The Storyteller Children’s Center is pleased to announce the addition of Melissa Walker as director of development.

Walker has more than six years of experience in fundraising and development, previously working at local organizations such as Antioch University and Hillside House, as well as spending time in San Francisco at San Francisco Parks Trust, raising money for Golden Gate Park.

Most recently, Walker spent three years in Irvine, raising capital and annual funds to help open Orange County’s first major children’s museum, Pretend City, which officially opened in August 2009 and has since had more than 300,000 visits.

As a Santa Barbara native, Walker graduated from UCSB with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She said she is overjoyed to return to her hometown and bring her experience in major giving, annual funds, special events and grant writing to Storyteller. She is passionate about early childhood education and excited to work with an organization that makes a significant difference in the lives of Santa Barbara’s most vulnerable children.

The Storyteller Children’s Center provides quality, tuition-free early childhood education for homeless and at-risk children, as well as comprehensive support services for their families.

Children receive nutritious meals, medical screenings and counseling, and therapy if they suffer from developmental delays. In addition, parent education classes and referral services are offered. Storyteller helps families in crisis achieve stability.

Storyteller is planning its annual gala event, scheduled for Oct. 15 at the Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara. This year’s theme, “Couture Country,” promises to be a sophisticated twist on the playful country theme, with dinner, live music, and live and silent auctions. Attracting upwards of 350 people, proceeds help fund Storyteller’s two preschool sites that serve 100 children annually, as well as their families.

For more information about the gala, call Walker at 805.682.9585.

— Terri Allison is the director of the Storyteller Children’s Center.