Board of Directors
Find out a little more about the members of the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation Board of Directors!
Sandy Belknap is a Communications and Marketing professional with a record for strategizing, developing, and implementing employee, customer, and partner engagement opportunities for Fortune 100, start-up and nonprofit organizations. She held senior leadership roles for Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems, Inc. She was a member of the City of Nashua Planning Board and was a neighborhood advocate since 1998 for the cleanup and redevelopment efforts at the Mohawk Tannery Superfund site, working with the City of Nashua, State of NH and EPA. Sandy graduated from Rivier U. with a BA in Public Relations/Business and resides in Nashua.
Mary Jo Brown (Chair) is the Founder and President of Brown & Company Design, a nationally recognized strategic design firm, and big brown books, a publishing company. An active volunteer, Mary Jo has also served on several New Hampshire not-for-profit boards and is engaged in many community activities.
Lindsey Carmichael is the author of the book Greening Your Family, a shopper’s guide for minimizing consumers’ exposure to harmful chemicals found in food, cleaning, and personal care products. In an effort to make the information in her book available to a broader audience, she developed an iPhone app by the same name. Her passion for protecting the health of women and children has also led to her volunteer work towards chemical policy reform.
Martha Cottrill is a cum laude graduate of Johns Hopkins University with over 25 years of investment experience. She earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 1992. Martha balances work with a busy family, reading and language study, skiing and indoor soccer, and volunteer work for New London Hospital and First Baptist Church. Martha began her career with a Morgan Stanley training program in New York City. Recognizing that she was not a New Yorker at heart, she moved to New Hampshire.
Hope Damon has a passion for helping people through her career as a dietitian-nutritionist, owner of The Nutrition Counseling Center in New London, where she helps people take care of themselves, from managing diabetes, to recovering from eating disorders, to general healthy eating. Hope has been involved with WFNH for about 5 years, on both the grant-making committee and the board. She lives with her husband George Chait in Croydon, where they cook yummy food, garden, bicycle, cross-country ski, and read. Hope’s activist daughters Sasha and Nadia live together in Manhattan!
Gemma M. Dreher (Executive Committee) is the General Counsel at Velcro Group Corporation in Boston, MA. She has been practicing law for over twenty years. Before this, Gemma most recently served as Senior Counsel in the ES Sector at BAE Systems in Nashua. Prior to taking her first in-house position as Vice President and General Counsel of Pragmatech Software in Amherst, Gemma was in private practice, including having founded and managed her own law firm, with a focus in business law, technology licensing and intellectual property management.
Rashida Eltag Mohamed is organically from Sudan, and came with her husband and two daughters to North Carolina. She moved to New Hampshire in 2001, where she worked for the International Institute of New Hampshire for two years, while she volunteered for the YWCA. In 2004, she moved to work for the YWCA as shelter manager. In 2010, she started working for Manchester police department. She chaired the board of Ujima collective and is currently a board member of PPNNE as well.
Jeff Feingold is the editor of NHBR, where he has worked for a total of 28 years. Jeff has won several journalism awards, including the NH Press Association’s Writer of the Year and Editorial Writer of the Year honors. He also works as a freelance writer. His work has been published in several local, regional and national publications, including The New York Times and The Nation. He has spent much of his career covering government and politics at the local, state and national levels – from planning and school boards to presidential campaigns. He has been a regular panelist on public affairs shows on both public and commercial TV and radio.
Martha Fuller Clark (Vice Chair) is Vice-Chair of the NH Democratic Party and a member of Democratic National Committee, serving on the Resolutions Committee. She’s on many different boards and commissions in her community and serves as President of the Board of Strawbery Banke, an advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, & is a past President of Scenic America. She earned a master’s in art history from BU & a bachelor’s degree from Mills College. Born and raised in York, Maine, she & her husband, Dr. Geoffrey Clark, have lived in Portsmouth since 1973 where they raised their children, Caleb, Nathaniel and Anna.
Sally Gayer was the Associate Director of Development of Alliance Theatre Co in Atlanta, Georgia, which included creating and implementing plans for major gifts and projects, writing grants, and mentoring interns. She was also the Education Director at Young Audiences of Atlanta, directing a sequential arts program for the Decatur Schools (“Arts Partners”), where she designed and implemented an arts-integrated learning program for early learners in Atlanta Public Schools, and developed thematic curriculum for teachers and artists. Presently, she is a UNH Marine Docent and leads the Floating Lab program for middle school students.
