Ben’s Lighthouse is led by a dedicated volunteer Board formed in September 2013. (Prior to that, the Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church performed Board responsibilities.)  The organization was originally founded as a program of Trinity Church under its 501(c)3 umbrella and in the summer of 2015, Ben’s Lighthouse became it’s own independent 501(c)3.  The Ben’s Lighthouse Board meets monthly and Board members will lead or participate in various committees to support the needs of the organization. Over time, new Directors and Advisors will be added as needed.

Cori Chertoff

Cori Chertoff

The founding partner of Dream Jam Productions, a multi-media children’s entertainment and educational development company. Cori has extensive experience in child development, as a program director, curriculum designer and producer. She has developed innovative programs and performances for children ranging in age from infancy through adolescence. Her anti-violence programs address the needs of at-risk youth. She is trained in Restorative Justice practices and mediates severe violent crime dialogue. She is the co-author and facilitator of The Longtermers Responsibility Project: Coming to Terms.
Tim Carlson

Tim Carlson, CPA

A public company CFO with extensive experience in accounting, financial planning, treasury, risk management, compliance, audit, and investor relations.   Earlier in his career, Tim held a series of global finance, strategic planning, and auditing roles at various divisions of Campbell Soup Company and at Ernst & Young.  Tim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant.
Mary Chamiec Case

Mary Chamiec-Case

Mary is a special education teacher who presently works with preschoolers. Over the years, she has taught special education in both the private and public sector, as well as in CT’s  Birth to Three early intervention program, where she worked with children and their families.  Mary and her husband Rick, reside in Sandy Hook, where they raised their family.
Rich Stein

Rich Stein

In his professional life, Rich has been a private investor for the past 16 years. Rich earned a BA in Economics from the University of Chicago and his MBA in Marketing and Strategy from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management – Northwestern University. He serves as a Trustee for the Episcopal Diocese of CT endowment fund, Investment Chair for St. Stephen's Church in Ridgefield as well as founder and mentor for their Global Philanthropy Leaders program, teaching high schoolers about making microloans and why we are called to help our neighbors close by and far away. Rich lives with his wife in Sandy Hook.
Rosella Fanelli

Rossella Fanelli

Has 35 years experience as a school psychologist and is a licensed psychologist. She has worked with youth and families to improve behavior, social-emotional outcomes. She has presented workshops on motivation, social-emotional learning, executive functioning and loss and grief for parents and educators. She has served as president of the Connecticut Association of School Psychologists and is now on the Executive Board of the National Association of School Psychologists. She has been an adjunct professor for Long Island University, teaching school psychology graduate students and has served on an Advisory Panel for the Connecticut State Department of Education.
Priscilla Jones

Priscilla Jones

Has been a public school educator for 30+ years, working in schools in Nigeria, Michigan, Maryland, Wisconsin and Connecticut. She has degrees in Education, Psychology and Elementary Math and Science teaching. She is currently teaching in Westport, Connecticut, and lives in Newtown with her husband and two children. She enjoys gardening and hiking the many trails in town, as well as traveling to the Midwest to be with her extended family.
John-Woodall

Dr. John Woodall

Is a Board Certified Psychiatrist formerly of the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the Founder and Director of the Unity Project, a resilience learning system that was developed to promote resilient strengths in youth. Dr. Woodall has lectured, consulted and developed programs on resilient responses to crisis, human rights, conflict resolution and inter-ethnic dialogue across the US, in Central America, Canada, the Balkans, Cyprus, Israel and the Palestinian Territories for universities, the US Department of State, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.
Carla Tischio

Carla Tischio

Has taught in the Newtown Schools for 16 years and is currently a 5th grade teacher at Reed Intermediate School. She has a BS in Early Childhood Education and a Masters in Teaching. She and her husband have two children in Newtown schools.
The Wheelers

Francine and David Wheeler

Parents of Ben Wheeler and his brothers Nate and Matthew.
Kara Wanzer

Kara Wanzer

Has a MA in Education and a BA in Sociology/ Anthropology. She has worked with children and families in the Greater Danbury Area addressing the education and mental health needs of young children for the past seventeen years. Her work has included programs such as the Mental Health Association of CT, Head Start, Even Start, and the Danbury Public Schools. She is the founder of the Solid Ground Project that supports educators, families and communities in building social emotional competence in young children. Kara lives in Sandy Hook with her husband and two children.

Ben’s Lighthouse is committed to fostering children’s potential to build a more compassionate and connected world. Our advisors provide a unique perspective that help us better achieve our goals.

Rick Haylon

Rick Haylon

An entrepreneur and Newtown-based businessman, founded Ben’s Lighthouse on December 17, 2012 and led the organization for its first four years. Rick and his wife and three children have been very involved in youth athletics, theater and music activities, religious-education programs, and other organizations within town. Rick has strong organizational development skills from years managing at GE Capital and at several entrepreneurial start-ups. He currently runs a multi-million dollar internet-based sales company.
Daniela Kaisth

Daniela Z. Kaisth

Daniela Z. Kaisth has over twenty years experience in international non-profit management. She is a partner in Gratias Partners, a philanthropy consulting firm focusing on phiianthropic entities, encouraging more effective giving through collaboration, grant-writing and fund development. Prior to founding Gratias Partners, Ms. Kaisth was Vice-President for External Affairs and IIE Initiatives at the Institute of International Education, in charge of development, communications, new initiatives and emergency assistance to students and scholars. Ms. Kaisth was responsible for leading IIE programs that addressed critical higher education needs in crisis, post-conflict, and transition countries. Ms. Kaisth received a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and a Diploma in International Studies from John Hopkins’ Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from John Hopkins University.
Chris Lyddy

Chris Lyddy

Is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a strong focus on the treatment of psychological trauma and extreme stress in children and adults, results-based accountability, and implementing evidence- and research-based interventions. A former State Representative, he has experience with legislative process, best practices in the human services, child welfare and juvenile justice fields, and ability to diplomatically and collaboratively engage constituencies and stakeholders on public and social policy issues.
Ricki Seidman

Ricki Seidman

Ricki Seidman, a senior principal at TSD, is a seasoned communications strategist. At TSD, Ricki advises a wide range of clients in the corporate and non-profit spheres. She previously served in government and worked in campaigns. She served as VP Joe Biden’s communications director during President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and in 2009 assisted the White House in their effort to confirm Justice Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s first nominee to the Supreme Court. After a senior role in the 1992 campaign, Ricki held several positions in the Clinton White House, including Deputy Communications Director, Counselor to the Chief of Staff, and Director of Scheduling and Advance for the President; she subsequently served as Deputy Associate Attorney General in the Department of Justice. Her experience also includes a stint as executive director of Rock the Vote, on the staff of the late Senator Edward Kennedy and at the civil liberties organization People for the American Way. She received a B.A. from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio and a J.D. from the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia