In a nod to MADD’s beginning as a grassroots organization, board members serve as volunteers during their tenure. During the three-year term, national board members oversee MADD’s road map to reaching No More Victims®.
We salute our board members for donating their time, talents and energy to the MADD mission and thank each and every one of them for their integrity, dedication and vision.
Chair of Board
Heather began her career at Ultimate Software in Marketing in 2010, promoting the company’s pioneering Software as a Service HR and Payroll systems. Heather now serves on the Public Relation team for the firm, overseeing Media and Community Relations. Ultimate is one of South Florida’s most respected technology businesses, supporting customers including Bloomin’ Brands, Feeding America, Major League Baseball, and Yamaha Corporation of America. The company is regularly recognized as an employer of choice, ranked in the top 25 in Fortune Magazine list of Best Places to Work for seven consecutive years.
Heather is one of Broward County’s young leaders, remaining constantly and actively involved with the South Florida community. Following the loss of her father, Dr. Robert Geronemus, to a drunk driver in 2009, Heather took a leadership role in Fort Lauderdale’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization. Heather established the Annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash Fort Lauderdale in 2011 and has since then continually chaired the event. The walk has raised more than $1.5 million to date. In addition, she regularly represents MADD with local, state and federal elected officials, travelling to Washington D.C. to meet with Florida’s Congressional and Senatorial delegations. Heather’s efforts were recognized at MADD’s 2012 national conference, where she was awarded the Linda Kitazaki Volunteer Fundraising Award. She was named Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals at their National Philanthropy Day 2014 for her work with MADD Broward. She also received the 2011-’12 and 2014 MADD Florida Hero Awards for outstanding achievement.
Heather is thrilled to chair Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash Fort Lauderdale for the eighth year in a row and is proud to assume the vice chair position on the National Board of Directors of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Heather’s charitable commitment extends to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, where she has volunteered since the age of three and served as committee member and mentor to community members for the organization’s South Florida chapter, supporting both fundraising and awareness events. Heather serves on the Board of Trustees of her alma mater, Pine Crest School, after years of service to the Advisory Council and Alumni Advisory Council. Heather is a member of the Advisory Board of Cystic Fibrosis & Jack & Jill Children’s Center’s Friends Auxiliary Board as well as the American Heart Association’s Executive Cabinet. She also proudly serves on the Winterfest Boat Parade’s Board of Directors. In addition to board roles Heather chairs events such as ARC Broward’s Delish & Cystic Fibrosis’ Beach Bash on an annual basis. She previously served as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for Broward’s Ghost Light Society, in support of arts education programs at the Broward Center, and previously sat on the Broward Performing Arts Foundation Board of Directors.
Her work has been profiled in the Sun Sentinel, and she has appeared on NBC, ABC and CBS to discuss issues and efforts to fight drunk driving. Heather is a graduate of Leadership Broward Class XXX, a 2013 Cystic Fibrosis South Florida’s Finest Honoree and a 2013 Florida Panthers Hero Among us Honoree. Heather was honored to be named as one of South Florida Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in their 2014 Class. In 2015 Ms. Geronemus was recognized as an Up & Comer for Public Relations by South Florida Business & Wealth Magazine.
In her spare time, she is an avid runner, and cyclist and spends every minute possible with her friends and family in New York.
Vice Chair of Board
Don is a Houston police officer who specializes in drunk driving enforcement. He is a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) instructor who travels across the country to speak about fatal crash cases, and investigative techniques he has acquired through his years of experience.
While Don was in high school, his father, who also was a law enforcement officer, was hit by a drunk driver while on duty. Don’s father survived, and the experience inspired Don to join the law enforcement community. Throughout his own career, Don has been involved in five DWI-related crashes and investigated many DWI-related, line-of-duty deaths.
Don has volunteered with MADD for many years and serves on the MADD Southeast Texas Advisory Board. He resides in Houston and has two children, a son and a daughter. When not working, Don is an avid hockey fan and spends his spare time doing landscape and nature photography.
