SMILE is currently run by the extremely dedicated members of the Board of Directors and volunteer staff.
Kristen Mantlo, Ph.D. MSS (MSW)
I never thought I'd become a social worker, let alone a founder and the Executive Director of a nonprofit.
I went to James Madison University planning to become a writer, either a novelist or journalist. All that changed (along with my major a few times) when I met a social worker at the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters. She opened my eyes to the social work profession, as well as program management, and research.
While in college I came home almost weekly to visit my sister Samantha (yes, THE 'Samantha' in Samantha Makes It a Little Easier) while she was going through cancer treatment. For four years I helped serve as a caregiver and experienced first hand the many challenges a child and their family members experience during various stages of medical care, including the difficulty of funding costly medical equipment. A few days before Sam passed away, she asked me to use the money people raised for her to purchase a quality prosthetic to help children 'like her.'
After completing my Masters of Social Services (MSW) at Bryn Mawr College outside Philadelphia, PA, I returned to Hampton Roads and worked for an international non-profit while founding SMILE with a fantastic group of women. Since SMILE's founding, I have had the opportunity to complete my PhD in Health Service Research at Old Dominion University, focusing my research on young adult survivors of childhood cancer and late effects.
I absolutely love my job and am honored to be able to serve such wonderful children and their families.
A dedicated group of community-minded individuals from various professional backgrounds come together to guide SMILE in it's mission.
A graduate of Virginia Tech's Architecture Program, Joe Trost has over 36 years of experience in architecture. He joined PF&A in 1990 as a project architect and was promoted to Principal in 2001. In 2016, Joe began President and Owner of PF&A.
A national architecture design award winner, his experience is diversified with a strong emphasis in the healthcare, dental, and commercial sectors.
When he's not at work, Joe enjoys providing community service through the non-profit Samantha Makes It a Little Easier (SMILE), golfing, listening to music, especially Jimmy Buffet and island sounds, and cheering for the Red Sox!
Joseph Trost, AIA, ACHA, NCARB
Biographical information coming soon. . .
Summer Kernan, MPT
Brandon is an associate at Kaufman and Canoles Norfolk office and a member of the Commercial Practice Group and the Real Estate Strategies Practice Group. His practice includes advising clients on commercial real estate transactions, merger and acquisitions, tax matters, general business law, and corporate and commercial transactions.
Brandon Allred, JD
Thomas Gorman is a Midwestern native with a beach attitude. He has called Hampton Roads home for the last 15 years. “If you love what you do and can do it anywhere, what’s stopping you?”
With that thought in mind, he moved his photography business to the beach. As a professional photographer, he specializes in portraits of families, high school seniors, and children.
Thomas began his business 28 years ago when he quit his job, bought a house and found out he was expecting his second child all in the same month.
He has never looked back. Currently, he is in the process of adopting his 12-year-old stepson, who is blind, and who has given him a deeper insight to appreciate being able to “see”. Thomas sees photography as a wonderful way to engage with the world, encourage exploration, and show the wonderful relationships that exist. He seeks to create images with beauty and insight.
Wayne Pollock joined Virginia Wesleyan in the fall of 2000 after working as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist in various healthcare settings. He received his B.S. from West Chester University and taught Health & Physical Education for seven years. He received his M.S. from the University of North Carolina in Recreation Administration, with a Therapeutic Recreation concentration and his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Old Dominion University.
Wayne's passion for helping improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities is exemplified in his years of work as a recreational therapist working with adults with intellectual disabilities and both adolescents and adults with mental illness and substance abuse problems. At Wesleyan, Wayne teaches all courses in the recreational therapy track and core curriculum courses as needed.
Wayne Pollock, PhD
I love my job. Plain and simple. Every day I get to go to work and help amazing patients and their families. But how did I get here? How did I find my way to my rewarding career?
I grew up Richmond, Virginia in a family filled with careers in math and science. So after high school, much to my parents' dismay, off I went to a liberal arts school in Fredericksburg. At Mary Washington College, a wonderful Biology professor suggested I consider going to medical school. And so I did.
While in medical school at The Medical College of Virginia, the patients I felt most connected to was those that had functional and physical challenges limiting their independence. I realized that my love of physics and engineering (thanks mom and dad) made the specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation the perfect medical career path for me.
I completed my residency at MCV and then began my Pediatric Rehabilitation career at CHKD. My husband and I relocated to Orlando, Florida for a few years for me to start up a pediatric rehabilitation program at Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital and then we chose to return to Virginia and CHKD in 2014.
SMILE represents the same fundamentals that I strive to emphasize in my medical practice: Education, Encouragement, and Empowerment. I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful organization.
Katrina Lesher, MD
Courtney Rudiger grew up among the cornfields of Plainfield, Illinois. After earning her BA in mathematics/pre-medicine from Augustana College and her MS in epidemiology from The University of Iowa, she headed to the East Coast to begin her public health career, currently residing in Virginia Beach with her four-year-old son, Jace.
Courtney is an accomplished data analyst focusing on public health, epidemiology, and disease surveillance, with extensive experience in translating results into clear and concise outcomes to inform decisions on program management and policy development.
Her first position was a fellowship as an epidemiologist at the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center, Portsmouth, VA, where she contributed to the surveillance and analysis of healthcare-associated infections and multidrug-resistant organism infections among military beneficiaries. After completing her fellowship, she moved to a permanent position at NMCPHC, leading surveillance efforts for influenza, malaria, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. Her current role at NMCPHC is as a subject matter expert for disease surveillance and reporting in the Navy, establishing reporting requirements and managing surveillance programs.
Courtney Cook, MS
Founding Board Members
Melia Trost served as the President of the SMILE Board from 2010-2017. A native of Virginia, she graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science. She received her Certification in Non-Profit Management from Tidewater Community College in 2014.
Her family consists of her husband Joe and their two daughters Kristen and Samantha, their dog Stella, and cats Hera and Zeus.
Diane Hughes served as the founding treasurer for SMILE. She is a native of North Carolina. She is a graduate of North Carolina State Univesity where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. She earned her Masters of Business Administration from Regent University.
Diane is a Project Manager at L-3 Unidyne. Frank, her husband, is a Port Engineer for the Navy at ACU2. She has one daughter Nikki who is a kindergarten teacher in North Las Vegas.
Diane is a member of Our Savior Lutheran Church.
She first met the Trost family in 1990 at Emmanuel Lutheran Church.
Ellen Rostov Hundley
Ellen is a native of the Hampton Roads area and has spent her entire professional career in Public Education. She has been in Public Education for thirty-four years and twenty-seven of those years have been at Lynnhaven Middle School as the Student Activity Coordinator. Ellen is happily married to Richard Hundley and proud Stepmother of McKenna, Kiley and Zach Hundley.
Ellen has had numerous opportunities to impact positively many of the youth that has attended Lynnhaven Middle School through her passion and involvement with a broad range of Community Service Projects. It was through Ellen’s twelve-year commitment to Relay for Life that she and the Trost family became intricately involved in one another’s lives, leading to Ellen’s involvement with SMILE.
Michelle Nielsen, DPT
Michele is a native of Virginia Beach and is a Physical Therapist. It was during her tenure at Atlantic Physical Therapy that she initially met Samantha Trost, an amazing young lady who had come for physical therapy following a limb salvage procedure due to cancer.
They quickly became friends and their bond grew throughout Sam’s various treatments including an above knee amputation. They shared a common goal to help children suffering from life-threatening conditions and Michele plans to fulfill their goal through SMILE.