Coaches know what it takes to get things up and running. They guide communities through Community Heart & Soul using creative community engagement and involving everyone in identifying what matters most to the community. We’d like you to meet our Heart & Soul Coaches who are located across the United States, and share your love of small cities and towns.
Bob has over 41 years of experience in economic development, downtown revitalization, urban redevelopment, historic preservation, brownfield redevelopment, place making, marketing and community planning at the local, county, state and national levels as well as the private sector. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan. Bob also has a Graduate Certification in Historic Preservation Planning from Eastern Michigan University and is a U.S. Navy Veteran – Honorable Discharge. Bob has served as an Adjunct Professor at Lawrence Technical University and Eastern Michigan University. A Certified Main Street Manager (CMSM), Bob is recognized throughout Michigan and the United States as a successful economic development and downtown revitalization expert and leader.
Michelle is currently executive director of Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development, a community-based nonprofit committed to preserving, promoting, and protecting the unique assets of rural western Iowa. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 30 years and enjoys helping local people dream big and put those ideas into action. A native Iowan, Michelle brought her Pittsburgh-born husband back to her home state where they have raised their two children near Hastings, Iowa (population 110 plus the occasional roaming chicken). She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and holds a Masters from the University of Cincinnati. On a summer night, you’ll probably find her enjoying a glass of wine while watching lightening bugs sparkle in the soybean fields.
Jason is the Heart & Soul Coordinator at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD). He works with rural communities in the CFGD seven-county region to provide coaching, technical assistance, and planning support for Community Heart & Soul projects. Originally from Dubuque, Neises has spent most of his career in adult education and working with non-profits, including Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the Peace Corps. He volunteers in the community with the Dubuque County Historic Preservation Commission, Cub Scouts, Dubuque Museum of Art, the Dubuque Winter Farmers’ Market, and the Thomas Determan Global Perspectives Endowment. Neises has an education degree from the University of Northern Iowa. He lives on a small farm north of Dubuque with his wife and two boys.
Danielle is a native to Ohio and loves all parts of her home state, especially rural downtowns. She has a passion for historic preservation and learned to write municipal and other grants to support preservation of historic commercial structures. She lives in Toledo with her husband, son and two feline fur-babies but can be found anywhere between Lake Erie and the Ohio River on any given week day. She works with dozens of communities throughout Ohio and northern Kentucky doing whatever it takes to make projects happen: planning, consensus building, funding, phasing, and finding whatever other resources are necessary to make dreams real.
Brian Treece is a lifelong resident of Findlay and serves as the President & CEO of the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation.
A graduate of Findlay High School, Treece received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from The University of Findlay. He earned his Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Northcentral University in 2010.
Prior to coming to The Foundation, Treece worked for 15 years at The University of Findlay, serving as Assistant Dean of Students and overseeing several areas including residence life, student affairs assessment, student-run businesses, and judicial affairs. He managed a staff and served on several teams and committees, including the emergency response team, reaccreditation steering committee, and led the federal compliance committee. Treece continues to serve an adjunct instructor in the College of Education, teaching courses in Human Resource Development, Research, and Collaboration.
Treece served as Program Director for Community and Organizational Development and Evaluation at The Community Foundation for over four years, where he coached two Community Heart & Soul communities, led the 2017 Community Conversations project, expanded the Organizational Strengthening program, oversaw the work of Hancock Properties and The Family Center, and developed many other community leadership projects.
Treece has been recognized for his achievements locally and regionally, as a Northwest Ohio 20 Under 40 recipient, Hancock Youth Leadership and Hancock Leadership Alumni Association’s Outstanding Service Awards, and Organization Advisor of the Year. He has served on boards for Hancock Youth Leadership, the Center for Civic Engagement, University of Findlay Alumni, Cancer Patient Services, University of Findlay College of Education, Arts Partnership and Hancock Federal Credit Union.
Personally Treece is married and he and his husband Rick are proud parents to Harper.
Brittany Beyer brings a unique understanding of business management, economic development, organizational innovation, and cultural enhancement to make the Northwoods a better place to live, play, work, and invest. She is happy to have become Grow North’s Executive Director in June of 2018, which acts as a catalyst for economic prosperity in the Northwoods region of Wisconsin. Beyer is a native of Illinois and spent almost two decades in New York City working within the arts and culture field before relocating to the Northwoods in 2016. She earned a BFA in Dance Performance from New York University / Tisch School of the Arts, having a first career as a professional dancer touring in both the United States and Europe. She returned to NYU and continued her studies, receiving an MA from Tisch’s Art and Public Policy Department, where she focused on Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneurship.
For over a decade, Beyer served in company management and fundraising capacities in many arts-based non-profits. During final three years in New York, Beyer was the Business Development Manager and Executive Assistant to the President of EmcArts, an arts service organization that moves organizations through complex challenges by holding workshops, coaching, and innovation labs. In Wisconsin and in many places in the US, rural arts and culture development are intrinsically intertwined with economic prosperity. After serving as the Warehouse Art Center’s first Executive Director (Eagle River 2016-2018), she stepped into the role at Grow North, leading one of the nine regions of economic development in the state.
Brittany Beyer was named by the Governor of Wisconsin as the Chair of the Task Force on Broadband in July of 2020 and serves as a commissioner on the Governor’s Blue-Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity, starting in June of 2020. Beyer is on the Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (2020-present), a Board member for Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA, 2021-present), and a member of the Federal Sustainable Forestry Committee (2019-present). In 2021, Brittany was the recipient of the 2021 Wisconsin Idea Award, given by the Wisconsin Extension Environmental and Community Development Association.
