Our Team

Mission-oriented professionals who turn big ideas into reality.

Our team brings decades of industry expertise in finance, real estate, and services to help charter schools increase their impact. It is our honor to build hope for students nationwide.

Holdings

S. Joseph Bruno

President of Holdings, Inc.

(202) 457-1993 | Ext. 1001
jbruno@bhope.org
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Lance Helming

Senior Vice President of Finance

(202) 591-1114 | Ext. 1003
lhelming@bhope.org
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Sherilyn Moore

Chief Marketing Officer

(310) 704-5295
smoore@bhope.org
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Michael D’Alessandro

General Counsel

(202) 457-1992 | Ext. 1002
mdalessandro@bhope.org
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Joshua Jomarron

Assistant Marketing Associate

(202) 591-1100 | Ext. 1802
jjomarron@bhope.org
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Ellie Bonilla

Executive Assistant
Event Manager

(202) 457-1999
ebonilla@bhope.org
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Finance

Robin Odland

President of Finance

(202) 457-1989 | Ext. 1006 rodland@bhope.org
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Tim Merritt

Vice President of Finance

(202) 457-1995 | Ext. 1102 tmerritt@bhope.org
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Cecila Walker

Chief Credit Officer

(202) 921-7260 | Ext. 1205 cwalker@bhope.org
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Derrick Holloway Jr

Senior Underwriter

(202) 921-6406 | Ext. 1204 dholloway@bhope.org
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Esther Owusu

Senior Accountant

(202) 921-6514 | Ext. 1105 eowusa@bhope.org
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Leda M. DiLeonardo

Loan Administrator

(202) 591-1111 | Ext. 1201 ldileonardo@bhope.org
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Alice Barnes

Operations Accountant

(202) 457-1988 | Ext. 1101 abarnes@bhope.org
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Real Estate

Dru Damico

President of Real Estate

(202) 591-1105 | Ext. 3001
ddamico@bhope.org
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Jerry Zayets

Vice President of Real Estate

(202) 591-1116 | Ext. 1303 jzayets@bhope.org
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Allison Serafin

Vice President of Real Estate

(202) 457-1999
aserafin@bhope.org
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Adam Koonin

Director of Business Development

(954) 645-8071 | Ext. 2410 akoonin@bhope.org
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Andrew Ranieri

Director of Acquisitions and Entitlements

(954) 627-1324 | Ext. 2301 aranieri@bhope.org
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Brady Hutchins

Director of Construction Management

(208) 562-7819 bhutchins@bhope.org
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Elizabeth Barlow-Gupta

Director of Real Estate Development

(202) 457-1992 lgupta@bhope.org
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Vanessa Rowan

Director of Finance & Accounting

(202) 591-1103 | Ext. 1302 vrowan@bhope.org
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Michael D'Alessandro

General Counsel

(202) 457-1992 | Ext. 1002 mdalessandro@bhope.org
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Amanda DiLeo

Project Accountant

(202) 963-0807 | Ext. 9006 ldaly@bhope.org
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Justin Little

Project Manager

(215) 500-5848
jlittle@bhope.org
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Sherece Gasaway

Paralegal

(202)591- 1119 | Ext. 1801 sgasaway@bhope.org
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Services

Richard Moreno

President of Services

(954) 317-1363 | Ext. 2001
rmoreno@bhope.org
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Curtis Fuller

Director of Charter School Operations

(727) 223-6391 | Ext. 2002
cfuller@bhope.org
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Trisha Leitem

Assistant Director of Charter School Operations

(850) 848-4757 | Ext. 2402
tleitem@bhope.org
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Mohammad Bashshiti

Director of School Finance & Accounting

(202) 457-1984 | Ext. 1401
mbashshiti@bhope.org
Read Bio

Christine Mentis

Services Manager

(754) 247-4333 | Ext. 2411
cmentis@bhope.org
Read Bio

Joan Walker

Business Manager Liaison

(954) 317-1367 | Ext. 2408
jwalker@bhope.org
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Rafael Mestre

Manager

(786) 655-4955 | Ext. 2405
rmestre@bhope.org
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Kevin Lugar

Controller of Charter School Business Services

(954) 317-1366 | Ext. 2404
klugar@bhope.org
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Mark Levine

Senior Accountant of Charter School Business Services

(954) 317-1364 | Ext. 2403
mlevine@bhope.org
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Becky Jenkins

