Christina Cain, Executive Director
Christina has been on the front lines empowering people to open businesses by educating them on business planning, navigating the process of getting a business loan, and lending an ear of support and empathy. Upon understanding the impact she could make, Christina earned a Masters of Science in Community Economic Development with a specialization in Nonprofit Management from Southern New Hampshire University.
Most recently, Christina was the Director for the Center for Asset Building at New Visions, New Ventures, a Women’s Business Center in Richmond, VA. Her passion for economic development was recognized when her clients nominated her for Style Weekly’s 2010 Top 40 Under 40 as an emerging leader.
In addition to her small business development work, Christina was a credit analyst for Capital One, implemented anti-poverty strategies for a community development credit union and coordinated community outreach for a domestic violence shelter.
When you stop by, make sure you ask Christina about her latest knitting project or her new favorite beer!
Eleanor Graham, Data Specialist
Eleanor is a transplant to both the Shenandoah Valley and the land of non-profit community development. Originally from Minneapolis, MN, Eleanor grew up amidst artists and activists which showed her how creative ideas and actions can transform a community for the better. Eleanor went on to study music, which honed her attention to detail, tenacity, and collaboration skills — all of which have come in quite handy here at the Staunton Fund.
These days Eleanor spends most of her working hours with our loan clients, the Invest Local Project, and on helping our institutional data shine. When Eleanor is not at SCCF, you might find her enjoying time with her family or contributing to one of Carmel‘s Teacup Cabarets.
Betsey Suchanic, Director of Capital
Betsey fell in love with Staunton as a student at Mary Baldwin College. Originally from outside of Philadelphia, she studied Marketing Communication and Graphic Design in her time at Mary Baldwin. It was during this time that Betsey began exploring the power of business through Social Entrepreneurship and the role non-profits can play in supporting change. This exploration led Betsey to complete an Ecotourism Internship in Ecuador, student consulting work for the national Peace Corps Office, and a New Sector Alliance Fellowship with Strong Women, Strong Girls in Boston.
At SCCF, Betsey loves working through business ideas through one-on-one counseling, facilitating classes, such as our 8-week business planning series, and on our VIDA program. When not at SCCF, she spends her time taking photographs and making things look prettier through graphic design
Carmel Clavin, Operations Coordinator
As the Business Support Coordinator and steward of the Taste Local program, Nick is determined to support both traditional and food-related businesses in getting their feet off of the ground and contribute to the rich economic landscape that has emerged in Staunton and the surrounding area.
A native Stauntonian, Nick acquired his Bachelor of Sciences in Professional Writing from Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont- a community that has long supported its economy by highlighting local entrepreneurs and emphasizing the importance of its own food system- before relocating back to his hometown in 2011. With a professional background ranging from non-profit management to slow food service, Nick is aware of the challenges facing entrepreneurs and is game to help them navigate every hurdle.
When not working in the office, Nick can be found enjoying a craft beer or bourbon, dining at any of the fine food establishments in the area, or breathlessly explaining his new favorite board game. Don’t ask him about it, because he will tell you.
Board of Directors
Laura Pyle, Board President Attorney, McCaskey & Pyle Attorneys at Law
Richard Coduri, Board Vice President Trireme Communications
Richard is the Founder and Principal of Trireme Communications. With more than a decade of experience in public affairs, writing, advocacy, social media, and content strategy, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to client projects. Rick started his career in political and policy research, working at various nonprofits in Washington, D.C. He then took his advocacy skills and knowledge to the for-profit sector, working at a prominent public affairs firm as a client manager, communications manager, and senior writer.
A native Rhode Islander, Rick grew up in Saudi Arabia. Returning to the United States in the early 1990s, he attended Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut and Trinity College, in Hartford Connecticut. He spent 13 years in the Washington, D.C., area before moving to Staunton in 2012.
Sarah Lynch, Board Treasurer Owner, Baja Bean Company
While earning a degree in Biology and Psychology at UVA, Sarah’s passion kept her rooted in the restaurant world she’d been working in for years. She was on a path to a career in health care when she met Baja Bean Charlottesville and she’s never looked back! The idea of getting paid the make friends and host parties still delights her. In 1998, Sarah was reacquainted with Staunton and at 23, too young to know (or care) about the risks, she stumbled into the best decision of her life… opening a restaurant in the historic and (soon to be) beautiful downtown area. In the past Sarah has served at Shelter for Help in Emergency, WNRN, SDDA and CASA in various volunteer capacities. Currently, she makes sure downtown literally rocks biannually by organizing Staunton Jams and is the restaurant liaison for the Tourism Advisory Board. In her spare time, she has adventures with her son, Henry, eats books for breakfast and binge watches HBO shows.
Sarah says, “The talent of the staff at the SCCF leaves me awestruck and eager for the chance to work with them more closely. Frequently, I wonder how all these inspiring women ended up in one town, much less one office. I hope to have valuable insight for the local businesses that solicit the Fund for loans and help developing their plans.”
