HOPE’s President and CEO, Janet Simmons, earned a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Finance from Mississippi College that established a solid foundation for her later experience in sales and marketing. Early in her career she worked as the Marketing Planner for Coca Cola USA’s five state, southwest region. She also worked for Micro Computer Techniques in Nashville, Tennessee as their Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Janet believes that running a nonprofit is no different than running a business and her background in finance, sales and marketing has proven to be important in her work as the executive director. She also believes that no matter what kind of work you do; you are in the business of selling something.
Janet has 32 years of experience in the nonprofit industry both professionally and as a volunteer. In 2004, she began working at HOPE Ministries at their Volunteer Coordinator and subsequently as HOPE’s Program Director and Operations and Social Enterprise Director. In 2006, HOPE began earnestly searching out Earned Income Ventures as a source of additional sustainable revenue. Janet’s business experience was crucial in the development and implementation of HOPE’s Understanding the Dynamics of Poverty six-hour professional development workshop. Since its implementation HOPE has trained over 1200 professionals from 250 organizations and corporations.
In 2015 under Janet’s leadership HOPE launched The Way to Work Sustainable Workforce SOLUTIONS©, a program modeled after Cascade Engineering’s Welfare to Career program in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This evidenced based program increased Cascade’s retention from 34% to 97% saving the company millions in turnover expenses. The Way to Work serves the Greater Baton Rouge community and will hopefully expand to other parts of Louisiana, providing a strong workforce model for the state.
Janet’s passion for the impoverished and the desire to help people move forward began at an early age. She was born and raised in Japan as the daughter of missionaries. She credits her faith as a Christian as the motivating factor in her work.
Janet is a member of South Baton Rouge Presbyterian church and is on the music team. She is married and has four children and three grandchildren. She will be happy to show you pictures of her grandchildren any time.
Kelli began working with HOPE as a volunteer in 2005. Over the past 10 years, she has been active with the organization in both volunteer and staff positions. Kelli served as HOPE’s Director of Development from 2007 until 2009 and rejoined the HOPE staff as director of volunteer services in early 2013. She currently serves as chief operations officer and manages the day-to-day operation of the organization as well as HOPE’s Client Choice Food Pantry and volunteer programs. Kelli holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In addition to experience in the nonprofit sector, her background includes experience in marketing and market research. She worked as a freelance marketing consultant and for IBM/Tivoli Systems and Millward-Brown in Austin, Texas before returning to Baton Rouge. Kelli is passionate about continuing to lead HOPE’s efforts to bring innovative solutions to challenges facing the North Baton Rouge community.
HOPE Director of Marketing and Development began her work with HOPE as a part-time intern in 2011, working with then HOPE’s Louisiana Community Marketplace now known as Louisiana Gives©. Very quickly Melissa illustrated her organizational strengths and her ability to work on multiple projects at one time. Her past experience as an event planner also provided much needed skills to the HOPE Team. After working as an intern for only two months she began working full time on both the Louisiana Gives© as well as HOPE’s Power of HOPE fundraising event held in March of 2012. She proved her ability to plan and successfully execute this event with over 500 people in attendance and HOPE raising roughly $80,000 for programs and operations. Consequently, she was promoted to Marketing and Development Manager and continued to prove her weight in gold. After many successful events, grants and appeals Melissa was promoted in early 2015 to Director of Marketing and Development. Melissa graduated from LSU with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing. She worked in the event planning industry until she came to work for HOPE. Melissa was born in Houma, LA but grew up in Mississippi. Melissa and her husband Travis live in Denham Springs with their 2 dogs, Sadie and Gibson.
Sharleane first came to HOPE as a client of the Family Mentoring Program in 2011. She grew up in New Orleans and moved to Baton Rouge in 1997. While in the program she worked with HOPE’s team to gain housing, family and financial stability. During this time, HOPE’s Pantry Coordinator position came open and Sharleane seemed to be a perfect fit for that position. Although Sharleane works part time she takes her position seriously. You can find her on any given Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday engaging with the volunteers, stocking shelves, coordinating with the food bank and working around the campus. Sharleane is a delight to all who meet her, volunteers and clients alike. Through her perseverance and HOPE’s assistance she is a true mission driven result. Sharleane has six children and four grandchildren.
Nancy S. Foy came to work at HOPE in April of 2012 as one of HOPE’s Family Services Specialist. Nancy is a long time resident of Louisiana. She grew up in New Orleans. Nancy earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Merchandising from Louisiana State University. Nancy previously owned and operated a local uniform business, Nightingale’s Uniform in Baton Rouge for over twenty years. There she gained experience not only running a business but learning to work with and managing low-income employees, giving her a foundation for her work at HOPE. Prior to working for HOPE, Nancy was a case worker for the East Baton Rouge Parish Schools Homeless Program assisting families of middle and high school students with resources in the community concerning education, shelter, food, and medical needs. Nancy’s work with youth and families that were homeless made her a perfect fit for HOPE. Prior to her work with the school system Nancy worked with homeless youth at Youth Oasis. Nancy’s bicultural background has fostered a strong commitment to cultural competence. HOPE is privileged to have her experience, understanding and compassion as she works with the HOPE team to prevent homelessness and promote self-sufficiency and dignity.
Richard J. Stonich volunteered with HOPE since his retirement in 2007 from Iberville Bank. Dick has been HOPE’s Going Beyond facilitator now for eight years and later came on staff part time as HOPE Family Services Financial Specialist and Trainer.
After attending the University of Illinois followed by two years of military service he began his banking career in 1968 in Baton Rouge, LA with City National Bank. While at City National Bank he completed their management training program and settled into branch management. Dick managed several branches for this bank and was appointed chairman of the banks newly established Branch Operations Committee. After ten years he left City National Bank having attained the title of Assistant Vice President. In 1978, he assumed an executive management position with Iberville Bank, a Baton Rouge area community bank. Dick completed his career with Iberville Bank in 2007 having risen to the position of Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary. Dick served on the bank’s Loan Committee, Asset / Liability Management Committee, and was chairman of the Marketing Committee. As a member of the bank’s executive management team his primary responsibilities were focused in compliance, training, security, marketing, investments, and assisting human resources with compliance issues. He also acted as the bank’s liaison for legal matters.
In his banking career he has worked directly with numerous state and federal agencies which include the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas Community Investment and Economic Development Programs, F.D.I.C., U.S. Treasury, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Louisiana Attorney General and State Treasurer as well as the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana. Dick maintained his professional accreditations through regular attendance at annual seminars hosted by the Louisiana Bankers Association, The Independent Bankers Association, the FDIC, and other professional organizations. During his career he completed the Executive Bank Management School at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and the Banking School for Supervisory at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He also graduated from Bank Administration School at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and Bank Personnel School at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He has served on numerous boards and committees both professional and civic. These include such organizations as the Louisiana Bankers Association’s Marketing and Security Committees and the Capital Area March of Dimes as well as the Iberville Foundation for Academic Excellence.
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