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2020 Board Members 

Clelland Russell

Owner, Proclaim Roofing and Window Ninjas


Jason Richey

Managing Partner, Stoneware & Co.

Vice President

Barbara McDaniel

External Affairs Manager, Toyota North America (retired)


Pam Conway

Achievement Center Coordinator, Assumption High School

David (Masey) Goatley

Retired-Banking, Business Development, Sales

Carla Grego

Membership Manager/ Horseman Liaison, Kentucky Derby Museum

Kevin Kerstein

Publicity Manager, Churchill Downs

Annie Jessee

Retired middle school teacher (Kentucky Country Day School)

Joseph McMahan

President, Civitas Financial

Jeff Musgrove

President, SPS Philanthropic Advisors LLC.

Wendy Payton

Area Business Manager, 3M

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2020 Staff 

Sherry Stanley

Executive Director

Sherry has over 15 years of policy advocacy and program management experience gained working with non-governmental organizations and nonprofits internationally and in the United States. After a month-long volunteer trip to Guatemala in 1995, she was hooked on the wonderful cultures and people of Central America. She returned a year later as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador, where she remained for almost eight years to work with several local and international NGOs focusing primarily on rural and agricultural development.

Prior to joining the BLC in 2013, Sherry spent six years at the Kentucky Office for Refugees, a department of Catholic Charities of Louisville, administering Federal funding for refugee resettlement programs throughout the state of Kentucky. Earlier in her career, she worked as a paralegal in Chicago assisting immigrant victims of domestic violence and as a Congressional Hunger Center policy fellow with the National Family Farm Coalition in Washington, DC. Sherry holds a BA in journalism from Butler University and an MA in sustainable development from the School for International Training. She is thrilled to have the honor of working in the unique world of horseracing and the fulfillment that comes from daily interaction with the inspiring people on the backside!

Lauren DeGeorge

Director of Programs

Lauren oversees the BLC’s educational programs ensuring that quality instruction, organization, program development, and training opportunities are available for the students and volunteers of the Backside Learning Center.  A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Lauren graduated from Mercy Academy and in 2010 earned a BA in Elementary Education at the University of Kentucky. She completed her studies overseas, teaching first grade at the John F. Kennedy School in Berlin, Germany. Following her return from abroad, she worked as a permanent long-term elementary substitute for JCPS. Lauren’s most recent teaching experience took place in Quito, Ecuador, where she taught third grade at Colegio Americano de Quito for a year and a half while greatly improving her Spanish-speaking skills. After working with various communities in Ecuador, she became interested in combining her educational background and knowledge with her experience in community development. Lauren enjoys many other activities, including listening to live music, practicing yoga, gardening, traveling, and doing various outdoor sports.

Mariah Levine Garcia

Family Resource Coordinator

Born in Baltimore, MD, Mariah grew up in Louisville, KY. A lover of language and culture, Mariah attended the University of Louisville where she completed her undergraduate degree in French and Spanish with a minor in Latin American and Latino Studies. During her time at UofL, she completed an internship as a volunteer medical interpreter at the Kentucky Racing Health Services Center (a clinic which serves the backside population) and it was there that she first learned about the Backside Learning Center. As Family Resource Coordinator, Mariah works primarily with the racetrack families who attend the Family Education Program, providing essential support in all facets of their lives. 

Izzy Sanchez

Youth Program Coordinator

Welcome, Izzy! Isai “Izzy” Sanchez is the new Youth Development Coordinator at the Backside Learning Center. He and his family moved to the United States from Veracruz, Mexico in 1999 when he was three years old. Izzy loves to work. His first job was an internship with Dinsmore & Shohl law firm at the age of 14. He worked back and forth with the ACLU until he became a paralegal at age 19. In 2016, he attended Berea College where he began a program to help impoverished men of color, which in turn helped retention rates up to 20%. In 2017, he then became Danny Alvarez’ paralegal and personal assistant, until Alvarez passed away a day after his primary for district court judge. Izzy is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in political economics with a minor in political science at the University of Louisville. In his spare time, he loves making music and producing videos. Izzy’s reason for joining the BLC was, “I wanted to help my people more than before!” We are so lucky to have him on our team!

Peyton Hobson

Communications and Outreach Coordinator

Peyton has helped teach English classes at Backside Learning Center for almost two years, and has several years of experience in marketing, graphic design and social media. She graduated from WKU in 2014, and also taught English abroad in Sevilla, Spain with her husband Chris Butz (former Americorps Vista for BLC.) On the side, Peyton is on the board of AIGA Louisville and maintains some freelance graphic design clients. For fun, she is learning how to play the violin and is training for the mini marathon.

Karla Villa

Operations & Programs Support Specialist

Born in Van Nuys, CA to a Mexican father and Guatemalan mother, Karla moved to Kentucky at the age of 6. ⠀
Karla recently graduated from WKU with an undergraduate degree in Diversity & Community Studies and Psychology with a minor in American Sign Language. Karla is excited to use her personal and educational background as the Operations and Program Support Specialist for the BLC. She is mostly responsible for operational support, management of material donations, case management, and working with one of the cohorts at the Community Learning Hub.

Megan Sherwood

COVID-19 Case Manager

Megan grew up in Crestwood, KY and is joining Backside Learning Center as a Case Manager with an emphasis on COVID-19 mitigation-related services. Interested in a career in medicine and public health, she completed her undergraduate degree at Centre College in 2017 with a degree in behavioral neuroscience. She began developing her Spanish-speaking skills through a medical internship in Costa Rica and through teaching English in Valencia, Spain. More recently, Megan worked as a medical interpreter at Kentucky Racing Health Services Center, a clinic that serves the Backside community. Megan intends to apply to medical school and eventually continue working with Spanish-speaking communities as a medical provider. In her free time, she loves to play soccer, listen to live music, and go hiking with friends. ⠀

She is most excited about the opportunity to continue working with many of the workers and families that she met at the clinic and to help them navigate the unique ways in which COVID-19 will affect the community through her new role as Case Manager.

Eva Vislisel

Americorps Vista

Merlin Cano

Youth Activities Leader 

Merlin immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala when she was eleven years old. She recently graduated from Iroquois High School in Louisville, Ky. She is a thoroughbred horse walker for Churchill Downs and also works with the Backside Learning Center's Frontrunners youth after-school program. Merlin is excited about college and her future at the learning center. 

Ana Reyes

Trager Institute Intern

Ana is currently working on getting her Bachelor's in Social Work at the University of Louisville and is expected to graduate in May 2021. Ana also has an Associate's degree in Arts and Science that she acquired the same year she graduated high school in 2018. She is currently an intern here at the Backside Learning Center (BLC) to gain social work experience and in hopes of finding out what she would like to specialize in the future with her degree. The BLC has given her a new perspective on her own culture and aspires to always help the community in any way she can. Her parents are Salvadoran natives, giving her first-hand experience of what it is like to live and grow up in a foreign country. Putting in that experience with her practice has made Ana feel motivated to increase anyone's quality of life.

Ed Wong

English Language Instructor

Ed is originally from San Fransisco, CA and is the former Head of the Language department at JCTC and has been teaching Spanish for over 30 years. He now teaches English at the Backside Learning Center. Ed has two published books, and in his free time he enjoys riding horses and writing.

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