Board of Directors (2015-2016)
John Walsh (Chair) retired from Pfizer where he worked for the Warner Lambert Company for 30 years in a variety of management positions. Most recently he was President of the Schick Wilkinson Sword Group in Milford, CT. John is a director of the Global Foundation for Eating Disorders, and has also served as a trustee of Fairleigh Dickinson University and the National Childhood Cancer Foundation. John holds a BS from Boston College and an MBA from Seton Hall University. John and his wife Sara live in Westport, and have three daughters: Connie, Elizabeth, and Alexandra.
Lauren Soloff (Vice Chair) moved to Westport with her husband, Wes Malowitz, in 1994. They have three children; Hannah who is a sophomore at William & Mary, Benji is a junior at Staples and Jake is a graduate of Vanderbilt University. Lauren is an owner and the Executive Vice President of Sonics & Materials, Inc., an ultrasonic equipment manufacturing company located in Newtown, CT. Prior to her work with Sonics, she was a practicing attorney in the field of labor and employment law, working in both the public and private sectors. Since moving to Westport, Lauren has served on the PTA Executive Committee of Saugatuck Elementary School, as well as, the board of The Conservative Synagogue in Westport. She is a graduate of Tufts and the Washington College of Law at American University.
Bruce Hennemuth (Treasurer) moved to Westport in 1987. Following his graduation from Princeton University, he has been employed in the financial services sector. Currently, he works in the fixed income division at Morgan Stanley. Bruce and his wife, Roxie, have two children, Britt and Grace Ann.
Rachel Meisel (Secretary) moved to Westport with her husband Micah in 2011. They have three children, Andrew who attends the Lower School at Greens Farms Academy, Louisa who is in pre-school at The Conservative Synagogue, and Owen who just turned two and a half. Rachel is a graduate of Lehigh University where she studied business and international relations and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management where she earned her MBA. Prior to having children, Rachel was an investment banking professional at both Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, most recently specializing in Fixed Income sales. Rachel currently serves as co-chair of The Conservative Synagogue pre-school and also sits on the Board of The Conservative Synagogue. She is a committed distance runner and is looking forward to completing her fifth marathon this year.
Brian Baxendale lives with his wife, Marjolijn in East Norwalk. Sons, daughters and grandkids are spread between Europe, the Caribbean and America. Brian has worked for Ford, Mars and ran a global Pitney Bowes business for the ten years prior to retirement. Since then he has worked with Junior Achievement, Habitat for Humanity and SCORE as a volunteer. Brian enjoys rowing, pursuing business interests; his extended family and helping people realize their dream of starting and growing their businesses. Brian graduated from Cambridge and Bradford Universities in the UK.
Janis Collins moved to Westport twelve years ago to raise her two children after retiring as Managing Director at JP Morgan where she ran the business incubator to launch new e-finance companies in New York City. She had a successful 25 year business career, primarily in financial services consulting. She has ten years of community service on many Westport boards and committees. A current member of Westport’s Board of Finance and the Westport Sunrise Rotary. Her prior community leadership roles include Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, PTA co-President at Greens Farms Elementary School, Board Member of the Westport Farmer’s Market, co-Chair of the PTA Council Technology and Bedford Middle School PTA.
Cheryl Eldh is a mother of four and grandmother of ten. She has been a resident of Westport since 1973 and a realtor since 1974.
Jennifer Ferrante is an attorney with 10 years’ experience with a private law firm handling commercial litigation, and a career-long commitment to the nonprofit sector, including Sanctuary for Families and The Legal Aid Society in New York. Jennifer currently works at the Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport, where she is coordinating the state’s first civil legal incubator program. Jennifer has served on Project Return’s board since 2015 and has volunteered for the organization since 2012 on the Gather Round the Table Luncheon committee. Additionally, she is involved with the Westport Chapter of National Charity League and AWARE CT, and was President of the Board of Directors for the Apple Blossom School in Wilton. Jennifer and her husband have two children and live in Westport.