Ben is an AICP Planner and registered landscape architect. He is the President of Downtown Redevelopment Services, a small planning firm focused on helping main streets and small communities create effective plans and redevelopment projects for downtowns. Additionally, he is a board member of the Cleveland Section of American Planning Association and serves as membership chair for the Cleveland section of the Urban Land Institute.
Cassie serves as the Community Engagement Officer for The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation. Her responsibilities include facilitating the Heart & Soul process in Hancock County. Her responsibilities include Organizational Strengthening for area nonprofits, Community Conversations, supporting grant making, and facilitating the Heart & Soul process in Hancock County. She will be supporting past Heart & Soul Communities efforts and working on identifying and building relationships with the next village partner. Prior to coming to the Foundation, Cassie was a 4-H Youth Development Educator for 15 years with Ohio State University Extension. She especially enjoyed working with teen leaders to develop youth-adult partnerships that helped the camp and service 4-H programs thrive in Hancock County. She earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Findlay and her Master of Science from The Ohio State University in Human and Community Resource Development. She is a certified Real Colors Facilitator. Personally, Cassie enjoys volunteering for 4-H, is an active Kiwanian, and running. She lives in the country outside of Findlay with her dog Daisy.
A New Jersey native, with time in Ohio before moving to Wisconsin, Darrin has spent his professional career building great places for all. He thought his path lie in historic preservation, but an internship with the German Village Society in Columbus, OH, helped him to understand that saving old buildings was a means to creating authentic places and building community. His time in this historic neighborhood just south of downtown, allowed him to experience the power of inter-generational community and shaped his future work. Darrin continued to hone his craft in Orrville, OH through downtown development, nonprofit leadership, and entrepreneurship (he and his wife, Stephanie, opened a natural pet market) and most recently with Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Wisconsin Main Street communities before joining AARP-WI.
Darrin holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from The Ohio State University and a Masters of Business Administration from Kent State University. He shares a house in Madison with his wife, three kids (Ashton, Cora, and Grayson), four dogs (Moose, Lola, Panda Bear, and Louis) and two chickens (Porsche and Mercedes).
Kara is a graduate of the University of Nebraska – Kearney with a degree in journalism. With nearly 17 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, she has had the privilege of working at three of the premier arts and cultural organizations in Nebraska: Museum of Nebraska Art (Kearney, NE), the Willa Cather Foundation (Red Cloud, NE), and the Stuhr Museum Foundation (Grand Island, NE). Before returning to her hometown of Holdrege, NE, to become the executive director of the Phelps County Community Foundation, Kara served as the program office for the Grand Island Community Foundation. She is passionate about small towns and nonprofit organizations serving those communities. Her strengths are her energy, creativity, leadership, and vision. Currently, she happily resides in Holdrege, NE, with her husband, Ron, and son, Graham. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, watching sports of all kinds, and spending time with family and friends.
Jill is the Grant Writer and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the City of Romulus (MI). She has 29 years of municipal experience providing executive level support in areas of grant writing and administration, community relations, budget development, multi-agency regulatory compliance, contract negotiations and other human resource functions. Additional responsibilities include special event planning, fundraising/campaigning, emergency planning, threat and hazard identification and risk assessment. Involvement in the municipal process is an important part of Jill’s life. Serving as a board member on the City of Romulus’ Pension Committee since 2005, she currently holds the office of President. She also serves her local community as President of the LMR Fire Board. Along with extensive experience in government/public service, Jill has worked with numerous non-profit organizations. In 2008, she accepted a position as volunteer coordinator for Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary and has served in various capacities, she is currently the Vice President of Romulus Goodfellows Inc. Jill is a graduate of Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a major in Public Relations. Empty Nesters, Jill and her husband, Michael, reside in Milan, MI and own a successful real estate firm and vacation rental business.
De’an collaborates with individuals from all walks of life, community and faith-based organizations, and primarily small and rural communities across the country to help them better prepare for and recover from natural disasters. She empowers people in a way that values their unique characteristics and strengths, honors what is important to them, gives them a strong voice, and builds resilience. De’an has worked directly with three states and 25+ disaster-impacted communities, developed materials and tools reaching many more, and networked with hundreds of partners to improve local and regional capacity. Her work is informed by her background in communications, mediation, crisis counseling, group facilitation, stakeholder engagement, team building, organizational and leadership development, strategic and community-based planning, law, grants, nonprofit management, coaching/mentoring, training, and event planning. Prior to joining FEMA, De’an mediated community, family, and civil cases and trained mediators in Tennessee. She earned degrees from Emory University, University of Tennessee College of Law, and Pepperdine University School of Law’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. She loves connecting with people, exploring new places, and wandering in the glory of nature.
As a relationship builder with a strategic mindset, Matt currently serves as Executive Director for the Village of Ortonville, MI Downtown Development Authority (DDA), a Nationally Accredited Main Street Oakland County Select Level community. He first acquired the “Main Street” and economic development bug while serving as a volunteer for the Highland Township DDA for 7 years. Matt’s experience includes over 20 years in marketing, planning, fund development, communications and community development in municipal, non-profit and financial services industries. His career has centered on strategic planning, board leadership, creating growth initiatives and building high-functioning teams. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Northwood University and a Certificate in Fund Raising Management from Indiana University’s Center of Philanthropy. Matt also dedicates his volunteer time to local non-profit organizations including the Huron Valley Educational Foundation and Brandon Groveland Youth Assistance. Matt and his wife Korey live a fast-paced family focused life in White Lake, MI thanks to their 3 (adult) daughters: Erika, Taylor, and Emma.
