Cultivating hope & empowerment in young girls


Our Leaders

Maire DiDonato, Chief Operations Officer

Maire is a seasoned and creative Program and Project Manager with strong project management skills and proven experience in successfully leading and managing large, complex, technology driven initiatives that cross business lines, functions, and geographies.

She is an experienced Business Technology Liaison skilled in learning and understanding IT systems and capabilities to provide technical solutions to meet user needs.

Her broad, cross-industry business operations management skills include project management and successful project implementation, operational strategy, service management, change administration and knowledge management. As a Knowledge Manager, she is experienced in improving field productivity through the effective management of enterprise content, utilizing multiple content delivery channels and creating, strengthening, and managing relationships with an internal customer base.
She is also a strong communicator and team builder and an effective people manager and coach.
Maire now uses these skills in her new profession as a travel consultant to create dream vacations for her clients. As Maire grew up in Ireland, planning vacations to the Emerald Isle is a true passion of hers.

On a personal level, she has volunteered consistently throughout her life in various youth and professional organizations, she has been a “Big Sister” for nearly twenty years and recently spent two years in Ireland volunteering with a company who provides independent care for adults with learning disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorder.

Maire believes in giving children and young adults the tools to create their own perfect life and provide them with a support system to help them grow into the fabulous adults they were born to be.

Michael Newell, RN, MSN, Interim Executive Board of Trustees

Michael Newell RN MSN is founder-president of LifeSpan Care Management LLC, an eleven-year-old firm that offers health coordination and advocacy services to those with chronic or catastrophic illness or injury. He has traveled and lectured widely on the topics of medical case management, health outcomes measurement tools, and neurologic injury and illness. He has also served as an expert witness for civil court proceedings regarding quality of care in hospital, rehabilitation and long term care settings.

He is an alumnus of the New Jersey office of Ernst & Young LLP health care practice, focusing on managed care and medical case management. Michael authored two books: Using Nursing Case Management to Improve Health Outcomes, and Reinventing Your Nursing Career: A Handbook for Success in the Age of Managed Care.

Gary Sapienza, DMD, VP Executive Board of Trustees

Dr. Sapienza is a Master of the Academy of General Dentistry, and a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. He graduated dental school from Fairleigh Dickinson University, followed by a five-year dental tour as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. He is continuously voted Best Dentist of South Jersey and is a recognized dental mentor in the community. Dr. Sapienza’s passion is helping patients get healthy mouths and beautiful smiles. Dr. Sapienza values the relationships he develops with every patient he treats. With his blend of spirit and extensive professional education, Dr. Sapienza excels in the field of implant and cosmetic dentistry, and his goal is to provide every patient with exceptional care and service.

As a member of the Merchantville community, Dr. Sapienza loves treating his friends and family. He enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, Rochelle, and two daughters, Gabrielle and Paige.

Suzy Egan, VP, Treasurer & Finance Chair

With over 20 years of industry experience, Suzy works as a Portfolio Manager, Investment Advisor and Chief Compliance Officer for Woloshin Investment Management (WIM).

As a senior member of the WIM Investment Policy Committee, Suzy is integral to the portfolio management of the WIM Models. As the Portfolio Manager, she works side-by-side with Michael Woloshin to select, review, and monitor the performance of the company’s investments in client portfolios.

Suzy earned her MBA in Finance from Fordham University and she is registered in securities.

In addition, Suzy is invested in the community and has served as a volunteer in leadership positions for organizations such as the Parent Booster Club for Shawnee Boys Lacrosse Crease Club, the Medford school district Home and School Association, and eWomen Network of Southern New Jersey. Suzy joined Grace in the Mud’s leadership team after providing a program about investment finance for the GRACE’S summer program.

Lauren E. Krohn, Esq, Trustee, Legal Advisor

Lauren is an associate attorney with Archer Law in Haddonfield, New Jersey. She specializes in complex environmental litigation, products liability claims, and toxic torts, and also has experience in the practice of corporate law and business counseling. She joined the Board of Trustees of Grace in the Mud in 2017 and believes deeply in its mission to provide support and avenues of empowerment to young women.

Lauren graduated from Rutgers School of Law – Camden in 2014, where she served as Research Editor of the Rutgers Law Journal, Leader of the Rutgers Mediation Project, and Representative of Rutgers Law in the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot hosted in Vienna, Austria. She contributed substantial pro bono hours to the Rutgers Prisoner Re-Entry Clinic and the Federal Prisoner Re-Entry Program in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Prior to law school Lauren spent several months in Piura, Peru volunteering with Ayni, a small non-profit organization focused on children’s education and empowerment of women and community. Lauren graduated from the University of Delaware in 2009, where she studied History, Political Science, and Spanish and spent a semester in Granada, Spain.

Lauren lives in the Queen Village neighborhood of Philadelphia with her daughter, Amalie.

Barbara Berman, Trustee & Secretary

Barbara, a Certified Professional Organizer®, owns BB’s Clutter Solutions, which was founded in 2007. She understands people’s needs to create order out of chaos and to develop the drive and determination to keep things in order going forward. Her goals for her clients are simple: To inspire and motivate to be more productive and efficient, to feel less stressed so that they can devote more time to activities that are more enjoyable and pleasurable, to save money and time so that they are not continually searching for items they already have and then must go out and buy again because they cannot find them, and to share the emotions that are a part of letting go of things. Barbara works with her clients one-on-one to help them develop their own strategies for staying organized permanently. She is non-judgmental and patient and wants her clients to succeed.

Barbara has a degree in Social Work from Syracuse University. She also has over 25 years of experience in the corporate world where she managed service delivery and project teams. The desire to own her own business, in addition to her extensive knowledge in developing and maintaining process improvement initiatives, led her to become a Professional Organizer and to understand how important it is in life to not be cluttered (both with her clients’ physical things and with what is going on in their minds).

Barbara is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, NAPO – Greater Philadelphia Chapter, South Jersey Organizers, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, and Special Needs Possibilities Networking Group.

Kimberly Friend, Operations & Planning Committee

Kimberly Friend has developed a wide range of skills from her diverse professional background, which includes experience in the financial services industry and the airline industry. 
 Kimberly earned a B.A. degree in International Language-Business with a concentration in Spanish and a minor degree in Portuguese from the University of Scranton. After deciding to pursue a career in public service, Kimberly completed her first year of law school at Boston University School of Law.

Kimberly enjoys sharing her time and skills as a volunteer, having worked with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) while in Boston, and she has volunteered to represent her undergraduate alma mater at college fairs in the South Jersey region. Kimberly, whose background is Chilean, is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and can converse in French and Italian. She was raised by her incredibly strong mother and grandmother, who instilled in her the values of education, hard work, and pursuing her dreams. Kimberly is thrilled to work with Grace in the Mud to inspire these values in the next generation of empowered women.

Nick Galasso, Advisory Council

Nick owns and runs AAM Consulting, LLC, which focuses on speed & performance products. Nick was born and raised in Camden, NJ, and attended Woodrow Wilson High School. Nick received his BS degree in Marketing from LaSalle University. Upon graduating Nick went into Naval Air Reserves and was assigned to Air Crew Survival School. Upon completion of active duty, he went to work for Gillette Personal Care Division as a District Manager. After 4 years, he got his first job in the automotive industry and never looked back. Staring as a regional manager for Maremont – Gabriel, a parts supplier, Nick finished up his career as VP of Sales for ITW Permatex, an Automotive and Industrial supplier of chemicals & adhesives. In this position, Nick called on every major retailer in the country.

Despite traveling for business, Nick remained active in the community, coaching or assisting Cherry Hill Girls Soccer for 10 years and helping to run a tournament at Fort Dix that drew teams from all over the region. Nick also assisted with fundraising events with Make-A-Wish Foundation in the Medford area. Nick now draws from his vast experience to help advance Grace in the Mud’s development efforts.

Nick and his wife Lynn live in the Barclay Farms area of Cherry Hill. Lynn is a volunteer at Contact Crisis Line in Cherry Hill. Both of their children, Nick & Carley are out of the house and have embarked on successful careers in the IT marketplace. Nick enjoys golf along with exercise and fitness training.

Meej Chaparro-Traverso, Advisory Council

Meej Chaparro-Traverso, a professional Relationship Development Program Specialist & Coach and owner of Motivational Empowering Energetic Journeys, LLC (MEEJ LLC), has focused her life work on improving relationships for businesses, organizations and individuals seeking to maximize interactions and improve their overall quality of life. Meej’s choice of profession stems from a steadfast belief that relationships are at the core of our everyday existence and that our wellbeing correlates directly with the quality of our relationships. Meej observes that common themes present a framework for potential improvement opportunities; however, she holds that the uniqueness of every individual, and therefore every relationship, may require different needs, and should be addressed accordingly. Often, these demand experience in facilitating the means to rewarding and lasting improvements in diversified modalities in order to adjust to the business, organization or individual’s preferred styles (visual, auditory, kinetic, or a combined methodology which is charted and achieved through a direct and active partnership between MEEJ and the client). Meej’s specialized relationship development business coaching targets non-profit and entrepreneurs in New Jersey and the Philadelphia area.

Meej received an MA in Human Relations (Management/Administrative/Supervisory) from the University of Oklahoma. She also completed a Human Resources Certification program at Rutgers – NJ, and continues her education through Coursera On-line University in Professional Development, Business, Coaching, and Positive Psychology. Meej has a Sexual Assault Response Crisis Intervention 40 hour State Certification, NJ through the Center for Family Services.

Lisa Shiroff, Advisory Council

Lisa Shiroff wears many professional hats, but they all fall under the rubric of writing. She’s an author and writing coach, owner of a micro-publishing company, and co-founder of Your Laugh Line, a service connecting authors of humorous books with readers who love to read them. Lisa comes to Grace to assist with communications and fundraising. A passionate cause-oriented person, Lisa has helped raise funds for all sizes of organizations across a full spectrum of fields.

Lisa is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, where she received a degree in English. Prior to that she attended Nova Southeastern University, where she studied psychology and created a curriculum that she implemented to teach a “Lifestyles and Skills” class to women in the maximum-security Broward Correctional Institution in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

When not writing or with her nose in a humorous book, Lisa enjoys spending time with her teen children, dog, and husband (not necessarily in that order).