Board MemberLisa A. Hembry is a passionate advocate for literacy in all its iterations. She believes that low educational attainment, and especially low literacy, have a direct and significant impact on healthcare outcomes and costs for vulnerable populations, as well as healthcare institutions and providers. Ms. Hembry served as the Health Movement’s inaugural board chair from 2020 – 2022. In addition to her volunteer involvement with the Health Movement, she currently serves on the boards of directors of the Trinity River Authority of Texas, the Callier Center for Communication Disorders Foundation, and the Texas Capital Bank Community Development Corporation. Lisa’s prior professional experience includes serving roles as a Dallas County elected official, commercial real estate broker, president of several local and statewide non-profit agencies, and broadcast media management.
Board TreasurerGabriela Robles is currently the president and chief executive of the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund and AVP of Community Partnerships at Providence. In these roles, she defines the strategic direction of the Fund’s grant programs and initiatives. With more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including extensive experience in community health programs, Gabriela holds the institutional knowledge and passion for equity needed to effectively address the greatest needs in our community. In addition to her extensive professional and volunteer experience, Gabriela has pursued several post-secondary degrees that bring a breadth of knowledge and skills from several fields. Gabriela earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science, and shortly after graduating, pursued a master’s degree in urban and regional planning, both at the University of California at Irvine. Later, she earned an MBA from New York University and a Master of Arts in Health Care Mission from Aquinas Institute of Theology.
Board SecretaryShannon G. Dwyer, Esq., MHA, is a Senior Advisor and Chief Practice Officer with the THEO Executive Group with almost 30 years of experience in healthcare serving as trusted advisor, counsel and strategic thought partner to executive management and governance. Prior to joining THEO, Shannon served with Providence St. Joseph Health from 1998 to 2018 where she held several positions including Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and most recently Executive Vice President, Special Advisor to the President & Chief Executive Officer. She was instrumental in her role as General Counsel in facilitating the combination of St. Joseph Health and Providence Health & Services. She also served as in-house counsel for a national physician practice management company for several years, specializing in the management of anesthesia group practices. Prior to becoming an attorney, Shannon served as the Assistant Director of Health Information Services at Bon Secours-St. Joseph Hospital for seven years.
Senior AdvisorLee Penrose is a THEO Senior Advisor with over 25 years of experience in healthcare leadership who has held positions in insurance, physician practice management and hospital administration. Lee served with Providence St. Joseph Health from 1998 to 2018. Ultimately, he held a dual role of regional Chief Operating Officer and regional Chief Financial Officer. Before working in the region, Lee held local roles first as Chief Financial Officer and later as Chief Executive Officer at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton. While at St. Jude, Lee implemented strategies and initiatives resulting in high-quality care delivered with top-tier patient experience while ensuring fiscal strength. His career also includes roles with FHP, Integrated Physician Services, Orange Coast Managed Care and St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare.
Senior AdvisorCraig W. Jones, LFACHE, is a THEO Senior Advisor, with over 30 years of experience in healthcare administration and association services. Prior to joining Health Movement, Craig served as president and chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, a position he held since November 1998. Prior to his assuming that position he served as executive vice president of the Association, beginning in March of 1997. The Association represents and serves the interests of approximately 132 hospitals across the state of Oklahoma. Previously, Craig served as president and chief executive officer of Norman Regional Hospital, now Norman Regional Health System.
Senior AdvisorDaisy M. Jenkins, Esq., is a THEO Senior Advisor and a former Executive Vice President with over 30 years’ experience in both health care and manufacturing industries. She has served in national and multinational corporations and has significant experience in developing and leading high performing, multifunctional human resources organizations, with broad organization development expertise. Prior to joining THEO, Daisy served as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative and Human Resources Officer for Carondelet Health Network in Tucson, Arizona. She was also responsible for Government Advocacy and Community Relations as Carondelet’s Lobbyist. Daisy served as the vice president of Human Resources for Raytheon and was the first director of Global Diversity and first female vice president of color during her 28-year career there.
