The Foundation is an autonomous body organized in 1984 by an initiative of the Haywood County Board of Education. Board members are Haywood County residents whose commitment to education is reflected in their personal service and dedication to Haywood County Schools.
Jenny Wood Valliere has been the Executive Director for the Haywood County Schools Foundation since August 2011. With a passion for public education, Jenny was previously a teacher at Jonathan Valley Elementary School. She taught first and second grade there for 14 years. Jenny believes all children deserve a right to a free, quality education. She is a strong advocate for the schools, employees, and students of Haywood County Schools. Jenny serves as a board member on the Haywood County Arts Council, NC Public Schools Forum, Southwestern Workforce Development Board, and Haywood County Association of Educators and is the current president of the Altrusa Club of Waynesville. Jenny also serves on the State Employees Credit Union Advisory Board and Champion Credit Union Board of Directors. Jenny earned an associates degree in Applied Science from Haywood Community College, a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Elementary Education at Western Carolina University and a second master’s degree in Executive Leadership from Gardner Webb University.
Hylah Birenbaum (President) has lived in Haywood County for more than 20 years. She has operated a bed and breakfast for the past 10 years, and has also worked in advertising sales. Hylah’s two children are currently enrolled in Haywood County Schools. “I want to help provide scholarships to kids in need and helps teachers with projects that the state is unable to fund. Haywood County Schools does so much good for our community, and I want everyone to see that.”
Bria Davis has been employed with HomeTrust Bank since October of 2009. She is the Branch Sales and Service Manager in the Waynesville branch. She currently serves as the Treasurer for The Altrusa Club of Waynesville and as the 2015 United Way Campaign Coordinator. Bria is married to Keith Davis, a chef at Sierra Nevada in Mills River, and a mother of two boys, Drake(12) and Brendan(4).
Yvonne Hart worked in Haywood County Schools where she primarily taught Language Arts/Social Studies for 35 years at what is now Waynesville Middle School. She has BS degree in Elementary Education from University of Dayton (Ohio) and Master’s Degree from Western Carolina University in Gifted & Talented Education. Throughout her teaching career Yvonne held most officer positions in NCAE at the local and district levels. She was a member of the NCAE Board of Directors. She advocated and chaired the committee that achieved the first local supplement for our teachers and principals. She is currently on local & district NCRSP Board of Directors and NEA Retired Elections Committee. “Being on the HCS Foundation Board is a natural extension of the many years that I have been supporting the children, teachers, and other education employees. Anything I can contribute to the success of our education program here in Haywood County is very gratifying.”
Vicki Hyatt began working at The Mountaineer in 1996 and has been the editor since 2003. She lives in Bethel with her husband, Rich, a 1972 Tuscola High School graduate. Once their two sons, Cole and Shay (both Pisgah High School and Western Carolina University graduates) were grown, they began a cattle operation — Sunburst Beef, LLC. She is a University of Montana graduate with a degree in journalism and has served in the Montana House of Representatives and as a Stillwater County commissioner in Montana where she grew up. “My time on the Haywood County School Foundation board has truly been rewarding. If the organization did nothing more than award scholarships to college-bound students each spring, it would be plenty. But there’s so much more — the gift cards to school employees, mini-grants to teachers for special projects and the list goes on. The most exciting project on the horizon is partnering with State Employees Credit Union to provide affordable teacher housing units in Haywood.
Dann Jesse has served on the Haywood County Schools Foundation board since 2011. He is the systems engineering manager at Evergreen Packaging in Canton. Dann’s wife, Mary, is a retired Haywood County Schools teacher and his daughter, Heather, graduated from Pisgah High School in 2012. Dann is a 1980 graduate of Miami (Ohio) University where he received his B.S. in Pulp and Paper Engineering.
Bruce Johnson is the owner and president of Champion Supply, a janitorial supply distributor based in Asheville. Prior to Champion Supply, Bruce worked as an engineer at Hipotronics in Brewster, N.Y. and worked in various management positions with Harrah’s Casinos for 11 years, including Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. Bruce has a degree in Engineering from Duke University and an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA. Along with serving on the HCSF board, Bruce sits boards for the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, Region A Partnership for Children, Haywood County Economic Development Council, and various lay positions with First United Methodist Church of Waynesville. Bruce lives in Waynesville with his wife and three children.
