Board & Staff
The Together We Can Foundation—Smart Transitions has an active and engaged Board of Directors drawn from the overlapping worlds of local government, business, banking, education, non-profit management, community activism, the arts, and human services.
Donald V. Jellig is a sought-after independent business consultant. Don retired from his position as Vice President of Sentara Health Care and has served as the Chair of the Community Services Board and the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance. He is a past Chair of the Virginia Beach Development Authority. Don brings years of executive experience to his role as Chair of TWC's Board of Directors.
Board Vice Chair
Cindy A. Curtis is the former Deputy City Manager for Virginia Beach, supervising Human Resources, Human Services, Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Public Health, Communications, Volunteer Resources and Organizational Development. In 2008, she received the VRPS Fellows Award and in 2014 she was elected to the 100 - member American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administrators, both of which recognized her career’s body of work and contributions to the profession. Cindy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Davidson College in North Carolina. She studied urban and regional planning at the graduate level at Virginia Tech, where her emphasis was on open space and park master planning and design. Cindy also serves as a board member of the Virginia Parks and Recreation Foundation, Hampton Roads United Way Campaign Committee and the Hospice House of South Hampton Roads.
William R. Brown, CPA, is the owner of The Brown Group which provides financial management consultation services. Bill is a former Chairman of the Virginia Beach Community Services Board and former member of the Virginia Beach Minority Business Council. He has served on many not-for-profit boards and is still active with non-profit entities.
Donna S. Morris is a Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, currently on loan to assist a new start-up non-profit called Reinvent Hampton Roads. Donna is a Past Chair of the Virginia Beach Community Services board and currently serves on the Virginia Beach Social Services Advisory Board. She brings decades of professional and volunteer experience to her role on the Executive Board for the Foundation.
William J. Brunke, CPA, is the owner of Brunke & Company, LLC, a public accounting firm. Bill is a former Member & Vice-Chairman of the Virginia Beach City School Board representing Princess Anne (District 7). During the past 20 years Bill has served on numerous boards and commissions in Virginia Beach. He has his bachelor's degree from Dominican College of Blauvelt.
Virginia Diezel is an internationally acclaimed artist and owner of Ginny Diezel Studios. She is a community activist and passionate advocate for the needs of youth and the dispossessed.
Jennifer Duffy is Senior Vice President of Investments at Blue Ocean Wealth Advisors of Raymond James. She is a former board member of the Virginia Higher Education Tuition and Trust Authority and is active in many community organizations and projects. She is a coach for Bank On, the Mayor of Virginia Beach’s financial fitness program.
Elizabeth Flowers is an associate with Troutman Sanders, LLP. Liz’s practice is focused on financial services litigation, complex commercial litigation, and intellectual property litigation. She also represents companies and individuals in a variety of commercial matters, such as shareholder disputes and general business litigation.
Russell J. Held is Vice President of Economic Development for the Port of Virginia. Russell is also a board member of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems, Virginia Economic Developers Association and Virginia Beach Vision, as well as serving as a CIVIC Scholars mentor. Russell brings fund raising, promotion and public speaking experience to the TWC Board.
Mark Johnson is the Vice President & Community Development Manager at SunTrust Bank. An exemplary steward of community service and champion of philanthropic efforts in the Hampton Roads community, he is consistently working to align the bank with charitable organizations and initiatives that promote positive change within the community. Mark’s continued efforts have been recognized through several awards, such as the Hampton Roads Inside Business Top 75 Power List (Person to Watch), the Urban League of Hampton Roads Silver Star Award, which recognizes leaders who have made a difference in their communities; and the SunTrust Bank Performance Excellence Award, which recognizes the outstanding performance of teammates in both sales and non-sales roles who demonstrate exceptional achievements in support of the bank’s guiding principles (the first professional in his position to receive the award) and the National Association of Leadership Program’s Distinguished Leadership Award, which recognizes exemplary service and commitment to the community. (only 1 of 15 professionals that received the award across the country in 2015). Mark was also the lead visionary in the creation, planning, and organization of SunTrust Bank, Hampton Roads first annual of Diversity and Inclusion Awards Celebration in the Greater Hampton Roads Community in 2011.
