Fund Raising Executive professional designation since 2004 in alignment with their mission to aspire to the highest standards of ethics, competence and service to the philanthropic sector.

Nicole and her husband Michael live in Aliso Viejo, California with their two daughters Lauren and Hannah.


Dr. Tracy Carmichael has spent over a decade conducting educational research and developing equity-centered educational programs that produce opportunities for children to reach their full potential. Through her own experiences as young woman, Tracy garnered a deep appreciation for the profound impact that adults can have on the academic and emotional development of children.

For the last decade, Tracy has worked to bridge the gap between research and practice within our educational system; always promoting the use of data to drive purposeful educational programming. She has a deep comprehension of non-profit management including strategic planning, fundraising, and outcome measurement.

Tracy’s journey with THINK Together began in 2008, as Manager of Program Evaluation. As the inaugural THINK / UC Irvine Doctoral Fellow, Tracy spent four years researching the impact of academic alignment of THINK Together’s after school programs. Tracy’s doctoral research has been recognized nationally as a model of collaboration for programs that serve students after school. After completing her doctorate in 2013, Tracy served as Director of Action Research; overseeing data collection, regular data reflection sessions, and promoted the practical application of data-driven decisions in the field. Tracy’s longstanding commitment to the communication of THINK Together’s impact and mission serves as the basis of her current role as Chief Engagement Officer.

In addition to her work at THINK Together, Tracy oversees a scholarship sub-fund of the Hispanic Education Endowment Fund through the Orange County Community Foundation, which grants scholarships to low-income students in Santa Ana.

Tracy holds a B.A. in Criminology from UC Irvine, an M.A. in Educational Research from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Education from UC Irvine.


Jennifer Friend, Chief Executive Officer of the Project Hope Alliance. Prior to becoming the CEO of Project Hope Alliance, Jennifer Friend enjoyed a successful career as a partner at a large law firm managing a litigation team and a substantial personal book of business, representing national and international clients throughout the civil courts of California.

While practicing law, Ms. Friend served as the President and Secretary of the Project Hope Alliance Board of Directors and was actively engaged in the organization’s expansion and strategic growth. In this capacity she shared her story of experiencing financial struggles at various times during her childhood that forced her family from its home into living in different motels in Orange County.

Having this distinctive, first-hand perspective of what it takes to permanently lift children out of homelessness and successfully redirect their futures, Jennifer found her calling in advocating for and advancing the needs of homeless children and their families in Orange County.

In 2013, Jennifer elected to resign from her law firm partnership and accept the invitation to serve as Project Hope Alliance’s CEO, turning her avocation of ensuring that every child in Orange County has a fair chance to realize and fulfill their potential into her life’s vocation. Under her leadership, Project Hope Alliance has grown from serving 1 school with less than 65 children to serving 300+ homeless children attending approximately 120 schools throughout Orange County, while actually ending homelessness for over 600 children and their parents since 2012. Project Hope Alliance is a Clinton Global Initiative partner and is piloting some of the most innovating programs in the nation addressing homelessness and the educational advancement of homeless children.

A graduate of University of California, Irvine and Whittier Law School, Jennifer is a Founding Board Member of Every Monday Matters. She remains active with UCI’s Alumni Board of Directors, School of Social Ecology’s Field Study Advisory Board, and the Chancellor’s Steering Committee for OC Working Together which, in partnership with Orange County United Way, held its inaugural community summit last fall. In November 2015 Jennifer was honored for Leadership and Philanthropy by WomanSage at its annual Family Matters Celebration, and this spring she received the 2016 UCI School of Social Ecology’s Lauds & Laurels Distinguished Alumna Award.

Jennifer lives in Newport Beach with her husband Rob Smith, daughter Parker, and son Beck.