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Our Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Ellen Shanahan, 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.

Chris Cooper, Vice 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.

George Evans, Treasurer

George is a retired IBM Executive where he was responsible for developing several computer systems. He believes strongly in the United Way and applies his organizational skills toward supporting the agency and helping Chatham County. George enjoys playing golf.

Helen Barnhardt

Helen is a retired educator who has worked in a variety of educational positions ranging from teaching at the junior high level, to exceptional children’s programs, to administration. She grew up in a rural county very similar to Chatham and wants to help meet the needs of the community.

Rodney Baxter

Rod 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.

Dawn Colsia

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 Heesacker

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 Jones

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.

Dennis Lewis

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.  

Laura Mendelsohn

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.

Jan Sherwin

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 Strange

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.

Dr. Jeff Strickler

Jeff is the President of UNC’s Chatham Hospital and has more than 30 years experience as a registered nurse, paramedic, and health administrator.  He has community service involvement with the Chatham Chamber of Commerce and the Galloway Ridge Board of Directors in addition to the United Way. Jeff enjoys cycling and clay shooting as hobbies.

Tina Vrabel

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.

Nancy Wykle

Nancy is the Public Information Officer for Chatham County Schools and has served her communities on boards, as a journalist, as a nonprofit coordinator assisting at-risk children and low-income families, and as a communicator for schools. She enjoys hiking when she has free time.

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