Board of Directors
The 2019 Board of Directors includes two founding corporate members, one additional corporate member, and four directors.
Burchell Valldejuli, President
Burchell Valldejuli was born and raised in New Haven Connecticut. Burchell graduated from Goucher College with honors in Psychology and Women’s studies. After working in a small educational research group, she attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Burchell worked in research and grants management over a twenty-year career. In 2014, Burchell launched mActivity, a highly praised public community health model that supports physical, social and emotional well-being. She is married and has four children and four grandchildren. Burchell is a member of Trinity Baptist Church in New Haven Connecticut.
Nancy Opalack, CEO
Founding Corporate Member
Nancy Opalack, a long-term resident of Washington, D.C., Nancy has been the Executive Director and founder of Educational Support Systems, Inc., (ESS). Incorporated in 1983, ESS has consulted to the federal Department of Education; State Education Agencies; Public School Districts; Educational Management Organizations; charter school networks; and individual charter, private, and restructured public schools on special education issues. Nancy is a national expert on start-up, implementation and turnaround programs for children with disabilities. Nancy served on the Board of Trustees of Ursinus College with Harold Smith, resulting in a fifteen-year friendship and her commitment to Harold to develop start-up infrastructure and launch the Foundation.
Denny Mathews, Treasurer
Denny Mathews, born and raised in India, moved to the United States in 1989 and now resides with his family in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated with honors from the City University of New York with a degree in Accounting in 1994. Denny spent the next 22 years working in the Financial Services sector as Chief Administrative Officer, Business Manager and Chief Operations Officer for organizations such as Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch/Bank of America and ABN AMRO. In 2016, Denny left the corporate world to serve as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer at United World Mission, a Christian non-profit that works globally in over 40 countries equipping leaders, establishing churches and engaging in holistic ministry focused on justice, mercy and community development. Denny and his family live in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Hans C. Anderson, Secretary
Hans C. Anderson resides in Trumbull, Connecticut with his wife and three children. Hans holds a BA in English Literature from Wheaton College and an MA in English Literature from the University of Connecticut. Hans began his career in research and design under Douglas Trumbull, the father of visual effects for film, at Entertainment Design Workshop. He presently directs the product design group for Bridgewater Associates in the Systematized Intelligence Lab. His experience in product design and research spans from large, integrated processing systems to mobile/web apps to augmented & virtual reality systems. Mr. Anderson’s functional expertise also includes strategy, hardware, and software design and engineering, programming in numerous languages and data systems, project management, and user experience design and evaluation. Han has received numerous awards in identity, graphic, and print design.
Donald Gehlbach was born in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York and a long-term resident of New Haven, Connecticut, served in several positions during his thirty-seven-year career with the State of Connecticut. Donald has been a Business Service Officer in the Division of Special Revenue and Fiscal Administrative Officer (Medical Services and Asset Management) in the Department of Corrections, and Fiscal Administrative Supervisor at the Department’s Juvenile Corrections Division. Donald, a nephew of Harold C. Smith, is retired and currently a resident of Wolfeboro Falls, New Hampshire.
Founding Corporate Member
Kurt Kaboth, a long-term resident of the New York metropolitan area, holds B.A., M.B.A. and J.D. degrees from Indiana University. From a research position with the Economic Growth Center at Yale University, Kurt joined the YMCA Retirement Fund as the General Counsel, where he met and became life-long friends with Harold Smith. After retiring from the Fund, Kurt served as the Head of the Eastern Christian School Association, Director of Development and of Administration for National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Palisades. He has been a volunteer for various other YMCA and Presbyterian Church positions and projects.
Pierre Richard Arty, M.D. was born in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, and was raised in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, N.Y. Pierre attended Columbia College of Columbia University and S.U.N.Y. Downstate Medical School in Brooklyn. Pierre is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicines, specializing in the field of psychopharmacology to address issues such as Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, along with Psychosis. Pierre has served as the Director of the Kings County Addictive Disease Services, Deputy Executive Director of Kings County Hospital’s Behavioral Health Department, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at S.U.N.Y. Health Science Center in Brooklyn. He currently holds the position as psychiatric director for Housing Words where he provides psychiatric supervision and direct psychopharmacological treatment for adults. Pierre has received numerous awards for his help in improving medical care to the East Flatbush community, including the AMS Outstanding Community Service Award from the Aesclepius Medical Society.
He serves as an Elder at Abounding Grace Ministries on New York City’s Lower East Side and is a Board member of World Compassion Fellowship, an international humanitarian and development organization.
Jeff Whittle, President and Managing Partner of Ecclesia Construction Company, has 26 years of construction management experience. Ecclesia Construction Company tithes corporately and supports financially several organizations and individuals to advance the gospel, is involved in many outreach activities and trips through the non-profit Ecclesia Missions. Jeff oversees the Ecclesia staff of professionals, including accountants, Field Superintendents, Senior and Assistant Project Managers, Accountants and the company Chaplain. Jeff was a member and shepherding Elder of Steele Creek Church of Charlotte and is currently Vice Chair of Renew Our Community (ROC) in Rock Hill, SC. Jeff serves as the coordinator of an Advisory Team for a ministry in Guatemala, Central Christian Church of Guatemala in outreach efforts to the children in many villages throughout Guatemala. Jeff is married to Kim (28 years) and has five children and one grandchild. Jeff’s interests in addition to the above include, mountain biking, reading, travel and spending time with his family.
Senior Manager of Grants and Special Projects
Vanessa Jerome was born and raised in Perth Western Australia. At the age of 20, she moved to NYC and became a permanent resident and then citizen of the United States. Vanessa earned her master’s degree from Alliance Theological Seminary, where she graduated with highest honors. After graduation she attended the summer program at the Oxford University Center for Christian Apologetics. Vanessa has held leadership positions within various ministries at her church and has spoken at over a dozen churches across America.
Vanessa was a close friend of Reverend Smith and began working for the Foundation when it launched. She has worked closely with the CEO to build all aspects of infrastructure and develop internal grant making processes. Vanessa is passionate about the mission of the Harold C. Smith Foundation and the opportunity to promote Christianity globally. She enjoys conducting research on areas of need and building strong collaborative relationships with leaders in the Foundation’s focus areas. Vanessa is married, has a daughter, and is a member of Brooklyn Tabernacle Church
Chief of Staff and Technology
Sandra was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from Syracuse University in Retail Management and Marketing. Sandra spent the next 10 years in the Retail sector as a Buyer in Bloomingdales, Financial Analyst, Associate Brand Manager and Manager of the Executive Development Program in Macy’s. In 2015, she left the corporate world to attend Alliance Theological Seminary to obtain a Master’s in Biblical Studies. Sandra joined The Harold C. Smith Foundation in 2019 and is excited to be a part of an organization that supports Christianity around the world. She has participated in mission work in Mexico as well as in Africa. Sandra is a member of the Brooklyn Tabernacle where she has held various leadership positions in Children/Youth Ministry and Discipleship.
Operations’ Finance Manager
John Stam started his career in the Health Services Administration working eight years in the Accounting Department at Montefiore Hospital, a teaching institution in New York City. He also contributed greatly to the hospitals through his photographic work. In 1988, John started his career in production accounting when he became Controller at Big City Films, a major television commercial production house in Manhattan. He went on to form his own company in the 1990s, called Accounted For, Inc., which served the accounting needs of the production and post-production community. In 1999, he became a founding member of Go Film, Inc. and served as their Chief Financial Officer for 15 years.