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About Us – Body

When visionaries collide…


With mutual friend Dale Halton as the catalyst, Marty McCarthy and Jennifer Nichols found they had much in common. Marty, Dale, and Jennifer never realized their extensive backgrounds in philanthropy, education, and fundraising would collide to create Aspire Carolinas Foundation.

Marty McCarthy had served as Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church when he experienced the call to begin opening schools in the Carolina region based on the Classical Christian model. One of these schools, Epiphany School of Charlotte, serves students with Asperger’s specifically. Jennifer Nichols had many years working in both education and non-profit fundraising, with a specific focus and passion for helping challenged learners. Dale Halton is a well-known philanthropist who has supported education in the Charlotte region for decades.

What if they could partner to help children with learning differences and Asperger’s all across the Charlotte region gain access to small schools in their local community? They knew there was a huge need, and there are children currently struggling in their local public and private schools unable to attain success.

By partnering with existing special needs schools looking to expand into new areas, and with local communities already organizing to create schools, a vision to create a non-profit to support the opening and expansion of these schools was born. Slowly an idea took shape and Dale, Marty, and Jennifer felt they had been pulled together for a reason. The perfect team, with a wealth of experience to achieve the number one goal of Aspire Carolinas: to give every child the ability to succeed, had been created.

One driver of success will be the curated selection of staff and board members. Combining their many talents, the staff and board has years of experience and expertise in starting new schools, working with key stakeholders, donor management, advancement, non-profit fundraising, business acumen, zoning, government, entrepreneurship, communications, marketing, administration, and special education. Above all, we have a drive and a passion to help students with learning differences. We have an established, seasoned team that is the best of the best!

About Us – Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Jennifer Nichols

Jennifer Nichols

Founder, Executive Director

Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Malone University in Canton, Ohio and completed additional coursework in reading education (Eastern Michigan University) and developmental disabilities (CPCC). She taught for nine years in Michigan before moving to North Carolina and changing careers. After several years in sales and management, she entered the non-profit field. She is a certified grants writer and seasoned fundraiser working with organizations such as InReach, The Arc of Mecklenburg, The American Red Cross, and Discovery Place. Jennifer most recently worked at The John Crosland School as Director of Institutional Advancement. For eight years she was responsible for program development, marketing and public relations. The opportunity to serve as Executive Director of Aspire Carolinas marks the culmination of a lifetime dream to head a non-profit that serves students with learning differences and Asperger’s.

Cathy Fasciana

Cathy Fasciana

Communications Manager

Cathy attended Lafayette College and then transferred to Seton Hall University where she received her B.S. degree in Secondary Education and History. She completed her M.S. degree in Management (HR Concentration) at the College of St. Elizabeth. Cathy previously worked in Human Resources Management for ten years. After relocating to Charlotte she took the position of Advancement and Communications Coordinator at The John Crosland School. Cathy is excited to bring her website administration, marketing, social media, writing, administrative and communications experience to her new role as Communications Manager at the Aspire Carolinas Foundation.

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About Us – Board of Directors Banner

Board of Directors

About Us – Board of Directors

 
Dale Halton

Dale Halton

Ms. Dale Halton graduated from Myers Park High School and attended Agnes Scott College in Georgia. After two years she returned home to marry and start her family. In 1970 she began working for the family business, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Charlotte, managing the company’s advertising. Although many good people worked at the company the business was struggling, and in 1981 she was made President of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Charlotte. She began successfully running the company and gradually turned it around to again become profitable. She created a charitable foundation that gave 10% of the company’s profits to charity each year. Notable recipients include UNCC Charlotte and the NC Dance Theatre. “The more you have, the more responsibility you have to give to others,” Halton says. “I think it’s important to help folks who don’t have what I have. I wish I could do more. It’s fun.” Because Dale successfully faced many obstacles working in business at a time when it was difficult for women to do so, she continues to always root for those that face challenges. She is a strong supporter of children with learning differences and Asperger’s/autism spectrum disorder, and is thrilled to be able to support schools that help the students reach their potential.
Sarah McAulay

Sarah McAulay

Ms. Sarah McAulay is a native of Huntersville, a graduate of North Mecklenburg High School and UNC at Greensboro with a degree in Economics. Professionally, her business career started at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in Richmond, VA in the economic research area. She then returned to Huntersville to work 33 years in Charlotte with NationsBank/Bank of America retiring as a Vice President in the technology area. She is a member of the Huntersville Associated Reform Presbyterian Church. Sarah appreciates the privilege of serving the Town of Huntersville citizens for 5 terms as Mayor and later with 7 terms as Town Commissioner. She is active in civic organizations especially promoting historical preservation at Latta Plantation, Historic Rural Hill, and other sites and events in the region. Sarah served as chairperson of the non-profits Centralina Foundation and Voluntary Transportation Services both within the Centralina Council of Governments (CCOG). Her established political and personal goal of working to develop and promote the best livable community life for families, neighbors and businesses motivates her leadership actions in Huntersville and the region. In 2015 she was awarded the prestigious Long Leaf Pine Award, presented to her by the Governor of North Carolina. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is awarded to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the State.
James Secunda

James Secunda

Mr. James (Jim) Secunda graduated from Farleigh Dickinson University in 1975 with a degree in business and marketing. He then received his Master’s degree in 1976 from the American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird) in 1976. He began working for the INA Corporation in Philadelphia in 1977. In 1979 he started his first company, American Rehabilitation Inc., which he later sold in 2008. Jim then co-founded two additional companies, CompSource Inc. in 1993 and Synergy Coverage Solutions Inc. in 2005. In addition to his extensive business experience, Jim also generously gives of his time serving as a board member for both schools and non-profit organizations. Jim has served on the boards of: Stony Brook Prep School, Charlotte Pregnancy Center, Community Health Services, Boy Scouts of America (Special Needs Board Member) and The Epiphany School of Charlotte. In addition, he currently serves on the board of Charlotte Christian School.