Our Team

Because I said I would owes so much of our success to our full time, part time employees, and especially our volunteers. Thank you to everyone who has helped make this movement what it is and what it will become.



Alex Sheen

Founder & CEO

Alex Sheen is the Founder of because I said I would, the international social movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept. Sparked by the loss of his father, Alex began sending promise cards to anyone who requested them at no cost. Since his father’s passing on September 4th, 2012, because I said I would has sent over 12.8M Promise Cards to over 153 countries. Alex’s commitment to the betterment of humanity has inspired millions around the world. The story of his promises have been shared virally throughout social media and international news.

Before his life as nonprofit leader, Alex was a Corporate Strategy Lead at Hyland Software, an organization featured in Fortune’s 2014 Best Companies to Work in the United States. As the youngest manager in a global company with over 1,500 employees, he established and managed Hyland’s corporate-wide Innovation Program. Alex decided to leave this life and pursue a life of philanthropy and service after the loss of his father.

Invite Alex to speak at your event

Kay Spatafore

Chief Operating Officer & VP of Character Education

Kay Spatafore joined because I said I would in July of 2018 as the VP of Character Education. Kay is a seasoned educator with experience in educational administration, curriculum development, management, coaching and mentoring, and classroom instruction. Most recently, Kay was the Director of Programming for an educational nonprofit in Cleveland, OH where she developed programs for Middle school, high school, and parent engagement including internship programs and summer camps.

Kay is a native of Ohio but spent much of her adult life in California, where she was the Director of Fine Arts at a large southern CA high school. In that role, she participated in the development of state curriculum, created a Mentor teacher program, and pioneered programs in the Arts and classroom education.In her spare time, Kay connects with her adult children, Dylan, Taylor, Katherine and Rhys, reads, writes, builds things and spends time outdoors with her two furry kids, Leo and Tug.

Invite Kay to speak at your event

Heidi Bermudez – Martin

Executive Assistant to the Founder

Heidi Bermudez – Martin joined because I said I would in September of 2019 as the Executive Assistant to the Founder. Heidi is a highly experienced executive assistant, project coordinator and corporate trainer.
Prior to coming to because I said I would, Heidi was an Inflight Trainer for a major airline. She also worked 14 years with NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio in various administrative, educational and public relation roles.
As a native of South Lorain, Ohio, Heidi knows the need to inspire others to make positive changes for the betterment of their future. When she learned about because I said I would’s mission to better humanity through promises made and kept she knew it was something she must become involved with.In her spare time, Heidi loves spending time with her adult children, Sinead, Hector Jr. (Chino), granddaughter Olivia, and teacup Chihuahua Roxy.

Keith Schindler

Director of Speaking Engagements
Keith joined because I said I would in August of 2020 as the Director of Speaking Engagements. Keith is a highly experienced Account Executive and Manager. He comes from a background in software and technology sales focusing on building meaningful relationships, client engagement, and finding a solution that fits the need. His main focus is connecting with as many people and organizations as possible to spread the because I said I would message. As a native of Northeast OH, Keith is a huge Ohio State Buckeyes fan and avid outdoorsman.In his spare time you will find him doing just about anything to be outside enjoying nature. Keith lives in Columbia Station, OH with his girlfriend and two miniature dachshunds Hunter and Wyatt.

Paul McKinney

Director of Content Development

Paul likes to think of himself as a storyteller, and it’s through that lens that he views his work developing and refining Character Education content for a global audience. With a degree in Visual Communication and 10 years under his belt in the design industry, Paul’s mission is to lend his broad experience toward communicating the message of because I said I would by any means necessary, including print materials, web development, video production and animation.

Paul lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio with his wife Mercedes and his best friend Rufus.



Cassie Perez

Senior Program Impact Manager

Cassie is a Senior Program Impact Manager at because I said I would. She manages special projects, assists with Chapters across the country, developing relationships, leading meetings and weekly calls, and streamlining processes. Cassie received a degree in Apparel Merchandising and Product Development with a minor in Marketing from Bowling Green State University in 2013. Having worked in sales and merchandising for some time, she greatly enjoys being able to use her knowledge to work for an organization that helps others and can truly make a difference.

As a native of Lakewood, OH, Cassie heard of the movement by chance, stumbling upon our previous location on Detroit Ave. Looking up the movement online led to many hours watching promise stories and she joined the because I said I would team in September of 2015.

In her spare time she enjoys reading and spending time with family and friends.

Monyett Tanzillo

Fulfillment Manager

Monyett is the Fulfillment Manager at because I said I would. She helps execute functions related to order processing, order shipment, and product management.

Prior to joining the organization full time, she was a volunteer and is a former adult chapter member.




Bruce Duesterhoeft

Director of Marketing and Fundraising

Bruce Duesterhoeft joined because I said I would in February 2021 as the Director of Marketing and Fundraising. Bruce joins the team with experience in both the nonprofit and corporate worlds. He recently was the Director of Marketing at Endless Horizons in Harrisonburg, VA. Working at nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity International, Consumer Reports and Georgia Public Broadcasting, Bruce has helped raise millions of dollars throughout his career. He also has worked for several agencies that all helped nonprofits raise money. Fundraising and marketing are a passion of Bruce’s and looks forward to bringing this knowledge and experience to because I said I would.

In his spare time, Bruce loves to hike and camp with his girlfriend while also cooking, traveling and watching movies. He is a native of Reading, PA, but has lived in Atlanta, New York and New Jersey. Virginia is now home.

Interested in joining our staff?
Check out our open opportunities!


