Our Team

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.



Alex Sheen

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 9.81M 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.


Kimchi Sheen

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


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 dog, Miska (pronounced Meesh-ka).

Molly Hanley

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.

Sherry Rosenfeld

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.

Kay Spatafore

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.


Julie Cartmill

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.

Chris Smithhisler

Director of Chapter Programs and Training

Chris brings over 20 years of curriculum development and training experience to her role as Director of Chapter Programs and Training. Prior to joining the because I said I would team, Chris has held a variety of professional roles working with college students most recently serving as Assistant Vice President for Education and Training for Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority. Her passion is in developing leadership and character education programming.

Chris received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hiram College and her Masters of Science in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University.

Chris lives in Valley City, North Dakota with her husband and two pugs. Her twin daughters are currently pursuing their undergraduate degrees. She is an avid reader, art enthusiast, and loves to bake.

Aaron Calafato-Collier

Director of Social Marketing

Aaron is a Communicator, Storyteller and Podcast Host.

His career has centered on telling meaningful stories, creating inspiring content and engaging audiences about changing the world for the better.

This first started when he helped co-found the first digital platform for student debtors called studentdebtcrisis.org. There he helped managed digital and creative campaigns that catered to a 1 million person email list and brought the discourse of student debt reform to the national consciousness. Then, he took his experience as a performer and public speaker and parlayed that into a vocation as award-winning storyteller. His monologues, stories, and events have been screened and staged over 250 times in 20 states.

Most recently, after four years serving as the Director of Marketing for University Circle United Methodist Church, Aaron launched a storytelling and a conversation podcast (The Connect). The Podcast is listed as a must-listen podcast by the Plain Dealer and voted the best non-sports podcast in 2018 by the staff of Cleveland Scene.

Pete Whitehead

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.


Cassie Perez

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.

Jennifer Dziak

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 Baker

Event Manager

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.

Nicole Clevenger

Program Impact Manager

Nicole Clevenger brings more than 13 years of experience in Evidence-based social work practice to her new 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.

Nate McGrady

Fulfillment Manager

Nate joined because I said I would in August of 2018 as the Fulfillment Manager and could not be more thrilled. With experience in customer service, sales, and marketing he is excited to take on this new challenging role. He is looking forward to the natural growth because I said I would will provide, and plans to learn as much as possible. Nate graduated from Cleveland State University in December of 2016 with a bachelors in communication. He loves Cleveland sports: Cavs, Browns, and Indians; and will be forever grateful for the championship we witnessed in 2016. He has one pet cat named Sam that he rescued from Cleveland APL about 4 years ago. Sam has helped Nate become a more responsible individual in society.

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.

Therese McDonnell


Therese joined because I said I would in March 2016 as our Bookkeeper. She handles most aspects of the financial side of the organization and our facilities management. Her background includes working in the for-profit sector of manufacturing and construction fields. She enjoys the challenge and variety of the day to day financial transactions occurring with our nonprofit organization.

Therese heard of because I said I would through a friend who was looking to do volunteer work and passed on the information that we were looking for a Bookkeeper. Within a month of the first introduction, she was on board.

Therese likes to keep active playing tennis and stays busy with her growing family.

Meg Ostrowksi

Fulfillment and Office Assistant

Meg is an Office and Fulfillment Associate supporting staff with data maintenance, order processing, speaking engagement logistics, inventory management, product forecasting, vendor research and office upkeep. Initially a volunteer, Meg was drawn to because I said I would with a deep belief that promises made and kept build stronger relationships and reduce suffering. Meg hopes to make a meaningful impact by serving the organization with her years of work, volunteer and life experience.

Gary Rick

Development Manager

Gary joined because I said I would in August 2018 as the part-time Development Manager. He has a great deal of experience including facility management, volunteer leadership, fundraising, programs and community development.