William “Billy” Vaughn Director of Economic Development for the City of Staunton
A long-time Staunton resident and civic leader, Billy has enjoyed a diverse and fulfilling career serving at the local and regional government levels for over 40 years. Last September, after 20 years of traveling I-81, Billy decided to return home for employment and accepted the position of Director of Economic Development for Staunton. Billy has made civic involvement the foundation of his life. The most notable of his prior volunteer memberships include the Staunton City School Board (7 years), Staunton Planning Commission (15 years), the Board of Directors for the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (20 years), and a number of non-profit including the American Red Cross, and the Valley Program for Aging Services to name a few.
He and Peggy, his wife of 35 years, have a son and three daughters ranging in ages of 37 to 24 years young. They welcomed their first and only grandchild to the family in September 2013. In his spare time, Billy enjoys family gatherings, crafting military strategies via PS3 Online, and chess, or simply keeping abreast of latest technologies. His wife, also a lifelong resident of Staunton, owns and operates Bears and Blankets Academy of Early Learning, Inc. in Staunton. As vice-president of his wife’s venture since the late 80’s, he understands the challenges of maintaining a successful venture in today’s economy. He says, “SCCF is a wonderful and creative means helping passions and dreams come true for those innovative minds in Staunton.”
Dan Funk Sartography
Dan Funk runs a small software development consulting company called Sartography, where he works with clients to create novel, innovative internet based applications. Dan founded the Staunton Makerspace last year with Jim Rutt, which provides members access to high-tech equipment including 3D printers and CNC routers, as well as a full wood working shop. A native of Staunton, Va, Dan is the proud father of his 9 year old son Jonah. When they aren’t building robots at the Makerspace, then can be found camping, star gazing, or riding their bikes on some of Virginia’s excellent rails-to-trails bike paths. Dan is a proud long time board member of the Staunton Creative Community Fund, which he believes is the cornerstone to the vibrant local economy that is emerging in our area.
Ann is a marketing and communication professional with ten years of experience serving both the for- profit and non-profit sectors. With a passion for both education and organizational leadership, Ann has been a founding member and director of communication and marketing in every organization of which she has been a part. Currently serving at Stuart Hall as Director of Admissions and Marketing, Ann has served in the educational sphere through consistent constituent engagement and mission-matched strategic initiatives.
Ann moved to the Staunton area with her husband in 2010. An Alexandria native, Ann loves Virginia in all it has to offer, and is happy to call Staunton home. She holds a BA in English from the College of William and Mary.
Judd is the newest member of our Board of Directors! With over 30 years of CPA and education experience and a metric tonne of international adventure and business know-how, Judd rounds out our diverse team. He also happens to be Staunton’s resident Woodrow Wilson impersonator AND Guam’s first Olympic Athlete in the 1988 Winter Games in Biathlon.
John Gorra Cooperative Food Sales, inc
After college, John returned home to work in his family fruit and produce company in Southeastern, CT. They sold the business 7 years later, and he moved to Boston to attend theological school where he earned a master’s degree in religion before working for nonprofits for 8 years, 7 of that with a large nonprofit food cooperative. After one year in sales for another company, he started his own in 1999, which just began its 18th year. Cooperative Food Sales, inc. is a food distributor supplying key nonprofit customers with primarily protein items, trades different commodities and provides occasional financing for specific projects.
Lucky enough to marry his wife Rebecca, a native Virginian, in 1995 John moved to Staunton in 2002 with their daughters. “My philosophy of life changes regularly as I get older, and I’ve never put it in a few words, so let’s start with a bit of Woody Allen, who said 80% of success is showing up. Show up, be kind to everyone, apologize when you are not, be responsible to those you are responsible to and responsible for, be open as the world is changing all the time, and don’t forget, as my wife says, love is a verb. Or I could just say Romans 12, but that is a lot harder to live up to.”
Courtland Robinson Shenandoah Valley Partnership
Courtland previously served as the Assistant Director of Economic Development in the City of Staunton. He moved to the Shenandoah Valley from Richmond, Virginia in 2011. He studied Urban and Regional Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and obtained a Masters of Public Administration from James Madison University.
Courtland served with organizations such as the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD), Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance (HDR), the Shenandoah Valley Partnership (SVP), James Madison University (JMU) and the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC). In these positions he provided research, marketing assistance, policy analysis and grant writing. Courtland has a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing SVP as we restructure and focus on business development, lead generation, market research and project management. When asked what philosophy guides his life he replied, “Philosophies are for tombstones.”
Gretchen Long Queen City Creative
Marlena was born into a military family and spent her youth moving around the United States and Europe. Her love of art and history was cultivated by her Italian mother and reinforced by experiences living and traveling to countries outside the U.S. She earned a Ph.D. in Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University where she wrote on Fascism and art in Italy during the time of Mussolini. She taught Art History at Middle Tennessee State University (1986-87) and from 1987 until 2017 at Mary Baldwin University and served on the board of the Staunton Augusta Art Center and as an Education Committee member at the Beverley Street Studio School and served two 4-year terms as a regional panelist for the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
“In 2007 I was fortunate to begin a 10-year collaboration with human rights activist and artist Claudia Bernardi. The community- based mural projects, known as “Permeable Borders,” are teaching tools that bring Mary Baldwin students together with community members in an open dialogue of shared memories, stories and hopes. “Permeable Borders” has collaborated with children, youth and adults in war torn El Salvador, in a juvenile detention center in the United States and at community centers and schools in the Staunton/Augusta region. This experience has helped to shape my understanding and sense of responsibility to the local and global community.”