Meg Ostrowksi

Office Associate

Meg is an Office Associate supporting staff with writing, editing, data maintenance, order processing, speaking engagement logistics, inventory management, product forecasting, vendor research and office maintenance. Initially a volunteer, Meg was drawn to because I said I would with a deep belief that promises made and kept build stronger relationships and reduce suffering. Meg makes a meaningful impact by serving the organization with her years of work, volunteer and life experience.

Interested in joining our staff?
Check out our open opportunities!

Volunteers and Interns

Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. Since 2012 we have distributed more than 11.3 million Promise Cards to over 150 different countries. We have also started Chapters around the United States and have created 7 Character Education Lesson Plans which are free to download. This would not have been possible without our volunteers.

Pat Bakos

Chief Volunteer

In 2014, Pat saw a newspaper article stating that because I said I would needed volunteers to count 10 cards that were being mailed to people who requested them. She has been volunteering ever since. Now Pat guides 2 wonderful groups of developmentally disabled adults who prepare the mailings. Pat states this is her favorite part of the week.

When she is not volunteering at because I said I would, Pat enjoys volunteering at other nonprofits, reading, selling her gem trees at craft shows and gardening.



Susan Rudman

Office Volunteer

Susan retired after many successful years as a human resources professional and wanted to remain involved with people. She heard about because I said I would after hearing Alex Sheen speak at Hospice of Western Reserve. Because I said I would kept her connected and involved in the mission. Every week Susan arrives at the office with a smile and ready to help out with promise cards, enter data and lend a hand anywhere.




Aaron Botos


Aaron is currently in his senior year of college studying psychology at Cleveland State University. He first learned heard about Alex Sheen and the because I said I would when he was in high school. After undergrad, Aaron plans on furthering his education by attending graduate school to study Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Aaron values great communication and organization in the workplace along with making the workday as positive as possible.



Abby Mazzola


Abby Mazzola is currently a junior at Kent State University pursuing a major in Communication Studies with a minor in Human Resources and will pursue her master’s degree after she graduates with her bachelor’s degree in May 2022.

Abby has grown up in Ohio her whole life and enjoys traveling out of Ohio especially in the winter. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, playing tennis, and spending time on the lake. She also has 2 dogs!


Ray Bukhari


Ray Bukhari is currently a senior at Kent State University pursuing a degree in Public Relations. He was born and raised in Saudi Arabia before moving to the US. Ray is storyteller with a passion for amplifying the voices of purpose-driven organizations through strategic traditional and digital communications strategies.

Outside of Public Relations Ray likes to spend his free time with his family. He also likes to travel to discover new lands and meet with people from different backgrounds. Ray believes in the importance of diversity, inclusion and equity and hopes to help because I said I would to better humanity through these important aspects.


Jacob Smathers


Jacob Smathers is a senior at Shawnee State University and is currently pursuing a BS degree in Independent Studies with a focus in Human Resources. Along with his coursework, Jacob is an active member of the Honor’s Program at Shawnee State University. Jacob plans to graduate in the fall of 2021 and pursue a master’s degree in Human Resources.  Outside of school, Jacob loves to immerse himself in nature, take care of his many houseplants, do collegiate/community theatre, and go on walks with his dogs Bernie and Ray.




Mandy Strefas


Mandee Strefas is a fourth-year communication major at The University of Cincinnati, also minoring in fine arts and psychology. Through her degree, she hopes to become an event planner and eventually own her own business. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, this 20-year-old woman is passionate about building relationships with her community. Through this special events internship, she hopes to create strong bonds and help spread awareness about the importance of keeping your word.

Outside of planning events, Mandee enjoys getting in touch with her creative side, whether that be through writing, painting, or taking photographs. She also takes time to celebrate her relationships with friends, family, and her five dogs!



Vivian Ho


Vivian Ho is a junior at the University of Michigan majoring in sociology and minoring in environment. She has a strong interest in social change and feels that because I said I would’s mission aligns with her goals to make a social impact and uplift communities.

Throughout her studies, she has grown an increasing passion for creating equitable opportunities to address the community’s needs. She is eager for the opportunity to utilize her analytical and organizational and communication skills to support the program team this summer.




Ian Jameson


Ian is currently a senior at Kent State University with degrees in Public Relations and Psychology. He’ll be graduating next spring and plans to follow a career in public relations.

Ian has lived in Northeast Ohio his entire life but has interests in political and social issues that span the country and the world. Preferably, he’d like to work for a nonprofit, social advocacy group, political organization, or something of this nature in the future.


Chloe Smith


Chloe Smith is a rising junior at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan pursuing a degree in Business Administration and a minor in Law, Justice, and Social Change. With her degree, she hopes to pursue a social impact career where she is able to further her passion for social change and continue fighting to amplify the voices of those who are not given the opportunity to fight for their equality.  Chloe is very excited to join because I said I would as an intern and learn more about the nonprofit sector and how promises can be used to fight for social justice! When Chloe is not working she loves to spend time with her family in New York and Florida, read and explore new cultures through trave

Interested in joining our staff?
Check out our open opportunities!



Kimchi Sheen

Chief Promise Dog

Our office dog, Kimchi, is the daughter of our Founder, Alex Sheen. Her black and white colors match our brand and the essence of a promise perfectly. Promises are either kept or broken, there is no grey area. She loves to visit our rooms throughout the day for progress updates and official petting time. Kimchi spends her afternoons snoring on the office couch and dreaming of a world where everyone loved their fellow humans as much as they loved their pets. Kimchi is 12 years old, diabetic and a cancer survivor.

In her spare time, Kimchi enjoys snoozing, giving kisses, bringing each of us toys and cuddling.