Because I said I would owes so much of our success to our full time, part time employees, and especially our volunteers. Thank you to everyone who has helped make this movement what it is and what it will become.
Founder & CEO
Alex Sheen is the Founder of because I said I would, the international social movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept. Sparked by the loss of his father, Alex began sending promise cards to anyone who requested them at no cost. Since his father’s passing on September 4th, 2012, because I said I would has sent over 11.3M Promise Cards to over 153 countries. Alex’s commitment to the betterment of humanity has inspired millions around the world. The story of his promises have been shared virally throughout social media and international news.
Before his life as nonprofit leader, Alex was a Corporate Strategy Lead at Hyland Software, an organization featured in Fortune’s 2014 Best Companies to Work in the United States. As the youngest manager in a global company with over 1,500 employees, he established and managed Hyland’s corporate-wide Innovation Program. Alex decided to leave this life and pursue a life of philanthropy and service after the loss of his father.
Chief Promise Dog
Our office dog, Kimchi, is the daughter of our Founder, Alex Sheen. Her black and white colors match our brand and the essence of a promise perfectly. Promises are either kept or broken, there is no grey area. She loves to visit our rooms throughout the day for progress updates and official petting time. Kimchi spends her afternoons snoring on the office couch and dreaming of a world where everyone loved their fellow humans as much as they loved their pets. Kimchi is 12 years old, diabetic and a cancer survivor.
In her spare time, Kimchi enjoys snoozing, giving kisses, bringing each of us toys and cuddling with her mom.
Amanda Messer is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at because I said I would. At a young age Amanda learned the effect that promises broken have on relationships. Her father struggled with addiction and was not good with keeping his commitments to his little girl. Amanda was drawn to helping start because I said I would knowing that there are other children whose lives are deeply affected by broken promises. In November of 2013, Amanda became our first full-time employee after over a year of volunteering her time to the cause.
As the youngest of five children, Amanda grew up in Lorain, OH. Prior to co-founding because I said I would, she worked at Hyland Software – one of Fortune magazine’s top 100 places to work in the United States. Amanda has also served as the Vice President for the Cleveland User Experience Professionals Association. She currently resides in Lakewood, OH with her son, Trent, and her dogs, Miska (pronounced Meesh-ka), and Rocket.
VP of Development
Molly has spent her career uniting philanthropists and partners with social movements and humanitarian organizations to increase smart solutions to the world’s biggest problems. She has managed partnerships with foundations, multi-national corporations, international NGO’s, and high net worth individuals. Partnerships include multi-million, multi-year initiatives that meet cause-based objectives while advancing corporate social responsibility goals. She is committed to applying business rigor to grassroots organizations.
While she has lived in St. Louis, Madrid, Boston, and most recently, Washington, D.C. she is proud to call Cleveland, Ohio home again. When Molly isn’t busy building creative partnerships for good she is listening and playing music with her family, usually near a body of water.
VP of Chapter Programs
Sherry joined because I said I would in June 2018 as the Vice President of Chapters Programs. Sherry’s 30 years of nonprofit experience includes volunteer leadership recruitment and engagement, chapter and regional management, major gifts, fundraising, programs and professional development.
Prior to coming to because I said I would, Sherry was a Regional Director, Vice President for the national walk program and created the volunteer engagement strategic initiative for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. She spent 21 years at the March of Dimes and held several national and regional positions. She was also the State Director for the Ohio Chapter.
Sherry is passionate about supporting volunteers and ensuring that they maximize the impact they want to make in their communities. Sherry attended the University of Wisconsin and received her Masters Degree from John Carroll University in Cleveland Ohio.
Sherry enjoys to read and is an avid sports fan, especially the Cleveland Indians baseball team. She walks 12 miles per week and even completed a half marathon. She is very proud of her son and twin daughters who are all doing important work in their respective cities.
VP of Character Education
Kay Spatafore joined because I said I would in July of 2018 as the VP of Character Education. Kay is a seasoned educator with experience in educational administration, curriculum development, management, coaching and mentoring, and classroom instruction. Most recently, Kay was the Director of Programming for an educational nonprofit in Cleveland, OH where she developed programs for Middle school, high school, and parent engagement including internship programs and summer camps.