Suzanne Puryear is the former President and CEO of The Planning Council, a regional human services nonprofit organization. She received her Bachelor's degree and Masters of Public Administration degree from Old Dominion University, and is an alumna of the Senior Executive Institute at the Weldon Cooper School for Public Service, University of Virginia and the CIVIC Leadership Institute. She serves the community on a number of Boards, including: the Hampton Roads Community Foundation; Tidewater Pastoral Counseling; Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay; and, the YMCA of Hampton Roads. She is also a Commissioner for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority. In her semi-retirement, Suzanne provides facilitation, strategic planning and organizational development consulting as Executive Vice President of Synapse Consulting.
Linda Rice is a Vice President for Grant-making and Community Engagement at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. She is the former provost of the Chesapeake Campus of Tidewater Community College. In 1999, the YWCA named her South Hampton Roads Outstanding Woman in Education and in 2008, Inside Business chose her as a Woman of the Year. In 2011, Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Chesapeake Division honored her with the Marian P. Whitehurst Women in Leadership Award.
Penny Sanchez is Vice President for Sales and Operations at ARDX, which she joined in November 2015. ARDX is a federal healthcare management organization with expertise in health information technology, policy and operations integration, health education, communications and research, program and meeting management, and customer experience management. Penny has been on the TWC board since 2011. Penny enjoys spending time with family, friends and playing golf. Previously she has served on the Trinity College Board of Trustees, President of the National Alumni Association for Trinity College and was the Board's first VP for the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago.
Nancy M. Welch M.D. is the Director of the Chesapeake Health Department and acting director of the Western Tidewater Health Department. Welch earned her medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine in 1972. She has a master's in health administration and a master's in business administration. She received the Marian P. Whitehurst Women in Leadership Award from the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and is the author of the book, Healing Emotional Wounds: A Story of overcoming the long, hard road to recovery from abuse and abandonment.
Ninah Pearson is the board liaison with Virginia Beach Human Services. She is a social worker and runs the Foster Youth Advisory Council in Virginia Beach.
Since 2010, Tom Crockett has served as the Executive Director of the Together We Can Foundation, bringing a lifetime of experience in education and at-risk youth populations. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Old Dominion University and a Master’s in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University and Tidewater Community college and taught at Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, Virginia for five years in the 1980’s. In 1990, Tom left teaching to work as an arts and education consultant to the Polaroid Corporation. He helped develop an innovative national business-to-education marketing partnership that became known as the Polaroid Education Program. Tom also served as an education programming consultant for National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, USA Today, and Walmart and ran an innovative arts-based mentoring program for teens in Norfolk City called Art Quest. From 2004 to 2009, he served as the Associate Director and then Executive Director for Young Audiences of Virginia—using innovative arts programming to solve educational and social challenges. He is an avid photographer and a published author and lives in Newport News with his wife, Kelly.
Harvest Bellante has a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.F.A. in film and television production from Chapman University with advanced studies in training and educational technology and non-profit management. In California, Harvest worked as an Intervention Specialist for 4th and 5th grade in the Tustin Unified School District. She spent her summers managing a youth camp—Pirates’ Cove Beach Camp—where 55 youth, ages 4-13, spent their summers in the sun and sand everyday. Since moving to Virginia in 2009, she has continued her work with local youth at Together We Can Foundation and she teaches Filmmaking and Screenwriting at ODU.
youth support specialist
Michele Duncan has an A.S in Social Sciences at Tidewater Community College and is a graduate with distinction from Old Dominion University with a B.S. in Human Services. Michele completed her internship at the Together We Can Foundation during the 2016 spring semester. She also volunteers with Youth For Understanding as an Area Representative for international exchange students.