1st Row, Officers: Chair – Anita Miller, 1st Vice Chair - Lisa Buescher, 2nd Vice Chair, - Marissa Beechuk, Treasurer - Ted Grabowski and Secretary – Tom Dent

2nd Row: Monica Banks Hines, Nicole Wilson, Elaine Hagan, Cathy Belk, Claire Shands-Waag and Ellen Stephens

3rd Row: Tony Harris, Virginia Medina, Molly Cissell and Gina Gayle

Not Pictured: Ilah Adkins, Elaine Schulte, Maura Shibley, Dan Gisser and David Yates

Board of Directors 2014 Biographies


Chairperson: John Zaranec – Senior Manager of Financial Reporting, OM Group Inc.


John is the Senior Manager of Financial Reporting for the OM Group, Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio. John has over eight years of experience providing financial statement audit and audit of internal control services in accordance with SEC, U.S. GAAP and IFRS requirements. John was introduced to ANC through Business Volunteers Unlimited (BVU) speed networking event in 2008. He has no personal direct ties to the adoption triad, but was inspired by the dedication and goals that were discussed by the ANC representatives at the BVU event. Since that time, John has been an active member of the Finance Committee and has served as Treasurer since 2010.


1st Vice Chair: Anita Miller – Product Manager, Progressive Insurance


Anita Miller is a Product Manager at Progressive Insurance, where she manages Progressive’s personal auto insurance business in Iowa and South Dakota.  Before joining Progressive, Anita worked in mergers and acquisitions for Eaton Corporation and, prior to that, as a product development engineer for Ford Motor Company in Detroit.   She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from the University of Michigan.   Anita and her husband Joe live in Shaker Heights with their four children – Ava (9), Isaac (7), Eleanor (5) and Aaron (3).  Their older three children joined their family through adoption and they enjoy relationships with varying degrees of openness with each of their birth families. 


2nd Vice Chair: Lisa A. Buescher


Lisa is an adoptee born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. Her parents adopted her, and her younger brother, at birth. After having her first child, Lisa appreciated even more the importance of the loving and stable home her parents had provided. Giving birth also raised her interest in looking into her biological past. Searching for answers, Lisa connected with Adoption Network Cleveland’s Search & Reunion program. She feels that her first exposure to the greater value of Adoption Network Cleveland came from a General Meeting she attended four years ago. A brief, but memorable, interaction that evening with a prospective adoptive parent who was wondering if she was doing the right thing made Lisa feel that maybe she could help. This was the beginning of her involvement with Adoption Network Cleveland as a volunteer and member of the Events Sub-Committee.  She now chairs the Outreach and Development Committee. Lisa received her bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Wright State University and her master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Michigan. She has worked in product liability, product design, and manufacturing. She is currently a full-time mother and lives with her husband and their three young children in Chagrin Falls. When not chasing after a little one, she is a mentor at Adoption Network Cleveland, involved with her local primary schools and volunteers with the MS Society.


Secretary: Marissa Beechuk – Associate Consultant and Marketing Manager, BrownFlynn


Marissa Beechuk has worked at BrownFlynn, a corporate responsibility and sustainability consulting firm, for the past 4 years. As analyst and marketing manager, Marissa serves in a client-facing role working on projects that include sustainability reporting, public engagement and communications, as well as manages all marketing for the firm. Marissa has a Masters Degree in Communications Management from John Carroll University and has been a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland since April 2011.


Treasurer: Ted Grabowski – Vice President - Private Client Relationship Manager at Farmers National Bank


Ted Grabowski is an accomplished and respected banking professional with over 24 years of extensive experience in personal, one-on-one banking. Ted received his degree in Business Administration from Thiel College in Greenville, PA. He volunteers for other non-profit organizations including Mainstreet Amherst, Cystic Fibrosis, WECO Fund, Habitat for Humanity and has served as a classroom teacher for Junior Achievement Project Business. Ted is an adoptee and he resides in North Olmsted with his wife, Colleen, and their 2 daughters.




