Sarah Rintamaki, Executive Directorsarahrintamaki@connectingforkids.org
Sarah is the founder and Executive Director of Connecting for Kids. She has an MBA from University of Chicago in Finance and Strategic Management. She was a management consultant for The Boston Consulting Group and a Product Manager for Progressive Insurance Company before becoming a stay-at-home mother of two adorable boys. She loves reading and is passionate about exercising, ice cream and outwitting her husband at board games.
Mirna Abou Khzam, Program Assistantmirnaaboukhzam@connectingforkids.org
Mirna is a newly-minted Ohioan, having moved from Orange County, California to complete her Master's Degree at Case Western University. She is our Program Assistant and has a BA in Communicative Disorders from California State University - Fullerton. When she is not working or studying, Mirna enjoys attending concerts, spending time with friends and family, and traveling.
Nicole Born-Crow, Program Managernicoleborncrow@connectingforkids.org
Nicole Born-Crow is a knitter, book lover, activist, mother of three, and the Program Manager Connecting for Kids. Before her role as Program Manager, Nicole was a Family Resource Specialist for CFK, and a children's services paraprofessional at Lakewood Public Library. Nicole has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre from Syracuse University, which she used to start a nonprofit theater company while living in NYC. In her spare time Nicole enjoys yoga, gardening and dreaming up vacations she will one day take.
Karla Fitch, Creative Directorkarlafitch@connectingforkids.org
Karla is responsible for the care and feeding of our website and print design work for CFK. She also manages our social media outlets and loves tracking down obscure bits of information that could help another parent. Diagnosed with OCD in her teens, Karla identifies as neurodivergent and particularly enjoys helping families to see strengths in different ways of thinking.
Karla has a Masters in Technical Communication (MTSC) from Miami University and is currently studying for a Masters in Social Work (MSW) at Cleveland State University (CSU). While at CSU, she has received certifications from CSU's SafeSpace (LGBTQ+ supportive) program as well as the National Association for Social Work (NASW) Ohio Chapter for Anti-Oppression Informed Practice.
In her free time, Karla also enjoys learning new things, organizing all the things, and crocheting.
Candy Freed, M.A., Family Resource Specialistcandyfreed@connectingforkids.org
Candy Freed is a lifelong Clevelander and, along with her patient husband, is the parent of two spirited boys. She is proud to be a Family Resource Specialist at CFK. Candy holds a BA and MA in sociology, specializing in marriage and the family, from Cleveland State University and will someday get around to finishing her PhD requirements in the same field. She has had the pleasure of teaching courses at CSU, LCCC, and Tri-C as well as working in nonprofit metric tracking and quality improvement initiatives aimed at helping to serve the underserved. She is a stats nerd who plays competitive pinball (although not as well as she'd like!) and enjoys a good mystery book, cup of coffee, cooking things her children won't eat, cuddling her rescue dog, spending time with family, and meeting new people. She also upcycles old neckties into unique accessories in her "spare" (ha!) time.
Chelsea Girgash, M.A., CCC-SLP, Child Care Leader
Chelsea is a Speech Language Pathologist and the CFK childcare lead. She has a BS in Early Childhood Education from Wright State university and an MA in Speech Language Pathology from Cleveland State University. Chelsea currently works with Positive Education Program at Prentiss Autism Center. She enjoys exercising, playing and coaching tennis, as well as volunteering at her church.
Catie Maher, Fundraising Assistantcatiemaher@connectingforkids.org
Catie is our Fundraising Assistant at Connecting for Kids. Catie grew up in Lorain and recently moved back to the county with her husband, three-year-old daughter and dog. She has a background in fundraising and grant writing at Clark State Community College in Southwest Ohio and earned her Bachelor of Arts at Wittenberg University. She is excited to be back home and enjoys visiting all our area’s parks and beaches with her family. In her free time, Catie enjoys baking, playing board games, and spending time outside.
