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2019 Board Members 

Clelland Russell

Owner, Proclaim Roofing and Window Ninjas


Jason Richey

Managing Partner, Stoneware & Co.

Vice President

Joseph McMahan

President, Civitas Financial


Barbara McDaniel

External Affairs Manager, Toyota North America (retired)


Katie Reisz

Attorney, ​Middleton-Reutlinger 

Immediate Past President

Carla Grego

Membership Manager/ Horseman Liaison, Kentucky Derby Museum

David (Masey) Goatley

Retired-Banking, Business Development, Sales

Clare Sullivan

University of Louisville, Spanish Department 

Sally Troutman


Board Member Ameritas

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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!

Gretchen Hunt

Director of Development

Gretchen Hunt  joins the Backside Learning Center as  Director of Development. Hunt has advocated for survivors of violence and vulnerable communities for the last 19 years, beginning as an immigration attorney with the Center for Women and Families and most recently as Director of the Office for Victims Advocacy for the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General. She was a leader in helping to advocate for passage of Kentucky's Human Trafficking Victims’ Rights Act and has launched innovative programs and collaborations including the Survivors Council and the Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force.   She has been honored for her work, most recently receiving Member of the Year by the Women Lawyer’s Association and the Public Service Award from the Center for Women and Families.  She and her husband John Young (Legal Aid Society) are the proud parents of Wilson (13) and Jane (11).

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. 

Arianna Cespedes del Toro

Adult Education and Services Coordinator  



Arianna is the new English Language Program Assistant, helping support volunteers with resources and curriculum for their classes. She was born in Holguin, Cuba, and moved to Louisville in 2012. She graduated from Doss High School in 2014, and went to pursue a degree in English with minor in Spanish at the University of Louisville where she’s currently a senior. At this institution, she is an ambassador for the Hispanic and Latino Initiatives at the Cultural Center, which focuses on bringing together Hispanic/Latino students on campus by offering resources available for them as well as promoting scholarships and opportunities for involvement on campus. In addition, she’s doing an internship with the BLC as an ESL instructor for the Family Program.


During this last year of her undergraduate career, she realized that one of her passions was to help and get involved with the community. Therefore, she needed to find new ways to access resources and positions available for immigrants in the Louisville area. Right now, she’s participating in the Louisville Metro Government’s inaugural Welcome Academy Program. A free leadership-training program sponsored by the City of Louisville that empowers Foreign Born Leaders to understand and participate in City Government. After graduation she plans to pursue a master’s in Education, with an ESL endorsement, in order to become an ESL teacher.     

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.

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. 

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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Mailing Address:

3131 S. 2nd St. #389 Louisville, KY 40208

(502) 634-6543

Physical Location:

Gate 5, south of Central Ave. off South 4th St.

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