The NSHCF is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors (Board), all of whom are Newtown residents. In the spring of 2013, the Board appointed a Distribution Committee (DC) to make recommendations for the distribution of $7.7 million to 40 families deemed to be those most closely affected by the tragic school shooting. Immediately after the initial distribution in August 2013, the Board hired an Executive Director (ED) to manage the NSHCF, including all financials, community engagement, distribution of funds, and responsibilities of the 501(c)(3). The ED was responsible for the development of a second DC, formed in November 2013, to recommend distributions over time of the remaining $5M+ in donations.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- Chair: Christopher McDonnell, father of Grace McDonnell & Vice President of Research & Development for Professional Disposables International
- Vice Chair: Anne Ragusa, Attorney Anne M. Ragusa, LLC
- Treasurer & CFO: Gavin Arneth, Sr. Vice President (Private Banking Group) at People’s United Bank
- Secretary: Dr. Charles Herrick, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Danbury Hospital
- Former Chair: Benjamin B. Spragg, former Director of Finance, Town of Newtown
In addition, there are two nonvoting ex officio Directors:
- Isabel Almeida, President at United Way of Western CT
- William Rodgers, Attorney
Lucie A. Connell, MPA began working with the Foundation on a part-time basis in March 2016 as a Fund Support Specialist. She took over primary responsibility of the day to day operations of the Foundation in April 2019 as the Program Director, and is now representing the Foundation as the Executive Director. A life- long resident of Connecticut, Ms. Connell received her Bachelor’s of Arts in International Communications and Global Studies from Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY. She studied International Policies, Community Relations, Intercultural Communications, and Public Affairs. She studied abroad in Alicante Spain and attended the University of Alicante while interning and the Chamber of Commerce -C.O.E.P.A. In 2008, Ms. Connell graduated with her Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Non-Profit Development. Ms. Connell has been working within the non-profit sector for 17 years assisting organizations and foundations in strategic planning, community engagement, analytics, grants, accreditations, and policies & procedures and is a 2018 Leadership Development Roundtable (LDR) Graduate.
Jennifer Barahona, LCSW served the Foundation as Executive Director & CFO from September 2013 until April 2019. She currently serves as an advisor to the Foundation. A native and life-long resident of Connecticut, Ms. Barahona received a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development and Family Relations from the University of Connecticut and a Master’s of Science in Social Work from Columbia University. Ms. Barahona is a licensed clinical social worker who has spent the majority of her career in non-profit management and leadership roles. During her 13 year tenure at Family & Children’s Agency in Norwalk she served as Director of Youth Services and was an integral member of the team assigned to assist with the recovery efforts and follow up work with families in Connecticut who lost loved ones in the September 11th terrorist attacks. Ms. Barahona also worked for many years with children exposed to domestic violence and served as a researcher and legislative liaison for the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition. Her interests and strengths include community collaborations, grant writing, advocacy, and relationship building.
NSHCF is an Equal Opportunity Employer
First Distribution Committee
In the spring of 2013, a Distribution Committee was formed to determine the allocation of $7.7 million from the Sandy Hook School Support Fund to the 40 most impacted families of the tragedy.
Members of the committee were: Judge Alan Nevas (chair), Dr. John Woodall, and Joe Smialowski. At the request of the families, Ken Feinberg, a victim compensation master with a national reputation, advised the committee and assisted in the actual claims/distribution process. This distribution was originally scheduled to be completed in May, but was temporarily paused while meetings were held at the request of the CT Attorney General George Jepsen. It resumed on July 11 & 12 with private and public forums. Distributions were made in August 2013.
Second Distribution Committee
In November 2013 a 2nd Distribution Committee of the Sandy Hook School Support Fund was created to begin the work of looking at the unmet needs of the community and those most impacted by the tragedy in both the short and long term. The Committee is comprised of individuals who are Newtown/Sandy Hook residents and bring perspectives that are unique to how they were impacted by the tragedy. The Committee is charged with soliciting public input and making decisions on funding allocations granted by the Board of Directors.
Current members of this group are:
- Bob Schmidt, LCP (Licensed Professional Counselor and advocate for the surviving eyewitness children & their families) Committee Chair
- Kevin Cragin (Lifelong Newtown resident and member of the Fire Commission)
- Karen Kravec, LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Newtown Parent)
- Pastor Rob Morris (Pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church and Newtown Parent)
- Curtis Urbina (Sandy Hook Parent)
- Janet Vollmer (Retired Sandy Hook School Teacher)
- Jim Viadero (Newtown Chief of Police)
- Cheyanne Wirtz (Mother of Allison Wyatt who died tragically at Sandy Hook School)
Former Members include:
- Dr. Robert Bazuro, MD (Resident, Emergency Medicine Specialist)
- Jennifer Clark (Resident, CERT Member)
- Addie Sandler (Resident, Mental Health Professional)
- Connie Sullivan (Former SHS Teacher)
- Scott Ruszczyk (Newtown Police)
- Joeline Wruck (Resident, Grants & Foundation Development)