Board & Staff

Board members Kelly Fujiwara, Mike Smitka 2013 Community Festival

Board member Kelly Fujiwara, community volunteer Mike Smitka, and former board member David Elmes at the 2013 Community Festival

Board of Directors:

President: Holt Merchant

Vice President: Janet Lemmer

Secretary: Kelly Fujiwara

Treasurer: Debbie Pollard

  • Malcolm Brownlee
  • Scott Jefferies
  • Janet Lemmer
  • Holt Merchant
  • John F. X. Murphy
  • Debbie Pollard
  • George Pryde
  • Dale Raymond
  • Joesph F. Skovira
  • Patte Wood, Executive Director

Community Volunteers:

  • Barbara Rowe
  • Michael Smitka
  • David Zwart

Board of Directors Biographies: 

Malcolm Brownlee:  Malcolm grew up in Rockbridge Baths and moved back there in 2007 after 49 years away, most of them as a Presbyterian minister in Kentucky, Indonesia, Georgia, North Carolina, and West Virginia. In retirement, he is a gardener, a consultant in church revitalization and planning, and a volunteer in several community organizations including Rockbridge Area Master Gardeners, Rockbridge Area Community Services Board, Lexington Presbyterian Church, Brownsburg Ruritan Club and Stonewall Jackson House.

Kelly Fujiwara: Kelly is a transplant from the west coast after growing up in Minnesota, but she has called Lexington home for the past 26 years. She has been involved in a wide array of community activities, many centered around her children as they were growing up.  At this time, Kelly remains involved in the American Cancer Society as a founding member of the local Relay for Life and is on the Rockbridge County Special Education Council.

Scott Jefferies: Scott L. Jefferies, Ed. D. – Dr. Jefferies has spent 18 years in public education, working in roles such as a Teacher, Coach, Activities Director, Assistant Principal, Principal, Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent. He has spent 7 years in Rockbridge County and Lexington, having served as Principal of Rockbridge County High School from 2011-2014. He is currently the Superintendent of Lexington City Schools and has served as Superintendent since July 2015.  Dr. Jefferies is a recent graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he completed his doctoral studies in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

 Janet Lemmer:  Janet and her family first came to Lexington while her husband served on the NROTC staff at VMI. After 3 years, the family moved to 29 Palms, California, but they continued to keep track of Lexington events through friends. When Greg retired from the Marine Corps, they returned to the area. Though considered newcomers to some, they’ve been Rockbridge County residents a total of 26 years. Janet has been involved in nonprofits and school settings for 30 years, either as staff or a volunteer. She looks forward to helping many community organizations in the area as a member of the UWR board.

Holt Merchant: Holt Merchant has lived in Lexington since he joined the faculty of Washington and Lee University. He has retired from teaching American history, and now works for United Way Rockbridge, the Community Table, the Rockbridge Area Relief Agency, and Grace Episcopal Church. His term as president of the Board of UWR runs until February 2019.

John F. X. Murphy John F. X. Murphy is a transplant from the Philadelphia, PA area. Born and raised in New York City, John went to college at St. Bonaventure University and served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. After discharge he went to work for Scott Paper Co. and then followed a management track of positions within commerce and industry. John and his family lived at various times in the Chicago area, Cedarburg, WI and Newtown, PA. His wife, Susan T. Bushnell, was a college professor for over 35 years, teaching at the community college levels in  remedial studies.  Currently she  manages the early childhood literacy at Rockbridge Regional Library.  John & Susan have 5 children and 10 grandchildren. In 1986 John received an advanced degree in Clinical Psychology and worked at various agencies and also in private practice until retirement in the Rockbridge area. He and Susan love to travel and read and he is a voracious reader. Susan loves to hike and garden.

