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Board of Directors

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Jimmy Venza, Ph.D.

President, Board of Directors

Jimmy Venza, Ph.D., is executive director of Adventist HealthCare’s The Lourie Center for Children’s Social & Emotional Wellness in Rockville, Maryland, providing strategic direction for the center’s infant and early childhood mental health and education programs. He has served in clinical, research, advocacy, and administrative leadership roles at the center since 2004 and is involved in publishing and training.


He also served as a consultant in post-earthquake Haiti and in the Kingdom of Lesotho to improve early childhood and mental health services for vulnerable children and families.


Jimmy has volunteered at Following Francis events since 2011 and serves as our health and safety coordinator.

Terry Hogan Johnson

Executive Director

Terry has served as executive director of Following Francis since its inception in 2011. She has been a senior staff teacher at The Meher Schools in Lafayette, California, for more than thirty-five years. She has been music director of the Consortium of the Arts choruses and the Meher Schools’ White Horse Youth Chorale since 1994.

Terry is an active participant in the Gubbio Project, which serves the homeless in San Francisco. She is also a volunteer with and consultant to national service and interfaith organizations and the White Pony Express.

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Jay Steptoe

East Coast Director

Jay was appointed the East Coast director of Following Francis in 2018. He had just retired as NASA's Deputy General Counsel following a twenty-eight-year legal career at the space agency.

Jay helps organize Following Francis programs on the East Coast, including those in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Washington, DC.

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Gwendolyn Hamilton, M.D. 


Gwen is a board-certified pediatrician who has practiced in the Bay Area since 1979. She brings decades of medical experience to Following Francis and a wealth of insights as to how the programs can boost the psychological well-being of people living in disadvantaged communities.

In addition to her clinical practice, Gwen has served as medical director for California Children’s Services, a state program for children with special healthcare needs, and medical director for a regional program for children with autism and ADHD. She has also served on the board of the Foundation for Autism Support and Training and a number of community organizations.

Gwen serves as host of Francis in the Schools theatrical productions.

Benjamin (Pete) Wells


Pete is emeritus professor of mathematics and computer science at the University of San Francisco, where he taught those subjects for twenty-eight years. While there he presented many seminars combining science, art, and religion. He was also director of the university’s Math and Fusion Project, teaching math to middle-school students through studying works of art at the city’s De Young Museum.

Since retiring in 2011 Pete has focused on supporting nonprofits. He has been staging co-director of numerous Francis in the Schools and White Pony Express events.

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Trulie MacLeod 

Member of the Board of Directors

Trulie MacLeod has had an eclectic professional life. She began her career as a bilingual PR officer and press attaché in the Canadian federal government. After attending theater school in London, she had a twenty-five year career as a professional actor in New York City and Toronto, working in theater, television, film, commercials, and voice-overs. She also has a graduate degree in teaching English as a second language and taught at George Brown College in Toronto.


She has been the outreach and development coordinator for Francis on the Hill since its inception. Currently she is co-coordinator of Francis on the Hill’s Grocery Program.

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Member of the Board of Directors

Denis J. Madden

Bishop Madden is auxiliary bishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He works to improve the safety and self-respect of those living in dangerous communities and supervises numerous schools in Baltimore.

From 1996 to 2005, he served as associate secretary general of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, a Vatican relief agency. He was co-founder of the Accord Foundation, a humanitarian organization that has worked in the West Bank and Gaza since 1988 to bring peace to the region.

More recently, Bishop Madden has served as chair of the Committee on Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Brian Sakarata
Member of the Board of Directors
Brian Sakarata is a California Licensed Professional Fiduciary and an enrolled agent with the IRS, with a professional background in financial planning and analytics, taxation, 501(c)(3) compliance, and trust administration. In four years, Brian acquired both a BA in economics and an MS in applied economics and finance from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he focused on computational finance, utilizing artificial intelligence algorithms to develop zero-delta portfolios. Brian is currently responsible for maintaining the livelihoods and assets of over one hundred individuals, with a focus on the elderly and those with special needs. 
In 2022 he received a professional certificate in applied data science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With experience in developing and implementing machine-learning pipelines, Brian enjoys streamlining operational processes to attain coherent financial organization.
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Patricia Ann Burrell

Member of the Board of Directors

A native of South Carolina, Pat began serving her community and those in need as a high school student. She received her nursing education in Philadelphia and continued her studies at both the University of Pennsylvania and the University of South Carolina. As a registered nurse for over forty years, her experience in healthcare is varied and extensive – in both hospital and community health.


Pat has been in health administration for several decades, designing programs for hospitals, consulting as a health advisor for Early Head Start, writing grants for maternal/child health programs in PA and SC, and sitting on the PA state Subcommittee on Women’s and Children’s Health (Provisions for Rural and Underserved Communities). She single-handedly designed and petitioned the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to create recognition and a path to reimbursement for doulas for the first time. Pat continues today to work as a nurse in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Elizabeth Stoltzfus

Member of the Board of Directors

Elizabeth has worked extensively as an engineer for non-profits, national laboratories, state government, and private industry. She managed California's Qualifying Facility program at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), led the State's assessment for reaching an aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), and served as a Public Utilities Regulatory Analyst. Additionally, she has consulted for various clients such as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Caltrans, and the Federal Aviation Administration.  


Elizabeth has volunteered with Following Francis almost since its inception, contributing to all three programs. In addition, she has worked with The Rand Corporation (RAND), MITRE, and Center for Living Skills. She currently substitutes at the Meher Schools.  

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Tom Smith

Member of the Board of Directors

Tom is a retired business executive and entrepreneur. A graduate of Stanford University, he taught high school in West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer. He then served as a recreation director for a Bay Area program for children and adults with brain damage and disabilities. Tom spent thirty years in management positions with a large San Francisco corporation, then worked for thirteen years as a landscape contractor.

Tom is a full-time volunteer for Following Francis, White Pony Express, and his church.

Leslie Cunningham

Member of the Board of Directors

Leslie is a versatile professional who is skilled in copywriting, website design, and marketing consulting. Her journey reflects a blend of creativity, business acumen, and a deep understanding of marketing and communi-cation. Her ability to craft compelling narratives, develop innovative concepts, and offer strategic guidance demonstrates her multifaceted skills.


Leslie's career is characterized by entrepreneurship and diverse expertise. She began in public relations within the entertainment industry, then transitioned into advertising, and later became CEO/CFO of her own agency, The Cunningham Group. Her artistic inclinations led her to professional photography, highlighted by a published coffee table book on San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

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