Board of Directors
Len Gengel Co-Founder & President
Len has been married to Cherylann for 25 years and have 3 children: Britney, who attended to Lynn University; Bernie, who is in his last semester at Suffolk University and Richie, who is in his sophomore year at High Point University. Len worked 30 years in the Home-building business, retiring at the end of 2012 after building 10 neighborhoods and 350+ homes. He was very involved in his local and State Home Builders Association serving as past President in both organizations. Len’s philanthropy was thru building partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, Rutland Pool House, Baseball Fields, Central Mass Rail Trail and having many Red Sox Players to his restaurant, Grand Slam Café. Len’s love of his family and baseball are his hobbies. He sat in the St. Louis Stadium on 10-27-2004 as the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. It was Len’s 44th Birthday. Len earned degrees from Becker College (formerly Becker Junior College) and Central Connecticut State University. Len has also received an honorary doctorate from Becker College and received an honorary doctorate from The University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Cherylann Gengel Co-Founder & Treasurer
Cherylann has always been very active in her community; she served as President of the Rutland Parents Teachers’ Organization, Treasurer of Rutland’s Youth Baseball, she helped create Rutland’s Recreation Committee, and served as a member of St. Vincent DePaul to name a few. For more than 8 years, she and her husband, Len, owned and operated the popular Grand Slam Café in Rutland, MA. There, they hosted David Ortiz, Trot Nixon, Doug Mirabelli, and Kevin Youkilis.
In 2010, when her daughter Britney was killed in the Haiti Earthquake, Cherylann and Len co-founded The Be Like Brit Foundation in honor of Britney. Cherylann serves as the organization’s Treasurer, provides leadership to the Program Committee to oversee the Guiding Principles, and leads all fundraising efforts. In the past 4 years, under the guidance of Cherylann, The Be Like Brit Foundation has raised over $2.1M.
Cherylann is a member of the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) and was profiled by NAPW in April 2012, in addition to being named one of the Top 25 Woman Changing the World in 2014 by Cyrus Webb. She has also received an honorary doctorate from Becker College and received an honorary doctorate from The University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Bernie Gengel Vice President
Dr. Peter J. McDonald Development Director
Dr. McDonald received his Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Purdue University, a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Cambridge College, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Policy, Research, and Administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. PJ has been published in national journals and is a frequent speaker at national conferences on both leadership and education, including the National Association of Independent Schools, The Association of Boarding Schools, and the Independent Educational Consultants Association. PJ also serves as a consultant to independent schools, colleges, and non-profit organizations across the United States in the areas of governance, strategic planning, and fundraising. In addition to The Be Like Brit Foundation, PJ is a trustee at numerous non-profit organizations throughout New England. PJ and his wife, Kathryn, live in Holden, MA, with their three children, Griffin, Reagan, and Tucker.
Christine Steinwand MSEd. Program Director
Prior to her contribution to The Be Like Brit Foundation, Christine worked for 42 years in the field of education as a Child Development Specialist and a Family Therapist. Christine holds a Bachelor’s degree from Our Lady of the Elms College in Sociology, Education and Religion. She also earned a Masters Degree in Child Development from Wheelock College.
Christine began her career in Hawaii as a teacher in the Catholic Lay Apostolate. After returning to MA, she directed a child care program in an inner city project, directed a teen parent program, counseled students in public schools for 22 years, and taught in the graduate school at Wheelock College for 18 years.
Jodi Sweeney Clerk
Jodi has an MBA in Finance from Northeastern University of Boston, MA.
Susan Wornick PR Director
Susan and Britney quickly bonded in the summer of 2007 when Brit shadowed Susan for a day at WCVB. Brit went home and told her family, “I could party with her,” while Susan was telling coworkers, “that’s one smart, bright light “. Susan covered the earthquake extensively for WCVB and traveled with Len and Cherylann to Florida when they first had errant reports of Britney being rescued, and stayed for the heartbreaking days that followed. Susan has been dedicated to Brit’s story and has taken every opportunity to ensure the New England area is kept apprised of the building of BLB through her stories on WCVB. Susan was in Haiti for the groundbreaking and opening of Brit’s Orphanage and the subsequent arrival of the children.
Born in The Bronx, New York, and raised in Natick Massachusetts, Wornick now resides in Needham Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Boston’s Emerson College, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree.
Joane Dumont Director of Haiti Relations
Joane Buteau Dumont was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where she is one of seven owners of the Karibe, Kinam and Servotel Restaurants and Hotels in both Port-au-Prince and Petion-Ville Haiti. Joane earned her BS at Ithaca College and Hyde-Park, NY from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). In 1991, Joane lived in Paris where she married Bernard Dumont before moving to the United States. In a twist of fate, Bernard Dumont was a life-long college friend of Len Gengel and has been a trusted advisor since the Haiti earthquake. While in the US, Joane worked at a shoe store and studied at an art school where she developed an interest in abstract painting.
In 1995, Joane had her daughter, Alexa, and stopped everything to become a stay at home mom and continued after her son, Nathan, was born in 1999. Joane currently serves as an adviser for the family business back home in Haiti, which has been in the family for more than 50 years.
Father John Madden Director of Faith
Fr. Madden has been a dear friend and faithful advisor to the Gengel family for the last decade as their pastor at St. John’s Church in Worcester. He blessed Britney before her journey to Haiti and presided over her funeral when she was laid to rest. Fr. Madden gives guidance in the faith-filled raising of this next generation of leaders in Haiti at Be Like Brit.
Paul Scully Director of Finance
Paul earned a BS at Bentley College and an MBA at Suffolk University. He resides in Sturbridge Massachusetts.
Steve Helle Director of Business Development
Eileen Terry Director of Non-Profit Strategy
Eileen is from the Boston area and was Len and Cherylann’s neighbor in New Hampshire for many summers. She comes from a large family and enjoys spending time with her many nieces and nephews. Eileen has a passionate commitment to charitable work. In addition to her involvement with the Jimmy Fund and The Be Like Brit Foundation, Eileen runs a non-profit organization which raises money for non-medical expenses for families of children battling brain tumors.
Richard GengelFounder – Director
This summer, Richie spent a month in Haiti working with the children of Be Like Brit. He began his trip by driving a box truck filled with donated solar panels from his home in Holden, MA to Miami to make the orphanage energy efficient so more funds can be allocated to essentials like food and medicine for the children.
A sophomore at High Point University studying graphic design, Richie has played an integral part in designing the Be Like Brit logo and website with his brother, Bernie. While Richie’s career plans may include non-profit management, he has his hands full planning three more upcoming voyages to Haiti – including a trip with students from his college this Fall.
Richie credits his beloved sister Britney with teaching him confidence and expanding his horizons. He prides himself of keeping his sister’s legacy of compassion and free spirit alive, and has made it his goal to grow Be Like Brit and touch the lives of children there, the way his sister touched his own.