Debbie Pollard  Debbie is a Lexington native who departed as a teen for college at the State Univ. of NY at Oneonta.  She graduated with an Art History degree and worked in field research for the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.  A move and career change took her to the DC and Northern Virginia area for 36 years.  Employment during that time involved organizational management in the commercial real estate brokerage industry and the last 12 years at the Dept. of the Interior, Interior Business Center (IBC).  Teleworking full time, Debbie is currently responsible for business development and customer outreach in the Financial Management Directorate at the IBC.  In the past she has been a lead for the Combined Federal Campaign at the IBC, and has for many years volunteered as an election official.  She raised two daughters and was active with Scouting and a variety of neighborhood school and community activities.  Debbie is impressed with the number of community organizations that have developed to support Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County since her time here as a youth. She hopes to help United Way Rockbridge have a greater impact with funding many of those organizations.

George Pryde studied mechanical engineering at the University of Wyoming (his native state) and spent his working career in an entirely different field — advertising.  He worked for ad agencies in New York City, Tokyo, and Stamford, Connecticut.  Since retiring to the Rockbridge area in 1997, he has served as board member, trustee, or president of a number of local nonprofit organizations including Stonewall Jackson Foundation, Lexington Sunrise Rotary, Rockbridge Historical Society, English Speaking Union, and Rockbridge Area Health Center.  From 2011 to 2015, George was a member of Lexington City Council and Vice-Mayor of Lexington.

Dale Raymond:  Dale moved to Rockbridge from Richmond in 2003 with his wife, Alysan, joining him in 2005.  He earned a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maine and attended the Executive Program at the Darden School at the University of Virginia.  Since moving to Rockbridge, Dale worked as a consultant with Bontex, founded his own home construction business his son, and joined VMI as an adjunct professor in Chemistry starting in 2005, where he currently continues teaching.   In 2010, Alysan became the Executive Director and CEO of the Rockbridge Area YMCA with Dale becoming an active volunteer. Alysan has retired from the Y and they are both active at Manley Baptist Church where he currently serves as a Deacon.

Executive Director Patte Wood:  Born in Seattle and raised near San Francisco, Patte starting piano lessons at age 5.  Her first solo performance was at the Greater Spokane Music Festival when she was 6 years old and she participated in juried recital competitions from age 6 to 19 earning International status. She then studied piano with Aiko Onishi, a Japanese concert artist, at San Jose State University where she graduated with a BA in Music and Psychology.  While working at the Music Department of Stanford University she earned a certificate  in non-profit administration from UC Berkeley Extension.  She is the Founding Administrator of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University and held that position for 15 years and is listed in the Who’s Who of Music published in Cambridge, England. She returned to San Jose State in 1997 to earn a Master’s Degree in Art, Technology, and Culture.  Upon moving to Rockbridge in 1999 with a grant from the American Association of University Women, she worked with fourth grade girls to build self-esteem using technology and art.  She then worked for a dozen years as a reporter and photographer for the Rockbridge Weekly, which has given her a broad knowledge of the community. She continues to be active in other organizations in our community and has been a board member of the Rockbridge Area Recreation Organization (RARO), the Upper James RC&D, Rockbridge Historical Society (RHS),  Fine Arts in Rockbridge (FAIR) and the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council (RACC). She is currently on the board of Hull’s Drive-in and is a member of RHS, RACC, the Lyme Support Group and the Valley of Virginia Herb Guild.

Community Volunteer Biographies: 

Barbara Rowe In the early 90s, Barbara was Executive Director of our local United Way and has been an active United Way volunteer ever since. Other interests have included equine sports and volunteering at the Virginia Horse Center, and leading guided meditations and teaching contemplative practices for the community. She has worked as a college administrator at Southern Virginia, Hollins and currently W&L (since 2002). She’s raised three lovely daughters (Ruth, Lucy, and Fran) and her husband, Dick, teaches at VMI and is an avid birdwatcher and photographer. Barbara recently retired from the UWR Board after 3 years of service.

Mike Smitka Michael Smitka has been in the community for almost 30 years, and served on the UWR Board for 6 years including 2 years as president. In the past he has been active with Scouting and with several local churches; his wife Gloria has been active with healthcare issues. They are both teachers, Mike at Washington and Lee and Gloria at Dabney S Lancaster Community College. In addition, both their children went through Rockbridge County schools so they are deeply involved in education in our community.


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