Board of Directors
Scott M. Mendel is a parent of a daughter with a developmental disability who lives at Misericordia. He is a retired partner of the international law firm K&L Gates. At K&L Gates, Scott concentrated his practice in complex antitrust litigation, including class actions, the antitrust aspects of mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures, and counseling clients on antitrust compliance with respect to pricing, distribution and other matters. He also counseled the firm’s healthcare clients on antitrust matters. During his 40 years of practice, Scott has been involved in a number of pro bono matters involving individuals with disabilities, indigent clients and incarcerated individuals.
Robert M. (Bob) Brown is the President and CEO of Opportunity Village, Nevada’s largest habilitation organization providing a variety of services to people with intellectual and related disabilities. Bob is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. He and his bride of 30 years Melinda have 4 children, one of whom has an intellectual disability. Bob is the former Publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and has recently served as the Board Chairman for the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. He was appointed to the National Council on Disability by Congress. He is also on the boards of directors of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, the Public Education Foundation and was appointed by Governor Sandoval to serve on the State of Nevada 150th anniversary committee.
Geana started her career at Misericordia 24 years ago after graduating from St. Norbert College in DePere, WI, with a bachelor’s in Psychology. She received her master’s in Psychology with a specialty in Counseling from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Geana currently is the Administrator of Clinical Services, Strategic Development and Quality Assurance at Misericordia. She acts as a liaison, advocating for choice for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. She also serves as Chairperson for the Intersect for Ability Network in the Chicago metropolitan area, striving to move services for the intellectually and developmentally disabled population forward. Through her coordination and leadership, Misericordia held its first national conference in October 2015, “Together for Choice,” which included more than 100 participants from 25 states.
Kevin Connelly has worked at Misericordia since 1992. As co-assistant executive director, Kevin assists the executive director with Financial, Development and Legislative Affairs. Kevin was named CFO in 2000, and prior to assuming this role, he was the controller. In his role as CFO, Kevin has made management responsibility for the Finance, IT and Purchasing Departments. In addition to his duties as CFO, Kevin oversees major gifts and planned giving for the Development Office, as well as assists with Special Events and Legislative Affairs. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Misericordia.
Kevin received his Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Marquette University in 1991 and his M.B.A. from DePaul University’s Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in 2001. He received his CPA designation in 1992, and was a past recipient of the FEI Chicago CFO of the Year Award for mid-size not for profits.
SISTER ROSEMARY CONNELLY
Sister Rosemary is a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy. A native Chicagoan, she attended parochial schools and taught in several Chicago Archdiocesan schools while continuing her studies. She earned a B.S. in Social Science in 1959, a Master of Arts in Sociology from St. Louis University in 1966, and a Master’s in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago in 1969. Over the years, she has received nine honorary doctorate degrees, and numerous awards and honors. In 1969, Sister was appointed Administrator of Misericordia Heart of Mercy when it had only 36 children and 39 staff.
Sister Rosemary has received numerous awards and honors throughout the years. She has gratefully received all of them on behalf of everyone who is involved with Misericordia.
Paul C. Landers, President and CEO, Pathfinder Village, an internationally renowned community in upstate New York supporting children and adults with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities. As the chief executive at Pathfinder Village, Paul has initiated a new era of growth, both for Pathfinder’s physical campus and through innovative programs. Paul has devoted his career in human services to organizational transformation and community living choices that include congregate settings. He is a graduate of Boston University and Cambridge College, with 30 years of experience in the disability field. Paul is married to Kathy Landers, a senior vice president at New York Central Mutual Insurance, and has two grown children, one grandchild, who make their homes in the Memphis and Boston areas, respectively.
Jim Whittaker is retired President and CEO of The Arc Jacksonville and The Arc of Putnam County. He had held the position in Jacksonville and Putnam County since 1999 and 1975, respectively. Both organizations provide services, supports and advocacy to hundreds of individuals with intellectual and developmental differences throughout the two NE Florida communities. He has provided consulting services nationally for the development of quality, inclusive housing options and actively promotes community-based employment opportunities.
