The Leadership Team

The governing board

Cathy Crosby

Catherine Crosby
Chief Governing Officer

Catherine Crosby has her parents to thank for introducing her and her brothers to the life-changing work of Unbound. Today, Cathy and her husband, Frank, their daughter and son-in-law, and even their eight year old grandson enjoy building friendships across continents and cultures, sharing stories, awareness trips and photos of sponsored friends.

Joining the Unbound governing board in 2009, Cathy became board chair in 2015. She brings experience as an elementary Montessori teacher, a parish director of religious education, and many years of leadership in Pax Christi, the Catholic peacemaking movement. In 2012, she co-founded Neshama Interfaith Center, building peace and fostering friendships across faith traditions.

Cathy has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Fordham University/Marymount College, a master’s degree in religious education from Loyola University, New Orleans and a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Spring Hill College. She is a certified and practicing spiritual director, hatha yoga instructor and master catechist. Cathy lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband, is the mother of three grown children and the delighted grandmother of two.

“As an Unbound sponsor, I am privileged to walk with and learn from sponsored youth and elderly, to share a bit in their daily journeys, inspired by freely shared gifts of wisdom and hope, resilience and joy. As a board member, I learn from dedicated and talented Unbound staff in Kansas City and beyond. The circle of blessing widens each day!”

- Catherine Crosby

Alison Avayu

Alison Avayu

Alison Avayú joined the Unbound governing board in June, 2012. She first heard of the organization at a church appeal in April, 2009. She sponsored a young boy from Guatemala and went on a trip to meet him. On that trip she met Scott Wasserman and learned more about the work of Unbound. It was such a powerful experience that Alison made two additional trips. She currently also sponsors an elderly man in Guatemala and a student in the Philippines.

Alison graduated from the Kansas State University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in interior design and minors in leadership and Spanish. She worked for an architecture firm in Kansas City as lead interior designer for three years before relocating to South Florida, where she worked in restaurant and office management. In August, 2013, she and her husband opened their own restaurant.

Serving on the Unbound board is one of Alison’s most treasured experiences.

“Benjamin Disraeli said ‘The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own.’ As an Unbound sponsor, the most important gift you are giving is your support and encouragement.”

- Alison Avayu

Vicki Berger

Vicki Berger

Vicki Berger joined the Unbound governing board in 2012. She and husband Roger learned of Unbound (then Christian Foundation for Children and Aging) in the mid-1990s and became first-time sponsors in 1996. Their participation in awareness trips began in 1999 and continues to the present.

Vicki retired in 2003 from North Carolina state government service, during which she served as Curator of Costume and Textiles and Collections Management Section Chief at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. She holds BS and MS degrees from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. from Florida State University. Vicki was named Fellow by the Costume Society of America in 2012 and received the 2015 Community Service Award from the Museum Association of Arizona for her work in costume and textiles throughout the state.

The Bergers live in Phoenix, Arizona. Vicki belongs to the First Congregational United Church of Christ, where she is a member of the mission and outreach Team.

“The United Church of Christ has a slogan ‘God is still speaking,’ Note that the slogan ends with a comma, not a period. After several years of Unbound sponsorship, travel, and now governing board experiences, I believe that ‘God is still speaking,’ through Unbound.”

- Vicki Berger

Dennis Bernardo

Dennis Bernardo

Dennis Bernardo joined the Unbound governing board in 2017. He and his wife, Rosemary, first learned about the organization at a church appeal in 2001, where they decided to sponsor children from the Philippines. As they continued to share letters and photos with their sponsored friends, the Bernardos met them and their families for the first time on an awareness trip in 2013. Dennis and Rosemary’s own children have gone on to become sponsors as well.

Dennis graduated from De La Salle University in the Philippines with a degree in marketing. He furthered his studies at DePaul University, Chicago, in computer programming after moving to the United States. He’s worked in the financial industry for the past 30 years. Dennis says it’s amazing to be able to help give children across the world a chance to receive an education and have a bright and productive future through Unbound.

The Bernardos currently reside in Chicago, IL with their three daughters.

“Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to many ripples.”

- Dennis Bernardo

Dave Herbison

David Herbison

David Herbison is a long-time Unbound sponsor and advocate and a strong believer in the organization’s mission of walking with the poor and marginalized. He has traveled to six countries visiting sponsored friends and projects, and experiencing firsthand Unbound’s valuable work and the life-changing impact of the personal relationship between a sponsored person and their sponsor.

David has more than 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry. He has led successful strategic planning efforts and initiatives in product and deposit strategy, treasury management sales, eBanking and retail and business banking. He has been a member of the Association for Financial Professionals since 1997, when he earned the Certified Treasury Professional accreditation. David is a graduate of Oregon State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in finance and international business, and minored in foreign languages. He also completed graduate work at Portland State University.

David and his wife, Tina, live in the Portland metro area and are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters. David joined the Unbound Governing Board in 2014.

“As Christians and people of good will, I believe we are called to share our hearts and God-given talents and treasures for the betterment of our sisters and brothers. In doing so, we make our own lives richer. Unbound presents each of us a unique opportunity to live our faith through personal one-to-one relationships of mutual respect and support.”

- David Herbison

Emma Higgins

Emma Higgins

Emma Higgins has been involved in Unbound nearly all her life. Her parents have been sponsors as long as she can remember. Upon graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Marketing, she interned in Unbound’s U.S. Outreach department. It was then that she decided to sponsor Fernanda in Mexico.

