The Giving Circle, Inc. is made up by a unique group of leaders coming together to serve the organization’s mission of “Selfless acts of kindness and compassion.” Click on their names below to learn more about them!
Executive Leadership TeamMark Bertrand - Founder & Executive Director
Mark is the Founder and Executive Director of The Giving Circle, Inc (TGC). Born in Troy, NY, Mark and his wife, Kelly, were vacationing at the Cape when Hurricanes Rita and Katrina hit the gulf coast in 2005. They wanted to find a way to help the families in Louisiana and Mississippi. Inspired by his ideas, they decided to try to bring Christmas to all the children and families in Louisiana and we did, to over 7,000 children! That is how TGC was born. Since then, we have expanded our non-profit to helping those in need domestically, nationally and internationally (Uganda and Afghanistan). Since Mark was a teenager he wanted to work in Africa. Once TCG was built in the US, he searched out contacts in Uganda. Once vetted, he found a very trustworthy team lead by Wambi Moses and Walubi Emmanuel. Mark is a Jefferson Award Honoree nominated for all his selfless acts of compassion and humanitarian work. He is the strategic and logistics partner for all work done in the US and in Uganda.
Mark sits on several boards of directors including Shelters of Saratoga (SOS), Code Blue Steering & Programs Committees, and Peace Week Committee. He has sports, nutrition and strength conditioning certification where he’s mentored and coached many pro, elite and Olympic athletes but he’s left this behind to focus 100% on TGC.
Kelly is a co-founder and Treasurer of The Giving Circle, Inc (TGC). Born in Albuquerque, NM but raised in Greenfield Center, NY, Kelly and her husband, Mark, were vacationing at the Cape when Hurricanes Rita and Katrina hit the gulf coast in 2005. We wanted to find a way to help the families in Louisiana and Mississippi. Inspired by Mark’s ideas, we decided to try to bring Christmas to all the children and families in Louisiana and we did, to over 7,000 children! That is how TGC was born. Since then, we have expanded our non-profit to helping those in need domestically, nationally and internationally (Uganda and Afghanistan). She is very passionate about sustainably helping people and assisting in helping them meet health, education and quality of life goals. Kelly has a B.A Computer Science from Skidmore College.
It is a privilege to be involved with TGC, an organization that shoes not only what we can achieve individually, but also how much we can accomplish as a community when we support each other. Kelly’s favorite quote and one she tries to live by, “The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
Aaron Gryder is an American thoroughbred racehorse jockey, who is most well known for his 14 length victory aboard Well Armed in the 2009 Dubai World Cup, and 2012 Breeders’ Cup Marathon win aboard Calidoscopio. Born June 5th, 1970, Aaron has ridden to over 3,600 career wins and appeared on Animal Planet’s 2009 reality documentary, Jockeys. He continues to ride today and is based in Pasadena, California, where he spends much of his time riding at Santa Anita Park. Serving as an ambassador for the sport, Aaron spends his time out of the saddle showing visitors around Santa Anita and making TV appearances, spreading the word about horse racing.
A retired technology manager at Skidmore College, Leo has been providing technical help to a variety of local nonprofits in the Saratoga region use web resources to extend their reach.
He has actively supported The Giving Circle since 2008 and is a founding member of Code Blue Saratoga.
Ron Deutsch has been with the Giving Circle since its inception. He served as President of the organization from 2008-2017 working on numerous Giving Circle projects and events. Ron is currently the Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute; The Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and education organization committed to improving public policies and private practices to better the economic and social conditions of all New Yorker. Ron Deutsch has been a tireless advocate for working families for over 20 years in Albany. He led the Statewide Emergency Network for Social and Economic Security (SENSES, a statewide anti-poverty advocacy organization) for 13 years and then became the Director of FPI’s sister 501(c)(4) organization, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness for 8 years. Deutsch is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany.
After many years as a political reporter in Annapolis and Albany, Carl Korn served for 25 years as press secretary for New York State United Teachers. Working in the union movement helped cement Carl’s passion for social justice and helping the most vulnerable around the world. Carl has worked with Fair Trade coffee farmers in Nicaragua and in the Peruvian Amazon, and is currently very active in The Giving Circle’s education projects in Uganda. At home, he delivers meals to the needy over Christmas and Thanksgiving. Recently retired, Carl looks forward to having more time to perform Tikkun Olam — repairing the world — with his wife, Cara, and their two grown children.