Financial Analyst

(202) 921-0910 | Ext. 1104
rjenkins@bhope.org
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Macarria Stovall

Accountant/Programs Coordinator

(954) 526-5525 | Ext. 2406
mstovall@bhope.org
Read Bio

Bassel Brown

Accountant

(954) 526-5715 | Ext. 2409
bbrown@bhope.org
Read Bio

Amy Parker

Staff Accountant

(954) 317-1365 | Ext. 2401
aparker@bhope.org
Read Bio

Opal Thompson

Staff Accountant

(727) 223-6390 | Ext. 2407
othompson@bhope.org
Read Bio

Let's Start a Conversation

For more information about how Building Hope can help your charter school succeed, or to find out how to invest in the mission, please fill out the short form below.

I am interested in:

S. Joseph Bruno

President of Holdings, Inc.

Joe was Building Hope’s first hire in 2003 and has since overseen and directed all aspects of the organization’s operations. A certified public accountant, Joe has 50 years of accounting, finance, business, and management experience, including as a partner in two Big-4 accounting firms and as the CFO of a public company. He has not only expanded Building Hope’s reach (from Washington, D.C. to as far south as Florida and as far west as California) but its program offerings.

(202) 457-1993 Ext. 1001
jbruno@bhope.org

Lance Helming

Senior Vice President of Real Estate & Finance

Lance came to Building Hope in 2017 with significant experience as an accountant in the audit practice at Ernst & Young and in the transaction services practice at PriceWaterhouseCoopers; a finance and strategic planning manager at National Express Corporation, a K-12 student transportation operator; and Director of Finance at LearnZillion, a K-12 education technology company. Lance has also served as a Board Director and Treasurer for Lee Montessori Public Charter School in Washington, DC. He is a CPA and holds Finance & Accounting and Masters of Accounting degrees from Miami University of Ohio.

(202) 591-1114 | Ext. 1003
lhelming@bhope.org

Sherilyn Moore

Chief Marketing Officer

Sherilyn brings a diverse spectrum of educational, entertainment, and business leadership experience to her role of shining a light on Building Hope’s Impact. It is her honor to help expand educational opportunities for students nationwide by making connections and sparking growth in the charter school community.

She serves on the Minneola Charter School Board of Directors, the Turtle’s Nest Early Learning Center Board, and the Educational Growth Fund board. Her Master’s is in Creative Writing from University of Central Florida, and her Bachelor’s in is Finance from University of South Florida.

202.457.1999 | 310.704.5295
smoore@bhope.org

Michael D'Alessandro

General Counsel

Michael plays a lead role in drafting and reviewing loan and real estate related documents, as well as serving as corporate secretary to handle corporate governance matters. He has been with Building Hope since 2014. Michael has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from Duquesne University, and is a member in good standing of the Maryland Bar. He lives in Rockville, Maryland with his wife and his dog Barkley.

(202) 457-1992 | Ext. 1002
mdalessandro@bhope.org

Joshua Jomarron

Assistant Marketing Associate

Joshua E. Jomarron is current Undergraduate at the George Washington University majoring in Political Science in hopes to make the world a better place. As a charter school alumnus, he brings a diverse insight to how we serve our students and is an exemplary example of our impact at Building Hope.

He also serves as President of Key to Knowledge, a small nonprofit missioned to improving education in developing countries, that served over 450 students in Honduras, Cuba, Venezuela, Guatemala and Puerto Rico.

(202) 591-1100 | Ext. 1802
jjomarron@bhope.org

Elizabeth (Ellie) Bonilla

Executive Assistant/Event Manager

Ellie brings over 25 years of administrative experience to her role at Building Hope. Her varied skill sets in organization and communication as well as attention to detail have been used in several diverse industries especially in educational environments. She has a special connection to children of all ages and wants to see them succeed.

In addition, she has shared her knack for event planning with family and friends for years and is excited to put that to use in a professional setting.

Ellie likes to apply her creativity to crafting and decorating projects in her spare time.

(202) 457-1999 | Office
ebonilla@bhope.org

Robin Odland

President of Finance

Robin leads Building Hope Finance’s effort to provide charter schools with tailored, cost-effective facility financing options. He has vast experience in structured finance and in working with non-profits. He began his career in commercial real estate, financing over $3 billion worth of real estate across the US. He also leveraged this background to bring innovative financial structures to non-profit organizations, including Charter schools. Robin divides his time between Washington, DC and Philadelphia. He holds bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

(202) 457-1989 | Ext. 1006
rodland@bhope.org

Tim Merritt

Vice President of Finance

Tim is responsible for financial reporting and operations for both Building Hope Finance and Building Hope Services. He came to Building Hope in 2015 with over 15 years of experience accounting, finance, and operations. A certified public accountant, Tim has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from North Carolina A&T State University and an MBA from University of Maryland University College. He is married with four children and lives in Upper Marlboro, MD.

