Chairperson: 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 M&A at Eaton Corporation and, prior to that, as an engineer for Ford Motor Company in Detroit. She has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and a MS 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, Isaac, Eleanor and Aaron. Their older three children joined their family through adoption and they enjoy relationships with varying degrees of openness with each of their birth families.
1st Vice Chair: Lisa A. Buescher, Community Volunteer
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. Lisa is a mentor at Adoption Network Cleveland, involved with her local primary schools and volunteers with the MS Society.
2nd Vice Chair: Marissa Beechuk – Associate Consultant & Marketing Manager, BrownFlynn
Marissa Beechuk has worked at BrownFlynn, a corporate responsibility and sustainability consulting firm, for the past 6 years. As an associate consultant and marketing manager, Marissa works on specific client engagements, as well as manages the firm’s brand, marketing, social media, and public relations efforts. Marissa has a Master’s Degree in Communications Management from John Carroll University (where she is also a part-time lecturer in the Leadership Development minor), and has been a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland since April 2011.
Secretary: 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 20 years and have two children, Liam and Sofie. He enjoys playing golf and ice hockey, music and traveling.
Treasurer: Ted Grabowski – Vice President
Ted Grabowski is an accomplished and respected banking professional with over 25 years of extensive experience in personal, one-on-one banking in the Cleveland market. Ted is the Corporate Business Manager for MCPc and the Director of Charitable Affairs for MCPc Family Charities. He received his degree in Business Administration from Thiel College in Greenville, PA. Ted is an adoptee and resides in North Olmsted with his wife, Colleen, and their 2 daughters.
Ilah Adkins, Esq.
Adkins directs and develops legal analysis and strategies for a national docket of corporate litigation. She also counsels business units through governmental investigations, regulatory investigations, internal investigations and fraud investigations. Additionally, Adkins led the human resources department and assisted with the business development of a successful Cleveland start-up. Today the start-up has over 75 FTEs and about $5MM in revenue. 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 Operating Officer, JumpStart Inc.
Cathy manages JumpStart's overall operations and engagement with the community, with specific responsibility for strategy, revenue generation, growth and sustainability, economic inclusion and opportunity creation, and community outreach and partnership.
Prior to joining JumpStart 6 years ago, she spent 12 years creating innovations to drive business growth at corporations including The Coca-Cola Company, American Greetings, and Procter & Gamble. Among her results were the development and launch of an $80million new greeting card business and a $20million new soft drink business, along with growing P&Ls for a number of other initiatives or ongoing businesses. Cathy also worked for six years with entrepreneurs leading growing companies via a series of positions in middle market lending at Bank of America.
Cathy was a Keller Scholar and received an MBA with a focus in Marketing from Duke University. She earned a BA in Economics from Davidson College.
Molly Cissell -- Administrative Director, MetroHealth System
Molly Cissell is an experienced healthcare administrator who currently works as the Director of multiple ambulatory health centers for MetroHeath. Her professional experience includes operations management, process improvement, project management, and strategic planning. She received her Master of Health Administration from the Ohio State University, and prior to graduate school, worked for a social service agency focused on helping single parents obtain education and employment. Molly and her husband live in Cleveland Heights and are the proud parents of Lincoln, who joined their family via adoption in 2014.
Gina Gayle is a photojournalist and multimedia storyteller specializing in underreported communities whose work has taken her across the United States as well as to Cuba and Italy. As a former Professor of Practice, Ms. Gayle created the multimedia curriculum for the journalism department at The University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to that Ms. Gayle worked in New York City with clients including many of the top new organizations, papers and magazines.
Being the recipient of many awards and fellowships including the Hearst Newspaper Journalism Fellowship and the NABJ Gulf Coast Fellowship, allowed Ms. Gayle to continue working on personal projects such as her New Orleans Zulu project, the Picture Me project, telling the stories of children in foster care waiting for their forever families in Mississippi. Her current project involves the photography collection of her late father, James F. Gayle, this first Black photographer at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Daniel J. Gisser – Director of Corporate Sales and Marketing, Eaton Corporation
Daniel J. Gisser (Dan) is Director of Corporate Sales and Marketing at Eaton Corporation. He leads Eaton programs related to growth, innovation, marketing excellence, environmental marketing and corporate sustainability, 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 an open relationship with Thom’s birthmother, Thuy, and other birth-relatives. 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 one adult son named Matthew.
Tony Harris – Business System Consultant, Progressive Insurance
Tony Harris is a Business System Consultant at Progressive Insurance. He is a graduate from the College of Wooster and has an MBA from Cleveland State. Tony is an adoptee and is a passionate advocate to provide improved support and preparation for youth that age out of the foster care system.
Monica Banks Hines – Financial Professional Associate, Prudential
Monica Banks Hines currently serves as a financial professional associate with the Prudential Insurance Company of America 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. Monica founded MBH Global Communications (formerly E-ProToCall Marketing Solutions) and was a member of the Cleveland Metroparks marketing department where she served as public information specialist for the Cleveland MetroParks Rangers. In addition, she 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. As a financial professional associate with Prudential she drives the planning of strategies to develop secure financial futures for her clients. Monica is a graduate of Indiana University, lives in Solon with her daughter Jackie and husband Ray. Monica is an adoptive parent.
Virginia Medina, Counsel, BakerHostetler
Virginia Medina is a counsel at BakerHostetler and has been practicing law for over a decade.
She has a depth of experience with benefit and compensation issues raised in a corporate transaction context and tax and other compliance issues relating to executive compensation. She was the owner of a small business which published travel guides on the cultural, financial and local history of New York City.
Virginia and her 3 siblings were raised in the foster care system for several years before moving back in with their father.
Krysia Orlowski, Instructor
Krysia Orlowski holds an MFA from the Northeast Ohio MFA program. Currently, she is a part-time instructor at Cleveland State University. After 7 years in book publishing, Krysia worked as a Project Manager at Charles Schwab in San Francisco before coming to Cleveland in 2004. Krysia is a sibling to two adoptees and is also an adoptive parent. She and her husband, Brian Harte, reside in Shaker Heights and are the proud parents of three children.
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. 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 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 Committee of the Council on Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship Care. Locally, she is a board member of Lawrence School and Adoption Network Cleveland. 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 in the Business Litigation and Product Liability practice groups. Her practice focuses on commercial disputes (including breach of contract and breach of warranty claims) and business torts (including fraud, breach of duty, and consumer fraud claims). Nicole is also involved with the firm’s pro bono work. Nicole has been a member of the Adoption Network Cleveland Board since November 2005. She is Chair of the Public Policy Committee and is a former Board officer.
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.