Board of Directors

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I’m excited about the possibility of returning to the board of Path to Shine®.  Previously I served from 2016 to 2019, with the last two years as Board Chair, and am currently part of the Transition Committee.  In addition, I am finishing my 6th year as a mentor in the Marietta-Mosaic program.  The mission of Path to Shine is close to my heart.  Every child deserves support beyond what their parents give them to set them up for success in life.  It has been my honor to work in these capacities and has given me much in return.

A couple of other things: St. Benedict’s has been my church home since before the first service.  I have been involved in many aspects of the church, including serving on the vestry.  Professionally, I share ownership of a pediatric clinic with my wife where I am the CEO.  We provide primary healthcare to the Medicaid community in Cobb County and share many of the same clients as Path to Shine.

With the transition in leadership in the next year, continuity is important, and I would be honored to help provide that.

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Having spend his childhood moving around the Carolinas, Fr. Ben is proof that God calls the least likely of candidates to ordained ministry. While in college, Fr. Ben turned his love of politics into a successful career in campaign management, having developed a strategy to recruit and position candidates with no political experience into insurgency front-runners in statewide and congressional races across the southeast.

After a particularly bruising election cycle, he took a leave of absence from the company he founded and followed an academic curiosity to Emory’s Candler School of Theology. While in seminary, Fr. Ben became a christian and soon discerned a call to ordained ministry. He was subsequently ordained by the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Atlanta. Several years into his priesthood, Fr. Ben believes that Jesus Christ is the best candidate to lead the biggest insurgency campaign of all.

Fr. Ben has been the Rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Kennesaw, Georgia since 2016 and is passionate about congregational vitality, and mission-led innovation. He consults with vestries around the Episcopal Church and is most excited about the opportunities for growth and vitality that come from investing in programs like Path To Shine®


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Ellen Parker Gaffney graduated from Agnes Scott College (ASC) with a B.A. in Biology-Psychology and did some graduate work at Georgia State in School Psychometry. She has been married to Chris for 31 years and they have raised four children together, ages 23-30. She is a weekly volunteer in the office of the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research and recently chaired their largest fundraiser for two consecutive years. For the past 15 years, she has served on the summer central staff at Camp Crestridge for Girls in North Carolina. Previously Gaffney served as the Managing Editor for Quilt Magazine and as a pattern designer and photo stylist for the same publication.

Gaffney describes herself as a professional volunteer, having served as a Girl Scout leader for 15 years, serving as a class officer for ASC’s Class of 1987, almost every year since graduation, and serving on the ASC Alumnae Board.  She also serves as the Service Committee chair for the Atlanta Smocking Guild, distributing over 800 gowns and blankets annually to premature and stillborn babies in local hospitals. Gaffney is co-director of Path To Shine – Marietta affiliate and is actively involved with the Ugly Pants fundraiser. Through her involvement with PTS, she has become a weekly volunteer in the nursery at their host location, where evening ESL classes are offered.
Gaffney was involved with Wonderful Days Preschool, a tuition-free preschool for under-served children in Marietta for over twenty years,  first as the school’s director, and then as a board member.  She just completed a third term on the Camp Crestridge Alumnae Board and is currently the curator for the camp museum and archives. She is a past member of the Board of Trustees for Darlington School in Rome, GA and recently served on the Student Experience.
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Nadeen is a retired attorney, having been admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1979. Serving as in-house counsel for companies in the multifamily housing industry, she taught Fair Housing law starting when the Fair Housing Amendments Act went into effect in 1989. Her many programs (1300+) were presented to apartment management companies and state and local apartment associations nationwide, and she was regularly asked to speak at national industry conferences for the National Apartment Association, Multi-Housing World, AIM and OpTech, as well as at University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, Anhui University of Economics and Finance (Bengbu/anhui Province/PRC), and at the Atlanta Art Institute. She currently serves on the Board of International Fund for Economic Development (IFED) and on the Communications Committee for the Atlanta Ministry of International Students (AMIS). Nadeen is also a member of Atlanta Mission’s Circle of Sisters and works on programs for both My Sister’s House and the Atlanta Day Shelter.

In her role with Path To Shine®, Nadeen serves on the Communications Committee and the Recognition Committee. She volunteers with summer enrichment programs and has done so for many years. Nadeen also serves as Board Secretary for Path To Shine’s® Board of Directors.

Nadeen has also authored three children’s books: Let There Be Dragons, When Pigs Fly, and Libby and the Cape of Visitability. 