Ilah Adkins, Esq. – Senior Vice President / Director of Legal Services, Charter One and RBS Citizens

Ilah Adkins is the Senior Vice President, Director of Legal Services for Charter One and RBS Citizens. She joined the bank in 2002. She oversees a staff of two in Ohio. She directs and develops legal analysis and strategies for a national docket of corporate litigation, patent claims, commercial and residential real estate litigation, consumer litigation, UCC litigation and other varied claims, including numerous class actions and appeals. Prior to joining RBS Citizens, Adkins led the human resources department and assisted with the business development of a successful Cleveland start-up. Today the start-up has over 30 FTEs and about $4MM in revenues. She was honored with the YWCA Woman of Professional Excellence award in 2007 and a Citizens Corporate Risk Management Excellence Award. She is a graduate of the Cleveland Bridge Builders class of 2008 and Leadership Cleveland class of 2013.

Adkins earned her B.A., with honors, from Cleveland State University in political science and her Juris Doctorate from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. She serves on the Board of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. 


Cathy Belk – Chief Relationship Officer, JumpStart

Cathy serves as JumpStart’s Chief Relationship Officer and manages engagement with the community through marketing, development, investor relations, strategy and outreach activities.

Cathy brings a wealth of experience in consumer and business marketing and business management to the JumpStart team. Most recently, she held a series of brand and business management roles, including Director of the American Greetings brand at the Cleveland-area greeting card company. As Director of Innovation, Cathy led a team that developed and launched a product, eventually taking over management of the product as it developed into an $80 million annual business.

Prior to American Greetings, Cathy worked in branding, marketing and communications management at The Coca-Cola Company and Procter and Gamble. Before that, Cathy dedicated six years to the commercial banking industry, holding a series of positions at Bank of America.

Cathy was a Keller Scholar and received an MBA with a focus in Marketing from Duke University in 1998. She earned a BA in Economics from Davidson College in 1990.

 Barbara Danforth – Senior Vice President of Leadership Initiatives, Ratliff & Taylor

Barbara J. Danforth is Senior Vice President of Leadership Initiatives and brings more than 20 years of executive and civic leadership experience to the firm. Her commitment to gender equality and leadership excellence fueled the creation of a prestigious women’s leadership academy geared towards career advancement. With a keen interest in talent development, Barbara aligns the human resources needs of business clients to the firm’s talent management practices, and creates strategies to retain top talent. Additionally, Barbara manages retained executive search assignments for private sector and non-profit clients.  She has refined the firm’s Executive Search Diversity Initiative to meet client needs for immediate or opportunistic hiring at the leadership level for women and minorities. She presents professional development seminars, as well as coaching for executives, emerging leaders and retirement life planning. Prior to joining Ratliff & Taylor, Barbara was the President and CEO of the YWCA of Greater Cleveland, where she transformed a fragile agency into a vibrant organization that continues to serve women at all stages of their lives.  Her career endeavors include the private and public sector practice of law as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Iowa and Chief Prosecutor for the City of Cleveland.  She has held management positions in the insurance industry, specializing in medical malpractice. 

Barbara holds a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern Michigan University.   Her civic commitments include board positions with the City Club of Cleveland and In Counsel with Women.  She is sought for her expertise in the area of diversity and inclusion, and lectures nationally and internationally on leadership.  Barbara has been recognized for her accomplishments throughout her career, most recently in 2012 she is the recipient of the YWCA Lifetime Achievement Award and the Woman of Vision Award by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc.; in 2008 recognized as “The Influentials – 50 People Changing Northeast Ohio” by Cleveland Magazine and one of three “Women Who Give Back” by Kaleidoscope Magazine; in 2006 “Master Innovator” by Smart Business Magazine and “One of the 100 Most Powerful People” by Inside Business Magazine.  She is a member of the Board of Directors of The City Club of Cleveland and In Counsel With Women.


Thomas W. Dent, Jr. – Senior Vice President, PNC Bank

Thomas W. Dent Jr. was raised in Columbus as the adopted child of a high school chemistry teacher and a bookkeeper at a law firm. He has an adopted younger sister. After graduating high school, Tom attended the U.S. Naval Academy where he studied aerospace engineering. Upon graduation in 1990, he was commissioned in the U.S. Navy and subsequently became a helicopter pilot. Tom did an operational tour flying H-53E’s out of Sicily and finished his naval career as a flight instructor in Florida. After ten years on active duty as a naval aviator, Tom returned to Ohio and attended the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State and earned an MBA in finance in 2002.  He was awarded his CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) charter in 2005. Tom joined National City Bank following business school and served in several different risk management positions. He currently leads the SBA (Small Business Administration) lending business at PNC. Tom and his wife Tricia have been married for 18 years and have two children, Liam and Sofie. He enjoys playing golf and ice hockey, music and traveling.


