Board of Directors
2021 – 2022 Board of Directors
Jessica Collins, President
Jessica Collins joined the Board of Directors in 2017 and is a native of Hendersonville. After graduating from West Henderson High School, she attended Appalachian State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science and High Point University for her Master of Science. Jessica is currently employed with Pardee Hospital as the Physician Liaison.
Jessica is a graduate of Vision Henderson County class of 2017 and the United Way Rising Leaders Program. She is also an active member in Junior Welfare Club of Hendersonville and the Appalachian State University Alumni Chapter Leadership Board.
Susan Thomas, Vice President
Susan Thomas has been a full time resident of Henderson County since 2015. Before that she lived in San Antonio, TX where she spend 40 years teaching high school mathematics. She also served as a consultant for the southwest region of the College Board, and was an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is a past president of the Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics. She has a B.A. in mathematics from Vanderbilt University and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at San Antonio. In Hendersonville she also serves on the board of the Children and Family Resource Center, and she has tutored at the Boys and Girls Club and at Bruce Drysdale Elementary School. Susan and her husband Ken have one daughter who lives in Nashville with her husband and two small daughters.
Mark Russell, Secretary
Mark Russell is the general manager of Southern Alarm and Security. He is originally from Buffalo, NY and attended Wake Forest University with a BA in Communications. Mark has spent 10 years in high education fundraising between Wake Forest, Unviersity of Buffalo, and Virginia Tech. Mark is married to Emily Johnson Russell and has two young daughters.
Patti Baker, Treasurer
Patti Baker is a partner at BGW CPA, PLLC and has worked at the office in Hendersonville for 12 years. She has served on many nonprofit boards and is currently the treasurer of the United Way of Henderson County. Patti has lived in Hendersonville for over 22 years and has two daughters and one son. She enjoys traveling in her spare time.
Jennifer Balkcom, Voting Member
Judy Scott Edwards, Voting Member
Judy Scott Edwards was elected to serve on the Foundation Board starting in July of 2016. She is a graduate of Rutledge College of Greenville SC with an A.A.S in Business Management and A.A.S. in Merchandising and has worked in the Banking Industry for more than 25 years. She is currently employed with Carolina Alliance Bank, as Branch Manager and AVP of the Hendersonville office. Judy grew up in Greer, South Carolina and her two children, Jaylan and Aleigha, attended and are graduates of the Henderson County School system. She has previously served as a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Henderson County, served the Miss Hendersonville Scholarship Pageant and served as a Preliminary judge for Miss North Carolina and South Carolina Scholarship Pageants. Presently she also serves on the Carolina Village Board of Directors.
Tim Ertzberger, Voting Member
Melisa S. Escobar, Voting Member
Melisa has more than ten years experience as a Certified Spanish Interpreter (CHI). Melisa works for Western North Carolina Interpreter Network and Verbatim Language Solutions. She offers a blend of creative, cultural, and communication strengths.
Melisa has lived in Hendersonville since 1998 and has been involved with Henderson County Public Schools since 2006. She has taken roles as a ESL Substitute teacher, PTO president at HHS, and most recently as a member of the Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee. Melisa also volunteered and helped to start El Centro and its news letter “Contacto Hispano.” She is also a very active member in the community and served on different boards.
Melisa graduated from AB Catholic University in Caracas, Venezuela with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Journalism. After graduating Melisa worked as a TV journalist for 5 years, then she work as a Communication Officer for AFS-Venezuela Studies Abroad and Leo Burnett Company in Venezuela.
Melisa has three children all of them graduated from Hendersonville High School and she is married to Efren D. Escobar.
Todd Gothberg, Voting Member
At AdventHealth, Todd serves as Director of Organizational Development, leading all training efforts across the health system and driving employee engagement through coaching, team facilitation, leadership mentoring. He brings 33 years of professional business and healthcare experience to every organization with which he works.
Todd is a sought-after key note speaker on a variety of topics, including Leadership, Effective Communication, Building Positive Cultures, Team Dynamics, Health & Wellness, Time Management/Prioritization, and Customer Loyalty. Todd is has two published books, “No Reservations”, a business fable about building customer loyalty one relationship at a time, and “BELIEVE!,” a 30-day devotional which combines two of Todd’s passions, faith and fitness. Todd is also a featured speaker for the Jon Gordon Companies, out of Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.
Todd holds a BA in Business Management from Gettysburg College and an MBA with a concentration in Organizational Behavior, from Lebanon Valley College.
