Meet Our Team

Sometimes you choose your job, other times your job chooses you.

Laura Whitaker began volunteering with ESP as a special ed college student in 2003. She was named Camp Director at just 19-years-old after the sudden passing of our founder, Martha. Over the last 17+ years, Laura has led ESP to growth and the expansion of our mission. She is passionate about leadership and uses her management strengths to manage staff, oversee multiple year-round programs, and raise funds to run programs. Her favorite part of the job is getting to hug the many children who walk through the ESP doors.
Laura’s most important roles include wife to husband Joseph and mother to Owen, Finley, and Tate.

For more about Laura, visit her site:

Executive Team

Laura Whitaker, Chief Executive Officer,

Ashley Stewart, Chief Operating Officer,

Nicole Andrews, Executive Coordinator,

Amy Spayd, Executive Assistant,

Valerie Beeson, Executive Project Manager,

Programs Team

Our programs team is responsible for planning and executing all of ESP’s programs and events that directly serve our participants of all abilities and their families!

Erin Thompson PodvinDirector of Community Programs,

Hunter PughCommunity Programs Manager,

Matt Waring, Athens Programs Manager,

Sarah Farriba, Rome Programs Coordinator,

Anna Bostwick, Atlanta Programs

Addison King, Volunteer Coordinator,

Alex Bruggeman, Statewide Family Support Coordinator,

Katie Hill, Athens Family Support Coordinator,

Operations Team

Our operations team keeps ESP running – safely and effectively!

Scott Williams, Director of Operations,

Grant Colquitt, Operations Coordinator,

Shellie Sullivan, Administrative Coordinator,

Gina Elliot, Director of Finance,

Karen Lee, Bookkeeper,

Development & Marketing Team

Our development & marketing team is focused on finding ways for our community to connect with the mission of ESP!

Alex Perry, Director of Development & Marketing,

Steve ArgoLeadership Annual Giving Officer,

Devon Smyth, Rome Leadership Annual Gift Officer,

Sarah Kennedy, Marketing Manager,

Brittney Butler, Marketing Coordinator,

Mariharden McElhenyStewardship & Events Coordinator,

Sydney Laughlin, Annual Giving Associate,

Colleen Pruitt, Special Events Coordinator,

Java Joy

Our Java Joy team keeps our adult participants employed - while spreading moments of engagement with the community!

Madison McCrorey, Java Joy Athens Coordinator,

Emma Barton, Java Joy Athens AmeriCorps,

Laura Cavalenes, Java Joy Athens AmeriCorps,

Anna Bostwick, Java Joy Atlanta Programs  Coordinator,

Kidron Bullock, Java Joy Rome AmeriCorps,

Anne Lownes, Java Joy Rome AmeriCorps,

Ashley Vanzant, Java Joy Rome AmeriCorps,

AmeriCorps Team

Meet the AmeriCorps Team that supports the programs at ESP each day! Learn more about each member here.

Laura Cavalenes, Employment-Focused, Athens

Ashley VanzantEmployment-Focused, Rome

Anne LownesEmployment-Focused, Rome

Kidron BullockEmployment-Focused, Rome

Tiernan FoxFamily-Focused, Athens

Alex BruggermanFamily-Focused, Athens

Brandon MarshallFamily-Focused, Athens

Mollie McGeeFamily-Focused, Athens

Hunter ReynoldsFamily-Focused, Athens

Bradley ThomasFamily-Focused, Athens

Communications and Marketing

Corporate Partnerships