Who’s Who at first

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January 2009

New Faces at FIRST

Sue Glasspiegel, our new Regional Director for Connecticut.

Sue Glasspiegel joined FIRST on September 15 as the new Regional Director for Connecticut. In the four months she has been aboard, she has met with the Connecticut Steering Committee and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Planning Committee and has had some strategic planning meetings with the Executive Advisory Board. She has also accompanied Mike Sperber, Kathie Kentfield, Paul Gudonis, and Rod Miller on some sponsorship visits. Although Sue has led and been part of several health, cultural, and business non-profits, the world of FIRST has been a pleasant, exhilarating eye-opener. She feels particularly grateful for the seasoned, dedicated volunteers who are supporting her in Connecticut.

FIRST Regional Directors work collaboratively to create, maintain, and grow volunteer-driven, self-sustaining FIRST programs in a named geographic area.

June 2009

New Faces at FIRST

Dennis Garrigan, Marketing Communications Programs Manager

Dennis Garrigan has joined FIRST as Marketing Communications Program Manager and is responsible for developing and executing marketing support for FIRST programs, specifically FIRST Tech Challenge and Volunteer Mentors as well as Alliances and will be setting the direction for program-specific marketing communications strategy and planning to build awareness of FIRST and its key initiatives and emerging markets.

Dennis has more than 25 years of combined media, marketing communications, and public relations experience, serving in roles as an agency consultant to industrial technology companies and non-profits, and previously, as a broadcast news anchor and director. In addition to serving as a consultant to technology agencies such as Davies Murphy Group, Eric Mower and Associates, and Brodeur Worldwide, he was chief marketing officer at Ohio Northern University, an institution dedicated to promoting engineering programs and, in particular, women in engineering. With a B.A. in journalism from Creighton University, Dennis authored the public relations chapters of Guerrilla Marketing for Dummies. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Business Marketing Association (BMA).

Naomi Mancuso, Operations Coordinator


Naomi Mancuso attended and graduated from Franklin Pierce College here in our very own Rindge, New Hampshire. She went on to work for the Empire Development Corporation (government for the State of New York), where she was a Project Manager for the 42nd Street Development Project. In this role, Naomi was a part of a team that helped to restore, restructure, and rebuild 42nd Street between Broadway and the Port Authority in New York City. She then came to New Hampshire to study in law school, becoming a paralegal for an immigration law firm. Naomi says she found her way to FIRST after hearing what a great impact it had on students, and thought it would be great to be a part of this talented and extraordinary group.



Roy Temper, Vice President of Development (left January 2011)

Roy Temper has joined FIRST as Vice President of Development, responsible for fundraising strategies; relationships with major sponsors and individual donors; proposals and grant management; and the scholarship program.

Roy brings significant non-profit fundraising experience to FIRST as well as a passion for education and youth programs. He began his professional life as a middle-school teacher and then spent 15 years with the YMCA, where he served as CEO in several communities and as director of the Management Resource Center in Rochester, NY for the National Y. After leaving the Y, Roy served as Fundraising Counsel for three national/international firms for 29 years – President of J. Donovan Associates, Executive VP of Ketchum, Inc., and Senior Strategist for Changing Our World, Inc. (Omnicom Group). Roy has provided fundraising counsel to 1,100 national and international organizations, raising over $1 billion. His areas of expertise include annual giving, capital/endowment campaigns, corporate support, foundations, major individual giving, and planned giving. Roy is a resident of Campton, New Hampshire, and he and his wife have 2 adult children and 3 grandchildren.

September 2009

New Faces at FIRST

 FIRST Headquarters Staff ...

Dana Chism, Program Manager, Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL)
Dana Chism has joined FIRST as Program Manager for Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL). No stranger to FIRST, Dana has worked as an event assistant manager at FRC Regionals in both Maryland and Pennsylvania, and most recently has worked under contract in FIRST Place as an Education Coordinator. Prior to working for FIRST, Dana was a Title 1 Math Specialist and Classroom Teacher for Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland. Dana earned her BS in Elementary Education at the University of Maryland and has an Elementary Education Teacher Certification for New Hampshire and Maryland. Dana comes as a teaching professional with experience both in the classroom and working in an administrative role helping to set up new school programs, as well as having hands-on experience working at FIRST. Dana is looking forward to expanding the Jr.FLL Program globally and helping to spread the mission of FIRST to many more young eager scientists!

