2017-2018 National Board of Directors
Connell Branan has been involved with American Mothers since 2006 when she was named the National Young Mother of the Year. She realizes the powerful voice and positive impact mothers can make when working together. Connell has served American Mothers in various leadership capacities and is the current National Board President. Recently, she moderated a panel for American Mothers on Human Trafficking at the 59th Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations. Connell has an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California and previously worked in Washington D.C. for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. She and her husband Cliff, live with their two children in Oklahoma where Cliff served as a member of the Oklahoma State Senate.
Sheila Monke has been a member of American Mothers since 2013, and is determined to increase awareness and sustainability for the organization. As the current 1st Vice President, she understands the impact American Mothers can make while assisting mothers nationally, and globally. Born and raised in the farmland of Nebraska, neighbor supporting neighbor was fully ingrained, generationally. ‘Educated’ in a small country school and a small community high school, Sheila received her undergraduate education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and then proceeded to ‘educate.’ Most importantly, Sheila is proud of the achievements of her husband and those of their children.
When Stephanie Rogers was 8, her father’s career took them to Germany where her parents made sure she saw every single country on the continent, touring castles and cathedrals until she would never want to see another one again. Stephanie has a degree in Early Childhood Education and minor in humanities. Married to her long time sweetheart, Ben, they have also traveled extensively, living in Chicago, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Madison, Wisconsin and now Utah. During this time, they had 5 children, and in 2014, the oldest was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Stephanie was named the 2015 Wisconsin Young Mother of the Year and currently serves as the 2nd Vice President where her time is focused on assisting our State Associations.
Yolanda Perez is the happy mom of Veronica and Leonardo, and has been involved with American Mothers since 1996. A native of Puerto Rico, Yolanda is a Business Education teacher by profession, and manager of affordable housing throughout the Nation. Holding a BA in Business Education from the University of Puerto Rico, with graduate certificates on urban planning and management from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard, the University of Maryland at College Park, and a Certificate in Labor Law from Cornell University, Yolanda has used these skills to serve American Mothers in numerous leadership positions. As 3rd Vice President, Yolanda is currently focused on our Ambassador Program and assisting with aid for our Puerto Rico Mothers Association.
Raised on a farm in Nebraska with 6 brothers and 1 little sister, Joyce Stevens acquired a resilient work ethic and devoted love of family. An enthusiastic mother of three, Joyce has been married to her husband for over 42 years. A certified pharmacy technician by trade, Joyce recently retired after 27 years to help with the family business, be caregiver for her aging father and spend precious time with her ten grandchildren. Joyce has served as chairperson on many volunteer levels including 4-H, church, school, fundraising events , confirmation, teaching, choir, business chamber and community theatre. After Joyce was honored as Nebraska Mother of the Year in 2012, she has continued to volunteer for American Mothers locally and nationally and currently serves as Secretary on the National Board.
Deanne Taylor has been a member of American Mothers since 1976 when she first became involved with the chapter program. Since that time she has served on the American Mothers National Board in various capacities for the past 30 years. Deanne is committed to serving mothers and increasing awareness about the organization and is an active member of her community. She is a charter member of Rotary Club of Mount Timpanogos, and the founding president of the Pleasant Grove Business Alliance which became the Chamber of Commerce. Deanne and her husband of 50 years, are real estate investment specialists and Deanne manages 3 of their companies. They have 8 children and 19 grandchildren and have lived in Pleasant Grove, Utah for 24 years.
Dorothy DeVore and her husband Greg, live in LaCanada, California and have been married for over 45 years. Together, they have 7 children and 19 delightful grandchildren. Dorothy has helped her husband set up 7 medical offices at different times and now manages three for his practice of Maternal Fetal Medicine. She has enjoyed teaching and volunteering for her church, teaching music and French to elementary students, but most of all loves spending time with their children and their families who are scattered across the United States. Dorothy became involved with American Mothers, after being named California’s 2007 Mother of the Year. Through this organization she has met, served with and has been greatly inspired by many outstanding mothers. Dorothy is currently serving as the Area I Coordinator.
Sue Venteicher has lived in Omaha, Nebraska her whole life. Sue is the Trainer/Educator for Phlebotomy at Childrens Hospital and Medical Center where she has worked for almost 25 years. Sue is involved in her church and community. Sue is an advocate for Organ Donation, she had the honor to be a living kidney donor in 2017. Sue’s greatest joy is her family. Sue has been married to her husband Steve for 33years, their children are Magann, Lexi, Jordan, Colten, Hillary, Dylan and Brooklynn. Sue also has 5 beautiful grandchildren. Sue was named the Nebraska Mother of the Year in 2016 and she currently serves on American Mothers Inc’s National Board as the Area II Coordinator.
