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.
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 11.3M 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.
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 with her mom.
Amanda Messer is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at because I said I would. At a young age Amanda learned the effect that promises broken have on relationships. Her father struggled with addiction and was not good with keeping his commitments to his little girl. Amanda was drawn to helping start because I said I would knowing that there are other children whose lives are deeply affected by broken promises. In November of 2013, Amanda became our first full-time employee after over a year of volunteering her time to the cause.
As Co-Founder, Amanda’s main role is to fill the gaps. Taking over any open position or task that the organization needs of her. From sales, to bookkeeping, HR, legal, facilities, and any other way that she can be helpful. Amanda feels that she is best at technology though. She manages all of because I said I would‘s tech from our website, our Salesforce administration, G Suite, printers, cell phones – you name it, Amanda will take it on. 🙂
Amanda’s tech journey started in high school with CompTIA A+ training, Cisco CCNA courses and an internship at NASA working in space experiments. From there she studied Electronics and Computer Technology at DeVry University. She started her full-time career in network security for a consulting and management firm then moved to a help desk role at a bank. She eventually landed at Hyland Software where she worked in the technical support, quality assurance and development departments during her time there. She helped start their usability team and was their first full-time usability specialist on staff. Amanda has also served as the Vice President for the Cleveland User Experience Professionals Association.
On September 5th, 2012, Amanda saw a Facebook post from fellow co-worker Alex Sheen. In that instance, she knew that she needed to be a part of because I said I would. Amanda would leave her promising career to pursue a passion she didn’t even know she had. Helping the world understand the importance of a promise.
Amanda is the youngest of five children and grew up in Lorain, OH. She currently resides in Lakewood, OH with her son, Trent, and her dogs, Miska (pronounced Meesh-ka), Rocket and Nacho.
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.
VP of Chapter Programs
Sherry joined because I said I would in June 2018 as the Vice President of Chapters Programs. Sherry’s 30 years of nonprofit experience includes volunteer leadership recruitment and engagement, chapter and regional management, major gifts, fundraising, programs and professional development.
Prior to coming to because I said I would, Sherry was a Regional Director, Vice President for the national walk program and created the volunteer engagement strategic initiative for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. She spent 21 years at the March of Dimes and held several national and regional positions. She was also the State Director for the Ohio Chapter.
Sherry is passionate about supporting volunteers and ensuring that they maximize the impact they want to make in their communities. Sherry attended the University of Wisconsin and received her Masters Degree from John Carroll University in Cleveland Ohio.
Sherry enjoys to read and is an avid sports fan, especially the Cleveland Indians baseball team. She walks 12 miles per week and even completed a half marathon. She is very proud of her son and twin daughters who are all doing important work in their respective cities.
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.
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.
Director of Speaking Engagements
As Director of Speaking Engagements, Jim’s main responsibility is to fill our presenter’s schedules with speaking engagements to help spread the because I said I would message and raise funds for the organization’s programming.
Jim is a native of Lorain, OH. His background includes sales and management positions at The Glidden Company, JPMorgan Chase and The Gillette Company. He is also an adjunct professor in the accelerated bachelor’s program at Ursuline College teaching finance and economics. He served nine years on the board of the Community Foundation of Lorain County, acting as Investment Committee chair for three of those years. Jim has volunteered his time at many organizations including The Lorain Palace, Lorain Youth Athletics, St. Peters PTO & Athletics and Elyria Catholic High School.
In his free time he enjoys watching his son play high school basketball and his daughter competitive dance.
Senior Motion Graphics Designer
Pete has been interested in creating images and telling stories ever since he was a little guy. As he got older, he realized that all the time he spent drawing, (to avoid homework), was actually a skill set that he could use in his adult life. He went to Rhode Island School of Design and majored in “old school” Illustration. Pen & ink, watercolor, oils…no computers back then, no sir! Upon graduating, he spent the next 20 years creating greeting cards, kid’s books, as well as magazine and newspaper illustration. After animating his first eCard, he was hooked on motion graphics and has been making pixels move ever since. When not talking kid’s book ideas with his wife, Jenny, film projects with his daughter Bailey, or watching Chelsea hitting home runs in softball, Pete likes to carve wood, tie fly fishing lures and test them out on the Rocky River.
