Board of Directors

About / Board of Directors

Board Chair

Michael Gaines

Michael T. Gaines is the Executive Director of the Bradley H. Foulk Children’s Advocacy Center in Erie. Mr. Gaines has a wide range of professional experience, including over 20 years as a religious leader, and degrees from Gannon University and Christ the King Seminary. His knowledge of Erie County will be invaluable in developing PFSA’s programs.

Board Vice-Chair

Marci Ronald-Lesko

Marci Lesko is a collaborator, facilitator, critical thinker, and agent for systems change. Marci currently serves as the Executive Vice President at United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, where she helps to propel the organization to success and to foster community change.

Marci is responsible for leading the $20M organization’s strategy and integration, Collective Impact community capacity building, strategic technology, product development, and marketing and communications. Marci’s twenty-year career in human services has offered experiences in public health, victim services, bullying prevention and intervention, juvenile offender mediation, and education reform. Marci supports and nurtures many community change initiatives across the Lehigh Valley and has offered her expertise and time with several state and national endeavors, notably with United Way Worldwide, the Coalition for Community Schools, and FSG’s Collective Impact Community of Practice and Funders Forum.

Marci is a proud member of Women United and the Concourse Club of Palmerton and has won five distinguished awards in her community—The Human Relations Commission (2005), the Donley Award for Children’s Advocacy (2016), the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Take the Lead Award (2017), the Community Achievement Award/Lehigh Valley Business Woman of Influence (2018), and the PBS39 Good Neighbor Award (2018).

Board Treasurer

Michael Suchanick

Michael Suchanick is the Treasurer of PFSA’s Board and chairs the Finance Committee. He recently retired after spending nearly thirty-seven (37) years with the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP). He began his career by spending five (5) years with a national public accounting firm. In his most recent role as Chief Operating Officer at HAP, Michael’s areas of responsibilities included corporate and administrative functions, oversight of subsidiary corporations’ operations, strategic planning, and governance-related activities. Michael holds a BS in Accounting from Bloomsburg University and an MBA from Penn State University. He also is a Certified Public Accountant.

Board Secretary

Kari King

Kari King is President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC). She is responsible for the organization’s daily administration and effective functioning and is directly involved in the organization’s interaction with state-level public policymakers, Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, the news media, the children’s advocacy community, funders and service sectors.

Prior to her role as President and CEO Kari was the Vice President of Public Policy for PPC, leading PPC’s government relations efforts and overseeing the organization’s policy development and implementation work, and representing the organization before the Pennsylvania General Assembly, state agencies, regulatory bodies and Pennsylvania’s federal congressional delegation.

Kari joined PPC in April 2015 after serving in various positions in former Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration, starting as the Legislative Director for the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. From there, she was promoted to Deputy Secretary for Legislative Affairs in the governor’s office and ultimately rose to the position of Deputy Chief of Staff. As Deputy Chief of Staff, Kari concentrated on health care, insurance and human services issues in the governor’s office. 

Prior to entering state government, she worked in government affairs for a three-state trade association representing insurance brokers, as well as for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

Kari is a graduate of Susquehanna University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. She earned a Master’s degree in Political Science from Lehigh University. She resides in New Cumberland with her husband, son, and daughter.

Board Member

Clay Cauley Sr.

Clay was recently named the new General Counsel for Gaudenzia Inc.

Clay has spent the vast majority of his legal career promoting the health and well-being of safe and stable families.  Previously, Clay was part of the Executive Leadership Team for the Law Department of the City of Philadelphia and managed the Child Welfare Unit, HIPAA and Privacy Unit and the Health and Adult Services Unit. He has served as a Master for Chester County Government and Philadelphia Family Court and has been an Assistant District Attorney for the Philadelphia Office of District Attorney.

Clay serves as a Parliamentarian for West Chester University Alumni Association, Co-Chair for the Dependency/Juvenile Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association and is an elected board member to The Barristers Association of Philadephia.

Board Member

Terry Clark

Terry Clark was appointed to the PFSA Board of Directors in 2015.  Mr. Clark is the Director of York County’s Office of Children, Youth & Families and has over 23 years of experience in child welfare. He earned his bachelor’s degree of social science in public policy from the Pennsylvania State University and his master’s degree in public administration from Kutztown University.  He has previously worked in a mental health partial hospitalization program, a local county children and youth agency, and for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. 

