Charles Okorie, M.Sc. Arch.(Founder/Chairman)
Charles Okorie graduated with a Masters degree in Architecture from Abia State University in Nigeria. Upon graduation, he worked for a firm in Lagos, Nigeria before setting up his own Design/Build firm- CBD Nigeria limited in 1998. Shortly after, he moved to the United States with his wife and daughter in 1999. Currently, he is the President/Chief Consultant of CBD Designs – a design firm based in Nashua, New Hampshire.
In college, he was an active member of the Christian Union. He is also a member of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship international.
In his local church – First Church of Nashua, NH. UCC, he is on the board of the property management committee, an Usher, a Deacon, and a Reader.
Charles is married to Dr. Mrs. Ijeoma Okorie (nee Igbogbahaka). They are blessed with 4 children – 2 boys and 2 girls.
Samantha Brenner (Board Member)
Sam currently resides in Midland, Texas where she is the Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Texas-Permian Basin. She is originally from Nashua, NH where she grew up within the First Church Congregation. She attended Adelphi University in Garden City, NY, where she played for the NE-10 Championship women’s basketball team and graduated in 2016 with a degree in Sports Management and a minor focus in Marketing. When not on a basketball court, Sam likes to go hiking, spending time with friends, reading, and eating good Mexican food!
Rev. James S. Chaloner (Board Member)
Jim Chaloner graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a BA degree in history in 1970. Jim worked in the Human Resource Department at the J.F. McElwain Company for five years following his graduation from college. In 1976 Jim enrolled at Bangor Theological Seminary. In 1979 Jim earned a M. Div. degree and was ordained in that same year. He was called to the First Church of Nashua, NH UCC as an Associate Minister in 1979. In 1984 Jim was called to be First Church’s twenty second Senior Minister, where he served for 35 years prior to his recent retirement.
Jim was a member of the board of directors of the Adult Learning Center for six years and the Board of Directors of United Way of Greater Nashua for 16 years. He was instrumental in the formation of the Anne-Marie House, a homeless shelter in Hudson, NH, and he was one of the founders of the Front Door Agency in Nashua, NH.
Jim is married to Lisa and has three grown children.
Kenneth Drew, Ph.D. (Board Member)
Ken graduated from the University of the Pacific in his home state of California where he earned his bachelor’s degree and his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry. After working in the R&D lab of companies like Biogen on various potential drugs for conditions ranging from cancer to congestive heart failure, he moved to the business development side of the pharmaceutical industry. He is currently the Sr. Director of North America Sales and Business Development for Flamma, a CMO based in Italy, since 2010.
Together with a small group of concerned owners, he led an effort to secure a 2008 settlement valued at over $24M to restore and refurbish Bluebeard’s Castle Resort in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and bring the Board of Director’s under owners control from the developer.
Ken is a member of First Church Nashua, UCC where he has served on the Board of Deacons and the Board of Christian Education. Ken is married to Natasha and has three active and lovely children.
Nonyem Egbuonu (Board Member)
Nonyem E. Egbuonu – Retired Public Servant with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) and Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology (B.Sc with Honors). Additional qualifications include a Diploma in Science Education, a Certificate in Educational Technology, and a wealth of experience in organizing and project/production management, including the following:
- Board Member, Thank You Project, Nashua, New Hampshire
- Member & Choir Member, Main Street United Methodist Church of Nashua, New Hampshire (MSUMC).
- Member, Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP), Nashua, New Hampshire.
- Former Member, African Community Health Initiatives, Boston, Massachusetts
- Member, Clinton Global Initiative.
- Retired Public Servant, Federal Ministry of Education – National Open University of Nigeria.
- Former Educational Media Producer, Children’s Television & Educational Materials – National Educational Technology Center of Nigeria.
- Former Project Collaborator, Personnel Training for Educational Materials – United Nations Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF).
- Former Member, Board of Trustees – Human Development Foundation of Nigeria (HDFN).
- Life Member, Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN).
- Former Member, Africa Network for Prevention & protection Against Child Abuse & Neglect (ANPPCAN).
- Former Chairperson, Nigeria Association of Media Women Kaduna State Chapter (NAMW).
- Former President, Inner Wheel Club of Kaduna Nigeria (Rotary Club Wives Association).
- Former Chairperson, Nigerian Association for Educational Media & Technology (NAEMT).
- Former Chairperson, Mothers Union & Women’s Guild of St. Christopher’s Church Kaduna Nigeria.
- Former Synod Parish Delegate, St. Matthias Anglican Church, Abuja, Nigeria.
Hobbies include volunteering, mentoring, advocacy, choral music, Christian religious studies, documentaries and educational films, cooking, and arts/crafts.
Laurie Fernald (Board Member)
Laurie Fernald resides in Nashua and is a mother of two sons. She volunteered at their schools and for a time was the Treasurer for Boy Scout Troop 20. Both of her sons achieved Eagle Scout.
