Board of Directors

Raul Alegria
Raul’s background includes being responsible for the the development and implementation of business and financial policies and procedures for the Lake Junaluska Assembly of the United Methodist Church. He has been on numerous boards and currently is on the advisory board of the Mexican -American Program Advisory Board, Perkins School of Theology, SMU and the Wells Fargo Bank advisory board of directors , Haywood County NC. He was the Vice President of the Board of Education, Napa Valley Unified School District, Napa CA. He has designed and implemented programs of employee benefits to to meet the needs of church related organizations including hospitals, schools, colleges and children homes.

Connie Casha
Connie is the Director of early learning programs at Middle Tennessee State University. She coordinates the early living services provided by the Home and Community-Bases Early intervention services, the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center and the Child Development Center lab school. Connie has worked in the field of early childhood education as a teacher, coordinator and director of a variety of early childhood programs in the Tennessee State Department of Education for 15 years where she supported the development of the state’s Voluntary Pre-K program from 150 classrooms in 2001 to 934 in 2008. In 2008 Connie was instrumental in bringing to Tennessee training for teachers to understand how to support your children’s social and emotional development. She is an active participant in the research, policies and development of state law creating the Tennessee Kindergarten Program: currently oversee the operation of the 85 million dollar program. Connie is the President of the Tennessee Association for the Education of Young Children She is passionate about working with young children who are at risk.

Ted Dreier
Ted is the Founder of the Children’s Kindness Network, with Moozie the cow as the Ambassador of Kindness. Ted’s life changed when in 1998, when he discovered that children loved and connected with the message of kindness coming from a robotic talking cow he had built. Ted is a nationally known speaker on customer relations and the founder of a mystery shopper service used across the US. In 1998, h e stepped back from his corporate life and committed this chapter of his life to reducing violence among children. His history includes authoring four books, teaching in Malawi, Central Africa, a mediator in Dallas, and active in jail ministry in Breckenridge, Colorado. As the founder of CKN, Ted recognizes the terrific importance volunteers make in helping spread Moozie’s message of kindness.

Jim Fitzwater
Jim is a senior executive with an extensive record of sales leadership, He offers a background in business organization, sales strategy and rigorous team-building backed by 8 total President’s Club and Crystal Club awards, numerous key-market and account wins. Jim has consistently driven millions in revenue results, while developing top-tier sales teams. As Vice President of Sales – Industrial Cable at Belden, Jim handled direct sales, channel oversight and alliances and created a Named Account program to tap a global customer base. As a result, sales grew at double the market rate and the Industrial Cable division experienced a $72M rise in new spec positions with global accounts. – In the Industrial Solutions Division at Belden, Jim built a new program illuminating critical areas of the sales process, saving up to 40% of sales team hours. Jim is Vice President of Sales – Americas for HMS Industrial Networks where he is responsible for all sales in North and South America. Jim brings a strong background in working with nonprofits in business organization and working smarter – including evaluating effectiveness and results.

Ron Franks
Ron is the President and CEO of HFR Design, an architectural firm founded in 1910 participating in such well known projects as Bridgestone Arena, and renovation of Ryman Auditorium. HFR Design has provided all of our needed printing and copying at no cost for the past four year saving significant expense. Ron has followed CKN’s outreach and put us in contact with others who might want to know about CKN. During Ron’s time as President and CEO of HFR Design, he has overseen the growth of the firm’s branding and image, established workplace technology upgrades, initiated in-house mentoring programs, and regenerated the firm’s marketing and sales initiatives.

Monique Gooch
She is passionate about the mission of CKN and weaves in Moozie’s kindness materials with her church programs and other kids programs. She enjoys volunteering and contributing her services full-time or part-time helping those who don’t have a voice. She is in charge of social media marketing for Strength for Service. Monique loves to read and write in her spare time. She is freelance writer and editor. She hosts her own writer’s group in Hermitage. TN.

Victor Legerton
“Vic” has an extensive background in working with nonprofits, in areas including fund raising, grant writing and strategic planning. He held administrative positions as Executive Director, Chief Operating Office, and Business Manager. He has been very active in several Kiwanis Foundations for over 30 years. Vic has taken a number of courses related to fund raising and used his organizational leadership skills in more than a dozen organizations. For ten years he was in the leadership role in capital campaigns and major gift solicitations for Kiwanis and church and has worked in securing the necessary non-profit documents and certifications needed. Besides Vic’s own involvement in education, his family has been/is very involved in education. Vic’s wife of 45 years was an elementary school teacher for 35 years. One of their two sons works with the Los Angeles County Board of Education in an administrative position with the Head Start programs.

