CSUF instructor aims to put smiles on faces in Fullerton

It’s hard to believe Debra Stout can do all she does without several clones.

The Cal State Fullerton part-time faculty member teaches in the departments of counseling and of child and adolescent studies, teaches online doctoral courses for the University of the Rockies, runs DoctorS Nonprofit Consulting with her husband, and is executive director of the Fullerton Collaborative, a nonprofit focused on building and supporting a healthy community.

Cal State Fullerton alum and faculty member Debra Stout is executive director of the Fullerton Collaborative, a nonprofit focused on improving public health. (Photo courtesy of Debra Stout)
Cal State Fullerton alum and faculty member Debra Stout is executive director of the Fullerton Collaborative, a nonprofit focused on building and supporting a healthy community. (Photo courtesy of Debra Stout)


Stout, who earned her bachelor’s from Cal State Fullerton in 2000 before getting a master’s and doctorate from Azusa Pacific University, was recently named a Women of Distinction by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva.

She spent more than six years working for the Orange County Department of Education’s alcohol, tobacco, drug and violence prevention programs, coordinating a nationally acclaimed gang prevention and intervention program with the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster.

Her areas of interest include academic motivation, childhood trauma influence on brain development and child play therapy.

As a consultant to the Orange County Department of Education, Stout helped in the development and research of the O.C. Safe from the Start programs.

In 2015, the Fullerton Collaborative opened an office on the CSUF campus to give students the opportunity to participate in its community outreach efforts. CSUF is a member of the collaborative and supports the work at the Center for Healthy Neighborhoods in the Richman area along with interns at many sites in the city.

We caught up with Stout as she was preparing for the Fullerton Collaborative’s 16th annual Faces of Fullerton, a family event featuring interactive and intergenerational activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 14 in the Fullerton downtown plaza.

Q. You appear to wear a lot of hats. Is there synergy between your roles?

A. There is definitely a synergy between all the professional roles in my life. I feel that there is a strong relationship with what I do in my consulting business with nonprofit clients and my teaching.

For example, the research reports I create for them, the presentations I do in the community and my work at both universities are all connected. What I learn from consulting informs much of what I teach at the university.

Furthermore, what I bring from the class and the community effectively work together for my clients. As a result of my invitations and encouragement, many of my students get involved in the community where they may not have had the opportunity to do so otherwise.

Q. How and why did you get involved with the Fullerton Collaborative?

A. My husband and I joined the collaborative as business members about 12 years ago. Because of our teaching schedules we were not able to be as active as we wanted to. After the birth of our daughter over nine years ago, we decided to change the focus of our community involvement from the county level to North OC and specifically Fullerton, the city that would impact her life the most.

Over many years, I have been extremely active in my community in numerous volunteer roles in philanthropic organizations (Moms Club of Fullerton, Women’s Club of Fullerton, OC United Way).

In late 2014, the Fullerton Collaborative announced that the executive director needed some help to assist her with administrative duties and technical assistance behind the scenes. I felt I could do that well and was chosen by the board of directors to assist the executive director. By mid-2015 the executive director needed to step down and I was chosen by the board for that role.

Q. When the Fullerton Collaborative moved onto the Cal State Fullerton campus, the idea was that students could more easily participate in community outreach. Since then, what kinds of activities have students been involved in?

A. Prior to the collaborative having an office on campus, we were not able to utilize CSUF interns because of university rules requiring physical office space. The biggest change is that the collaborative was able to register as an official internship site with CSUF’s Center for Internships and Community Engagement.

As a result, in the last couple of years we have had four CSUF students and two Troy High School students complete internships with the collaborative. We can now support a variety of internships from people-oriented human services, social work or education types of majors to nonprofit administration, fundraising, marketing and even research.

Eventually we would like to have CSUF interns working on all four of our priority areas each year.

Additionally, the collaborative has been able to support CSUF students in attending a variety of professional meetings, trainings, conferences and community events. Our students gain valuable experience in seeing professionals at work on community issues while also being able to share their own perspectives with these groups.