(202) 457-1995 | Ext. 1102
tmerritt@bhope.org

Cecila Walker

Chief Credit Officer

Cecilia Walker, Chief Credit Officer, joined Building Hope in February 2020. Ms. Walker oversees all aspects of credit risk assessment and credit management control for the organization. Cecilia began her career in the banking industry. In 2003, Ms. Walker transitioned into the impact investing arena and she has held positions of leadership at the Fannie Mae Foundation, Fannie Mae, Opportunity Finance Network and the Calvert Foundation. Ms. Walker is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

(202) 921-7260 | Ext. 1205
cwalker@bhope.org

Derrick Holloway Jr

Senior Underwriter

Derrick is a native Washingtonian, a product of both the DCPS as well as the Public Charter School systems. After majoring in Finance with a minor in Real Estate from Temple University, he spent the next decade sharpening his skill set in the commercial real estate industry. With years of experience in research, leasing, asset management, as well as underwriting complex deals of all product types, Mr. Holloway has a proven track record of providing value in every position that he has held.

(202) 921-6406 | Ext. 1204
dholloway@bhope.org

Esther Owusu

Senior Accountant

Esther began her accounting career at a non-profit educational institution in 2014, where she realized the importance of assisting others receive a strong education. She joined Building Hope in 2020, and her current role is to support the financial reporting and operations of Building Hope Finance and Building Hope Services. Esther received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Washington Adventist University and is currently pursuing an MBA degree at Fitchburg State University. Esther currently resides in Maryland.

(202) 921-6514 | Ext. 1105
eowusa@bhope.org

Leda M. DiLeonardo

Loan Administrator

Leda joined Building Hope in 2016. As loan administrator, she is responsible for maintaining compliance on loans and real estate transactions. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Oral Roberts University and has extensive experience in the banking and health care industries, and started her professional career as a Special Agent for the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.

(202) 591-1111 | Ext. 1201
ldileonardo@bhope.org

Alice Barnes

Operations Accountant

Alice is responsible for maintaining the accounts receivable portfolios across all three Building Hope divisions. She first joined the company in 2009 as an administrative assistant, later became office manager, and took on her current position with Building Hope’s 2019 reorganization.

(202) 457-1988 | Ext. 1101
abarnes@bhope.org

Dru Damico

President of Real Estate

Dru is responsible for oversight and management of all Building Hope Real Estate investment opportunities in educational facilities. He joined Building Hope in 2015 with 20 years’ experience in community-based development; real estate; and construction of charter school, retail, and entertainment projects. He has been an active member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Rowland Hall School. Dru holds a B.S. in Management Information Systems from Fairfield University.

Dru hosts Charter Conversations, Building Hope’s web series highlighting innovative charter school leaders from across the country.

(202) 591-1105 | Ext. 3001
ddamico@bhope.org

Jerry Zayets

Vice President of Real Estate

Jerry Zayets is responsible for managing the development and construction process for BHRE. In conjunction with his team, he manages acquisition, entitlements and project management, pre-construction, and construction management. He also advises schools on site selection, construction management, and project affordability. Prior to joining BHRE, Jerry was the Director of Acquisitions and Development for Capital City real estate, where he implemented large-scale mixed-use development projects. He is a graduate of University of Maryland and holds a master’s degree from its School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. For more than 5 years Jerry has served on the Board of Trustees for Creative Minds International, a public charter school in Washington, D.C.

(202) 591-1116 | Ext. 1303
jzayets@bhope.org

Allison Serafin

Vice President of Real Estate

Coming Soon

Adam Koonin

Director of Business Development

Adam is responsible for building and expanding relationships with charter schools in the Northeast Region. He provides support for growing school campuses, through direct development and client engagement. Prior to joining Building Hope, Mr. Koonin was a National Relationship Manager, serving some of the largest public-school districts with procurement and expansion projects. He is an alumnus of the Freeman School of Business at Tulane University.

