The Elijah Foundation exists to provide support and encouragement to children and their families for the often...


Sharon Liddle - Executive Director

Sharon Liddle graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University with a B.S. in Family & Child Development. For over 20 years, she has worked in the various fields of child and family development; most recently in the arena of international adoption.
In Sharon's yearning to give a tangible gift to her son, Eli, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of just nine, she wrote the story, Eli the Bipolar Bear. Soon, other characters and stories were developed. In 2007,Sharon decided to devote herself full-time to these endeavors, and the Elijah foundation was launched at the Children's Museum of Virginia. 
With Eli, Sharon has four children - Joshua, Katia and Tommy

Jennifer Holmes-Avis - Artist/Co-Developer

After graduating with a M.S. in Early Childhood Education in 2001 from Old Dominion University, Holmes-Avis has taught both in the Norfolk school system and elsewhere. In each post she has used her considerable artistic talents in music, visual arts and writing to enliven the classroom environment.
Holmes-Avis is married with three children.

Susan Pollack - President of the Board

Susan Pollack has helped improve the lives of children and families for more than thirty years.  She holds a masters degree in early childhood education and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.  Since 1980, she has worked in Hampton Roads as the director of Children's Harbor, an early care and education program; and as curriculum and program director for Places and Programs for Children.  Pollack is an adjunct faculty member at Tidewater Community College and committee member of numerous coalitions focusing on the health, safety, and education of young children.  She is the mother of Lindsay and stepmother of Brandt.  She and her husband, Mark Graybill, reside in Norfolk.

Dr. David T. Fautua - Vice President

Fautua is US Joint Forces Command Academic Chair for the Joint Education Enterprise and visiting assistant professor of history and national security at the Joint Forces Staff College. He was most recently special assistant to the Commander, NATO Supreme Allied Command Transformation and Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command. He also served as chief of strategic planning at Joint Forces Command’s Futures Lab (J9). He was formerly an assistant professor of military history at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, holds master's degrees in business and history from Boston University and North Carolina State University respectively, as well as a Ph.D. in American history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He attended the National War College in 2005-2006 as a research fellow.

Stephen T. Whitfield – Treasurer

Stephen is the Vice President for Investments at Wachovia Securities, LLC in Norfolk, Virginia. He is a 1984 graduate of Norfolk Catholic/Bishop Sullivan High School and 1988 graduate of Randolph Macon College, receiving a BA degree in Political Science. Stephen is a current Board Member for Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School and a past Board Member of the Norfolk Sports Club, and the Norfolk Sports Club Scholarship Foundation. Stephen is married to Maureen and has a 4 year-old daughter, Caitlin. He resides in the Ghent section of Norfolk. He is a member of the YMCA, Bayville Golf Club and the Norfolk Zoo.

Jennifer Hardy - Secretary

Jennifer W. Hardy graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Clemson University. After attending the Citadel in Charleston, SC, for school psychology, she moved to Norfolk, VA, via the military. Jennifer has worked for the past eight years in the field of early childhood education. She is currently the Senior Center Director for Children’s Harbor Chesapeake. She is married to Lamar Hardy, a helicopter pilot with the US Navy. They have two children, Linda Grace and Walter.

Kari Rains - Board Member

Kari Rains is a Certified Child and Parenting Specialist and Child Development Specialist for Child Guidance at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. She has experience working at HeadStart, in Early Intervention, and as a college instructor. She has published two books, Shakespeare Makes Me Puke and It Doesn’t Hurt That Bad and Other Lies My Mom Told Me. Kari earned her undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and her master’s degree in Child Development, both from Oklahoma State University. Kari lives in Stillwater with her husband, Darrick, and three young children.

Paul F. Scott -Past President

After graduating from William & Mary, Mr. Scott spent numerous professional appointments as a director of wilderness/adventure based treatment programs for adolescent sexual offenders, and has years of experience providing individual, family, and group therapy with adolescent sexual offenders in long-term residential treatment facilities.  He directed a group home for adolescent offenders who were returning to the community from correctional or residential settings, and is a Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider in the State of Virginia.  

Scott currently serves as Executive Director of Child Development Resources (, a nationally recognized, innovative provider of services to young children and their families, and, also, training for early childhood and health professionals on local and national levels.

Dr. Deborah Sims - Board Member

Dr. Deborah Sims has provided psychological and social services to vulnerable youth and their families over the last 15 years. Prior posts include Clinical Director for Coastal Harbor Residential Treatment Center and Regional Director for Family Preservation Services Inc. Most recently she served as Campus Dean for Strayer University in Louisville, KY. She is the founder of Hopes for Higher Education, a nationally recognized non-profit organization geared toward improving the quality of life for youth aging out of the foster care system. Over the years, Deborah has served on numerous local, state, and federal committees impacting child welfare and adolescent mental health services.

A military spouse, she serves as a Representative for the National Military Family Association. In addition to her volunteer service, she is often called upon as an expert in the field of adolescent mental health and foster care. Deborah has earned a PhD in Psychology, MS in Behavioral Psychology, and MA in Clinical Counseling. She is a 10 year member of the American Psychological Association and was awarded recognition in Who’s Who in Mental Health, Who’s Who American Women, and Who’s Who Emerging Leaders. She holds a clinical license in two states and is Clinically Certified as Behavior Therapist. Most recently, Deborah is noted as one of 10 national honorees receiving the 2008 Maybelline New York Beauty of Education Award which recognizes women who motivate, mentor and make a difference in their communities through the power of education.

Currently, Deborah is a professor of psychology and continues to advocate on behalf of children. She is married to Jonathan a naval officer.