Lee Doucette, Partner Services Manager, FIRST LEGO League (FLL)


Lee Doucette has joined FIRST as FLL Partner Services Manager for the East Coast (US & Canada). Lee spent eight years as the director of a non-profit childcare center that included three sites, offering care to children ages 6 weeks to 6 years including a special needs program; 6 years as the Headmaster’s Assistant at Kimball Union Academy, a private school in NH; 5 years as a legal assistant; worked as Executive Director’s Assistant/Operations Manager at Conflict Management Group, a non-profit conflict negotiation training and consulting organization; and, most recently, co-owned a for-profit business where she was involved primarily in graphic design and customer service. Lee attended the University of New Hampshire.   


Haley Dunn, Operations Coordinator

Haley Dunn graduated from the University of New Hampshire in May of 2009, receiving her Bachelor's in Communications. During her college career, she participated in the Honors in Major program and completed her thesis which focused on identity representation within online venues.  She presented her findings at UNH's annual Undergraduate Research Conference in April of 2009.  Before joining FIRST, Haley interned at New Hampshire Public Television as a Communications and Promotions assistant. It was during her fantastic experience with NHPTV that Haley discovered she very much enjoyed working for a non-profit organization; a realization that—at least in part—sparked her interest in working for FIRST. Haley is excited and honored to be a new member of the FIRST team, and is looking forward to working with this wonderfully talented and devoted group of people.


Amy Mitchell-Hartson, Program Manager, FIRST LEGO League (FLL)

Amy Mitchell-Hartson joined the FIRST team in July as the FLL Program Manager. Amy earned her BA in Environmental Science from Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, NH and her Master’s Certificate in Organizational Leadership from Kansas State University. 

Amy brings over 10 years of non-profit leadership to FIRST.  Prior to joining FIRST, Amy was a Program Director for NFI North in Concord, NH where she managed contracts between NFI North and the NH Department of Health and Human Services.  Amy worked for the Society of the Protection of NH Forests as the Rocks Estate Assistant Manager and North Country Education Coordinator.  In her current role at Program Managerat FIRST, Amy is responsible for the production of the FLL field setup kit and mat, as well as the team FLL registration system.


Jael Roberge, Senior Mentor and AmeriCorps VISTA Programs Manager

Jael Roberge’s first FIRST experience was as a volunteer within the Volunteer Resources Department. Soon after, it became apparent that the vision behind FIRST rang true within her own personal quest. Jael has professional experience both in the classroom setting, and working in various administrative roles including the medical and mental health fields. Having worked with children and young adults in community-based capacities, she is thrilled and honored to be part of FIRST as the Senior Mentor and AmeriCorps VISTA Programs Administrator.
“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response.” Arthur M. Schlesinger


Lorrie Russell, Partner Services Manager, FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)

In her role as Partner Services Manager for FTC, Lorrie Russell will provide support for the Affiliate Partners in the North and West regions. Lorrie has spent the past two decades creating both technical and artistic digital artwork. Her illustrations have been used on book covers, in magazines, marketing collateral and music CD covers.  Before joining FIRST, Lorrie worked as a technical illustrator for Brooks Automation in Chelmsford MA, where she created detailed photorealistic renderings used as graphical instructions for the assembly of robotic equipment. Under the pseudonym Lorrieann Russell, she has written the novels My Brother's Keeper and In the Wake of Ashes, both published by Writers Club Press of New York. By Right of Will marks her first novel with Lachesis Publishing. She was a contributing author and artist to The Writers Post Journal for three years.    

FIRST Regional Directors ... work collaboratively to create and maintain volunteer driven, self-sustaining, and growing FIRST programs in a named geographic area.  

Bill Hodrinsky, Regional Director, Long Island, NY (no longer)

In his capacity as Regional Director for FIRST, Bill Hodrinsky will be in charge of coordinating the FRC, FTC, FLL, and Junior Jr.FLL programs in the Long Island, New York area, which currently has more than 100 FIRST teams. He previously served as the District Director of Information Technology at Connetquot Central School district in Bohemia, and as a District Coordinator of Technology at Central Islip Public Schools. Hodrinsky has been a School-Business Partnerships of Long Island (SBPLI) Board member for the past 10 months.


