Board of directors

Jorge Pongo, Board Chair
Jorge is a sales leader currently heading up sales for an International Education software company. Previously, he spent 14 years leading and developing teams in the Marine Corps. Jorge received his MBA in Entrepreneurship and Strategy from IE Business School in Madrid and his Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Arizona, in Tucson, AZ. Jorge and his wife live in Denver, Colorado, where they love camping, hiking, and doing other fun mountain things year-round.

Jessica Boettner
Jessica Boettner is the Human Resources Business Partner for the Vascular Category organization at W.L. Gore & Associates based in Phoenix, Arizona since June 2019. W.L. Gore & Associates was founded more than 60 years ago, has $4 billion in annual revenues and over 16,000 employees worldwide. The company is most widely known for its innovation in fabrics and medical implants. In this role, Boettner serves as a change agent by diagnosing needs, identifying solutions and working with leaders to meet business objectives

Prior to her current assignment, Boettner served as the Human Resources Business Partner for the Air Warfare Systems (AWS) Product Line at Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS), based in Tucson, Arizona. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN), has 2017 sales of $25 billion and 64,000 employees, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity solutions. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts. In this position, she provided human resources support for the AWS product line. During her time at Raytheon, Boettner also served as the Human Resources Generalist for the Electrical Subsystems Directorate (ESD) at Missile Systems. In that role, she was responsible for strategic sourcing of talent, management of special HR initiatives, and coaching of leadership. Boettner helped guide organizational effectiveness activities and provided leadership on small project teams.

Before joining Raytheon in 2013, Boettner served as the Clinical Specialist for Aortic Intervention at Cook Medical. During her tenure at Cook Medial, she held increasing levels of clinical responsibility where she educated hospital staffs and physicians on new surgical procedures and life-saving solutions. Boettner has more than 12 years of experience in human resources in varying industries to include automotive, financial, medical and defense industries. Outside of work, Boettner enjoys doing triathlons and giving back to her community. Boettner holds a bachelor’s degree in Consumer Science– Affairs in Business from the University of Wisconsin.


Leah Boyle
Leah is a pharmaceutical sales representative in Colorado and has been part of the pharmaceutical industry for the past nine years. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2003 and MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2006. She is a Bead Mom (parent of a child who received beads while undergoing treatment) and has been familiar with Beads of Courage for many years. Her daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at 11 days old where she immediately started treatment and began earning her Beads of Courage over the course of the next two and a half years. This created a personal connection with Beads of Courage, and she is honored to serve on the Board of Directors. She lives in Castle Rock with her husband and two sons, where they enjoy all the outdoor activities Colorado offers.

Nadine Dunning
Nadine Dunning is a Business Development Director for Cengage Learning, a global education technology company serving millions of learners. Cengage provides affordable, quality digital products and services that equip students with the skills and competencies needed to be job ready. Nadine has been a successful sales leader for over 15 years with a BS in Marketing from Arizona State University. Nadine currently resides in Flagstaff, Arizona with her husband and two children.

Kaitlin Elledge
Kaitlin Elledge works at a leading global insurance company where she partners with consultants, businesses, and HR teams to drive employee attraction, retention, and education through wellness and benefits packages. She received her MBA from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin and a BA from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. A native Texan, Kaitlin currently resides in Dallas with her fiancée and two dogs. She is an avid runner, triathlete and Carry-A-Bead supporter.

Shelby Gaither
Shelby is the Senior Business & Strategy Advisor at Truly Nolen of America, Inc. Shelby is a licensed CPA in the state of Arizona with 17 years of experience. She is actively involved in masonic fraternities, holding multiple leadership positions in The Order of the Eastern Star. She has previously served 5 years on the board of The Junior League of Tucson including as President and as Treasurer. She also spent 5 years on the board of The Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, including as Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. She was a 2014 recipient of the Tucson 40 under 40 Award. In her spare time, she enjoys camping, running and spending time with her husband, Logan and their dog, Denney.

Deb Gaustad
Deb has recently retired from over 35 years in the mortgage industry. Prior services for non-profits include: Rotary Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Women’s Council of Realtors. Deb lives in Lakeside, Arizona with her husband.

Jean Gribbon
Jean is a former pediatric oncology nurse and has served the mission of Beads of Courage, Inc. since she founded the non-profit corporation in March of 2005. Jean developed the Beads of Courage Program while working on her dissertation at the University of Arizona College of Nursing. The first Beads of Courage Program was piloted at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in February of 2003. She holds two degrees from the University of Arizona College of Nursing including a Bachelors in the Science of Nursing and a PhD in Nursing. She is passionate about advancing the science of caring for children coping with serious illness through evidence-based interventions. In her spare time, Jean is learning to play the banjo, and enjoys the occasional long bike ride. She lives in Tucson with her three children Luke, Aiden and Brooke Ellen.

Michelle Hudman
Michelle has a passion for marketing and sales and has spent the last 30 years working in the industry. Currently she is a partner with a marketing group in Colorado and owns a media company. She grew up in Tucson and is currently living in Colorado where she spends time hiking and exploring the area.

Aaron Leal
Aaron Leal works for a major lending company in Tucson, AZ. He lives in Tucson with his wife and three children.

Melissa Sacrcelli
Melissa is the President of Citrine Business Solutions, providing support services including data analytics, marketing, bookkeeping and non-profit management to small businesses. She is a co-founder of the Scarcelli Family Foundation and previously founded and ran a small non-profit organization whose mission was to help the siblings of special-needs children. Melissa received her MBA from the Fox School of Business at Temple University and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Delaware. She lives outside of Philadelphia, PA, with her husband and three children, the youngest of whom has been a Beads of Courage cardiac member since the program’s inception.