Senior Chapter Relationship Manager
Cassie is a Senior Chapter Relationship Manager at because I said I would. She manages 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.
Chapter Relationship Manager
Abby brings her experience working with high school students and developing curriculum to her role as Chapter Relationship Manager at because I said I would. Her work involves developing relationships with student leaders and advisers, streamlining processes, and leading meetings and weekly calls. She was drawn to the movement because of her commitment to bringing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and leadership training to students at a critically formative time in their lives.
Abby received her Bachelor of Arts from Boston College, majoring in Secondary Education and English. Prior to joining the team at because I said I would, Abby taught English at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron where she also advised students in the Student Ambassadors Program and Competitive Creative Writing Team.
Abby lives in Ohio City with her fiancé, Keith, and cat, Frank. In her spare time, Abby enjoys adventuring outdoors, traveling to exciting places, cheering on the Cleveland Indians, and trying as many local restaurants as possible.
Program Impact Manager
Nicole Clevenger brings more than 13 years of experience in Evidence-based social work practice to her role as Program Impact Manager for because I said I would. Nicole was drawn to this movement because of her career-long commitment to helping individuals living with brain disorders–and the nonprofit organizations that help them– to reach their fullest potential. Prior to joining the team at because I said I would, Nicole worked as a Consultant and Trainer at the Center for Evidence-based Practices at Case Western Reserve University where she also completed a Master of Science degree in Social Administration.
Nicole lives in Lake County with her two sons and her dog Harley. She enjoys dancing, reading, and writing poetry.
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.
Ann Nagy is the Account Manager for because I said I would. Before her life at because I said I would, Ann entered the Buyer Trainee Program at the May Company in the mid-80’s and then moved onto representing various manufacturers like Carole Little, Pendleton Woolen Mills, Nygard, Nike, Perry Ellis and most recently, Sodastream. In 2012, Ann started her own business called Sorority Charmlets, where she created reversible charm bracelets and ready-to-where for the ZTA Sorority. Ann has had experience with grant writing for Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), as well as event planning for IHN and the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus.
Ann has always been a singer and she participates with the Gathering Band at the Medina UCC Church every Sunday. She loves to sing Classical and Gospel, along with the Contemporary Christian genre and has sung with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and the Blossom Festival Chorus. In her spare time, she connects with her adult sons Christopher and Cameron, along with enjoying daily swimming, reading, traveling and routing for the MSU Spartans, her alma mater.
Interested in joining our staff?
Check out our open opportunities!
Dr. Trisha Hernandez
Character Education Specialist
Trisha is our Character Education Specialist and works from her stand up desk in her Wisconsin home. She is not one that likes to sit still, let alone sit for an extended period of time. Trisha is a proud UW Badger alumni, completing her PhD in Communication from UW – Madison in 2012. Upon graduation she accepted her dream job: a tenured track faculty position in Southern California. She was the Director of the undergraduate degree in Communication and also developed an online master’s degree in Communication.
Trisha has an irresistible desire to travel. She has participated in service projects in Uganda, Rwanda, Taiwan, Israel, and Malaysia.
Trisha heard a presentation from our Founder, Alex, at a conference. Through a series of unique circumstances, Trisha made a difficult decision. She packed up her California dream job to move to Cleveland, OH and fill the only open position we had open at the time. Alex’s Executive Assistant. She was quickly promoted to the VP of Character Education and held that position for 3 years. However, because of her love for teaching, Trisha has stepped down from her role as VP and is once again a professor at the Marian University of Fond du Lac.