Mary Ellen Hettinger, APR was the last chair of the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Women and helped shepherd it through the transition to the NHWF. As a reporter, she won two New Hampshire Press Association awards; she also earned awards for writing and editing. Hettinger, an accredited public relations professional, is director of public relations and communications for Breathe New Hampshire, chairs the annual Messiah Sing in Mont Vernon, and is on the board of the Yankee Chapter of PRSA (Public Relations Society of America).
Beth Kolehmainen is a retired early childhood professional with 20+ years of experience teaching & working in classrooms in VT, NH, Greece, Dubai, London, Hong Kong, and IL, having traveled & lived with her husband and 3 children around the world. Her early work experiences were with the HeadStart program in Chicago & NY. She also taught early childhood education at National-Louis U. in IL, and was a Lecturer at Hong Kong Baptist U. Her degree is in Early Childhood Education from Tufts & a masters from National-Louis U. in Evanston, IL.
Susan Martore-Baker (Vice Treasurer) is President of Cambridge Trust Company of NH and concurrently is a Senior Vice President of Cambridge Trust Company. She directs business development and leads the wealth management effort in NH. She has served as an officer or board member of numerous non-profit and charitable organizations including Symphony NH, the American Lung Association, NH Leadership Board, the New Hampshire and Connecticut Valley Estate Planning Councils, and NH Charitable Foundation in Manchester.
Sarah Mattson is the public policy director at New Hampshire Legal Assistance (NHLA). She joined NHLA as a Skadden Fellow in 2006 after spending a year as a law clerk at the U.S. District Court in Concord. In 2010, she received the New Hampshire Bar Foundation’s Robert E. Kirby Award. A New Hampshire native, Sarah earned her undergraduate and law degrees at Harvard. She lives in Contoocook with her family.
Alida Milham is a former Republican member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, representing the Belknap 5 District from 1998-2002 and from 2004-2012. Millham’s professional experience includes being a candidate for New Hampshire State Senate, District 4 in 2002. She was also a consultant for Home Healthcare, executive director of Home Healthcare Agency, and assistant head nurse at Babies Hospital, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Millham earned her B.S. in nursing from Columbia University and her M.S. in nursing administration from Boston University.
Kristen Oliveri is Director of Communications at the NH Charitable Foundation, and is responsible for all aspects of strategic communications and marketing. Kristen grew up in North Sutton, swimming and skating and learning to ski; she studied Economics and Political Science at UNH and earned a Master’s in Public Administration at UNH. Her interest with the Foundation came from wanting to increase the impact of charitable giving. She loves knowing that she helps kids go to college, feeds the hungry, supports the arts and preserves natural landscapes.
Debora Pignatelli is a former member of the New Hampshire Governor’s Executive Council, as well as a former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the New Hampshire State Senate. She served as the first Executive Director of the Nashua Girl’s Club, now Girl’s, Inc. She has been an art teacher and a rehabilitation counselor. She is married to Michael, and is mother to Adam and his wife, Jessica, and Benjamin, and bubbe to Ethan Forrest and Miles Forrest.
Robin Pollard (Immediate Past Chair) has called the Sunapee area home since 1976. Following graduation from the University of New Hampshire, she joined her husband as co-owner of Northcape Design, Inc., designing and building homes in the communities surrounding Lake Sunapee. She began her association with the Women’s Fund by serving for several years on the Grants Review Committee and is currently a member of the Board of Directors.
Karen Prior spent nearly 25 years in academic publishing & the last 11 years at the MIT Press in Cambridge. While publishing was a rewarding career, the activities that hold the most meaning for her and define who she is are community organizing efforts. Her strength is bringing diverse groups together to work toward a common goal. She is the Community Development Director for Southern District YMCA & served on multiple boards, such as New Heights, Girls at Work, the Exeter Center for Creative Arts & was a member of the Grantmaking Committee for the Women’s Fund of NH. She is a graduate of Leadership NH & is the Fiscal Agent for Gov. Hassan.
