Meet The Staff


Malissa Martin
President & CEO

Malissa began her CIS career with Communities In Schools of Houston in 1999, progressing from grants writer to Director of Resource Development by the time she departed in late 2005 when her family moved to Lawrence, Kansas. From that time until she took the helm of Communities In Schools of Kansas in 2007, she worked as a consultant with a number of CIS affiliates in multiple states. Under her leadership, CIS of Kansas became Communities In Schools of Mid-America in 2014 with the addition of programs in Tulsa, OK; Omaha, NE and Waterloo, IA.

Since coming to CIS of Mid-America, she has significantly strengthened and increased the organization’s resources, has been named by Governor Mark Parkinson to the Kansas Commission on Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery, and serves on several education- and youth-related governing and advisory Boards.

Malissa has dual careers; she is also a visual artist working primarily in the field of encaustic painting, is an officer and volunteer for art-related organizations, and is a founder of the women’s collaborative art collective Four Rooms.  Malissa has two sons and the world’s most incredible grandson and is always thrilled to share countless pictures of him.



Donnie Gerhardt 
Vice President of Administration

Donnie is the Vice President of Administration on the CIS Mid-America executive team. She is housed at the state office and manages CIS of Mid-America’s administrative functions, human resources, training, facilities, and insurances in addition to overall office organization. She comes to us after 20 years with TFI (non-profit) as Director of Administration, 11 years with Peabody Coal Co. as Director of Marketing Research and 5 years with Arthur Andersen Consulting as Senior Consultant.  She has a Bachelor’s in Family and Child Development as well as an MBA from Kansas State University.


Lori Button
Vice President of Finance
Lori is the Vice President of Finance at Communities In Schools of Mid-America. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Washburn University and is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the State of Kansas. Lori worked in the non-profit area as the Finance Director for 8 years at Hilltop Child Development Center on the KU campus. She also worked in public accounting as a CPA for 15 years working with a number of non-profit organizations. Starting work for CIS of Mid-America in August 2016, she is excited to help facilitate the mission of CIS to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.Lori is proud to be a Lawrence native and graduated from Lawrence High School in 198?. She has a 17 year old son at Free State High School.


Kelly Stanford
Vice President of Strategy and Services

Kelly is Vice President of Strategy and Services for CIS of Mid-America.  She holds a B.A. in English and history from Texas A & I University, along with a M.Ed. in Education Administration from Angelo State University.  Kelly comes to CIS of Mid-America with many layers of experience.  This includes teaching at alternative schools in Texas, school and district level administration in Texas and Colorado and, most recently, five years as the United Way director for Routt County in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  She and her husband, Scott, Publisher of the Lawrence Journal World, have two daughters, Maggie who is a recent graduate from Sewanee: The University of the South and her career with a media intelligence firm in Washington, DC and Libby who is beginning her studies in journalism at the University of Missouri.



Brandy Tofel
Associate Vice President of Field Operations


Brandy originally joined the Communities In Schools of Mid-America team as the Affiliate Director for Northeast Kansas, before becoming the Associate Vice President of Field Operations. She came to CIS with over 15 years of experience in child welfare and behavioral health services, with the last 11 years spent at a local foster care agency overseeing foster home licensing, agency accreditation, organizational performance improvement , information management and consumer relations. Brandy is a graduate of Kansas State University with a B.S. in Sociology and a Masters of Liberal Arts from Baker University. She resides in Lawrence with her husband and son. In her spare time, Brandy likes travel and to explore the wonderful art of photography.


Judy Hilyard
Director of Data and Evaluation 
Judy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Washburn University (GO BODS!).  Judy’s passion for working with data and ensuring compliance with business standards shows in her experience.  She possesses 16 years of data reporting experience; 15 years of active compliance involvement; 14 years of data compilation/evaluation experience, as well as 4 years of investigative analysis of data.  In her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time outside…even in the heat of Kansas summers.  Judy resides in Topeka with her husband, John, and their two children, Drake, 18, and Kate, 15.


Anna Barger
Director of Programs and Initiatives

Anna Barger is the Director of Program Development and Initiatives at Communities in Schools of Mid-America. She comes to CIS with a background in domestic violence intervention and services. In doing that work, she cultivated a passion for youth prevention and integrated support services in the school setting. She attended the University of Kansas and received a B.A. in English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing as well as a B.A. in French Literature and Language. She lives in Lawrence with her husband Mike and their two cats Midge and Abel.

Cheri Faunce
Director of Resource Development
Cheri Faunce is the Director of Resource Development at Communities In Schools of Mid-America. She comes to CIS with over 10-years of experience in the nonprofit and government sector where she has written numerous proposals to all levels of government, as well as for private and corporate foundations. Prior to working at CIS, Cheri was the Director of Kansas Mentors, where she provided support to the mentoring sector, strengthened the capacity of youth-serving organizations and developed strategies to effectively use volunteers to solve problems. Cheri is passionate about empowering youth and meeting the community need through philanthropy. She is inspired by the power of relationships and their ability to create lasting change. Graduating with University honors as a Bonner Leader from Washburn University, she holds a BA in Psychology. She and her husband AJ have a beautiful, spunky four-year-old named Adria, and reside in Topeka.


Sophie Archuleta
Program and Office Coordinator

Sophie has a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology with a concentration in Psychology from the University of Kansas. Sophie is a proud alumnus of the AmeriCorps program where she served two years at Heartland Community Health Center managing the Diabetes Care & Prevention Program. She was then hired by the United Way of Douglas County to manage the very same AmeriCorps program she served in.  Sophie has a passion for prevention and thrives on making tools and resources readily available so everyone has the opportunity to make wise and informed decisions in all aspects of their life. Sophie’s passion is now devoted to readying teens for their futures through CIS of Mid-America programs like FutureNow: Finance and Alumni Allies. In her free time, Sophie likes to paint, curl up with a good book, and go on hikes with her friends.


Janelle Martin
Resource Development Associate

Janelle joined the CIS of Mid-America staff fall 2016 as a Resource Development Associate. She comes to the CIS staff with more than a dozen years of experience in the non-profit and government arena as the executive director for the Douglas County Community Health Improvement Partnership (CHIP) and more recently, three years as the Director of Education at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Prior to her work with CHIP, Janelle served in various positions within the University of Kansas Athletics Department; starting as NCAA compliance auditor, then Assistant Athletics Director and Associate Athletics Director. She began her career as assistant sports information director at Northern Illinois University after receiving a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas. She is currently working toward an M.A. in communication studies at KU. Janelle lives in Lawrence with her active and precocious Boston terrier, Kiki.




Kimberly Ray
Accounting Clerk

Kim is the Accounting Clerk at Communities In Schools of Mid-America. She comes to CIS after working 32 years at the University of Kansas with the past 18 years as an accountant in the non-profit organization, KU Office of Research. Kim is new to CIS of Mid America starting in September 2016 and is very excited about working with the organization. She is a Lawrence native and graduate of Lawrence High School and resides in Lawrence with her dog, Chloe. She enjoys reading, movies, KU basketball and the fall season.