Bruce Gaylord was Chief Legal Counsel- Terex Construction for Terex Corporation in Westport until his retirement in September, 2014. Before joining Terex, Bruce was Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at JPMorgan Chase in New York, where he was a member of the Legal Department for more than thirty years. Bruce and his wife, Gail Kelly, have lived in Westport since 1982. They have two sons, Jesse and Cameron, both of whom are graduates of Staples High School and Hamilton College. Bruce graduated from Hamilton College with an AB degree and then earned a JD from New York Law School and an MBA from New York University. Bruce has served as Co-President of The Family Center of Westport Weston, Inc., as a member of the Board of Directors of Staples High School Tuition Grants Committee, Inc. and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Westport Basketball Association. He is currently Co-Chair of the Hamilton College Fairfield County Alumni Association and a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Law School Alumni Association.
Christopher Greer, his wife Kris and their two children have lived in Westport for 13 years. Their daughter, Kassidy is a freshman at SCAD and their son, Kevin is a sophomore at Staples. Chris has worked in finance for the past 20 years in marketing, sales and investor relations. He ran a global business for Citi and has been a principal and partner at a number of asset management firms including, Forest Investment Management, Stark Investments and Weiss, Peck & Greer. Chris is also a professional photographer and has been the photographer for Staples Football for the past six seasons and he is a baritone for the St. Luke Choir. Both Chris and his wife are graduates of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Jeffrey Gurren, retired, has lived in Weston since 1995 with his wife, Georgia, and their two children, Amanda and Matthew. A graduate of Syracuse University and New York Law School, Jeff practiced real estate law in New York with the national law firms of Weil Gotahal & Manges, Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Finely, Kimble, Wagner. In 1987, he co-founded a title insurance agency, which handled commercial real estate transactions in New York and nationally. For many years, he served on the executive committee of the New York State Land Title Association. He has lectured frequently on various real estate and title insurance topics and for several years was a faculty member in connection with continuing legal education courses presented by the American Law Institute-American Bar Association. Jeff is a member of the Weston Kiwanis Club’s board of directors and serves as co-chair of its youth and community services committee.
Heidi Kurlander-Kail moved to Westport with her husband Andrew in 2004. They have two children, Hannah and Aaron, who attend Westport Public Schools. Heidi began her career working in the Licensing Department at Jim Henson Productions – The Producer of the Muppets and spent the majority of her career in Advertising Sales at Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day and Good Housekeeping Magazines. She most recently held a part time position at Local Fairfield County Magazine publisher, Moffly Media (Westport, Greenwich, New Canaan/Darien, Stamford, Fairfield Living and at Home Magazines). Heidi is a graduate of State University of New York, College at Buffalo with a BS in Education.
Kimberly Lake is Co-Founder, with her husband Al Puchala, and General Counsel of Capitol Peak Asset Management LLC, a merchant bank specializing in public/private partnerships and infrastructure investments. A resident of Westport since 1994, she and her husband have raised their three children, Ali, Andrew and Christopher here in Westport, but are not empty-nesters yet, as her youngest is a junior at Staples. Kimberly has deep roots in the community. Prior to her involvement with Project Return, she succeeded Carl Leaman as Chair of the Town of Westport Green Task Force, and also served on the Boards of the Westport Weston Family YMCA and The Connecticut Fund for the Environment. Kimberly started her legal career as an Attorney at Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts (now Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman), where she focused on mergers and acquisitions and debt and equity offerings. Kimberly has a J.D. from Georgetown University, where she wrote for the Georgetown Journal of International Law and held a Public Interest Law internship teaching consumer rights and contract law to inmates at Lorton Penitentiary in Lorton, VA, and a B.A. from Wellesley College.
Catherine Lewis moved to Westport in 2007. She has 4 children- three step children who have all gone through the Westport public schools, and a daughter who is in second grade at Saugatuck Elementary. Catherine is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). She has held various leadership positions at social service agencies in New York City. Currently, she is on the faculty of Ackerman Institute for the Family in NYC where she is Director of Community Training and Co-Director of the Foster Care and Adoption Project. She has presented nationally and internationally on best practices of working with children and families. In addition to her work at Ackerman, she maintains a small private practice in NYC and Westport, providing individual, couple and family therapy. Catherine became involved with Project Return 5 years ago as a pro bono therapist to one of the residents, and joined the board of Project Return in 2013. She is a graduate of Smith College and received her Masters of Social Work from NYU.
Jim Randel is an attorney who has practiced in Connecticut since 1978. He is the father of four children and four grandchildren. He is proud that his daughter, Phoebe, has preceded him on Homes with Hope’s Board of Directors. He has been involved with many philanthropic activities including the Board of Trustees of the Westport Weston Family Y, the President of the Fairfield County Leukemia Society, and the founder of the Connecticut Yankees.