Marie Hopper, Regional Director, North Carolina

Marie Hopper initially became involved with FIRST in 2001 when she signed on as an FLL coach for her son’s team. Since then, she has coached an FRC team and 20 FLL teams, in addition to coaching FIRST Tech Challenge for a year. A small business owner for more than 20 years, Hopper expects to significantly expand the presence of FIRST in the North Carolina region. The region currently supports more than 225 FIRST teams.


Gary Ishikawa, Regional Director, Hawaii

As Deputy Adjutant General for the State of Hawaii, Brigadier General Ishikawa is also Deputy Director of the Hawaii National Guard’s Youth Programs ─ which include a residential mentorship program called the Youth Challenge Academy and “Operation About Face” for at-risk youth. It was through the Academy that General Ishikawa initially became involved with robotics. Today, the state supports more than 200 FIRST teams.




Carol Popovich, Regional Director, Arizona

Carol Popovich is the Principal Investigator for the Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) and Stardust Foundation grant, known as the "FIRST Arizona Educational Infrastructure Initiative.” In this role, she performs fundraising, team recruitment and retention, and promotes FIRST in Arizona. Popovich also serves as FIRST Community Relations Representative for Microchip Technology Inc., and she co-chairs the Arizona FIRST Planning Committee. During her 14-year career with Microchip, Popovich has served as Business Analyst and Coordinator of the Company’s Academic Program, where she interfaced with K-12 educators and encouraged them to incorporate Microchip’s products into their curriculum.

Ned Smith, Regional Director, Erie, PA

Ned Smith is a technology specialist previously employed by the Catholic Schools of the Erie Diocese and the Girard and Iroquois School Districts. He has coached FIRST LEGO League teams participate from middle schools with a regional competition and was helpful in establishing programs in the Erie City School District when he served as a member of its Board of Directors. With a grant from the GE Foundation and a partnership with the national 4-H clubs, Smith’s emphasis this year will be to develop the FIRST Tech Challenge in the area. 



Richard Yasui, Regional Director, Canada

A founding mentor of FRC Team 1310, Runnymede Robotics, Richard Yasui went shopping for classroom robots in 2003, but found FIRST instead. Since then, he has been the Main Coordinator, as well as the programming and electrical mentor for the team. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering and for the past 18 years, and has been teaching Math, Science, and Computer Technology courses at Runnymede Collegiate Institute in Toronto. In addition, for the past two years Yasui has been involved with Howard Public School’s FLL team. Canada currently supports approximately 550 FIRST teams.

 FIRST Senior Mentors ... "Make Magic Happen” by seeking out, recruiting, and fully supporting Team Mentors and Event Volunteers for FIRST programs and other initiatives in the geographic area in which they reside.

Ron Borden, Senior Mentor, Finger Lakes, NY

Ron has served as the Chairman for the Finger Lakes Regional Planning Committee from its origin in 2003.  Over the last seven years, Ron has been working with FIRST teams in various capacities and currently mentors five regional FRC teams.




Mike  Henry, Senior Mentor, Texas

In 1999, Mike achieved a lifetime goal when he received a Master of Science in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota.  He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education from Baylor University.  Mike’s 25 years of experience as an educator has included developing and implementing many space education projects including the design, construction, and operation of a classroom space flight simulator and a mission control simulator for students in which “space flights” were conducted.   

For the past nine years of his teaching career, Mike was the faculty advisor for a high school FRC Robotics team that was a two-time FIRST Regional winner during that nine year period.  Currently Mike is working as a consultant and mentor for a STEM Academy robotics program. Mike is a GTE GIFT Fellow, and was awarded the 2000-2001 Christa McAuliffe Fellowship award by the Texas Education Agency.


Nathan Knauss, Senior Mentor, New Jersey

Nathan is a product of FIRST. A 2002 graduate of FRC Team #87, he pursued a career in Technology Education at The College of New Jersey. Through his experience with FIRST, he recognized the need for youth to become more technologically literate as the demand of developments in technology accelerates over time. 

Nathan is currently a Technology Education teacher at Cherokee High School in the Lenape Regional High School District where he teaches courses related to electronics, design and problem solving, and communication technologies. He holds professional affiliations with the New Jersey Technology Education Association and the International Technology Education Association.


Richard Levey, Senior Mentor, Illinois

Rich has over 40 years of experience programming large IBM Mainframe computers specializing in the operating system itself. Rich’s involvement with FIRST began as a coach for his daughter’s FLL Team Volcanic Panic in 2000. He continued on organizing FLL teams in the school for three more years before moving on to become a Regional Tournament Coordinator.


