Who’s Who at first

September, 2012 – New Faces at FIRST

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September, 2012

New Faces at FIRST

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

FIRST Headquarters Staff

Kim Asmega, Shipper/Receiver and Inventory Clerk

Prior to joining FIRST as Shipper/Receiver and Inventory Clerk, Kim Asmega held various administrative and data entry positions in Florida including Assistant Manager for Global Prospects in Port Charlotte.

Michelle Gagnon, Payroll and Benefits Specialist

Michelle Gagnon joined FIRST in July, 2012 as Payroll/Benefits Specialist. Michelle earned her Associate’s degree in Business from Hesser College and is currently working toward her Bachelor’s degree at Granite State College. She also holds a professional certification in Human Resources.

Over the last 14 years, Michelle has held positions at several companies, including both for-profit and non-profit, gaining experience in both Human Resources and Payroll. Her most recent position was with the New Hampshire Institute of Art as the Payroll/Benefits Manager, where she managed the bi-weekly processing of payroll along with administering the employee benefit plans. 

Michelle and her husband, John have been married for 28 years, raised two daughters, and have been lifelong residents of New Hampshire. In their spare time, they enjoy hiking, biking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, and anything else that will keep them outdoors and close to nature.

Gabrielle Muller, Executive Administrative Assistant for Field Operations

Gabrielle Muller initially started at FIRST as a Volunteer in the Volunteer Resource Department in February, 2012. After doing extensive research into non-profit organizations located in the Southern New Hampshire area, she became very interested in working for FIRST and joined the organization full time in July, 2012 as the Executive Administrative Assistant for Field Operations.

Gabrielle was born in Southampton, New York and has lived all over the country, with the most time spent in New England. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a minor in Finance.

Gabrielle is an avid reader, loves to ski, snowboard, go to the beach, and skydive.  She has traveled extensively and particularly enjoys the Caribbean, where she has visited most of the islands.

Kimberley Prygocki-Jeakins, Development Donor Data Coordinator

Kimberley Prygocki-Jeakins joined FIRST in July, 2012 as the new Development Donor Data Coordinator. Kimberley’s experience as a member of two FIRST teams in high school and her desire to work for a nonprofit organization drew her to the position.

Kimberley attended Boston College, graduating in 2000 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Computer Science, then completed her Master’s degree in Computer Resources and Information Management at Webster University’s campus in London, England.

After completing her degrees, Kimberley worked as an administrator in the pensions department for Unilever UK for almost five years, where her role focused on pensioner welfare and the database systems to support that work. After relocating from the UK back to her native New Hampshire, Kimberley worked for Member Benefits, Inc., a small company specializing in a program called MemberCard, primarily used by nonprofit public broadcasting stations to boost membership and individual giving.

In her spare time, Kimberley enjoys running, volunteering at the Manchester Animal Shelter, and spending time with her husband and two dogs.

Kerry Wentworth , FRC International Coordinator/Administrative Assistant

Kerry Wentworth joined FIRST in August, 2012 as a FRC International Coordinator. Kerry admires the FIRST commitment to inspire today's youth, which she believes will result in an exciting scientific future. She is very excited to become a member of the team at FIRST. 

Kerry graduated from Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts with a degree in Marketing/Advertising. She has spent the last 11 years working for non-profits in the local area.

In her spare time, Kerry enjoys relaxing at the ocean and also golfing with her family. She is married with two children.

New Faces in the Field…

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

Carolyn Arthurs, Regional Director – Louisiana

Carolyn Arthurs, a New Orleans native, has been involved with FIRST since the 2001 season. A graduate of Archbishop Chapelle High School, she attended college at Southeastern University and the University of New Orleans, with focuses in vocal performance and entrepreneurial business. As one of the Show Ready Events Regional Event Managers, Carolyn has managed over 40 FRC regional events across the country in the last 12 years. In addition to Regional events, Carolyn has also held various managing positions during the FIRST Championship since 2003. Carolyn is the owner of All About Events, LLC, an award winning local event design and management company that focuses on social events and destination New Orleans weddings. She has been in the event and entertainment industry as a manager and performer for over 20 years.

