by JENNIFER FRAKES | photos by Soul of Photography

Unlocking Success

faces_smith2For Cardiff resident Sara Smith, being the director of FAY Center is an opportunity to help adolescents and their families navigate the transitional and often challenging teen years. The FAY Center teaches teens to manage stress, build self-confidence, handle academic and societal expectations, and make good life decisions. “Being a part of a teenager’s life while they figure out who they are and how they relate to society and their families is my favorite part of my job. Parents really do know best but sometimes teens need to hear things from someone other than their parents,” said Sara. “I’ve created FAY Center to do just that. It’s so fulfilling to hear that parents see their teens taking initiative in areas they had not been before.”

Sara graduated with a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Davis and is currently enrolled in a master’s program in marriage and family therapy at Bethel Seminary here in San Diego. Looking to the future, Sara hopes to have a private practice in addition to remaining actively involved with FAY Center. “Using my education, I would like to develop events for mothers and daughters to connect, have fun, and learn more about themselves and each other. The mother-daughter relationship is uniquely special yet can be underdeveloped or is the cause of a lot of frustration with adolescent girls in particular,” explained Sara.


Name: Sara Smith
Profession: Director at FAY Center
Community: Cardiff-by-the-Sea
Hobbies & Interests: Running half-marathons, swimming, anything by the water, trying new foods and coffee shops, traveling
Favorite Spots in 92024: Fish 101, Gordy’s Bakery and Coffeehouse, D Street Bar & Grill, Beacon’s Beach, Grandview Beach, Honey’s Bistro & Bakery

Prior to taking on the directorship at FAY Center, Sara trained to become a zookeeper and care for exotic animals. Although her career path has changed, she is proud to say that she worked hands-on with seals and sea lions in a rehabilitation facility and helped release a number of them back into the wild.

In addition to having a great love for people and animals, Sara enjoys going to the beach, trying new foods and restaurants, perusing farmers markets, and traveling. “I am involved at Seacoast Community Church and plan to travel to Rwanda and Tanzania with them to participate in women and youth initiatives. And because my parents and sister live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I travel to the East Coast quite often,” Sara shared. Closer to home, Sara can often be found running along and enjoying the views of Vulcan Ave. and Coast Highway 101.