The Leadership Team
Community Outreach and
Media Relations Director
International Human Resources Director
Director of International Programs
Director of Sponsorship Operations
Director of Human Resources
Director of Technology Services
Marketing and Communications Director
Director of Finance
and Service Center
Director of Sponsor Experience
International Program Director
Scott Wasserman - President and CEO
Scott Wasserman and his wife, Anabella, sponsored their first child through Unbound soon after they married in 1988. Since then they have sponsored numerous children and adults in various countries. Now that their three daughters are adults, they credit Unbound sponsorship with teaching them to see the image of God in all people, especially the poor.
Scott became president and CEO of Unbound in 2013. Prior to accepting this position, he was a guiding presence on the governing board for 15 years, the last 14 as board chair.
A graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of Kansas, Scott served on the National Review Board advising the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on policies to protect children. He and Anabella are active leaders in their local diocese and parish.
Scott works out of Unbound’s Kansas City headquarters, and spends much of his time traveling to visit families served by Unbound around the world.
As sponsors, my family and I have received more from our sponsored friends than we have given them. We are grateful to help them on their path to self-sufficiency. In return, they have given us love and joy.
- Scott Wasserman
Andrew Kling - Director of Community Outreach and Media Relations
Andrew Kling joined Unbound in 2016 with 15 years of experience in civic engagement and strategic communication. As the director of community outreach and media relations, he develops strategic partnerships and connects journalists, artists and other gifted storytellers with the people at the heart of our work.
Before Unbound, Andrew worked throughout the United States on issues of justice and dignity for marginalized communities, working extensively with the faith community on health care access, payday lending reform, immigration reform and racial equity. His work has helped elevate to national prominence stories of families feeling the pain of broken systems. He has also managed, staffed and consulted on dozens of electoral campaigns across the country.
Andrew studied science and religion at Columbia University, and earned a degree in public communication from Truman State University. He enjoys travel, live music and combining the two whenever possible.
Unbound will challenge your understanding of poverty — and of wealth. There is a joy in this community that is remarkable to fathom, and so much to learn from the families we walk alongside. The children, elders and sponsors in Unbound prove every day that anyone can change the world.
- Andrew Kling
Brenda Rush – International Human Resources Director
Brenda Rush has been with Unbound since 1996. Before assuming her current role as international human resources director, Brenda served as the director of sponsor services and administrative director in international programs.
Prior to Unbound, she worked in sales at a major retail chain, as a cardio medical technician and a phlebotomist at a major cardiologist office in Kansas City. She has also studied, lived and worked in El Salvador, Mexico and Spain.
Brenda graduated from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and Public Administration. She also has a PHR (Professional in Human Resources) certification and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management.
Proud of her deep family heritage from El Salvador, Brenda is a native of Kansas City and lives there currently with her husband and two children.
I’m humbled and honored to be a part of Unbound. I’m inspired every day by the resilience and perseverance of the sponsored members and their families, the tenderheartedness of the sponsors and the humble commitment and compassion demonstrated by our staff, both locally and internationally.
- Brenda Rush
Claudia Vázquez-Puebla – Latino Market Development Director
Claudia Vázquez-Puebla began working at Unbound in 2013 as volunteer outreach manager. In August 2016, she became volunteer outreach director, and in 2019 she transitioned to Latino Market Development Director. Prior to joining the organization, she served as a church youth director and as a life coach, writing and teaching life skills curricula for junior and senior high school students in multiple school districts in the Kansas City area.
A 1999 graduate of Benedictine College, Claudia holds a bachelor’s degree in science with a minor in Spanish. She received an executive MBA from Benedictine College in 2005.
Claudia and her husband live with their three sons in Kansas City, Kansas. Both she and her husband are immigrants to the U.S. and consider themselves blessed to be able to raise their family here. They love to travel, especially to visit family in Mexico.
Throughout my life I was blessed to have people guide me through a totally new way of life, as it was different for my parents, since they grew up in Mexico. I have worked with organizations that give back and lend a helping hand to see people succeed in life. My passion for the work that I do comes from my parents taking that chance in giving me better opportunities to be successful in life.
- Claudia Vázquez-Puebla
Dan Pearson - Director of International Programs
As the director of international programs, Dan Pearson leads the international programs department in its role to monitor the effectiveness and fiscal credibility of Unbound programs overseas. He and the other department members travel extensively to support and evaluate Unbound projects around the world.