Jen is the Executive Director of the Cozad Development Corporation. Cozad is a rural community in the center of Nebraska with a population of around 4,000. Jen has been involved in community and economic development for over twenty years, working for local, regional, and county economic development organizations. She has worked with over sixty communities over the span of her career. She earned her bachelor’s in business at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and she holds a Master of Science in Organizational Management with an emphasis in economic development and entrepreneurship from Peru State College. She is also a certified reality-based leadership coach. Jen is past president of the Nebraska Economic Developers Association and was NEDA Professional of the Year in 2013. She loves to help communities find their personality and energize leaders to bring new life to rural communities. She and her husband Mark have raised six kids and live on a small lake outside of town.
Daniel is a community planner based in western Nebraska. He has eight years of experience in rural community planning and development, with special attention to community engagement, long range planning, public health, and public resources for property redevelopment. Daniel manages rural programming for Civic Nebraska- with a focus on working alongside adult and youth community leaders to strengthen rural “civic health”- the connections, processes, and habits of involvement that sustain civic life and undergird a thriving local democracy. Daniel also has a passion for music, faith, and sharing the natural beauty of his home state with others. He has a degree in community and regional planning from Iowa State University and is conversational in Spanish.
Katy Klettlinger, LYRASIS Outreach Representative and Consultant, serves states in the Mid-Atlantic region and has over fifteen years’ experience in archival, government, and public library settings in Ohio. At LYRASIS, Katy provides strategic planning, space planning, and preservation consulting services to libraries, archives, and museums in the United States. Previously, Katy was a Library Consultant for the State Library of Ohio where she assisted public libraries with digitization, space planning, and strategic planning. Before coming to the State Library, Katy worked for six years as the Records Manager and Archivist for Licking County Government where she built the county’s program from the ground up and created its first county-wide digitization program. Her background in archival and digitization management for government settings in addition to public library needs provides unique perspectives for librarians to consider when offering quality services to their patrons. Katy takes pride in supporting colleagues and helping them succeed.
For over two decades, Eric has been living his purpose to “build flourishing communities in which ALL people can thrive.” Eric uses design thinking to help civic, residents, small businesses and agripreneurs engage in, and direct, their future. Eric has coordinated, facilitated, and led award-winning workforce development, neighborhood and community revitalization, and business and farm development programs both in Africa and across Ohio. Eric has a Master’s in Community Development. He also holds professional certifications, including in Asset Based Community Development. Eric’s affiliations include the Great Lakes Urban Restoration Network, which he directs.
Jen Danifo is senior program officer at the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and works closely with grantees to provide capacity-building support for program development, learning and evaluation. A large part of her work is overseeing the search and selection of Pennsylvania Heart & Soul communities, supporting external coaches working with communities in the field and managing the development of training and assessments for communities. Jen is a Level 2 certified Heart & Soul coach. She is working directly with three communities in PA: Cameron County, Upper Chichester, and Dillsburg and overseeing the growing network of PA Heart & Soul towns. Her work is rooted in the belief that the humanities inspire individuals to uncover and claim their own stories – and the stories of the communities in which they live – as a way to build understanding, foster resilience and inspire action. Jen has an M.F.A in creative writing from Rosemont College and a certificate in organizational development and leadership from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM).
As the Community Manager at the Community Foundation of South Jersey (CFSJ), Erik is responsible for the execution of CFSJ’s latest community leadership initiative, Transform South Jersey, which aims to strengthen the social, cultural and economic vibrancy of South Jersey communities by activating residents to shape the future of their towns based on what matters most to them.
Prior to joining CFSJ, Erik served in a variety of roles with multiple national program offices of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Most recently, he helped launch Forward Promise, a national program office established to promote the health and well-being of boys and young men of color. Based out of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, Erik developed and implemented the program’s grantmaking and technical assistance strategies. Before that, he managed research and evaluation initiatives of RWJF’s statewide grantmaking program, New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI). In addition to studying the feasibility and impact of NJHI’s field building efforts, he worked closely with their youth-focused and capacity building programs as well.
Erik’s introduction to philanthropy came by way of National Urban Fellows, a rigorous leadership development and graduate degree program in which he earned a Master of Public Administration from Bernard M. Baruch College in New York, while completing a nine-month fellowship with RWJF. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.
Lois is a proud New Jersey native with a passion for community and making the world more beautiful. She has had the privilege of working in place-based philanthropy for over 20 years while at the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation, helping residents develop and implement neighborhood revitalization plans. She also has experience both asking for and lending money to support projects within the social sector through her prior employment at Wells Fargo, Goodwill Industries and JPMorgan/Chase. Her joys are investing in her three beautiful children, building community with others, traveling to amazing places, and Broadway musicals.
Catherine is proud to be a multi-generational Mainer who has worked hard to remain in the state that she loves. After a leave of absence for education and work, Catherine moved back to Maine in 2009. Catherine served as the project coordinator for the Mahoousc Heart & Soul project from 2016-2019. This Community Heart & Soul was named after the Mahoosuc Mountain range which borders the landscape of this four town region in Western Maine. In addition to beginning a new role as a Community Heart & Soul Coach, for the state of Maine, she continues in a stewardship role for the Mahoosucs by volunteering in community groups and serving on the board of the Age Friendly Community Initiative. She founded a consulting company in 2021, CEI Consultants to focus on rural community building in Maine and Northern New Hampshire. She has a bachelor of arts in planning and policy from the University of Maine Farmington, a certification in Nonprofit Management, and a member of the 3rd Cohort of the Community Practitioner’s Network with the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation in Northern New Hampshire. She lives in Bethel with her adventure dog Moxie.