Gerre Schwert, MSW, LCSW is a clinical social worker in the Center For Cancer Support at CHI/Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, providing counseling and support groups for cancer patients and their families. She is certified as a mind-body therapist by the Center For Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, DC. and facilitates Mind-Body Skills Groups at her workplace. Gerre is currently teaching mind-body approaches to stress reduction at The Partnership’s domestic violence shelter. Gerre’s husband, Doug, is a retired Episcopal priest. They enjoy travel and connecting with their six children and eleven grandchildren. Gerre was named the 2014 National Mother of the Year and currently serves American Mothers as the Area III Coordinator.
Carol Willey lives in Bakersfield, Vermont in her “dream house” that she and her husband of forty years built themselves. She is the mother of 4 grown children and grandmother of 8 and is an activity director at a community care home; co-founder and on the Board of Abundant Life Fellowship of Northern Vermont where she attends church and where her husband is pastor. Carol volunteers for the local Agency on Aging as a certified Tai Chi for Arthritis Trainer and companion for seniors in the community. Her work in American Mothers has brought a whole new dimension to her personal mission as it expands her circle of influence and opens up new opportunities. Carol was the 2015 Vermont Mother of the Year and serves American Mothers as the Area IV Coordinator.
Patty Payne is a retired naval officer and mother of one son, John, who lives near. After retirement Patty worked with the U.S. Navy as an Education Specialist, and later for the U.S. Air Force as an Instructional Designer and Auburn University Montgomery as an adjunct professor. In 2006, Patty volunteered to help her young town work to have its own school district which opened its first public school in the Fall of 2015. Patty is the volunteer director of the town’s Arts Council, and a member of the advisory board of the Alabama Plein Air Artists. Patty currently works as a contractor with the US Air Force in curriculum development and instruction.Patty is the 2014 Alabama Mother of the Year and the Area V Coordinator for American Mothers.
Junia John Straker has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands, Inc., the largest non-profit in the Virgin Islands, since February 2007. Before her appointment to CEO, she served the organization for over 16 years as Chief Fiscal Officer. She oversees a number of residential and non-residential programs that serve the needs of children, low-income adults and seniors, and the disabled of all ages. Junia has over 33 years of financial and management experience and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She is happily married to her soul mate, Michael Straker, owner and manager of Straker Motor, LLC. and has two wonderful sons in college. Junia was recognized as the 2016 USVI Mother of the Year and is the current Area VI Coordinator.
Joan Braitsch currently serves as Endowment Fund Chairman for American Mothers. For two decades, Joan was employed by IBM and other high tech companies marketing computer systems to the Federal Government in Washington, DC and across the country. Joan and her husband met in college and enjoy supporting community outreach initiatives. They were the Founding Chairs of the Marriage Ministries Council at their church where Joan also served as Trustee, Treasurer and founding Co-Chair of the Legacy Giving program. Joan has served in numerous leadership positions with American Mothers, the DC Metro Area Association of AMI, and on Boards of Trustees for local, state and national charitable and educational organizations. She is inspired everyday by her two grown children and granddaughter.
Dianne Dain was honored as the 75th National Mother of the Year in 2010 by American Mothers, Inc. and currently serves as the UN Representative for the organization. She believes strongly in giving back to her community and improving lives through creating opportunity. Educated at Brigham Young University and Columbia Business School’s Institute for Non-Profit Management, Dianne has served on numerous boards and consulted with schools, organizations and government leaders across the nation and globally. She currently works at the United Nations in New York City building programs and partnerships with the private sector. Her proudest accomplishment is her 4 beautiful children and 4 grandchildren.
Born in Haiti of French parents, Genevieve Champana moved to Puerto Rico, married and Argentinian lawyer and recently became a widower. Grandmother of ten, she is the CEO of her own financial business. An active member of American Mothers since 1997, Geny has served in numerous local and national leadership positions for the organization. She was awarded the American Mothers Ivelisse Padro Honor Medal in 2005 for her excellent performance and leadership and was awarded the Distinguished 2007 Member of the Year Award in Puerto Rico. Geny is a mentor to other American Mothers Chapters around the island and currently serves as President of the Puerto Rico State Association and Chairman of the National Nominating Committee.