On the personal side, Todd has raised four beautiful daughters (28, 25, 22, 18), competed for Team USA at the World Triathlon Championships in Australia, has completed 45 marathons including 16 Boston Marathons, is a six-time-time Ironman finisher and a two-time Spartan Ultra Beast finisher, in training for his 3rd this fall.
Amy Laughter, Voting Member
Amy Laughter, Regional Education Facilitator with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, joined the board in 2016. She is a native of Henderson County and proud graduate of Henderson County Public Schools. Amy has worked in public education for 27 years as a teacher, instructional coach, and in her current role in recruitment and retention of teachers. Amy has been married for 28 years to BJ Laughter, a school principal, and has one daughter, Emma, who is a sophomore at University of Tennessee.
Rebecca Lebowitz, Voting Member
Rebecca is retired and is a full time resident of Hendersonville since 2011.
She has thirty seven years of experience in education in New York City (NYC) and New York State (NYS) as a NYC public school teacher, the Education Director of a NYS Office of Mental Health Psychiatric Center, the NYS Education Department liaison to citywide and statewide interagency projects, a NYS and NYC Fiscal and Program Manager, an Adjunct Professor for Graduate Education Administration at Brooklyn College and the Assistant Superintendent for Funded Programs, Compliance and School Improvement in a Long Island school district.
In the aftermath of 9/11, she was appointed to serve as a member of Community Board 1 (CB #1) in Manhattan for nine years and served as the Co-Chair and subsequently the Chair of the Youth & Education Committee.
She was a Governor’s appointee to the Board of Visitors of Queens Children’s Psychiatric Center and served as a Board member of Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center.
She continues her commitment to youth and families through Board appointments to the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and the Children and Family Resource Center. She has served two Board appointment cycles with both organizations.
Molly McGowan Gorsuch, Voting Member
Molly McGowan Gorsuch, public information officer for Henderson County Public Schools, joined the board in 2018. She holds a B.A. in Journalism from Elon and an M.S. in Communications from Purdue, and proudly promotes teacher, student, and school accomplishments through her position with the district.
A graduate of Vision Henderson County class of 2015, Molly also serves on the Board of the North Carolina School Public Relations Association and is an active member of the National School Public Relations Association. She also is on the Board of Hendersonville Sister Cities, is a member of the Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee, the Henderson County Department of Public Health’s Local Health Information Team, and serves as President of Elon’s newly formed Asheville Alumni Chapter.
She and her husband live in Hendersonville with their rescue cat and dog, and look forward to enrolling future children in Henderson County Public Schools.
Alan Skelton, Voting Member
Alan Skelton served as President of Wilson Learning, a seminar-based training company, before his retirement. He is the founder of CTI, a telecommunications company, and co-founder of Thomas Golf, an internet -based golf equipment and technology company. Alan has been involved with education in many capacities including fund-raising and board membership with the NC School for the Deaf. As a native of West Virginia, his love for the mountains brought him and his wife, Janie, to Hendersonville, NC 25 years ago.
Amanda Staton, Voting Member
Amanda Staton is a Regional Services Senior Consultant with Wells Fargo Bank, NA. She has been a resident of Henderson County for the last 18 years, and a graduate of Montreat College in Black Mountain. Amanda has worked with the community throughout her career with Wells Fargo in Henderson County for the last 10 years. Her company is passionate around allowing her to be involved with various events. Amanda has been married for 8 years to Jason Staton, a native of Henderson County and graduate of Hendersonville High, and has three sons, Caleb (a junior at West Henderson High School, and Mason and Maverick who are two and under.
Jimmie Lynn Whitmire, Voting Member
Jimmie Lynn Whitmire joined the Board of Directors in 2016. She is a graduate of the Henderson County Public Schools and Greenville Technical College. A registered Dental Hygienist, Jimmie Lynn has practiced in Henderson County for 44 years. Jimmie Lynn was actively involved as a past president of PTO, Academic Boosters and Henderson County Parent Advisory Committee. She was the co-founder of PAGE (Parents for the Advancement of Gifted Education). She is married to former coach/educator John Whitmire, whose family has deep roots in Henderson County Education. She has one son, John, Jr. who with his wife, Heather, have 2 granddaughters. When she is not working part-time she enjoys spending time with her granddaughters and scrapbooking. Jimmie Lynn looks forward to working to support the needs of Henderson County children.