SHARON & RICK BAKER
PRESIDENT & TREASURER – Rick and Sharon met while they were students at Cloverleaf High School. They married in 1979 and had one child, Kelli. Rick has been a CDL Class A Truck Driver for over 30 years. He has driven for Drug Mart, Walgreen’s, Overnite, PackShip USA and currently drives for Jarrett Companies in Seville. He has also worked as a delivery driver for Farmers Exchange and L.E. Sommers & Sons where he delivered feed to many area horse facilities. It is the friendships that he made with his customers that eventually led to Kelli’s love of horses. Sharon worked for Old Phoenix National Bank for 16 years after graduation from high school. She held the position of Payroll and Benefits Administrator when she left the bank to pursue a career that would allow her to take Kelli to work with her. Sharon and a friend purchased Kitchen Kakes and Kandy in 1995. She became the sole owner shortly afterwards. Sharon has been baking and decorating cakes ever since. She closed the retail store in 2001 and has worked at several area bakeries while continuing to make cakes out of her home. Sharon has also worked as a receptionist at Seville Animal Hospital and as an Administrative Assistant for a local realtor. Rick and Sharon currently live in Wadsworth and devote their time to care for Kelli’s horse Lily and Kelli’s C.R.U.S.A.D.E.
SECRETARY – Laurie Kotalac was raised in Medina and graduated from Medina High School. She continued her education at the University of Akron receiving her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human Resource Management.
Laurie has held diverse positions within the medical community over the past 35 years. Laurie began her career at an Employee Benefits Coordinator for Old Phoenix Bank and Medina General Hospital. After raising her children, Laurie cared for the children in our community as a school nurse at Sidney Fenn Elementary school. Always wanting to learn something new, Laurie joined the team of a local optometrist office as the Coordinator for billing/claims. Laurie currently works as a Credentialing Specialist for a local consulting firm.
Laurie brings her experience and knowledge of Human Resources along with a personal relationship with the Baker family. It is Laurie’s hope to help further the mission of Kelli’s Crusade and prevent other families from suffering the heartbreak of losing a child in an automobile accident.
IT DIRECTOR – Liz Valentin was raised in Wadsworth, Ohio. In High School, she worked with Sharon Baker during the time of Kelli’s accident. Throughout the years, Liz has remained in contact with Sharon and Rick by helping in the entry booth during the Kelli’s C.R.U.S.A.D.E horse show. Liz is one of the creators of the revolutionary web-based scoring application used at the show. Liz currently works as an IT Risk Analyst at The J.M. Smucker Company in Orrville, Ohio. She brings knowledge of new technology advances to this organization. She is very energetic and positive. During her free time she enjoys cooking, her dogs, and spending time with her spouse, Chris.
FUNDRAISING DIRECTOR – Sara Amato joined the board in January of 2019 to assist with fundraising and development. She graduated from Ashland University in 2016 with a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology and a minor in Spanish. She graduated from John Carroll in 2016 with her Masters in Nonprofit Administration. While in grad school, she worked at United Way of Greater Cleveland as a Fundraising Associate and focused on high-level donors and planning engagement events. In February of 2017, she began working at University Settlement, a social services nonprofit in Cleveland, as the Development Coordinator where she is currently employed. She has experience with fundraising events and donor relations. She is very excited to serve the mission of Kelli’s CRUSADE and help the organization grow and help young teen drivers.
LEGAL COUNSEL – Brad Barmen is a partner with the law firm of Lewis Brisbois Bishaard & Smith specializing in civil litigation. Brad has been involved in road safety and teen driver awareness programs for the past 12 years. Brad also assists in preparing and implementing fleet safety programs for several local and long haul trucking companies. Brad lives in Solon, Ohio with his wife and three children.
SGT. CHRISTOPHER LAFOND
MONTVILLE TOWNSHIP OFFICER – Chris was born and raised in Medina and is a 1999 Graduate of Medina High School. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 2004, and then spent about a year working in the automotive industry before beginning a career in law enforcement. Chris is currently a Sergeant for the Montville Police Department, where he has worked for the past 13 years. He oversees the Accident Investigation Team, teaches high speed and emergency response driving, leads two county-wide juvenile driving programs, and is a 2017 graduate of the FBI National Academy. In his free time, Chris enjoys spending time with his wife and family, traveling, golf, and recreational flying.
PRESIDENT, DRIVE TEAM – Drew Salyer is the President of DriveTeam, a performance driving school in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. Drew is a licensed driving instructor, a nationally licensed SkidCar instructor, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations instructor, and ATV instructor. He graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. He is the proud husband to Jessica and dad to Addison, Jace, and Jaxson. Drew is honored to be a part of such a great mission through Kelli’s CRUSADE and has a passion for improving every driver that he and his team interact with.