Donor Spotlight

Donor Spotlight

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Cara Dingus Brook

President & CEO

Cara Dingus Brook is Chief Executive Officer and President at The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, a regional foundation with a mission to create opportunities in Appalachian Ohio by supporting and inspiring philanthropy.

With Cara’s leadership, the Foundation has grown its reach, impact and assets significantly, developed the nation’s first nonprofit “IPO” and facilitated numerous public-private partnerships creating opportunities in the areas of education, economic development, environmental stewardship and health care.

Click here to read Cara’s recent column on educational barriers in Appalachian Ohio.

During Cara’s tenure, the Foundation incubated ten local community foundations, the African American Community Foundation and the Appalachian Partnership, Inc., a private sector economic development organization and Community Development Finance Institution that excels at attracting new levels of investment into the region.

Cara has a strong desire to push the boundaries of philanthropy to be more transformative, inclusive, entrepreneurial and effective. She loves speaking and writing about philanthropy, Appalachia and her vision and ideas for closing gaps in rural philanthropy.

Cara received a BA in English degree from Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College, a MPA degree from the Ohio University’s Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Service, a certificate in Creative Writing and studied at the Center for Creative Leadership. She is a graduate of the Jo Ann Davidson Leadership Institute and The Ohio State University’s Community Scientist Academy.

In 2018, Cara became a presidential appointee to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Advisory Board, a citizen leadership group to the Treasury’s Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) programs. In 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine appointed Cara to serve as a commissioner for the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA), which serves to provide for the conservation of air as a natural resource by financing air quality facilities for small and large businesses, utilities, government, and universities.

Cara also serves on Ohio University’s Public Affairs Committee and the advisory boards of The Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Service, the newly formed Appalachian Children’s Coalition and the Patient Advisory Committee of the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center at The Ohio State University’s James Cancer Center. She is a past board member of Philanthropy Ohio.

Cara’s work as a community builder was recently featured by journalist David Brooks in his 2019 book The Second Mountain.  She has received numerous awards including the 2019 Visionary Leadership Award from the Appalachian Partnership, Inc. (API), for her instrumental role in helping to found API. A two-time cancer survivor, Cara served as the 2018 Honorary Co-Chair of The Komen Foundation’s Southeast Ohio Race for the Cure.  She is the recipient of the “Emerging Philanthropist of the Year” award from Philanthropy Ohio, the “Spirit Award” from Ohio University’s College of Arts and Sciences and the “Appalachian New Economy Partnership Award” from The Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs.

Prior to joining the Foundation as CEO fifteen years ago, Cara served as a District Representative for U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich in southeast Ohio, where she was especially focused on issues impacting Appalachia. Prior to this appointment, Cara was an intern and program assistant with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio during the Foundation’s formative years.

Cara grew up in southern Ohio and now resides in the Hocking Hills. She and her husband, Dominick H. F. Brook, are the proud parents of Hugh Oliver and Lucia “Lucie” Ann.

Martin Adam

Chief 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.

Emily Bentley

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Emily joined the Foundation in August 2021 as Director of Strategic Initiatives.

Emily grew up in Hocking County, but spent time outside of the region to attend Earlham College in Indiana; teach with Teach for America’s Eastern North Carolina Corps; and live abroad in London, UK. Returning to the Southeastern Ohio hills, Emily taught science for eight years at Logan High School.

Seeking ways to address broad issues affecting our region, Emily took leave from the classroom to pursue her Master’s in Public Administration through the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service. MPA coursework led Emily to work part-time for Voinovich’s Social enterprise Ecosystem (SEE) program, specifically assisting the Social Return on Investment team to help local enterprises better communicate their impact.

Emily lives with her husband, son, and dog in Athens. She enjoys spending time with family, especially while adventuring outdoors, hiking, biking, or cooking, and sharing tasty meals.

Lori Boegershausen

Scholarship Manager

Lori joined the Foundation in February 2020 to support FAO’s scholarship program. Scholarships were vital in allowing Lori to pursue higher education, and she obtained her Bachelor’s degree at Florida Gulf Coast University. She is now excited to give back by helping students access education and achieve their dreams through scholarships.Lori received her Master’s degree in International Development with a concentration in social science from Ohio University.

Prior to her time at Ohio University, Lori served as a member on the National Standards Committee for the Real Food Challenge and helped establish fair trade food purchasing standards currently in use at over 40 universities across the United States. As a 2016 Fulbright ETA recipient, Lori assisted English courses at Artland Gymnasium in Quakenbrück, Germany and worked with immigrants at the Youth Integration Center.

Lori resides in Nelsonville, where she spends her free time volunteering, hiking, creating jewelry, watching German films, and reading thrilling mystery novels.

Drew Brown

Staff Accountant

Drew joined the Foundation in 2020. He is a graduate of Ohio University. Prior to joining FAO, he worked as a credit analyst for Peoples National Bank and as a financial analyst for the Superior Group. Drew lives in Perry County.

Kate Gordon

Operations Assistant

Kate joined the Foundation in June 2021 to support FAO’s Operations and Development team.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from The Ohio State University in 2016 and her Master’s degree in Politics and International Relations from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2020.

Kate grew up in Logan in Hocking County, but has spent much of the last few years outside of the region. She worked as an English teacher in South Korea and Ecuador.

Kate is happy to be spending time with friends and family in Southeast Ohio, as well as give back to the region through her work with FAO. In her free time, Kate enjoys running, reading, climbing, and planning for her next adventure.

Rochelle Hawk

Communications & Programs Assistant

Rochelle joined the Foundation in 2021 and works in Communications and Programs.

Originally from Grove City, a suburb of Columbus, Rochelle is the child of parents raised in Appalachia, making the work of FAO personally meaningful to her.

