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 Ward, MSW
A life-long resident of Akron, Ohio, Erica Ward has recently been hired on 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 – 2015
* 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 has more than 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 a BA in Finance and an MBA from the University of Akron and is a graduate of the Cannon Trust School. She also serves on the executive board for Mobile Meals of Northeastern Ohio as treasurer-elect.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* Jennifer Eckman
Jennifer Eckman is dedicated to Akron Ohio. Her internship with the Downtown Akron Partnership let her network and meet others around the community, which landed her office manager job at the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau and The John S. Knight Center for Summit County. She enjoys working closely with the hospitality industry.
She graduated from Kent State University in 2010 with a BS degree in Applied Communication and has a Certification of Leadership from Kent State University. She strives to make the best out of every day by giving back to others that are less fortunate. She is the fundraising coordinator and charity coordinator at St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Barberton. Her specialty is running fundraising events at her church. She has worked on different charity and fundraising goals with her church for the Salvation Army, The Barberton Food Bank, and The Barberton Community Pregnancy Center.
* James Strang
Hudson resident Jim Strang joined the Family Promise board in 2015 following a diverse career in the management of non-profit organizations including several healthcare systems and other mission-oriented organizations. Additionally, he has served as a consultant to non-profits in the areas of operations, strategic planning and financial development. He has a Masters Degree in Chemistry from Carnegie-Mellon and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh. He achieved Fellowship status with the American College of Healthcare Executives.
His initial involvement with hospitality ministry was in the late 1990s through South Hills Interfaith Ministry which operates in several communities south of Pittsburgh. Following relocation to Summit County in 2005 he became a member of the First United Methodist Church in Cuyahoga Falls where he served as Chair of the Church’s Missions and Christian Involvement Ministry Committee.
Jim and his wife Mary have taken Family Promise volunteer training and, as time has allowed, have had the privilege of hosting some of the families who have stayed at First Church.
* Alana Daveduk
Alana Daveduk is an Operations Manager at the non-profit Summit Workforce Solutions. She is a Cuyahoga Community College graduate with a degree in Applied Business, Marketing. She supports leadership and runs the day-to-day operations and the business office of a 100,000 square foot facility known as the Ohio Means Jobs Summit County, helping to coordinate partner, business and community events.
Alana is passionate about building a better community and helping to support families. Her strengths include organization, communication and leadership. She also likes to volunteer in the community and is an active member of the Akron Rotary.
She joined the Board of Directors of Family Promise Summit County to be part of the movement that has a positive and changing effect on the community and to grow and develop herself at the same time. She believes that ultimately communities are made up of people that represent families and those families are our future.
* Rabbi Robert Feinberg
Rabbi Feinberg has been the Rabbi of Temple Israel of Akron since 2009. He helped to spearhead the building of the new Temple Israel building and celebrating the 150th anniversary of Temple Israel of Akron. Rabbi Feinberg has been in the Rabbinate for more than 30 years and is highly regarded in his profession for helping communities and individuals contend with change. He previously served at Congregation B’nai Torah in Highland Park, Illinois where he facilitated a cultural change in a congregation, which prided itself in the delivery of superb life cycle events, to a congregation which was replete with new programs for all generations and superb adult education.
Rabbi Feinberg’s area of expertise in change management has roots in his twenty-year career as a Navy Chaplain. He served in high level staff positions in the U.S. and overseas, in peace and war. Rabbi feels his greatest achievements are the programs he has helped to institute in the congregations he has served as well as while he was in the Navy. During his Navy service at the U.S. Naval Academy, Rabbi helped to institute an annual visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as a requirement for all academy freshman. This program continues to thrive twenty years after he was stationed there. Another career highlight was founding the first liberal synagogue in the former Soviet Union at the end of the communist era, which flourishes today.
Rabbi Feinberg was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. He holds an MBA from Temple University and a BA from Yale University.
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