 FIRST AmeriCorps VISTAs… work to create awareness of FIRST in their community, focusing particularly on the needs of the underserved initiative, while seeking sponsors, mentors, and volunteers for FIRST programs.

Cynthia Brenner, FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA, Boston, MA

Cindy is a recent graduate from the University of Notre Dame where she majored in Theology and Public Policy. The Notre Dame community fostered her sense of service through numerous volunteer opportunities. Cindy became involved in a local Catholic grade school where she served in numerous capacities from art teacher to the 8th grade girls’ basketball coach.

Most recently, Cindy worked on an Indiana Congressman’s campaign where she was staffed as the Volunteer Coordinator. In this capacity, she was tasked with building and maintaining volunteer lists, creating recruitment strategies and certainly walking in countless parades. Cindy was drawn to the FIRST program because of its creative and unique approach to opening up the world of science and technology by fostering a community of active learning.


Ashley Carlson, FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA, Boston, MA

Ashley Carlson, a true California girl, attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Kingston University, UK internationally and recently graduated with a BS degree in International Business. While attending college, Ashley became involved in various community service projects. One included supervising at a homeless shelter. As the supervisor, she helped people with their chores, tutored children, and made their stay as comfortable as possible. Other community activities included service trips to Mexico, local fundraising events, and volunteering services to aid blind adults. Ashley is excited and eager to begin her VISTA Service in Boston with FIRST.

Kimolee Tiffany Cowell, FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA, Hartford, CT

Kimolee Cowell joined AmeriCorps and FIRST from the Urban League of Greater Hartford. As a volunteer with the Urban League organization she became interested and alerted to the Urban League’s FTC program and of an opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA in the FIRST Programs. Kimolee is well familiar with the struggles and lack of opportunities of inner-city kids, and her mission and objective is to educate and encourage the students and community to the opportunities available in math, science, technology and engineering through FIRST programs.  


William Duncan, FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA, Baltimore, MD

Bill brings more than 25 years of experience in telecommunications and marketing to his role as VISTA member for FIRST in Maryland. After retiring as Vice President of Marketing Communications for Spirent Communications, (a global telecom equipment company), Bill has been an at-home dad and part-time marketing consultant. Looking to re-enter the workforce and responding to President Obama's call to service for America, Bill checked the VISTA database and found the FIRST opening in Maryland. Drawn to FIRST's mission to promote science and technology to students, his background in marketing and high technology seems to be an excellent fit with FIRST's needs. Bill is eager to begin his year of service to promote FIRST activities in underserved school districts and help strengthen FIRST's organizational infrastructure in Maryland.

Earl  Hart, FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA, Washington DC

Earl has recently completed a dual-Bachelor’s degree program at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana in Mechanical Engineering Technology and Industrial Management. While attending Purdue University, he was an executive board member of the National Society of Black Engineers Chapter, as well as a Senior Advisor to the Society of Minority Managers. Earl already has very impressive work experience with companies such as Caterpillar, Inc., Delphi Electronics & Safety, and NASCAR Research and Development (as a power-train engineer). Originally from the state of West Virginia, he currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland.  Earl is very excited to put the knowledge and skills he has obtained during undergraduate studies to good use with FIRST.


Philip  Ross, FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA, Philadelphia, PA

Phil has spent the past three years working in different positions in the FIRST community. He has spent time as a team member, a team captain for Team 1712, “Dawgma”, based in Ardmore Pennsylvania, and a volunteer for all four FIRST programs. Phil recently graduated from Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. He decided to take a year off prior to his planned enrollment at the University of Maryland in the fall of 2010. During this year as a VISTA, he is looking forward to working with all members of the FIRST community and to spreading the message of FIRST over as much distance as possible.


Danya Shneyer, FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA, New York City, NY

Danya recently received a BA degree from Hampshire College in Urban Planning & Development. As a student at Hampshire College, Danya annually coordinated a day of science workshops for middle school aged girls. She also taught neuroscience to third graders at an after- school program in Portland, Oregon. In addition, Danya has supervised and mentored teens at a summer camp for several summers.

She recently completed PSO training and is now an AmeriCorps VISTA member, dedicating a year of service to FIRST in New York City. Danya is amazing at doodling and is passionate about marching bands. She also is skilled at television production having written, produced, and directed programming for Hampshire college public access television broadcasts.

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