Biographies: Board of Directors
MARIA VERASTEGUI, Board Chair
Maria Verastegui has over 20 years of creative leadership experience building brands, mentoring and building in-house teams and cultivating the power of design to Impact business.
Maria is the Executive Creative Director for Acorda Therapeutics, and leads ICOR, Acorda’s advertising agency. Maria is responsible for all aspects of advertising and brand experiences for the Company and its products. In her role, she collaborates with departments enterprise-wide and partners to create strategic, impactful and engaging brand experiences, from digital marketing programs and advertising campaigns to film and social media initiatives.
Maria believes purpose-driven brands can leverage the transformative power of all media channels to create experiences that improve lives, move culture, and grow business. People are her passion, and she's learned that the key insights and ideation to develop meaningful, differentiated value comes from embracing diversity while acting with empathy.
Maria holds a BA in Graphic Design from Yale University.
CATHERINE BALLOWE, Board Vice Chair/Treasurer
Catherine Ballowe is a Finance and Accounting professional with over 25 years of experience in audit, accounting and financial management. Most recently, Catherine served as a Division Controller and Program Management Office Sr. Manager for a Fortune 500 online payments company. Prior to that, she was head of Finance and a corporate officer for the three East Coast subsidiaries of TIO Networks, Inc.
Catherine’s professional experience also includes various financial planning and analysis and controllership roles at Dell Inc. and audit roles at KPMG and The University of Texas System Audit Office. Catherine holds a B.A. in Accounting from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. She is a Certified Public Accountant in Texas and Certified Internal Auditor. Catherine currently resides in the Charlotte, North Carolina area with her husband and stepdaughter.
KELLY FIELDS, Board Secretary
Kelly Fields is the Executive Director of StandUp for Kids - Atlanta since 2010. Kelly has 20 years of non-profit experience coupled with over 10 years in corporate human resources with companies such as the Georgia-Pacific Corporation, Bausch and Lomb and Novell.
Kelly's non-profit service began with her selection by Georgia-Pacific to be the Loaned Executive to the Olympic Committee Organizing the Games in Atlanta (ACOG) in January 1995. Following the Olympic Games in August 1996, she went on to work with United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Atlanta, and The Georgia Transplant Foundation.
She has worked with a wide variety of volunteer groups, community partners and corporations to implement new programs, develop resources and train volunteers.
MAGGIE MCWHORTER, Member at Large
Maggie Mcwhorter is the Executive Director of StandUp for Kids – Oceanside. Maggie began her involvement with StandUp for Kids in Oceanside, California as a center volunteer in 2008.
Maggie is a 10 year Veteran of the United states Army and has over 25 years of experience managing supply chain, fleet maintenance, and warehouse operations. Maggie currently is the Regional Fleet Manager for Reyes Fleet Management, a division of Reyes Holdings, a Food and Beverage distributor providing support to Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Miller, Coors, and Constellation Brands.
Maggie has a Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Colorado, where she majored in Organizational Development. She also holds a Green Belt certification in Lean/Six Sigma
Kedric Sledge is a state licensed mental health professional that has turned around some of the lowest performing schools in metro Atlanta. He is a certified national dropout prevention specialist who mentors numerous at promise youth. He is a native of Saginaw Michigan. Mr. Sledge began his journey in 2004 working with children and families. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University, a master’s degree in Social Work from Clark Atlanta University, and a Specialist in Educational Leadership from Columbus State University.
During his tenure in Fulton County Schools, Mr. Sledge has worked diligently implementing attendance protocols and social emotional support programs that have assisted in many schools significantly increasing their graduation and promotion rates. He has won many awards and recognitions with one being the extremely prestigious recognition of one of his schools being presented as a National Model School.
Mr. Sledge has worked with organizations such as Chris 180, Access Mental Health, Stand Up For Kids, Holy Cross Children Services, and Kairos Health Care. He has also facilitated workshops and trainings with the School Social Work Association of Georgia, National Dropout Prevention Center at the National Youth at Risk and Reaching the Wounded Student conferences. Mr. Sledge believes in the importance of paying it forward. Every day he gives his time and talents tirelessly to making a difference in the lives of the families that he serves.
FERNANDO LAMAS, Member at Large
Fernando Lamas is a Managing Director on the Distribution Team at Lafayette Square. Prior to joining Lafayette, Fernando was Partner at Ohana Real Estate Investors, a private equity firm focused on investing in equity and credit opportunities within the hospitality space.
Previously, he was a Managing Partner at BTG Pactual, a diversified global investment platform, where he served as the Global Head of Distribution for the Asset Management Division. Fernando led all the business development activities, resided on the firm’s Asset Management Committee, managed key strategic relationships globally, and oversaw the launch of numerous investment verticals.
