Jenny Matthews brings more than fifteen years of experience working for nonprofits and associations to My Bag My Story. Foster care and adoption are Jenny’s passion, as every child deserves a loving and safe home to thrive. As a foster parent, Jenny has seen first hand that children really do arrive at foster homes with nothing but a trash bag holding a few belongings. This must change.
In her professional career, she helped establish A Step Ahead Foundation of Middle Tennessee in Nashville in 2015 and is the director. Since that time A Step Ahead has provided women’s healthcare for more than 2,000 clients.
Early in her career, Jenny worked for the county medical society directing their charity healthcare program for the uninsured. She was named by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as Nashville’s Top 30 Under 30 and is active with other non-profits outside of My Bag My Story, including the Arthritis Foundation and Young Leaders Council.
Jill Gonas has been on the Board of MBMS from its inception due to her commitment to advocate for children in foster care. She believes the lack of dignity afforded to these children is a significant issue attributing to long-term emotional and behavioral problems. MBMS exists to be a part of the solution in restoring that dignity.
Jill began her career in a Nashville-based investment and brokerage firm, J. C. Bradford & Co. for 13 years. She was a part of their Equity Research department and became an Investment Limited Partner. Jill was the co-chair of a successful fundraising campaign for a new library at Percy Priest Elementary. She then went back to school to become an educator, and currently works as a Math Specialist at New Hope Academy in Franklin.
Lesleigh’s desire to serve with youth and young adults brought her to Nashville to study at Vanderbilt Divinity School, where she received her Master’s of Divinity in 1998. Her professional career began as an Associate Minister at Woodmont Christian Church. In 2006, Lesleigh helped launch the Center for Youth Ministry Training where she still works and serves as the Graduate Residency Senior Director. Lesleigh also works as a lead consultant with Ministry Architects.
After volunteering and working with children and young adults for over 30 years, Lesleigh was drawn to the mission of My Bag My Story. While there is much work to be done in serving children in foster care, Lesleigh hopes that the small act of providing a bag shows children that they and their belongings matter.
Margaret Ikard is our board chair and has been involved with My Bag My Story since almost the beginning. Born and raised in Nashville, she is very passionate about helping grow good citizens in our community. Margaret has been on each side of non-profit as both a Development Director for a local nonprofit and as a volunteer. She currently serves as a volunteer for CASA where she advocates for abused and neglected children in the foster care system. Margaret has been a consultant for a high end women’s clothing line since 2003.
In her spare time, Margaret enjoys traveling with her family and friends, playing tennis, and hiking. She is also hard at work training her therapy dog, Cozy, so that she can do her part in our community as well.
serves as a liaison between My Bag My Story’s volunteer agency coordinators and their agency partners to provide bags to children in foster care. Nikol earned an Environmental Engineering degree and worked as an environmental scientist for the natural gas industry in Texas and Tennessee. Most recently, she served as a project consultant for a company providing relocation services to seniors. Nikol has a passion for volunteerism. Over the years, while raising her two children, Nikol has held a number of volunteer leadership roles in the Brentwood community, including Secretary of the City of Brentwood’s Environmental Advisory Board, a position which she currently holds, as well as PTO President at Scales Elementary School, board member of Brentwood Swim and Tennis Club, and alumni council member at Brentwood Academy. In addition, she has worked with Junior Achievement and Vanderbilt University’s recruitment committee.