Lizzy Conroy is Vice President at Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Group-Keller Williams Realty in McLean, VA where she co-leads the #1 team in the #1 real estate office in McLean. Lizzy graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Economics and has served in a number of professional capacities in the Washington, DC area. Lizzy is the 2005 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society National Woman of the Year and a past member of the LLS Board of Trustees. She is a sustaining member of the Jr. League of Northern Virginia and is a devoted member of her church, Trinity United Methodist. She and her husband, Steve, live in McLean, VA with their two children. Lizzy is the 2017 Virginia Mother of the Year and Co-Chairman of the 2018 National Convention.
In January 2015, Governor Susana Martinez appointed Rebecca Latham as Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department. With more than a decade of experience in advertising and marketing, Rebecca is a passionate tourism professional who has served New Mexico’s hospitality industry since 2006. She brings a wealth of experience across all aspects of the marketing spectrum including economic development, strategic messaging, brand development, public relations, and communications. In 2013, Rebecca was named New Mexico’s Tourism Professional of the Year. Rebecca is the proud mother of two joyful children. She and her husband, Scott, enjoy serving the people of New Mexico through their work for the state. Rebecca is the 2017 National Mother of the Year.
Carrie Leoonard is a community volunteer, wife to Ryan and mother of four. Before becoming a mother, Carrie earned degrees at the University of Virginia and the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She has practiced law, worked as the Director of Development for White Fields, a home for abused and neglected boys, volunteered for numerous causes in the community and been a stay at home mother. She has served in numerous positions for American Mothers and as the 2012 National Young Mother of the Year. Carrie also volunteers her time regularly for Christ the King School, Meyers Theatre for Young Audiences, Lyric Theatre, serving on its Executive Board, the Junior League of Oklahoma City, American Heart Association, Friends of the Mansion, and the Annie Oakley Society.
Melonie Matarozzo lives in western Colorado with her husband, Tony, and two daughters. She has worked as a Victim Services Advocate, being named Advocate of the Year in Colorado. While working to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault she helped create a sexual assault awareness program that was adopted in the local middle and high schools. When her daughter, Mackenzie was three she was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. Mackenzie has been the Goodwill Ambassador with MDA and the family spends time every month doing public appearances on behalf of MDA. Melonie works for the Town of Collbran where she sits on the Economic Development Committee. The family enjoys their western way of life spending time with their horses, hunting, riding atv’s, camping, and snowmobiling.
Jenifer Moss loves blue skies, crayon drawings, little fingerprints on her windows, and vases full of wilted dandelions. Learning to mother eight children has been her greatest education and her deepest joy. After twenty years as a stay-at-home mother who very rarely stayed home, she went back to get a graduate degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Working with her local Tully School PTO, the Red Cross, InterFaith Works of Syracuse, Hope for Accreta Foundation, and as a Public Affairs Representative for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints keeps her involved in her community. She was proud to represent New York as the 2016 New York Mother of the Year and hopes to continue making the world a better place one “magic kiss” at a time.
Deb Stanaland is a Certified Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Professional holding a Professional Certificate in Victim Assistance. She has over twenty years of experience in victim services and recently retired as a Chief Officer with the YWCA Oklahoma City. As the owner of Stanaland Consulting, Deb has served as an Expert Witness in both Civil and Criminal Domestic Violence cases, in both State and Federal courts. She is the Chair of the Oklahoma State Crime Victims Compensation Board, a member of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, serves on the Steering Committee for the Oklahoma City Family Justice Center, and is the Golden Rule Grant Chairman for American Mothers, Inc. In 2015, Deb was named the National Mother of the Year.
In her professional life, Kim Hoey Stevenson is a freelance writer who has written for such media outlets as American Online, Money Talks News, Gannett, Delaware Today, PARADE Magazine and Delaware Beach Life. She traveled extensively both personally and professionally. Most notably, she was in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope to cover the change over from US to United Nations forces. A graduate of Wake Forest University, Kim used her degree in psychology to help co-author the book, “Overcoming Misfortune: Children Who Beat the Odds,” a book that explored the positive side of psychology. Kim is married and is mother to one child at home, six grown step-children and grandmother to 15. She lives in Delaware and was the 2013 Young Mother of the Year for Delaware.
Lela Bennett Sullivan, a graduate of Oklahoma State University, is a mother, a former teacher and a devoted community volunteer. Many organizations have benefitted from her time and dedication and she has received numerous honors and awards for her service which include the YWCA’s Outstanding Community Volunteer Award, Oklahoma City University’s Award for Community Service, Oklahoma Hospitality Club’s Woman in the News Award, the Oklahoma City Public School Foundation Alumnae Award, the Pi Beta Phi National Crest Award and the Junior League of Oklahoma City’s Sustainer of the Year award. Lela has been married to her High School sweetheart for fifty four years and together they have two children and two grandchildren. She is the 2018 American Mothers Convention Chairman.
