Board of Directors

Jorge Pongo, President
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.

Ruth Seppala, Board Secretary
Ruth received both her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (1998) and Master of Science in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner (2001) from the University of Arizona. She loves helping others improve their health and well-being. She works in Oracle, AZ, a rural community north of Tucson, for Sunlife Family Health Center, a community health center. She lives in Tucson with her husband Paul and two children, Ethan and Sarah. She enjoys attending her children’s sporting events and running.

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

Jean Gribbon, Executive Director
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.

Jessica Boettner, Director
is the Human Resources for the Supply Chain 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. Boettner holds a bachelor’s degree in Consumer Science – Affairs in Business from the University of Wisconsin. Outside of work, Boettner is very active in the community. She was recently appointed as a Board Member of Beads of Courage, helps with Make-A-Wish Foundation and has been a member of the SHRM –GT Chapter. 

Deb Gaustad, Director
Deb has recently retired from over 30 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 Tucson, Arizona with her husband.

Michael Haywood, Director
PGA Professional Michael Haywood currently serves as the Regional Director and Development Officer for one of the foremost military charities in the country. A 32-year veteran of the golf industry, Michael served as the Director of Golf for 21 of those years as a successful instructor and operations professional at multiple private facilities. As a member of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, Michael has been elected to every level of governance within the world’s largest sports organization to include a 4-year term on their Board of Directors, as a PGA Section and Chapter President, and currently Chairman of the Board for the Southwest Section PGA Foundation. A veteran of the United States Army, Michael serves to provide support for many philanthropic initiatives within his community, and also on an international level with the disaster relief and response organization Team Rubicon.

Chrissy Peterson, Director
Chrissy is a Business Development Officer for Wells Fargo Bank. As a Wells Fargo Volunteer Service Excellence recipient and OC Spirit of Volunteerism awardee, she is highly involved with Wells Fargo Volunteers, an internal network of team members who give. On average she volunteers over 100 hours a year for non-profits. Chrissy lives in Orange County, CA with her husband Chad. She is a Carry-a-Bead advocate and carries beads on her running and hiking events, which include half marathons, 5, 10 and 15k events and trail runs in Southern California, Arizona and Texas.

Kate Snapp, Director
A hospitality veteran of over 30 years, Kate Snapp currently works for the largest hotel company in the world. She’s very involved and passionate about her family, company, industry and the community. She’s also on the board of directors for Casas Christian School, the Oro Valley Dolphins Football & Cheer Organization, and the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International. Kate lives in Tucson with her husband and two sons. They enjoy traveling, sports and attending cultural events.

Kaitlin Elledge, Director
Kaitlin received an MBA from the University of Texas and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Spanish from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. She currently resides in Dallas and works for a leading insurance company, where she consults employer groups around employee attraction and retention through wellness and benefits packages. Kaitlin is an avid triathlete, soccer player, world traveler and Carry-a-Bead supporter.

Shelby Gaither, Treasurer
Shelby is a Director at Tomlinson Financial Group, a Tucson-based CPA firm specializing in outsourced CFO work. Shelby is a licensed CPA in the state of Arizona with 14 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.

Patrick Hennessey – Member
Bio coming soon.