MEET THE WOODLANDS TEAM
We love what we do! The Woodlands has a committed and passionate staff dedicated to doing the most impactful work every day for our participants. Our team has a thoughtful and professional appreciation for what it takes to do this work, and what it will take to play an even more powerful role in the lives of those with disability and chronic illness.
Samantha EllwoodExecutive Director
Samantha joined The Woodlands in 2020 with a background in non-profit management, programming, and community partnerships. She is passionate about creating barrier-free spaces for innovative programs and experiences. Prior to The Woodlands, she led Providence Connections, Inc. and oversaw educational programs and partnerships at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. She is currently on the Board of Directors at JAM Enterprises, Be The Kind Kid.
Denise BalkovecDeputy Director of Advancement & Operations
Denise has dedicated her career to fundraising and fund development in the not-for-profit arena. As Deputy Director of Advancement & Operations, she is responsible for developing strategies that will most effectively position the Woodlands for support from the private, corporate and government sectors.
Kristen LinkDirector of Program Experience
Kristen joined The Woodlands in 2021. With nearly 20 years nonprofit experience in the fields of arts, education, and disability, she is dedicated to the practice of making programming equitable and inclusive for all.
Rachel ClarkAdministrative Manager
Rachel helps to prepare materials and facilitates communications for the Board of Directors and its subcommittees. Additionally, she manages HR practices and compliance, facility rentals, and assists in resolving IT issues.
Tom FlemingFacilities Manager
Tom joined The Woodlands in 2018 with a background in IT services and datacenter management after retiring from 34 years at BNY Mellon as a Managing director and CAO of end user computing. He now sits on the Board of Directors of the Western PA International Harvesters Collectors and Board of Trustees for Greenwood Historical Cemetery in Conneaut Lake, PA.
Cole HicksRecreational Program Manager
During her education at Seton Hill, Cole began at The Woodlands in the middle of 2020 as the virtual art therapy intern. After her graduation in 2021, her time at The Woodlands continued, where she fulfilled the roles of counselor, healthcare, and leadership. Her passion lies with making The Woodlands’ camp and retreat experience as fulfilling as possible for both participants and staff alike, and she could not be happier to be in the role of Recreational Program Manager
Ann Marie KlipaFinancial Coordinator
Mary KovacevicBuilding & Grounds Associate
Mary worked in hospice until 2008. She took a hiatus from the workforce to raise her two daughters Savannah and Sophia. Mary has a passion for interior design and gardening, which was a great fit for joining The Woodlands’ Facility Team in 2019.
Frank KoziolBuilding & Grounds Associate
Nicol LachimiaDonor & Community Relations Manager
Nicol joined The Woodlands in December of 2022 with an extensive background in event planning, advertising and strong relationship building skills. She holds great enthusiasm for sharing the mission of The Woodlands with the community and creating countless opportunities for engagement.
Georgia MyersLead Nurse
Georgia obtained her nursing degree from Hartford Community College. Before joining The Woodlands, she worked as a nurse in a doctor’s office, an assisted living facility and in UPMC Passavant Hospital PCU. Georgia is proudly part of a military family with 3 beautiful daughters and has lived all over the world.
Leia PatsilevasAdministrative Coordinator, Program Services
Leia graduated from Slippery Rock University, where she obtained her Master of Science in Adapted Physical Activity. She continued to work with the University’s Adapted Physical Activity program, helping to coordinate their “I Can Do It, You Can Do It” program – a national physical activity mentoring program for individuals with all types of disabilities.
Melissa PavlowskyPrograms Assistant
Melissa graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Recreational Therapy. Before joining The Woodlands in 2017, she worked at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh as a recreational therapist in the inpatient hospital. Melissa also serves as a Board Member for The Team Alex Fund, a nonprofit that provides grants for children with spinal cord injuries.
Jeff ScottBuildings and Grounds Coordinator
Jeff joined The Woodlands in 2018 with a background in Construction. Jeff owned and operated a masonry business for more than 35 years.
Jeff loves giving back to his community and has helped serve at soup kitchens, serving Thanksgiving dinner to the needy and mowing lawns for senior citizens. He is a proud father of 4 children and has taught them to give back as well. Jeff loves all aspects of his job at The Woodlands and can’t wait each year until “CAMP” starts!
Laura ThomasSpecial Events & Corporate Relations Manager
Laura Thomas joined The Woodlands in 2021 after 6 years of working in nonprofit development in the New York Metropolitan area and is experienced in event management, donor relationships, and community outreach. Her professional mission is to ensure accessible and engaging programming for individuals of all backgrounds.