About the Board
Jim Whitcomb, President
Jim Whitcomb is a Managing Director at the Westbury Group, an investment banking firm headquartered in Westport, CT. Previously with firms such as Lehman Brothers and predecessor firms of JPMorgan Chase, Jim has advised corporate clients on mergers, acquisitions and corporate finance in markets around the world. He served as Director, President and Treasurer of The Southport Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to architectural preservation. Jim was educated in England at Rugby School, received a B.A. in History from Williams College and an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He and his wife live in Southport, CT.
Susan Whitcomb, Secretary
Susan Whitcomb, Ph.D. founded Haitian Educational Initiatives in December 2010 after serving as a volunteer teacher with Global Volunteer Network in Jacmel. She taught English and French to adults recovering from the earthquake and also assisted in childcare facilities in the city. Dr. Whitcomb’s background is in education: she has taught at Purchase College and the University of Saint Joseph, where she also directed the Honors Program. She has a strong interest in curriculum design and faculty development. In addition, Dr. Whitcomb served on the Board of Directors of the A Better Chance program in Ridgefield, CT, a non-profit organization that sends talented minority students to public and private high schools. She earned her B.A. from Wellesley College and Ph.D. from Yale University. She lives in Fairfield, CT.
Abigail Franklin has twenty-five years of senior management experience in fundraising and marketing and most recently worked as the Vice President for Development and Communications at The New York Academy of Medicine. Previously, she has served as Director of Development and Communications for Yorkville Common Pantry in East Harlem, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and has had a long association with Columbia University where she held successively more responsible positions including: Director of Development for the School of the Arts; Director of Development for Columbia College; and Senior Development Officer for the Arts and Sciences. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and holds a graduate degree from Yale School of Drama.
Dan Drake, Treasurer
Dan recently retired from a 45-year career with the nation’s largest general contractor. Over his career, Dan built new schools and renovated existing schools throughout Fairfield County. He also worked on major hospital renovations in Bridgeport, Greenwich, and Sleepy Hollow, as well as office renovation projects too numerous to list. One of his favorite projects was the renovation of the historic Ingalls Rink at Yale University. Dan served on the Building Committee at his church for over 10 years. Now that he has retired, he is happy to be able to spend more time with his three daughters and sons-in-law, as well as his four grandchildren. His hobbies include woodworking, astronomy, and repairing anything that is broken. Dan and his wife live in Darien, CT.
Gerard Azor, Jr.
Gerard Azor, Jr. is Sales Manager for Cardinal Health. He is also the Vice-Chairman of the United Haitian-American Society of Connecticut and the Executive Director of the Haiti Relief Fund. He has been a leader in the Haitian-American community for over 30 years, organizing numerous activities in the tri-state area. He serves as an advisor to many Haitian-American media outlets. He brings a compassionate volunteer’s heart, desiring to help the people of Fairfield County, as well as the people of Haiti, understand and work towards a better future. Gerry studied Business Management at Sacred Heart University and lives in Fairfield, CT.
Joan O'Connell brings 40 years of experience in computer software. She recently retired from a career in software sales and consulting. Joan graduated from Boston College and lives in Darien, CT, with her husband Rick Agresta. She is a member of the Technology and Communications Committee of Project Redwood, spends too much time on a computer, and is always reading more than one book.
Virginia Lynch Dean
Virginia Lynch Dean has an extensive background in features, and documentaries, theater and television development and production at NBC newsroom, including most recently, co-producer/director of the short documentary: "Ghost Mountain, the Second Killing Fields" 2021. Author of Chief Crazy Snake: the Untold Story of Roy Hoffman & Chitto Harjo, 2021. She is an active fundraiser for non-profit organizations, serving on the executive committee for The Chapin School Capital Campaign, the Governing Board and the Sustaining Board of Memorial Sloan Kettering, and the Board of the YMCA/YWCA of Greater New York. Virginia is an active supporter of the New York City Mission Society and Project Learn, Bridgeport, CT; a founding member of non-for-profit Divine Mortgages, Bridgeport, CT; and organizer of Wings World Quest, NYC. She has also served as a consultant for the Howard Dean campaigns.
Rosemond Joseph was born in Fond des Blancs, Haiti and attended Jean Price Mars High School. Arriving in the U.S. in 1997, he attended Norwalk Community College and The University of Phoenix. After working at Virgin Atlantic Airlines as lead trainer, he has spent the last 15 years in retail banking with Chase and HSBC/Key Banks. He lives in Norwalk with his wife and four children. Rosemond enjoys travel and sports, especially football, soccer, and basketball.
Yvrose Romulus has over twenty years of experience in Higher Education and has been the Associate Dean/Associate Director of the School of Professional Studies & UB Online at the University of Bridgeport. She has been the President of Fraternité Valléenne of CT for 3 years. Yvrose has served as an Advisory Council Member for Family Economic Security Program (FESP) for Fairfield County’s Community Foundation at Housatonic Community College and as Senior Advisor for the Advising Department at Gateway Community College. In 2009, Yvrose was the Marilyn Gordon Woman of the Year Award recipient at the University of Bridgeport and the 2014 Purple Knight Partnership Award Recipient. Yvrose has a keen ability to assist, inspire, and guide others. She earned her M.A. in Counseling with a focus in College Student Personnel from the University of Bridgeport. She lives in Monroe, CT.
Edvardine Joseph is a Biology major at the University of Chicago with a strong interest in health care and education. In 2020, she founded a nonprofit organization, the International Student Aid Association (ISAA), to aid nonprofits focused on making underdeveloped countries self-sufficient by starting with the youth. Their first projects were in Haiti: they sent 50 textbooks to students in Jacmel and 50 COVID-19 hygiene kits to a medical clinic in Cazale. Edvardine has also worked with the Greenwich Community Center as a food distributor for area families who were hit hard economically due to Covid and as a social media manager for Purposefully Pretty, a nonprofit organization that prepares young women of color interested in the medical field for college and medical school. Edvardine is from Norwalk, CT.