Liza has over 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector in Vermont, supporting families and communities in the conservation of land for farming, forestry, wildlife, and public recreation. Liza has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College, training in negotiation and mediation from Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, and a Professional Certificate in Conflict Management from Champlain College and Northstar Group. Liza also works as a mediator with the Vermont Agricultural Mediation Program. As a volunteer for her own community, Liza is Chair of the Mad River Valley Recreation District, a three-town partnership focused on coordinating and increasing public access to recreation. Additionally, Liza serves on a restorative justice panel for the Montpelier Community Justice Center. Liza brings curiosity and respect for diverse perspectives and a deep interest in helping people connect to one another and the places they call home.
Steve Mason is the Vice President and COO of Northeast Kingdom Tamarack, Inc. and its subsidiary /d/b/a/ NEKTI Consulting. In that capacity, Steve provides an extensive background of executive and special project leadership, community & business development, and human resource management; he brings research, writing skills and technical support to a variety of projects.
Steve has over 30 years experience in international relations, special education, legal research, non-profit management, sports training and management, human resources, corporate communications and development and non-profit governance. Currently he works closely with a broad range of business and community leaders in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and beyond.
As a volunteer, Steve shares his expertise and skills as a board member with a select group of local and state-wide organizations that include Orleans County Restorative Justice and a Trustee of the Goodrich Memorial Library in Newport, VT. He also serves as Chair of the School Board for the Lowell Graded School (15 years), and is the chair of the North Country Union Supervisory School (6 years). Steve is also the Chair of the Board at PSI Family Services, Inc. in Washington, DC where he worked for 16 years. After spending 10 years working for Special Olympics in Washington, DC.
Steve received his Bachelor’s degree from St. Michael’s College where he majored in political science and minored in English. He received his Master’s degree and completed his doctoral coursework in International Relations at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
Steve’s career has been full of change and is best described as eclectic; it is a combination of experience in higher education, research, sports management, entrepreneurship, and advocacy. He remains through it all primarily a student of human nature. In 2004 he returned to his beloved Northeast Kingdom of Vermont after 30 years in Washington, DC to be close to his father and the woods, fields and streams of his youth.
Ian enjoys working within his community as a soccer coach and serves as President of the township youth soccer association. He is the past chair of the Parent/Community Advisory Board of his local Family Success Center and is currently a member of the Winslow Board of Education Citizens Advisory Committee.
His background is in higher education student support and administration in the United Kingdom, but since moving to New Jersey he has moved into information technology and website development. This has developed a wide range of people focused skills, complemented by technical knowledge, that have proved useful when assisting community led projects. When not coaching or playing soccer Ian enjoys finding other reasons to be outside.
Nurturing relationships into partnerships to advance change, is what NEKTI Consulting does. Steve Mason, also a Community Heart & Soul certified coach, is a co-owner of NEKTI Consulting. Are you looking for trusted advisors with tested leadership and coalition-building skills? You will appreciate their track record of working in challenging environments and bringing diverse groups and cultures together in project development. NEKTI Consulting brings a bridge to what’s possible – putting tomorrow’s leaders into the world today and providing long-term strategic advice as well as discrete, short-term projects to meet immediate needs. Being unconstrained by administrative complexity and energized by assisting communities who are working toward consequential goals is their hallmark. NEKTI Consulting’s value-added proposition includes connections to resources with a forté in problem-solving. Having earned considerable experience by forming strategic partnerships to leverage funding and other resources for the benefit of the community, they are well-positioned to accent the positive. For further information about individual experience, certifications, testimonials, and accomplishments please check their LinkedIn profiles.
Jeff has assisted hundreds of communities with their revitalization, economic sustainability, and community development over the course of his career. Utilizing a background in urban planning, downtown district management, revitalization, real estate, economics and organizational development, his diverse background and expertise lends a unique vantage point for addressing community concerns. What Jeff lacks in patience and eloquence, he makes up for in passion and honesty. He believes revitalizing communities is the most important work we can do. Revitalization has the power to transform people’s lives by fostering a stronger sense of community. Revitalization enhances quality of life, it provides people with more enriching experiences, and Jeff has dedicated himself to killing apathy- one town at a time. When Jeff is not agitating benevolent community volunteers, he dedicates his agitation efforts at his lovely wife Amber and their four occasionally obedient children.
Darcy is a semi-retired children’s librarian, a musician and storyteller, cultural consultant, and a trained ethnographic and folkloristic fieldworker who is fascinated by the way communities and the people who live in them communicate formally and informally through the arts and humanities in our daily lives. Much of that communication stems from personal and common past experience, from traditions, including (and especially) songs and stories, that are handed from one person to another both orally and in written form. Those stories are often seen as frivolous by civic, educational, and business “authorities”, but have personal meaning to the people who live them every day. When taken together those stories and their meaning define a society. Darcy is dedicated to helping individuals and groups give coherent voice those stories and their meanings to create positive change in their community and survive negative changes that happen whether we like it or not.
Adele has facilitated the choreography of placemaking across the United States.
Projects have ranged from federal to local, rural to urban, and coastal to inland.
