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Board of Directors

Kathleen Toole
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Katie is the Board President and a proud graduate of Saint Francis University. She was an instrumental part of the women’s golf team (Division I) winning the North Eastern Conference team title three out of four years. The team was invited to partake in the NCAA championship tournament for two years! Katie loves the outdoors and all things green.


Katie has participated in volunteer work throughout her entire life dating back to when she was a candy striper for the Valley View Hospital in NJ. She treasures the time spent volunteering at the orphanages in Cuernavaca, Mexico and serving patrons of the Salvation Army in Johnstown, PA. 


Katie is employed by BNY Mellon within the Pittsburgh campus. Admired by her colleagues for her kind and inclusive demeanor along with her organizational and planning skills. Katie is the Global Co-Chair within the COO department of the Information Security Division (ISD).  Most recently, she has been recognized  in 2022 as one of the top 100 LBGTQ+ Gamechangers by LBGT Great.  Katie is extremely honored to be a part of this magical establishment to ensure health and wellness for all children within the Small Town Hope family. 

Brenda Calhoun

Brenda is the Vice President of the board.  Passionate about educating ALL learners of any age, Brenda Calhoun has lived and lives each day building experience and knowledge through her work within a local education service agency, primarily in the areas of instructional technology, STEM, social media management, and digital productivity strategies.


Before joining Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8, Brenda earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in Adult Education. These programs focused on the development of skills such as communicating effectively, guiding adult learners, and using technology wisely, all of which are critical in successfully navigating the world in which we live today.


Personally, her time is spent with her husband and two daughters, reading, traveling, striving to live in an environmentally friendly manner, advocating for students with special needs, and participating in organizations such as Girls Scouts, 4H, JDRF, and certainly Small Town Hope!



Stephanie Brown
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Stephanie is the Vice President of Small Town Hope Inc. Stephanie is a well-seasoned Senior Analyst. She holds an MBA in Finance from Texas A&M University. She has gained worldly experience from Hong Kong, Europe and Great Britain. Stephanie completed her undergraduate degree in Business and Fashion Merchandising from the University of North Texas.


Stephanie's passion for helping kids is derived from her own struggles with learning to read and write as a child. Growing up in rural Texas, she understands the value of love and hope in a small town. She looks forward to using her skill sets as launching pads for children to surpass the 

obstacles that prevent them from learning.

Stephanie enjoys traveling, boating, paddle boarding, riding side by sides, and knitting. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, Gary and her golden retriever, Buddy.


Ashley Wetzel

Ashley is a graduate of Mount Aloysius College where she studied nursing and continues to further her nursing education. Formerly a registered nurse in a Neurovascular ICU, Ashley is now pursuing her dream of travel nursing. She has a strong desire to help those around her. Ashley enjoys volunteering her time and helping hands to support the visions of Small Town Hope.


Small Town Hope values Ashley as the organization's skilled "fix-it" lady who impressively tackles any job requiring tools. Ashley also volunteers her time to help at STH events. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, especially her two nephews. In her spare time,  you can find Ashley fixing or building things, riding her side by side, and loving up her golden retriever, Aspen. 




Dr. Laura Lansing

Laura has a passion for all things academic as indicated by her diverse academic background.  She graduated from Rockford College in Illinois (B.A. in Philosophy and another in Mathematics), The College of William and Mary in Virginia (M.S. in Mathematics), and Lehigh University (M.S. in Industrial Engineering and another in Psychology and Ph.D. in Psychology).  Her interest in helping children has its roots in many years of helping others raise their children and in her own struggles as a child with a physical disability.  She is currently a professor of psychology at Mount Aloysius College.  When not at work, Laura enjoys gardening and playing with her dog, Kharma. 




Rachel Monfredi

Rachel was born in the UK to a mum (sorry, I still can’t write ‘mom’!) who worked as a children’s nurse for over 40 years and a father who served in the army and then the police force, the values of hard work, empathy and fairness were instilled in me from an early age.


As a lawyer, Rachel has worked for three of the UK’s top ten law firms between 2001 and 2013, practicing labor law and advising predominately large national and international employers on their HR practices and policies.  In addition to the day job, she was a member of charitable committees of each of the law firms of which she worked.  She has enjoyed driving their charitable missions and fundraising efforts.  Her particular charitable interests lay with children’s charities, specifically those who focused on improving the education and health/well being of children whose personal or family circumstances were challenging.


Among her abilities to lead and deliver fair and equitable work she has experience creating and implementing a wellness program which focused not only on the physical and mental wellbeing of employees but also their families.  Doing such work revealed how devastating of an impact a sudden or prolonged illness of a person or one of their family members, particularly a child, can have on their ability to work and support themselves and their family, and also on their mental wellbeing.   


In 2017 Rachel moved to US from the UK with her husband (a cardiologist) and daughter Matilda.  She A lovely Mollie has since arrived to complete their family.  Residing in Charlottesville, Virginia she has proudly defined the greatest joy as being a mother and simultaneously the toughest job she has ever had!  




Jen Yuhas
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Jen Yuhas is a 2004 alum of Northern Cambria High School. She enjoyed so many things about growing up in a small town: close relationships with classmates, summer evenings spent at the ballfields, meeting up with friends “downtown” before Friday night football games. 


Jen graduated from IUP in 2008 with a B.S.Ed. in English Education and completed her M.Ed. in Reading through Edinboro in 2011. She was a classroom teacher and reading specialist for the Mifflin County School District from 2008-2016. In January of 2017, she moved to Pittsburgh to continue her career in education at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. While teaching full-time, Jen became a licensed real estate agent, working and learning in this career “on the side” since 2015, making the move to real estate full-time in October of 2021. 


Residing in a small neighborhood outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, Jen spends time exploring her city and enjoys sharing it with others. She is always looking for ways to connect with and support her communities.




Tessa Rechichar

Non-voting board member(s)

Mandi Paronish MSN, RN, CPN

Mandi is the founder of Small Town Hope, has created the original Hopes Villa Children's Center and Tree House in Cambria County and envisions even more opportunities for children in the future.  She is actively providing care to the kiddos at Hope's Villa and is also practicing Peri-Anesthesia Nursing.  She is in pursuant of a Doctorate of Nursing Practice with a specialty in family practice.  

At the age of 18, Mandi considers herself lucky to have found her true passion, caring for children and further the vulnerable.  Her volunteer work at cardiac and trach/vent camps quickly led her to pursue pediatric nursing.  She has worked with so many wonderful people and for numerous Children's Hospitals and incredible organizations in the North East including Pittsburgh Children's Hospital and Johns Hopkins Hospital.  Mandi's experiences span from critical care, anesthesia, leadership, team building, safety & quality, to level one trauma.  Mandi also has a passion for the arts and loves to think and work creatively. In undergrad, Mandi played volleyball at the Division One Level while attending Saint Francis University.

Residing in Pennsylvania, home is her favorite place to be and being called Aunt Manni will forever and always make everything better!  Mandi's dreams of bringing opportunity for health and wellness to rural communties drive the STH team from the board room to the big blue house on Bigler!


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