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OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Demi Malnar, Board Chair
deMarie “Demi” Malnar was born in Santa Fe’s original St. Vincent’s. The one downtown on Palace and Paseo de Peralta where the Drury Hotel now stands. She’s been in marketing since 1994 and currently focuses on SEO, social media, and digital marketing. She comes from a long line of ground breaking women; her grandmother Geraldine Collins graduated from college and was an active in Planned Parenthood. Her mother, Dede Collins, was the only female math major at UNM the year she graduated and went on to be a computer programmer for Los Alamos National Labs. After getting her liberal studies degree from Mills College in Oakland and building her career in Silicon Valley and Boston’s tech corridor, Demi returned to Santa Fe after the birth of her niece, Mary Rose.
“Being part of an organization that focuses on building up the confidence and ability for young girls in Santa Fe is a small way for me to give back to all the people that helped inspire me to pursue my goals and become a successful business woman.”
Connie Burke, Vice Chair
Connie’s career experience includes over 30 years in administration and management. She began her career as a technical writer for the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation and worked as a forestry technician for the U. S. Forest Service. Upon completing graduate school, she became a legal assistant in environmental law and rose through the ranks to the position of Director of Administration/CEO for Vinson & Elkins, an international law firm based in Houston, Texas. She then served as the Master of Lovett College, Rice University, Executive Director of Leadership Rice and Assistant to the Board of Trustees at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Connie went on to become Office Administrator for Bracewell L.L.P., managing the daily operations of their regional office in Washington, D.C. before retiring to Santa Fe with her husband in 2012. She came out of retirement and served as the Interim Executive Director for the International Folk Art Alliance (IFAA) August 2014 and served in that capacity until March of 2015. She then served as the Chief of Staff to the new CEO until August 2015, coordinating the 2015 International Folk Art Market|Santa Fe.
She holds a B. S. in Geology from California State University, Long Beach and an M. S. in Forestry/Natural Resource Management from Oregon State University.
She has served in a variety of chair positions for the International Folk Art Market and she is the chair of the docent council at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. In addition, she volunteers at the Sweetheart Auction, the Wine and Chile Festival, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Girls, Inc.
Polly White, Treasurer
Polly White has lived in Santa Fe since 1984 and believes strongly in supporting girls and young women. She has currently owns Santa Fe Business Resources helping local small businesses, and co-owns greatamericaneclipse.com with her husband Michael Zeiler. Polly’s work history includes retail, advertising, management, non-profits, arts organizations, private schools, marketing, accounting, human resources, start-ups, and business leadership. She spends leisure time outdoors with family, friends and dogs.
Mark’s two daughters, Roan and Sophia, have attended Girls Inc. of Santa Fe since 2006. They have enjoyed summer programs every year an in 2014 Sophia attended a NOLS program in New York with the help of a Girls Inc. scholarship.Mark currently works for a local art gallery and when he’s not driving his daughters to and fro, you can find him on his mountain bike or trying new recipes in the kitchen. “I’m glad to be a part of such a special organization as GISF and really look forward to helping keep Girls Inc. growing and strengthening its commitment to Santa Fe – 60th year!!”
Kris has lived in Santa Fe for over 12 years, having “semi-retired” to our great year-round playground. She worked for several Fortune 500 companies on both coasts after graduating from Columbia University’s graduate schools of business and social work in 1985-’86. “Santa Fe is a wondrous place to work, play and to contribute – where the needs of girls and young women are great. Having been reared in a generation and culture where ‘children were seen, not heard,’ it’s important we help our girls feel encouraged to find their particular voice and place in society. Girls Inc. of Santa Fe does that, and I’m pleased to serve on the board.”
Ellen was an insurance executive for 31 years until her retirement in 2013. A native of Philadelphia, she has lived in Denver and Los Angeles. She and her husband have been full time Santa Fe residents since 2013. Upon retirement Ellen made a commitment to focus on giving back to her community and to become involved in volunteering and working with non-profit organizations.
Ellen has always been an advocate for women’s and children’s rights. She believes that every girl has a right to be safe, to have a voice, to go to school in a non-judgmental environment, and have the tools to develop skills that serve as a foundation for their life.
Joan has been working in healthcare for over 25 years, in patient care settings and for Fortune 500 companies where she has been recognized as a leader in innovation. She is a Registered Nurse and holds an MBA from Columbia University, has been a member of two American record setting track relay teams (4×400, 4×800), and lived in Paris, France for 9 nine years. Joan knows that being strong, smart and bold are great foundations for a healthy, satisfying life, and that is just what she wants to foster in the girls of Santa Fe.
“Serving on the Board of GISF is an honor. This is an organization that delivers real results in the lives of Santa Fe’s girls. It provides a way to make sound and satisfying investments in the community’s future.”