Ann Fantauzzi, a public school educator with 34 years experience in elementary and gifted education, and has a MSEd in educational administration. Working as a consultant, she has lectured on educational needs of children with chronic illness, adopted children’s separation issues, and the effects of trauma on volunteers through the Oxford UK’s Interdisciplinary.net organization. She is trained in Restorative Justice education and has done relief work with the Red Cross and home construction with Habitat for Humanity. Her main focus is now with TGC/A on education expansion of present and future education curriculum programs. As a photographer, she documents the Ugandan experience each year as she works with teachers and students. Her travels include not only the US, Canada and Africa, but Russia, China, Cuba, Portugal and throughout Europe and the UK. Presently, she is teaching a chess program to Kindergarteners.
Joseph Wagner is an information technology professional for the Saratoga Springs City School District. In his free time, he enjoys giving back to his community by volunteering with several different organizations. Joseph is a member and the webmaster for The Giving Circle, Inc. and a member of the Saratoga Springs Lions Club. Joseph also greatly enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee and is a member of the Albany Ultimate Disc Association and is the club advisor for the Saratoga Springs High School Ultimate Frisbee Club. Joseph lives by two mottos each day “Becoming a better person and making the world a better place.
Board MembersRachel Dwyer
Rachael has been an active volunteer and advocate for the homeless in the greater Saratoga area for many years. She’s known to her family, friends and strangers as the first to lend a helping hand or compassionate heart. She holds a BA from The College of St. Rose and an MA from Walden University. Since 2001, Rachael has been a nanny for the Nemer family and recently transitioned to Director of Charitable Giving at Nemer Motor Group. Ms. Dwyer has volunteered for several years in the Schuylerville Elementary and Middle schools. As a resident of downtown Saratoga, Rachael has seen firsthand the many challenges of the homeless community fueling her desire to get involved. In 2013, she signed on to volunteer at the newly formed Code Blue Saratoga. While Code Blue is open you can find Rachael volunteering many late nights and early mornings. No task is too big or small. She can be found setting up or taking down cots, cleaning, checking guests in at the door, helping to serve meals or just lending a listening ear. Even on nights she isn’t volunteering, Rachael stops in to say hello and make sure everyone is doing okay.
The Giving Circle, providing an array of services for those in need was a perfect fit for Dwyer. Rachael has been part of The Giving Circle since 2015. During the winter months, Rachael collaborated with Patty Riggi and Melissa Russo to initiate The Giving Circle Street Outreach Team. Their goal was to stay connected and support the Code Blue community year round. On Thursday nights, from May to October, you can find Dwyer and her team serving a homemade dinner to more than 30 area homeless. The weekly gatherings are much more than dinner. The get- togethers allow the team to address issues that disrupt already challenging lives. From insurance coverage to transportation to a haircut, no request for help is ignored. Ms. Dwyer has made helping the homeless part of her everyday life. Each morning on her way to work Rachael stops outside Stewart’s and Salvation Army to say good morning and check in on those waiting to go inside for breakfast. Dwyer is always collecting and handing out clean clothing from the back of her car. She can be seen at the hospital visiting a homeless friend, the laundromat providing money and detergent, buying someone a meal, setting up phones, or taking a phone call anytime day or night from someone in need. With helping the homeless Ms. Dwyer has also developed a strong relationship with The Salvation Army and Shelters of Saratoga, both the faculty and guests that stay there. Rachael also volunteers as a member of the Hospice Touched By An Angel committee.
Seeking to raise their four daughters with compassion and tolerance, Mary and her husband Mike actively support organizations that improve the lives of marginalized people. The entire Los family has been to Uganda and works to advance the mission of The Giving Circle.
Mary’s work with the nonprofit sector began with the Massachusetts and New England Divisions of the American Cancer Society where she was encouraged by mentors to pursue a Master’s in Policy from Tufts University. Mary went on to work for 15 years in various nonprofit management and fund-raising positions. After several job-related moves around the country — just before their oldest entered high school in 2010 – the family decided to move “home” to the northeast and put down roots in Saratoga. As their daughters leave home for school and work, Mary looks forward to traveling with Mike, visiting their children, and continuing to promote the work of The Giving Circle. In her free time she enjoys painting, skiing, and hiking. Her ideal day includes a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in an old Adirondack chair on a remote island in Maine.
She retired after thirty years service with the New York State Departments of Social Services and then Health. Her duties there included development and delivery of training and public information campaigns about public programs, particularly Medicaid.
Activism in her union, the Public Employees Federation of New York (PEF), led to a committed relationship with labor and social justice groups. In addition to holding a seat on PEF’s Executive Board, Mary was privileged to serve three terms as the Executive Secretary of the Albany County Central Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO). Mary’s association with The New York State Labor – Religion Coalition permitted her to participate in their efforts fighting wage theft abuses. Contacts within these organizations led to involvement in peace and environmental actions over the years. She is the proud owner of a worn out bull horn.