Prior to joining BTG Pactual in 2010, Fernando was a senior Managing Director and Partner at BSE Management where he was in charge of business development and marketing. Fernando also served as Executive Director in the Prime Services Division at UBS Investment Bank and also served as Vice President in the Private Client Services Division at Credit Suisse First Boston (formerly Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette).
Fernando holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Tulane University and an MBA from Columbia University.
TIM MCCORMICK, Member at Large
Tim McCormick has over 15 years of Operations and Logistics leadership experience. Tim is an accomplished leader with a demonstrated history of building teams and developing the potential of existing business units to achieve results. He has established success in improving operational efficiency, developing and executing strategic visions, optimizing and executing business-critical initiatives, and leading process improvement teams.
While being well versed in developing talent through Servant Leadership and deploying innovative technology solutions, Tim’s professional experience also includes various roles at industry leading companies. Tim is the Regional Operations Manager for Corovan and in his role, he collaborates with department’s company-wide, customer, and vendor partners to guarantee all end-users have a positive experience while ensuring maximum efficiency.
Tim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Human Communication from California State University of Fullerton. Tim additionally holds a Green Belt certification in Six Sigma. He resides in Northern California’s Bay Area with his wife and 3 children.
KIM SISSON, Member at Large
Kim Sisson is the Executive Director of StandUp For Kids - Tucson, works part-time with National Staff as Manager of Chapter Development and is the Youth Ministry Coordinator for Our Mother of Sorrows. She began her involvement with StandUp for Kids as a street outreach volunteer in 2008 and within a few months moved into the role of Director of Outreach. In 2016 she became the Executive Director and in 2017 accepted an additional position on the StandUp For Kids National Advisory Council. She served 2 years on the National Board in 2019 and 2020.
Kim maintains an active role of advocacy and mentoring for youth and young adults in Tucson. She is a member of the Homeless Youth Committee and is a strong force at homeless events and forums. She loves truth, growing in knowledge and understanding and has a passion for people and doing the right thing. Kim travels to Central America annually to volunteer at Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos. She and her husband, Rick have 4 sons.
BONNIE O'HARA, Member at Large
People first business leader and brand marketing specialist. As a Managing Partner at global creative agency Amplify, Bonnie's work and passion is focused on building brand worlds for Fortune 500 brands at the intersection of Culture, Creativity Community. Bonnie is a fierce advocate for youth, passionate about equal opportunity and education for all, and committed to helping Stand Up For Kids end the cycle of youth homelessness.
MARK STEVENS, Member at Large
Mark Stevens is a serial entrepreneur who works tirelessly with homeless youth and other marginalized communities to ensure that they have access to basic needs. He also ensures that their voices are heard and treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Always a hard worker, Mark began his career managing several automotive dealerships in the Washington DC area. After retiring at 42, he decided to move to Virginia Beach and eventually began pursuing a second career as a Realtor. When Mark moved to Virginia Beach, his life would change forever. There is where he became a doting father with the adoption of his then 14-year-old son. Mark spent the next seven years working in real estate and enjoying time with his son. After several years, he opened a small restaurant in 2013 that he still runs today.
While in Virginia Beach, Mark began working with StandUp For Kids while volunteering as an outreach worker. Fourteen years later, Mark is still with StandUp For Kids and has served as the Executive Director in Virginia Beach for the past six years. Beyond StandUp for Kids, Mark serves on the BEACH (Bringing an End to All City Homeless) board, the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission, Friends of the Creative District board, and he is currently the Vice President of the Old Beach Civic League.
Mark believes everyone deserves respect and is dedicated to serving his community. He is incredibly proud to be appointed to the national board of StandUp For Kids.
SIDNEY DJITÉ, Member at Large
Sidney Djité is a Vice President in the Leveraged Finance Group at Goldman Sachs, focused on identifying, structuring and executing innovative capital and financing solutions for corporate and financial sponsor clients.
Prior to joining Goldman Sachs in 2021, Sidney was in the Leveraged Finance division at Bank of America for 8 years. He joined Bank of America in Sydney as an analyst in 2013 before relocating to New York in 2018, his last position was Vice President focused on the Healthcare and Technology, Media and Telecommunication sectors.
Sidney believes youths are the world's most valuable resource and best hope for the future. He shares in StandUp for Kids’ passion to provide opportunity to homeless youths and in the mission to end the cycle of youth homelessness.
Sidney earned a Bachelor of International Business and Finance from the University of Western Sydney in 2009, a Diploma in French and French Civilization from the University of Paris IV in 2010 and a Master of Finance from the University of New South Wales in 2014.