Lynn Milner is proud to be a product of Haywood county Schools. She is a retired teacher and principal who is now the Vice Chair of the Board of Education. She was the Regional TOY in 1980 and the Regional POY in 2000. “The Foundation is vitally important to help maintain our excellent school system. The scholarships, grants, and other special programs enhance the work of our outstanding staff members.”
Tom Posey was a founding member of the Haywood County Schools Foundation Board of Directors in 1983. He has served on the board continuously for over 30 years. As a retired Haywood County Schools administrator, Tom has a history of support for both Haywood County Schools and the Haywood County Schools Foundation. Tom and his late wife, Pat, a former Haywood County Schools teacher, have endowed a scholarship through the foundation to insure a community college education to a Haywood County Schools graduate.
Selena Williamson is a lifelong Haywood County resident, mother of two current HCS students, and a proud Haywood County Schools graduate. She has been employed with State Employees Credit Union for 19 years, and she is currently the VP/City Executive of the Waynesville branch. Selena enjoys volunteering with the Waynesville Youth Basketeball board, and she is currently the treasurer for the Waynesville Middle School Athletic Booster. Selena lives in Maggie Valley with her husband, Jeff, and their two children. “I have a keen interest in serving on the Foundation board. I want to do my part to help ensure that our schools remain strong for all students, educators, and staff.”
Lisa Brown was born and raised in Haywood County, and she’s a 1980 Tuscola graduate. She has an Associates degree from Haywood Community College in Horticulture Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Carolina in Business / Entrepreneurship. Lisa is the Association Executive of the Haywood County Board of Realtors and has been with that organization for more than 15 years. In addition to the HCSF board, she also serves on the board of directors for Haywood Habitat for Humanity. “I believe strongly in the mission of the Schools Foundation because public education affords every child the opportunity to make their own way in the world.”
Rufus Dale has been a Board Member of the Haywood Schools Foundation since 1998. He is the owner and operator of RDS, a local business providing furnishings and equipment for public libraries and schools since 1988. Prior to opening RDS, he was President and owner of Dale Industries. He has been in Haywood County since 1962. Coming from a family of educators and being trained as a teacher, public education has always been a priority. Being a part of the Foundation Board provides a unique opportunity to assist in providing material for the teachers of Haywood County that otherwise would not be provided. Linking that with the long standing program of providing scholarships to the deserving students of Haywood County makes serving on the Foundation Board one his most rewarding community service activities.
Dale Jackson taught school in her hometown of Washington, DC. She moved to California and finally made her way to North Carolina. She taught school for 30 years in Haywood County. After retirement, Dale worked for Western Carolina University in the Mentoring Program and with the Lateral Entry teachers. She has been a member and held officer positions in NCAE and NCRSP at the local level and currently is Associate Director at the District level. The children and education issues have always been a priority. “As a member of HCS Foundation Board, I have been so lucky to see our school staff and students achieve excellence. This community cares and it shows”.
Chad McMahon is a lifelong Haywood County resident and product of Haywood County Schools. He owns a State Farm Insurance Agency in Waynesville, is married to Deidre McMahon, and they have two sons named Parker (WMS) and Leyton (Junaluska Elementary). Chad graduated with a B.S in Business Management from North Carolina State University and also as an MBA from Western Carolina University. In addition to serving on HCSF, he is active with the Haywood County United Way, Waynesville Rotary Club, and coaching youth sports.
Kathy Lance along with her husband, Gary, own L.N. Davis Insurance Agency. The agency is one of two original family-owned businesses in downtown Waynesville. Kathy has served as the past president of the Independent Insurance Agents of NC – the first female to hold that position in the organization’s history. Kathy has also served as president of the Greater Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, WCU Catamount Club, and REACH of Haywood County. She has been the vice-president of the Haywood County Schools Foundation.
Chuck Francis is Chairman of the Haywood County Schools Board of Education. He is employed by Coastal AgroBusiness, an agricultural supplies company based in Greenville, NC. Chuck is married to Vicki Francis and they have three grown children and two grandchildren.
Matt Wells (Vice President) is the mortgage sales manager at Champion Credit Union in Canton, NC. Originally from Rutherford County, NC, Matt has called Haywood County home since 2006. He has served on numerous boards over the years, including the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, Mountain Projects, Downtown Waynesville Association and the Red Cross. Matt enjoys spending time with his three children, writing on his blog and actively training for triathlons, with a goal of completing an Ironman triathlon in 2019. “While I’m not a product of Haywood County Schools, I have a passion in doing all that I can to help our public-school system be the best it can be.”