JOSH GARCIA joined the Stars of HOPE® program first as a volunteer, demonstrating a tremendous compassion for our mission. He officially joined the team as the Program Manager in 2017 and was recently promoted to Director of Operations & Programs in early 2018. Josh utilizes his previous experience as a digital media manager, researcher, manager, operator, marketer, and strategist… but more importantly as a survivor of a human-caused mass gun shooting and recipient of SOH… to take the Stars of HOPE program across the globe.
“My goal is to transform tragedy into Hope by empowering individuals, of all backgrounds, to create messages of Hope and healing through community, service, home, school, and corporate programs, volunteer engagement, and Hope awareness. Having worn many different hats in my career, I have the ability to manage multiple projects and uniquely understand survival of tragedy and transformation that embodies the Stars of HOPE® Program.”
JEFF PARNESS serves as Executive Director and Board Member of New York Says Thank You Foundation. Over 600,000 people of all ages have volunteered in NYSTY’s various programs including its signature 9/11 Anniversary “barn-raising” program; historic 50-state restoration of The National 9/11 Flag; Hurricane Sandy First Responder Rebuilding Fund; 9/12 Generation citizenship education initiative; Build for LIFE rebuilding program for cancer victims in disaster areas; and its growing Stars of HOPE therapeutic community arts program which has accelerated the healing process of tens of millions of disaster survivors in 187 communities in 26 countries. Jeff also co-founded CJ’s Bus Foundation which provided emergency child care services for children in the immediate aftermath of disasters, and Tony’s Room Foundation which built “clean-rooms” for kids with Leukemia.
A former technology corporate finance professional and venture capitalist, Jeff helped to raise over $150 million for every stage company in all market cycles. Jeff is a graduate of the University of Michigan and served in the White House Office of Public Liaison for Defense and Foreign Policy under President Reagan.
Jeff has received numerous awards for his public service with New York Says Thank You Foundation including The Melvin Jones Fellow for Humanitarian Service from Lions Club International Foundation, The New York Post Liberty Medal Ambassador Award, The Champion of the Community Award from The New York Mets, the 1010WINS Tomorrow’s Newsmakers Award for Public Service, The Daughters of American Revolution Founder’s Medal for Patriotism, and National Independent Flag Dealers Association George Washington Award. Jeff was also a CNN Hero in 2011.
Jeff lives in New York City with his wife Sandra Hauser, an attorney at DENTONS, and his two sons Evan and Josh who were the inspiration behind the creation of New York Says Thank You Foundation.
“I personally believe we were all given Divine abilities to do good in the world, to express love and compassion and to lift others up in times of need. Stars of HOPE is simply one way to carry out that mission. And, the more people that create hope, the more our broken world is healed.
LEANN DILBECK is the Director of Communications & Media Partnerships. She is a former small business owner, marketer, journalist, and multi-media manager who says that one of the highlights of her career was covering the New York Says Thank You Foundation and Stars of HOPE events when her hometown of Mena, Ark. was selected as a “barn-raising” event in 2010 following a devastating EF3 tornado that destroyed much of the downtown.
“I fell in love with everything that the Foundation embodies and watched first-hand as hundreds of volunteers poured into my small rural community bringing with them such incredibly needed HOPE and healing to families and businesses who had lost so much. To now be part of that effort is both an incredible honor and privilege.” LeAnn joined the team in March of 2018.
LeAnn is a graduate of Henderson State University and the ABA School of Bank Marketing & Management. She has served as an officer of the Arkansas Bank Marketers Association, Arkansas Festival and Events Association, Mena/Polk County Chamber of Commerce, Mena Regional Support Foundation and was the recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award in 2005 by the Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks as well as recognized by the Southeast Tourism Association as one of the region’s Top 10 Festival/Event Planners in 2006. She currently serves on the Board of the Court Appointed Special Advocates, serving children in the foster system, and on the council of The Crossing Church.
LeAnn considers her greatest success to be that of her family – husband of 23 years, David, and two teenagers, Dustin & Lexi.
Combining Fran’s love of New York, design, and a deep rooted personal desire to ‘Pay-It-Forward,’ FRAN SHEFF-MAUER serves as a consultant for marketing and branding for the New York Says Thank You (NYSTY) Foundation, a growing national and global ‘Pay-It-Forward’ service movement. NYSTY has completed projects in all 50 states and around the world.
“I’ve had the privilege to design and launch Stars of HOPE® Box of HOPE. The very first service project that can be done at home or in office. I have designed all materials and packaging for this project. We have developed a social campaign, “LOVE is Stronger than Hate®“. Love is Stronger than Hate merchandise is in production and is the number one seller at the 9/11 Memorial Museum Store as well as well as sold at the Love Is Stronger than Hate website.”
Fran grew up in New York, graduated from Newhouse School of Communications and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. She continues to take design classes at SVA and has lectured at Syracuse University, Newhouse School, College of VPA and at Johns Hopkins University on advertising and design.
“Creating a Star of HOPE is a wonderful therapeutic experience, to sit with friends, and family holding a paint brush instead of a cell phone and thinking what message would make someone smile is great joy. The real magic is meeting the people who get the stars, it makes my heart so happy.”