When Trisha is not working on helping advance the movement, you will find her running, paddle boarding, cooking, or sitting anywhere near water or a fire.
Fulfillment and Office Assistant
Meg is an Office and Fulfillment Associate supporting staff with data maintenance, order processing, speaking engagement logistics, inventory management, product forecasting, vendor research and office upkeep. 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 hopes to make a meaningful impact by serving the organization with her years of work, volunteer and life experience.
Born and raised in Cleveland (Lakewood to be more specific), Ohio, Megan Franciscus graduated Lakewood High School and went on to obtain her Bachelor of Arts from Kent State University in International Relations.
While at Kent, she studied abroad in Geneva, Switzerland where she interned at the United Nations during the International Human Rights Commission and studied French.
After college, she married and had 3 daughters. Working part time, to be able to be home with her children, she began doing accounting for local small businesses. The years flew by and now Megan now has more time on her hands to work outside the home.
Megan joined Because i said i would in the late summer of 2019 as Bookkeeper.
She is thrilled to be a part of the Because i said i would team. As she put it, “Being here brings me back full circle to my fundamental roots in human rights and humanity. I couldn’t be happier!”
Kathie McNeilly joined because i said i would as the Volunteer Manager in September of 2019. Kathie holds a Masters Degree in Education and has experience teaching, working in children’s and family ministries, and serving as a Program Coordinator in the College of Education at Cleveland State University. The past seven years, she had the privilege of working with amazing volunteers at two area non-profit organizations: the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland and Cornerstone of Hope. Kathie was drawn to because i said i would because she has seen firsthand how passionate and compassionate volunteers who make promises and keep them can truly make a difference in the world.
Kathie grew up 18 miles outside of NYC in northern New Jersey but has resided in Ohio since graduating from college. She and her husband, Tim, enjoy taking their grand-dog, Bear, for long walks in the Metroparks, watching Cleveland sports, and traveling, and they treasure every moment they get to spend with their three grown children, Justin (wife Jenaun), Ryan, and Kara. Kathie is also committed to giving back to the community and volunteers currently as a hospice volunteer, as a baby cuddler in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and as a mentor to Cleveland kids through a Christian organization.
Sung is an award-winning beatbox artist who has been exploring music with the human voice for over 13 years. Equipped with nothing but a microphone and a loop pedal, he samples his voice to produce high energy live beatbox music without any pre-recorded background music.
A veteran performer and 2014 Apollo Night Champion at the world famous Apollo Theater, Sung joined the because I said I would team with the purpose of artistically conveying the importance of a promise through his music. Sung often joins Alex in speaking engagements, using his musical talent to entertain audiences and as tool to further spread our message.
Sung currently lives in NYC. He enjoys showcasing his craft on YouTube and works tirelessly to push the boundaries of what is possible with the human voice.
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.
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 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.
Gary joined because I said I would in August 2018 as the part-time Development Manager. He has a great deal of experience including facility management, volunteer leadership, fundraising, programs and community development.
Prior to coming to because I said I would, Gary was the Executive Director of the Lakewood YMCA from 2012-2018. Overall, he spent more than 30 years with the YMCA in PA, NC and OH. He was also a trainer for YMCA of the USA in a number of categories. In addition to his YMCA career, he spent 4 years from 2007-2011 as a fundraising consultant with Jeffrey Byrne and Associates where he led a number of fundraising feasibility studies, worked on capital campaigns and led capacity building efforts with a variety of nonprofits. He has significant major gift experience as well, securing the lead gift for the YMCA of Greater Cleveland’s new Parker Hannifin branch downtown.
Gary is an avid scuba diver and a big sports fan. He is journal writer and has compiled 72 handwritten journals over the last 18 years. He loves to walk and five years ago walked all of the streets of Lakewood. He has a daughter of his own who lives in Atlanta and two adult stepchildren, and three step-grandchildren living in NC and WV.