Angel Reyes a junior at Norwalk High School and is a NECA (Norwalk Early College Academy) scholar. This is her first year on the Board of Directors with Homes with Hope. Angel has held many leadership roles throughout her high school career and is thrilled to be joining the Board. In addition to academics, she swims on the Norwalk High/Brien McMahon swim team and will play on the Norwalk High Lacrosse team this coming spring. Over this past summer she attended Norwalk Community College taking two college-level classes; General Biology and Database Development. Angel has two younger siblings a brother and sister who are both very special to her.
Stephen Rowland is a senior at Staples High School and this is his second year on the Board of Directors at Homes with Hope. He is on the soccer and hockey teams at Staples and also plays golf and snowboards for fun. This past summer Stephen went on a 22 day hiking trip along the Appalachian Trail, where he was backpacking and spending the nights in tents. He has two sisters, Sally and Charlotte, Sally is a graduate of Wake Forest and Charlotte is a junior at Vanderbilt. Charlotte was also a member of the Homes with Hope Board while in High School, which is what inspired Stephen to do the same.
Jeff Scanlan lived in Westport for 24 years before moving to Easton. His careers have included Financial Services – as Executive Director at UBS and Managing Director at PaineWebber, Publishing – as editor and publisher of several business newsletters, and libraries – as Head of Information Services at the Greenwich Library. Jeff is a graduate of Fairfield University and the Pratt Institute Graduate School of Library Science. He and his wife, Pat, have three children, Brendan, Dana and Siobhan – all of whom attended Staples High School, and five grandchildren. Pat is Past President of Project Return in Westport and serves on its board. They are avid boaters, and Jeff is Past Commodore of Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club.
Patrice Schramm recently moved to Weston after having lived in Westport and Fairfield for 40 years. During that time she has been on the Board of the Westport Country Playhouse where she was chairman of several fund raising events. She has served as Treasurer, Fund Raiser and Ways and Means Chairman for Westport Young Women’s League. She is past President of American Cancer Society and has chaired several Cancer Balls. She has served as President of the St. Francis of Assisi Women’s Guild and President of the Home-School Association for Assumption School. Currently Patrice is a member of the Levitt Pavilion Governing Board and has Chaired 13 major Summer Concerts. She and her husband John were Co-Presidents of The Cotillion Club. Patrice has two children and has been a realtor for over 30 years.
Hal Shupack, his wife Sheila and 3 children moved from Forest Hills, NY to Weston 41 years ago. Over the years Hal has served that community in many capacities. He was on the Weston Charter Revision Commission in 1976, on the Board of Finance for 14 years and on the Board of Selectman for 6 years before becoming First Selectman. He served on the boards of the Nature Conservancy and Weston Kiwanis Club and the treasurer of the Weston Historical Society. He was a member of the Weston Police Commission and chairman of the Facility Planning Committee for the Town of Weston. Hal & Shelia are now residents of Westport. He is former Chairman and CEO of American Hinge Corporation, now retired. He graduated from American University with a BS in industrial engineering. Last, but certainly not least, he’s the proud grandpa of 6 grandchildren.
Chan Wheeler has 30 years in senior executive roles with Maxicare, CIGNA Healthcare and finally spent 10 years with UnitedHealth Group as CEO of the Uniprise Division, responsible for claims, service, technology, web development as well as serving a customer base of corporations with 5,000 or more employees. He has a BA and BS from Stanford University, a Master in Health Communications Research from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA. He retired from UnitedHealth Group in 2005 and most recently spent a year in England working for the UK Department of Health as its Commercial Director General. He is an investor and board member for HealthPlanOne, a health care technology firm. He lives in Westport with his wife Leslie.
Missy Zahler moved to Westport in 2009 with her husband Matt. They have 3 boys who attend Kings Highway Elementary School. Missy graduated from Butler University (B.S., MBA). Prior to raising her children, Missy was in sales and sales management at MCI Worldcom and Schering Plough Pharmaceuticals. Missy has served as Landmark Parents Association President (Landmark Preschool, Westport) and PTA Co-President for Kings Highway Elementary School. She enjoys tennis and reading in her spare tim