Our Board of Directors

Officers

Joanne R. Strauss – President

Joanne is an attorney and currently serves as Corporate Labor Relations Counsel for Healthcare Services Group, Inc. In her role as in-house labor counsel, she handles labor arbitrations and matters before the National Labor Relations Board, regularly negotiates collective bargaining agreements, and assists with navigating union organizing activities and contract administration matters. Joanne is responsible for providing practical, business-oriented legal advice regarding all areas of labor law and labor relations to internal clients including senior leadership, management, and human resources. Joanne also handles employment law matters before administrative agencies throughout the continental United States. Joanne has worked as a consultant advising clients on human resources issues such as recruitment, policy preparation, compliance, audits, employee relations, training, workplace culture and terminations. Joanne previously worked at an Illinois based tax firm where she provided tax advice to closely held businesses across the country. In previous roles in the public sector, Joanne was a human resources executive, held in-house counsel positions with a focus on labor and employment law, state and local tax law and litigation, and clerked for the Honorable Lillian Harris Ransom. Joanne received her Master of Laws in Taxation from Villanova University School of Law, her law degree from Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Creighton University. Joanne is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and before the United States Tax Court. Joanne is honored to be part of an unwavering organization that is unapologetic in its commitment to eliminate all forms of sexual violence.

Anne Andres – Vice-President

Anne Andres is Program Manager at Compass, a nonprofit providing pro bono strategic consulting to other nonprofits. Before formally joining Compass, Anne was a volunteer on five Compass projects, four of which as a Project Leader. Previously, Anne was Vice President at Jones Lang LaSalle focused on real estate investment. Anne’s career has also included real estate market research and acquisitions at Clarion Partners as well as investment research at Cambridge Associates. Anne received her MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and BA from Dickinson College. Anne enjoys additional nonprofit board and committee membership.

Jessica Mertz – Secretary

Jessica Mertz is the Executive Director of Clery Center, a national nonprofit dedicated to college and university campus safety. Jessica leads a team of experts in providing guidance to campus officials on how to meet standards of the Jeanne Clery Act and to build effective prevention and response programs. Prior to Clery Center, Jessica spent 10 years at the University of Pennsylvania where she was the founding Director of Penn Violence Prevention, a department dedicated to preventing dating violence, sexual violence, and stalking. In previous roles Jessica was a victim advocate, domestic violence counselor, and community educator. Jessica completed a certificate in Nonprofit Administration from the Fels Institute of Government, received her M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers, and her B.A. from St. Joseph’s University.


Lisa Minniti – Treasurer

Lisa Minniti-Soska, CPA, is a Partner in the Real Estate Group at Marks Paneth LLP, serving general construction, construction management, homebuilders and specialty contractor clients. Ms. Minniti-Soska has more than 20 years of experience delivering expert accounting and auditing services, including tax preparation and planning, business consulting, forecasts and projections, capital and debt financing, and mergers and acquisitions support. Her other clients come from a variety of industries, with a focus on the real estate sector.

Ms. Minniti-Soska received the 2016 Women of Distinction Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal for her efforts as one of the region’s most influential businesswomen. She was also honored by the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accounts as a recipient of the 2018 Women to Watch Award.

Prior to joining Marks Paneth, Ms. Minniti-Soska was the head of the Construction Group at a national accounting firm.

Members-At-Large

Patrice E. Heller, Ph.D., LMFT

Patrice is a PA licensed psychologist, LMFT and Rabbi. She provides therapy to individuals and couples as part of her private practice, Dr. Patrice Heller Psychotherapy and Rabbinical Services, in Philadelphia and Ambler, Pennsylvania. Patrice has served as a Rabbi in the greater Philadelphia community for nearly 40 years. Patrice served at Rodeph Shalom, Temple Shalom of Broomall, and the Reform Community at University of Pennsylvania, among other congregational settings. She currently provides counseling and officiation for life cycle ceremonies (e.g. weddings, funerals) as well as teaching. Patrice has also been an Adjunct Professor of psychology at Temple University since 2006. Her undergraduate Human Sexuality, Trauma and Resilience and Family Systems courses have included WOAR’s superb clinicians and educators who engaged and expanded the professor and students’ awareness and knowledge about sexual violence. This was the beginning of Patrice’s dedicated passion for WOAR’s mission, and she is deeply honored to serve on the Board.

Lydia A. Henry, Principal

Lydia is the CEO of Vision Coach Dynamics, Coaching and Consulting in Philadelphia. She is a certified professional Executive Leadership Coach. She holds a Master’S degree in Human Services from Lincoln University.

Lydia’s corporate and leadership background spans successful careers in national and international marketing and sales with AT&T Global Services and Xerox Corporation. She is the recipient of the Philadelphia Urban League’s “Cecil Moore Leadership Award” and a graduate of the Leadership Institute.

Lydia created and co-produced two international women’s conferences: “Transitions: Navigating Change and Embracing Life” in Bermuda 2014 and “The Global Women’s Business and Professional Exchange” in Accra, Ghana West Africa, 2018.

She serves on the Board of Directors of SD Prism Dance Theater, New York, NY and Martha’s Compassion, Accra, Ghana. She is a member of the Pagus Africa – Center for Achievement Advisory Council, headquartered in Norristown, PA and in the Volta Region in Ghana.


Beverly Richards, Ph.D.