Season Atkinson brings a breadth of experiences to the MADD National Board of Directors. As a personal injury attorney at Tatum & Atkinson, PLLC in Raleigh, North Carolina, she takes a special interest in helping victims of drunk and drugged drivers pursue compensation through the civil justice system and also supports them in navigating and understanding their role in the criminal justice system. Many times, this additional personal attention and assistance helps the county prosecutor in obtaining a criminal conviction against the impaired driving offender.
Season is also the proud wife of a North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper, Derek DelCastilho, who has previously served on his troop’s DWI task force and has been honored at the North Carolina Law Enforcement Recognition Awards Ceremony for his role in removing impaired drivers from North Carolina roadways. He regularly apprehends and arrests impaired drivers and, all too often, the arrest is the result of a crash in which there is a fatality or serious injury. Impaired driving, its consequences and how to reduce or eliminate it is a frequent topic of conversation in their household.
Season has also been an active member of the North Carolina MADD State Advisory Board and co-chairperson of Raleigh Walk Like MADD for several years. She remains active with North Carolina MADD and continues her commitment locally by lobbying the North Carolina General Assembly for tougher DWI laws and raising funds for improving services to North Carolina victims.
Most importantly, Season has personally been affected by an impaired driving tragedy. On August 8, 1980, she lost her father, James “Jim” White, when he was killed in a drunk driving crash. Season was 6 years old. As a result of this loss and her background in helping victims of impaired drivers, Season is committed to MADD’s mission of No More Victims and the goal that drunk and drugged driving be eliminated within her lifetime.
Martha Frye is the Senior Regional Vice President for the Southeastern Regional Operations for Nationwide. She has served in this role since April 2013. Prior to this opportunity, Martha served as Senior Vice President of Property & Casualty Customer Service and Sales Solutions for Nationwide and as the Enterprise Controller and Chief Accounting Officer.
Martha has an extensive background in insurance including strategic business planning, finance and business operations. As SVP of Customer Service and Sales Solutions, she led all facets of customer service for all brands and products of the Property & Casualty business. Martha significantly increased customer enthusiasm and associate engagement while reducing the cost of delivering service over twenty percent. As Nationwide’s Controller and Chief Accounting Officer, she led all aspects of controllership including accounting, reporting and finance shared services. In that role, Martha reduced the financial reporting cycle to deliver financial results to business leaders and improved the overall quality and transparency of financial reporting.
Prior to joining Nationwide in 2006, Frye held a variety of senior leadership positions at Genworth Financial, General Electric Company, Universal American Financial Corporation and KPMG. She has successfully led business re- engineering initiatives, merger execution and integration efforts.
Frye is a Certified Public Accountant and earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is affiliated with the North Carolina & Ohio Board of Certified Public Accountants and is a member of the AICPA and the NCACPA. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Life Care Alliance and the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.
With over 25 years of experience in various engineering and management positions at “intelligent” transportation organizations and major carmakers, Steve Gehring serves as the VP of Vehicle Safety and Connected Automation for Global Automakers. Before that he was the Director of Public Policy for Vehicle Safety at General Motors. Steve has a strong track record working on both traditional historical areas of auto safety and with emerging new safety technologies. Gehring has worked on vehicle safety matters with the federal government and external safety organizations in various capacities in Washington and Michigan. Gehring holds a B.S from Kettering University and a M.S. from the University of Michigan. He currently lives in Maryland.
When Carol’s youngest child, 21-year old son, Scott, was killed by a drunk driver in 2008 in a fiery crash on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, she turned to MADD who provided much needed support and guidance as the family navigated the criminal justice system.
Carol has shared Scott’s story with many audiences, including NFL team trainings, US military safety awareness seminars, Every 15 Minutes programs, regional and state law enforcement recognition events, “Avoid” enhanced DUI enforcement kick-off dinners, and various television news stations.
The family car in which Scott was killed was donated to create a MADD crash car trailer, which has been displayed at countless schools and community events throughout Northern California in order to raise awareness and prevent others from making the decision to drink and then drive. The California Highway Patrol produced a 90-second public service announcement featuring Scott’s story, which is used at law enforcement training, driver education and diversion programs.