From the suburbs of NY, I went to UNC for undergrad and then UGA for my Master’s degree. Georgia has been my home since 1977.

My first job out of college was for a Regional Planning Commission where I served as a human resources consultant to communities in the Metropolitan Atlanta area.  Since 1986 I’ve worked in the IT division at Federal Home Loan Bank. I am currently a Banking Officer coordinating the development and support of the applications for the Accounting and Funds Transfer departments. FHLB has always had, as part of its mission, a focus on giving back to the community in which it serves. As a result, I have had an opportunity to volunteer hundreds of hours including Habitat for Humanity, Project Open Hand, Atlanta Community Tool Bank, AID Atlanta, and the Foundation for Hospital Art.

As a member of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, I headed the Outreach Committee for two years changing the focus of our Outreach goals from giving our treasures to giving our time and our talents. For the last 12 years I have served as the Acolyte Leader at St. Aidan’s. Without a doubt this is the most important and fulfilling job I have had in my life. I enjoy spending my free time with my dog, Allie, and traveling.

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Dan Kniffen is a Partner with the law firm of Drew, Eckl & Farnham, where he has represented Employers in the courtroom for 35 years, and through creation of policies and procedures to avoid and resolve disputes in the workplace. Dan has served as a Co-Managing Partner and on the firm’s Board of Directors, and has served as Chairman of the State Bar of Georgia’s Labor and Employment Section and the National Defense Research Institute’s Workers’ Compensation and Employer Liability Section.

Dan has been inducted into the International Association of Defense Counsel and serves by appointment on the Chairman’s Advisory Council, which vets legislation and policy for Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation system. Dan has also served in various leadership and volunteer capacities with The First Tee of East Lake, StreetGrace, Kids Chance of Georgia, The Orphans Foundation in Haiti, The Vine United Methodist Church, Fifth Row Center Theater and Leadership Gwinnett. Dan lives in Brookhaven, Georgia with his wife, Patty.

Dan currently serves as Board Chair for Path To Shine’s® Board of Directors.

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A life-long student, Martha loved school from the very beginning of first grade in Lubbock, Texas. And because she loves school, she is called to share it. A passion for teaching emerged that first year of school, when she held class for her younger best friend each day, paving the way for her best friend to be a bit bored the next year when she started first grade.

Martha has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, a master’s in mathematics education, and a doctorate in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Austin.

Her first career was as a teacher of mathematics at Lanier High School in Austin, TX. After starting a family, she taught part-time in the College of Business at the University of Texas. She was recruited by Continental  Insurance Company and moved to Princeton, NJ. Teaching beckoned again and she moved to the Atlanta area and took a position at Kennesaw State University in Computer Science and Information Systems. She served there as assistant professor, associate professor, full professor and department chair.

Retired now, she pursues another passion – stitching. She makes her own clothes, as well as textile art, and occasional vestments. She also teaches through the American Sewing Guild, as well as for other textile groups. And she takes many, many classes.

Martha is married to Jim Myers, retired from AT&T. They have 4 grown children who are married with their own families now. Martha and Jim spend every minute that COVID allows with the 11 grandchildren. They are members of St Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Dunwoody where Martha has served on Vestry, taught Sunday School, and volunteered at Malachi’s Storehouse.

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I live in Avondale Estates and except for a brief move to Savannah, and I have done so all my life. I am a product of DeKalb County School System and a cradle Episcopalian. I graduated Georgia State University in 1987 while I was pregnant with my fourth child. I began teaching several years later.

I have about 12 years of experience teaching in the traditional brick and mortar school, and eleven years teaching online at Georgia charter public school, Georgia Cyber Academy.

My husband and I began Path To Shine – Avondale Estates five years ago. Holy Trinity Parish has hosted and sponsored the program ever since. This past year, I helped with the program in Fayetteville (it began in 2019). We have seen the good work that can be done through PTS, and I plan to be involved for several more years.

There will be a new leader at Path To Shine – Avondale Estates for the 2020/2021 school year. I will continue mentoring, of course. I am looking forward to engaging in a new way as a Board Member.

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First Landmark Bank elevated Derek to Marietta Market President in September 2018. Prior to September, he served the Bank’s Midtown market as SVP/Senior Commercial Lender. He now oversees the Marietta commercial lending group and the Marietta Banking Center, and is responsible for business development in Marietta and throughout Cobb County. Derek received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance in 2001 from Kennesaw State University, and completed the three-year graduate School of Banking at LSU in 2009.