Often the creator of unusual partnerships, projects have included creating one of the nation’s first sidewalk vending ordinances, skate parks, museum exhibits, grant-funded community solar installations, traffic calming, cultural and natural landscape preservation, Berkshire Synergy Project (BSP), and teaching. The project through line always connects people to people, places, and information.
Adele holds a BA in Botany and Art History (and unofficially Dance) from Connecticut College and a Master of Landscape Architecture from University of California, Berkeley.
Currently, Adele is Planning Director for the Town of Shelburne.
Alice is a Penn State University graduate and a registered landscape architect. She has worked in land development, recreation and rivers conservation planning, and now provides technical assistance to river towns for re-visioning their relationship with the river through the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership (SGP). She is the project director for Heart of Williamsport– a Heart and Soul project collaboration with SGP, the City of Williamsport, the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Orton Family Foundation and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. She resides in Loyalsock Township (Pennsylvania) with her husband Rich, son Curtis, Gracie (dog) and Manny (cat). Alice enjoys assisting with Odyssey of the Mind, cooking, gardening, camping and hiking.
Born and raised in New Haven, CT, Judith considers her early experiences — excellent education, distinguished architecture, family roots, and a diverse population — formative. She earned a PhD at Columbia University in history of art and architecture and had a fast start with tenure track jobs at prominent universities. In 1999, she and her husband moved back to New England, where she raised her daughter and found employment as an adjunct at Emerson College. During these years, she was active in community groups, including being an elected member of Town Meeting, participating in the 2005 revision of the town’s comprehensive plan, and serving on the Historical Commission. After yet another move, to the Easton Shore of Maryland, Judith and her family settled in Sugar Hill, NH in 2017. In Winter 2018, she took the Master Gardener training offered by UNH Cooperative Extension and to her surprise was hired a year later as the Grafton County Coordinator for the program. She has found that the job builds on skills acquired in academia as well as broad perspectives gained through various pursuits. She has been active within Extension with efforts to expand diversity, which she has found compelling as a white person with a lifetime’s engagement with racial issues. In addition to her job, Judith is completing a book about Trinity Church, Wall Street and its architectural impact on New York City, and working on a project to produce digital tours of the Upper CT Valley cultural landscape.
Ira Weissman is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt with 40+ years of experience in project\program management, quality and training. He has 20+ years of experience in high-level volunteer positions. He has also been a volunteer coordinator for a non-profit agency. Ira combined his Lean Six Sigma knowledge and his passion for non-profits by writing the chapter “Operational Excellence in Non-Profits” for the book Driving Operation Excellence.
Ira’s background includes being:
• The first college student board member of the Jewish Federation of Worcester, MA
• The Curator-Director of the Air Victory Museum
• A member of the Tuskegee Airmen’s strategic planning committee
• A board member of the Non-Profit Development Center of Southern NJ (NPDCSNJ)
• A member of the Diocese of Camden’s Community Relations Advisory Board
• Co-Founder/Chairperson of the Camden Youth Aviation Program (CYAP)
Ira and CYAP were recognized with the NJ Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and Camden City’s Department of Human Resources for the 2018 Best Non-Profit Collaboration by the NPDCSNJ for forming the Camden Cadet Squadron of CAP. Ira and CYAP worked with the FAA and Hopeworks-N’-Camden to create Hopeworks’ drone training program.
Ira’s firm Idea Innovations, LLC helps businesses, government agencies and non-profits become more effective, efficient and successful.
As a director of non-profits, Janet has worked most of her career as a leader in New Hampshire to support individuals who experience disabilities in their advocacy. Her career parallels the growth of New Hampshire’s community-based service system, starting with her commitment to the deinstitutionalization process of Laconia State School. Janet has initiated the start-up of many groups throughout NH to come together for common causes and interests. She has facilitated groups in organizational development, consensus building, goal setting and outcomes. In recent years, Janet has been an advocate and director of non-profit organizations whose mission is to promote healthy aging so that older adults can enjoy living in one’s own home. Currently, Janet is the Executive Director for the Upper Valley Community Nursing Project. Janet holds an associate degree in Occupational Therapy and a bachelor’s & master’s degree in human service administration. She lives in Concord, NH with her partner, Roy. Janet enjoys e-biking along the various rail trails throughout New England, weaving and photography.
Robin is an elected State Representative for Connecticut’s 102nd district since 2018. Serving her Town of Branford, CT she has worked tirelessly addressing issues facing her community and all Connecticut residents, from advocating for health policies that improve access to care, to working on early education issues that support the quality of education for young children. As a grassroots non-profit leader, she led a 10-year initiative to improve outcomes for children from birth through age 8 in her town. She and her team engaged in a collaborative, data-informed process with partners and families through an inclusive community building process that focused on the diverse needs of the town. This work culminated in a Blueprint for Children that guided future investments. Robin has led support groups, professional development, and chaired various workgroups and task forces, that were focused on disabilities, healthcare, and education. She believes that effective leaders bring all stakeholders to the table to develop mutual understanding, find common ground, and build the solutions together. She was inducted into the 2019 Branford Education Hall of Fame for her efforts in improving education in Branford. Robin is married and is mother to a high schooler and a college student.
After a successful career in sales and customer service, my attention turned to speaking as an advocate for Peace, then being nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize by the International Artists and Writers Association. In 1980, I co-founded and was the first President of the Society for Poets of Southern NJ and have written 20 books and received numerous awards and honors. As an activist for the environment, I am chair of a Tri-County Sustainability committee having 15 Mentors assisting 20 towns to become certified by Sustainable Jersey. In my new hometown of Runnemede, I am active on the Green Team and Reimagine Runnemede, an arts groups that is dedicated to involving arts in our Town. As project coordinator, with 20 volunteers, I recently completed a Labyrinth in our park with a magnificent multicolored 12’ circular Gateway. My goals for Heart and Soul is to bring various groups together that have never worked with each other and bind communities together to do things that have never been done before.