Neysa McKenney, M.A., CCC-SLP, Teach Me to Play Toddler Program Leaderneysamckenney@connectingforkids.org
Neysa is a Speech-Language Pathologist with a MA in Speech-Language Pathology from Cleveland State University. Neysa recently retired from the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, where for the last 30 years has worked with children of all ages and stages of development. This work has allowed her to practice in a variety of settings including classroom, community, clinic and family homes. Neysa and her husband have 2 adult children and 2 dogs. Hobbies include gardening, refinishing furniture, volunteering at the county animal shelter, exercising and collecting antiques.
Nikki Montgomery, M.A., M.Ed., GPAC, Family Education Research Analystnikkimontgomery@connectingforkids.org
Nikki is the mom of a child with a rare genetic condition and special education needs. A former teacher and professional editor, Nikki has bachelor's and master's degrees in English, along with a master's degree in Educational Psychology, with research focused on informing and empowering parents of children with disabilities. She completed a graduate certificate in Patient Advocacy and serves on the Equity and Inclusion committee at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.
In addition to her work locally, Nikki is part of the Global Patient and Family Advisory Board for the Beryl Institute, where she is the project coordinator for the Patient Experience Policy Forum. She also serves on the editorial board for Pediatrics, the flagship journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Nikki is the author of the Super Safe Kids series of self-advocacy and safety books for children and families.
Paula C. Papp, M.A.Ed., Early Childhood/Special Education Consultantpaulapapp@connectingforkids.org
Paula attended Slippery Rock University earning a BS in Elementary and Special Education. She has a MA in Reading Instruction from Baldwin Wallace College where she focused her studies on early literacy development. In 2012, Paula retired from Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. She is excited to be working for Connecting for Kids so that she can continue to foster young children's well-being in cooperation with families, other professionals, and the greater community. At home, Paula enjoys visits with her grandchildren, exercising her setters, and cuddling up with a good book.
Joellen Podoll, Professional & School Liaisonjoellenpodoll@connectingforkids.org
Joellen has a BS in Family & Community Services with a Young Child Emphasis and Health Promotions Specialization from Michigan State University and a MS in Social and Community Services from Capella University. Joellen has worked with at-risk youth in a variety of roles and has volunteer management experience in fundraising, event planning and youth services.
Joellen volunteers with many organizations including the Northern Ohio Congenital Heart Walk, A Special Wish - Cleveland, Cuyahoga Heights Schools PTO and the MSU Alumni Club of Northeastern Ohio. She and her husband have a son and daughter and enjoyed living in Michigan, Connecticut, Alaska and Ohio. In her free time, Joellen spends time with her family, watches college football, travels, and watches her kids participate in their many extracurricular activities.
Lorilynn Wolf, Communications Directorlorilynn@connectingforkids.org
As Communications Director, Lorilynn is responsible for handling all publicity for the organization, as well as creating the content for newsletters, fliers and marketing materials. In addition, Lorilynn performs grant writing duties, and serves on the committees for both the Annual Fundraiser and Golf Outing. Lorilynn holds a bachelors of arts degree in Communications from Valparaiso University and spent 15 years doing full-time public relations work, most recently as a Senior Account Supervisor with Falls Communications in Cleveland. While there, she handed a wide variety of consumer, industrial and nonprofit accounts including Lincoln Electric, Moen, Dutch Boy, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland, Arthritis Foundation of Northeastern Ohio and Ave Maria School of Law. Lorilynn and her husband, Dennis, have two boys.
Kim Wylie, CPA, Treasurerkimwylie@connectingforkids.org
Kim is responsible for CFK's finances. Kim has her BA in Management with a concentration in Accounting from Wittenberg University. She earned her CPA while working at Ernst & Young LLP. Kim worked in Internal Audit for the Scott Fetzer Company prior to coming to American Greetings Corporation where she joined their Internal Audit department in 2004. Still at American Greetings, she has since moved to Accounting and is now the Director of Accounting. Kim is also active with the Foundation Fighting Blindness. When not at her "day" job, Kim enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons.