Kyajuana Gilbert
Executive Director
Photo credit: Lindsey Adkinson /Brunswick News

Kyajuana joined Glynn County’s non-profit community in 2015 and STAR Foundation in September 2018. Her local career journey has afforded opportunities to work with United Way of Coastal Georgia, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Coastal Health District.  She has experience as a youth development director, college and career readiness advisor, program facilitator, curriculum developer, and college recruiter/advisor and instructor. A native of Atlanta, Georgia and a graduate of Savannah State University, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications in 2004. While an adult student pursuing a Master of Business Administration at University of Phoenix, she worked as an enrollment counselor/advisor, often instilling hope and charting a course for those who never thought that college was an option.  She has a passion for assisting others in accomplishing their educational and personal goals, making her the perfect choice to join the STAR family.


Tina Kirby
Board Chair

Dr. Kirby is a retired teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and Superintendent. She retired in March, 2015. Dr. Kirby began her career in education as a Special Education Teacher at Greer Elementary School in 1974. After six years she decided to be a stay at home mom and raise her three children. Dr. Kirby returned to the classroom in 1987 teaching First Grade at St. Simons Elementary School. She moved to Oglethorpe Point Elementary School when the school opened as the Instructional Coach and then Assistant Principal. Dr. Kirby was promoted to Principal and remained at Oglethorpe Point for four years before becoming Principal at Golden Isles Elementary School. Dr. Kirby left Glynn County to serve as Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Curriculum in the McIntosh County School System. Dr. Kirby retired in 2012 and worked part time for the McIntosh School System until she was hired as the Interim Superintendent and then Superintendent . Dr. Kirby retired in March 2015 with 35+ years of experience in Education. She brings years of leadership experience to STAR.


Joan Campbell

Joan Campbell is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and has spent her career in the management of non-profit organizations, including trade and professional associations and foundations. For 12 years she served as executive director of a number of national and international certification boards, prior to her retirement at the end of 2015 (although it has turned out to be semi-retirement since she continues to be asked to conduct project work for her former clients). Joan has also served on the board of directors of association executive organizations in Chicago and New York, and on the American Society of Association Executives Foundation Board. Joan is active in her local community, where she currently serves on the library Board of Trustees, the Board of Directors of the Coastal Animal Rescue Society, and as an Elder in her church. She also volunteers in the library bookstore and for the International Seafarers’ Center.


Debbie Banks

Debbie grew up in Americus, in Southwest Georgia. She attended the University of Georgia, graduating with a degree in marketing in 1992.  After college she lived in Atlanta for 14 years before moving to coastal Georgia in 2006.  While in Atlanta, she worked for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.  Here in Glynn, she has experience with the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce Marketing Department for over two years  and is now the office manager of Georgia Coast Design & Construction.  Her hope is that this part-time position will allow her greater balance between her professional life and family. Debbie was introduced to STAR’s board through an intern with United Way’s Community Leadership Counsel.  She worked with the board and staff to create a workforce development survey sent out through the Chamber.  Debbie has two boys: and also served for three years as secretary on the board of directors for Golden Isles Soccer Association.  She is a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and hobbies include travel, hiking, reading and cooking.

 


Molly Moroney Norrett

Molly Moroney Norrett is married to Bill Norrett and they have four sons and three granddaughters. Molly has spent her career as an actress and playwright. She has been involved in every field of the business: theatre, directing, voice-overs, television and film. Her plays have been produced in many U.S. Cities, including New York. Molly wanted to be on the Star Foundation board and help in the fundraising efforts because she is a firm believer in STAR’s mission.


Donna Davis

Donna’s story is rooted in STAR’s story. Her father, Don McGlamory, former Director of the City of Brunswick Housing Authority, partnered with STAR Foundation to offer training to residents of public housing. A former Director of the American Red Cross, Donna now serves as Insurance Advisor and Marketing Director for McGinty-Gordon & Associates. A member of St. Simons Community Church, Donna enjoys cooking, traveling and family. She has two children.


Parker Lavin

Parker is a partner at the Washington, D.C. firm of Wiley Rein, where he has served for the past 10-plus years, focusing on commercial civil litigation with an expertise in insurance coverage. Married to Lauren for ten years, they have three small children. The family recently moved to St. Simons Island from D.C. and love the Golden Isles and our tight-knit community.

Parker is currently a Trustee on the Washington Lawyers Committee and devotes several hundred hours per year to pro bono cases. He was named one of City Year Washington, DC’s Idealists of the Year in 2015, an honor given to individuals who impact the lives of others through service and volunteerism. He is currently on the board of Adoption-Share, a Brunswick-based charity that works nationally to leverage technology to bring efficiency, innovation, and reform to the public and private adoption process and to raise awareness about adoption in the United States. Parker has expressed excitement at the prospective of joining STAR’s board as he feels it has the opportunity to effect real and meaningful change to those most in need of help in our community.

 


Lee Hiers Owen

Lee Owen has actively served in the nonprofit sector in Georgia for forty years. Her lengthy record of service includes over two decades in the fundraising division of MAP (Medical Assistance Programs) International, a health organization active in disaster relief, medicine distribution, community health training, and AIDS prevention overseas.

After MAP Lee served eight years as the Executive Director of the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation. In this role, Lee had the opportunity to work with many of the local non-profit organizations including STAR Foundation. Upon retiring from the Communities of Coastal Georgia at the end of 2014, Lee enthusiastically became a member of the STAR Foundation Board of Directors.

Lee is married to Cannon Owen, and they live on St. Simons Island.


Jane Lafferty

Jane Lafferty is the current Chairman of the Marshes of Glynn Library Board and when she heard that the STAR Foundation has its own library and does not ban its members from checking books out because of overdue fines she immediately joined the STAR Foundation Board. When asked why she really joined the STAR Foundation she will tell you with a sports car twinkle in her eye, “I am most passionate about the potential of the students, and how we can communicate and reinforce that for them.”

Jane has a long history in human resource management and is now on Retirement 2. She earned a BBA and later an Executive MBA. Jane and her husband moved to the Golden Isles in 2000 something. Jane has lived in many different places around the country and is wasting no time in becoming involved in the local community.


Elaine Griffin

Elaine is a former contributing editor of design for Better Homes & Gardens, a special projects editor at Elle Décor, and is ranked as one of House Beautiful’s 100 Top American Designers. She is the author of Design Rules: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming your own Decorator, and has been a guest on the Today Show. A native of Brunswick, Georgia, Elaine is the product of a teacher and the first African-American physician to gain privileges in the Brunswick Hospital. Upon graduating from Glynn Academy, Elaine attended Yale University, followed by graduate study at the New York School of Interior Design. Nine years as a publicist in New York and Paris were followed by design work in the office of architectural genius Peter Marino. Elaine started her own firm in 1999.

 


Courtney Prince

Courtney is a recent St. Simons Island transplant from New York and Nashville, TN. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with degrees in Fine Arts and Production Management.  She enjoyed a successful career in the fashion industry in New York before deciding to transition to Art and business management.  She came to the area recently to join her mother Carol and father Steve, who have a home here on St. Simons, and divide their time between here and Nashville.  Both her parents and Courtney have an interest in downtown development and see great potential for Brunswick.

While living in New York City, Courtney recognized the disparity between the races and between the “haves” and “have nots.”  She joined the Big Brother/Big Sister program and served as a mentor for several years.  Courtney’s hope is that she may be part of creating a movement to revitalize Brunswick, building upon the gifts of the community in its entirety.


Jane Prendergast

Jane served most of her career in Human Resources, first with R. J. Reynolds Tobacco International, in Winston-Salem, N.C., then with The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta. She also spent several years with the New York Urban Development Corporation in New York City, first with construction, then housing management. Jane moved to Saint Simons Island with her husband Joe in 2005. They have one son, Rick, who still lives in Winston-Salem. Jane enjoys golf, reading, biking, boating, travel, cooking, and yoga.


Thearon Filson

Thearon Filson is an Administrative Assistant at the College of Coastal Georgia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. As an alumna of STAR Foundation, Thearon hopes that her personal experiences will inspire students to continue moving forward with their personal and professional development.

 


Sue Sayer

Sue has lived in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Alabama. She graduated from Miami University in Ohio in 1972 and married her husband, Tom, while he was in dental school, after which he enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Fort Gordon in Augusta. They accidentally “discovered” St. Simons in 1977, fell in love with it and raised both their sons here. She began working for Sea Island Company in 1980 thinking it would be a short term proposition, but 38 years later, she’s still enjoying it!