Alison Pyott (Treasurer) CFP® is a Wealth Manager at Veris Wealth Partners, a firm focused on financial performance and sustainable investing. She co-leads the firm’s Women Wealth & Impact Initiative and Sustainability Committee. In addition to 17 years in financial services, Alison was the Director of Community Impact at the United Way Greater Seacoast. She is Vice Chair for New Hampshire Charitable Foundation – Piscataqua Region, Advisor to Nearby Registry, a NH women-owned start-up company, and Seacoast Women’s Giving Circle member. Alison is a UNH graduate and lives in Portsmouth with her husband. They are passionate adventure travel and making the world a better place.
Susan “Sue” Ratnoff is a founding member of the Women’s Fund of NH. She joined their Board in 2013 after serving on their grant making committee for several years. As a retired teacher/school administrator, Sue has many interests. She builds custom furniture and cabinets, plays golf, snowshoes, enjoys good cinema and loves traveling. Her other philanthropic interests and work include The Portsmouth Music Hall, The Southeast Land Trust, The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Human Rights Campaign. She married her longtime companion, Lynda Beck, in 2010. They live in Exeter.
Mary Rauh (Secretary), husband John and their three sons moved to NH in 1986. From 1987- 93 she served on the board of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and returned to the board in 2012. She was a founding board member of the Women’s Fund of NH and the NH Women’s Initiative. She served nine years on the NHPR board. She is on the Campaign for Legal Services, serving agencies that provide legal services to low-income residents.
Mica Stark is a 9th generation native of New Hampshire. He lives with his wife Holly, and two sons, in Durham. Mica currently serves as the assistant vice president for public affairs at the University of New Hampshire and oversees federal and state government relations, media relations, advocacy, and leadership communications. Prior to UNH, Mica was the managing director at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics where he led and created civic engagement programs for young people and managed five presidential debates. Mica has been involved with several NH nonprofits. He was the founding board co-chair for City Year New Hampshire and currently serves on NHPR’s community advisory board. He received his M.A. from Michigan State University in political theory and his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire.
Amy Sterndale is responsible for overseeing all strategic communications for the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH, including organizational branding, university relations, media partnerships, websites, and all original research publications. She gives presentations on communications best practices and is on the steering committee for the National Rural Assembly. Prior to joining Carsey, Amy worked at Random House, Inc. She oversaw the promotion of titles by former presidents and business leaders, health experts and historians, including twenty-seven New York Times best sellers. Amy has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and an MBA from UNH. She is a 2005 graduate of Leadership NH and a former officer on the boards at the Portsmouth Historical Society and HUB Family Resource Center.
Chris Strong, principal of the Strong Resource Group, provides consulting and training services to nonprofits and associations in planning, leadership development, and fundraising. Chris brings over 35 years of experience to the health care, human services, arts, education, and conservation sectors. Recognized for her commitment to service and ability to think strategically, Chris helps individuals and organizations understand the complex issues they face, define and develop capacity, and create innovative and sustainable solutions. Chris is Chairman of the Board of Great Bay Community College and Vice President of Education for the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Northern New England, Board of Directors. She has an MBA from the University of Southern California, a BA from the University of Colorado, and is a graduate of Leadership Seacoast.
Laura Thibault Laura Thibault works at Civix Strategy Group in Concord. A native of New Hampshire and graduate of UNH, her background includes 15 years of nonprofit advocacy and management. She lives in Kingston with her partner and two sons.
Gemma Waite French is the Vice President of Marketing at Optima Bank & Trust. Previously she served as Vice President of Public Relations & Marketing for the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and as Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the Daniel Webster Council, Boy Scouts of America. She began her career in television news and has worked on-air and behind the scenes at several television stations throughout New England. Gemma is a 2010 graduate of Leadership Greater Manchester and a 2014 graduate of Leadership New Hampshire.
Daniel Weeks is Executive Director of Open Democracy, a nonprofit working to increase civic engagement and ensure equal representation for women & men of all backgrounds in NH. A decade-long advocate for democratic reform, he previously served as president of Americans for Campaign Reform and founding director of the Money and Politics Project in South Africa. He has written and spoken extensively on democracy and poverty issues, and conducted poverty-line research in 30 states by Greyhound bus at PoorInDemocracy.org. A graduate of Oxford and Yale, Daniel lives in Nashua with his wife, Dr. Sindiso Mnisi Weeks.