Mr. Clark is a former Big Brother volunteer and served two consecutive terms as President of the Board of Directors for Berks County Big Brothers/Big Sisters. He was also a governor appointee as Pennsylvania’s Commissioner to the National Interstate Commission for Juveniles, where he then served three consecutive terms as President/Chair of the National Interstate Commission for Juveniles. In addition, Mr. Clark served as a state-certified trainer where he trained new child welfare caseworkers on how to assess the risk/safety of children coming before them in child abuse/neglect investigations and has written training curricula related to Risk & Safety Assessment in child welfare. He also trained child welfare supervisors and managers in improving their skills in supervising caseworkers in county children and youth agencies. Mr. Clark also serves on York County’s Child Advocacy Center Advisory Board, York County’s Domestic Violence Taskforce and York County’s Human Trafficking Taskforce.

Board Member

Jennifer Clarke

Dr. Jennifer Clarke is a member of the Division of Child Advocacy at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC since 2015. She earned her medical degree from SUNY Upstate Medical
University in Syracuse, NY. She completed her Pediatrics residency at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY in 2009 followed by a 3-year fellowship in Child Abuse Pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, TX. Dr. Clarke is Board Certified in Pediatrics and Child Abuse Pediatrics. 

She is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She serves as the co-director of the Sexual Assault Response Team at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Board Member

Ceil Connelly-Weida, Ph. D.

As the oldest of ten, mother of four, and grandmother of nine, Ceil Connelly-Weida strongly supports the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance framework protecting children from abuse and neglect and promoting the right of children to grow and thrive in a safe environment.

Dr. Connelly-Weida began as a Leigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) Program Coordinator/Developer at the Donley Center in 1998 and developed six intensive short-term training programs for non-traditional un- and under-employed students preparing to enter the workforce. Three of those programs had cross-walks to credit, including a non-credit Homebased Family Child Care/Center Aide Diploma which articulated to nine college credits.  She successfully applied for and administered $3.44 million Customized Job Training Grants written for PA employers which resulted in over 4,000 employees being trained.

Her role expanded to include Donley Center site administration in 2001 and Director of Literacy and Job Training/Site Administrator 2003. In those roles, Dr. Connelly-Weida worked with administration to increase credit enrollment (fall 2000 (257) – fall 2003 (721) – 280%) and expand Student Services. She also had oversight of welfare to work; federal, state, and contract funded literacy programs (ABE/GED/ESL) which served over 1,000 students annually. 2004-2016, Ceil’s focus was Assessment and Planning, where she facilitated assessment of student learning and institutional effectiveness, strategic planning, Middle States reporting, and the Leadership Team. Ceil served as the $2M Title III Project Director during the final years of the transformative, five-year grant (2014-2017). In 2017, she was appointed Dean of Business, Education, Legal, and Social Services, with additional oversight of the Business Enterprise Center, Curriculum and Professional Accreditation, and the Early Learning Center Lab School and PA Pre-K Counts program (State licensed, National NAEYC accreditation, top rating of four stars from PA Keystone Stars performance standards). Ceil is LCCC’s Accreditation Liaison Officer to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and facilitated the recent reaccreditation Self-Study. Dr. Connelly-Weida serves on the Leadership Team, President’s Cabinet, and multiple committees, including the SEED Core team, an LCCC program for students with disabilities transitioning to postsecondary and interested in a college experience to master skills in transition, academic, and/or career areas. In addition to her participation as a member of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, she is also a Middle States Commission Team Peer Evaluator, Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL) committee member, and member of several professional organizations.

Board Member

Tara Dechert

Tara Dechert is a Project Director for PolicyLab of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  She oversees the implementation of community-clinical pilot of intergenerational family services and serves as content expert on numerous other projects that involve the identification of the intersections between systems that are critical to the development of improved care.  Today, more than ever, providers, insurers, policymakers, and most especially families are faced with the challenge of having limited resources to help with efficiently and effectively providing and obtaining quality care for children.  Tara’s work aims to ensure that pregnant women and their children receive the best possible care by providing a holistic approach to their overall health, well-being, and education.  To be successful, a goal of her work is to improve efficiencies across systems and service delivery by focusing on intentional coordination of healthcare, community public health nursing through home visiting, and quality early learning efforts. 