Executive AssistantMaci Edwards grew up and attended university in southwest Missouri. She quickly developed a love for travel and service. Maci studied abroad in Ghana and post-graduation taught English as a Second Language in Japan. The majority of her professional career has been in K-12 or higher education serving on the operations side of school management. Maci married and moved to rural south Arkansas in the summer of 2021. She now works fully remote as an assistant. Outside work she spends time with her talkative 7-year-old, William, her husband, and their chickens.
Executive DirectorLeah Albright-Byrd serves as the Executive Director of Health Movement, an organization that prepares senior leaders of nonprofits for transformational impact as they advance health equity. She has faithfully served her community as an advocate, direct service provider, and leader in the nonprofit sector for the last 18 years. In 2011, she founded and directed a California-based nonprofit that provided an array of services to child and adult survivors of human trafficking. While leading that effort, she became a national and international advocate for the cause, promoted legislative change, and appeared on various media outlets to promote public awareness. She eventually received congressional honor for her activism efforts in 2016. Due to the high level of burnout associated with such passionate work, she made the decision to focus her energy on various consulting projects and it was during that time that she developed an interest in uplifting other nonprofit leaders. Because of her intimate knowledge of the needs of nonprofit leaders, a passion for upstream work, and a desire for community transformation, the opportunity to lead Health Movement became the natural progression of her life’s work. Leah possesses a bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology and Theology from William Jessup University and coaching certifications from Western Seminary. She lives in Rowlett, TX with her dog Charlie Rose, is a yoga enthusiast, and loves biking.
given by Juniper Ford
Dr. Sherrie Ford was born in 1946 in Meridian, Mississippi to Charlie May Womble Ford and Otto Theodore Ford. Her father’s military career took her and her family to distant locales from Libya to Germany. She spoke fluent French and developed a love for traveling. Dr. Ford’s background was in literary scholarship, completing her Masters with a degree in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1973. She taught French and English at Emanuel County Junior College in Swainsboro (now known as East Georgia College) before she earned her PhD in English from the University of Georgia in 1982. She went on to join the faculty at Athens Technical College where her interest in manufacturing grew.
She was a prominent consultant in the field of work culture change and lean manufacturing. She was the head of one of the largest women-owned businesses in the United States. She changed the lives of workers in plants throughout the country and practiced what she preached in her own manufacturing facility in Athens, Georgia. Ford pioneered a unique process of work culture transformation that engaged not just management, but the entire hourly workforce she had experienced firsthand in the facilities she had worked. She encouraged manufacturers to embrace world-class manufacturing techniques and lean production principles. Her writing on these topics was widely published and she spoke and consulted extensively in South Africa, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands.
Her refinement and gentility were often out of place in the overtly masculine atmosphere of the plants in which she worked she once had to walk a half mile to even find a ladies’ washroom in one facility-but when she spoke to hourly employees and their bosses, she won minds and turned around their deeply-instilled workplace behaviors. She was a leader and advocate for better treatment for women in the workplace. Therefore, the Sherrie Ford Fund was made in memory of the legacy she left behind by her daughter, Juniper Ford.
given by the Jeannette Rankin Foundation
Reita with JRF cofounders Gail Dendy, Heather Kleiner, Margaret Holt, and Sue Bailey
Reita Rivers was born on September 13, 1930 in Jenkins, Kentucky. She was the only child of Lola Dotson Rivers and Earl Rivers. Most of her childhood was spent in Wise, Virginia. She attended Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, Virginia and received her BS degree from Radford State Teachers College.
Reita taught Spanish before switching to a career as a representative for Silver Burdette textbook company in Atlanta. There she met a colleague, Pat Haynes, his wife Corky and family. A close friendship quickly formed and lasted a lifetime. Pat left Silver Burdette and moved his family to Athens in 1964. Reita moved to Athens the next year. She quickly was hired as a graduate assistant and started taking graduate courses herself. While pursuing job offerings at the student employment center, she saw an ad: “Personal Assistant for Miss Jeannette Rankin,” it was a name familiar to Reita; her grandfather had talked about “that woman from Montana has more guts than most men!” Reita knew Jeannette’s historic journey as America’s first elected Congresswoman. She was hired and very soon became a close friend of Jeannette.