Dan has a passion for program evaluation and working with stakeholders to identify goals and measure the impact of the program. He has more than 15 years of experience working with development programs around the world, and has lived and worked in South America, Europe, and Western and South Asia.
Dan has a master’s degree in international affairs from the University of Denver and a master’s in public administration from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He lives in the Kansas City area with his wife, Kristina, and their three children.
The best part of my job is visiting sponsored friends and their families in their homes. Each family teaches me something new. They remind me that each person’s life is rich, unique and important.- Dan Pearson
Dave Heaton – Director of Sponsorship Operations
Dave Heaton came to Unbound in 2009 as a systems analyst/project manager, handling functional changes to the Unbound website and database, and now serves as director of sponsorship operations.
Dave’s work background originally was in proofreading, editing and writing for companies in various industries. This led to involvement in other web-related business analysis and project management work, including five years at a large health insurance company as a business/systems analyst.
Dave has a bachelor’s degree in communication/journalism and a master’s degree in English, both from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. For his master’s thesis, he wrote about detective fiction, which he believes was good preparation for the kind of investigative work involved with system troubleshooting and cross-departmental problem-solving.
Originally from St. Louis, Dave now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with his wife and two sons.
Every day I’m impressed by the extent to which everyone involved with Unbound – no matter their role – keeps the families in mind all of the time. We all feel compelled to do anything we can to help fellow human beings overcome enormous challenges and better their lives.
- Dave Heaton
Greg O'Neil – Director of Human Resources
Greg O’Neil joined Unbound as director of human resources in May 2018. As the director of human resources, Greg provides leadership for the HR team and is responsible for all aspects of Unbound’s HR function.
Prior to joining Unbound, Greg’s HR career of over 20 years was primarily spent in leadership roles at large multi-national financial services companies. Greg also found success as an HR consultant working with clients both in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. In these roles, Greg acquired a broad range of HR experience and global acumen that he is excited to put to use furthering the Unbound mission.
Greg holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas. He also holds the SPHR and SHRM-SCP professional designations.
Greg and his wife, Norma, live in the Kansas City area and have two grown children. They enjoy traveling and can often be seen at area music, dance and theater events.
I am very grateful to have this opportunity to apply my talents in service of Unbound’s mission. It is so inspiring to be surrounded daily by countless examples of love and respect for our sponsors and sponsored friends.
- Greg O'Neil
Jennifer Siebes – Parish Outreach Director
Jennifer Siebes came to Unbound in 2012 as preacher relations manager. In that role, she worked closely with the priests who preach on behalf of the organization. Today she serves as parish outreach director, guiding all of Unbound’s efforts in Catholic parish communities across the U.S.
Graduating from Kansas State University in 1988, Jennifer holds a bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology with a minor in geriatric studies. Before coming to Unbound, she was the advertising manager for The Leaven, the newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
Jennifer has four children. Three are grown and one is still in school. She enjoys cooking and baking, sharing time with family and friends, reading, and traveling, which she looks forward to doing more of as an empty-nester.
I am grateful for the opportunity to live my faith through my daily work. It is both an honor and a source of great joy for me to work in Parish Outreach alongside our dedicated team of Catholic priests who travel throughout the U.S. passionately sharing the liberating work of Unbound and inviting the Catholic faithful to join our global family.- Jennifer Siebes
John Dougherty – Director of Technology Services
John Dougherty joined Unbound in 2015 as director of technology services. He supervises the team that manages the Unbound database, computer network and all other aspects of integrated technology.
John graduated from Missouri State University in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in computer information systems. Since then he has worked in the computer technology field, first as a programmer and later in management. He has also served as a part-time minister in many different church communities.
John has three grown children. His interests include leadership and business inspiration and motivation, a wide variety of sports, hiking and biking. He lives in the Kansas City area.
Jesus said he came not to be served but to serve. I believe we are all called to that mentality, and I am a firm believer in ‘servant leadership.’ Unbound provides the perfect opportunity for its employees to be of service to others, and especially to serve the marginalized of the world. I think the statement that best describes my personality and what I try to exude to others is ‘calm is contagious!’
- John Dougherty
Lilliana Seskis – Child Services Director
Lilliana Seskis leads the child services team, which collects and verifies the records of children, youth and elders available for sponsorship, and prepares their files for potential sponsors. She has been with Unbound since September 2004, having started as a sponsor services phone team member, later serving as team leader and manager.