Daniel J. Gisser – Director of Corporate Marketing, Eaton Corporation

Daniel J. Gisser (Dan) is Director of Corporate Marketing at Eaton Corporation.  He is leading Eaton’s programs related to environmental marketing and corporate sustainability, especially as they tie to Eaton’s power management products and services.  He is also driving improvement in  innovative growth processes and functional excellence in marketing and sales across the global corporation.   Dan is a frequent invited speaker and guest lecturer for MBA classes and conferences, especially on topics of marketing, growth, and corporate sustainability.  Prior to joining Eaton, Dan worked for 10 years at Eastman Kodak where he worked in new business development in the electronics industry.

Dan and his wife Kathy were both born and raised in greater Cleveland.  Their adopted daughter, Emily Thom, was born in Vietnam in 2001.  The family has a semi-open relationship with Thom’s birthmother, Thuy, and other birth-relatives, and hopes to see them again in late 2012.  Dan has a BA from Dartmouth College, PhD in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, and MBA from the University of Rochester.


Elaine Hagan - Retired

Elaine is a birthmother, relinquishing her daughter in 1980, and she has currently not been reunited. One of 14 children, Elaine comes from a large family with 7 brothers and 6 sisters. She has over 30 years of experience working for the Cuyahoga County Board, specifically focusing on child support and paternity cases while working in the Child Support Enforcement Division. Elaine has been involved in politics her entire life - on local, state and federal levels and in many capacities. Elaine is also the proud mother of a 34 year old son named Matthew.


Monica Banks Hines – Public Information Officer, Cleveland MetroPark Rangers

Monica Banks Hines currently serves as a Public Information Officer for the Cleveland MetroPark Rangers and is the president and owner of MBH Global Communications. She moved from California to host public affairs talk shows on WUAB-TV- 43, Cleveland. She worked as a news reporter, executive producer and hosted several talk shows before being promoted to the station’s public affairs director. Since then Monica founded E-ProToCall Marketing Solutions, achieved significant success as partnership specialist during the 2010 United States Census and worked with the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners during the transition to a new form of government. Recently she revamped her first consulting practice and opened MBH Global Communications which promotes social programs for non-profit and government agencies. Monica is a graduate of Indiana University, lives in Solon with her daughter Jackie and husband Ray. Monica is an adoptive parent.


Justin Monday – Associate Attorney, Gallagher Sharp

Justin was born in Memphis, TN in 1981. After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2004, he moved to Ohio and served as the Deputy Finance Director for a successful US Senate campaign in 2006. Following the campaign, Justin began working in the non-profit arena as a development consultant for the Fund for Our Economic Future, a collection of Northeast Ohio non-profits pooling their resources to fund research and programming aimed at strengthening the regional economy. Justin went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Cleveland Marshall and is currently an attorney with Gallagher Sharp in Cleveland. Justin has been married to his wife, Chaudra, for 3 years. Justin and his wife are also the proud parents of their 4 year old adopted son, Andrew, and their 10 month old daughter, Zoe.


Elaine Schulte, M.D., M.P.H – Chair of the Department of General Pediatrics and Medical Director for the International Adoption Program, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Elaine Schulte, MD, MPH is a native Clevelander, but has spent most of her professional career on the East coast.  She attended Skidmore College, and earned her medical degree at Albany Medical College.  She completed her pediatric residency training at Albany Medical Center Hospital, and completed a preventive medicine residency at the New York State Department of Health where she earned her Masters in Public Health.  She then joined the faculty at Albany Medical College.  During her tenure in Albany, Dr. Schulte served as the pediatric residency program director and the division chief of general pediatrics.  She also was the medical director of the lead poisoning resource program.  In 1996, she founded the international adoption program, which she directed until 2007, when she moved to the Cleveland Clinic.  While in Albany, she cared for nearly 2000 internationally adopted children, many of whom have learning disabilities. Currently, Dr. Schulte is the Chair of the Department of General Pediatrics at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.  In addition to her administrative responsibilities, she maintains an active clinical practice, with specific interests in learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, lead poisoning, immunizations and residency education.  She is the Medical Director of the International Adoption Program.  She is involved in the Clinic’s Staff Mentorship Program and the WPSA.  She is an active member of many national organizations, and serves on the AAP Executive Committees of the Section on Adoption and Foster Care and the Section on Early Childhood, Adoption and Dependent Care.  Locally, she is a board member of Lawrence School, and is a member of the Invest In Children Partnership Committee.  She is an adoptive parent of two daughters from China.  She loves being a mom, classical music, and ballet.


