Dr. Karen Upton, President

Karen has been involved with Park Place School for close to 10 years as a volunteer and member of the Board. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education Degree from the State University College of New York at Buffalo, her Master’s in School Counseling from Old Dominion University and her Ph.D. on Organizational Leadership from Regent University. Dr. Upton has taught at the elementary level and served as principal of Norfolk Christian Lower School for 20 years. Karen is active in the community and in her church but her most enjoyable times are spent with her family including her four grandchildren.

Angela Benard, Treasurer

Angela Benard, a long time resident of Norfolk, joined the Board of Park Place school in September of 2017. She has a long history community service with children and families in Norfolk and specifically the in Park Place Neighborhood. Angela, former Senior Program Director for the YMCA of South Hampton Roads’ Community Services Branch , helped to establish the Y in the Park Place community and served in the opening team for the Y on Granby. She has had a career in fundraising, grand writing, and community development for more than 20 years, first with a domestic violence center in northeast Florida and most recently as the Director of Development & Philanthropy with the Virginia Zoo. Angela lives in Norfolk with her family and their many, many pets.

Rev. Brian Campbell, Vice Chair

Rev. Campbell is the pastor of Christ The Redeemer Anglican Church in Norfolk.  He and his church provide invaluable support to our violin program and leadership, with several parishioners serving on the board.

Ashley Barnett, Secretary

Ashley serves as the Director of Communications and Director of Mercy and Justice for Trinity Presbyterian Church in Norfolk, which provides generous support to our school in a so many important ways – use of space for meals, chapel services, cultural activities, PE.  They have hosted a fall festival for us the past 2 years.   A Hampton Roads native, Ashley Barnett was born and raised in Newport News, and has lived in Norfolk since working on her undergraduate degree in English at Old Dominion University. After completing her master’s degree in English Literature, she taught composition and literature courses at ODU as an instructor. An avid gardener, Ashley grows food both at her home and at local public schools here in Norfolk with her husband, Jason, and three children, Myles, Owen, and Ruby.

Michael Fariss

Pastor Mike Fariss is one of the founders of Park Place School in 1997.  Because of his love for Christ and dedication to serving young people, he helped create a school aimed at helping children increase their opportunities for success in life. Mike was recently honored with the Founders Visionary Award at our 2020 Luncheon.

Rob Slaughter

Rob and Sally, his wife of over 37 years, live in Portsmouth and have one daughter, Sarah, who lives in Richmond. Rob and Sally are members of Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church in Norfolk. Rob has been on short-term mission trips to Rwanda and Haiti and is board president of the Haitian American Friendship Foundation, a missionary organization. A trial attorney since 1979, he currently works with the law firm of Rutter Mills, LLP. Also, his many years of service in the Army Reserve included duty in Iraq in 2005-2006.

Dora Lee Taylor

Dora Lee received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado. She is married and has one son and two beautiful granddaughters. As an active Realtor since 1986, she has been recognized as a top producer of sales nationally and locally for over 25 years. In addition to her primary volunteer role on the Board of Park Place School, Dora Lee also serves the community as a volunteer for Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, the William E. Wood Foundation, the Board of Community Alternatives and the Community Alternative Management Group, and the Dispute Resolution Center. Her hobbies include golfing, boating, and traveling.

LeeAnn Azar

LeeAnn Azar graduated from Old Dominion University with a BA in Communications and Sociology and a Masters of Business Administration. She has over 30 years of experience in management, marketing, communications and development. Her career started at The Virginian-Pilot with her last positions held as Publisher of Port Folio Weekly, Publisher of Tidewater and Peninsula Parent, Publisher of Inside Business and General Manager of The Flagship newspaper. She next moved to AmeriComm Direct as Vice President of Marketing. Mrs. Azar was also the Executive Director for the  Suffolk Education Foundation, worked on special projects with Eastern Virginia Medical School and is the Executive Director for The Hampton Roads Public Works Academy.  She is very involved within the community, serving on the Board of The Dwelling Place, member and former Circle Leader for the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Committee Chairperson for Cub Scout Pack 24, PTA Executive Board Member for nine years and is a member and former officer of PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization) . She is married with two sons currently attending college at UVA and Georgetown.

Aleea Slappy-Wilson

Aleea is a Business Strategist, thought leader and Economic Development professional. Aleea has worked for business accelerators in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. She is currently the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer for the City of Norfolk.  She has served for more than nine years as a volunteer mentor to high school and college students and on the board of BuildaBridge International, a nonprofit that uses the creative arts to transform the lives of youth. In 2014, Aleea received the Valentine Foundation Scholarship and Award for Visionary Leadership and was a Nonprofit Executive Leadership Fellow through Bryn Mawr College.  She was selected in 2020 as one of the YWCA of South Hampton Roads’ Women of Distinction!  Aleea received her undergraduate degree from Hampton University and her Master’s degree from Eastern University.

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