Carol has served on the MADD San Francisco Bay Area Affiliate’s Advisory Board for six years and has co-chaired three annual Walk Like MADD fundraising events. She answers MADD’s national 24-hour Victim/Survivor Help Line to provide immediate support in the wake of a drunk or drugged driving crash. Carol has also been trained and serves as a MADD Victim Advocate, helping other families as they face the impact of a substance-impaired crash.
Christopher Mann has experienced MADD’s mission firsthand as a police officer arresting DUI offenders and being hit by drunk driver in the line of duty. As a former Lawrence, Kan. police officer, Mann was performing a routine traffic stop when he was struck by a drunk driver. As a result of his extensive injuries, the crash ended his career as a police offer. After enduring years of intense physical therapy, Mann’s courage and determination led him to earn his law degree and became a county prosecutor, fighting to keep offenders off the roads.
Mann took his legal experience and passion to private practice, opening Mann Law Firm, P.A., where he focuses on representing victims of drunk driving and their families in lawsuits against the drunk drivers. He began volunteering with MADD in 2010 and has served as the MADD Kansas Advisory Board Chair since 2011. Mann has played a key role in the promotion and passing of significant drunk driving legislation in Kansas, including ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders and an aggravated battery DUI law.
Anne Taylor McCartt, PhD
Dr. Anne McCartt has conducted research in highway safety for more than 30 years. After working for a research institute at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany and Preusser Research Group, Inc. she joined the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2002 and became Senior Vice President for Research in 2007.
Dr. McCartt has authored more than 180 technical reports and scientific papers on a wide range of topics. Much of her research has focused on alcohol-impaired driving, including studies of New York’s STOP-DWI program, high BAC laws, minimum legal drinking age laws, administrative license suspension, alcohol ignition interlocks, and other countermeasures.
She was president of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine and has served on numerous expert committees. Dr. McCartt received a B.A. magna cum laude from Duke University and a doctorate from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany.
Madalene is a Partner at GMMB, and one of the nation’s most accomplished practitioners of public health and public safety campaigns. Her work has helped change laws across the country, increasing tobacco taxes to fund prevention programs and passing smoke-free air laws. Her innovative thinking helped create the new social norm of putting kids in the back seats of cars, and made it harder for intoxicated drivers to get behind the wheel.
Madalene has worked with MADD since the mid-1990’s both as a partner in the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign and Click It or Ticket and as a paid consultant to help re-brand the organization in 2006 followed by the launch of the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.
In addition, Madalene has voluntarily consulted with the board of The Family and Children’s Trust Fund of Virginia, an organization that provides support and development of services for the prevention and treatment of family violence in Virginia. She has also worked with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network since the early 2000’s, and offers pro-bono fundraising and consulting outside of her agency role to support their causes.
Walter G. Rooney, MD
Dr. Walter Rooney is an Otolaryngologist/Plastic Surgeon in the Greater Chicago area. Previously he was affiliated with The Mercy Health System in Cincinnati, a large not-for-profit hospital system in the Midwestern United States. He received his training and medical degree from the University Hospital/Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, respectively, and has been in practice for 14 years. He also received an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Rooney’s sister, Annie, was killed by a repeat drunk driver on July 4, 2013. Dr. Rooney and his family lobbied to pass “Annie’s Law,” which strengthened ignition interlock laws for drunk driving offenders in Ohio, where close to 400 people are killed every year from the 100% preventable crime. As a physician, he believes he can mobilize those in the health care sector to voice their support for this public health policy solution.
Joseph K. Sikes
A resident of Centreville, Maryland, Mr. Sikes lost his 15 year-old daughter, Alisa, to a drunk driving crash on April 16, 1992. He became involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) following his daughter’s death in an effort to make sense of this tragedy and to help prevent others from suffering similar loss.
