Let’s go WILD for Vanguard! We know last year felt like a zoo of a campaign, but you still rose to the occasion. There will be train rides and animal encounters as you join 2021 Campaign Chair Joe Howarth and 2020 Campaign Chair Matt Metzger with United Way of Greater Lafayette for a cocktail reception at Columbian Park Zoo on Thursday, June 9th at 5:30pm. 


Join us for this free special virtual three part series especially made for YOU, our valued Vanguard Donor! Sessions will cover topics such as: Creating a culture of inclusivity, the state of our youth, and manage stress and help others. You have an opportunity to register and submit your questions head of time for our expert panel members to answer. Join us for one, or all three! 

June 2 @ 4:00pm- Session 1: Creating a Culture of Inclusivity

Moderator: Ebony Barrett-Kennedy, United Way of Greater Lafayette- Director of Marketing & Engagement


  • Dr. John Gates, Purdue University- Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Rodney Lynch, Diversity Roundtable Co-Chair 
  • Leah Giorgini, YWCA of Greater Lafayette- Chief Program Officer
  • Michael Budd, United Way of Greater Lafayette- CEO

June 9 @ 4:00pm- Session 2: The State of Our Youth

Moderator: Betty Nelson, Retired- Purdue University, Dean of Students


  • Dr. Alicia Clevenger, Lafayette School Corporation- Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Curriculum & Instruction
  • Barry Richard, Boys & Girls Club- CEO
  • Tracy Fuller, Hanna Community Center, Executive Director
  • Tristen Comegys, Bauer Family Resources- CEO
  • Sharon Thompson, Lafayette Family YMCA- Vice President of Operations

June 16 @ 4:00pm- Session 3: Mental Health & Well-Being

Moderator: Beth McCuskey, Purdue University- Vice Provost for Student Life


  • TBD- Purdue University- Counseling & Psychological Services
  • Zoe Frantz, MBA, Valley Oaks- Chief Strategy Officer
  • Brandi Christiansen, Mental Health America- Wabash Valley Region- President & CEO
  • Sheri Moore, NAMI West Central Indiana- Executive Director 
  • Jenni Murtaugh, Willowstone Family Services- Executive Director




Dr. Beth McCuskey – As the vice provost for student life at Purdue University, Beth McCuskey oversees a broad range of departments dedicated to supporting student success. In this role, she has been charged with “emphasizing the lifelong benefit of an educational experience through environments, culture, people and programs.”

Key areas of focus include launching Purdue’s Student Leadership Initiative; building robust academic partnerships; and enhancing arts, culture and ideas across campus including fundraising for Hagle Hall, a $22 million facility under construction for Purdue Bands & Orchestras. McCuskey co-leads Steps to Leaps, a project designed to increase student well-being and resiliency skills and provides leadership for Purdue Moves-Housing, a strategic planning item that added more than 2,500 new residence hall beds.

McCuskey joined Purdue as the associate vice president for housing and food services in November 2010 and was responsible for University Residences, Purdue Dining & Catering, the Purdue Memorial Union, and Hall of Music Productions. She was previously the executive director of residence life, dining services and the Wyoming Union at the University of Wyoming. Besides overseeing the three departments, she coordinated the student learning assessment functions for the Division of Student Affairs, and co-led the Summit program, a three-day transitions program for all first-year students. Prior to her position in Wyoming, she held a variety of administrative roles in the Housing & Residence Life department at West Virginia University.

McCuskey has a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in higher education, a master’s degree in industrial and labor relations, and a doctorate in higher education leadership—all from West Virginia University. She has served as a faculty member for ACUHO-I’s Chief Housing Officer Training Institute and National Housing Training Institute and helped to conceptualize the AIMHO College, an institute for new housing professionals in the intermountain region. She has been active in ACUHO-I, serving as president in 2017, and previously served as chair of the ACUHO-I Foundation board of trustees and as a member of the editorial board for the Journal of College and University Student Housing. She has published several articles and co-edited a book, “Foundations: Strategies for the Future of Collegiate Housing,” published by ACUHO-I. 


Zoe Frantz, MBA, Chief Strategy Officer, Valley Oaks Health, has over 20 years of experience in Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment Services. During her career she has served many roles within operations and business development. In her role as Chief Strategy Officer and Director of Business Development it is her role to oversee and execute the strategic plan with the support of the team. She is a Board Member of Mental Health America of Wabash Valley Region. Frantz chairs the North Central Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Legislative Group. She is a Brand Ambassador for the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. She serves on many other local and Statewide behavioral health and addiction treatment committees. Frantz received her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Brockport and her MBA from Indiana Wesleyan.
Working in mental health and substance abuse services has been a life-long career passion because getting those in need connected to services is so important. She has seen firsthand treatment work and save thousands of lives.
Zoe, her husband, two kids and slew of animals live in West Lafayette, Indiana. She stays busy with being the co-chair of the Klondike Middle School Parent Teacher Organization and being involved in her kids dance and soccer hobbies.