Kay is a native of Ohio but spent much of her adult life in California, where she was the Director of Fine Arts at a large southern CA high school. In that role, she participated in the development of state curriculum, created a Mentor teacher program, and pioneered programs in the Arts and classroom education.
In her spare time, Kay connects with her adult children, Dylan, Taylor, Katherine and Rhys, reads, writes, builds things and spends time outdoors with her two furry kids, Leo and Tug.
Executive Assistant to the Founder
Julie is the Executive Assistant to the Founder, Alex Sheen. She manages Alex’s extremely complex calendar and plans all of his travel. Julie is a crucial part of the because I said I would team because she keeps Alex organized and, more importantly, gets him where he needs to be and ON TIME for all of his speaking engagements. She has more than 15 years’ experience as an Executive Assistant and has extensive knowledge and skill in travel planning, event management and calendaring.
Since joining the team, Julie has found that what she appreciates most about being part of the movement is the direct impact that because I said I would is making in the lives of others. She loves being part of a team of people that are doing something for the greater good.
Julie lives in Westlake, OH with her two dogs. In her spare time, she enjoys camping, and spending time with family and friends.
Director of Speaking Engagements
Tonya Grimes comes to our organization with a rich background in sales, marketing, speaking, business & product development, education, fundraising, and nonprofit management. She is thrilled to continue her career trek with organizations that make a difference.
After living in Bedford, PA for 50 years, she packed up her clothes and moved to Cleveland to work for because I said I would as the Director of Speaking Engagements. Tonya’s proudest achievement was raising her four children who are engaged in making a difference in society with their own careers and lives: Caleb, Hannah, Josh, and Lydia.
Tonya loves playing sports, with basketball and volleyball being her favorites…and in her mind, she still plays like she is 25 years old! An avid sports fan, she is thinking she will need to exchange her black and gold Steelers garb for new Cleveland Browns garb now that she is an Ohio resident…although she is having a bit more difficulty exchanging her Penn State shirts for Ohio State shirts, (although forced, on occasion, because of losing bets)! OH! IO! Who knew one could travel the country and this is a recognized statement with an echo!
Senior Motion Graphics Designer
Pete has been interested in creating images and telling stories ever since he was a little guy. As he got older, he realized that all the time he spent drawing, (to avoid homework), was actually a skill set that he could use in his adult life. He went to Rhode Island School of Design and majored in “old school” Illustration. Pen & ink, watercolor, oils…no computers back then, no sir! Upon graduating, he spent the next 20 years creating greeting cards, kid’s books, as well as magazine and newspaper illustration. After animating his first eCard, he was hooked on motion graphics and has been making pixels move ever since. When not talking kid’s book ideas with his wife, Jenny, film projects with his daughter Bailey, or watching Chelsea hitting home runs in softball, Pete likes to carve wood, tie fly fishing lures and test them out on the Rocky River.
Senior Chapter Relationship Manager
Cassie is a Senior Chapter Relationship Manager at because I said I would. She manages Chapters across the country, developing relationships, leading meetings and weekly calls, and streamlining processes. Cassie received a degree in Apparel Merchandising and Product Development with a minor in Marketing from Bowling Green State University in 2013. Having worked in sales and merchandising for some time, she greatly enjoys being able to use her knowledge to work for an organization that helps others and can truly make a difference.
As a native of Lakewood, OH, Cassie heard of the movement by chance, stumbling upon our previous location on Detroit Ave. Looking up the movement online led to many hours watching promise stories and she joined the because I said I would team in September of 2015.
In her spare time she enjoys reading and spending time with family and friends.
Chapter Relationship Manager
Jennifer joined the team as a Chapter Relationship Manager at because I said I would in 2018. She manages Chapters by developing relationships, leading meetings and weekly calls, and streamlining processes.
Jennifer received her Bachelor of Arts from Cleveland State University and majored in Nonprofit Business Management. A supporter of because I said I would since 2015, Jennifer believes deeply in the importance of a promise and the ability of one person to make a difference. Her involvement in the Cleveland Chapter has greatly influenced her ability to make and keep promises to herself and others, including advocating for mental health and volunteering in areas of suicide prevention. She is passionate about her volunteer work with Crisis Text Line, a 24/7 hotline dedicated to helping others anywhere in the U.S. in any type of crisis (if you are in crisis, text 741-741 to be matched with a trained crisis counselor).
