Our board of trustees serves to provide oversight and guidance. The board of trustees is also responsible for helping make decisions that will define operations. The life and work of Lydia’s House would not be possible without their generosity. The following people are members of the current board.
Calista Smith serves as board president. In addition to her commitment to Lydia’s House, Calista seeks to be of service in her professional career. Calista Smith began C H Smith & Associates in 2011 to focus on the greater good for communities. In her work, Calista has served as project manager and lead consultant on policy implementation and program evaluation projects for the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Ohio Department of Education. Her firm also performs strategic planning services, initiative management, and stakeholder facilitation for national and local organizations. Calista also provides executive management services for Middletown Moving Forward, a community improvement corporation, through CHS&A. She received her bachelor’s from Villanova University and MBA from University of Michigan Ross School of Business, [and therefore took pride in the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball finale]. Calista finds joy in her family including her husband Anthony and daughter Leah, and has church families at St. Joseph and St. Gabriel Catholic Church.
The Rev. Jane Gerdsen is an Episcopal priest serving as Missioner for Fresh Expressions for the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Episcopal Divinity School. Prior to seminary, Jane was a Montessori teacher and worked as a Director of Religious Education. Jane served for five years at St. Andrew’s, an inner-city church in Dayton, OH. Jane and her husband, who works for Habitat for Humanity, have two young children.
Jill Stoxen is a stay at home mom of four young children and an active Norwood resident. She is also a volunteer minister at Vineyard Central Church where her husband, Josh, is head pastor. Jill works with the children’s ministry, leads the annual women’s retreat, and is a trained spiritual director. She has a BA from Judson College and a professional background in residence life on college campuses.
Andy Welch is a graduate of Xavier University with a degree in Health Sciences Administration. He is currently employed by Mercy Health and works at their headquarters in nearby Bond Hill. He is an active member of Vineyard Central Church, a long time Lydia’s House volunteer on work days and maintenance activities, and a resident of Norwood.
Kathy Porter is a graduate of University of Cincinnati with a degree in Criminal Justice. She currently works for a women’s correction facility. She is a former Lydia’s House intern. Kathy understands the experience of Lydia’s House guests as she too was once homeless with her children, turned her life around and now mentors women in crisis.
Jolanda Williams currently serves as supervisor of Talbert House’s Community Link program, where she oversees operation of the services provided to Hamilton County Job and Family Services TANF customers ages 18 to 24. Prior to working with Talbert House, Jalonda worked 17 years with the Cincinnati Job Corps center as a Residential Advisor, Counseling Manager and Programs Director. She also worked as the Social Development Director at the Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center. Jalonda is passionate about assisting young adults on their journey through adulthood and self-sufficiency.
Meridith Owensby is a co-founder of Lydia’s House and the treasurer of the board. Prior to moving to Ohio she spent four years in Washington, DC as the on-site program services manager for Miriam’s House, a home for homeless women and children with HIV. Meridith has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and a master’s degree in rehabilitation from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. Prior to Lydia’s House she worked for the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Mary Ellen Mitchell is a co-founder of Lydia’s House and vice president of the board. She works three days a week for Lydia’s House and also is the primary care-taker of her three young children. She has a BA from Emory University and an MA in Theology from Xavier University. She has a background in fund development, having served several non-profit organizations in this capacity. She has also worked as a campus minister for two universities, is a certified religion teacher with the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati and has volunteered in many capacities as a children and family minister. She was a live-in volunteer for a homeless service provider, Grace Place, from 2004 to 2005. Now an active Norwood resident, she and her family are members of Bellarmine parish.