Meet our Board of Directors
Patti is retired from a career in Early Childhood Education. After living in Charlotte for 30 years, she and her husband are now year-round residents of the High Country. Patti is a member of Rumple Presbyterian Church. She is the mother of three and the happy grandmother of two grandsons, Reid and Luke, and one granddaughter, Sally. Patti enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time in our beautiful mountains.
Susan Duke (Vice Chair)
Originally from Indiana, Susan Duke has lived in the High Country for 30 years. Her professional background is in business, with work at a law firm, in the news industry, and in administration at the Blowing Rock Hospital. Susan also volunteers with the Holy Cross Church, the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, and serves on the board of the Watauga Humane Society. She is the Director of the Boone Bridge Club and an American Contact Bridge League Certified Teacher.
Maria Julian (Secretary)
Maria took her first nonprofit job ten years ago and has worked ever since for social change and health organizations. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova, Maria worked on issues affecting women and girls with organizations such as Partners in Health, Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands, and the State of the World’s Mother’s report. Maria earned a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Journalism from Ohio University and a Master of Public Administration from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. She is the Innovative Approaches Coordinator at the Appalachian District Health Department. Maria loves playing euchre and pointing out palindromes.
Kathleen, a Miami-based philanthropist and entrepreneur is a widely respected businesswoman and volunteer leader. As Managing Director of her family’s philanthropic foundation, The Ethel & W. George Kennedy Family Foundation, Kathleen guides charitable support in multiple states supporting a variety of causes and holds positions on numerous non-profit boards. What started out as a part-time job has become a lifelong passion: “I never lose sight of the importance philanthropic foundations and volunteerism has as an instrument of change in the lives of people in need.”
As part of the Bank of America Community Development team, Monica’s 39-year career focused on building strong and viable communities while improving the quality of life for families, individuals and small businesses that are traditionally left behind. While serving in the top role for this coast to coast business operation, Monica worked with nationally recognized non-profits, advocates, and grassroots organizations to bring about positive change in all communities where the bank has a presence. Monica’s commitment to empowering individuals and families carries over with a targeted focus on girls and young women. This is evidenced by her lifelong work with Girl Scouting where she has served in numerous policy-making roles including a 6-year term on Girl Scouts of the USA board and most recently, President, Girl Scouts, Hornet’s Nest Council. Monica currently resides in Charlotte, however, looks forward to becoming a year-round resident of the High Country.
Susie was born in Monroe, NC and graduated from Greensboro College in 1970. After moving to Boone in 1992, she began working at Appalachian State University and retired in 2013 as Director of Testing Services. She has both a Master’s and an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degrees in higher ed administration. In the past, she has served on the Board of Directors for the Valle Crucis Conference Center and on the Governing Council of the National College Testing Association. Susie lives with her dog and cat in Boone and has a daughter, Kelly Witmer, who resides in Los Angeles. She attends St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church in Blowing Rock and volunteers at Hospitality House and Watauga Hospital.
Jan Rienerth (Chair)
From Cleveland, Ohio, Jan attended Ohio University as an undergrad and Southern Illinois University for her graduate degrees. She recently retired from teaching Sociology at Appalachian State after 40 years of service. She has been a Guardian ad Litem for many years working with abused, neglected and dependent children. Jan has also been an advisor for Sigma Kappa sorority and serves on the board of the Western Youth Network, an organization she helped found.
Lisa Simon lives in Boone but spends a part of each month in Charlotte, where she and her husband Harvey maintain an apartment. She has enjoyed a successful career in fundraising and development for nonprofit organizations, including the Boston Symphony, Museum of Fine Arts, Newtown Friends School, Charlotte Symphony, and most recently, Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte. Lisa has just completed two years as President of the Board of WDAV Classical Public Radio and served on that Board for 8 years. She has also been an active volunteer and committee head for many arts, human services and educational organizations. Lisa has been on 3 archeological digs, and in her free time loves to read, garden, walk and do yoga. In addition to her husband Harvey (who teaches Marketing at App State), her family includes two sons (Dave in California and Ben in Montana), two granddaughters, and Lucy the wayward miniature poodle.
Before retiring, Deborah worked as a psychologist connected to Florida’s Child Welfare system and mental health managed care. She also had a full-time private practice and oversight responsibility for a community mental health program prior to moving to North Carolina twelve years ago. She and her wife are currently enjoying living in beautiful western Ashe County. Deborah enjoys gardening and needlework and loves to travel.