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Caring Solutions Board of Directors Announces New Members, Executive Staff Promotions

Caring Solutions Board of Directors Announces New Members, Executive Staff Promotions

  • Updated
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Caring Solutions encourages wellness and health activities for residents, staff and their families, such as this walk at Millennium Park in Creve Coeur in past years.

Founded in 2001, the St. Louis-based nonprofit Caring Solutions designs and provides services to meet the unique needs of children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. It has earned a reputation for serving those with significant challenges but unmet needs by providing community-based support in daily living. In 2019, the nonprofit was honored as a Ladue News Charity Awards finalist.

The organization recently welcomed these new board members:

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Mike Mertens

Mike Mertens, the business operations manager for Earth City’s Byrne & Jones Construction, retired from the Parkway School District, where he served for several years as director of facilities. Prior to that, Mertens held leadership roles at Maryland Heights’ Carboline and National Linen and spent the first 20 years of his career at Monsanto/Solutia in various roles in St. Louis and California. He graduated from the University of Missouri at Rolla (now Missouri S&T) with a degree in mechanical engineering and also earned an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. He is a member of and officer in Rotary International.

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James Tarter

James Tarter, as a regional director of sales for Burlington, Massachusetts-based MilliporeSigma, leads a team of sales reps who focus on biotech startups and pharmaceutical companies involved in the newest breakthrough medications. Tarter, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is currently pursuing an MBA from Webster University in Webster Groves.

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Donald Buckner

Donald Buckner, the manager of grants and funds administration for St. Louis’ Foundation of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, previously served as director of philanthropy for that municipality’s SSM Health Foundation. Before that, Buckner worked for more than 20 years in various finance positions with the National Benevolent Association before becoming its vice president for development. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration with special emphasis in accounting from Columbia College.

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Reggie Thorpe

Reggie Thorpe serves as president of Event Management Direct, which plans events for the corporate business community and local charities. Thorpe also has served Caring Solutions on its advisory council for the past five years and served as director of the organization’s Cup Golf Tournament. He previously worked for Southwestern Bell. Thorpe received both Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Kansas City, Missouri’s Rockhurst University and a Master of Science degree in management from Town and Country’s Maryville University. He has served on several nonprofit boards.

Caring Solutions also announced these executive staff promotions:

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Shannan French

The board of directors has selected Shannan French to become the nonprofit’s executive director. French has served the organization for seven years, serving as its regional program director and opening a satellite office in Franklin County. Her experience in serving those with autism and other developmental disabilities started as a direct support worker nearly 20 years ago. French then earned a degree in social work from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She follows in the footsteps of Caring Solutions founder and CEO Madeleine “Madi” Hawn, who retired in July but will continue to work part time in development focused on grant writing.

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Guankita Henry

Also moving up, from her position as program director, is Guankita Henry, now serving in the new position of assistant director. Beyond a background that started in direct support, Henry has accrued most of her experience in supervisory roles with Caring Solutions. She graduated from Harris Stowe State University in midtown St. Louis.

Sally Troutman Boyd serves as Caring Solutions’ director of development.

Caring Solutions, 1852 Craig Park Court, St. Louis, 314-942-7350,

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