Finally and in a far less political vein, Mary’s proud to be Secretary of her neighborhood Home Owners’ Association.
Dr. Kim Poli is a cardiologist with Albany Medical Center who lives in Saratoga with her husband Theo Laddis and her two children, Alex and Zoe. She has been involved with The Giving Circle since its earliest days, helping to fundraise for TGC’s first rebuilding projects after Hurricane Katrina and joining a TGC relief crew in response to the Schoharie floods.
Since that time, Dr. Poli and her family have continued to support TGC’s local initiatives — raking leaves for the elderly, collecting items for Code Blue and lending a hand at Holiday Miracle Projects. When TGC has responded to national disasters, Kim and her family have been grateful to assist.
In 2009, with the initiation of TGC Africa, the Poli-Laddis family began sponsoring two Ugandan siblings at the Koi Koi House orphanage. After eight years of letter and video correspondence, the entire family joined the 2017 summer trip and was able to meet their sponsored children in person. It was also during this trip that doctors Kim and Theo were able to work alongside The Giving Circle nurse at the Kagoma Gate clinic and witness first hand the The Giving Circle’s healthcare services. Just two year later, Kim and her family again joined the 2019 team to for a return visit to the TGC children and clinic.
Today the Poli-Laddis family sponsors five children and one teacher. The Giving Circle’s work is nothing short of a family-wide passion. As they look forward to more trips to Uganda and TGC’s growing local presence in Saratoga, Kim and her family remain inspired by the work of Mark and Kelly Bertrand and the mission to lessen the suffering of others while giving every child a chance.
Liam Rice is the founder of Summit Clothing Company and an active member of TGC. He lives in Saratoga Springs and commutes to Siena College where he studies Business Management.
Dr. Robin Solomon found her 2017 Summer Mission to Uganda with The Giving Circle team to be life changing and is proud to serve on the board.
Dr. Solomon was honored by the newspaper SARATOGA Today as one of five “Women of Influence” in Saratoga County for 2013.
Dr. Solomon is the founder of Hearing Care Resources, LLC, a diagnostic and rehabilitative Audiology practice serving the Saratoga Springs – Wilton region, and greater Saratoga County. As a Board Certified Audiologist, Dr. Solomon has extensive experience and expertise in audiology and the fitting of the latest in digital hearing aid technology.
She holds a clinical doctorate in Audiology from Salus University and Board Certification from the American Board of Audiology. Dr. Solomon received her training at The George Washington University and completed her clinical fellowship at Albany Medical Center Hospital. For 12 years Dr. Solomon was the Chief Audiologist for Saratoga Hospital at Wilton Medical Arts (“The Hearing Shop”).
Prior to coming to Saratoga in 1988, Dr. Solomon served as a staff Audiologist in the Otolaryngology (ENT)/Audiology department at The Basset Medical Center in Cooperstown. Dr. Solomon is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, is Clinically Certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, is a New York State licensed Audiologist and Hearing Aid Dispenser, and is a Fellow Member of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology.
Among her community activities, Dr. Solomon is active in the Soroptimist International of Saratoga County, and Temple Sinai. She volunteers for Code Blue and also serves on The United Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York’s Board of Directors.
Dr. Solomon resides in Saratoga County with her husband Neal and their cats. Upon deciding to create Hearing Care Resources to better serve our community, Robin, enlisted Neal who is a Certified Financial Planner, to serve as her practices Chief Financial Officer – in addition to running his own very busy practice. He says “Behind this great woman is a proud and supportive husband.”
The couple enjoys traveling the world, and seeks to make a difference for others while enjoying this great planet.”
Nancy recently joined the Giving Circle after being indirectly involved with supporting local efforts and various projects in Uganda for the past few years. Her passion for helping others and giving back spans the globe, including working with the Red Cross in Norway, as well as the American Cancer Society domestically. Nancy is a CPA and works in Albany, NY.
The Giving Circle’s TeamsUgandan Executive Leadership Team
The Ugandan Executive Leadership Team: Moses Wambi, Cecilia Kagya, Koire Lydia Kadama, and Emma Walubi. Click here to learn more about our Uganda team
The Giving Circle Outreach team lead by Patty Riggi, Melissa Renee, and Rachael Dwyer. Click here Learn more about our outreach team.
Past President Ronald Maenza and Past Treasurer Karyl Maenza