Mechelle Lawrence Adams, Executive Director

Executive Director’s Message

Mechelle Lawrence Adams

In the year of Blessed Father Serra’s canonization, we are honored to welcome you to Mission San Juan Capistrano, open nearly 365 days each year, to celebrate history, tradition and inspired learning.  We invite you to connect with friends and family in a uniquely religious, historical and beautifully rich environment.

Mission San Juan Capistrano continues today some 240 years after its founding, as a vibrant monument of the past, a living history museum and a place for inspiration and joy. We hope you will look at our calendar of events and consider joining us at a festival, concert, lecture or exhibit opening. Or perhaps you will gather your loved ones for a picnic, a tour, or just an introspective visit to Serra Chapel, the most historically significant chapel in the State of California and the only one still standing where Father Serra, soon to be recognized as a saint, once celebrated mass.   We invite you to take a moment of silence and experience the testament to the past in the Ruins of the Great Stone Church, a once grand church, ruined by an earthquake in 1812 that today, stands as a monument reflecting the Native American lives that built and were buried here on the very grounds of Mission San Juan Capistrano. 

We invite you to join us at our daily opening where we toll the bells seven times at 9:00 am in honor of Father Serra and call all to gather to reflect that old places are not cool because they are old, but rather they are cool because they are relevant, meaningful and have a place in our lives that cause us to learn, reflect and find joy in the moment. 

Finally, we look forward to celebrating this grand occasion of the canonization of Father Serra this fall and hope that you will find your way here sometime soon, to experience the grounds where a saint once walked, where the Eucharist is still celebrated daily and where people of all faith traditions can come together in peace and good will, in the prospect of learning about California’s legacy and a past that still matters.


See you on the path,


Mechelle Lawrence Adams
Executive Director, Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mechelle is a Native Californian, graduate from Huntington Beach High School, California State University Fullerton (BS, Political Science) and University of Redlands (M.A.,Management).

She is the recipient of such awards as National Preservation Award, National Association of Interpretation Media Award, Arts Orange County’s Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy award, San Juan Capistrano’s Mayor’s Business of the Year, Orange County’s Top Work Place Award, Tabasco Company’s top community cookbook award and most recently Mayor’s City of San Juan Capistrano Business Organization of the Year for Heritage Tourism Association and marketing co-op efforts supporting the innovative promotion of the historic downtown’s business community(2017). She is the member of many professional and local organizations and speaks professionally to groups interested in developing strategic planning results affecting real, meaningful, and measurable change.

Mechelle is the proud mother to three and resides locally with husband and colleague, Joe Adams, President of the Discovery Cube Foundation. They strive to ensure that children locally and from all over the world, along with their families, get to experience the best of Orange County’s landmark and museum settings in ways that are both meaningful and accessible to all. Mechelle strives to respect both the religious and historic significance of Mission San Juan Capistrano by ensuring stewardship through careful preservation efforts that allow for it to be a place of inspiration, education, preservation and celebration.

I love my job. It is a special lifestyle for me to work protecting this incredible landmark, building a stellar team, refining our means and methods of ensuring preservation stays at the forefront, working to make sure that the integrity of the site is safeguarded while creating vibrant cultural celebrations. Every day is a treasure at the Mission. I am fortunate to have a job where I not only get to make a meaningful difference but I also get to experience a meaningful difference in my life as well.

Present Boards and Commissions:
City of San Juan Capistrano, Cultural Heritage Commission Member: Appointed for two terms (2015-2017) and (2017-2019), Chairwoman 2016-2017, and 2017-2018 and current chair
City of San Juan Capistrano, Laissez Faire Business Sub-Committee
Founder, San Juan Capistrano Heritage Tourism Association (2014)
San Juan Equestrian Coalition
2015 Discovery Cube Gala Co-Chairperson
Innovators, Founding Member
Discovery Cube Foundation
Orange County Historical Commission, 5th District (Supervisor Lisa Bartlett), Spring, 2017

Past Board Member:
San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce, Board Member
San Juan Capistrano Historical Society Board Member