She has served on the YWCA Foundation Board, served as youth leader for Junior High and Senior High groups as well as various committees at the St. Simons Presbyterian Church. She has led a Boy Scout Troup with her husband for several years, and coached Little League Softball for a number of seasons. She looks forward to working on the Star Foundation Board and contributing in as many ways as possible.


Wally Orrel
Founder

Wally Orrel, a regional economic development professional, is one of the three charter members of STAR Foundation. He along with his wife, Katie Orrel, and sister-in-law, Ellen Murphy, developed the idea for STAR as a way to improve the available workforce in the community. In 2009 Wally left the day-to-day operations of STAR to become President of the Darien-McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce and the McIntosh County Industrial Development Authority. However he has remained on the STAR Foundation Board as an advocate for its mission. Wally is very active in the community serving as the Vice-Chairman of the Southeast Georgia Joint Development Authority, Board Member of the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, Past-President of the Rotary Club of Glynn and McIntosh Counties and serves on the College of Coastal Georgia Business and Public Affairs Advisory Board and the Altamaha Technological College Advisory Board.

Mark McDonald

Mark McDonald is employed by the Department of Homeland Security and has been based at FLETC for 1 ½ years.  A native of New York, his family moved to Donalsonville in the Southwest corner of Georgia when he was ten.  After high school, Mark joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served for four years.  He received his undergraduate degree from Valdosta State University and his Master of Education degree from the University of.  Mark’s specialty is instructional design.  He currently designs instructional materials and training for federal law enforcement.  STAR Foundation appeals to him because it matches his philosophy to give a hand up to those less fortunate, and to “pay it forward.”

 


 

Founders



Ellen Murphy
Founder

Ellen Murphy, a former special education teacher and business entrepreneur, has a knack for discovering a need and then moving to fill it. In the mid 1990’s her for-profit computer business began offering computer camps to local kids. She soon noticed a substantial disparity in the computer skills of the kids from lower income areas versus those from higher income areas. This led her to speculate that teaching computer skills to the parents of those lower income kids might help the parents find better jobs and improve the families’ standard of living. Together with her sister, Katie Orrel, and brother-in-law, Wally Orrel, Ellen founded the STAR Foundation as computer training program for residents of the Brunswick Housing Authority. In the 16 years since then, the program has evolved from computer skills training classes to a life-changing, transformational program for low income residents of Glynn, Camden and McIntosh Counties. Infused into every aspect of the STAR Foundation program is Ellen’s unbridled love of people, fervent belief in the need for everyone to have basic human dignity and her raw determination to help end the cycle of poverty…one student at a time.


Katie Murphy-Orrel
Founder

Katie Murphy-Orrel, the daughter of a Head Start teacher, grew up knowing the importance and value of education. Over the years she has worked as an Area Director at Kinder Care, a teacher at United Way and even owned her own restaurant. In 1996 Katie and her husband, Wally Orrel, moved back to Brunswick to be closer to family. They joined her sister, Ellen, at Dataline Computer Services. Over the next 3 years Katie, Wally and Ellen developed the original idea for teaching computer classes to help lower income people find better jobs. The idea grew until it became a mission and the Southern Technological Advocacy Resource Foundation (or STAR as it is known today) was born. Since 1999 Katie has served as an instructor at STAR. She is passionate about each and every student that comes through the door at STAR. Through love, determination and a generous sprinkling of dry humor she pushes her students to do their best and strive to reach their goals.

 


 

STAR Angel


 


Penny Flickinger

Penny Flickinger, former board member, passed away in 2018, but the financial and passionate emotional support she gave so generously lives on at STAR. Penny was an active member of the board from 2015 until her last months battling cancer. She organized a team of committed event volunteers and orchestrated our GALA event – STAR’s major annual fundraising effort. She seldom missed the opportunity to interact with our students – ever present at their “Vision Poster” presentations, graduations, and special events. At her death, her children vowed to carry on her commitment to STAR and have seeded a STAR Angel campaign to create a “simulated workplace laboratory” at STAR’s new headquarters which will be named in her honor and her memory. Philanthropist…STAR promoter…student and staff encourager…gracious gala hostess—there will never be another STAR Angel quite like Penny!