Ramona is a Capacity Development Specialist in the Office of Policy and Strategic Development at VA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Before coming to DHCD she was a Management Analyst with the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA). She is a native of Charlottesville, VA. Ramona has served on nonprofit boards, is a member of the Virginia Parliamentarian Association and loves agriculture. She enjoys volunteering with several urban gardens in the Charlottesville and Richmond, VA areas. Mona holds a Master of Science in Health Administration and minor in Higher Education Administration.
Cynthia Curtis joined Arras Foundation in January 2018 as a Community Investment Officer to support partners in Lancaster and Chester counties address their health and wellness development challenges, revitalize their towns and communities, and strengthen their organizations. In July 2018 she began serving as the Heart & Soul Coach in Kershaw, SC. Her life and work experience in the development field includes 21 years in El Salvador working with international cooperation for development in the Central American region around local and economic development, equity, youth and women’s participation. In 2008, she facilitated the establishment of the Global Platform in El Salvador, a learning platform for international and local youth grassroots organizations and development practitioners that provides training for intercultural cooperation for social transformation. In 2013, she relocated to Chester, SC, where she worked with the City of Chester as Grants & Community Development Coordinator and as Development Coordinator with the Chester Downtown Development Association. She is currently studying Anthropology and Native American Studies at the University of South Carolina Lancaster. Cynthia is accompanied by her human, canine and feline family in Lancaster.
Holly Furr works for the Lancaster County (SC) Sheriff’s Office serving as Project Coordinator of a federal grant dealing with the local opioid crisis. Holly is an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Lancaster. She is currently chair of the Lancaster County Community Foundation. She is Past-President for the Lancaster Breakfast Rotary Club. She has been trained and participated as a small group leader for Montreat Youth Conferences. She is a past trainer for the FAST (Families and Schools Together) program. Holly has spent over 20 years working in the not-for-profit arena. She is a 2012 Hull Fellow with the Southeastern Council of Foundations. Holly is past chair of the South Carolina Grantmakers Network, a state-wide organization of foundations and philanthropic organizations. She has a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC. A native of Lancaster, Holly holds a BA degree in Psychology from Columbia College in Columbia, SC.
Ann Glave is the Executive Director for Fredericksburg VA Main Street Inc. Ann’s career path has taken her into many directions. She held her broker’s license in Massachusetts where she worked with Century 21 and Re/ Max over 10+ year as a residential realtor. Her love for retail and family brought her to Virginia in 2000 where she ran a successful handcrafted jewelry and craft store for over 5 years in Fredericksburg. Prior to Fredericksburg VA Main Street, her involvement was with an arts and cultural nonprofit organization located in Montpelier VA as their Executive Director. In 2015, she was recognized at the Art Advocate of the Year for Central Region of Virginia Art Educators for her work with the Hanover County Public Schools system and The Montpelier Center for Arts & Education for the Growing with the Arts project, that partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts. She holds an MBA from VCU in Business Administration, along with an undergraduate degree in Business from VA Tech and 2 nonprofit certificates from University of Richmond. Her career path gives her insight to various stakeholders as in the property owners, business owners, and residents of downtown main street district.
Douglas Jackson provides facilitation, technical assistance, and strategic support to community partners of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Doug served as an officer in the US Navy and holds degrees in Duke (economics); UC Irvine (urban and regional planning); and Hollins (creative writing). During an 11-year stint on the Roanoke Arts Commission, he co-chaired the development of Roanoke’s Arts and Cultural element of the comprehensive plan. A self-proclaimed book nerd, he’s now exploring the Roanoke Valley’s literary scene through the strategic blog BOOK CITY Roanoke.
Jim lives in the city of Forest Acres, a town of just over 10,000 residents located in the Midlands area of South Carolina. He and his wife, Sandra C. Manning, Ph.D., have two adult sons — Jim, who lives with his wife Amanda in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Luke, who resides in Columbia. Jim retired after his first career as a social worker and administrator in S.C. state government. He then worked with the non-profit public health organization PALSS, Inc. for more than 10 years. Now in his third career, he is an enterpriser who created an eclectic consulting business, Gray Hair Solutions LLC, where he offers conundrum alleviation. Jim has been an Adjunct College Professor for nearly three decades and was elected for three terms to the Richland County Council, from which he stepped aside in 2020. In late 2017, Jim connected as a coach with Community Heart & Soul. Utilizing his master’s degrees in Public Administration and Social Work and decades of multifaceted professional experiences, Jim approaches every opportunity with passion and eagerness. Jim also does historic preservation through adaptive reuse and is a Main Street Director, along with statewide advocacy for anti-human trafficking initiatives. Finally, he creates personal well-being by long-distance running, humoring their Cockapoo puppy (Gigi Camaro), attending his church, sightseeing, and pondering.
