Tom Esselman, Chief Executive Officer
Tom is the CEO of Connecting For Good, a Kansas City-based non-profit dedicated to bridging the digital divide, providing computer skills, computers, and internet access to low-income communities. He is also the Director of the Front Porch Alliance (FPA) Collaborative Leadership Team. The FPA, tenant of the same urban core campus as Connecting For Good, serves low income families with home visitation for early childhood and family support, as well as student mentoring and minor home repair programs. Both organizations are devoted to stabilization of the urban core family as the foundation for a life-improvement path out of poverty. Tom spent 22 years as an executive at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, where he led the development of a variety of technology-enhanced products, including Song Cards and Recordables. He retired in 2012 to pursue non-profit leadership opportunities in Florida, and now back in Kansas City. He actively partners with his wife, Mary Esselman, who is the CEO of Operation Breakthrough, an urban core early learning center, in serving over 400 impoverished youth and families everyday. Tom is a graduate of Georgetown University, with a Bachelors of Science in Foreign Affairs, and of the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, at Northwestern University, with a Masters of Management.
Angela Underwood, Chief Programs Officer
Just hired in April, 2017, Angela brings a wealth of experience serving youth and families in the urban core, having served as a school principal in Kansas City, Detroit, and Nashville. As a recipient of a Gates Foundation Next Generation learning Grant, Angela has been at the forefront of accelerating student learning through the integration of technology, STEM and personalized learning. She has worked as a coach and trainer for school district administrators, principals, and teachers around the country with an emphasis on the 21st century skills which link student engagement to personalized, project-based learning. Her enthusiastic focus on outcomes-driven programming, data collection, analysis, and reporting, and her broad experience directing volunteer programs and community development efforts makes her a perfect fit for Connecting For Good’s educational and training programs.
Rick Deane, Chief Technology Officer
Rick grew up in Kansas City, Kansas and started working in the community in the late ’80s. As a teenager he participated in the mobile crime watch in his neighborhood. He has a degree in Communications and Media Arts from Erie Community College and is a certified Microsoft A+ and Network+ technician. In 1998, he began working as IT director for the Kansas City Neighborhood Alliance where he led the efforts to develop a comprehensive website to serve community groups throughout the metro area. In 2006, Rick formed NPO Tech Support to serve the technology needs of nonprofits in the Kansas City area. He is no stranger to Wi-Fi technology, having installed sixteen community networks for One Economy in its efforts to bridge the digital divide in Kansas City in the mid-2000s. In 2011, with co-founder, Michael Liimatta he started Connecting for Good. In 2013, Rick became the organization’s first employee. Now as Chief Technology Officer, he oversees Connecting for Good’s facilities, supervises computer refurbishing operations and coordinates Wi-Fi and network projects. He also leads the tech support efforts with nonprofit organizations by installing computer labs and in-house networks.
Karita Matlock, Facilities Operation Manager
A Rhode Island native, Karita has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Johnson and Wales University in Providence. She worked in the technical support field for fifteen years with various industries on the software side. She originally joined the CFG team as an intern, and officially joined the staff in October of 2013. Since, she has completed her Associates of Applied Science in Electronics Technology at Johnson Community College, and served as the Manager of Computer Refurbishing. Over the years, she has shifted to become the Facilities Operation Manager, and is responsible for managing our KCK computer lab, helping other nonprofits with technical support, and assisting in training employees, interns, and students. Working at CFG allows Karita to hone in on her technical skills, while teaching others technical skills at their level of comfort. In her free time, she enjoys listening to audiobooks from the public library.
Carol Meyers, LAMP Office Manager
Originally from Kansas City, Carol raised her four children in Johnson County, and obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Economics at UMKC when her youngest started Kindergarten. She has had a long career in Real Estate and has lived across the country in Arizona and California. After returning back to Kansas City, Carol started volunteering with Connecting for Good in 2013 by teaching Digital Life Skills classes, and in 2015 joined the staff as the LAMP Office Manager and Instructional Trainer. She is responsible for running our LAMP Computer Lab and teaching digital literacy classes on a daily basis, and has a passion for helping our students learn skills of the 21st century. Upon turning 80 this year, she went skydiving with her family to celebrate.
Chris Wiley, Technical Supervisor
Chris is a computer technician formerly trained in computer repair, data recovery, software installation, computer maintenance, networking, and more through the Kansas City Kansas Community College, the W. E. B. DuBois Learning Center, and on-going self-study. Chris is passionate about technology and reducing the digital divide – the gap between those privileged with access and education on the latest technologies and those without. He has shared this passion through hundreds of hours of volunteer computer work through several different organizations in the city including Connecting for Good, Jewish Family Services, and his own start-up (informal) nonprofit organization, TechCause. Chris has helped individuals, families, schools, churches, and other nonprofit organization by sharing his computer repair, maintenance, and networking skills. He is passionate about expanding and sharing his love for technology with those who come in.
LaDanity Timmons, Career Development Associate
LaDanity joined the CFG team through an internship with the Full Employment Council in the summer of 2016. She is responsible for teaching our Connecting to Parent Engagement course, creating course curriculum for our digital literacy program, and coordinating our workforce development programs. As a recent graduate of Penn Valley Community College, she is excited to continue school and pursue her Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. Outside of work, LaDanity loves to spend time playing Lego’s with her son, Akeem.
Richelle Phillips, Office Management Specialist
Richelle started her journey with Connecting for Good as a student, where she was able to learn computer basics, Northstar Digital Literacy, and online job searching. Once she completed training, she joined the team as a volunteer in the Office Management Department, which allowed her to practice the skills she was just taught. Within a month, a job opportunity arose with Connecting for Good, and she applied with the resume she had made with CFG staff. She has been employed as an Office Management Specialist since, and is responsible for administrative duties, customer service, and also completes one-on-one training with those who come into the lab. In her free time, she is a dedicated fisher woman!
Jackie Mittag, Office Management Specialist
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Jackie has been working with Connecting for Good since 2014 and has a deep passion for helping those who come into our KCK computer lab, assisting them with job searches, and improving their lives through digital literacy. To her, there is no greater reward than working with our students. A fun fact about Jackie is that she loves the Dallas Cowboys.
Rhocia Ibok, Volunteer Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA
Rhocia is a Kansas City native, and has a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a minor in Psychology from the University of Central Missouri. She joined Connecting for Good in January 2017 as an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer Coordinator. She is responsible for overseeing the volunteer program and joined the CFG team to gain experience in working in the nonprofit world. She is inspired by CFG’s dedication to connecting people to the digital world. A fun fact about her is that she has played her violin on the Great Wall of China.
Kelsey Derohanian, Development Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA
Originally from East Hartford, Connecticut, Kelsey has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a minor in International Studies from the University of South Florida in Tampa. She moved to Kansas City and joined the Connecting for Good team in November 2016 as an AmeriCorps VISTA to gain valuable experience working in the nonprofit world. She is responsible for marketing and social media, in addition to assisting with fundraising events, grant writing, and donor relations. When she is not at work, she enjoys attending concerts and being outdoors.