Beverly Richards holds a B.S. in Education, M.Ed. in Counseling, and a PhD in Counseling Psychology. She is a certified psychotherapist and stress management specialist.

Beverly’s professional employment spans three decades of combined work in education and mental health. She has been a caseworker, and a high school English teacher and guidance counselor. She has worked as a therapist and trainer for Women in Transition, an HIV/AIDS educator and master trainer for The National Institute of Health, Princeton University, The University of Pennsylvania, and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Beverly has also designed curriculum, facilitated groups, and lectured for Keystone First and Amerihealth Caritas. Beverly continues to be a consultant and psychotherapist in private practice. Beverly currently serves on the board of WOAR, Intercultural Family Services, Studio for Sexual Health Wellness and Education, and SD Prism Dance.

Frank Perras

Frank Perras has consulted in the areas of individual and organization performance through process improvement, human capital performance, change management, executive coaching, and leadership development. Frank has provided services to executives and senior leaders for many clients including several government agencies, Fortune 500, and regional firms. His expertise is also called upon to work with C-level executives to design enterprise strategies and solutions,

Previously, Mr. Perras was a Principal at CCI Consulting, a human resource consulting firm delivering executive coaching, leadership development, career transition, and human resource consulting. Prior to CCI Consulting, Mr. Perras was a Partner at Accenture, PLC in the human capital practice, leading large change management projects and improving call center results. He also worked at Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) leading large process reengineering projects.

Mr. Perras also provides consulting services to Compass, a nonprofit which consult with other nonprofits and is a Commissioner on his township’s “Shade Tree Commission.”

Mr. Perras has been active as a board member at WOAR – Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence where he has served in several leadership positions, most recently as President of the Board. He is also a Board Member for Ayres Lighting Group in South Easton, MA. Previously he was Chairman of the Board of Fellows for the PhD Program in Organizational Leadership at Eastern University and taught entrepreneurial skills for Junior Achievement of the Delaware Valley. Mr. Perras holds an MBA from Drexel University and a BS in Mathematics from Villanova University.


Simon Trowell

A Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemist by training, Simon has spent his career working in research and development in the pharmaceutical industry. He grew up and was educated in the United Kingdom, spending the first part of his working life in respiratory clinical research. In 2002, an opportunity to lead a US based team, brought Simon to Philadelphia, originally making his home in Center City. Simon met his husband the same year and they now live just outside the city. Simon’s current role is in Quality Risk Management with a focus on pharmaceutical and vaccine clinical research. He is also an Executive Sponsor of his company’s LGBT Employee Resource Group. Outside of work, Simon enjoys exercising, cooking, and reading and is also an active volunteer with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Medical Reserve Corps.

Simon joined the WOAR Board in March 2020 and is also a member of the Development Committee.

Gilbert Lynn Marks

Gilbert ‘Lynn’ Marks, MD has over 30 years of experience in the field of infectious diseases and as a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry. He led the infectious disease therapy area for GlaxoSmithKline for a decade and later retired as a Senior Vice President in R&D, with accountability as Chief Research Practices Officer across the Pharmaceutical, Vaccines, and Consumer Healthcare R&D organizations, as well as being Senior Clinical Advisor for Infectious Diseases. His extensive experience ranges across antibacterials, antivirals, including HIV/AIDS, and neglected tropical diseases. For over 10 years, he has also served on the Scientific Advisory Board for the TB Alliance and the Polio Antiviral initiative. Currently, he is a Vice President at Tunnell Government Services and, as a contractor, supports the Office of the Director for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) focusing on emerging infectious disease threats, antimicrobial resistance, and the clinical development of medical countermeasures. In addition, Dr. Marks is a member of the Advisory Committee for the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at NIH and Co-Chairs the Cures Acceleration Network Review Board for NCATS. Most recently, he joined the Scientific Review Board for the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), the leading nonprofit product development partnership (PDP) in the field of antimalarial drug research and development. Dr. Marks’ career began with a faculty position at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in the Infectious Diseases group where he held teaching and patient care responsibilities, as well as a NIH-funded “Physician Scientist Award” investigating molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenicity. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases.

Susan Del Maestro, Ph.D

Susan Del Maestro is a licensed Clinical Psychologist with a specialization in Trauma. She has a thirty-year career at the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia and is currently the Training Director of the Psychology Internship and Residency Programs and a clinician on the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinical Team. Susan has been a member of the Board of WOAR since 2016 serving as its Secretary for the past four years and as a member of the Strategic Planning Committee. She is dedicated to supporting WOAR’s mission and all that WOAR provides to the citizens of Philadelphia. Throughout her professional career, she has seen firsthand the devastating, life-interrupting impact of sexual violence and believes that WOAR plays a vital role in the prevention of sexual trauma through its unique outreach, education and clinical programs.

Susan Melle

Susan is a Senior Finance Director supporting financial planning and analysis for a local pharmaceutical company where she has worked for almost 30 years. She grew up locally and is very proud of her Norristown and Philadelphia roots. She currently lives in Phoenixville. She has her undergraduate degree in Finance from Penn State University and her MBA from St. Joseph’s University. She is an active volunteer supporting some local foodbanks and family shelters in Montgomery County. Outside of work, Susan enjoys hiking, supporting local restaurants often and traveling whenever she can. Susan joined the WOAR Board in January 2021.

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