The Alton Educational Foundation

Board Members

Vice Chairperson


Nita Whitten
Phil Trapani
Angela McDowell
Chuck Parr
Martha Morse
Catherine Droste
Susan Hatfield
Barbara Jacks
Lisa Long
Doug Mendenhall
Martha Morse
Janis Northway
Deb Penning
Ginger Woodman
Elaine Kane

Meet the Alton Educational Foundation Board

Nita Whitten currently serves as the Chairperson of the Alton Educational Foundation. She is currently the Fiscal Manager of the William M. BeDell, ARC. ARC is a not for profit organization that services children with severe and profound intellectual disabilities in the school districts of Madison and surrounding counties. She has spent the past 26 years as an accountant for a variety of businesses in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. Nine of those years were spent as Financial Controller with Argosy Casinos. Nita and her husband, Tom, live in Godfrey and have two sons, Quinn and Alex. The family, including a sweet Golden Retriever, enjoys outdoor activities that include hiking, biking, camping, and road trips.

Martha Morse is a graduate of Alton High School and studied accounting and marketing at Western Illinois University. She is the Business Development Representative at 1st MidAmerica Credit Union. While working as Vice President of Member Services at the River Bend Growth Association, she worked with numerous civic and municipal organizations. Martha currently serves on the board for Friends of Wings and the Village of Godfrey Building and Zoning Commission. She has served as board member for United Way, Girls Scouts, St. Ambrose Home & School Association, YWCA, Alton Rotary, Alton Main Street, SCORE and Small Business Development Advisory Board. Martha is a resident of Godfrey. She and her husband, Allan are owners of Encore Bath & Remodeling.

Lisa Long has served on the AEF board since 2007, as president for six years and the Redbird Raffle Chair for 2 years. She also serves as secretary and membership chairman for the Summers-Port board. She has been involved in Alton Children’s Theatre (serving as president and grant writer), was Mini-Art Chair for West Elementary, swim meet director for Summers-Port Sharks, assistant manager for an Alton United Futbol team, concessions director for Tri-City Area Tidalwaves, and served as “All God’s Children Shall Have Shoes” chairman for Junior League of Greater Alton. Her education includes a BS in Business Administration and a MS in Management Information Systems. She was employed as a Senior Systems Analyst at Olin Brass in East Alton from 1992 - 2006. Lisa currently resides in Godfrey with her husband and two children, who are juniors at AHS. Both Lisa and her husband are life-long Alton/Godfrey citizens and graduated from the Alton Community School District.

Doug Mendenhall is a partner at Smith, Mendenhall, Selby & Cole. He brings more than 35 years of experience to the firm and focuses his practice on the representation of petitioners in workers' compensation cases and plaintiffs in personal injury matters. After earning his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1973, Doug went on to receive his J.D. from the University of Illinois in 1976. Doug is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. He has lectured at continuing legal education programs for legal professionals on the topic of Illinois Workers' Compensation law. He is currently licensed to practice in Illinois. An avid golfer and Fighting Illini fan, Doug grew up in Alton, Illinois, attending Alton Community School District schools. He currently resides in Alton with his wife, Stephanie.

Phil Trapani currently serves as Vice-President of the Alton Educational Foundation. He is the former Alton High School principal/Assistant Superintendant of Secondary Schools for the Alton Community School District. Phil has worked in several communities as an educational leader and teacher for thirty-eight years. A five year member of the Alton Educational Foundation board, Phil continues his commitment to education. Passionate about the Alton community, Phil serves as a board member of the Greater Alton Development Board, and the Elijah P. Lovejoy Foundation. He is a member of the 100 Black Men, a regular volunteer at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald Charities, and serves as Eucharistic minister at the Fountains living facility. He and his wife reside in Godfrey. 

Susan Hatfield is a lifelong resident of the Alton/Godfrey area and a 1989 AHS graduate. She lives in Godfrey with her husband, Bryan, and their two children. Their son is a 2016 AHS graduate and their daughter will graduate in 2018. Susan graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1993 from the Lumpkin School of Business with a B.S. in Management, concentration in Administration. During those four years at Eastern, she was a member of a business co-ed fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, and served as secretary for a year. Susan is a co-owner of a 4th generation family business, Piasa Enterprises, LLC, which originally started in 1932 as Piasa Motor Fuels. She worked summers while attending school and full time upon college graduation until they started their family. Susan's involvement in the Alton School District with her children include being a parent volunteer in the classroom and library at West Elementary, serving on the After Prom and After Grad committees, and attending the Alton School District Parent Advisory Council. She was the 2015 recipient of Those Who Excel in Community Volunteer Category by the Illinois State Board of Education.