Along this line, I have worked to position the collaborative on campus as the place to support opportunities to connect nonprofits to faculty and students.

Q. Is CSUF is engaged with the collaborative in other ways?

A. CSUF has had at least one spot on the board of directors of the collaborative for many years, which is very helpful. In the last few years, our collaborative efforts have really exploded. We have worked closely with CSUF’s Center for Healthy Neighborhoods, CSUF’s Homeless Collaborative and CSUF’s Gianneschi Center for Nonprofit Research.

The CSUF Center for Healthy Neighborhoods is a great example of how the city, the collaborative and the university can come together to collaborate. The collaborative specifically has helped the center to reach many avenues that they may have had a challenge navigating. Through the center’s leadership we are seeing CSUF students impacting the community.

The collaborative was able to assist the CSUF Homelessness Collaborative and the development of the basic needs resource center.

We have partnered with the Gianneschi Center to produce six Community Collaboration conferences. These are attended by a variety of community partners who come together to learn how to better connect and collaborate.

The Fullerton Collaborative brings the nonprofits, educators, businesses and community members together to make a difference in the community. I really see the need to bring the CSUF students and faculty on our campus out into the community. I have been invited by faculty members to speak in their classes about who we are and what we do.

Q. What do you see as the community priorities in Fullerton moving forward?

A. Our mission is to connect, train and collaborate to build a healthy community for all Fullerton residents.

The Fullerton Collaborative is a cooperative of executive directors, educators, activists, community service leaders and volunteers dedicated to building and supporting a healthy cohesive community. As an alliance of nonprofit organizations and individuals who enjoy making “good things” happen for the community, we are able to provide community assistance where we are needed most. Our unique partnership allows us to help each other accomplish goals. We encourage our members and the Fullerton community to “Think Collaboratively.”

We envision a diverse and empowered community that lives in harmony and works collaboratively toward an economically secure, healthy and safe environment where all children and adults anticipate a quality education and promising future.

The collaborative has developed four areas of priority in the city of Fullerton that were developed by key stakeholders. The four priority areas are: Health & Wellness, Education, Homelessness, and At-risk Youth programming. Each of these four areas is addressed by a standing subcommittee chaired by a member of the board.rn

How to get involved with the Fullerton Collaborative

rnHere is some information about what each of the nonprofit’s committees is working on with various partners and its next meeting. The public is welcome to attend any committee meeting or the general meeting, which is held the second Monday of each month at 2:30 p.m. in the Fullerton Public Library community room.rn

Health & Wellness

rnActivities: Helps the city, school district and CSUF reach the most vulnerable communities. CSUF kinesiology students helps the community set and achieve their goals at the park or in school. Also working on launching a soda-free summer in Fullerton and on a default beverage policy on children’s meals to help reduce childhood obesity.

Next meeting: 10 a.m., April 25 at the Fullerton Community Center, 340 W. Commonwealth.rn


rnActivities: Helping develop Early Development Index map to mirror Fullerton community. Also part of a program to educate immigrant parents on the skills needed to navigate California’s school system.

Next meeting: 1 p.m. May 21 at the Fullerton School District, 1401 W. Valencia.rn


rnActivities: Discussing how to reach out to community members for the CityNet Census this month. Volunteers can ride along with law enforcement, conduct surveys with homeless individuals and connect them with community resources. Sign up at citynet.org/volunteer.

Next meeting: 11 a.m. April 20 at First Lutheran Church lounge, 215 N Lemon St.rn

At-Risk Youth

rnActivities: Working with St. Jude Medical Center and Fullerton Joint Union High School District to support mental health needs and develop a strategic plan. Also program for students 15-17 to teach skills to get and maintain an internship or job. (Professionals who would like to volunteer to help with interview and resume skills can call Sean Butler at 657-243-0886.)

Next meeting: 11 a.m. April 18 in the Boys & Girls Club of Fullerton’s teen center, 410 S. Richman Ave.


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