Kyle is a market-driven and client-focused urban planner with over 10 years of experience in project management, community development, and commercial revitalization. He enjoys leading responsible and energetic planning teams and working with community allies to catalyze downtown revitalization. Currently, he manages Virginia Main Street (VMS), a program of advanced, asset-based, commercial district economic development housed in the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Through VMS he provides downtown and neighborhood commercial revitalization technical assistance and resources to designated Virginia Main Street communities and affiliates, CDBG grantees and to any other organizations, city, town or county governments across the state. He received his undergraduate degree from James Madison University and his graduate degree in urban and regional planning from Virginia Commonwealth University. Kyle grew up in the Richmond region, has an avid taste for music and art, and enjoys outdoor, recreational pursuits and adventure travel.
Tripp is principal at Arnett Muldrow & Associates in Greenville, SC. A native of Greenville; Tripp graduated from Clemson University with a Masters in City and Regional Planning. He began his career with the Greenville City Economic Development Department where he worked on downtown and commercial revitalization. After leaving the city, Tripp spent several years consulting with other firms. In 2002, Tripp and his business partners started their own firm concentrating on Planning, Image Building, and Economic Development for small and medium sized communities. The firm has evolved a specialty niche in downtown economic development and community branding and has completed projects in over 450 communities in 37 states. Tripp is a Fellow in the American Institute of Certified Planners, Past President of the SC Chapter of APA, was Faculty at the SC Mayor’s Institute for Community Design, and served on the board of the SC Main Street program. Tripp is active in Greenville having served as the on City Planning Commission, the Leadership Greenville Board of Regents, on the boards of the Historic Greenville Foundation, the Greenville Housing Authority, and Friends of the Reedy River.
Jenny serves as Manager of Community Development with Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, which is the statewide trade association for Georgia’s 41 electric membership cooperatives (co-ops). Robbins is an experienced facilitator who specializes in helping communities successfully prepare to grow their local economies through leadership development and strategic planning. Robbins has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Communications from Valdosta State University. She gained local experience as a Main Street Manager for the City of Homerville and with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension as a Family and Consumer Science Agent and an Energy Educator. Robbins is a current member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, Georgia Downtown Association, and the National Rural Economic Developers Association. She and her husband Len reside in Homerville, Georgia (population 2,450) with their three children, two cats, and one dog.
Cecile Carson has 30 years of experience in community improvement volunteer and project management, including municipal government level supervision of economic development, planning, and code enforcement divisions and director at local, state, national nonprofits. As a consultant, Cecile guides nonprofits and government entities in developing innovative programs and conducting research relating to zero waste, litter, recycling, and community engagement. In addition, she is a skilled and engaging trainer and presenter at hundreds of local, national, and international conferences. Cecile received a doctorate in Learning and Organizational Change at Baylor University, focusing on litter and blight issues in rural America. Cecile established Keep Denton Beautiful, served as the Affiliate Director for Keep Texas Beautiful, and Vice President of Litter and Affiliate Relations for Keep America Beautiful. While at Keep America Beautiful, she guided the formation of over 100 affiliates, created the National Youth Advisory Council, and directed the “Charting the Multiple Meaning of Blight” literature review. She earned the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award and currently serves as the North Central Texas Council of Governments – Resource Conservation Commission Vice-Chair and California Resource Conservation K-12 Technical Committee.
Suzan has worked in the non-profit arena for 45 years and has worn many different hats. Some of the hats include Volunteer Family Coordinator for a local Habitat for Humanity, Home-Based Therapist for a psychiatric hospital, and social worker for a Head Start program. Suzan is a “force to be reckoned with” and uses her positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others to work hard and succeed. She holds two degrees, Associate of Applied Science in Drug and Alcohol Counseling and a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science. She has many hours toward a Masters in Psychology but life guided her in a different direction. Upon retiring she started a small business that includes selling vintage items, writing books, and teaching courses. She volunteers in her local community in many ways, as a board member of a non-profit, member of the beautification committee, OSU Master Gardener, and owner of a Little Library in the community garden. Suzan enjoys cooking, canning, gardening, family time, music events, thrift store shopping, and reading. She and her husband live in rural Oklahoma with their dogs and 7 “barn” cats. Her husband was in the Air Force for 28 years. They have one son, three daughters, eight granddaughters, one grandson, and one great-granddaughter (so far). Family is important!
Hillary works as a grant writer, fundraiser, and volunteer coordinator for a nonprofit childcare center in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where she lives. In addition to working in childcare, Hillary’s background includes serving as an AmeriCorps Team Coordinator working with at-risk teenagers in the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.
Hillary plays an active role in and strives to enrich her community in a number of ways including with her board and volunteer service. She has served on the boards of United Way of Routt County and First Impressions of Routt County, her local Early Childhood Council. She has also held elected positions on the North Routt Community Charter School Board and Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children. Hillary meets community members every Saturday at the local farmers’ market where she and her husband are vendors selling the wellness goji berry tea they make and package along with representing several other locally made products.
Hillary received her Community Heart & Soul Coach Certification working with the town of Grand Lake, Colorado. Living, working, and volunteering in Steamboat Springs for three decades has given Hillary an informed perspective of the challenges and rewards associated with growth and the tourism industry. Hillary loves travel, cooking, mountain recreation, coaching CrossFit, and spending time with her husband Paul and coonhound Della Mae.
Bill is a community development consultant for over 30 years, dedicated to supporting public and private non-profit organizations and tribes in the development and management of healthy, compassionate organizations and communities. His work is rooted in engaging people in transformative community development programs, plans, and processes. Primary elements of his practice include facilitation and planning, with special attention to methods of effective listening to key stakeholders and community members; outreach and equity, with particular expertise working with under-served people and communities (including rural); community cultural development, identifying, supporting, mobilizing local culture; research, assessment, evaluation, specifically toward the goal of continual organizational improvement; program development, management, resource development. Bill is a dedicated listener, organizer, and facilitator. He holds a Master of Science degree in Community Systems Planning and Development from Pennsylvania State University and taught from 2007-2018 for the University of Oregon. He is a recipient of a Fulbright Senior Specialist award which enabled him to research and teach in Germany for the Cultural Management Program at the Potsdam Fachhochschule — an applied sciences university in Potsdam, Germany.
