Who’s Who at first

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January, 2012

New Faces at FIRST

FIRST is pleased to welcome the following new members of the FIRST Community:

FIRST Headquarters Staff

Scott Comeau, Junior Network Engineer

Scott joined the FIRST IT department as a Junior Network Engineering in December, 2011. Scott attended college in South Carolina and subsequently continued his computer training, gaining multiple computer certifications as well as becoming a certified A+ hardware technician. He has worked in the IT field for over ten years, including for such companies as Hewlett-Packard, Ecollege, and Dartmouth College.  

After moving around the U.S., he has recently settled back into the Northeast, where he grew up on the lakes of the coast of Maine. In his spare time, Scott enjoys staying active by working out and progressing in Reiki and other trainings. Scott is always touching up his computer skills by working towards the next certification. Scott also enjoys playing computer games and getting out into nature to explore and observe wildlife.

Rebecca Falkenburg, Team Grants Coordinator

Rebecca Falkenburg joined FIRST in November, 2011 as Team Grants Coordinator. Her passion for non-profits and desire to help children discover science and technology are what drew Rebecca to the organization.

Rebecca grew up in Dover, New Hampshire. She went to college in Boston where she earned a bachelor's degree in English at Northeastern University. After graduating, she returned to Dover and earned her master's degree in Public Administration from the University of New Hampshire. Rebecca completed an internship at the HUB Family Resource Center in Dover, which confirmed her desire to help others and work in a non-profit environment. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, dancing, and spending time with her family.

Stephanie Ford, Business Analyst in Operations Support

Stephanie Ford brings a wide breadth of IT and business experience to the position of Business Analyst for FIRST.  Stephanie has an associate’s degree from Hesser College in Computer Science and a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Leslie College. Prior to FIRST, she worked at Digital Equipment as a computer operator and programmer analyst; at Sun Microsystems as a software engineer and systems business analyst, where she earned several professional awards; and at biotech company Whatman-Balston as North American IT Director. In 2005, Stephanie became an independent IT Consultant where she held positions at Axis Computers, Parker Hannifin, and Watts Water Technologies in a variety of roles such as computer programmer, project manager, IT team manager, business analyst, technical writer, and quality assurance.

In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys being with her family. Stephanie has been married for 15 years and has three children – a 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old girl/boy twins. The girls are cheer leaders so a lot of time is spent at games and competitions. Stephanie loves the beach and spending time at their lake/ski house in the Sunday River area of Maine. Stephanie enjoys working out, staying healthy, and reading.

Mark Foynes, Manager of Individual Giving/Corporate Relations

Mark Foynes joined FIRST as a consultant in May, 2011 and assumed the duties of Manager of Individual Giving/Institutional & Corporate Relations in December. A tireless advocate of the transformative power of education, Mark has been involved with outreach-based nonprofits since 1996.

A lifelong Granite Stater, Mark earned degrees in history from St. Anselm College and University of New Hampshire. After earning his master’s degree, Mark became the Director of Education at the New Hampshire Historical Society, where he devoted himself to inspiring a love of history among youth through curriculum-based school programs. Under Mark’s direction, these programs would grow to serve 20,000 children each year. In 2007, Mark became the Executive Director of the Wright Museum of WWII History in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where he provided overall organizational leadership and served as the institution’s leading fundraiser and public spokesman.

Mark and his wife, Sarah, have two young children and live in New Durham in an antique farmhouse that is a fusion of Mark’s two abiding interests: history and America’s proud heritage of innovation. Mark and Sarah are Mentors to Junior FIRST LEGO League Team “USAFox.”

Maria Gagnon, Institutional Relations Manager

Maria Gagnon joined FIRST in October, 2011 as the Institutional Relations Manager. A New Hampshire native, Maria has devoted her professional career to ensuring the well-being of children and their families by providing them with access to quality services and opportunities to grow and succeed. Maria has demonstrated success in non-profit agency operations, program development and evaluation, fundraising, strategic planning, and board development. She is considered an expert in the area of adolescent substance abuse treatment and has worked for private counseling agencies, the NH District Court System, and New Futures. Most recently, Maria served as Executive Director for the Child Advocacy Center of Hillsborough County, serving child victims of crime.

Maria received her master's degree in Social Work from the University of New Hampshire. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, biking, and enjoying the state’s seacoast. A quiet night at home will include take out, a good movie, and sharing space on the couch with her husband and two dogs.

Mary Lee, FIRST Tech Challenge Partner Services Manager

Mary Lee joined FIRST in October, 2011 as the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Partner Services Manager. She was attracted to FIRST because she wants to “make a difference” in the lives of youth, especially the next generation.

Mary is currently a Board Member at New Hampshire TechFest, a program designed to encourage students to pursue careers in the STEM areas of study. Prior to FIRST, she was a Marketing Manager at Digital Equipment and a Finance Manager at BAE Systems. She earned her MBA in Marketing from Rivier College and a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Boston University.