Mr. Sikes currently serves as the Chairman of the MADD Maryland State Advisory Board. He is trained victim advocate and a regular speaker at victim impact panels throughout the state. He also served on the Maryland Governor’s Task Force on Impaired Driving in 2007-2008. His wife, Jan Withers, served as MADD’s National President from July 2011-December 2014.
Mr. Sikes is a Naval Academy graduate and Vietnam veteran who retired as a Captain in the U.S. Navy following 30 years of service in 1993. He subsequently served as a senior executive for the Office of the Secretary of Defense until federal retirement in January 2015. He and his wife have six children and five grandchildren.
Nicole’s world changed forever on Sept. 13, 1996, when her little sister Darcie was killed by a three-time drunk driving offender. For more than 23 years, Nicole has worked tirelessly with MADD in several states, raising more than $250,000 primarily through Walk Like MADD events in Arizona, Connecticut, North Carolina, South Carolina and Maine. She has attended an average of eight to 10 Walk Like MADD events per year and worked with MADD locally and nationally to establish a chapter in her home state of Maine.
She has appeared in the 20/20 Hindsight Series depicting the devastating impacts of drinking and driving sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Governor’s Highway Safety Association and MADD. She was recognized in 2014 as a Lenovo Community Champion at a Carolina Hurricanes game for her work with MADD in her community. Nicole has presented to the Carolina Panthers incoming rookie class, several victim impact panels, youth groups and local schools in North Carolina and Maine.
Nicole started a nonprofit in Darcie’s memory, The Darcie Hutchinson Foundation, to provide education programs based on the needs within the community of Houlton, Maine. A resident of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Nicole has been a MADD volunteer in North Carolina since 2004, serves on the MADD North Carolina State Board, is a victim advocate, and serves as WLM co-chair in North Carolina and WLM chair in Maine.
In addition to working with MADD, she is passionate about mentoring women in business by serving on the WILL Board (Women in Lenovo Leadership) and the KNOW Committee (Knowledgeable Network of Women) with the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce in North Carolina. A graduate of Westbrook College, Nicole leads sales teams for a multinational technology company in North Carolina. She has been a challenge soccer coach for over 24 years, enjoys going to the movies and hanging out with her family and friends. She lives with her husband and two pups in Chapel Hill.
Matthew F. Sacco
Matthew is a respected C-level executive, consultant and philanthropist with over 15 years of combined experience in politics, sports and entertainment. He is passionate about eliminating drunk driving, advocating for impactful public policy and enforcement and helping people who are affected by the violent, 100 percent preventable crime.
Matthew currently serves on the board of the Broward Sheriff’s Foundation in South Florida, is a Wish Granter for the Make A Wish Foundation Southern Florida Chapter and a former Man Of The Year for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in South Florida.
A graduate of University of Massachusetts Amherst, Matthew has specialized in communications and government relations for over 15 years. He resides in Fort Lauderdale and is a state lobbyist for The Rubin Group. Matthew is also a published author, who retains a passion for reading, writing, traveling and various amateur athletic pursuits.
Helen Witty joined MADD in 2001, less than a year after her 16-year-old daughter, Helen Marie, was killed by a drunk and drugged teen driver while rollerblading on a designated bike path near the family’s Miami home.
Shattered by the sudden, violent loss, Helen found hope through MADD, which soon gave her a platform to help others who had suffered similar tragedies – and to work toward a future of No More Victims.
Before becoming National President in 2019, Helen spent 11 years as a MADD volunteer victim advocate, helping survivors and victims navigate through often long and painful court proceedings and returning the comfort she’d found in the darkest days of her grief. In addition, she spent seven years as a staff member facilitating MADD’s prevention programs in South Florida and trained in MADD’s National Death Notification curriculum, which she presented to law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
Helen believes it is stories like hers and others that hold the power to create change. To that end, she spent years sharing the tragic loss of Helen Marie, her only daughter, with school children, parents, police officers, federal agents and hospital workers. She delivered MADD’s message in classrooms, churches, airports, seaports and to local and national television audiences.
