WHO WE ARE
Board of Directors
For almost 50 years Charmaine Baker-Fox has served as a community activist and deathcare advocate, connecting community members with affordable funerals, helping to arrange services, delivering eulogies, and helping families connect with public victim-assistance funds. With deep roots in New Orleans civic life, Charmaine has served on the board of several community organizations, including Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans, Israelites Baptist Church, and 16 years on the board, including eight as Chair of District B, for Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee.
Amelia Bird comes to Wake's work as a former Hospice volunteer, the daughter of an end of life home health care nurse and an artist who carved skulls out of cypress. She has a background in teaching, state parks, and print media, and her hand-made artist's books are collected in university libraries and private collections across the country. Amelia has spent the last decade contributing to New Orleans area nonprofits with design, writing, project management, communications strategy, and fundraising. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies from the New College of Florida, and an MFA in Nonfiction Writing and graduate certificate in Book Arts & Technologies from the University of Iowa.
Hector Cassini’s career in the hospitality industry spans 35 years, dedicated to financial management roles in various hotel organizations, including managing internal controls and developing and implementing budgets and forecasts. He currently serves as Business Manager for the New Orleans Film Society. Hector holds a Bachelor’s degrees in General Business Administration and Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration from the University of New Orleans.
Amy Connolly is a mother, teacher, and scientist who hails from Seattle but has been living in New Orleans since 2003. Amy holds a BS in Biology from Santa Clara University and an MS in Biology from the University of Memphis. She has served in Cameroon as a Peace Corps Volunteer where she completed an assignment in Agroforestry and conducted agricultural and forestry interventions. She studied community ecology at the University of Memphis and conducted her thesis on milpa (small farm) recovery and fertility as a function of distance from old growth tropical forestry stands. Amy is certified in K-12 science education and has taught biology, physical science and math at the high school level. She has also worked as a Peace Corps Recruiter, a Voluntary Agency Liaison (VAL), Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison, and Intergovernmental and Congressional Affairs Supervisor for FEMA, and as Site Coordinator for Catholic Charities’ ESL program. In 2004 Amy co-founded a non-profit called Baobab Leadership Initiative which brought New Orleans high school students on overseas service-learning projects and developed leadership skills. She is a founding member of New Orleans Red Beans and Rice Parade and Social Aid Club and enjoys participating in neighborhood improvement projects and political advocacy events.
Laurie Dietrich is a New Orleans-based artist (image, text & performance), ritualist, and deathworker with a background in hospice, nonprofit administration, and community facilitation. She has a certificate of Thanatology from the National Center for Death Education, was a part of the first Clinical Pastoral Education cohort at VITAS Innovative Hospice, served on the board during the developmental phase of Abode Contemplative Care of the Dying, a social-model home for hospice patients in San Antonio, Texas, and also worked at Abode in administrative and caregiving capacities. Laurie has been a hospice volunteer and a hospice chaplain and is a Death Doula certified through both Alua Arthur’s Going With Grace organization (with which she also served as a Student Guide) and the community-focused Village Deathcare Citizen training. She was a member of the second cohort of Dr. Martha Jo Atkins’ Dying School and is currently serving the third cohort as a D-School Assistant.
Glenn Owings serves as a volunteer for nonprofits in the greater New Orleans area, helping to build the capacity of institutions in the arts, education and health & human services sectors, including New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, Lazarus House, Roots of Music, Threadhead Cultural Foundation and 826 New Orleans. She has previously served on the board of Christ Episcopal School and the Magnolia Gardens Civic Association. Glenn holds a Bachelor’s in General Studies from Birmingham-Southern College and a Master’s in Political Science from Tulane University. She has worked as an adjunct professor of Political Science at Lonestar College and as a tutor for middle school and high school children.
Ezra Salter is a licensed embalmer and funeral director in New Orleans whose professional focus is on bringing green funeral options to the state of Louisiana, as well as facilitating community access to respectful deathcare and end-of-life planning. Ezra is a member of the New Orleans Mayor’s COVID-19 Deathcare Taskforce and has collaborated with The Order of the Good Death on end-of-life planning resources for the LGBTQ+ community. They are active in local deathcare outreach and are a strong advocate for the protection and revitalization of New Orleans’ historic cemeteries. Ezra's background is in theatrical costuming and they hold a Bachelor’s degree in apparel design from Louisiana State University and an associate degree in funeral service from Delgado Community College.
Cory Sparks is Major Gifts Officer at Dillard University. In his career he has worked as pastor of churches and as a fundraising and organizational development consultant for more than 325 nonprofit organizations. Originally from Fort Smith, Arkansas, Cory has served churches in New Orleans and suburban Lafayette. Cory often speaks to groups about ways to promote a more just and caring society. He is Secretary of community organizing group Together New Orleans and Past President of the New Orleans Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He’s also on the advisory team for the Community Developers Program of The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries. Rev. Dr. Sparks holds an A.B. from Columbia University, an M.Div. from Southern Methodist University, and a Doctorate in American History from Louisiana State University.
Liz Dunnebacke’s professional career began 30 years ago in the entertainment industry in California, where her experience ranged from property development for Comedy Central to free-lance work on PBS documentaries. Since moving to New Orleans in 2004 Liz’s work has toggled between television production and nonprofit administration, occasionally blending the two. As the Executive Director of New Orleans Video Access Center, Liz saw the quintupling of the organization’s operating budget and built workforce development programs that put New Orleanians back to work in the burgeoning film industry in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Returning to free-lance television production, she continued to serve on the board of several New Orleans-based nonprofit organizations. Since 2013, Liz has worked to develop national resources for sustainable end-of-life care, serving on the board of the Green Burial Council, and forming the Equitable Disposition Alliance.
Liz holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Brown University.