Prior to coming to because I said I would, Gary was the Executive Director of the Lakewood YMCA from 2012-2018. Overall, he spent more than 30 years with the YMCA in PA, NC and OH. He was also a trainer for YMCA of the USA in a number of categories. In addition to his YMCA career, he spent 4 years from 2007-2011 as a fundraising consultant with Jeffrey Byrne and Associates where he led a number of fundraising feasibility studies, worked on capital campaigns and led capacity building efforts with a variety of nonprofits. He has significant major gift experience as well, securing the lead gift for the YMCA of Greater Cleveland’s new Parker Hannifin branch downtown.

Gary is an avid scuba diver and a big sports fan. He is journal writer and has compiled 72 handwritten journals over the last 18 years. He loves to walk and five years ago walked all of the streets of Lakewood. He has a daughter of his own who lives in Atlanta and two adult stepchildren, and three step-grandchildren living in NC and WV.

Sung Beats


Sung is an award-winning beatbox artist who has been exploring music with the human voice for over 13 years. Equipped with nothing but a microphone and a loop pedal, he samples his voice to produce high energy live beatbox music without any pre-recorded background music.

A veteran performer and 2014 Apollo Night Champion at the world famous Apollo Theater, Sung joined the because I said I would team with the purpose of artistically conveying the importance of a promise through his music. Sung often joins Alex in speaking engagements, using his musical talent to entertain audiences and as tool to further spread our message.

Sung currently lives in NYC. He enjoys showcasing his craft on YouTube and works tirelessly to push the boundaries of what is possible with the human voice.

Interested in joining our staff?
Check out our open opportunities!

Volunteers and Interns

Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. Since 2012 we have distributed more than 9.81 million promise cards to over 150 different countries. We have also started Chapters around the United States and have created 7 Character Education Lesson Plans which are free to download. This would not have been possible without our volunteers.

Pat Bakos

Chief Volunteer

In 2014, Pat saw a newspaper article stating that because I said I would needed volunteers to count 10 cards that were being mailed to people who requested them. She has been volunteering ever since. Now Pat guides 2 wonderful groups of developmentally disabled adults who prepare the mailings. Pat states this is her favorite part of the week.

When she is not volunteering at because I said I would, Pat enjoys volunteering at other nonprofits, reading, selling her gem trees at craft shows and gardening.

Susan Rudman

Office Volunteer

Susan retired after many successful years as a human resources professional and wanted to remain involved with people. She heard about because I said I would after hearing Alex Sheen speak at Hospice of Western Reserve. Because I said I would kept her connected and involved in the mission. Every week Susan arrives at the office with a smile and ready to help out with promise cards, enter data and lend a hand anywhere.

Michelle McCue

Financial Volunteer

Michelle McCue, founder and CEO of Pinnacle Accountant in Lakewood Ohio, serves as because I said I would’s Financial Volunteer. She reviews and recommends best practices for finance and IT for our growing nonprofit.

Michelle attended Kent State University for her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Masters of Business Administration at Ashland University. She brings over 12 years of public accounting experience with a passion for nonprofits.

She has been using because I said I would promise cards for several years for her personal development.

Farid Sharifi

Chapter Program Intern

Farid joined because I said I would in September of 2018 as the Chapter program Intern. He is an undergraduate senior Economics major at Cleveland State University and is ready to graduate in December of 2018! As Chapter program Intern, Farid helps with various tasks including social media and event planning. He found out about because I said I would entirely by chance in 2017 by walking into our office suite from a neighboring suite because he was curious about our name and what we did. He had never even given much thought to making and keeping promises because promises in his family had always been cheap. So he was surprised and intrigued that there was an entire social movement dedicated to the concept. He started volunteering with Promise Cards, and the following year, he applied for this internship when he saw there were positions available.

Farid lives in Lakewood and likes writing fiction, learning dead languages, playing Pokemon Go, and working out in his spare time. He wants to visit Nepal and Bhutan someday.

Interested in joining our staff?
Check out our open opportunities!