Derek is a member of the Chairman’s Club of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. Derek is past Treasurer of St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church. He has participated in teaching financial literacy programs to elementary school students with Junior Achievement, and has served as volunteer with Special Olympics. He is married to Ashley and they have two young children.

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Julie graduated from the University of Miami with a BA in Communications and Film. She retired in 2016 from a 35-year career as an accomplished sales and marketing consultant in the Atlanta broadcast and digital sector. Her career was spend at Capital Cities/ABC and Cox Media Group.
At Cox she represented five diverse radio properties and a full range of third party digital products. She was highly trained throughout her Cox career in the implementation of integrated marketing solutions and strategies, buying habits and trends, and marketing to women.
Julie was a member of the Board of Directors of Komen Atlanta where she enjoyed her work with mission and grants implementation for Atlanta communities. She served on the host committee for several years for Komen Atlanta’s annual fundraiser, Bubbles and Bling. Her involvement with Path To Shine® began in 2016 as a Mentor, and then as co-director of Path To Shine -Marietta/Mosaic. She has also served on the planning committee for Ugly Pants– a fundraiser of St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church in Smyrna.
A native Floridian, Julie has called the Atlanta area home for over 40 years and raised her two adult daughters in Smyrna. Julie attends St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church.

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Joe is a member of Vestry at St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church in Smyrna. He currently serves as the vice chairman of the board of Connections Homes, a charity focused on matching young people who have aged out of foster care with mentor families in the State of Georgia.

Joe has 40 years of experience managing institutional real estate investments including 30 year in portfolio management. He has represented capital from all over the globe in investments that span all property sectors and risk/return segments. Joe is a former Managing Director of Morgan Stanley Real Estate and for 5 years served as Portfolio Manager of its $20B flagship, core commingled fund, Prime Property Fund, LLC.

Currently Joe is the President and Managing Member of Five Star Realty Partners, LLC (“FSRP”) a real estate investment firm focused on hotel and multi-family projects in major urban and resort markets nationwide.

Joe holds and MBA in Finance from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Economic from Vanderbilt University.

Joe has served as a volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America, Atlanta International School, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Habitat for Humanity. Joe is married to Kerry Thomas and they have four adult children between them.

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A Navy brat, Christine was born in Taiwan and has lived in Guam and Germany and in many US states.  But Georgia was always home and her family’s deep roots in Henry County brought them to McDonough after her father’s retirement.  She graduated from high school in McDonough and then went to Agnes Scott College in Decatur, where she graduated in 1982 with a degree in English and History.  She married Scott Hoskins (Georgia Tech ’82) and followed his Air Force career all over the country until his retirement, when they settled in Warner Robins.  He is currently a senior engineer at an aviation engineering company.

Christine and her husband have two sons, now in their 30s.  Christine homeschooled both of them through high school.  After the youngest son went to college, she became a high school science teacher at a small private school in Warner Robins.  Now retired, she has held numerous volunteer positions over the years, including 15 years as a Cub Scout/Boy Scout leader and a term on the board of directors of Friends of Georgia Libraries.  She is an active member of the Houston County Friends of the Library and serves on their board of directors, and is the director of the Perry affiliate of Path to Shine.  

She was confirmed in the Episcopal Church in 2014 and is a member of Christ Church Macon.  She sings in the chancel choir, serves on the altar guild, and is a Lay Eucharistic Visitor.

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Mimi is a native of Mexico who moved to the United States in 1994. She has been an educator for 30 years and was a Spanish teacher with the Douglas County Schools.  Guerra earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish in 1989 from the University of Victoria and earned a Child Development Associate (CDA) at Kennesaw State University for Early Childhood Education in 2002. She has also completed English classes at the Cobb County Adult Education Center, completed CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at the Training and Counseling Center (TACC) of St. Luke’s, and last summer finished seminary at CETLA (Theological Education Center for Latinos) at the Diocese of Atlanta.

As a child, Mimi aspired to be a nun, but her father encouraged her to become a teacher. However, she never gave up on her dreams of working in the church, and today, in addition to her work as a translator for Title One public schools, she devotes time to helping people build a closer relationship with God.  She is the priest in charge of the Hispanic Community at Christ Church in Norcross.

Mimi is the proud mother of one son, Henry, who is 20 and attends West Georgia College. She loves spending time with her family and helping people in need.