Lilliana was born and raised in Mexico. She and her husband, Matt, have two children, Brian and Brett. Their family has lived in the Kansas City area for 21 years.
I love knowing that, although I don’t work directly with the sponsored families, the work that I do on a daily basis has helped many families reach goals they never thought possible.- Lilliana Seskis
Martin Kraus - Director of Finance and Service Center
Martin Kraus joined Unbound in 2009 as director of finance. He leads a dedicated team that ensures the transparency, accuracy, timeliness and openness of Unbound's financial information. He also directs the Unbound service center, which handles much of the correspondence from sponsored friends and other building-related responsibilities at the Kansas office.
Previously, Martin worked in various financial roles in the accounting, health insurance and transportation industries.
Martin graduated from Rockhurst University with a degree in accounting, and is a certified public accountant. He belongs to the Missouri Society of CPAs and the American Institute of CPAs.
Martin is married with three grown children and is enjoying his new life as a grandparent.
Families living in poverty have many, many things in common with my own family. We all just need a little help to realize our potential.- Martin Kraus
Mary Geisz - Director of Sponsor Experience
As director of sponsor experience, Mary Geisz leads the sponsor experience teams in their role to advance the quality of the experience Unbound sponsors and supporters have with the organization, and with their individual sponsorship of a child, youth or elderly friend in the program. Mary is responsible for the structure, staff, programming and operation of the sponsor experience teams.
Mary joined Unbound in 2014, after more than 25 years working in marketing, communications, client experience and project leadership roles, at times coordinating team members based in places like The Netherlands, Australia, India and Malaysia. Having worked on client experience and loyalty initiatives, she brings an informed perspective to her role at Unbound.
Mary is a graduate of Kansas State University and holds an MBA from Rockhurst University. She and her husband, Owen, live in the Kansas City area.
Not a day goes by without a remarkable story of an outcome resulting from the good Unbound does. I’m impressed every day with our bright, dedicated staff, our generous sponsors and our inspiring sponsored friends.- Mary Geisz
Melissa Velazquez - International Program Director
Melissa Velazquez serves as program director for Latin America. She provides leadership to the teams working throughout the region and supports international evaluation efforts. Melissa joined Unbound in 2008 and dedicated most of her career to building the framework for measuring program effectiveness as an evaluation specialist and international evaluation manager. She stepped into her current role in 2016.
Melissa holds a master's in Latin American and Caribbean studies, with an emphasis in human geography, from the University of Kansas. Her research focused on urbanization and formalization of peri-urban settlements.
As an undergraduate, she studied history, anthropology and indigenous language at the Universidad de Costa Rica and received a graduate fellowship for the study of Brazilian Portuguese in Vitória, Brazil.
She is a member of the American Evaluation Association, regularly attending and presenting at annual conferences, and has served for several years on the board of the local AEA affiliate.
Melissa is married with two children. She and her family enjoy exploring Kansas City, particularly through food and music.
Unbound’s relentless commitment to the leadership and decision-making of families counters the donor-driven nature of many development efforts and makes me proud to participate. I have seen individuals and communities flourish under the leadership of creative and dedicated families. They push me to listen, learn, and passionately evaluate our work to ensure that it is ultimately developing tools and creating stability for them to invest in their goals for a better future.- Melissa Velazquez
Michael Calabria – Planned Giving Director
Michael Calabria has been with Unbound since 2001, serving for his first eight years as director of finance before moving to the role of planned giving director. He works primarily with people who are interested in making estate gifts and other sizeable donations to support the work of the organization.
Holding a bachelor's degree in business administration from Southern Methodist University, Michael has also completed graduate studies in accounting and finance at the University of North Texas and the University of Texas at Dallas. In 2011, he completed graduate courses in Charitable Giving through American University and was certified as a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy. He is a member of the Mid-America Planned Giving Council and a member of the MAPGC Board of Directors. His prior work experience has been primarily in accounting and finance, financial services and sports marketing.
Married with four children, Michael and his family moved to the Kansas City area from Texas in 1999. They enjoy cycling, hiking, nature walks, live music venues, fall harvests at area vineyards and supporting fundraising events for local charities.
My work in planned giving is enriched daily by the kindness and generosity of our sponsors and donors whose greatest gifts are nurtured by the personal relationship they experience with a sponsored friend.- Michael Calabria
Francis 'Paco' Wertin - Church Relations Director
Paco Wertin joined Unbound in 1991 after 14 years of service and leadership as a missionary priest. His years at Unbound have taken him from directing the work of a shelter for homeless men to serving as CEO from 2002 to 2013.