Jim is a graduate of the University of Florida and is actively involved in local, state and national organizations that focus on disability issues. Jim’s most recent innovation in the field is the development of The Arc Jacksonville Village, an affordable rental housing community in suburban Jacksonville that opened in May 2016. This apartment-style neighborhood is comprised of 97 one and two bedroom units and is home for 121 individual and has become a national residential prototype of independent living for adults with cognitive differences. Jim promotes individual and family choice while providing an array of options for services and supports in quality community settings which value each individual with dignity and respect.
A career educator, Joe spent 33 years as a classroom teacher. He taught high school Spanish teacher for most of that time, but broke from that routine to spend two years teaching fifth grade at Colegio San Carlos in Bogotá, Colombia. Now retired from the classroom, Joe serves as the director of the International Cultural Center in Tiffin, Ohio where he resides with his wife, Linda. They have three children, the eldest of whom has developmental disabilities and is the motivation for Joe’s advocacy work on behalf of individuals with I/DD. On the state level, he has offered testimony before various legislative committees in Columbus, Ohio, specifically regarding day services. As an ardent advocate for choice, he has also travelled to Washington, D.C. on several occasions to speak with legislators in defense of the rights of individuals to have a choice about where they work, live and receive services.
Joe holds a B.A. Ed. from The Ohio State University and a M.A. Ed. from Bowling Green State University.
Scott McAvoy is the Vice President of Operations for the Marbridge Foundation near Austin, TX. Marbridge is a residential training and education program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities founded in 1953 by Ed and Marge Bridges. Born and raised in Maine, Scott has lived in Austin since 1995. Scott holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Maine and an MBA from the University of New Orleans. Scott began his professional career as a psychiatric counselor at River Oaks Psychiatric Hospital in New Orleans. He later became the CEO of CPC Coliseum Medical Center, Assistant Managing Director of River Oaks Hospital, and moved to Austin to assume the CEO position at Meridell Achievement Center. Prior to joining Marbridge in 2004, Scott was Program Manager for Empowerment Options, a home and community services company providing residential alternatives to people with developmental disabilities. Scott was appointed in 2012 by Governor Rick Perry and reappointed in 2017 by Governor Greg Abbott to the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities. He is also a founding member of the Texas Culture Change Coalition. At Marbridge, Scott is responsible for programs, facilities, admissions, construction, land usage and business development. Each year, Marbridge hosts the CoAct Project, a national executive leadership symposium of 100 leaders with 60 organizations from 25 states.
Rep. Allison Tant
Representative Allison Tant currently serves as the Representative of District 9 in the Florida House of Representatives. A native Floridian, she was born in Jacksonville and graduated from Florida State University in 1983.
Along with being a State Representative, Representative Tant is the Anti-Defamation League of Florida’s regional representative. She is also an active member of the Tallahassee Rotary Club, Capital Women’s Network, Tiger Bay, and Temple Israel’s Social Action Committee. She has served as president, treasurer and advocacy chair of the Children’s Home Society in Tallahassee, secretary of the Tallahassee Community College Foundation, chair of Holland & Knight’s Opening Doors for Children fund, and board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is a former member of the Leon County Schools Exceptional Student Education Advisory Committee and District Advisory Committee.
Representative Tant also worked with Leon County Schools and Lively Technical College to found an acclaimed summer institute teaching life, social, and independence skills for 60 disabled young adults. Additionally, she founded KEYS (Keys to Exceptional Youth Success), a scholarship program for students with disabilities. The organization provided instructional supplies to students, endowed a scholarship at Tallahassee Community College (TCC) for students with disabilities and worked with TCC’s Board of Trustees to create Eagle Connections, a college curriculum for students with cognitive disabilities. Furthermore, Representative Tant helped launch Tallahassee’s Independence Landing, an innovative, exciting, and affordable housing option for adults with a range of cognitive and physical disabilities.