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Professional Leadership

EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT

Francis X. “Frank” Irr, Executive Director

Frank Irr is Executive Director of Free the Kids, Inc. (FTK) and its mission in Haiti Pwoje Espwa Sud (PES), a Haitian non-governmental organization (NGO), which operates in the city of Les Cayes. FTK and PES form a strong partnership that serves the world’s poorest and most vulnerable children and families.  Frank, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, has more than 35 years of experience leading high performing organizations, and nearly two decades working internationally and in developing countries. As Managing Senior Partner of AIM Consulting Associates, LLC he is known for his multi-disciplinary business management and professional development services, dedicated to improving the performance and strategic imperative of his client organizations. Frank is a long-time donor and believer in the Espwa mission, and lives with his wife of over 35 years, Kathy, in Connecticut.  He has two married children and three grandchildren.

Lisa Hyatt, Controller

Lisa Hyatt is the Controller of Free the Kids (FTK) and serves as Controller of Pwoje Espwa Sud (PES).  Lisa has extensive experience in For-Profit, Not-for-Profit, and Foreign NGOs across a variety of industries in program development, implementation of processes and procedures, fraud prevention, contract and project management, training, financial management and consulting, data analysis, project and grant reporting, and tax services.  Specifically, in Haiti, Lisa has many years’ experience in financial process development, management training, program development, community development and outreach, managing global logistics, global inventory management, coordination of imports/exports, and the planning of on-time production of projects for crisis restoration. While working in Haiti, Lisa has developed many Partners, within Haiti and the US, that have entrusted her with projects such as food and supply aid relief, restoration from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, accountability oversight, development of sustainable solutions, and consultation for planning and problem-solving. Most importantly, she has trained and developed strong Haitian teams to further the success of sustainability in communities. Lisa holds an MBA with concentrations in Accounting and Global Management, Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional (CNAP), and has owned and operated a consulting business, Overture Inc., in North Carolina, USA since 2006 with a focus on financial process and program development in Haiti since 2011.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Jim O’Hara, Chairman

For more than 30 years, Jim has been building and growing IT organizations of all sizes globally.  He has held executive positions at Cisco Systems, StorageNetworks, Veritas, Symantec, LiveOffice and most recently served as president at Ecwid, a leader in SaaS e-commerce software. Currently, he operates GCGnetwork, guiding venture-backed companies worldwide on sales and go to market strategy and execution.  Jim also advises and serves on the boards of various technology, education, sports and non- profit organizations. He studied business administration at the University of Notre Dame, and attended business school at Loyola Marymount University.  He and his wife Ashley live in the San Diego area and have four children.

Clifford D  “Seth” Sethness, Immediate Past Chairman

Seth is a Los Angeles attorney and a partner in Morgan Lewis’s Labor and Employment Practice and has been practicing exclusively labor and employment law for more than 30 years. He is the practice group leader for the Labor and Employment Practice in Los Angeles. Mr. Sethness handles and oversees the labor and employment law litigation and advice for the West Coast shipping industry through his wide- ranging representation of the Pacific Maritime Association. A former staff attorney at the National Labor Relations Board, Mr. Sethness has an active litigation practice representing shipping, trucking, retail, hospitality, and transportation industry clients in wage and hour and other types of class actions and discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuits. Seth has his doctorate in jurisprudence from the George Washington University Law School.

J.P. Steele, Vice-Chairman

J.P. Steele is President of Applied Investment Strategies, LLC, a Texas registered investment advisory. Additionally, he is a Partner in Index Methodologies, LLC and its parent, Alpha Artists, LLC. He has over 30 years’ experience in the life insurance and financial services industries, primarily with large national and multinational insurers. Steele previously was President of IFS Financial Services from 2009-2011. He was previously with the AIG American General Domestic Life Companies from 1998-2007, serving in multiple roles including, most recently, President of the International Structured Settlements Annuities Division. Steele received his undergraduate degree from West Texas A&M University in 1986 and a Master of Business Administration from the same institution in 1996. He resides in Amarillo, Texas, with his wife Robin and two children, Lauren and Ryan. J.P. and his son were introduced to Free the Kids and Project Espwa in 2013 when Ryan raised funds and helped build the domes in the girl’s village at the orphanage as his Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout Project.

William J. Haggerty, Treasurer

Bill is the founder of The Haggerty Group and has been a CPA for over 40 years. Bill leads Haggerty & Bosch, LLP, an affiliate of The Haggerty Group, growing a loyal client base over a 20-year span, including many small businesses and high net-worth individuals. Bill engenders trust and loyalty by offering understanding and thoughtful solutions to each client’s concern and fostering personal relationships with them. Bill’s motto has always been, “Do what’s best for the client” and his individualized approach to each of his clients’ unique issues enables Bill to present strong and effective solutions.

