Board of Directors
Venture’s Board of Directors and Corporate Donors are made up of people from all walks of life: small business owners, lawyers, carpenters, police officers, teachers—active people like you who want to be involved and make a difference in the lives of others. Contact Mike Hyland for more information.
Current Board Members
Kathleen Charette joined the Board of Directors in 2014. Mrs. Charette has been a registered nurse for 27 years and is currently the Health Director for the Thompson, Connecticut public school district, where she also works as a nurse at Tourtellotte Memorial High School. She has spent most of her career working in the fields of pediatric, obstetric and emergency medicine, but recently spent five years as the Director of Nursing for The Bridge of Central Massachusetts. She was also the director of The Bridge’s Trauma Center, a team of highly trained counselors responding in the aftermath of traumatic events in schools, civic organizations and businesses. Mrs. Charette is a graduate of Elms College and Cambridge College and both a Master of Science in Nursing and a Master of Arts in Education.
Andrea Cropley has been working with the organization since 1988 and became a member of the Board of Directors in 2009. She also serves as the Vice President for the Big Alum Lake Association in Sturbridge. Mrs. Cropley has decades of experience in working with people living with disabilities, both professional and personal. She has a son with autism, which has prompted her to become interested in what the community has to offer those with special needs. Mrs. Cropley is currently a teacher at the Charlton Street School in Southbridge, Massachusetts. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Providence College and a Master of Education from Westfield State University.
Laurie Downes joined the Board of Directors in 2015. Laurie began her career as a registered nurse, working primarily in the fields of maternity and newborn care. She began teaching nursing at Greenfield Community College in 1990, followed by a nine-year tenure as a Professor of Nursing at Springfield Technical Community College. Currently, Laurie works as an Associate Professor of Nursing at the College of Our Lady of the Elms in Chicopee, Massachusetts, where she has been employed for 11 years. Laurie has earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Connecticut, a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and a Doctor of Philosophy in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Carl Ekman joined the Board of Directors in 2007 following a 38 year career as a law enforcement officer for the Charlton Police Department. Mr. Ekman earned a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from Curry College and currently serves as the Emergency Management Director for the Town of Charlton. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Charlton REAS Foundation, which provides residential energy assistance to senior citizens.
Gail Fanning joined the Board of Directors in 2016
Paul Kolesnikovas joined the Board of Directors in 2014. A successful attorney, he has been servicing the legal needs of southern Worcester County since 1986. His local practice currently focuses on estate planning and elder law. He is an active community member who has enjoyed serving on several boards and committees. Previously, he has served as Chairman of the Chamber of Central Mass South and currently serves on the Charlton Council on Aging. Attorney Kolesnikovas holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Notre Dame and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He also attended the London Law Program as a Concannon Scholar of International Law.
Patricia Lamoureux first joined the Board of Directors in 2009. Now retired, Mrs. Lamoureaux enjoyed a rewarding career as a Registered Nurse, specializing in both pediatric and psychiatric nursing. Her background has provided a unique insight regarding the agency’s support services. Additionally, she has served as president of the Helping Hand Society and was also a member of the Alzheimer’s Association at Harrington Memorial Hospital. She holds a degree from the David Hale School of Nursing.
Donna Peters, Board President, has been serving on the Board of Directors since 2000. A lifelong resident of Charlton, Massachusetts, Ms. Peters has been dedicated to the community for decades. She has served as Vice President of the Glen Echo Improvement Association in Charlton since 2008 and she has also been a member of the Charlton Helping Hand Society for over 20 years. Ms. Peters has also volunteered as a Massachusetts State Committeewoman and Southbridge Savings Bank Cooperator. Working in a variety of industries, including real estate development, restaurants, retail sales, life insurance and as a small business owner, Ms. Peters believes that people with disabilities are integral contributors to the community.
Richard Whitney, Board Vice President, joined the Board of Directors in 1995, continuing a long association with charitable organizations in central Massachusetts. Mr. Whitney has served as a Trustee of the Jacob Edwards Library as well as Director of the Optical Heritage Museum. He is also a co-founder of the Future of Southbridge Group. Mr. Whitney has found his years of experience with the Board of Directors to be extremely rewarding. He is devoted to ensuring that individuals with disabilities benefit from the services provided by Venture. Mr. Whitney is a Quality Management Standards Manager for Carl Zeiss Vision located in Southbridge, Massachusetts, where he first started work for American Optical in 1974. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Astronomy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Venture’s Board of Directors and Corporate Donors are made up of people from all walks of life: small business owners, lawyers, carpenters, police officers, teachers—active people like you who want to be involved and make a difference in the lives of others. Contact Mike Hyland for more