Throughout her professional career, Tara has worked to improve policies, services, research, and outcomes for vulnerable children and families – all with an emphasis on quality and public/private resource efficiency.  She has extensive experience in the not-for-profit and government sectors conducting assessment and evaluation of policies and government-funded programs as well as advocacy and strategic planning.  Areas of expertise include systems development and coordination as well as evidence-based program implementation through community health nurse home visiting.  Tara holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Elizabethtown College and a Master’s of Science in Administration of Justice from Shippensburg University.

Board Member

J. Paul Helvy

Paul is Chair of the Family Law Practice Group at McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC. He has been practicing Domestic and Family Law since his admission to the Bar in 1988. Paul is a past Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Family Law Section. He has chaired the Legislative, Membership and Program Committees of the PBA Family Law Section and has testified before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee regarding pending family law legislation. Paul has been included in the Woodward/White, Inc. publication, The Best Lawyers in America®, Family Law Section, each year since 2007, has been included in the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list each year since 2008. Paul was named as the Central Pennsylvania Family Lawyer of the Year for 2013 and again for 2016 in The Best Lawyers of America® publication.

Board Member

Suzanne Kinsky

Suzanne Kinsky is a Program Administrator for the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. She has advanced degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Kinsky has over 15 years of experience in the fields of HIV prevention and care, LGBT and women’s health, and program evaluation. She will be working on PFSA’s program evaluation and other outcomes-related projects. Dr. Kinsky is also a member of the Boards of The Open Door, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA and Medical AIDS Outreach in Montgomery, AL.

Board Member

Brenda Lawrence

Brenda Lawrence is a recent retiree (2018) as a social work administrator. She has a career dedicated to children in care, foster care, and adoption. Brenda retired after starting a nonprofit in 1999, Family Design Resources, which partnered with Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries to deliver the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network contract, SWAN, consistently being selected as the partner in a prime contract renewed for four consecutive five-year contract bids.

Brenda attended Penn State University for her bachelor’s degree and then West Virginia University to earn her master’s degree in social work. Even though she was interested in prison reform, completing internships in that area, her employment and career kept bringing her back to child welfare either in the public or private sector. 

Brenda’s roles and most of her employment involved her serving as a supervisor, director, or social work administrator. She takes great pride in helping Pennsylvania focus on older youth for adoption and increasing the numbers over the years of children and teenagers who reached permanency through adoption (or perhaps PLC) when they could not return home after being in foster care or Residential Care. Also, Brenda helped develop, implement, and expand to all counties in Pennsylvania Legal Services initiative, which helps County staff achieve legal steps for those cases where children are in out-of-home placement, helping to minimize the number of days children in out-of-home care. It also takes some guesswork out of the numerous steps needed to finalize adoptions for children in care in Pennsylvania or in other states where kinship family has been identified.

Brenda and her husband Don are busy in their retirement helping to care for their 4 grandchildren. They are an adoptive family, adopting their African American son Lucas as an infant. They were committed to introducing Lucas into situations that were multicultural or mostly African-American so he could be in a majority situation often. It seems relevant to mention this during a year filled with a new level of awareness of racial disparity. On a related note, Brenda is also very involved in her church (25+ years) in Harrisburg which is a primarily African-American Church, Kingdom Embassy. She has served in many roles on church council,  teaching children’s church and most recently serving on the intercessory team.

In her early career, she was a board member on the Tri-County Big Brother Big Sister program in Harrisburg, which has grown to be a very large organization. Recently served a term on Dauphin County Children and Youth Services advisory committee.