Brandi Christiansen is a Veteran of the United States Navy, an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker and a former semi-pro woman’s football player. She studied Anthropology at the University of Iowa and has spent her professional career advocating to improve the lives of those affected by mental health challenges. Brandi’s own experiences have shaped her drive to confront the discrimination embedded in social stigma and the institutionalized policies that reinforce the uninformed beliefs that mental illness is different from other diseases. Brandi is a proud recipient of the “Community Freedom Award” for outstanding leadership and commitment to behavioral health from the Community Health Network and the Howard County Chamber of Commerce’s “Women of Excellence Break Though Professional” award in 2018. 


Sheri Moore is a Purdue University graduate and has worked in the community mental health field, serving the greater Lafayette Community, for more than 20 years. She assisted with the development and implementation of various programs for persons experiencing mental illness or homelessness. Sheri has been with NAMI West Central for the past three years. She is the chair of the Mental Health Collaborative Network and Crisis Intervention Team Planning Committee for Law Enforcement.

Jenni Murtaugh pic

Jenni Murtaugh is Executive Director of Willowstone Family Services.  Jenni is a life-long resident of Lafayette whose love of our community, education in Business Administration, and twenty years of experience in local nonprofit leadership ensures that Willowstone’s programming guides individuals and families toward a stronger, brighter, healthier future.   

Willowstone, formerly Family Services, Inc., was created 57 years ago to strengthen individuals and families across the lifespan.  Mental health counseling is the program that has been in existence since their inception.  Willowstone also proudly offers their Healthy Families Program providing voluntary new parent home visits for the first three years of the child’s life, as well as parent support workshops, including adolescent drug prevention.  


Lafayette Indiana Family Photographer

Sharon has been a part of the Lafayette Family YMCA serving our community for almost 34 years. Sharon served as the Childcare Director for her first 16 years of her YMCA career then moved to serve as the Membership Director, Senior Program Director, Operations Director and currently serves as the Vice President of the organization.  Sharon has developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit organization and the way it helps to improve the quality of life for thousands of individuals in our community.  She feels especially proud to know that she has made a difference in so many children and adult lives over the years and was honored to be recognized in 2017 by Dustin Keller as one of the United Way Champion’s for the role she played in his and his families lives over the years.

Barry Richard_Headshot

Barry Richard has nearly 40 years of law enforcement experience and has been trained in police tactics and strategies with the emphasis of maintaining law, order, peace and safety in our community.  Over his law enforcement career, Barry has served as patrolman, DARE Officer and was elected and served as Tippecanoe County Sheriff.  He currently serves on Tippecanoe County Council and is the Executive Director of the Lyn Treece Boys & Girls Club.  His experience as Executive Director of the Lyn Treece Boys & Girls Club, work on the Tippecanoe County Council, managing low-income housing units, 18 years leading the D.A.R.E. program, and his volunteer efforts with Area IV’s Agency on Aging has afforded him the opportunity to build community connections, from the youth to the elderly.   

Tracy Fuller is a graduate of Indiana State University where she earned a Master of Science. She has demonstrated her efforts in fundraising, establishing programs, developing relationships, proven community involvement, and active participation in philanthropy. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Hanna Community Center and the IMHC Coalition Director of Tippecanoe County.  

When she is not trying to impress upon her resume, she focuses her time on being active through community involvement through pageantry. Advocacy, fundraising, and donation collection are among just a few things that she has currently done. You can also catch her reading a thriller series when time allows. Tracy is a Chicago native, and now resides with her son, Hunter in West Lafayette. 

Dr. Alicia Clevenger came to Lafayette School Corporation in August 2009 as the assistant principal at Lafayette Sunnyside Middle School for two years and then served a principalship at Edgelea Elementary for five years.  Currently, she is the Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Curriculum and Instruction for LSC.  

Dr. Clevenger earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Saint Joseph’s College in 1991 where she was a member of the women’s basketball team and has been inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame for her accomplishments.  She then went on to earn a Master’s of Education degree in 2003 from Indiana Wesleyan University and was presented the Outstanding Professional Award from her cohort group.  Dr. Clevenger earned her Ed.S. (2017) and Ed.D (2018) from Ball State University and was awarded the Paul Nesper Leadership Scholarship.  

Prior to her arrival to Lafayette School Corporation, Dr. Clevenger spent 14 years teaching science, 12 of which were in Tippecanoe School Corporation.  During this time, she also served as the head certified athletic trainer for McCutcheon High School. 

Dr. Clevenger currently serves on the YMCA Board of Directors, United Way’s Community Investment Committee, and the Tippecanoe County Board of Health.  

Dr. Clevenger and her husband, Jeff (most know him as “Clev”), have been happily married for 22 years.  They enjoy traveling, sports, being outside, and spending time at home with their dogs, Phoebe and Joey.  

Tristen Comegys

Tristen Comegys is the CEO of Bauer Family Resources where she and her team focus on child abuse prevention, family preservation and reunification, mental health, youth development, and early childhood education. Bauer Family Resources addresses the needs of children, families, and communities in Tippecanoe, Carroll, Clinton, White, Fountain, and Warren Counties. 