Blair Gallant, Regional Director – Alberta, Canada

As an entrepreneur who started his first business at age 12, Blair Gallant is the founder of chain stores and a land development company. Following his retirement, he started the AO Shirley Foundation to follow his passions, arts organizations, community events, festivals and community spaces, and now FIRST.

Blair was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, a fifth generation member of the Gallant family. He is married and has two children. His oldest son is a member of FIRST Robotics Competition Team 4334 “Alberta Tech Alliance,” an Archimedes Division Winner at the 2012 FIRST Championship.

Senior Mentors… work on the ground in a hands-on environment in support of the family of FIRST programs; recruiting, supporting, and sustaining teams, Mentors, Coaches, and Volunteers in their region.

Renee Becker, Senior Mentor - Minnesota

Renee is an alumnus of FRC Team 1675 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She earned a Bachelor of Science in Scientific and Technical Communications at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.  During her freshman year she founded a FIRST Alumni Organization, called GO FIRST, to help support the Twin Cities FIRST Community.  Throughout her college career, Renee mentored eight FRC teams; helping them with presentations, award submissions, and strategic planning. Renee is a member of the Non-Engineering Mentor Organization (NEMO), facilitator of Roundtable meetings at regionals and off-season events in the Midwest, co-founder of Assisting Creative Energy (ACE), and has presented at: the FIRST Championship Conferences, Minnesota Splash, and other FRC workshops.

Eileen Kahn, Senior Mentor - California

Eileen Kahn has a background in Public Relations and Marketing. She became involved in education in 1999, by working with after school programs. She got involved with FIRST when her oldest child was in 9th grade (in 2004) as the team mom. When the program needed a teacher she earned her teaching credentials and went to work officially as a teacher with the ROP Program at Beverly Hills High School. She started a robotics entrepreneurship program at BHHS and runs her classes and program using a corporate model. Eileen maintains three classes at BHHS and her team, 1515, which usually has 80-100 members each year. She has successfully mentored 12 teams including 3 internationally.  Eileen has served as a Google On Air Education Presenter for robotics. She speaks five languages fluently and loves working with motivated students.

Rachel Riquelme, Senior Mentor - Kentucky

Rachel is the Children’s Minister at High Street Baptist Church in Somerset, KY and the Co-Founder of Project 58:10 a non- profit organization that provides weekend backpacks of food for ~500  students who have little access to food when they are away from school.  Rachel is very involved in her community and in her local school system where she mentors a local FIRST robotics team, leads science and STEM related camps, teaches leadership in various programs, and volunteers in classrooms throughout the school year.

Roger Riquelme, Senior Mentor - Kentucky

Roger has been involved in FIRST since 2001; first as a student team member and then as a mentor.  While in high school, he was part of team 312 (Heatwave) in St. Petersburg, Florida. After graduating, he attended the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  While in college, he was one of the founding mentors of team 1369 (Minotaur), which he mentored from 2004-2008. After graduating in 2008, he had the opportunity to serve as a technical mentor for team 461 (West Side Boiler Invasion). Roger currently teaches PLTW Pre-Engineering courses at Southwestern High School and coaches team 3259 (The Thoroughbots), which he helped establish in 2010.

Mark Snodgrass, Senior Mentor - Indiana

Mark has worked with FIRST for 8 years. His primary focus has been working with middle school students who participate in FIRST Lego League. Mark has helped create 2 FLL teams at Center Grove Middle School North. During his time as the coach of those teams, he also volunteered to be the coordinating director for the Indy South FIRST Lego League Qualifying Tournament. He has also helped FRC team 1741, Red Alert Robotics, create outreach activities for their Chairman’s Award such as Community Tech Night. Team 1741 helped bring Mark’s desire to educate the community about internet safety in the digital world through that Community Tech Night. Students pre-K through 5th grade are educated by hands-on-science lessons, while their parents have the option to attend free technology training. Mark teaches Computer Applications at Center Grove Middle School North in Greenwood, Indiana. He received his Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Indianapolis in 2000 and just this summer completed his Master’s degree in Education with a focus in Technology from Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis.

Eric VanBuren, Senior Mentor - Washington

Eric has been involved with FIRST for four years starting when his son joined a FRC team. It wasn’t long until he became hooked on FIRST and switched his focus from the design and fabrication of the robot to being the lead mentor focusing on strengthening the teams Outreach, Marketing, Media, and Web performance. Eric has a background as a small business owner, auto and truck mechanic, Landlord, remodeling, and sales.