(954) 645-8071 Ext. 2410
akoonin@bhope.org

Elizabeth Barlow-Gupta

Director of Real Estate Development

Elizabeth Barlow-Gupta is a leader who brings people, ideas and operations together. With a career marked by diversity across industries, delivering in challenging environments and success through relationships, her experience guides organizations with fresh direction focusing on working beyond obstacles.

Elizabeth comes to Building Hope after managing a commercial construction firm specializing in construction management and design-build projects. Previously she held leadership positions in the mining industry both in the United States and Australia with key accomplishments in operational excellence and communications.

Elizabeth holds a BS in Anthropology from the University of Utah. Government Politics and Journalism. She has two courageous young boys and considers their growth and development her greatest accomplishment.

Elizabeth has served on The Board of Directors of the Salt Lake City Library System, Seeds of Peace, The Governor’s Mansion Artist Series, and held various positions on committees with community organizations.

(202) 457-1992
lgupta@bhope.org

Vanessa Rowan

Director of Finance & Accounting

Vanessa has worked in tax consulting, compliance, and a variety of other accounting and operations roles for non-profit organizations, including arts and educational institutions. She has a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and dance from Muhlenberg College and a Master’s of Accounting with a tax emphasis from the College of William and Mary.

(202) 591-1103 | Ext. 1302
vrowan@bhope.org

Amanda DiLeo

Project Accountant

Amanda joined Building Hope in August 2020. Previously, she worked as an Assurance Associate at Dixon Hughes Goodman where she specialized in the non-profit and real estate industries. She has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Accounting and Information Systems from Virginia Tech and is a licensed CPA in the state of Virginia.

(202) 963-0807 | Ext. 9006
ldaly@bhope.org

Justin Little

Paralegal

Justin works with charter schools to plan, design, construct and occupy facilities. Prior to joining Building Hope, Justin was a Project Manager at a general contracting company, where he managed new construction and renovation projects. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from Morgan State University.

(215) 500-5848
jlittle@bhope.org

Sherece Gasaway

Paralegal

Sherece is the Paralegal to Michael D’Alessandro, Building Hope’s General Counsel. She came to Building Hope in 2018 with a background in the real estate and title insurance industries.

(202)591- 1119 | Ext. 1801
sgasaway@bhope.org

Richard Moreno

President of Services

Mr. Moreno holds an MBA from Florida Atlantic University and a BS in Finance with honors from the University of Florida. Mr. Moreno oversees the daily operations of Florida’s Building Hope offices. With over 19 years of CFO experience with various business enterprises. He served as the CFO of Charter Schools USA and as a resource specialist for NCB Capital Impact. He also has served as Chairman of the Florida School of Excellence Commission, and is currently a member of the Florida charter School Appeal Commission.

(954) 317-1363 Ext. 2001
rmoreno@bhope.org

Curtis Fuller

Director of Charter School Operations

Curtis leads the Charter Support Unit, providing operational assistance to help charter schools improve efficiencies. He was formerly the principal of a high-performing public charter school in Florida. Curtis holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University and a bachelor’s in Education from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh.

(727) 223-6391 | Ext. 2002
cfuller@bhope.org

Trisha Leitem

Assistant Director of Charter School Operations

Trisha joined Building Hope in 2019 with a background as an educator and school administrator. She enjoys assisting charter schools in moving toward their missions and visions. Trisha has a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. She lives in Florida and dedicates her free time to her husband and two daughters. She also loves music and has performed on piano at the United Nations (both Vienna and New York), St. Petersburg Cathedral, Carnegie Hall, and best of all, in schools for children.

(850) 848-4757 | Ext. 2402
tleitem@bhope.org

Mohammad Bashshiti

Director of School Finance & Accounting

Mohammad joined Building Hope Services in April 2018. He has been a licensed CPA in the Commonwealth of Virginia since July 2013. He graduated from Virginia Tech in May 2012 with dual degrees in Accounting & Information Systems and Finance. Outside of work, he enjoys watching movies, playing basketball, reading, watching the Wizards & Orioles, and going to stand-up comedy shows in Washington, DC.

(202) 457-1984 Ext. 1401
mbashshiti@bhope.org

Christine Mentis

Services Manager

Christine has served as an educator, school administrator and executive director of a system of four charter schools in the state of Florida. Throughout her career she has helped with all phases of charter school operations ranging from the writing of the charter application to the successful replication of a high-performing charter school. She joined the Charter Support Unit in 2021 with a desire to support charter schools meet their mission and goals for student success. Christine holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Florida International University and a master’s degree in Reading Education from Nova Southeastern University.