Claire Shands-Waag – Human Resources Director, Positive Education Program

Claire Shands-Waag serves as Human Resources Director of Positive Education Program (PEP) where she oversees all human resource activities of PEP’s staff of over 500. Ms. Shands-Waag’s tenure at PEP spans more than 30 years. During that time, she gained classroom, clinical and administrative experience, providing her with the unique ability to understand the needs of the agency’s large and diverse staff. She is an integral member of PEP’s Cultural Diversity Committee, which promotes diversity awareness and acceptance among staff. Prior to her role as Human Resource Director, she was a liaison teacher and a clinical supervisor at two PEP Day Treatment Centers. Prior to joining PEP, she served as a college recruiter. Ms. Shands-Waag is the Board Secretary of the Ohio Association of School Personnel Administrators and previously served as Chair of the Northeast Ohio Chapter. She is a member of the Council of Agency Directors (CAD) where she serves as Co-Chair of the Human Resources group. She is a past chair of the Cleveland Area Minority Educators Recruitment Association (CAMERA). Ms. Shands-Waag is active in the St. Clare PTU and is a sustainer with The Junior League of Cleveland. A graduate of Hiram College, she holds two master’s degrees from Cleveland State University, one in school psychology, the other in counseling. Ms. Shands-Waag has been involved with Adoption Network Cleveland as a volunteer in the past. She and her husband, Eric, are the proud parents of two wonderful adopted children.


Maura Shibley – Executive Director, Coach Sam’s Inner Circle Foundation

As an adoptee, Maura has relied on ANC’s staff and programming for support, advice and validation over the years. Having vast experience in the non-profit and for-profit arenas, Maura looks forward to giving back to an organization that has provided her with so much. Maura’s previous work experience includes special event, fundraising and volunteer coordination and she looks forward to working with ANC in those capacities. A Cleveland native, Maura grew up in a large family with five siblings and was provided a wonderful adoption experience. The mother of 2 teenage sons, Maura understands the importance of being raised in a loving, nurturing environment and looks forward to continue giving back to the adoption community.


Ellen M. Stephens – Vice President of Human Resources, The Sherwin-Williams Company

Ellen has worked in the HR field for 26 years. Most of her experience has been working for Sherwin-Williams. Her experiences include recruiting, on-boarding, performance management, conflict resolution, leadership development, training and strategic planning as well as all other HR functions. Her accomplishments include introducing diversity training, an applicant tracking program and revising policies. Ellen also worked on a Hurricane Katrina Employee Relief Fund, raising over $350,000 for affected employees. In 2010 Ellen received the Sherwin-Williams Professional Woman of Excellence Award.


Nicole K. Wilson – Attorney, Thompson Hine LLP

Nicole is an attorney with Thompson Hine LLP, where she practices primarily in the Business Litigation group. Originally from Warren, Ohio, Nicole received a Liberal Arts degree from Thomas Aquinas College and her J.D. from Duke University School of Law before returning to Ohio in 2001. Nicole came to the Adoption Network Cleveland Board in 2005 through Business Volunteers Unlimited.  Nicole has served as the Chair of the Public Policy Committee for several years, and is a past-member of the Executive Committee.


David Yates – Senior Manager, Audit, KMPG

David is currently an auditor working on both for and not-for-profit entities. He has experience reviewing budgets and financial statements as well as having a higher level knowledge of investments and tax regulations. He is a licensed practicing CPA and works on firm initiative for the United Way as well as the Achievement Centers of America.

“With Adoption Network Cleveland’s help, miracles happen.”
Jody Babbits
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