Michelle Foster, Ph.D | Biography
Dr. Michelle Foster is the President and CEO of The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation in Charleston, West Virginia. Prior to joining the foundation in February 2016, Dr. Foster served as the CEO of KISRA (the Kanawha Institute of Social Research & Action, Inc.) for 18 years. She is a consummate, intensely-driven professional with high level analytical, leadership, organizational management, problem-solving and technological skills.
Dr. Foster used these skills to transform KISRA into one of the most impactful and enterprising community-based, non-profit organizations in West Virginia. She developed all of KISRA’s programs, which are in the areas of Health, Employment, Asset Development and Learning. Under her leadership, KISRA grew from one employee sponsored by Ferguson Memorial Baptist Church (KISRA’s founder) to a team of over 60 employees with funding from multiple local, state, and federal sources. The KISRA team now serves and empowers over 2,500 West Virginians annually. Her work at KISRA has been recognized locally and nationally. She was honored as a Fatherhood Champion of Change by President Obama at the White House in 2012. The WV Martin Luther King Holiday Commission honored her in 2016 with the Living the Dream Award.
Michelle has a doctorate in community economic development (CED) and two master’s degrees – one in CED and another in engineering management. She is also a certified economic development financial professional and a certified housing development financial professional. Prior to her CED career at KISRA, Dr. Foster was a chemical engineer at Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical). Most recently, she completed additional university-level studies in impact investing at the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School as well as in nonprofit management and leadership at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Dr. Foster is chairperson of the West Virginia Community Development Hub Board of Directors and a founding member of the giving circle, African American Philanthropy in Action (AAPA).
Sheri Ryder | Biography
A native West Virginian, Sheri began her service to the community during her formative years in her hometown of Stonewood/Clarksburg, WV. She volunteered at the local children’s home, nursing home, and animal shelter. She brought numerous “stray” people and animals home, sometimes with her family’s permission, but more often with the hope of their blessing!
Sheri attended Morris Harvey College and West Virginia State College. Her passion for children and families led her to become the Early Childhood Coordinator for Community Council of Kanawha Valley. During this ten-year period, she was one of a group of dedicated individuals that brought the nationally recognized home visiting program, Parents as Teachers, to West Virginia.
Sheri joined The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation in 2002 as a Program Assistant and moved into the Senior Program Officer position in 2007. She has been through many changes over her fifteen years of service with the Foundation and she continues to be grateful and humbled by the steadfast donors, the committed grantees and, most importantly, the many wonderful people within the communities the Foundation serves.
She has been active as a volunteer in the nonprofit sector with a variety of groups for over 45 years; most recently she has served with the WV Nonprofit Association (board member), WV Children’s Advocacy Network (board member) and the Greater Kanawha Long-Term Recovery Unmet Needs Committee (advisory committee member). She is the mother of two children and the grandmother of three beautiful grandchildren. When Sheri is not working or volunteering, she enjoys being at home with her dog Lexi, curled up with a good book.
Todd Dorcas | Biography
Todd came to The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation after nine years with the West Virginia Department of Transportation’s Division of Public Transit (DPT) where he was charged with implementing the Federal Transit Administration’s State Safety Oversight Program over the Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) in Morgantown, WV. He has a Bachelor’s degree from West Virginia State and he attended Graduate School at Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning. Todd was theExecutive Director of the King Park Area Development Corporation where he assisted the city of Indianapolis with a $4.5 million HUD-awarded grant to demolish vacant and blighted houses, build 269 new homes, rehabilitate 44 homes, improve streets and infrastructure, and develop a system of parks and green space. This project, known as “Fall Creek Place,” is one of the country’s most successful residential/mixed-use redevelopment projects. Fall Creek Place has won several national design awards and has been designated as best practices in architecture and redevelopment. Todd later went on to work for the city of Indianapolis as a city planner specializing in writing zoning ordinances and land use. Todd is a current board member for the Kanawha County Ambulance Authority and an avid golfer.
Sarah Furrow | Biography
Sarah is the Administrative Assistant at The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation where she began working in September 2014. Before joining the Foundation, Sarah was employed as a receptionist in the medical field. She is a native of Raleigh County where she grew up riding ATVs and enjoying the outdoors with family. Sarah is very family-oriented and is happily married with two sons. Her hobbies include all forms of art, especially drawing and painting as well as spending time outdoors camping or fishing and making others laugh. Following one’s dreams is a very important lesson Sarah strives to teach her children. She feels proud to be a part of a foundation that works hard to make sure our community’s dreams are kept alive.
Susan Hoover | Biography
Susan is the Scholarship Program Officer at The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. She started with the Foundation in September 1998 as the receptionist and quickly became the Scholarship Coordinator in January 1999. Before joining the Foundation, Susan worked in research and banking. She is a native of Charleston and graduated from Charleston High School before attending West Virginia University. Susan is very family-oriented. She and her husband together have five children and nine grandchildren. Through her work at the Foundation, Susan channels her passion for youth by helping students apply for scholarships and pursue their post-secondary ambitions.
Stephanie Hyre | Biography
Stephanie joined The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation team in March of 2012. She received her BA from West Virginia University and her MA from the University of Georgia. Prior to her work at the Foundation, Stephanie directed a small, basic needs assistance agency and before transitioning to the social sector, Stephanie taught composition and rhetoric to college freshman. In her current role as Program Officer, Stephanie works with nonprofits and community members to convene stakeholders, leverage resources, and enhance the educational outcomes for the residents of the Greater Kanawha Valley. Stephanie is a 2017 class member of Leadership WV. She is co-chair of Philanthropy WV’s Education Affinity Group, a board director of Charleston Montessori, and a member of Generation WV’s Public Policy Committee. As a certified instructor, she volunteers at WV Health Right guiding patients with chronic illnesses through chair yoga and stress management. Outside of her community-driven activities, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and traveling.
Megan Simpson | Biography
Megan is the Health Program Officer at The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation and has been at the Foundation since May 2015. Megan is a Parkersburg, WV native and a graduate of Purdue University (home of the world’s largest drum). Before coming to TGKVF she worked as a Program Specialist at the American Lung Association in WV. In her spare time, Megan volunteers as a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters, serves on the board of the West Virginia Children’s Advocacy Network, and is on the steering committee of the Kanawha County Friends of the Library. Megan’s cat Willie was selected as Pet of the Week for the Charleston Gazette and she’s also an avid viewer of all things Real Housewives.
Christine Spaulding | Biography
Christine joined The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation team in 2007. Previously, she was the Accountant/Grants Manager/AmeriCorps Director for the United Way of Central WV/LifeBridge AmeriCorps. In 2014, Christine furthered her education by earning an MBA from the University of Charleston. A strong community advocate, she volunteers by reading to at-risk youth, fundraising for charitable causes, and providing tax return assistance to marginalized populations. Her professional interests include accounting, taxes, program, and development. Christine serves as a site manager for the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program; she is also a member of FAOG and AICPA, as well as Charleston Estate Planning Council. Beyond her professional and volunteer pursuits, Christine is very family-oriented. She and her husband have one daughter, who was recently married. Outside of her family and community building activities, Christine enjoys Zumba, concerts, reading, and traveling.