As church relations director, Paco nurtures church relationships and communicates Unbound’s identity, grounded in Catholic social teaching. He supports our outreach within Catholic communities around the country and with the priests who preach on our behalf.
Paco has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s in theology. He and his wife, Claudia, have a daughter and live in the Kansas City area.
All over the world, families living in poverty struggle heroically against tremendous odds. It is a privilege and joy to be involved in Unbound's work to walk with them in love and humility, as this community of compassion emerges and takes shape.- Paco Wertin
Pritha Hariharan - International Program Director
Pritha Hariharan serves as Unbound’s international program director for Asia and Africa. Previously, she served as regional project director for Asia. She has been with the organization since 2015.
Most of Pritha’s prior work was in the telecommunications and technology industries in several capacities. She holds a bachelor of science in agriculture, earned in India, an MBA from Texas A&M University, and a master of arts in global and international studies from the University of Kansas. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Agile Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and a Six Sigma Green Belt. She is fluent in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
Pritha is married with a young son. She was born and raised in India and moved to the U.S. more than 20 years ago. She has lived and worked in India, Canada and the U.S., and has called Kansas City home for more than 15 years. She has traveled to many countries around the world for both business and pleasure.
I am extremely fortunate to work for an organization that believes in the dignity of the individual and goes about doing incredible work with great humility. Working at Unbound does not feel like 'work' because the sponsored families we serve, staff in the countries where we work, and my co-workers in Kansas inspire me on a daily basis.
- Pritha Hariharan
Ramiro Zelada – Sponsor Services Director
Ramiro Zelada has been with Unbound since 2008, serving his first five years as sponsor services teams manager before taking on the role of sponsor services director.
Ramiro has over 18 years of management experience. He holds a bachelor's degree in management and human relations from MidAmerica Nazarene University, and a master’s degree in business management from Baker University.
Ramiro is a volunteer speaker and Life Mentor for the Gift of Life Foundation and a volunteer ambassador for the Midwest Transplant Network, where he has participated in different events such as one-on-one interface with people on organ transplant waiting lists and their families, and marketing campaigns educating people on organ donation.
Here’s an example of why I love my job. A group of mothers in Merida were addressing me and one of the mom leaders told me ‘before Unbound, we were depressed, abused, sad because of the lack of friends, deserted, isolated, with fears, doubts, and insecurities. Now that we are in the Unbound program, we learned to be focused on what we want to achieve as individuals and as a group and we learned to believe in ourselves.’ After hearing words like that, you feel the satisfaction of knowing the work Unbound does.- Ramiro Zelada
Steve McClain – Director of Outreach
Steve joined Unbound in June 2018 as the director of outreach. In this position, he will shepherd Unbound’s marketing and outreach strategy.
Steve brings a wealth of knowledge to Unbound, with diverse leadership experiences in financial services, telecommunications and marketing services industries. Steve has both a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts from Rockhurst University, and has an MBA from Webster University.
Steve has primarily been focused on marketing, sales, customer service and business development. He is passionate about helping teams align toward a shared vision, while driving meaningful improvement in the strategies to achieve their long-term goals.
He lives in the Kansas City area with his wife, Mary Beth. They have raised five children together, two of whom are still in college.
Poverty comes in a variety of forms and exists all around us. I am inspired by the Unbound team who creates unique connections and helps build relationships that make the world a smaller, more caring place to live and grow.- Steve McClain
Tara Hefner – Channel Development Director
Tara Hefner joined Unbound as channel development director in August 2019. In her role, Tara leads the development and execution of workplace giving, identifying strategic partnerships to support Unbound.
Prior to joining Unbound, Tara spent almost 20 years working in public relations and corporate communications, most recently at a global, publicly traded company headquartered in the Kansas City metro. Her experience in the for-profit sector helps her understand the unique needs of organizations, leaders and their employees. She has a genuine passion for helping organizations develop their culture and engage their employees in giving back to their communities.
Tara holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Public Relations from Baylor University. Tara is a native of the Midwest, but lived in Texas, New Jersey and California before returning to the Kansas City area in 2006. Tara and her husband, Nick, live in the Kansas City area and enjoy traveling and spending time in their yard and workshop on a variety of projects.
I am inspired daily by the impact Unbound has on communities around the world and I am honored to play one very small part in that impact – connecting people and companies to Unbound.
- Tara Hefner