Miss Rankin passed away May 18, 1973, days short of her 93rd birthday. Reita executed her estate. Miss Rankin stipulated money left in her estate was to provide educational opportunities for older women. Reita along with four of her closest friends who were also committed to equal rights sought to expand opportunities for women. They were JRF co-founders, Sue Bailey, Heather Kleiner, Margaret Holt, and Gail Dendy. Together they developed the idea of creating The Jeannette Rankin Foundation. The JRF was founded in 1976.
Later, Reita worked as Communications Director for the Sea Grant Program and Marine Sciences Department at the University of Georgia for over 20 years. She created a successful project of merging science with art. Reita held exhibitions of the art throughout the state and sparked the public’s interest in and appreciation of coastal resources.
Reita passed away in January of 2020 and will be remembered as an advocate for social justice, a dedicated feminist, and animal lover. The Jeannette Rankin Foundation endows this scholar grant in memory of her.
given by Mary Erlanger
Michael was born on April 8, 1915 in New York City, son of Milton and Alene Stern Erlanger. He attended the University of North Carolina and Ohio State University. Upon graduating, he went to work for BVD Corporation, the business founded by his grandfather and great-uncle, Charles and Abe Erlanger. He went on to volunteer for the National Guard and later transferred into the U.S. Army Air Force, which he served with the 8th Air Force in England during World War II. After his service, he returned to serve as president of BVD and later as a chairman of the board for Erlanger Mills, Inc. He presided over the sale of the business in 1970 and retired in 1971. During the 1960s, Michael wrote two novels, “Silence in Heaven,” a science fiction work, and “Mindy Lindy May Surprise,” a novel about quarter-horse racing (he had a lifelong interest in horses and riding). He also studied drawing, painting, and sculpting. He and his wife were avid art patrons and collectors. Upon moving to Athens in 1980, Michael found numerous outlets to fulfill his interests in art. He served as a director of the Georgia Museum of Art since 1981, was a member of the board of the Friends of the GMOA, and was a strong supporter of theatre, dance, and music programs at the University of Georgia and Athens community.
Michael passed away on February 21, 2002 at his home in Athens, Georgia. His life included many various careers as a textile manufacturer, novelist, poet, and patron of the arts. He and his wife of 53 years, Mary A. Erlanger, were supporters of JRF for many years. Michael brought much merriment to an annual Epting High Hat Tea one year where he purchased a grand red hat for Mary which was auctioned to benefit the Foundation. Over the years, Michael served as an Advisor to the Foundation and lent his expertise to the Foundation’s Investment Committee. He was a long-time and beloved friend of the Jeannette Rankin Foundation and is remembered through the Erlanger Memorial Fund which was endowed in his memory by his wife, Mary.
Marjorie Saunders Magruder was born in 1920 in Wray Colorado. Growing up in the shadow of the Great Depression she was fiercely independent and self-reliant. She attended Cottey College in Missouri, but her college career was cut short by her father’s death.
When World War II broke out in Europe, she answered the call by joining the American Red Cross in support of the U.S. servicemen. She drove a Red Cross Clubmobile in England, boosting morale serving coffee and donuts to the growing number of U.S. servicemen there. After D-Day she and her Red Cross convoy followed the advancing Allied Armies into France. Her Red Cross convoy was strafed by a German plane near Saint Mere Eglise in France.
Once back in England she married Joseph Hull Magruder, a staff officer with the U.S. 8th Air Force, after a whirlwind courtship. Their marriage in November 1944, at High Wycombe Abbey outside London, lasted 45 years until Joe’s death in 1989. Marjorie and Joe settled in Connecticut where they raised three children.
Marjorie Saunders Magruder
She was an avid reader and instilled a love of reading in her children and grandchildren. She was the Program Director of the Public Library in Fairfield, Connecticut, where she lived for many years. Later in life she moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where she was heavily invested in the community and volunteered with numerous organizations.