Jennifer is also a proud resident of Elyria where she lives with her significant other, Steve, and their pets, Chevy and Charlie.
Shannon is an Event Manager at because I said I would. She helps to secure Speaking Engagements for our speakers and plans and executes fundraising, volunteer and other projects.
Shannon graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and double majored in Communications and Psychology. After college, she managed several multi-million dollar accounts at one of the top ad agencies in Pittsburgh, then took a big leap of faith when she decided to move to Washington DC and work for a start-up called LivingSocial. She was a Senior Project Manager on the Operations team. (Fun fact: When she started, there were only 40 people on one floor, and it quickly grew to over 5,000!) She has great pride to have been apart of their rising and amazing success. When she got married, they moved to Cleveland, and she got heavily involved in the event and wedding industry. She was a wedding planner and New Business Manager at A Charming Fete, as well as Director of Business Development at RedSpace downtown.
Her, her husband and their rescue dog reside in Bay Village near the lake. Shannon is a lover of coffee, fashion, entertaining, her family, Pinterest, and inspirational quotes! She is a strong advocate for mental health and extremely passionate about self love and rebuilding one’s life. She hopes her promise and commitment to her own recovery helps encourage and inspire others.
Program Impact Manager
Nicole Clevenger brings more than 13 years of experience in Evidence-based social work practice to her role as Program Impact Manager for because I said I would. Nicole was drawn to this movement because of her career-long commitment to helping individuals living with brain disorders–and the nonprofit organizations that help them– to reach their fullest potential. Prior to joining the team at because I said I would, Nicole worked as a Consultant and Trainer at the Center for Evidence-based Practices at Case Western Reserve University where she also completed a Master of Science degree in Social Administration.
Nicole lives in Lake County with her two sons and her dog Harley. She enjoys dancing, reading, and writing poetry.
Special Projects Associate
For Eric it was an honor to join because I said I would in early 2018, where he contributes to the management of the book project and collaborates as a member of the Speaking Engagements Team. Compassion is something that he highly values and strives to practice, and for sure this integral element within the because I said I would Code of Honor underscores the importance of living that out.
In both work and volunteer capacities Eric has served in many sectors of the nonprofit world – focusing especially on fundraising, customer relations, and all aspects of special events. In addition, Eric’s passions for live performance and family entertainment & enrichment have been fulfilled throughout his career plus a wealth of rewarding activities. From SeaWorld to St. Ignatius of Antioch church, from Walt Disney World to Near West Theatre and many in between … he has been seen on the stages, in the offices, behind the scenes, in the choir lofts, and volunteering at events.
Eric also finds joy in hiking and walks, trips to Cedar Point, cultural heritage festivals, gardening, and country music.
Interested in joining our staff?
Check out our open opportunities!
Dr. Trisha Hernandez
Character Education Specialist
Trisha is our Character Education Specialist and works from her stand up desk in her Wisconsin home. She is not one that likes to sit still, let alone sit for an extended period of time. Trisha is a proud UW Badger alumni, completing her PhD in Communication from UW – Madison in 2012. Upon graduation she accepted her dream job: a tenured track faculty position in Southern California. She was the Director of the undergraduate degree in Communication and also developed an online master’s degree in Communication.
Trisha has an irresistible desire to travel. She has participated in service projects in Uganda, Rwanda, Taiwan, Israel, and Malaysia.
Trisha heard a presentation from our Founder, Alex, at a conference. Through a series of unique circumstances, Trisha made a difficult decision. She packed up her California dream job to move to Cleveland, OH and fill the only open position we had open at the time. Alex’s Executive Assistant. She was quickly promoted to the VP of Character Education and held that position for 3 years. However, because of her love for teaching, Trisha has stepped down from her role as VP and is once again a professor at the Marian University of Fond du Lac.
When Trisha is not working on helping advance the movement, you will find her running, paddle boarding, cooking, or sitting anywhere near water or a fire.