Emma currently works in advertising, focusing on media, data and measurement. She lives in Chicago, IL.

“Unbound’s strength lies in the community – from Kansas City around the world. I’m continuously inspired by the Unbound network to keep giving, learning, and growing – and always with a smile!”

- Emma Higgins

Rich Swan

Rich Swan

Rich Swan began sponsoring through Unbound in 2000. During a trip to Guatemala in 2003, he and his family met and were deeply inspired by co-founder Bob Hentzen. He joined the governing board in 2012.

Developing relationships with Unbound families and staff has been very gratifying for Rich. He has consistently been amazed with the dedication, care and efficiency of those serving Unbound throughout the world.

Rich was a homeowner association attorney for 12 years. Now, as a Sales Manager, he has more time and flexibility to positively impact the lives of others. He graduated from Regis University where he was challenged to become a servant leader and to ask, “How ought we to live?” A law degree from the University of Denver gave him useful analytical skills.

Having served on other non-profit boards, Rich is impressed with the Unbound governing board’s depth of focus and commitment to governing with excellence, ensuring that resources are used wisely, and quickly getting proper benefits to those served by the organization.

Rich and his wife, Diana, live in Denver, CO. and have been blessed with two children and three grandchildren.

“I try to live the Prayer of St. Francis, to be an instrument of peace. I believe that in giving, we receive and that we can bring so much more to places and people where there is doubt, despair and sadness. Mother Theresa said, ‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.’ Sponsoring through Unbound has brought our family much love, faith, hope and joy. Serving on the Unbound board has been one of the most satisfying and enriching experiences of my professional and spiritual life.”

- Rich Swan

Yessenia Alfaro
Program Coordinator, Santa Ana, El Salvador

Yessenia Alfaro first heard of Unbound in 2001 when she was invited to work as a volunteer with a small community of sponsored children in Zaragoza, El Salvador. The volunteer work gave her the opportunity to get to know the children and families being served by Unbound and gave her valuable experience for her other, future roles with the organization.

In 2002, Yessenia applied for a position with the Santa Ana office as a program accountant and auditor. Since then, she has served in many different roles, and in 2007 she became the Program Coordinator for the Santa Ana office. Yessenia and other members of the Santa Ana office sponsor two girls as a group, Angelita from Honduras and Linsey from Costa Rica.

Before joining Unbound, Yessenia got her degree in public accounting from the National University of El Salvador. She lives in Santa Ana with her husband, Elmer, their nine-year-old son, also named Elmer, and her mom, Carmen, who helps take care of Elmer.

Because she is a current staff member, she serves as a non-voting member.

“Based on listening, you learn in life, but walking alongside the poor, you grow as a person. Much of the time, we believe that the person most in need is the one who needs something materials, but at Unbound we can experience how much wealth there is walking beside us, just by opening our hearts. You're never alone walking with Unbound, there is always someone to accompany and join us!”

- Yessenia Alfaro

Peter Ndungo
Program Coordinator, Nairobi, Kenya

Peter Ndungo serves as coordinator for Unbound’s program in Nairobi, Kenya. Before devoting his full-time work to Unbound in 2006, Peter served as a part-time accountant for Unbound, beginning in 2000. He also worked as an accountant at schools in Kenya and for the Africa Jesuit Aids Network (AJAN). He has also been a teacher.

Peter has been active for more than 17 years in program-related leadership and has, over the years, helped in formation of Unbound’s programs in Africa. He studied accounting at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology. Peter is married with three children.

Because he is a current staff member, he serves as a non-voting member.

“I am enthusiastic with the growth of the people I serve. There is nothing as enriching as working in an institution that transforms lives. Witnessing this human transformation is awesome.”

- Peter Ndungo

Rev. Mike Rieder

Rev. Mike Rieder
Unbound preacher

Father Mike Rieder is a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York. He was ordained in 1994 and currently serves as the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Ronkonkoma, in the middle of Long Island.

Throughout most of his priesthood, Father Mike served as a high school chaplain. It was through this ministry that he organized and accompanied several groups of students on Unbound service trips to Latin America. During these times visiting our programs in the field he became deeply committed to the values and way of working of the organization.

Father Mike joined Unbound’s preacher corps in 2006 and continues to travel throughout the United States on our behalf, visiting Catholic churches, preaching God’s Word and inviting parishioners to join the Unbound community of sponsors. He joined the Unbound governing board in the fall of 2015. Because he is a current preacher, he serves as a non-voting member.

“So much of what I stand for and believe in the depths of my heart has been enflamed by my encounters with the organization and individuals who are Unbound.”

- Father Rieder

Scott Wasserman

Scott Wasserman
Ex-officio member
President and CEO

Scott Wasserman became president and CEO of Unbound in late 2013. Prior to accepting this position, Scott was a guiding presence on the governing board for 15 years, the last 14 years as board chair.

Working out of Unbound’s Kansas City headquarters, Scott spends much of his time traveling to visit families served by Unbound around the world.

“Every sponsor who supports a child, youth or elder saves a world. The poor have so much to share with us in their faith, hope and joy. I am honored to assure that Unbound sponsorship remains a trustworthy means to help a real person in need.”

- Scott Wasserman