Marjorie would have been delighted to know her legacy was carried on through these Scholar Grants and that women are able to achieve higher education despite multiple obstacles. May her spirit continue to inspire generations of future scholars who can benefit from her self reliance, independence, and strength.
given by Sarajane Love
Mattie Newton Traylor was born and raised in rural Troup County, Georgia in 1888. She graduated with honors from Agnes Scott College in 1909. She returned to Troup County, married L.H. Traylor, and raised a family of three. She was actively involved in her church and her community of LaGrange in which she resided. Prior and after raising her three children, Mattie was always a beloved school teacher at several institutions. She concluded her career teaching literature and social studies at a junior high school in her hometown for seventeen years. Mattie was not only intelligent, but wise, and her calm quiet demeanor set an example for all who knew her.
Mattie’s granddaughter, Sarajane Love, established the Mattie Newton Traylor Fund in memory of her. Sarajane has been a long time friend and supporter of the Jeannette Rankin Foundation, going back to the 1980s. Sarajane established this fund after being a long-term supporter of JRF. She says, “It’s just a no-brainer. I am so in awe of what our Scholars accomplish with so little. If they don’t deserve our help, no one does. This is truly a compelling organization and mission. When the right circumstances came around I thought, it’s time, let’s do it. So here we are.”
(given by her children Stanley, Nancy, Helen, Karen, Joel, and Janet Sterk)
Mae with her family
Mae had a deep love for education, and particularly for science. She aspired to be a doctor in a time where there were few female doctors. Her father refused to send her to college because “girls don’t need an education.” So with funds she earned herself, she went to college. She graduated from Calvin College in 1947 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, one of the few BSNs awarded in the 1940s. After completing RN training at Rush Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago, Mae married Watson Sterk and brought six children into the world before returning to school to obtain certification as a Public Health Nurse to work as a Health Nurse for Dodge County, Wisconsin.
When she was in her 50s, Mae returned to school again to obtain her Master’s of Science in Nursing, with the tenacious determination to perform all her statistics computations by hand. She retired in 1986 from her nursing career in her final position as Administrator of Nursing for the Dodge County Mental Health Facility.
Mae and her husband sent all six of their children through college, understanding that a college education would open up the world to them. Everyone appreciated her passion for education. Her daughter and Jeannette Rankin Foundation’s CEO, Karen Sterk, along with her brothers and sisters, endowed this Scholar Grant for women anywhere in the United States pursuing a Nursing degree. Their goal is to give a woman the help she needs to achieve her dreams.
given by Ralph and Nancy Davison
Mabel Davison was born Mabel Donaho in 1909 near Floresville, Texas. She was a loving mother and grandmother to her family. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Education from Southwest Texas State Teachers College in 1928 and began her career, following the profession of her mother and father. She was a teacher and a school librarian for over 40 years. Mabel was a strong believer in education for both men and women throughout their lives. She went on to earn her Master of Arts in Education from Incarnate Word College in 1963 in San Antonio, Texas. Being a deeply religious person, she honored the dignity of every human being without prejudice. Her son, Ralph M. Davison, and his wife, Nancy Davison, established and financed the Mabel Davison Fund in her memory. Nancy continues the Fund in honor of Mabel and her family. Nancy also established a separate endowed Scholar Grant in honor of her husband, Ralph M. Davison. Both Funds are intended to encourage and to assist strong women to return to school to improve their own lives, their family’s lives, and to work for the greater good in their communities.
given by Mimi Sodhi
Dr. Hardeep Sodhi left India in the late 50’s and came to the United States to join her husband and do her Medical Doctor Residency. While in the states, she gave birth to their daughter Mimi. At that time in America, she and her family experienced a lack of cross cultural understanding and acceptance. Ultimately, they decided that America was not the place for them. She and her husband decided to return to India, and stopped over in London on the trip home. While there, her husband was offered a partnership in a medical practice, so they made the decision to stay in London. While there, Dr. Hardeep Sodhi became a General Practitioner MD and served the people of London for many years. She gave birth to two more daughters and lived out a full life in London.