Lisa B. Sedjat - Board Member

With an established goal of enhancing the overall functioning of an individual by actively engaging in a collaborative effort between the community, school, home and individual. Sedjat is well-versed in the multi-disciplinary approaches to integrating children with difficult challenges into the community.  Presently, Sedjat holds several posts that support her goals, including: Mental Retardation and Autism Consultant; Consultant to Family Systems II and New Life Inc.; Sedjat is the owner/Director of Behavioral Interventions, Trainings and Evaluations, Inc., which serves the needs of families and individuls on the Autism Spectrum, as well as individuals with dual diagnoses. Sedjat is also, Director of Socials Services for Source Resource Center.

Elissa M. Waldman-Sison - Board Member

After graduating from the University of Hartford, Elissa Waldman-Sison for two years taught children with traumatic and acquired brain injuries. She was trained in Applied Behavior Analysis techniques and presented at the ABA conference in Washington, DC in 1995. She also assisted in a research project on pediatric trauma recovery in children sponsored by Tufts University School of Medicine and the New England Medical Center.  After completing a Master’s degree she was asked by the May Institute to join the staff at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA. The two agencies collaborated in order to provide educational and mental health services to the patients on the Children and Adolescent Inpatient Unit. Waldman-Sison then moved to Virginia and worked for SECEP in their Re-ED program for students with Emotional Disturbances and then became certified to teach Special Education98. Currently, Waldman-Sison works for Norfolk Public Schools as a Teacher Specialist in the Department of Special and Gifted Education Services. She is completing her certification in School Administration.  Waldman-Sison lives in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, Tony, and their dogs, Ballentine and Bella.

Kim Callahan - Board Member

With an MA in Education, Kim Callahan is presently a Special Educator in Norfolk High Schools and Colleges. Licensed by the Virginia Board of Education in Learning Disabilities, Emotional Disturbance and Educable Mentally Delayed, Callahan also is an Adjunct Professor at Regent University, in Virginia Beach, Va. Callahan and her husband of 17 years, Pat, live with their three children - Patrick, Veronica and Caroline in Norfolk.

Dr. Elizabeth M. Hunter - Advisory Committee

After earning her M.Ed. concentrating in Special Education, Dr. Elizabeth Hunter became certified in MR, LD, and ED. In 2005 Hunter became a Doctor of Education in Special Education and Communications. Before that while using her talents as a painter, photographer, and clothing designer she has successfully worked in film and television production since 1979. She has won several awards for her contribution to television and film. She is a voting member of The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences since 1987 and has the privilege to vote for the Annual Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards.  Now also a faculty member at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Hunter instructs in the Cross-categorical Special Education Program and uses her skills to turn words into pictures and facilitates video streaming as an educational tool.

Currently Dr. Hunter’s 20-year-old company, Bird in Hand Productions (BIHP), researches, writes, and produces instructional videos that educate and entertain. Bird In Hand Productions has also embarked on the production of a documentary series called Waking Up With Jack, an autobiographical story that touches on how a family deals with Down Syndrome and all the things that go along with it. It is an ongoing examination of special needs students.

Donna Kennedy Booth - Advisory Committee

Donna Kennedy Booth has an M.S. in Family and Child Development. Active for many years with parent and teacher education, local and national professional presentations, and professional publications in the field of child development, Kennedy Booth has experience teaching at both pre-school and college level. She currently works for CCAI, Families First, and Crystal Adoption.
In her free time, she volunteers as a court appointed child advocate.She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Robert, and her two children, Alec and Averie. Donna has a personal interest in Elijah Foundation’s goal of developing materials for children with life's challenges.

Dr. Susan K. McFarlin - Advisory Committee

Combining degrees and certifications from USA (Universities of California and Colorado) and international universities (Oxford, Stirling and Guadalajara), and professional memberships on prestigious internationally recognized bodies, Dr. Susan McFarlin has practiced various aspects of psychology in top academic and commercial arenas from Antarctica to New York City! Now consulting with the Elijah Foundation, McFarlin will not only write and edit some of our children’s books but also will advise and consult on the psychological, sociological, and emotional components of all Elijah Foundation stories and books.

Dr. Carolyn Moneymaker - Advisory Committee

Dr. Carolyn Moneymaker was certified by the American Board of Pediatrics after graduating from the University of Tennessee. Moneymaker now practices General Pediatrics (CMG) at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia. With special interests in immunization delivery and research, lead poisoning and medical informatics, Moneymaker’s advice is keenly sought on the personal and community effects of child healthcare and development issues.

Dr. Hope Jordan - Advisory Committee

Dr. Jordan has over 16 years experience in K-12 as both a special and general educator both in the U.S. and abroad. Her areas of expertise include both general and special education. An academic background in Psychology, General Education, Special Education, Administration & Supervision, and Organizational Leadership provides her with a broad perspective of education from various levels. Her areas of interest include: students with special needs, teacher training, educators as leaders, women as leaders, and international education issues. She is currently a Professor at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia where she directs and teaches in the Cross-categorical Special Education Program, which includes the new Autism Certificate.  She is co-directing the new Ed.S. in Special Education Leadership.  Dr. Jordan has an extensive list of grants, presentations, and publications.  Ladies Who Lead: Voices of Authentic Leadership, and Beach Ball Banter are two of her latest releases (  A more comprehensive list can be found at --

Rasha Morsi - Advisory Committee

After graduating from Virginia’s, Old Dominion University in 1992, with a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Morsi is now full-time faculty at Norfolk State University.  While supervising significant federal and private research grants, Morsi has continued to establish her reputation by bridging the gap between federal and state research goals and community and academic advisory committees.

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