Vickie showed early signs of her vocation as a community developer when she created a school newspaper in fifth grade called the Nosy Noodles. As a college student, Vickie became immersed in social justice and poverty issues. She was quickly recruited to work with local food producers as a Volunteer In Service To America (VISTA). Since earning her Master’s degree in community development, Vickie has focused her career on assisting small towns by building local capacity and creating partnerships to bring resources needed to implement community-driven projects. As director of community economic development for a rural electric cooperative, Vickie developed programs and partnerships to advance small business development, tourism, strategic planning and local community trusts and foundations. For over twelve years, Vickie has developed and implemented programs that bring the expertise and enthusiasm of university faculty and students to work in partnership with communities on projects such as park design, recreation planning, food security, tourism, and downtown enhancement. In mid-career, Vickie accepted a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, packed her fiddle, and studied at the National University of Ireland Galway. Forever curious, she continues to travel and explore with her husband Jim.
Christine has been involved in the nonprofit industry for over 14 years and is the Leadership Services Business Manager for Rural Development Initiatives (RDI). Prior to RDI she served as the Executive Director of the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre for 11 years. During her tenure Christine led the Kenworthy through transformative years growing it from a fledgling nonprofit to a professional community-centric arts organization. She has a deep passion for making change and elevating communities through grass roots organizations.
Currently she serves as the Chair of the Moscow Arts Commission, Moscow Contemporary, and as the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Advisor for Kappa Alpha Theta. Additionally, she serves on the Latah County Community Foundation, the Moscow Chamber of Commerce Marketing Committee, and the Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse. Christine is a proud graduate of the University of Idaho earning two degrees in Music Business and Music Performance. She is a Certified Change Leader through the Idaho Commission on the Arts, a graduate of RDI’s Rural Community Leadership Program, and an accomplished cellist.
Christine lives in beautiful Moscow, Idaho with her husband and two sons. Her passion for change and growth is fueled by her children. Being a mother has taught her to be a better communicator, leader, and collaborator. During her “downtime” she enjoys baking, camping, exploring nature, telling stories, and proving that magic does exist.
DiAnn, Grand County Economic Development Director, is engaged in leading many diverse community and economic development county efforts ranging from identifying an economic resilience and diversification strategy to working with our towns on their creative economy, downtown assessments, business and customer-centric culture development (using The Disney Way Principles) and young entrepreneurship programs. She is currently working with Grand Lake Heart & Soul.
As the Local Community Foundation Program Associate for the Montana Community Foundation, Margaret works on a statewide level to provide services such as grantmaking, community development, donor stewardship, endowment building, marketing, and fundraising, to 74 local Community Foundations in both rural and urban locations. During her time at the Montana Community Foundation, Margaret has succeeded in bringing about positive, uplifting change to her state – and has partnered with several entities across Montana to do so. From community development seminars with First Interstate Bank, the Governor’s Office of Montana, and Montana State University Extension – to being a part of a disaster preparedness cohort with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation. Everything she does is centered around the idea of giving back to the place which raised her, and her ancestors for six generations, as they worked on a dry land farm in central Montana. In her free time, Margaret continues to enjoy all Montana has to offer as avid road cyclist. She is specialized in endurance century (100+ miles) rides, and races throughout the state – most of which benefit other nonprofits such as Camp Make-a-Dream and Habitat for Humanity.
Kirsten Sackett is a professional City Planner with 13 years of experience working in municipal government, and is currently serving as Community Development Director for Ellensburg, WA. Prior to that she worked for the City of Cortez, Colorado for nine years. She has overseen the creation of new Comprehensive Plans for each community, and has worked extensively on drafting code amendments to bring land use regulations into sync with identified community values. She is a successful grant writer, a trained facilitator, and enjoys both current and long range planning. While in Colorado she served four years as a member of a local food task force, and seven years as a board member of a non-profit housing organization. She has a B.A. in English, with graduate work in the field of political science and public policy. In her spare time, she loves reading novels from the likes of Austen and Bronte, or going on camping excursions with her husband Joe and three children, Christian, McKenzie and Madeline.
A native of Indiana or most of her life, Linda moved to Wyoming in 2015 for a western adventure and to manage the state’s Main Street program. Her career path started with volunteering in her hometown of Logansport. She served on the county’s Historical Society Board before becoming chairman of the Cass County Carousel Board of Directors and led the organization through a complete restoration of the 1900’s Dentzel Carousel and building project. She also served on the Indiana Landmarks Board of Directors and was Statewide Project Review Chairman for several years. Linda’s background is comprehensive. She was a business owner for 16 years; served on the City Council for two terms; served as Deputy Mayor for two terms; worked for the County Commissioners and the State of Indiana; appointed to the city’s plan commission for 14 years; and also, was the first Main Street manager for Logan’s Landing, a 501c3 nonprofit agency. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Indiana Wesleyan University; is a Main Street America Revitalization Professional and has an Event/Meeting Management Certification from Indiana University/Purdue University, Indianapolis. Linda has been married to David for 49 years and currently lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming. They have two sons and five grandchildren in Indiana and Mississippi.
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