Cara Dingus BrookPresident & CEO
Cara first discovered community foundations and philanthropy as an intern at the Foundation. As soon as she saw the impact philanthropy could make in creating access to opportunities, she was hooked. Growing up in Lawrence County, Cara often recognized the need for more resources and support. When she became the Foundation’s President and CEO in 2007, Cara understood the role the Foundation could play in bringing more opportunities to the people of Appalachian Ohio. Under her leadership, the Foundation has:
- Made great strides in closing the region’s philanthropic gap by tripling FAO’s assets;
- Generated more than $10 million in funding to advance entrepreneurial and educational developments in the region;
- Led the formation and growth of six local community foundation efforts; and
- Incubated two needed organizations for the region – the Ohio Appalachian Business Council (OABC), a business roundtable advancing Appalachian Ohio’s prosperity; and the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, a 501(c)(3) regional economic development organization working to increase jobs and capital investment in Appalachian Ohio.
Cara has a long track record of service to the region. Before joining the Foundation, she was the Southeast Ohio District Representative for United States Senator George V. Voinovich and manager of Appalachian Ohio Giving, a multi-sector partnership promoting philanthropy as a community and economic development tool. Ohio University, Cara’s alma mater where she received a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in English, has recognized her commitment to and accomplishments in Appalachian Ohio and philanthropy repeatedly. Cara received the Appalachian New Economy Partnership Award for Regional Economic Development from the Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs in 2010 and the Young Alumni “Spirit” Award from Ohio University’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2011, recognizing her public service contributions. She is also a graduate of the Jo Ann Davidson Leadership Institute and received Philanthropy Ohio’s Emerging Philanthropist Award in 2013. Now a resident of Logan where she lives with her husband, Dominick, Cara is a cancer survivor, an avid traveler, a hiker, a reader, and a church deacon.
Martin AdamChief Financial & Administrative Officer
Martin Adam joined FAO in November 2015 with four decades of accounting and financial experience throughout Appalachian Ohio communities. He holds designations as a MBA, CPA, and CFE. Most recently, Martin was a manager with JC & Company in Lancaster, Ohio. This role introduced him to the Foundation while performing audit and other accounting work for FAO.
As Chief Financial & Administrative Officer, Martin oversees the financial operations and administrative functions of the Foundation, including timely, accurate, and complete accounting practices to steward and report the Foundation’s assets; managing the tactical aspects of the Foundation including human resources, information technology, and the maintenance and renovation of the Foundation’s physical office space; and supporting the use of metrics to drive FAO’s growth in philanthropic assets for transformational advancements in the region’s quality of life.
A resident of New Lexington in Perry County with his wife, Martin is active in his local community and the communities where he works. He is a member and treasurer of the First United Methodist Church and Masonic Lodge in New Lexington. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his young grandson.
Courtney GiffinAccounting Clerk
A Nelsonville native, Courtney first met the Foundation while working with us at Peoples Bank. As the Foundation grew and needed additional financial support, Courtney joined the team because she felt this was an opportunity to help make a difference in her community. With more than 11 years in banking, accounting, lending, and office management, Courtney’s experience in the financial industry helps ensure the funds under FAO’s management become a source of support for generations to come.
Heather KeeseeGeneral Counsel & Vice President of Gift Planning
A native of Pike County and an attorney, Heather joined the Foundation with the perfect blend of experience needed to help FAO’s donors and their advisors in gift planning. In her role, Heather works with donors as well as their attorneys, financial planners, and other advisors to help them make a difference in what’s closest to their hearts through their estate plans and complex gift arrangements to maximize tax advantages.
Heather brings 17 years of diverse social service and legal experience to her position at the Foundation. She has lived most of her life in various counties in the Appalachian region she now resides in Hocking County with her husband and two sons. Heather is excited to be a part of the team at FAO and eager to make a difference in the place that she has always called home.
Lesa McDanielGift Planning Associate
Lesa joined the FAO staff as a Gift Planning Associate in March 2016. After a career in career-technical education, she was looking for a way to give back to the region while still making a difference in people’s lives. Her philosophy as a teacher was, “If I make a difference in just one student’s life, I have accomplished my goal as an educator.”
In her role as Gift Planning Associate, Lesa supports the Gift Planning team in their efforts to help citizens throughout the region give to what’s closest to their hearts.
Lesa and her husband are deeply rooted in Athens County. They are the parents of three children and a daughter-in-law, all children of Appalachia. Lesa earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Ohio University, a tradition that continues with her youngest son who will be the sixth Bobcat in the family to complete a degree at Ohio University. All are big Bobcat sports fans, and as often as they can, enjoy simply spending time together. Lesa loves reading, working in the yard, all things sports related, chocolate, and her involvement with her church and church family.