Martin Willie, Senior Mentor - Oregon

Marty has 12 years of experience working in public education and in IT. He is the Program Director for Oregon StRUT  (Students Recycling Used Technology) and is employed with Mid-Columbia Council of Governments and is taking on the FIRST role along side his current position. Marty is passionate about FIRST robotics programs, STEM Education, and has trained students, educators, and mentors in preparation for Jr. FIRST LEGO League, FIRST LEGO League, and FIRST Tech Challenge. He recently received the 2012 Award of Excellence from LEGO Education for his service to students in Oregon and SW Washington. In addition to providing training, Marty enjoys calling robotics matches and has emceed several Oregon Intel FIRST LEGO League Qualifying Tournaments, and was the Game Announcer in training at this year’s Oregon Autodesk FIRST Robotics Competition event held at the Memorial Coliseum. 

AmeriCorps VISTAs… work to create a broader awareness of FIRST in their community, focusing particularly on the needs of the underserved while seeking support from Sponsors to help meet the needs and challenges of teams, Mentors, Coaches, and Volunteers for all FIRST programs.

Robert Holup, VISTA - Washington, DC

Robert recently graduated from Florida State University with his B.S. in both Finance and Economics. Originally from Linden, NJ, Robert lived in Cape Coral, FL before attending Florida State University in Tallahassee. During his college career, Robert was highly engaged on campus in a variety of activities giving him a very diverse background; including his leadership roles within The F.S.U. Marching Chiefs and Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity Inc. During his senior year at Florida State, Robert was a co-founder for a new mentoring organization to target ESOL students within the Tallahassee area and served as a counselor for the C.A.R.E. Summer Bridge Program at Florida State University. Robert will be enrolling in law school Fall 2013 pursing his J.D./M.A. in Economics. He hopes to work within public policy either domestically or abroad.

Michael Kaurich, VISTA - Maryland

Mike is a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University with a degree in History and Political Science.  While at Grand Valley, Mike worked with the Office of Student Life on a number of different volunteer programs ranging from week-long service trips to weekday service outings.  Mike was also a member of FIRST Team 33 out of Pontiac Michigan while in high school and volunteered as a Mentor for a FIRST LEGO League team.  Outside of volunteering, Mike really enjoys cities, live music, and loves his record player dearly.  He is really excited to get to work inspiring kids to the wonders of science and math.

Rachel LaBattaglia, VISTA - New Hampshire

Rachael graduated from Towson University in 2011 with a B.S. in Earth-Space Science and a secondary education certificate.  She also minored in Spanish and Astronomy.  She participated in a variety of service organizations and held leadership roles throughout high school and college.  She has worked extensively with children through being a camp counselor, student teaching, and teaching a year of high school Spanish in Maryland.  Rachael is really looking forward to getting students and communities excited about robotics and STEM initiatives.

Riley McCall, VISTA - Massachusetts

Riley graduated from Duquesne University with a dual major in International Business and Marketing. While at Duquesne, she studied abroad in Rome, Italy and was involved with campus service groups that have travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana, Appalachia, and West Virginia. Riley has been a strong advocate of volunteering, especially through service-learning. After graduating, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer specializing in Agribusiness in Cameroon. Prior to graduating, Riley interned at the Pennsylvania State Government and Amizade Global Service-learning Programs.  Riley is excited to work for FIRST because she loves to see the youth inspired by science and technology in special and extraordinary ways.

Lindsey Wright, VISTA - Maine

Lindsey is a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire. In December, Lindsey was one of the first students to graduate from UNH's new Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems program. She has a strong background in research and conducted grant-funded independent research for an honors senior thesis in agroecology during 2011. Lindsey has held several positions with non-profit and service-oriented organizations and she most recently served with the U.S. Navy's Morale, Welfare, and Recreation division. Lindsey's interest in science comes from a fascination with the ways humans interact with their environment. In her future work, she hopes to help others awaken their own curiosity about the world and encourage others to work toward new discoveries.