Helen lobbied legislators in Miami and Tallahassee for tougher drunk driving laws, including Florida’s Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act that imposes the same sentence for drivers who flee the scene of a fatal crash as DUI manslaughter offenders. Named for a Miami cyclist killed in 2012 by a hit-and-run driver, the bill was signed into law in 2014.
As MADD’s national spokesperson, Helen speaks to lawmakers around the nation about the importance of requiring ignition interlocks for all offenders, a cornerstone of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®. She advocates for high-visibility law enforcement, such as sobriety checkpoints that can reduce drunk driving deaths by 17 percent. She champions personal accountability and advanced vehicle technology, including autonomous cars.
Helen also urges parents to talk to their teens about not drinking alcohol until 21, having experienced the devastating consequences firsthand. She continues to share Helen Marie’s story, adding her voice to the courageous ones that came before, and to draw close to those so deeply impacted by impaired driving. She believes it is what her daughter would have wanted.
In addition to her work with MADD, Helen spent nine years as a Delta Air Lines employee and worked for eight years as a college advisor in Miami-Dade Public Schools. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Sweetbriar College in Virginia with degrees in Spanish and German.
A native of Miami, she lives in the childhood home her father built, with her beloved husband, John. They have a surviving son, John, who resides in New York, where he is working on a Ph.D. in art history and serving as a curatorial fellow for The Frick Collection, a premier museum and research center.
Adam Vanek is the chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Throughout his career, he has built a portfolio of transformational achievements in private, public and nonprofit corporations. He has extensive nonprofit experience, previously serving as National General Counsel for MADD and, more recently, Susan G. Komen in Dallas.
During his previous tenure at MADD, from 2011 to 2017, Vanek led efforts to overhaul many core practices, policies and procedures. He also played a high-profile role in strengthening MADD’s public image and influence, helping further MADD’s mission through legal advocacy, jurisprudence and serving as legal expert in drunk driving and traffic safety.
A motivational, results-driven leader who seeks the best in his team, as well as himself, Vanek is known for his practical legal mind and sharp business acumen, tearing down department silos and uniting staff to achieve shared goals.
He is a graduate of Wake Forest Law School, where he served on the Honors and Ethics Board. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University, where he was named a College of Business Administration Fellow and awarded the Buck Weirus Spirit Award for student service.
Vanek is licensed to practice law in Texas and Washington, D.C. He worked in private practice for almost 13 years before joining MADD in 2011.
Beyond his career achievements, Vanek is committed to community service. He is a member of the North Texas Crime Commission, Dallas Bar Association, Leadership Dallas Alumni Association and the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce Foundation. He has also served as national legal counsel and board member of the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce, and as president and board member of both the Texas Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Vanek lives with his wife and three children in Dallas, where they are active members of Trinity Church.
Chief Government Affairs Officer
J.T. Griffin currently serves as Chief Government Affairs Officer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In this position, Griffin leads MADD’s efforts to shape federal, state, and local policy toward the goal of eliminating drunk driving in the U.S.
Griffin has been a leader of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. He has overseen the passage of laws in over 30 states which are proven to significantly reduce drunk driving crashes. At the federal level, he has successfully lobbied the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate as well as the administration for stronger measures to reduce impaired driving.
Before joining MADD, Griffin was a senior staff member on the congressional staff of Congressman Frank R. Wolf (R-VA), the most senior member of Virginia’s Congressional Delegation.
Griffin is a 1999 graduate of Mary Washington College – now the University of Mary Washington — in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
Chief Financial Officer
Lista Hightower is the Chief Financial Officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, located at the National Office in Irving, TX. She is responsible for all financial operations, information technology, and financial and tax reporting, including state and federal grant compliance, for all chapters and offices across the nation. Hightower joined MADD in 2008.
In addition to her professional responsibilities, Hightower has served on the Boards of numerous Dallas non-profit organizations over the years and is currently active on the Board of the Dallas Chapter of Financial Executives International and the Dallas CPA Society Convergence Planning Committee. She was named CFO of the Year/Non-Profit Sector in 2011 by the Dallas Business Journal and is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant.
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