After graduating from Purdue University with a BA in Communications with a focus in Advertising, Tristen began her career in the nonprofit sector. Throughout her career, she has been an advocate for early childhood education and youth development having served on coalitions that have driven initiatives throughout the Central Indiana Region. 

Tristen developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector and specifically youth serving organizations early in her life, having benefited from youth development programming. Today her soon to be adopted daughter, Harley, has grown leaps and bounds through her participation in similar youth development programming. 


Leah Giorgini, MS, serves as Chief Program Officer (CPO) at YWCA Greater Lafayette. She is a British-Indonesian immigrant who moved from England to the United States in 2016. Trained as an Occupational Therapist, Leah primarily worked in clinical mental health settings until came to the United States, where she found a home working for YWCA Greater Lafayette’s Domestic Violence Intervention & Prevention Program. Now CPO, Leah is charged with oversight and development of a wide portfolio of programs that include: intimate partner violence survivor services, economic justice and workforce development for women and marginalized populations, and racial justice programming.

As a childhood survivor of domestic violence, psychiatric survivor, former foster youth, and as a person that has previously experienced homelessness, Leah is working towards a world free of violence through systems that protect the most marginalized, with equal opportunities for all to thrive.

Rodney James Lynch was born on November 22, 1965 in Demopolis, Alabama. Rodney was raised in Englewood, New Jersey where his grandmother, the late great Lear Dixon Lynch, made sure she took him with her to Sunday school and worship service every Sunday morning. As such, he received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at the age of 10 at Shiloh AME Zion Church of Englewood, NJ. He is the son of Demerious Lynch and Rev. James Williams, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Newbern, Alabama.  

Rodney accepted his call to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in June, 2000 while serving at Calvary Baptist Church of Madison, NJ and was licensed by Rev. Dr. Jerry M. Carter Jr. Rodney was ordained under the guidance and mentorship of Rev. A Craig Dunn, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Madison, New Jersey.  Rev. Lynch pursued and received his undergraduate liberal arts degree in Social Science from The College of New Rochelle in May, 2010.  Four years later, Rev. Lynch received his Master of Divinity degree from Drew Theological Seminary and was awarded “Theological Student of the Year” for his outstanding generosity and dedication to the Drew community.  Furthermore, under his tenure as president of Drew’s Black Ministerial Caucus (BMC), the organization was awarded “Theological School Organization of the Year.”  Rev. Lynch was also awarded the George R. Crooks Prize for excellence in hymn and scripture reading.  Subsequently, Rev. Lynch completed his second post graduate degree, Master of Sacred Theology at Drew and is now pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry (D. Min) at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio where his focus is; Prophetic Activism: From The Cross to The Community.  

Rev. Lynch is dedicated and committed to love and serve humanity through the lens of the “Religion of Jesus,” which wills him to do the work of social justice on behalf of those who are dehumanized, marginalized, and oppressed.  One of his favorite scriptures is Luke 4:18-19; “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”  Rev. Lynch currently serves as the fourth Pastor and Executive Director of the Baptist Student Foundation (The Found) at Purdue University.  In addition, he also leads faith leaders and their congregations through a “Racial At(one)ment Experiential Learning Module,” to bring racial healing to the Greater Lafayette community.  In addition, Rev. Lynch serves as an adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community College, teaching Understanding Diversity and Cultural Awareness, and is Co-Chair of the Diversity Round Table (DRT) of Greater Lafayette.  

A native of Gary, Indiana, Gates received a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, a master’s degree from New York University and a Ph.D. from the University of London.

John Gates joined Purdue University in early 2019 as the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and clinical professor in the Krannert School of Management.

Prior to his appointment at Purdue, Gates had served as the inaugural associate dean in the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. He was responsible for diversity, inclusion and engagement strategy. He also provided leadership in the recruitment and retention of faculty and graduate students from underrepresented minorities and guidance for diversity in curriculum development and programming.

Other prior academic posts include serving as associate dean for administration and finance at Harvard College, Harvard University and special assistant to the president and provost at the University of Vermont, where he focused on strategic initiatives, change management and diversity. He also held a series of positions with increasing responsibility at New York University, culminating with his role as executive director of global operations.

Gates also launched and led his own consulting firm, Criticality Management Consulting, where he advised corporate clients on a range of workforce issues.

A native of Gary, Indiana, Gates received a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, a master’s degree from New York University and a Ph.D. from the University of London.

Michael Budd is the CEO at United Way of Greater Lafayette and Tippecanoe County in Lafayette, Indiana.  He has served in this position since February 22, 2016 with a total of 22 years overall experience with United Way including 9 years in Greenville, SC and 7.5 years in Atlanta, GA.  His professional career started at the Georgia-Pacific Corporation for 5 years in sales, marketing and customer service roles.

He is a 2015 graduate of the United Way Worldwide Advanced Leaders Program.

Michael has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from The Ohio State University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Georgia State University. 

Michael lives in Battleground, IN with his wife and their 5 children.