Angela McDowell was born and raised in Tennessee and graduated from a high school in Springfield, Illinois. In 1992, she moved to the Alton area. She has been a counselor since 1991 and has a private practice professional counseling business called Angela McDowell Counseling Services. She is licensed and certified in counseling and addictions. Angela is an active member of the Illinois Counseling Association, Lewis & Clark Chapter of the Illinois Counseling Association, Illinois Mental Health Counselor’s Association, American Counseling Association, American Mental Health Counselor’s Association, River Bend Growth Association, and Alton Main Street. She has been blessed through volunteering in her community through the Junior League of Greater Alton, Options Now, Alton Women’s Home Association, Drug Free Alton Coalition, and Zonta Club of Alton-Wood River. She has enjoyed being an Alton School District parent volunteer through the Corridor 1 Parent Group, West Elementary School PTG, Alton Middle School PTG, Alton School District Parent Advisory Council, and the Alton Athletics Association. She and her husband have two children. Their son is a graduate of AHS in 2014 and their daughter will graduate from AHS in 2016. She is an avid reader, loves camping and being outdoors.

Ginger Woodman is co-owner of Woodman Collision Center with her husband Jess. They are life-long Alton/Godfrey residents and graduates of the Alton Schools. Both her mom and dad taught in the Alton District. After graduating from SIUE with Bachelors and Masters degrees she taught several years in Bethalto and then finished her career (2013) in Alton with another twenty-five years. Being certified in Gifted Education, many of those years were spent teaching in the Gifted Program. She was awarded the Excellence in Education Award from the Illinois State Board of Education and was the 2013 Boys and Girls Club Teacher of the Year. She served many years on the Alton District Curriculum Council, LCCC Water Festival Committee, and as a board member for Options Now. Currently she is president of the Godfrey Women's Club, serves on the CILA Board at Beverly Farm, works at the family business Woodman Collision Center, and is a member of Calvary Baptist Church. Her two sons, Chad and Ryan, both work in the family business and have blessed Jess and Ginger with six grandchildren.

Cathy Droste was born and raised in the Alton/Godfrey area. She is a 1980 graduate of Alton High School and earned her BS in Special Education and MMS in Educational Administration from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Cathy taught high school students with special needs in the Herscher, Waukegan, and Greenfield School Districts before joining the Alton School District to teach elementary students with special needs. Cathy recently retired from the Alton School District after 33 years in education. She spent her last 17 years in the Alton School District as Supervisor of K-6 Special Education Programs. Cathy is a past member of the Junior League of Greater Alton. She currently serves on the St. Mary’s School Board and is active in the St. Mary’s parish as a cantor and member of the choir. She welcomes the opportunity to support educators by serving on the board of the Alton Educational Foundation. Cathy and her husband, Mark, reside in Godfrey and have two sons who are graduates of Alton High School.

Barbara Jacks is currently a teacher for the Computer Literacy class for the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at Alton Middle School. She grew up in New Mexico and moved to Oklahoma when she was in high school. Her education continued at the University of Oklahoma where she got her Bachelor and Master of Education Degrees. Before she and her husband, David, moved to Alton, about 11 years ago, she taught at the elementary and middle school levels in Oklahoma. She immensely enjoys teaching, traveling, working in the yard/garden, and reading. Outside of teaching and attending school events, she is an active member of First Baptist Church of Maryville, IL and an administrative leader at one of the local Bible Study Fellowship classes.

Janis Northway is currently a first-grade teacher at Gilson Brown Elementary. She is in her 29th year of teaching. She was awarded the Emerson Teacher of the Year Award in 2016. She is an SIUE graduate with a degree in Elementary Education. Janis is married with two daughters of which all family members are proud graduates of the Alton School District.

Deb Penning is a proud graduate of Alton High School and currently in her 31st year as an Alton School District employee. She has a B.S. in Elementary and Special Education from Eastern Illinois University, a M.S. in instructional Strategies from Rockford University and endorsement in Library and Informational Sciences from University of Illinois. Deb serves as the librarian at Alton High School and has received two grants from the AEF to help enhance library programs for the students she serves. Deb and her husband, Paul, have a daughter, Amanda, son-in-law, John, and two spoiled labradoodles.

Chuck Parr is a social worker who retired in 2017 after serving as President of Riverbend Head Start and Family Services for 21 years and working at the agency for 30 years. He completed his Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. He is a founding Board member of the Illinois Head Start Association and former board member of the National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter which honored him as “Social Worker of the Year” in 2015 . He currently serves as a board member for Senior Services Plus and chairs Main Street United Methodist Church's Staff-Parish Relations Committee and serves on the Finance committee. He is also a member of the Rotary Club of the Riverbend.

In his free time he enjoys nature photography. His wife Susan is a retired school teacher and son Trevor is a 2011 graduate of Alton High School.

Elaine Kane is an Ex-Officio member of our board and is the Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction for the Alton School District. Born and raised in Alton, Elaine is a proud member of the AHS Class of 1989. She earned a BS in Early Childhood Education from the University of Illinois, followed by a MS in Elementary Education and a Specialist in Educational Administration from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Elaine is an active member of the Alton Area Optimist Club, the YWCA Programs Committee and St. Mary's Church. She coordinates connections between community and schools through the Alton Reading Mentors and Reach Out and Read programs. Elaine and her husband Bob are raising four teenage children representing the Classes of 2017, 2019 and 2022 at Alton High School.



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