Dr. Sodhi traveled the world and instilled in her daughters the desire to create understanding and acceptance across cultures. She died on August 6, 2017. In her honor, her daughter Mimi Sodhi created the Hardeep Sodhi Fund, a Scholar Grant for JRF scholars pursuing degrees in the helping professions of nursing, social work, childcare, or teaching. Mimi Sodhi is a former JRF Board Member and a current friend of JRF.
given by Heather and Scott Kleiner
Greta Kleiner was the daughter of Scott Alter and Heather Smith Kleiner, JRF Founding Mother. She was born in Chicago in 1961 and moved with her parents to Lynchburg, VA, where her sister Catherine was born in 1966 before they moved to Athens, Georgia. Greta was a talented artist, spending her last two years of high school at Wykeham Rise School for Girls, a school with an emphasis on the arts. Upon graduating, she received the Lorraine Hansbury Award in recognition of her outstanding accomplishments and excellence in the arts. Greta attended Agnes Scott College, earning a diploma of Graphic Design from the Portfolio Design Center of Atlanta. She also graduated from UGA with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. Greta began her professional career as a commercial interior designer. She was also an accomplished musician, playing both classical and folk guitar. She was also the lead singer for Athens’ country bad Deep Step and rock band Street Dancers.
Greta’s work as a commercial designer took her around the country, from Atlanta to Cincinnati to Los Angeles to Dallas. In 1999, she married Darrel Berryhill and they moved back to Athens, where she continued her work as an interior designer. She left her mark on the Jeannette Rankin Foundation, designing the organization’s logo, which features a silhouette of Jeannette Rankin in a large brimmed hat. She loved seeing the logo she created in various places around Athens. Greta died in 2002 of acute pancreatitis. On October 28, 2004, her parents, Heather and Scott Kleiner, established the Greta Kleiner award in her honor.
given by Sue Bailey
George and Mary Bailey were the parents of Susan R. Bailey, one of the founders of the Jeannette Rankin Foundation. Both George and Mary attended college during the depression, giving them a deep appreciation for higher education. Lack of funds forced Mary to withdraw from a private woman’s college to attend a state school. She graduated in 1934 from Murray State College with a degree in Mathematics. George attended Georgia Institute of Technology on the co-op program, graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1936. As part of the co-op program, George worked as a bellhop and an usher at the Fox Theater.
Both Mary and George utilized their college degrees, Mary as a high school math teacher and George as a technical sales person in the aluminum industry. He served in the Army in World War II and the Korean War, designing tanks, then continuing his service in the Army Reserves until his retirement as a Lt. Colonel.
Remembering their time in college when scholarships were minimal and grants and loans for education were not available, George and Mary donated funds for JRF Scholar Grants during the 1980s and 1990s, honoring their daughter. In their memory, Susan created the George and Mary Bailey Fund in May 2019.
given by Sylvia Hillyard Pannell
Forest and her daughter, Sylvia
Forest Stewart Hillyard was born in 1907. Her daughter, Sylvia Hillyard Pannell, describes her mother, who came of age in the 1920s, as a “real flapper.” Forest was a courageous and self-determined woman who enjoyed the independence of having a successful career and actively encouraged her students to strive for independence even as she had. As a native of West Virginia, Forest earned her B.S, degree in Home Economics Education from Marshall College (now Marshall University) in Huntington, West Virginia and the Vocational Home Economics certificate at West Virginia University. During her career, she worked as a high school Home Economics educator in West Virginia and in Florida. After retiring, she continued her teachings through continuing education programs.
Forest was a stalwart advocate of equality for women and a committed supporter of the cause. Throughout her life, both in and out of the classroom, she worked tirelessly toward the advancement of women through promotion on the importance of education and actively encouraging women to pursue their career goals. When she passed away in 1993, Sylvia asked friends, family, and colleagues to give to the Jeannette Rankin Foundation in her mother’s name. In 2012, Sylvia made a donation to the Forest Stewart Hillyard Fund to provide a permanent Scholar Grant to help low-income women across the country achieve their educational and career dreams. Sylvia is grateful that this memorial to her mother continues to underscore those closely held goals that her mother held dear and imparted to so many women including her many students, mentees, and family members.