FIRST Newsletter - June, 2013 - New Faces at FIRST

FIRST Headquarters Staff

Kelly Ashton, Operations Coordinator

Kelly Ashton joined FIRST in June, 2013 as an Operations Coordinator. Prior to joining FIRST, Kelly provided administrative and customer support for diverse industries, from medical offices to high tech companies – most recently Concord Hospital and Regan Technologies Corporation. She also owns a floral design business called Sorella Floral Design. Kelly has a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from the University of New Hampshire, and she spent a semester abroad at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth.

Emily Rose Bainton, AmeriCorps*VISTA Programs Coordinator

Emily Rose Bainton joined FIRST in May, 2013 as the new AmeriCorps*VISTA Programs Coordinator. Emily Rose, or Rosey as she also likes to be called, previously worked for Lutheran Social Services and Wediko Childrens’ Services. Prior to that, she was an AmeriCorps*VISTA member for PlusTime NH, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, Southern Africa. Emily Rose has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Social Work Specialization, and a Master of Science in Business Management and Strategic Leadership, both degrees from New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire.


Don Bossi, President

Don Bossi joined FIRST as President in May, 2013. Don, who has excelled in a 20-year career with several high technology companies, primarily in the fiber optics field, brings deep technical and management skills to the organization. Starting his career as a research scientist, first at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and then at United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), Don was a part of an advanced project at UTRC which was acquired by JDS Uniphase (JDSU). After a series of promotions at JDSU, he became Vice President and General Manager for JDSU Electro-Optics Products. Don next served as Group President of JDSU Active Components Group, and then as Group President, JDSU Transmission Products Group. In 2005, Don joined Technology Ventures Partners, serving first as CEO of Aegis Lightware, Inc. and then as CEO of Inlet Technologies. Most recently, Don served as the COO of CIDRA Holdings.

Daniela Dimova, FIRST Robotics Competition International Program Coordinator

Daniela Dimova joined FIRST in May, 2013 as the FRC International Program Coordinator. She oversees various aspects of the FRC international events and provides administrative and logistical support to the participating teams.

Prior to joining FIRST, Daniela worked in operations and customer support, as well as global travel assistance for companies including Graphic Packaging, Unitil Corp. and On Call International. She has experience in coordinating international medical evacuations and repatriations, and providing support to exchange students abroad.

Daniela graduated from Southwestern University in Bulgaria with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy. She speaks fluent Bulgarian (naturally), and can also converse in French and Russian.

Kristin Foss, Operations Coordinator

Kristin Foss joined FIRST in April, 2013 as an Operations Coordinator. Kristin was drawn to FIRST because of the organization’s mission and the prospect of a positive and fast-paced work environment.

Kristin attended Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island where she received her Bachelors of Science Degree in Historic Preservation. However, she learned that she liked to solve problems, work with an array of people, and focus on helping organizations run more efficiently. Kristin took it upon herself to make that her long-term career goal, so she decided to go back and get her Masters of Business Administration. Kristin graduated in 2011 from Southern New Hampshire University, where she received her MBA, concentrated in Operations Management.

Kristin previously worked for L-3 Communications as Financial Analyst and the Timken Company as an Account Analyst. In her spare time, Kristin enjoys the lake, running, and spending time with her husband, Andrew, and Golden Retriever, Zoey.

Cara Galli, Marketing Assistant

Cara Galli joined FIRST in June, 2013 as Marketing Assistant. For the last few months, Cara has been working with us through Wilson Employment Network as a supplemental assistant – first in Development, followed by Marketing.

Cara previously held various marketing and technical roles with local companies such as Apple Inc., MarketReach, PC Connection, i2 Technologies and STMicroelectronics. She has a B.S. in Business Administration from Emmanuel College in Boston, MA.

Mark Giordono, Vice President, Development

Mark Giordono joined FIRST in 2013 as the Vice President of Development. Drawn to working at FIRST because of his passion for the mission, Mark leads national strategy and implementation for sponsor stewardship, new sponsor development, grant writing, annual funds, and fundraising.

Prior to joining FIRST, Mark worked for technology startups in Vermont and New Jersey, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, and did economic development via technology commercialization at MIT. Most recently at Hewlett-Packard, he started partner-driven new businesses for the company’s printer division.

