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 is the Operations and Admin Director at Sprout. She 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. Amelia 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. She has spent the last decade contributing to New Orleans area nonprofits with design, writing, project management, communications strategy, and fundraising. Amelia 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.
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. 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 works as Small Business Specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
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.
In 2012 Allison Durant followed her passion and returned to school to pursue a Master of Education in Counseling. Propelled by the loss of her mother at the age of 18, Allison shifted from the world of accounting and managing physician practices to creating a space that promotes healing and wellness around all things grief. Becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2020, Allison founded The New Orleans Grief Center to open up dialogue, provide psychoeducation, and assist not only clients but other counselors to gain a better understanding of the process of grief. Allison’s previous career as a Certified Public Accountant gives her insight into the financial aspects of organizational management. She brings this unique combination of knowledge and service to the Wake Board of Directors, connecting a desire to support the community with an understanding of the financial requirements of running an organization. When not working, Allison can be found needlepointing or playing pickleball. She is also the mother of three amazing daughters.
Bartley comes to Wake's work with a passion for good citizenry. As a full-time dad, and part-time coffee distributor, Bartley’s professional background includes cable installation, cocktail mixology, and training as an urban planner. The process of dealing with aging parents has brought him closer to issues of end-of-life care and he is committed to helping all people, regardless of means, to die and be mourned, with dignity. Bartley holds a BA from Rutgers University.
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 Corporate and Foundation Relations Officer at Xavier 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.
Jamillia Stevenson is an Attorney and Counselor at Law in the State of Louisiana, specializing in personal injury, estate planning and succession, and family law. Jamillia has served as a document review and trial-preparation attorney for law firms in the Greater New Orleans area, and provides pro bono legal counseling through the ProBono Project. She currently operates the Law Office of Jamillia Stevenson, LLC which helps low and middle income clients to access justice and the court system. Jamillia holds a JD from Southern University Law Center and an undergraduate degree from Centenary College of Louisiana.
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.