Mission Preservation Foundation Board Members

Mechelle Lawrence Adams, Executive Director of Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mechelle Lawrence Adams (far right) and family; Joe Adams, Lisa Lawrence, Jack Adams, (eldest son Dylan not pictured due to college schedule)

Mechelle Lawrence Adams isn’t a name most visitors to Mission San Juan Capistrano would recognize. But without her, visitors probably wouldn’t recognize the Mission.

Today when you visit Mission San Juan Capistrano, the birthplace of Orange County, California, you are met with pristine gardens and Koi-filled water fountains, the free standing stabilized ruins of the Great Stone Church, the restored Serra Chapel, the permanent exhibit of the Padres Quarters in the South Wing, temporary rotating exhibits in the West Wing, and six different language versions of the award winning adult audio tour, “Voices of the Mission”.

Available to students, teachers, and parents include: the “California Missions Resource Studio” which features information on all 21 missions, the audio tour for children, “Saved by the Mission Bells: A Child’s Journey Through California History”, free summer kids activities, hands on weekly learning activities, and the “Adopt-A-Class” scholarship program that provide hands on learning field trips to low income schools.

While all of the above may seem commonplace today, most of these preservation efforts, educational tools, and community programs were not available eight years ago. For instance, eight years ago, the Great Stone Church was still being supported by scaffolding, there was no such thing as a student resource studio or the Adopt-A-Class program which has since served over 3,797 low income students with free field trips and audio tours were not yet available either.

So what changed? It was ten years ago, in 2003, when Lawrence Adams was appointed as Executive Director of Mission San Juan Capistrano by Reverend Monsignor Arthur A. Holquin, Rector/Pastor Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano. As Executive Director for the Mission, Lawrence Adams oversees 65 staff and nearly 300 volunteers, implementing a Strategic Plan to ensure Orange County’s only mission is preserved for future generations and is a resource to the community and world at large.

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 Awards, and Arts Orange County’s Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy award and more. 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 measureable change.

Mechelle is the proud mother to three children ages 19, 14, and 1. She resides locally with husband and colleague, Joe Adams, President of the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana.  They dream of ensuring 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. 

In their rare spare time they can be found walking their dog Teddy at the beach, riding bikes or enjoying their daughter’s horse show competitions in San Juan Capistrano. 

“I love my job, It is a special life style 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 h experience a meaningful difference in my life as well.”


The Mission Preservation Foundation Board includes:

George O'Connell
O’Connell Landscape Maintenance

William Cvengros
National Retirement Partners, Inc.

Wylie A. Aitken, Esq.
Aitken • Aitken • Cohn

Bruce Brainerd
General Manager
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Vicky Carabini
Monex Precious Metals

Don Dorkowski
Dondee Company LLC

Reverend Monsignor Arthur A. Holquin
Pastor and Rector Emeritus
Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano

Reverend Monsignor J. Michael McKiernan
Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano

Paul Mikos

Anthony R. Moiso
President and Chief Executive Officer
Rancho Mission Viejo

Connie Spenuzza
Libros Publishing

Madeline Swinden
Founding Chair, Mission Benefit Gala

EJ Tracy
Tracy Industries

Mechelle Lawrence-Adams
Executive Director
Mission San Juan Capistrano


Donate Online

By mail, download donation form and mail with your gift:

Mission San Juan Capistrano Preservation Funds
26801 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

For questions, please call Barb Beier at (949) 234-1323 or email bbeier@missionsjc.com
Mission San Juan Capistrano
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