Kenneth Graff, Secretary

Ken is a Regional Vice President for Salesforce.com in Nashville, TN. Ken has over 20 years of technology sales experience across the United States with Hewlett Packard and CA Technologies and has been involved in providing technology solutions for Fortune 100 companies around the world.  His Specialties include Cloud technologies, Application Security, Mobile, Social, Sales, Customer Service and Marketing technologies. He has worked with Manufacturing, Technology, Professional Services, Healthcare, Retail and Insurance Services and Financial companies of all sizes.  Ken studied Business and Marketing and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Eastern Connecticut State University.  He has an interest in Theology and has studied at Franciscan University of Steubenville in the Masters Program. Ken served in the Connecticut Army National Guard as well.

Brian Farley, Board Member

Brian is a Financial Executive with a diverse background in the operational and financial oversight of small and mid-market companies, Brian has extensive experience conducting financial, operational and marketing analysis and developing financial/sales forecasts. He lives in San Diego, has been married to Therese for nearly 26 years and blessed with three children, Patrick a graduate from the University of San Francisco, Anne Marie a graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans and Kathleen a senior at the University of Oregon.

Augustus “Gus” Martin, Board Member

Gus Martin is a Professor of Criminal Justice Administration in the Department of Public Administration and Public Policy, first appointed in 2001. He also served for nearly ten years in academic administration at CSU Dominguez Hills as Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs, Acting Associate Dean of the College of Business Administration and Public Policy, and Associate Vice President for Human Resources Management. Dr. Martin’s research and professional interests are terrorism and extremism, homeland security, and administration of justice. He is author of a number of books on the subjects of terrorism and homeland security, including Understanding Homeland Security, Essentials of Terrorism: Concepts and Controversies, Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues, The SAGE Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Second Edition, Terrorism and Homeland Security, and The New Era of Terrorism: Selected Readings. He is also author of Juvenile Justice: Process and Systems.

Dr. Martin began his academic career as an Administration of Justice professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh. Prior to joining academia, Dr. Martin served as Managing Attorney for the Fair Housing Partnership of Greater Pittsburgh, Special Counsel to the Attorney General of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Legislative Assistant to Congressman Charles B. Rangel of New York.

Jack Reynolds, Board Member

Jack was born and raised in Haddonfield, NJ near Philadelphia.  He graduated from Guilford College, Greensboro, NC in 1965 and then attended Navy OCS in Pensacola, FL.  He was assigned to the Armed Forces Air Intelligence Center at Lowry AFB, Denver for one-year training.  After a five-year active career in anti-submarine intelligence, as well as six additional reserve years attaining the rank of Lt. Commander, Jack joined U.S. Steel Corp. in 1970 as a sales trainee.  He was assigned sales territories in Syracuse, NY, Philadelphia, and Bethlehem, PA before becoming marketing manager for the steel mill at Fairless Hills, PA.  In 1982 Jack was promoted to Sales Manager- Northeast located in Ridgewood, NJ, a position he held until retiring in November 2002. Jack is married to Monique, a native of Lewiston, Maine and they have three grown children. In 1999, Jack and his brother-in-law, Fr. Marc Boisvert (Monique’s brother) founded Free the Kids. Jack and Monique now reside in Fountain Hills, AZ after spending most of their adult lives in Ridgewood, NJ and Greensboro, NC.  Jack is a 42-year member of Rotary and now belongs to the local Four Peaks Rotary Club.

 

I fell in love with Espwa during my first visit last year. Hard to put into words, but there was a real "heart" connection with the kids and staff. It is a special place. My visit was focused primarily on the girls and the teachers. Relationships were initiated during that first visit that I treasure very much!

- Maria Simeone

There is hardly a more heartbreaking sight than seeing an orphan in Haiti--many of them who have families who simply cannot feed and clothe them. Of course there is the emotional response to their plight, but there is a more pragmatic hope--that given a chance in a loving, caring environment, these children can grow up to be leaders, people who can move their communities and the country itself in a positive, healthy direction.

- Jackie Wilson

This place is amazing! The kids and their caregivers will restore your faith in the human spirit. The magic of Espwa is that there is a childhood provided for the kids there that would not exist otherwise.Haiti has a very very long way to go, but this is a hopeful place with clean, well fed, happy children, teachers, house moms, and support staff. Fr Marc and all of the others should be very proud of their accomplishments. Help them in any way that you can!

- Kerri McDonough Croland
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