Board Member Profile: Brooks Paternotte
No More Stolen Childhoods Secretary Brooks Paternotte is a man of nature. Whether it’s reading books where man finds himself in the depths of the wilderness or watching children find their own connection with the natural world, Brooks daily life is rooted in individuals’ right to wonder, explore, and be challenged by the world in which they live.
Brooks lives in Owings Mills, MD with his wife and two kids (ages 8 and 10) and has spent the last five years working as the Executive Director of the Irvine Nature Center after a lengthy twenty-year career as a teacher and administrator at the Boys Latin High School. Instead of English, Latin, and Greek, Brooks main focus is now on educating today’s youth about the environment and help them cultivate a love for nature.
Brooks first became involved with No More Stolen Childhoods as a client of Wayne’s insurance company, Coffey & Co. He was drawn by how the company approaches its clients, as well as the value it places on character. As the two began to get to know each other better, Wayne eventually shared his story with Brooks and asked him to join NMSC’s cause. As someone whose family has been impacted by childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in past generations and having attended a high school that was involved in scandals surrounding the issue, it was practically a no brainer for Brooks to become a part of the team.
It is his hope that No More Stolen Childhoods becomes a household name and is recognized as a leader in CSA prevention. As much as this work helps individuals’ overall wellbeing, Brooks also hopes that the organization is able to make the case that prevention makes sense economically, whether that is in terms of healthcare costs or workplace productivity.
As someone who has spent a majority of his career in education, Brooks has bore witness to the progress that’s been made when its comes to having conversations about relationships and boundaries in the classroom. Educators have since come to realize the importance of a holistic education, and simply being able to explicitly talk about these subjects and “call it what it is” is a huge step in the right direction.
Preserving the innocence of today’s youth is one of the main parts of what Brooks does on a daily basis. Whether it’s with his own children or those who visit the Nature Center, he is assigned the sometimes daunting task of helping them find the courage and the curiosity to explore all the world has to offer, all without compromising their safety.
Profile: Gina Santoro
Dr. Gina Santoro of Annapolis, Maryland is a firm believer in serendipity, or the occurrence of events by chance in a happy and beneficial way. Professionally, it seems as though she has always been where she is meant to be, whether the experience was a perfect fit or something that furthered her career. But as much as her life’s work has been serendipitous, it has not come to be solely by sheer luck.
Gina is a cognitive behavioral therapist who is currently working out of her private practice, Santoro Psychological Services. She is also a custody evaluator for Maryland courts and carries out forensic evaluations for litigations. At the heart of her work is the best interest of the children she serves, who stand as the biggest motivator in everything that she does.
Prior to working in private practice, Gina has an extensive history working in public, private, and charter schools as a school psychologist. Even though her graduate degree is in educational psychology, this specific position is something that Gina describes herself having simply “stumbled into.” Despite her love for kids, she realized that her work there was not as hands on as she had hoped. After passing her licensure exam in 2007, she left the school system and sought out a way in which she could make the impact she wanted.
Even as an ambassador for the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) of Maryland, Gina is constantly looking for more ways to be involved in improving child welfare. In this specific role, she works to provide education and trainings for courthouses for state level boards with the goal of changing policy regarding child custody.
With these esteemed positions under her belt, Gina feels as though she is in the position in her career, in terms of both reputation and experience, to take on another role. She describes joining NMSC’s board as yet another serendipitous encounter in her life, as serving an organization like this one is just what she was seeking.
With her expertise, NMSC is looking forward to be able to build a stronger network of well-trained therapists and family law professionals who are able to carry out necessary interventions. As Gina notes, counseling can actually make things worse if one doesn’t have the right resources, and NMSC is here to ensure that this is not the case for anyone struggling with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse.
Profile: Mike Fitz-Patrick
As a financial advisor and portfolio manager at the wealth management company Merrill Lynch, Board President Mike Fitz-Patrick knows a thing or two about how to allocate resources and put together a team in the most lucrative way possible. But like many things in life, these skills can be learned– what must come naturally is the passion and heart that you put into the job.
Mike has been involved with No More Stolen Childhoods since its inception; as a donor, a fundraiser attendee, and as a member of the Board of Directors. Mike has known Wayne, NMSC’s founder, since the beginning of his professional career, almost immediately after graduating from college. The two have remained close friends since. After serving the board in the past, Mike re-engaged with this commitment three years ago, this time taking on the role of President.
Like any other organization, one of No More Stolen Childhoods’ main goals is to drive up its revenue as much as possible in order to effectively carry out its mission to as many people as possible. Although there are many techniques to achieving this, Mike knows, perhaps more than anybody, that its execution comes with a great deal of strategy and intent.
One of the things that Mike values the most about taking on a leadership role within the executive committee is his involvement in putting the team together. As a member of the nominating committee, Mike puts great emphasis on bringing in phenomenal board members whose varying backgrounds and perspectives on the issue of childhood sexual abuse are the organization’s main assets.
According to Mike, raising money for a non-profit organization is not so much about how much money you raise, but how you raise it. It takes a creative and thoughtful bunch to come up with different ways to fundraise, and an even more dedicated and passionate group to build relationships and carry a presence at events that demonstrates their commitment to the organization’s cause.
Through this singularity of thought and clear vision for what the organization’s aims to be, its board members can more readily serve as the advocates that NMSC needs. As someone whose main motivation is his wife, Mary Beth, and their four kids, it comes as no surprise that Mike has cultivated a similar familial bond between himself and his fellow board members.
“I want to be as good of a person as my dog thinks I am,” Mike tells me with a chuckle.
It is evident through his authenticity and knack for leadership that Mike has no problem taking strong ownership in both his professional and personal pursuits, and they are surely those of which he should be proud. No More Stolen Childhoods is fortunate to have a Board President who values his team members just as much as the cause itself– and his dog probably feels the same way, too.