Phyllis joined the Foundation because of our mission and the opportunity to play a small part in making a difference in people’s lives. Since joining the FAO in 2009, her passion for the region continues to grow.
As the Foundation’s Controller, Phyllis manages FAO’s finances, which means she cares for the resources our donors, nonprofits, and communities entrust to the Foundation for the future. With more than 20 years of experience in managing administrative and financial services, Phyllis has CPS and CAP certifications and is past President of the Athens Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals.
Phyllis lives with her husband in Athens. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and being creative in many ways, especially crafty ones.
Kelly MormanStewardship Associate
Kelly joined the Foundation in June 2015 to support FAO’s stewardship efforts. Kelly helps to support grantmaking and donor services, as well as assist on a variety of projects.
From her childhood in the farmland of north central Ohio and her undergraduate years on the campus of Ohio Northern University, to her time as a high school Spanish teacher in the Arkansas Delta, Kelly has always been passionate about the experiences and needs of rural citizens. Her passion for rural problem solving led her to pursue a Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University. Prior to coming to the Foundation, Kelly supported resource development efforts for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington, Indiana.
A proud Ohio native, Kelly is excited to return home to tell the diverse stories of Appalachian Ohioans. Now residing in Nelsonville, she spend her free time experiencing the beauty of Appalachian Ohio through the lens of her camera, a perch on a kayak, and strolling through distinctive downtowns to find the region’s best hidden gems.
Maureen SharkeyLiaison to the Board
Not long after retiring from The Ohio State University and moving to Athens, Maureen was introduced to the Foundation through a friend and donor. She was interested in devoting her time to a new and meaningful challenge and found FAO to be a great opportunity to learn more about the region and to be able to give back in a small way.
The Foundation benefits greatly from Maureen’s experience and expertise. A graduate of The Ohio State University, Maureen spent her career at her alma mater working initially in human resources and then serving for twenty-five years working for the Board of Trustees as the Associate Secretary of the Board.
Since joining FAO in 2010, Maureen has been supporting the Foundation’s President & CEO, serving as the liaison to the board of trustees, and coordinating the development team’s major gifts program. As she hoped, working with the Foundation has surpassed her expectations and she is encouraged by its progress and potential.
Holly SheltonVice President of Gift Planning
Holly leads the Foundation’s work to support the region’s communities and citizens in meeting their charitable dreams. And this is at the heart of why she joined the Foundation in the first place. An Ohio University bobcat, Holly came on board in December 2007 to support the region in creating permanent resources that would make a lasting difference.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Holly worked for United States Senator George V. Voinovich in his southeast Ohio office and gained a deep knowledge of the communities in our region. This has been a great asset to the Foundation as Holly supports local communities in growing permanent resources, and works with individuals and nonprofits to establish new funds or grow existing funds. Holly especially enjoys when she can work with individuals looking to establish a named fund in honor of a loved one or a nonprofit considering an endowment fund to provide a new source of flexible funding.
Megan WanczykVice President of Stewardship and Programs
After promoting theater in Boston and volunteering for charities like Make-A-Wish on the side, Megan decided to take her experience to the nonprofit field full-time. Having earned her master’s in public administration at Ohio University, Megan joined the Foundation’s team in 2009.
At FAO, Megan leads the Foundation’s stewardship strategy, working with community partners across the region and helping the Foundation and its funds tell their stories. She also works with the I’m a Child of Appalachia Network, a community of donors investing in the region’s future by supporting FAO. A unique effort, the Network has been promoting philanthropy and prompting change across our area since its start in 2005.
Megan, who is also a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, lives with her husband and daughter in Athens. And though she will always have a love for the bright lights on the marquee, coming to FAO has given Megan a chance to help those who want to make Appalachian Ohio shine brighter.
William CoursonIn House Counsel – Chief Investment Officer
William M. Courson is Senior Managing Director at Hartland, formerly Lancaster Pollard Investment Advisory Group, and an SEC-registered investment advisor specializing in investment advisory and investment management services to education, foundation, healthcare and eleemosynary organizations. He has more than 25 years of experience in institutional investment markets, including a period when he served as the chief investment officer of a $10 billion public fund. Bill’s investment expertise helps ensure the funds under the Foundation’s management will serve generations of Appalachian Ohio citizens. “As a specialist in the nonprofit sector, our philosophy and strategy embraces the concept of intergenerational equity, recognizing the demands of today while investing for the needs of the future. We are especially drawn to the work of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, the enormity of its mission, and the passion of the people associated with it. We are honored to be part of it.” Bill received his bachelor’s degree in economics and history from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in finance and industrial relations from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He holds FINRA Series 7, 24, and 63 securities licenses. A frequent speaker at national and regional association conferences, Bill has served on a number of nonprofit advisory boards.