Our Board

Interested in joining the FCVA board? Please Contact Us or email tanya@friendshipcircleva.org to learn more.

Helen Fine Griffin

Board President, Friendship Circle of Virginia

Helen was born and raised In Richmond. In high school, Helen spent many hours volunteering at the Cerebral Palsey Treatment Center and the Virginia Home for Incurables. She worked on the staff of the first inpatient adolescent unit at MCV.

As a Navy Wife, Helen traveled and moved often while raising 2 daughters. She previously served as President of Navy Relief in London England, President of Beth Israel Synagogue, Lexington Park, Md., President of the Officers Wives Club, Patuxent River, MD, President of B’nai Israel Sisterhood, Norfolk, VA, and is currently serving on the Boards of the Weinstein JCC, Keneseth Beth Israel, and the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond.

Karen Giles – Board Treasurer: CPA

Karen Giles, CPA is a Senior Manager at a big four public accounting firm with over 18 years of experience in both public accounting and private industry. She provides multistate tax services to large multinational corporate and pass-through clients, in the energy, hospitality, manufacturing, technology, and the real estate investment trust industries.  Karen assists clients with a wide variety of tax issues, with a focus on income /franchise consulting, tax compliance, tax planning, and tax reporting. 

Marissa Marczak – Secretary: Past Teen Board President, Neuroscience Student at Randolph-Macon College

Marissa Marczak is the past President of the Friendship Inclusive Teen Leadership Board and has been part of Friendship Circle for two years. Currently, Marissa is an undergraduate at Randolph-Macon pursuing a degree in Biology and Behavioral Neuroscience. 

Shruthi Chandrashekhar M.D., Dipl ABOM, Dipl ACLM: Doctor of Internal medicine, Obesity medicine, and Lifestyle medicine.

Shruthi Chandrashekhar is a board-certified physician specializing in internal medicine, obesity medicine, and lifestyle medicine. She serves as the Medical Director at Zoe Style Medicine and works as a hospitalist at Henrico Doctors. Originally from India, Shruthi has been residing in Richmond with her family for the past decade, following a move to the US two decades ago. Committed to community involvement, she is a dedicated board member of the Friendship Circle, focusing on supporting children and families with disabilities. Outside of her medical profession, Shruthi enjoys spending quality time with her family through activities like hiking and biking.

Stephen Enders: Parent and Disability Advocate

Stephen was a microbiologist until his son's birth required him to become a stay at home parent.  During the last 6 years, he has helped families navigate the complicated processes involved in caring for a medically complex child.  Accesibility for those children being the main focus.  Stephen has also been active on and off with special olympics for over 20 years.

Harry L. Gewanter, MD: Retired Pediatrician/Pediatric Rheumatologist

Dr. Harry Gewanter is a semi-retired pediatric rheumatologist who has been an active advocate for children, families and people with disabilities for decades. He is a co-founder of Medical Home Plus, Inc., an organization that provides information, support and resources for families with children and youth with disabilities. He also serves on the board of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia and other local, state and national organizations.

Rebecca Haine: Board Member

Rebecca has been a community volunteer most of her life, learning from her parents the importance of involvement and giving to the community you are a part of.  She previously worked for the US Holocaust Memorial Council.  After working as an event planner for Marriott Corp. for 10 years, Rebecca raised 3 children while helping her husband grow Family Eye Care Centers of Virginia.  She has served on the board of Aleph Bet Preschool, taught religious school, been an active volunteer at RTA and Henrico County Public Schools as well as volunteering for Friendship Circle.

Peter Heyman, MD: Pediatrician

Dr. Peter Heyman has been a Friendship Circle board member for the past 3 years in addition to serving on the Board when Friendship Circle was founded here in Richmond over 10 years ago.  He is also the immediate past treasurer.  Peter has been practicing pediatrics for 25 years with RVA Pediatrics.  He lives in the West End with his wife Allison, and his children Alex and Sadie. 

