Mom o’ Mike, president and CEO
Leslie spent more than 25 years as a reporter for daily newspapers in New York, New Jersey and finally in Asheville, NC, covering social justice issues, religion and nonprofits for most of that time. After the death of her younger son, Mike Danforth, on April 1, 2008, from not having access to health care, she founded Life o’ Mike to pursue the cause of getting affordable access to quality health care for all Americans.
In August 2009, Leslie left her career as a journalist to advocate full-time and to develop services that will help people who have serious illnesses or disabilities and their families. Leslie is married and has one surviving son and four grandchildren.
Andrew is a shareholder in the law firm of Patla, Straus, Robinson & Moore, P.A., where his practice focuses on developing and implementing comprehensive personal estate plans, assisting clients in navigating the estate administration and probate process, advising clients on how to deal with the costs of long-term care, asset preservation, insurance coverage, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, special needs trust development and implementation, and guardianship. Before moving to North Carolina, he completed a clerkship with the Kentucky Supreme Court. He earned his undergraduate degree in Business Economics from WesternKentucky University and law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University in 2000. He is licensed to practice law in Kentucky and North Carolina. Aside from his position on the board of Life o’ Mike, he is a member of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina’s Professional Advisory Committee, Land of Sky Estate Planning Council, the 28th Judicial District Bar, Kentucky Bar Association, North Carolina State Bar, North Carolina Bar Association, incoming Secretary of the Elder Law Section, Estate Planning & Fiduciary Section, American Bar Association (Probate and Property Section), and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Andrew has been a regular instructor for National Business Institute and the Elder Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association on topics such as Powers of Attorney, Special Needs Trusts, Trusts, Medicaid and Ethics in the Elder Law practice.
As a high school student, Marvin was a member of ASCORE, the Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality, a group of students who worked from about 1960-1965 to gain racial equality. Today he continues his work with the Masons and holds leadership training seminars.
I have had a keen interest in health care ever since I was a teenager and volunteered on Capital Hill in Washington, D.C. There I began to recognize the magnitude of the problem which has steadily worsened over time. Many serious medical conditions if addressed in their initial stages could save lives and help to reduce the staggering medical costs. Emergency rooms around the country are jammed with people who lack health insurance and cannot afford a doctor visit.
As an Episcopal deacon, my faith calls me to address this problem. While I certainly do not begin to have all the answers, I feel it is vital to consider what would Jesus do to help those without access to medical care? If one reads the Gospels, Jesus cared for those on the margins of society: the sick, the poor, the friendless and the needy. Surely if we follow our faith, we are called to do the same.
Keith is senior sports writer and columnist at the Asheville Citizen-Times, where he has worked for 25 years.
A native of McCowell County, he lives in Asheville.
Cheryl Thomas Orengo graduated with a degree in social work, with an emphasis in community organization in 1975. She spent 30 years in public health as a health educator and retired from the Buncombe County Health Center, BCHC (now the Buncombe County Department of Health) in 2007.
During her health education career Cheryl helped to found: KISS-Kids in Safety Seats a Maryland state loaner program, while working for the State Health Dept. in Maryland; she developed a number of programs at the Health Adventure in Asheville; and as a BCHC employee she was on the committee to develop Children First, she developed and coordinated the Be Smoke Free for You and Your Baby, a maternal smoking cessation program, the BCHC Volunteer Doula Program which ultimately led her to found DAMA (the Doula Association of the Mountain Area, which serves WNC) and the BCHC Childbirth Education Program.
In 2009 Cheryl and three other former DAMA presidents decided to form a professional doula business, Peaceful Beginning Doula Services. The business group provides birth and postpartum doula support to WNC families as well as doula trainings and community forums.
Cheryl also works part-time as a childbirth educator with Mission Hospital and is the volunteer NC State Rep. for DONA International (a professional doula organization).
Cheryl has been married to Ruben Orengo, a city school music teacher, for 35 years and has two daughters who live in Asheville. In her spare time Cheryl enjoys time with her family and friends, she works as a volunteer organizer and Cheryl enjoys gardening, walking her little beagle Lucy and cycling-especially on bike tours with Ruben and the newest cycling member of the family, her younger daughter Lauren.
Chelsea and Baxter
Chelsea is a certified birth and postpartum doula. She is our program director for Start from Seed and a tireless advocate for new mothers and their infants. She lives in Asheville with her dog, Baxter (pictured)
Jim Beggs is a retired Electrical Engineer with a degree from Yale in 1966. He and his wife, Ann, moved to Asheville a year ago in December after40 years in Las Vegas. Jim has patents in powerline communications and designed control systems and data systems for high rise buildings.
Past board members:
Shannon Frechette – Cousin o’ Mike , medical advisor
Shannon is a former member of the Rhode Island Army National Guard, working in the Drug Demand Reduction Program with community outreach groups. She was a counselor and then director for the R.I. Aviation Career Education camp and spent several years working in administration and training.
After getting married, Shannon relocated to North Carolina as a military spouse living outside Fort Bragg, and has two children, Cassie, 7, and Liam, 3.
Shannon went back to school and graduated with honors from the Associate Degree Nursing Program at Fayetteville Technical Community College and is now a Registered Nurse back at home in Rhode Island.
Carolyn with Colin and Louise
Carolyn Comeau, was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and moved to Asheville 11 years ago from Boston. She worked for 17 years in public relations and marketing for numerous nonprofit organizations, including Harvard University, the Unitarian Universalist Association and Asheville’s National Public Radio station, WCQS-FM.
As a three-year breast cancer survivor, she participates yearly in the Enka High School Relay for Life and is a member of a breast cancer support group, the Young and the Breastless.
She is active as a writer and speaker and tutors at Isaac Dickson Elementary School. She and husband Craig are the proud parents of Colin, 8 and Louise, 7. Carolyn is an active volunteer at First Congregational Church in Asheville. She still serves as a volunteer for Life o’ Mike.
Bill Jamieson is president of the Micah Institute, a Center for Peace, Prayer and Prophetic Action in Asheville and an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church. He is one of the co-founders of the Church of the Advocate, a downtown-Asheville congregation of people who are homeless. Before coming to Asheville he served as the Archdeacon of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona. Before that appointment, he taught in the Butler Chair for Church Administration at the School of Theology at Claremont, California where he offered courses in church management and leadership, and in spirituality. Bill has also worked as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University, teaching graduate-level courses in public management and ethics.
Bill served in two cabinet-level appointments in Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt’s administration. Before that, he worked in Gov. Jimmy Carter’s administration in Georgia, where he was the Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources. Bill also served in the Carter administration in Washington, D.C.
He also serves on the board of Action for Children North Carolina, and is past chair of the board; and on the board of Children First/Community In Schools in Asheville, where he is chair-elect.
His past community service has included chairing the boards of the Arizona Child and Family Development Center, and Genesis, a Phoenix-area charter school for high school students who have struggled in the traditional system. He served on the executive committee of the boards of the Arizona Children’s Action Alliance and the Morrison Institute of Public Policy. He has also chaired the Arizona Governor’s Council on Children, the Governor’s Commission on Juvenile Justice, and the Arizona Foundation for Children. He co-chaired the Arizona Children’s Campaign and Arizona’s Kids Count program, and was on the board of the National Association of Child Advocates in Washington, DC.