With an English degree from Ohio Dominican University, Rochelle came to Appalachia Ohio in 1998 when she accepted a job with The Logan Daily News. After serving as a reporter, she later was promoted to become the youngest editor and first female editor of the publication.

Just prior to joining the FAO staff, Rochelle served at the Southeast Ohio Foodbank where her work focused on food insecurity in 10 counties of Appalachia Ohio. She was drawn to her role at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio because it allows her to utilize her communications, marketing, and grants background to benefit Appalachian Ohio in a broader way, both geographically and philanthropically.

Residing in Logan in Hocking County with her husband, Rochelle currently serves on the Board of Trustees for The Bowen House, the city’s cultural arts center. In her free time, Rochelle enjoys international travel, kayaking, aviation, and learning about other cultures.

Ally Irwin

Communications & Programs Assistant

Ally joined the Foundation in January 2021 to assist with communications and programs after graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in Community Leadership and Organizational Communications.

While at Ohio State, Ally became interested in helping fellow Appalachians build resilience in college while providing resources for success. Ally’s final capstone project focused on how access to formal, informal, and non-formal education impacts academic retention, resilience, and leadership, within Appalachian Women.

A graduate of Jackson High School in Jackson County, Ally later moved to Wheelersburg in Scioto County where her family currently resides. Ally plans to earn a Master’s in Business Administration from Ohio University by August 2022.

Ally regained her appreciation and passion for the Appalachian region after spending time away at college. She was once a recipient of an FAO scholarship and is excited to give back to the organization. Ally believes that being a Child of Appalachia, as well as being a child of a firefighter and nurse, has encouraged her to value learning, accountability, stewardship, and altruism.

In her free time, Ally enjoys reading, exploring the outdoors, spending time at the gym, and visiting with family.

Matt Kaido

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Matt is a native of Muskingum County and is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a BA in Political Science. Matt has worked as a Policy Analyst for the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, a Staff Assistant to former Congressman Pat Tiberi, and as a Legislative Liaison for Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for Ohio State’s Political Science Department.

Tracy Mann

Director of Professional Advisor Services

Tracy Mann, a FAO staff member from 2009 to 2016, rejoined the Foundation in April 2018. In addition to her experiences with FAO donors, programs and projects, she brings knowledge from her positions held in the nonprofit, grant writing and education fields.

Tracy is from Lawrence County, Ohio where she gained her Bachelor’s Degree at Ohio University Southern and has lived in Logan since 2001. She is very passionate about making a difference for current and future citizens of the region.

Lesa McDaniel

Gift 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 Moody


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 Morman

Director of Programs

Kelly joined the Foundation in June 2015 and currently leads FAO’s grantmaking and strategic programmatic initiatives.

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 spends 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 Sharkey

Executive Assistant & Associate Secretary of 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.

Maureen received her bachelor’s degree in English from The Ohio State University and spent her career at her alma mater. She initially worked in human resources and then served the university’s Board of Trustees for twenty-five years 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, coordinating the scholarship program and 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 Shelton

Chief of Staff

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.

Sherri Simons

Director of Outreach

Sherri joined the Foundation in October 2018 to support FAO’s outreach and fundraising efforts in Perry, Morgan, and Guernsey counties. Sherri is excited to work with and develop existing donors as well as cultivate new relationships.

Raised in Hemlock, a small town in Perry County, Sherri is a lifelong Child of Appalachia and is passionate about the region in which she grew up.

Sherri is married, has four daughters, and resides in Logan. She graduated from Rio Grande College with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, with emphasis in Public Relations. She has over 10 years of experience in sales and marketing as well as over 20 years teaching experience.

Sherri loves all things outdoors, sports of any kind, and spending time with her family.

Emily Vigue

Program Manager

Emily Vigue joined the Foundation as Programs Coordinator in July 2019 after graduating from Marietta College with degrees in political science and international leadership studies. While at Marietta, Emily enjoyed connecting with residents of Appalachia through her work as student body president and her position on a local nonprofit board. Emily became interested in the unique history of Appalachia after serving as an Americorps Intern in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. While there she participated in emergency FEMA disaster relief during the 2016 floods that affected the region.

Raised in Junction City in Perry County, Emily now resides in Lancaster and spends her free time reading, gardening, and visiting friends. She is excited to be with the Foundation to give back to the region that has given her so much.

Maribeth Wright

Director of Outreach

Maribeth joined the Foundation in March 2021 to further its mission. Maribeth’s service to FAO runs deep, serving as a former board member and currently as the President of the Guernsey County Foundation. She has been a life-long resident of Cambridge, Ohio.

Prior to her work with the Foundation, Maribeth was a successful CPA for 40 years and was also an Equity Principal with Rea Associates Inc. While working for Rea’s Not for Profit segment, Maribeth provided tax compliance to various organizations throughout the state of Ohio. In keeping with her work to support Not for Profits, Maribeth began speaking to these organizations on the topics of business and individual tax.

In Guernsey County, Maribeth serves as a Trustee of Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center, the Agnew Foundation, and the Cambridge Alumni and Friends Education Fund. Maribeth is a graduate of Cambridge High School and received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Mount Union University.

Maribeth was recognized by the Chamber of Commerce with the Distinguished Public Service Award in 2008 and the John Sidlo Award for Vision, Leadership, and Legacy, in 2012. She was also recognized in 2018 as the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio Inaugural Philanthropist of the Year. In 2020, Maribeth received the 2020 Rea and Associates Marcia Stutzman Award for Community Service. When she isn’t working for the Foundation, Maribeth enjoys traveling, reading, gardening, and spending time with family and friends.