SHU’s Center for Not-For-Profit Organizations Announces Three New Board Members

From left are President Petillo, Professor Stephen Brown, Kelly Leather ’11 and Merle Berke-Schlessel. Leather and Berke-Schlessel are new members on the board of the John F. Welch College of Business’s Center for Not-For-Profit Organizations. Missing from the photo is Gus Serra, also a new member.

News Story: June 18, 2013

The John F. Welch College of Business’s Center for Not-For-Profit Organizations at Sacred Heart University will add three new board members: Gus Serra, Merle Berke-Schlessel and Kelly Leather ’11. These three additions will bring valued expertise and experience to help the Center in its continued growth.

Serra is the former head of Community Relations at General Electric and has a long-standing relationship with the not-for-profit sector in the greater Bridgeport area. He was named the 2011-2012 Pat Hart Award recipient for his extraordinary work in community affairs, including strong support of the art education programs provided by Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County.

Berke-Schlessel is an experienced executive manager, general counsel and community leader with an extensive and diverse background in strategic planning, policy-making, fund development and all aspects of program creation, implementation and compliance. Since 2001, she has worked as the president and CEO of United Way of Coastal Fairfield County where she has helped to create strategic initiatives to improve community-level outcomes for children and families.

A graduate of Sacred Heart University, Leather most recently transitioned to Inspirica in Stamford where she will take on the role of director of events, communications and volunteers. She previously worked as a development manager for Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County. Leather is a recipient of the U.S. Department of State Fulbright Fellowship, which allowed her to work within the educational technologies and statistics department of the Ministry of Education in Albania to help expand the scope of students reached through initiatives. She also helped to incorporate technology into schools there.

Deacon Dan Ianniello, co-founder of the Center for Not-For-Profit Organizations, will be leaving the board after 11 years of service. With more than 10 years of experience serving in various management capacities in the not-for-profit environment, he most recently worked with Sacred Heart University and Operation Hope, a homeless shelter serving the greater Bridgeport/Fairfield area. He is an ordained Catholic deacon serving in the Diocese of Bridgeport and is also associated with the Valley United Way. He was the former director of REAPS at Sacred Heart University.

“During my years as an adviser and board member with the Center, we were able to complete projects utilizing our students to provide services to many small NFPs who otherwise could not find or afford the help they desperately needed. I and the Center for Not-for-Profit Organizations are very proud and happy to have served the community in this way.  I know the Center is working very hard to find ways to do even more in the future,” Ianniello said.   The Center for Not-For-Profit Organizations serves a diverse group of NFPs using the skills of Welch College of Business graduate and undergraduate students as well as students from other SHU colleges. In its 11 years, the Center has conducted 150 projects for 60 NFP clients with 25 of these clients returning for multiple projects. Almost 500 students have participated in NFP projects under the supervision of WCOB faculty and advisers.