Mary and her husband, Steve, love to cook and make intriguing dishes – so many recipes, so little time! Their two children keep them quite busy and they enjoy every moment with them.

Dennis Mitchell, FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Field Maintenance

Initially with FIRST as a temporary carpenter for the FIRST Robotics Competition, Dennis Mitchell now works fulltime as Field Maintenance. He enjoys being a part of a program that inspires so many youth to follow careers in science and technology.

Prior to FIRST, Dennis worked for two years as both a ski technician and a mountain bike technician in Virginia, followed by five years in Vermont as a sub-contractor building homes, custom woodworking, and fine cabinetry.

Dennis enjoys several outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, and snowboarding. He also enjoys watching movies and reading.

Beth Murphy, Director of Finance

Beth Murphy joined FIRST in January, 2011 as its new Director of Finance. She has worked in the not-for-profit sector for 15 years – most recently with Camp Fire USA and United Way of King County, both in Seattle, Washington – and was inspired to join FIRST by our mission and values. Beth grew up in Long Island, New York and graduated from Long Island University with a bachelor of science in Accounting. She enjoys family and friends, music, art, movies, and books.

Kathryn Myers, FIRST Robotics Competition Program Coordinator

Kathryn Myers joined FIRST in September, 2011 as the new FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Program Coordinator. Kathryn holds a bachelor’s degree with a major in Psychology and Law and a minor in Sociology/Anthropology from Plymouth State University; a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of New Hampshire (UNH); and a Supervisor’s Certificate and a Train-the-Trainer Certificate, both from UNH. She plans to continue her education and professional development as she loves learning!

Prior to FIRST, Kathryn was Program Manager at the UNH Technology Transfer Center, where she managed a training program and other services offered to local highway departments in the state. The “workforce development” aspect of that job helped Kathryn realize her passion for working in projects that introduce kids and teenagers to science and engineering career fields.

Kathryn was born in Astoria, Oregon and has lived in New Hampshire since age 6. When she is not at work, she enjoys reading, watching movies, playing poker and pool, and spending time with her family. She is excited about her new career with FIRST, which she knows will be both challenging and rewarding.

Jenna Skinner, Accounting Generalist

Jenna Skinner made the jump to FIRST in order to work in accounting and because she wanted to do something good for the community. Jenna graduated from Syracuse University with dual bachelor’s degree in Communications/Theatre with a minor in Radio/TV and concentration in Interpersonal Communication. She worked in Radio doing writing and production, then Retail Management. She furthered her education with an associate’s degree in Accounting.

In her spare time, Jenna volunteers for Greyhound Pets of America, travels, kayaks, renovates her fixer-upper home, makes jewelry, walks her dogs, and searches for the perfect margarita recipe.

Sarah Stray, Volunteer Coordinator

Sarah Stray joined FIRST as Volunteer Coordinator in November, 2011. Drawn to FIRST because of its integral Volunteer base and mission, she’s thrilled to be a part of the expanding Volunteer Resources Department.

Prior to joining FIRST, Sarah lived in Chicago for 13 years where she worked for Hoopla Communications, Inc., a conference and event planning company committed to working with not-for-profit clients who focus on social justice, economic, and community development, working with disenfranchised people, and women’s issues. Sarah was responsible for project managing large-scale events; silent auction and fundraising development; and recruiting, training, and managing event Volunteers. Through her work with not-for-profit organizations and as an animal shelter Volunteer, Sarah became fascinated by how volunteerism affects positive change within communities.

Sarah holds a bachelor of arts degree in English Literature from Wheaton College in Massachusetts. She is an avid knitter, gardener, reader, theatre aficionado, and spins her own yarn. Sarah is happy to be back in her native New England with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog Comet.

Natalie Turcotte, Volunteer Coordinator

Natalie joined the FIRST Volunteer Services Department in October, 2011 as the Volunteer Mentor/Coach Program Coordinator. FIRST is an exciting place for Natalie to be because of the wonderful contribution it makes to the world.

Natalie is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor of arts degree in Sociology. Over the past several years, she has held positions in both social services and technology. She was born and raised in Manchester. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, jogging, snowshoeing, and travel.

Kathy Vachon, FIRST LEGO League Partner Services Zone Manager

Kathy started at FIRST in September, 2011 as FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Partner Services Zone Manager covering the west coast of U.S. and British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. Kathy has a degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice and has worked with abused and neglected children for over 20 years. For the past 12 years, she has worked for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), initially as a Guardian ad Litem Supervisor recruiting, training, and supervising the cases and CASA Volunteers in the Manchester Court System. Three years ago, Kathy transitioned to CASA’s Director of Development. In that role, she oversaw all aspects of fundraising including grant submissions, corporate and civic donations, individual gifts, and special events.

Kathy is excited to begin her new career path at FIRST, an organization that values children and encourages their potential.

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