Our Professional Staff
* Director – Jeff Wilhite
In February 2013, the board hired Jeff Wilhite as the new executive director. Jeff is an experienced manager with 25 years of experience in business administration in private industry and public service with the City of Akron and the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority. He is committed to our mission of helping the children and their families in Summit County. In the short time Jeff has been with Family Promise, he has been meeting many of our community leaders and funders as well as the leaders of our host and support congregations.
Jeff is the founder and partner in Hydrogen Energy Systems, LLC., (HES). HES has successfully developed patent-pending technology that allows small internal combustion engines to run on CNG and 100 percent hydrogen. Prior to founding HES, Jeff served as President and CEO of Ovonic Hydrogen Systems, Inc. of Rochester Hills, Michigan where he directed the divisional patents and work on hydrogen storage.
Before joining ECD-Ovonic, he served as the Deputy Director of Planning and Urban Development and Deputy Mayor for Administration for the City of Akron for six years, where he represented the City being the chair of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Hope VI Grant for the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority. He coordinated economic development initiatives in conjunction with the Economic Development Department.
In addition, Jeff was the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Inventors Hall of Fame overseeing the operations of the museum and coordination of the annual induction ceremony. Having a life-long commitment to alternative energy sources and environmental stewardship, he built Ohio’s first permanent household hazardous waste recycling center for Summit County residents to properly manage hazardous materials. The center has won several state and national awards for its proactive environmental stewardship.
Jeff is a graduate of the University of Akron earning his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Marketing. He has served on numerous local, state, and national boards and commissions. He and his wife Cindy live in Akron and have two adult children, his son Jordan and daughter Katie. He and Cindy are avid hikers, most often seen exploring the trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park as well as the Summit Metro Parks Fall Hiking Spree. They have a 1955 Buick that he likes to take to drive or cruise-in events. They are both avid baseball fans and go to many Indians and Aeros games each season.
* Operations Manager – Pauline Egan
Pauline has been with Family Promise since 2006 and works together with the staff, volunteers and clients generally making the trains run on time. Pauline has an extensive work history in office management and employment readiness skills and brings a wealth of knowledge to Family Promise. With a constant smile and cheerful greeting, she brings many skills to the table and Family Promise is fortunate to have her.
Pauline has worn many hats over the years as the House Manager and has also assisted with case management as well as taking on many administrative functions.
Pauline now manages the office and makes Jeff’s work just a bit easier. Originally from the Cleveland area, she and her husband have been long time residents of neighboring Stark County. They love camping and being outdoors. Pauline has a love of music and singing and is a member of the Cleveland based Singing Angels Alumni organization.
* Case Manager – Erica Cherry, MSW
A life-long resident of Akron, Ohio, Erica Cherry was hired on in 2013 as a full time Case Manager at Family Promise of Summit County. Erica Ward’s experience with Family Promise began in 2008 when she interned with FP while pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Development at the University of Akron. After completion of the internship, Erica felt so strongly about the Mission of Family Promise and continued to support the agency as a volunteer.
While pursuing her Master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Akron, Erica was invited to return to Family Promise and complete a second internship. During this time Erica was offered a part-time position performing case management with the families participating in services at Family Promise. Additionally, as part of an internship project, Erica began facilitating the “Getting Ahead” classes to previous guests of Family Promise. Erica has also completed internships with the YMCA and Summit County Domestic Relations Court.
Erica recently graduated with a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has been our full-time Case Manager since 2013. Erica is very excited for the opportunity and strongly supports the mission of helping homeless families with children stay together and achieve sustainable independence.
Board of Directors – 2014
* Board President – Ann Wehener
Ann is a commercial litigation attorney practicing in the Akron area for over 15 years. Before coming on to the board of Family Promise, she has been involved with positively impacting her community through the Junior League of Akron, where, through her board service there and time as President, she gained extensive experience in volunteer management, governance and fundraising. She also pursues a music ministry at her church, St. Sebastian, by cantoring and singing in the parish choir there.
Ann joined the board of Family Promise in 2009 and volunteers with the organization regularly. She gives her time to Family Promise because she believes it fulfills an unmet need in the community and it spurs her to put her faith in practice. She says “Family Promise gives families the time and resources they need to stay together and get back on their feet. It’s a truly rewarding experience to know that I am part of an organization that makes that happen.”