Darcy Ure grew up in San Marino, California as the 5th of nine children. She was named California Young Mother of the Year in 2012 and quickly became involved in the organization, currently chairing the 5th Grade Essay Contest. Darcy loves speaking about the challenges and rewards of motherhood. She received a bachelors degree in Education and taught elementary school until her first baby arrived. She has struggled through many challenges and miracles of motherhood, including open heart surgery for her baby girl. Darcy enjoys fitness, travel, community activism, volunteering in her children’s schools, photography, interior design, and leading the choir at church. She is married to her college sweetheart Nathan and loves being the full-time mother to seven wonderful children.
A fifth generation Oklahoman, Kathy Walbert Walker and her husband, Russ, have built a life together in their community where they raised four children and now have four grandchildren. Her volunteer efforts and board service to many area organizations led her to be celebrated by the Oklahoma City University Societies with an Award of Excellence, and by the Journal Record as one of “50 Women Making a Difference.” She was also honored as the 2012 Oklahoma Mother of the Year. A Nichols Hills Councilwoman for six years and mayor for two, she was vice-chairman of the Association of Central Governments of Oklahoma Board of Directors.
Sabrina Wisher DeWitt was the 2014 Montana Mother of the Year. She is currently involved with the Lions Club and serves on the board of Flathead Industries, a non-profit corporation, providing community inclusion and integration services to a wide spectrum of individuals. In 2013, Sabrina created “Mikayla’s Miracles and Blessings Foundation” in honor of her daughter Mikayla. The foundation has helped numerous disabled children get the necessities they need. Sabrina believes that every child, no matter their disability, deserves “Quality of Life.” Sabrina has worked with her father in their family owned business, “Wisher’s Auto Recycling” for 27 years. Sabrina is the mother of four children & two step children. She also recently married the man of her dreams, Paul DeWitt.
National Advisory Board
Cathy Keating – Advisory Board Chairman
Cathy Keating was born and reared in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, she married Frank Keating, had three children and embarked on the never-ending challenge of balancing life as a wife and mother with community service and career. For the forty-three years of their marriage, her priority has always been family first. Community service has also been a focus in her life since childhood, but her most significant contributions occurred while serving the state of Oklahoma as First Lady. Most specifically, her efforts were concentrated on the rescue and recovery of those effected from the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah bombing, where Keating planned and organized the International Prayer Service, then published In Their Name, which was on the New York Times bestseller list. All proceeds were directed to “Project Recovery.” She is a 2015 National Mother of Achievement Award winner and currently strives to be a “Mother of Achievement” in all aspects of her life.
Governor Bill Anoatubby
Bill Anoatubby began work for the Chickasaw Nation in 1975 as its health services director. A year later, he was asked to direct its finance department. In October 1978, he was promoted to the position of special assistant to the governor and controller. In 1979, he was elected as the tribe’s first Lt. Governor. Governor Anoatubby was elected to his first term as Governor in 1987. In his first term, Governor Anoatubby established goals of economic development and self-sufficiency for the Chickasaw Nation and its people. Today, the Chickasaw Nation is well on the way to achieving those goals. In 1987, the tribe had about 250 employees. Today, the Chickasaw Nation employs nearly 14,000 people. The financial condition of the tribe has been improved tremendously. Funding for tribal operations has grown exponentially. Tribal assets have grown two-hundredfold. Governor Anoatubby is committed to meeting the needs of Chickasaw people through programs and services. Governor Anoatubby and his wife, Janice, have two sons, Brian and Chris and five grandchildren, Brendan, Eryn, Chloe, Sydney and Preslea.
Secretary Henry G. Cisneros
Henry G. Cisneros began his career in public service working as an administrative assistant in the San Antonio City Manager’s office. He was elected to the San Antonio City Council in 1975, and became the first Hispanic Mayor of San Antonio, the nation’s 10th largest city, in 1981. As a four-term mayor of San Antonio, Mr. Cisneros rebuilt the city’s economic base, recruiting convention business, attracting high tech industries, increasing tourism and creating jobs in San Antonio. In 1985, he was elected president of the National League of Cities. He was nominated by President Clinton to serve as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development on December 17, 1992. Mr. Cisneros graduated from Texas A&M with a B.A. and a masters of urban and regional planning. He earned an M.P.A. in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a doctorate in public administration from the George Washington University. Mr. Cisneros has received numerous awards and honors. Mr. Cisneros married Mary Alice Perez in 1969. They have two daughters, Teresa and Mercedes, and a son John Paul.