Laurie is a member of the Main Street United Methodist church and is currently serving as the IT & Communications Committee Chairperson. She has been a member of the Membership & Evangelism and Nominations & Leadership Development committees. She has had the privilege to teach Bible Study classes.
Laurie graduated with a Masters degree in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. In her career, she has worked her way up from Software Engineer to Senior Development Manager. In 2005, she shifted her career focus and acquired her Project Management Professional Certification. She has since been a project or program manager in the high tech industry. She currently works at Navico in Merrimack, NH.
Cheryl Kimmens (Board Member)
Cheryl Kimmens Franke is an experienced technology CFO who has worked with a number of highly successful technology startups and technology companies and is currently employed by Oracle.
Prior to joining Oracle, Cheryl served as VP of Finance for Maxymiser, Senior Director of Operations for Barco Medical Inc. CFO of Spider Systems, Inc. and CFO of Voxar Inc. along with other technology and medical companies. She has managed a successful consulting practice working with a number of UK and US startups over the past 20 years and sits on the Board of Directors of various non-profits and companies.
Cheryl received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Bentley University and completed work towards a Masters degree in Organizational and Intercultural Communications at Clark University.
Scott Mays (Board Member)
Scott Mays is a native of Philadelphia. After receiving his bachelors degree in Mathematics at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, he moved to New Hampshire to continue his education. While completing his master’s degree in teaching, at River University, he began his 10 year tenure at Nashua High School North.
During his time in the Nashua School district, he taught mathematics and worked as an Athletic Administration. He currently works in Washington DC as a Teacher at KIPP DC Somerset Campus.
Scott connected with the New Hampshire community through his work with the Thank You Project, Student Athletic Leadership Council, Adult Social Sports Club, OutdoorAfro national non-profit, and a host of other volunteer organizations. He could be found exploring the White mountains, kayaking, camping, backpacking, or hiking with his wife Brittany and two dogs, Iris and Siri.
Scott is a firm believer that clean water is essential to the health and prosperity of every community. He is thrilled to continue working with Thank You Project to raise awareness, educate others, and establish clean water systems for communities in need.
Izhar M. Mbarani (Board Member)
Izhar grew up in Kayole a slum just east of Nairobi town in Kenya. He immigrated to the United States in 2008 with his parents and siblings in pursuit of educational and professional opportunity. Having spent the first 3 years in the U.S living in the city of Nashua, he attended Elm Street Middle School and proceeded to Nashua High School North. His family then relocated to Derry, NH where he completed his high school education at Pinkerton Academy.
He attended college at New England College, located in Henniker, NH through which he earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Science/Biology. During and after college, Izhar began working as a Nursing Assistant which solidified his career aspirations in medicine. He currently attends medical school at Dartmouth Medical School and hopes to one day be an influence to others just as so many have been an influence to his life thus far. As one of his mentors once said, “It is not about what you gather, but what you scatter”.
When not glaring at books in the library, Izhar enjoys going to sporting events, hiking, learning how to play the piano, and sometimes cooking.
Adaeze Okorie (Board Member)
Adaeze Okorie was born in Nigeria and immigrated with her parents to the US when she was 18 months old. She grew up in Nashua, NH and graduated from Nashua High School North in 2016. In May 2020, she graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Biology and Society and a minor in Health Equity. She is pursuing a career as a public health professional, to address the intersections of education, health disparities, and social justice. During the 2020-2021 academic year, she will serve as a Public Health Fellow for the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives at Cornell University. She has been involved with Thank You Project since it was founded in 2014 and is inspired by everything the organization has accomplished, from offering college scholarships to providing clean water to rural communities in Nigeria.
Nicki Runci (Board Member)
Nicki Runci is a native of southern New Hampshire and is a high school graduate of Londonderry High School. She earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Southern New Hampshire University for Business Administration and Accounting/Finance. She currently works for Cross Insurance Agency in Manchester, NH in the Bonding Department and loves working with such generous and kind people.
When she’s not at work or volunteering her time to the Thank You Project, you’ll find her with her family; she has a mom and a dad (Kathy & Bob), two sisters (Toni & Nicole), a niece (Naliah), a nephew (Deontae), a brother-in-law (Alex), a boyfriend (Chris), and a step-son (Kayden) that she enjoys being with doing activities such as boating, fishing, camping, taking day trips to the beach, going on whale watches, traveling to different states, visiting aquariums, playing at local parks, sporting events, and so much more. She loves dedicating her time to important causes and couldn’t imagine a cause that is more necessary to be involved in than the Thank You Project.
Nicki believes that clean water should not be something taken for granted and that it should be appreciated and one day is a common resource of all communities in the world, as it is one of the basic human needs of us all.
Nicki is excited to be a part of this wonderful organization and to be able to allow her education and passion work as one while being the Treasurer of the Thank You Project!