Marisa Giarnella-Porco, Co-founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Co-founder and President of the Foundation, Marisa has worked in human services since 1985. Her employment experiences range from the CT Department of Children and Families to various positions with local mental health authorities in Eastern Connecticut. Marisa has actively volunteered for decades in her community and is currently an active member of the CT Suicide Advisory Board. Marisa enjoys cooking, gardening, water sports, and snuggling with her dog Valentina.

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Leah Nelson, Director of Programs

Leah Nelson earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Connecticut, where her passion and experience with mental health advocacy began. She joined the Jordan Porco Foundation in 2012 and serves as the Director of Programs, overseeing the growth, development, and integrity of the organization’s critical programs. Leah is a Certified QPR Trainer and has also presented her lived experience with mental health and suicide to a number of audiences. Outside of her professional endeavors, she has been an active member of her community, volunteering over the years for organizations such as Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters and Paws New England. A nature lover, Leah can usually be found hiking in the mountains, camping in the National Parks, snowshoeing in her woods, or on the lake on her stand up paddleboard.

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Nick Marinelli, Senior Program Coordinator 

Nick Marinelli earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychological Science at Central Connecticut State University and recently earned a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from UConn Hartford. While at CCSU, Nicholas developed a passion for mental health advocacy joining groups on campus such as Active Minds and the Psychology Club. He’s committed to furthering his education in the nonprofit sector as a current MPA candidate at the University of Connecticut. Joining the Jordan Porco Foundation in 2018, he has become an integral part of the evaluation, development, and operations of Jordan Porco Foundation programming. Nick has also played a significant role in JPF’s grants process, both researching and writing proposals for the further development of the organization.

Nick lives an active lifestyle, enjoying the outdoors while hiking and camping. He’s also an avid cook and loves to read while hanging out with the best girl in the whole wide world, Acadia (his pup).

Email Nick at [email protected] 

Alyeska Tilly, Program Coordinator

Alyeska graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Communication with the class of Spring ’21. She currently attends graduate school to earn her master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Connecticut in Hartford. She has worked as a Paraprofessional aide working with children and as a Mental Health Worker in the psychiatric unit of a hospital, and was the graduate intern at Jordan Porco Foundation this past year. Mental health advocacy and education is extremely important to her, as her own past struggle with mental illness was a big contributor in paving the passion and desire to go into a career in the field of mental health. She has been advocating for mental health awareness and intervention through her own social network as well as attending community events related to suicide prevention and mental health for many years and never plans to stop. In her spare time she likes to spend time with her friends, go hiking, cook, do arts/crafts, go to the  gym and spend time with her dogs.

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Barbara Potts, Development Manager

Barbara Potts is seasoned professional with a proven track record of success at the national and international levels in mental health and other health related program funding, public relations, patient advocacy, alliance development, program development, communications, fundraising, and teaching.  She has over 25 years in the nonprofit sector and was selected in 2021 as a leader in her field by the National Association of Professional Businesswomen.

Barbara recently joined the Jordan Porco Foundation as Development Manager. Her compassion for this mission began at an early age when she lost her oldest brother to suicide.  She saw up close the impact this has on families.  It has motivated her toward the path she has chosen to help others and lift them up.  In her spare time Barbara has been fortunate to travel extensively, likes to bike and hike, and volunteers at the Women and Children’s Domestic Violence Shelter, the Homeless Shelter, is a nonprofit board member, and becomes the advocate for many who cannot do this for themselves.  She loves dogs, cats, horses, and kids.  She has often said “they are my great measuring stick for people’s character”.

Email Barbara at [email protected] 

Jared Buchanan, Development Associate

Jared Buchanan has been a suicide prevention activist after losing his father, Officer. Paul S. Buchanan in 2013. Jared has found much healing by running 100- and 200-Mile Ultramarathons in his father’s memory and by helping others struggling. Jared served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2010 to 2014 and is currently a Psychology student at Southern Connecticut State University. Jared has two purebred Bengal cats named Kuja & Maya and enjoys traveling, being outdoors, and eating pizza!

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Mike Daly, Office Manager

Mike was introduced to the Jordan Porco Foundation as a volunteer on the Hartford Resource Development Committee (RDC) and has served on that committee for over a year. Mike has a Bachelor Degree in Marketing and Organizational Behavior from Central Connecticut State University and a JD from Western New England University. He enjoys being part of the team, supporting the staff and helping the foundation operate efficiently. Mike will continue to work with the RDC and believes it is very important to share our mission with the community. In his spare time, Mike enjoys working around the house, reading, writing, and volunteering at his church.

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Beth Holcomb, Community Engagement Coordinator

Beth earned her Bachelor of Science/Arts degree in Accounting from the University of Hartford and her Masters degree in Finance from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Hartford. She has worked as a CPA in a public accounting firm and an Assistant Treasurer of a Fortune 500 company. Her breadth of experience in event planning and working with volunteers comes from years of volunteer service at her church, her children’s schools and the Greater Hartford Open (currently, Travelers Championship).

Beth resides in South Windsor with her husband Steve, her children Juliana and Michael, and her cats Penny and Abbie. She enjoys the company of others, working out, shopping, day trips, and most of all spending time with her family.

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Photo Credit: JP Elario

Rachel Papke, Communications Consultant

Rachel earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in 2002. Her strong writing skills, paired with her innate passion for helping others, continue to make a positive impact in the community.

She was born and raised in Connecticut but has traveled across the country, living in New Jersey, California, and New York. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, time at the beach, Results Based Fitness, and blogging. She is a contributing writer for The Mighty. Her next adventure is working to self-publish her children’s picture book manuscript.

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