(754) 247-4333 | Ext. 2411
cmentis@bhope.org

Joan Walker

Business Manager Liaison

Joan is a charter school business manager, covering areas such as financial accountability, policy and quality control. She is also a grant writer, and serves as an AdvancED (Cognia) Charter School Accreditation Team Member at the PreK to High School level. Joan began her career teaching business administration and accounting principles, then worked in the charter school system as a technology coordinator, systems administrator, human resource generalist, and National Lunch Program Director. In her free time, she works as a freelance graphic artist.

(954) 317-1367 | Ext. 2408
jwalker@bhope.org

Rafael Mestre

Manager

Rafael oversees the budgeting process for charter school clients in Florida. Prior to joining Building Hope in 2017, he spent 25 years running investment portfolios for various banks in Miami. Rafael has a degree in Finance from Florida International University. He lives in Miami with his wife and 3 children.

(786) 655-4955 | Ext. 2405
rmestre@bhope.org

Kevin Lugar

Controller of Charter School Business Services

Kevin manages business transactions for public charter schools in Florida. He is an active CPA. His background includes leadership in the medical staffing, environmental services, and investment sectors, with expertise in budgeting, accounting, finance, and business administration. Kevin has helped start-up companies to grow and become competitive and helped mature companies to maintain their high standards. He has a Finance Degree with a risk management concentration from Virginia Tech and an MBA from Florida State University.

(954) 317-1366 | Ext. 2404
klugar@bhope.org

Mark Levine

Senior Accountant of Charter School Business Services

Mark’s work with Building Hope Services includes financial reporting; representing the organization and its partner schools at school board meetings; joining school representatives to attend workshops on grants and other financial programs; and advising schools in accounting, business, and other professional aspects that draw on his many years of experience as CFO for a publicly traded company. He is a graduate of American University and attended NY Law school.

(954) 317-1364 | Ext. 2403
mlevine@bhope.org

Becky Jenkins

Financial Analyst

Becky joined Building Hope in February 2020 with a background in municipal bond finance. In her previous work as an analyst for a national investment banking firm, she helped structure financings for charter school and local government clientele. Her work involved all facets of the capital debt market financing process, from preparation of bond documents to coordinating rating agencies, bond insurers, and legal counsels, leading to successful closings for dozens of public finance clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a Post-Baccalaureate Accounting Certificate from Robert Morris University and is a registered Municipal Advisor Representative.

(202) 921-0910 | Ext. 1104
rjenkins@bhope.org

Macarria Stovall

Accountant/Programs Coordinator

Macarria has over 13 years of experience in the accounting and finance industry.  She started her career as a Financial Account Analyst, by measuring the financial risk of new and existing clients while maintaining a diverse accounts receivable portfolio.  Macarria has also served as a Senior Accountant with primary responsibilities of reconciling bank statements and maintaining compliance of operations.  She is currently assisting with bonds accounting here at Building Hope.  Macarria has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management from the University of South Carolina and an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Strayer University.

(954) 526-5525 | Ext. 2406
mstovall@bhope.org

Bassel Brown

Accountant

Bassel, who comes from a family of accountants, has been in the field himself for almost 10 years. Currently, his role at Building Hope involves full cycle accounting for various charter school clients. He was born in Queens, New York, but raised on the island of Jamaica throughout most of his childhood. After completing his primary education, he then returned to Florida for high school and college, where he attained a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

(954) 526-5715 | Ext. 2409
bbrown@bhope.org

Amy Parker

Staff Accountant

Amy is a Staff Accountant, offering back office support services from the Ft. Lauderdale, FL office.  She is a veteran of the United States Air Force that joined the team in 2014 and has over 22 years of Accounting experience. She has 5 children, and has seen first-hand, the benefits of charter schools.

(954) 317-1365 | Ext. 2401
aparker@bhope.org

Opal Thompson

Staff Accountant

Opal is a Florida-based staff accountant with our back-office services team. She came to Building Hope in 2016 with over 18 years’ experience working in Finance and Accounting. Opal is also a business teacher and holds a bachelor’s degree in Professional Management from Nova Southeastern University. She has three children, the youngest of whom attend one of Building Hope’s partner charter schools.

(727) 223-6390 | Ext. 2407
othompson@bhope.org

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Thank you for trusting Building Hope with your community’s unique needs. We are excited to learn more about your charter school project and how we can partner to create opportunities for children.