Adele I. Karp, LCSW, LLC:  Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Adele is a clinical social worker who has extensive experience in working with children and adults, families and couples currently in private practice. A highlight of her career included 21 years of working at Jewish Family Services, where she developed, and administered, the Weinstein JCC’s pilot community-wide Inclusion Program, including social groups, religious
school, pre-school, after-school and camp programs to ensure that everyone feels welcome and integrated in our community. This program continues to be the pride of the JCC. Adele enjoys her family, traveling and bicycling.

Danny Kenyon: Director of Development at C2Adoot

Danny is the Director of Development at C2Adoot and the former Director of Adult Day Support at SOAR365.  Danny has worked in the disability field for over 20 years,  Danny grew up in northern Virginia and has lived in the Richmond area for over 20 years. Prior to working in the disability field he worked in Information Technology.  You may run into Danny all over Richmond as he loves volunteering and engaging with the community.  Danny is also a huge foodie and loves all of the amazing restaurants Richmond has to offer.

Rabbi Yossel Kranz: Chabad of Virginia

Rabbi Yossel Kranz is the Executive Director at Chabad of Virginia and has served the Richmond community for over 30 years. He is a founding member of the board since its creation 10 years ago. Friendship Circle of Virginia is a project of Chabad Virginia.

Julie Marczak: Board Member

Julie Marczak worked as a general education/ exceptional education teacher for 15 years. Her specialty was teens with developmental disabilities. She moved here from Idaho two years ago and has participated for the last year as a general board member before becoming Vice President.

Jay McLaughlin: Rehabilitation Counselor

Jay McLaughlin survived a traumatic brain injury in 1988. He went on to attain a Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. He currently works in the community with adults and children with a wide variety of disabilities.

Caroline O’Donnel: Special Education Teacher

Carolyn O’Donnell has ten years experience as a special educator, working with children K-12.  Most recently, Carolyn worked as a teacher in the Integrated Services program at Glen Allen High School.  Carolyn joined the Friendship Circle of Virginia after experiencing LifeTown in Columbus via the Friendship Circle of Ohio and is now the Director of the FCVA Inclusive Teen Leadership Board.


Dr. Nathan Zasler is Founder, CEO & Medical Director of Concussion Care Centre of Virginia, Ltd., as well as Tree of Life Services, Inc.  Dr. Zasler is board certified in PM&R, fellowship trained in brain injury and subspecialty certified in Brain Injury Medicine.  He is an affiliate professor in the VCU Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Richmond, VA, and a visiting professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.  He has been working with people with neuro-disability for over 30 years and has a long history of disability advocacy. 

Alexis Nichols (1997 - 2021) Board Member since 2019

May Her Memory Be For A Blessing

Alexis Nichols was one of the most authentic, strong, intuitive, and kind people I have ever met. She was a passionate disability advocate and impacted everyone she met, just by being her. Alexis was gentle yet fierce with the understanding of an old soul well beyond her years. She taught me more about the inclusion of every person than I could learn in a lifetime. She will always be a friend, a colleague and a mentor, and will be forever sorely missed.
- Sarah Kranz-Ciment, Director

Alexis was a kind, beautiful person with warmth, charm, grace, and intelligence, as an advocate and as a person who faced challenges due to her disability while never letting them stop her from being who she was or advocating for others with cognitive and/or physical challenges.
- Nathan Zasler - Board President

It was a pleasure serving on the Friendship Circle Board with Alexis. Her contributions to our discussions and planning were enormously influential in guiding our principals and practices of inclusion. I learned so much from her, and will certainly use that knowledge as I continue to do advocacy in my personal and professional life.
-Peter Heyman - Board Member

Climbing walls is not my thing. I like to keep my feet on the ground. So here we are at a FCVA event and I'm this big strong healthy mobile guy and I'm not going anywhere near that crazy wall. Soft voiced tiny Alexis rolls up to the people working the climbing wall and says to them "Let's figure out how we can get me up on this climbing wall." vAnd they did! I'm this big guy being a wimp over in the corner and Alexis is in her cute little wheelchair with flowers all over it and she's the one who went up the climbing wall. I never forgot it and I learned a lot from Alexis about what it means to be brave and strong and confident!
- Jay McLaughlin - Board Member