Biographies: Board of Directors
LAURA ANN SMITH, JD, Chair
Laura Ann Smith is currently Vice President, Assistant General Counsel – Corporate & Securities Law and Assistant Secretary of Tailored Brands Inc.
Laura Ann is a legal executive with extensive experience in working with boards of directors and management teams and advising on matters related to corporate governance, securities law, mergers and acquisitions, financing transactions, corporate transformations, change management, and sustainability.
She received her J.D., magna cum laude, from Baylor University School of Law and her B.A. in American Studies, cum laude, from Southwestern University. She is also Vice Chairman of the Corporate and Securities Law Network of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC). Laura Ann is located in Houston, Texas where she lives with her husband and son.
MARIA VERASTEGUI, Board Vice 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, 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, 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.
CARLOS APONTE, MBA, Member at Large
Carlos Aponte is currently Vice President of Finance for Marchon Eyewear, a division of Vision Service Plan Company.
Carlos has over 25 years professional experience in financial management with different consumer product goods, publishing, and telecommunication companies. He has held various roles in operating units, regional and corporate offices. The majority of this work experience has been working with, and in, international markets on business development, strategic planning, FP&A, systems implementations, governance & controls, and P&L management.
Carlos holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting & Finance and a Masters of Business Administration degree in Management both from Northeastern University. He is located in the New York City area where he lives with his wife Joann and their two dogs.
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.
GREG SMITH, MBA, Ex Oficio Member, National Executive Director
Greg Smith began his involvement with StandUp for Kids in Atlanta, Georgia, while working on a Lean/Six Sigma pro bono project on volunteer retention. In 2019, he was elected to National Board and hired as Director of Operations. In February 2020, he was promoted to National Executive Director.
With over 25 years of experience with mid-sized, multi-site manufacturers, Greg served in senior level management positions, most recently as a Director of Operations and Supply Chain and a consultant with Holistic Performance Group. In these roles he has managed customer service, engineering, shipping/receiving, marketing, procurement and materials management.
Greg has a Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Alabama, Birmingham where he majored in Marketing. He has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He also holds a Black Belt certification in Lean/Six Sigma.
LETITIA WRIGHT, DC, Member at Large
Dr. Letitia Wright is a Chiropractic Physician who now works as a business consultant, Crowdfunding Expert, and Talk Show host. She began her involvement with Stand Up for Kids in Orange County California teaching a program with Carlia Oldfather that has become the Youth Entrepreneur Incubator.
In 2019, Dr. Wright was nominated for Woman of the Year for California’s 47th District by Assembly Person Eloise Gómez Reyes. She teaches for California State University at San Bernardino and Excellerated Business School in Thailand.
Dr. Wright holds workshops all over the world and works with other international groups like Female Wave of Change. She currently resides in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
KEDRIC SLEDGE, Member at Large
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.