Board Member

Marisa McClellan

Prior to her role as Administrator, Marisa served as the chief agency attorney for Dauphin County Children and Youth. She is affiliated with numerous children and youth organizations and is a member of the American Bar Association, the PBA Children’s Rights and Government Lawyers committees, and the Dauphin County Bar Association.  McClellan received degrees from The Pennsylvania State University and its Dickinson School of Law. For her exemplary legal efforts, Marisa was selected as a PA Conference on Child Abuse Advocate in 2012 and as a Miller Center Public Interest Advocate in 2002

Board Member

Kathleen McGraw

Kathleen McGraw serves as Director of Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company (HE&R) where she manages corporate philanthropy, community relations, internal communications, and reputation management. She also oversees press outreach and social media for the Resorts, Spas and Dining divisions of the company and Hershey Jobs.  

Prior to her appointment at HE&R, Kathleen spent nearly 14 years in New York City working for top global public relations agencies including Ketchum, Burson-Marsteller, GolinHarris, and Edelman. She also worked at IBM for its Systems and Technology Group.  Kathleen is very active in the community serving on the board of the PA Family Support Alliance, advisory board at The Vista School and volunteers at Milton Hershey School and Hershey Community Garden. A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Kathleen earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Spanish. She also studied literature at Cambridge University.

Board Member

George Payne

George was born in Hong Kong to parents from Indonesia. He attended Messiah College and Asbury Seminary intending to teach in ministerial settings overseas. While at seminary, he felt a strong calling to youth ministry and serving persons in need in urban settings and became a youth pastor with his denomination in the early 90s in Harrisburg, PA. In 1998, George married Nancy Peterman who currently is a nurse at Milton Hershey school. At around the same time, George began his career in social services at the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg where he served for 17 years as Director of Homeless and Housing Services and Economic and Neighborhood Development, and then as Vice President of Programs which includes daycare, afterschool programming, and domestic and sexual Violence Intervention and Prevention services. Currently, and for the past seven years, Mr. Payne is the Director of Projects at the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Harrisburg addressing urban blight and homelessness. Nancy and George have a daughter Alyssa, who just graduated from Kutztown University in 2021.

Board Member

Shahid Raza

Shahid is a senior technology leader in Deloitte with over seventeen years of experience implementing large-scale custom-developed software solutions for a variety of Health and Human Services agencies across the country. Throughout his tenure at Deloitte, Shahid has served Health and Human Services clients in the State of California, Arizona, Michigan, Tennessee, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Although Shahid has implemented software systems that support a variety of Health and Human Services programs, he has spent the majority of his professional career designing and implementing Child Welfare systems. Shahid holds a BS in Management Information Systems from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is a certified Project Management Professional and an ITIL expert.

In his community, Shahid supports nonprofit organizations such as the Central PA Food Bank, Big Brothers and Big Sister, Vision Resources of Central PA, and the JT Dorsey Foundation. In his spare time, Shahid enjoys the company of his friends and family and an occasional game of football. He resides in Cumberland County with his wife and three children.

Board Member

Kasey Sheffer

After having worked in Brand and Marketing Strategy across various industries from Advertising to Professional Sports, Kasey joined grocery retail in 2010. Spending the last 11 years with Ahold USA, and later Ahold Delhaize USA, she served as a leader of the Private Brands team, most recently helming the businesses in support of The GIANT Company of Pennsylvania and Giant Food of Maryland. During her tenure, she had the opportunity to lead efforts behind the Ahold USA and Delhaize America merger in 2018, defining the combined Private Brands portfolio for the entire fleet of Ahold Delhaize USA retail businesses. That same year, she was also humbled to receive the Top Women in Store Brands sales award from Women Impacting Storebrand Excellence (WISE) and Store Brands magazine. As of July 2021, Kasey joined Giant Eagle as Vice President, Own Brands.

Outside of work, Kasey is honored to take part in other service-based endeavors, joining the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance in June 2021. She has also been a volunteer with Junior Achievement since 2010, which provides her the opportunity to not only support the local school system but for the last few years has allowed her to spend time in the classroom with her own children, Sophie and Will—soon-to-be fourth and second graders. 

Residing in Central Pennsylvania with her kids and husband, Dustin, Kasey enjoys any type of adventure—athletic or otherwise, from CrossFit to triathlons. She and her family are avid skiers in the winter, and in the summer enjoy bike riding and taking their annual trip back down to the Tampa Bay area, where she used to reside.

Kasey holds an undergraduate degree in Business from York College of Pennsylvania and an MBA from The University of Tampa, John H. Sykes College of Business. 

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