Starfish Connection Board of Directors (2016)

David Martin Co-founder and Board member since April, 2008, is Mayor of Stamford.  Previously, he was a Partner in the Michael Allen Company, a management consulting firm in Darien, CT where he worked for 28 years, consulting primarily in Marketing and Sales to the pharmaceutical industry. He has an MBA from Stanford University and BS degrees in Economics and Biology from MIT. He served in Stamford government on the Board of Representatives and the Board of Finance from 1983.  In addition to the Starfish Connection Board, he’s served on the Boards of the DSSD, the Stamford Police Foundation, the Stamford Partnership Executive Committee, the Stamford EMS, the Classified Employee Retirement Fund Board, and the Stamford Investment Advisory Committee. David is the President of the Board of Directors of Starfish Connection Inc.

Janet Schneider ( ex officio), Executive Director and Mentor.  She has been a mentor in the Starfish Connection since 2011, and is now the Executive Director.  She has had a 36-year professional career as a Special Education teacher, elementary level classroom teacher and an Assistant Principal in the Stamford Public Schools. Janet has a BS degree from Southern Connecticut State University, a Master’s Degree from Manhattanville College, and a Sixth Year degree in Administration and Supervision from Fairfield University. Janet has had experience in staff development and curriculum development.  She is a past member of the Friends of Ferguson Library and is a Reading Partner in a local public school.

Gilda Bonanno is a professional speaker, trainer and executive presentation skills coach who helps people develop confident presentation and communication skills so they can be more successful.  She has worked with clients at Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations and small businesses throughout North America, Europe and Asia.  Gilda holds an Advanced Business Certificate in Management from the University of Connecticut School of Business and an M.A. in history from Fordham University.  She has worked with Starfish teens to hone their communications skills, presence with adults and interviewing skills to help them in finding jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities.

Jeff Cohen, Board member since June 2018. Jeff is a Managing Director at Credit Suisse in the Global Markets Division. Jeff holds an MBA in Finance and a BA from the University of Chicago. He was born in Kansas City, Kansas and resides now in Darien with his wife and two daughters. Jeff has experience in financial planning, management and fundraising.

Barbara Guttman, Board member since January, 2014, is an Educational Consultant with an expertise in the college selection process.  Barbara is a retired high school guidance counselor from Westhill High School.  She organized and currently works with Westhill High School’s Success Program, an after-school activity utilizing honors students to mentor and tutor underclassmen.  During her 35-year career in education, Barbara was an elementary school teacher and guidance counselor in NYC schools prior to relocating to Connecticut.  A lifelong volunteer, Barbara was an original member of the Rape Crisis Task Force and the Domestic Violence Coalition of Southern Fairfield County.  

Jennifer Lapine, Board member since April, 2009, is the President of LIFE SKILLS…PLUS (Positive Living through Understanding and Support) and a certified facilitator of PLUS. Her company offers workshops and courses in Developing Capable People, Positive Discipline and How to Talk So Kids Can Learn among others. She holds a BS and MA in Elementary and Middle School Education, and has spent the past thirty plus years in Stamford working with and for children of all ages. She is dedicated in her pursuit of excellence in education for all children and helping children find strength and empowerment to fulfill their potential and succeed in life. Jennifer was an original mentor and tutor in the I Have a Dream program. She currently serves on the CLC Board, Leadership Council and the Stamford Achieves Board.

Maria Millan, Board member since April, 2009, is our Parent Facilitator and the outreach worker and sole dedicated employee assigned to Every Child Matters, Stamford’s children’s health insurance application assistance program which seeks to identify every eligible uninsured school child in Stamford and, through a structurally integrated targeted outreach and assistance model, help the family of each to obtain health insurance through Connecticut’s Healthcare for Uninsured Kids and Youth (HUSKY) program. Supporting that growth, Ms. Millan has provided one-to-one assistance to hundreds of parents, both in Spanish and English. She is well known in Stamford’s Hispanic community, and is a leading liaison between Stamford’s governmental social services organizations and the Hispanic community. Maria has been a mentor in Starfish Connection since its inception.

Dr. Judith Singer, Board member since March, 2010, is the Research Director of Stamford’s Research and Evaluation Office.  The Research and Evaluation Office monitors the pulse of many aspects of the Stamford Public Schools, most especially student achievement.  The office also manages all District-wide testing and assessment in grades K-12, school registrations, and student records.  Dr. Singer’s department provides the data and analysis that, among other things, has identified and quantified Stamford’s Achievement Gap.

Kathryn Walsh, Board member since April, 2009, is the Senior Director of Library & Information Services at Purdue Pharma LP in Stamford where she has worked for 30 years. She is responsible for the group that selects and provides access to online information resources and conducts information research to support business and research activities throughout Purdue Pharma. Kathryn began her career as a medical reference librarian at the Louise Darling Biomedical Library at UCLA. She received an undergraduate degree in biology from the University at Buffalo and a Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Chicago. She has held several board positions with the Special Libraries Association, Fairfield County Chapter, including President. She also served as the Co-Chair of the Norwalk School to Career Program, a joint initiative of the Norwalk Schools and the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce. Kathryn is currently Program Chair for the Information Research and Management Council of the Conference Board.