Board of Directors
Chris Cooper, Board Chair
Chris is a Captain in the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department and a life-long resident of the county. He is the Vice Chairperson of the United Way of Chatham County Board and is also retired from the NC National Guard. A Siler City resident, he cares deeply about his community.
Laura Mendelsohn, Vice Chair
Laura is a retired biochemistry and pharmaceutical researcher. She has prior non-profit board experience and joined the board to use her skills to help improve the lives of Chatham County residents. She plays the violin and performs in chamber ensembles and the Chapel Hill Philharmonic Orchestra.
Tina Vrabel, Secretary
Tina is a retired Legal Professional in the Financial Services Industry who spent over 20 years working in various legal capacities. After leaving full time work, she spent 6 years volunteering in various Board leadership capacities with Read and Feed (mobile literacy provider for children). Having lived in Chatham County for over 10 years, she wants to do more for her community.
Rodd Baxter, Treasurer
Rodd is a retired lawyer who served as General Counsel to NYC based investment management firms over a 35-year career. He belonged to numerous industry associations and committees. Rod is an avid tennis player who has also taken up golf.a
Ellen Shanahan, Immediate Past Board Chair
Ellen is currently the United Way of Chatham County’s Board Chairperson and is a retired UNC-Chapel Hill Health Services Researcher. Her background in program planning and evaluation for federal maternal, child and reproductive health projects gives her insight into many of the county’s social needs. She enjoys doing needlepoint.
Allison is a licensed occupational therapist and currently serves as the Director of Clinical Business Operations at UNC Health Chatham in Siler City. Allison brings almost 20 years of experience in the health care industry, lean methodology, and business administration to the board. Most importantly, Allison and her husband have lived in Pittsboro for 17 years and are proud to raise their two boys in Chatham County.
Janie is a former Corporate Training Consultant and Employee Assistance Program Counselor, and has volunteered in the non-profit sector for over 25 years in the US and in Asia. She wants to apply her skills and experience to help the United Way make a positive difference in our community. Janie enjoys playing pickleball, walking in nature, and reading.
Dawn moved to NC so that she could be close to her grandchildren after practicing law and working to improve policy for people with disabilities. She believes that United Way is best able to improve the lives of those in our community and she wants to be part of that effort. In her free time, Dawn likes to explore the area with her camera in one hand and her dog in the other.
Steve is a retired Marine who now works as a business instructor at Central Carolina Community College. He is also the faculty/staff representative and member of the college’s non-profit foundation’s Board of Directors. He plays golf in his spare time.
Kamira is a Salesforce Solutions Architect for a pharmaceutical marketing company. She has also worked doing nonprofit tech support, consulting, and procurement/contract management for a government research agency and a Fortune 100 company. She is passionate about using technology to empower end users and transform business objectives. She resides in Pittsboro.
Mark has had a successful 40 year career in national financial services companies, including four CEO roles. He also served five years in state and federal government, as well as on the boards of Habitat for Humanity International, Mercy Housing and Self Help Ventures Fund. He is an avid tennis player, nature lover, and traveler with his wife Jane.
April Lehrman is a Senior Principal Engineer at Raytheon Technologies as well as President of the Autism Society of North Carolina, Orange and Chatham County. In her free time, she enjoys pickleball and golf.
Denny is Director of the North Carolina Defense Technology Transition Office and Defense Industry Consultant for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. He was a career Army Officer then an executive for large Defense companies before moving back to NC and starting his own LLC. He enjoys hunting and fishing.
Gary Sandefur is Dean Emeritus of the College of Letters and Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Provost Emeritus, Oklahoma State University. Prior to becoming a university administrator, Gary’s research focused on poverty, inequality and related issues. He is a native of Oklahoma and a member of the Chickasaw Nation. He grew up in the middle of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma and continues to have strong ties with the community. Gary and his wife, Kathy, moved to North Carolina in 2021 to be near their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, who also live in Chatham County.
Jan is a former Global IT Services Executive who developed and implemented transformational business-led technology-based solutions across Fortune 1000 industries and markets. She currently supports five local non-profits as a Board member as well as two national non-profit organizations.
Lee is a retired United Methodist Minister with over 40 years of service to his church. His years as a Minister give him insight into many problems community members deal with daily. He joined the board at the invitation of another member and enjoys hiking.
Sharon is a native of Chatham County and currently is the Assistant Director of Honors College at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She has worked as a mental health consultant with the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services and as a health professional with the Chatham County Public Health Outreach Unit. She served on several county, public school, and non-profit organizational boards.