As retailing was one of the few careers other than teaching and nursing open to women at the time, Tiia majored in that field at Washington University and subsequently enjoyed a career in fashion merchandising. When corporate America was just beginning to welcome women, Tiia went back to school at Columbia University Business School and got an MBA in marketing. That led to a five year stint as assistant to the president of the Furnishings Division of the Sperry and Hutchinson Corp. When the division moved its headquarters away from New York, Tiia went to the American Woman’s Economic Development Corp. as Director of Training and Membership Services and then on to her own business as a consultant to women owned businesses. Since becoming a Certified Financial Planner she has concentrated on helping mostly women clients to achieve their financial goals.
Tiia and husband George McLaughlin moved to Santa Fe in 1998 and continue to enjoy the many cultural, civic and outdoor activities that the city offers.
Jess Clark is a proud product of Santa Fe. He has been involved in social change and sexual violence prevention work for over a decade. His work focuses on increasing youth capacity for healthy relationship navigation as well as collaborating with faculty and administration on policy building and implementation to achieve school climate change. Jess is currently the Education and Prevention Manager for Solace Crisis Treatment Center, which has given him the gift of collaborating with GISF on various programming. Through that collaboration, Jess has become an enthusiastic fan of GISF, and is thrilled to share that enthusiasm with his communities.
My education as a young girl in the Deep South, is an awakening one to look back upon to say the least. The lessons in “social graces” on how best to fit in with the cultural mores of the time was more along the lines of “socially disgraceful.” It was a time to not be too strong or too bold and certainly not appear to be smarter than the boys in those days. Sure it was nice to have straight A’s, but not to talk about it with anyone. Fast forward to today’s changing culture and women and girls being seen for all that they truly are and the importance of equality for all. A feminist is simply anyone who believes in equality regardless of gender. One of the most beautiful sights at the DC’s Women’s March were the fact that so many men were walking that day. It is a privilege to walk in support of GIRLS, Inc. The difference that all of the meaningful programs make in the lives of so many girls in Santa Fe is remarkable.
As a little girl I had many dreams and ambitions, but very few examples of women achieving their dreams to inspire me. I managed to accomplish many of my own ambitions but felt lonely and often like an outsider. I am honored to be part of an organization that teaches and shows girls that they can be strong, smart, and bold. Girls Inc. doesn’t just tell girls they can do it, Girls Inc. creates an environment and experiences where girls accomplish new things and achieve new heights. Girls Inc. girls are supported and support each other. Being part of this heals parts of my heart and gives me hope for all of our futures.
Reba received her BAs in Psychology and Sociology from the University of New Mexico. It was not long before she decided to return to UNM to pursue her MAs in Counseling and School Counseling. Reba is a Native New Mexican and an enrolled member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of New Mexico, she is passionate about mental and behavioral health issues. Currently, Reba is a Provider Relations Specialist with Falling Colors Corporation, where she works closely with Providers throughout New Mexico, as well as, contributes to the Falling Colors Foundation. When she is not working and traveling around our beautiful state, her hobbies include team roping, camping, hunting, and spending time with her family. Reba would like to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident, and help them to realize and value their own personal strengths. Reba said it’s an honor and tremendous opportunity to be a member of the board for Girls Inc. of Santa Fe. Since joining the board, she said she is humbled and amazed by the wonderful people who put their individual talents to use furthering the Girls Inc. of Santa Fe’s mission, vision, and values.
Frania D’Alessio was born and raised in Paterson, N.J. and now resides in Santa Fe with her partner Jason Saslow who believes Men of Quality respect Women’s Equality. Frania is a first-generation child of immigrants and believes immigrants make us stronger and better. As the first woman in her family to graduate from college and then go on to earn advanced degrees, she believes there is no limit to what girls can achieve. With the right amount of support and mentorship, their potential is limitless. Among her goals is to see more girls and women on Wall Street. She is a partner and owner with Thornburg Investment Management and is active in the arts community.
“I am grateful for the chance to be a part of Girls Inc and shift the paradigm to one where every girl is Strong, Smart and Bold,” said Frania.
Mary is a native of California. She and her three children moved from San Diego to Santa Fe in 2001. Mary’s three children are adults now and all have families of their own, giving Mary a wonderful brood of five grandchildren. Mary’s grandchildren are the primary motivator for her presence on the board of Girls Inc. of Santa Fe because she understands how a significant adult in a child’s life can change the way they view themselves and the way they participate in the world.
Mary was reminded of this notion when she recently heard an interview with the author Toni Morrison. Ms. Morrison posed the question, “When a child walks into the room, does your face light up?” and then noted, “Because that is what they are looking for.” Mary believes that every child should experience an adult’s face lighting up when they walk into a room. Mary is thrilled to be involved in such an amazing organization and is excited to learn how to implement with success how to be Strong, Smart and Bold in a way which will educate and motivate young women to be our future leaders. Mary believes strongly in the notion that children are our future and would like to encourage every young person to feel and understand his or her self-worth within our community and in the greater world.