• Jerry Smallwood


      Contact Jerry Smallwood

      Jerry was on the POE board from 1984 until her passing in 2020. For the first 20 years of POE she was the sole mentor for all the students. She was the heart, soul and driving force behind POE. She both taught and worked as an aide in elementary schools for over 20 years and was also active as an environmental docent in the schools as well as an organizer of the Palo Alto Girl's Softball League.

    • Richard Smallwood


      Contact Richard Smallwood

      Dick is an entrepreneur and mathematical modeler who taught formal courses for many years in Stanford’s School of Engineering, and has also served as a mentor for many younger colleagues in the practical world of management consulting.


POE SF Peninsula and POE Mid-Atlantic

All Pursuit of Excellence Board Members were selected because of their interest in and dedication to education for young people. They are all committed to furthering POE's mission to support the education and growth of low income, hard working students.

  • Carol Mullin
    President, Board Member since 2000
    Contact Carol Mullin

    Carol worked as an engineer and toy designer before having children. Now that she is an empty nester, she works in finance for a small hedge fund and runs the POE SF Peninsula program.

  • Jean Dawes
    VP Mentoring, Board Member since 1995
    Contact Jean Dawes

    Jean’s career has been in education, from elementary grades through high school. As a high school college counselor for over 20 years, her responsibilities included student scholarship programs. She is also a current board member of Palo Alto Housing, a non-profit affordable housing provider.

  • Anne Battle
    VP Mentoring, Board Member Since 2004
    Contact Anne Battle

    Anne has worked many years as a volunteer as well as a paid aide at a local high school. She works predominantly with underserved students who desire a college education. Anne has set up several programs dedicated to this purpose.

  • Carol Ann Smallwood
    Mid-Atlantic, Board Member since 2011
    Contact Carol Ann Smallwood

    Carol Ann has worked for many years in the publishing industry at both National Geographic and Addison Wesley. She runs POE Mid-Atlantic which she started with her husband in 2008. She and her husband have three children and all enjoy hiking, biking and kite-boarding together.

  • Colene McBeth Vort
    Secretary, Board Member since 2011
    Contact Colene McBeth Vort

    Colene worked at Microsoft (both in the US and UK) for 18+ years focusing on global business strategy, marketing, and product management. She now spends her time consulting with start-ups and volunteering at her children’s schools.

  • Dana Fenwick
    Treasurer, Member of Board since 2016
    Contact Dana Fenwick

    Dana has been the Treasurer for both CASSY (Counseling and Support Services for Youth) and PACCC (Palo Alto Community Child Care). Prior to moving to Palo Alto to raise three children, she had a 12-year career in finance as a commercial banker.

  • Tracy Neistadt
    Board Member
    Contact Tracy Neistadt

    Tracy has been involved with POE since 2014. She is an attorney with experience in litigation and real estate law. Currently she is a mediator with Project Sentinel for their Civil Harassment and Small Claims Day of Court programs and is on their Community Panel. Tracy was also a mediator for the County of San Jose’s Restorative Justice Program with juveniles. She raised two children in the Palo Alto public schools where she was an active volunteer and member of the PTA Board.

  • Ed Camarena
    Board Member since 2024
    Contact Ed Camarena

    Ed and Judy, now empty nesters, have two boys. Over the past 15 years, he became involved in Palo Alto Soccer, managing his boy’s team and honed his action photography hobby. He later joined the board, helping the club grow to serve over 1500 local players year-round. Ed became a POE mentor in 2017 through Carol's involvement with PASC. Ed's work centers on delivering market-transforming software solutions. Since he joined Byga in 2018, he is helping improve youth sports clubs via the Byga software platform.


POE South Bay Chapter

  • Donna Guldimann
    VP: POE San Jose and Los Gatos
    Contact Donna Guldimann

    Donna is a co-founder of the San Jose and Los Gatos chapter of POE. Prior professions include being a special needs teacher, adult school coordinator and landscape designer. Now retired, Donna can focus on POE and improving her own garden.

  • Rosemary Rossi
    President: POE San Jose and Los Gatos
    Contact Rosemary Rossi

    Rosemary is a co-founder of the San Jose and Los Gatos chapter of POE. She is in her twelfth year as a trustee of the Saratoga-Los Gatos High School board. Helping with her 2 young grandchildren is a pleasure and continual learning process.

  • Jane Ogle
    Board Advisor PR and Media
    Contact Jane Ogle

    Jane Ogle of Los Gatos was Deputy Director for Healthcare Delivery Systems at the California Department of Health Care Services. She is currently an independent Consultant working on several assignments in health care policy and delivery.

  • Michelle van Zuiden
    Board Member
    Contact Michelle van Zuiden

    Michele is a retired health care executive. She has served on a variety of public and not for profit boards including serving 8 years as a publicly elected school board member for Los Gatos Saratoga high school district. Michele is committed to serving disadvantaged children through her work as a Court Appointed Child Advocate and as a mentor for POE South Bay

  • Manuel Avalos
    Board Member
    Contact Manuel Avalos

    Manuel is a recent graduate of Brown University where he received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Public Policy. He is also an alum of Pioneer High School. He currently works in regional government and planning. Manuel enjoys studying languages and playing samba music.

  • Samantha Hernandez
    Board Member
    Contact Samantha Hernandez

    Samantha Hernandez has worked in the higher education field for the past seven years. She is passionate about the Foster Youth community and empowering first-generation college students. Currently, she serves as a Program Director for West Valley College.

  • Debbie Parker
    Treasurer - Board Member
    Contact Debbie Parker

    Debbie is currently working as a nonprofit accountant with Montalvo Arts Center. She is a strong believer in the power of higher education to change lives. Debbie spends her free time in her garden, sewing, and taking classes in industrial arts.

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