* Board Vice President – Open
* Treasurer – Brighid Hillmuth
Brighid is a Vice President with PNC’s Cleveland Commercial Banking division. Brighid obtained an MBA from Walsh University, a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Excelsior College, and received her certification as a Financial Paraplanner from the College of Financial Planning. She has been recognized twice by the Akron YWCA as a “Woman of Professional Excellence” and in 2006, she was given the “Women in Business Champion” award by the Small Business Administration.
Brighid has had the opportunity to serve and participate with many nonprofit organizations. This include board positions with: Boys and Girls Club of Summit County, Athena Powerlink of Northeast Ohio, Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way, and now – Family Promise. Additionally she has served in various roles with Boy Scouts, Junior League of Akron, St. Sebastian Parish, Junior Achievement, and the Sugar Plum Home Tour.
Brighid currently resides in West Akron with her family.
* Secretary – Kathy Wells
Kathy’s 25 years of experience in managing investment portfolios for Personal Trusts, Investment Management Accounts, Charitable Trusts, Foundation and Endowment Accounts, and IRA Rollovers. In addition, she has managed the Newpoint Money Market Fund, and was an equity analyst for the Health Care Industry. Kathy has earned a BA in Finance and an MBA from the University of Akron.
* Pat Carroll
Pat is a lifelong Akron resident dedicated to the area. He runs a small technology service business with several family members. He is a University of Akron graduate with a BS in Industrial Management. Pat decided to get involved with Family Promise to help others get the opportunities he was given. In his spare time he enjoys golfing, hiking, running, and cross country skiing. He resides in Highland Square with his wife Amanda and children, Madelyn and Elliot.
* Wes Pierce
Wes Pierce is the Global Manager responsible for the IT infrastructure services in R&D, Engineering, Quality, and Manufacturing at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. This includes the Akron and Luxemburg Innovation Centers and each of Goodyear’s 38 global manufacturing locations. He has been in IT for 18 years, working with both small to medium sized businesses, as well as multinational conglomerates. Wes has been in a leadership role for eight years after 10 years of hands-on technical engineering experience.
He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Notre Dame with his Masters of Business Administration in 2008, as well as holding a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems from Indiana University.
* Rev. Patricia Christ
Pat is the Pastor of Firestone Park United Methodist Church and has been in Akron since 2011. Before coming to Akron, she was the pastor at Otterbein UMC in Warren and the Richard Brown Memorial UMC in Youngstown. Pat’s volunteer involvement runs deep. She is a founding board member of the Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past in Youngstown, the board president at the United Methodist Community Center in Youngstown. She has advised the Model United Nations at Kent State and Grand Valley High School in Orwell and was an advisor for the Teen Helpline in Ashtabula.
Pat finds that she is called to live and work in and for the city but finds her respite in gardens, parks and camping. She has been married to her husband Roger for 43 years and have four adult children and eight grandchildren in northeast Ohio. She is a Minnesota Vikings fan (which is almost like being a Browns fan) and often have two or three books going at the same time, sometimes one is even just for fun.
Shalom – a sense of well-being, health, wholeness – for the world is the vision of hope she holds and works towards this vision by being a follower of Jesus the Christ.
* Deven Tillman
The mission of Family Promise is very dear to Deven’s heart. Deven is a freelance writer and author and proud Mother to daughter Destiny. Deven also has a love of animals and volunteers to help care for the animals that have been displacd with their families and are sheltered in the kennels at the Day Center. Deven also provides an invaluable service to the Family Promise staff by volunteering countless hours of her time at the Day Center.
* Bruce Zake
Bruce came to the board in October 2008 and has been board president from summer of 2009 through the end of 2014. He has been a freelance photographer for many national magazines and newspapers for more than 25 years running his own business. Continuing his photo business, from 2006 – 2009, he was the adviser for the University of Akron’s student newspaper, The Buchtelite. Since 2009, after leaving Akron, he has completed his master’s degree in media management at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the school, teaching various photo classes. You’ll see him at many of our Family Promise events shooting photos and video to put on the website.
Bruce & his wife Susan became involved with Family Promise around 2007 after former Temple Israel Rabbi David Lipper suggested there was some great work to do at this little organization that many had not heard about. Bruce’s goal is to make Family Promise more of a household name in Summit County where people can direct families with children to get back on their feet and become more productive members of our community.