Mark attended Dartmouth College and graduated cum laude in 1994 with degrees in Geography and History. In 2002, he received his master’s degree in Business Administration from MIT’s Sloan School of Management where he was a Siebel Scholar.

Mark coaches youth soccer and hopes via FIRST to have a positive impact on his own and all children’s futures.

Kathy Levine, FIRST LEGO League Partner Development Manager

Joining FIRST in April, 2013 as FLL Partner Development Manager, Kathy Levine has more than eighteen years of experience in the field of education, from classroom teaching to curriculum development to the statewide management of programs that provide STEM enrichment opportunities to students of all ages and grade levels. Most recently she served as the Ohio operational partner for the FIRST LEGO League and Junior FIRST LEGO League programs from 2004 until 2013.

Kathy earned a bachelor’s degree in education from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree in education from the University of Dayton.

Jillian Mordarski, Junior FIRST
LEGO League/FIRST LEGO League Volunteer Program Coordinator

Jillian Mordarski joined FIRST as the new Jr.FLL/FLL Volunteer Program Coordinator in February, 2013. Jillian previously served for more than seven years as a direct service youth worker. Her work with youth ranges from curriculum development to case management. Her recent position of five years at Girls Incorporated of Lynn included empowering youth through STEM based learning. Prior to that, Jillian studied Human Services and Youth Work at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Jillian continues her work at Girls Inc. as a Volunteer and Mentor.

Kathy Morgan, FIRST LEGO League Partner Services Manager

Currently a FIRST LEGO League Operational Partner and Project Manager for 4-H through the University of Nebraska, Kathy Morgan joined FIRST as FLL Partner Services Manager in May, 2013.

Previously, Kathy was a Program & Outreach Coordinator for Girl Scouts of New Mexico and spent many summers as an Assistant Camp Director at the Rancho Del Chaparral Girl Scout Camp. Kathy has a Bachelor of Arts in Math and Physics from Colorado College, and is currently working on her Master of Applied Science in Leadership Education from the University of Nebraska. Her thesis is on “Educational Robotics as Leadership Development for Youth”.

Jamie Rich, Development Coordinator

Jamie Rich joined our Development team in April, 2013 as our new Development Coordinator. Jamie served as the Assistant Director of Client Services at Member Benefits LLC for several years, helping public media stations across the country increase their revenue, retention, and renewal rates.

Prior to that, Jamie worked in various departments for the University of South Florida. Some of her roles include; Resident Assistant, Andros Desk Manager, and Assistant of Academic Initiatives. Jamie earned her bachelor's degree in Social Work as well as a minor in Public Health from the University of South Florida in Tampa. She enjoys volunteering, running, and spending time with family and friends.

Susannah Smith, FIRST LEGO League Program Coordinator

Susannah Smith joined FIRST as a Program Coordinator for FIRST LEGO League in February, 2013. In this role, she oversees the Global Innovation Award competition, and helps promote the awareness and growth of the FLL program through various projects. Prior to working at FIRST, Susannah held marketing positions with companies such as M/A-COM, Inc., The Corporate Source Group, Windham Professionals, and The Currier Gallery of Art. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Notre Dame College.

Susannah is inspired by the vision of FIRST, and is honored to be part of such a wonderful organization and staff. In her spare time, she loves to be with her husband Rick and her son Sam. She also teaches pre-k Sunday school, loves writing, baking, and listening to 80s pop music.


New Faces in the Field…

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

Janet McKinley, Assistant Regional Director – Northern/Central California

Janet has been involved in FIRST activities for the past seven years. For the last three years, she has been part of the Regional Planning Committee as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Sacramento Regional. Her experience with FIRST started when her daughter joined the Robotics academic team at St. Francis High School in Sacramento, FRC Team 692, “The Fembots. ” She has mentored and supported the Fembots for six years before taking on her latest role of Head Coach of the team, a role she is now stepping away from.

Throughout her FIRST life, Janet has volunteered for many positions in all four programs within the FIRST progression. Her experience has grown from simply cheering and supporting the Fembots, to coaching the team in demonstrations, hosting FRC Kickoffs, full-field practice scrimmages, and FLL tournaments, as well as numerous diverse volunteering opportunities at local, regional, and Championship events.

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