Joey Mertz
Joey Mertz is a Senior Account Manager with Stratosphere Quality, an industrial service provider in the manufacturing quality space. In his time with Stratosphere Quality, Joey has been responsible for developing new markets into a multi-million dollar revenue generating divisions. After graduating from Murray State University, Joey began his career in business while focusing on career and family. Joey is a husband and father to two girls and is passionate about childhood kindness and education of the harmful effects of bullying in young children.

Gitanjali (“Anjali”) Rao
Gitanjali Rao is 13 years old and is an 8th grader at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, CO. She was named America’s Top Young Scientist of 2017 by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, with a patent pending device to detect lead in water faster than any other current techniques. She is also the winner of a global Paradigm science challenge. She is a Davidson Young Scholar since 2012, She was selected as the STEM Scout of the Year in 2016‐2017 and was selected as one of the 12 delegates to Report to the Nation in the year 2017‐2018. She was recently recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30, for science and invention. She is also an EPA Presidential award winner and is recognized as a Gloria Barron ‘Young Hero’ Honoree for community impact. Gitanjali has recently open‐sourced her lead detector invention.

Robert (“Bob”) Rudman
Bob’s background includes, Marketing Management responsibilities with National Broadcasting Co. (Huntley-Brinkley, Jeopardy & Leahr McNeil shows), American Brands & Johnson & Johnson before starting a manufacturers’ representative company which developed new markets of distribution & products for many blue chip companies. He serves on the Boards of Grace Works Ministries and has served on the school board of St. Matthews Church. He received the Exemplary Community Volunteer Award for 2014 and 2015 from the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN. Bob is involved in marketing-consulting for many non-profit organizations. As a father and grandfather, he sees first hand the importance of bringing kindness values to young children.

Chevis N. Shannon, DrPH, MBA, MPH, MERC
Dr. Shannon is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery & Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Director of the Surgical Outcomes Center for Kids (SOCKs). She has 19 years of clinical research experience including the development and management of multi-center multidisciplinary clinical trials and clinical research. She is a funded investigator in the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network, an investigator and quality of life working group co-chair for the Park-Reeves Syringomyelia Consortium (PRSC). Dr. Shannon is a Bench-to-Bedside Research Co-Director for the Vanderbilt University Medical School and is the Director of the Surgical Outcomes Center for Kids (SOCKs), a multidisciplinary research infrastructure established to enable and enhance collaborative clinical research within the pediatric surgical sub-specialties at the Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital. Her research priorities include patient-centered outcomes such as, quality of life and psychosocial factors impacting care, and neurocognitive development in children with neurological disorders. She also conducts research related to the economic impact and cost associated with healthcare delivery. In addition to her academic pursuits she has great deal of time volunteering and working with community and national organizations focused on children with special healthcare needs, serving families with unmet needs, and addressing education and prevention of domestic violence and trauma.

Jacob Stern
Jacob is the President of Imeriti Financial Network, a life insurance and annuity wholesaler. He works with insurance agents and agencies to provide them with a premier product offering, high quality education and training, and extensive marketing support. He has a strong business background in corporate strategy, sales and management, plus extensive knowledge in mergers and acquisitions. He was instrumental in acquiring three competitors in the insurance wholesaling space to further accelerate Imeriti’s growth. In 2016, he worked with a world class private equity firm, Aquiline Capital, to sell Imeriti and work to build the leading insurance distribution company in the United States. Jacob has a strong passion for bringing kindness to young children to help stop bullying before it begins.

Nadian Zak
A strategic and take-charge multi-lingual Senior Human Resources Business Partner experienced in partnering with C-level executives and Senior Leaders within technology, corporate and manufacturing industries. Committed to delivering superb customer solutions and developing and executing strategic plans that optimize talent and business results. Expert in creating effective and innovative team member engagement strategies, developing highly functioning teams and providing guidance on organizational change efforts. Recognized by management and executives as a top performer and trusted adviser for exceeding organizational goals and expectations in each position held.