Van Wezel Foundation Professional Staff
Cheryl Mendelson, Chief Executive Officer
Cheryl joined the Foundation in January of 2019, bringing over 25 years of fundraising, business, development, and strategic planning experience to the Foundation.
Cheryl’s career as a nonprofit executive has spanned across education, healthcare, and the arts, most recently as Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Chief Marketing Officer for Erikson Institute, the premier graduate school in child development, where she led the strategy and execution for all fundraising, marketing, and communications.
Prior to Erikson, she spent 8 years as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Harris Theater. Mendelson is recognized as a thought leader in the branding and growth of the theater, including her critical role as chief architect for the $38 million Imagine capital campaign. She also founded Access Tickets, a Harris Theater arts education program that partners with health and human service organizations and schools.
Career highlights also include raising more than $150 million as Senior Vice President of Philanthropy and Marketing for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and Director of Annual Giving at the University f Chicago, Booth Graduate School of Business.
Sasha Hausman, CFRE, Director of Development
Sasha Hausman is an experienced and accomplished Development Executive with over 13 years of experience in fundraising, donor cultivation, stewardship, marketing, and public speaking.
Most recently Sasha served as Executive Director of the AdventHealth Zephyrhills and Dade City Foundation where she had responsibilities for the strategic direction and development of two hospital foundations. As the Chief Development Officer, Sasha had oversight for all philanthropic initiatives including, annual giving, grants, sponsorships, and fundraising events. Sasha also engaged a portfolio of 200 prospective and active corporate and individual donors during two capital campaigns.
Previously, Sasha spent 10 years working in development and special events at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. As Director of Philanthropy, she was a vital member of the major gifts fundraising team that raised $16 million annually. In addition, Sasha led the development and execution of all benefit events. Her work helped to feed over 50,000 people a day in Central Florida.Sasha is a driven and energetic leader who is seasoned in inspiring and engaging the community for a greater good. She has been recognized with several awards including Chairman of the Year honoree, City of Winter Park (2018), Women Who Change Lives honoree, Orlando Jewish Federation (2018) and Women Who Mean Business: Woman to Watch honoree, Orlando Business Journal (2016).
Sasha received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from the University of Central Florida and has earned her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).
Sasha is excited to live in such a beautiful city and start immersing herself in the community. She enjoys live music, cooking, shopping local, and going to the dog park with her dog, Cooper.
Erin Guzzo, Marketing and Events Manager
Erin joined the Foundation in 2014 and brings over 20 years of professional business and marketing experience across various industries including global asset management, real estate, insurance, and wealth management.
Erin also brings significant event management experience having successfully managed a large number of corporate events throughout Florida as the Florida Regional Marketing Manager for BMO Private Bank. In addition, she has served on many local committees including Forty Carrots (Wine Co-Chair, Wine Women & Shoes), March of Dimes, and Big Dog Ranch Rescue helping to plan and organize various fundraising events.
Erin relocated to Sarasota in 2004 and is originally from Scituate, Massachusetts. She has a BA in Business Management from Merrimack College, North Andover, Ma and holds a Paralegal Studies degree from Northeastern University in Boston, Ma. Erin resides in Sarasota with her husband Rob, stepson Nick, and their dog, Colt where she enjoys spending time with family and friends, boating, traveling and reading.
Elsie Merrill, Donor Relations Manager
Elsie began working with the Van Wezel Foundation in 2002 when she relocated to Sarasota from the Washington, D.C. area. She took a short hiatus in 2005, but missed working with the Foundation's "Friends" and returned a year later. Her duties include Concierge Member Ticketing and the Community Outreach Ticketing Program, as well as support for the entire staff.
Elsie was born and raised in Boston. As a military wife, she has lived in many different locations. Elsie likes to visit her 4 children and 8 grandchildren, play golf and trivia and continues to follow the Red Sox. She lives in Osprey and has two miniature schnauzers.
Nancy Denton, Donor Relations Specialist
Nancy moved to Sarasota from Las Vegas in 2009 and earned her Master of Nonprofit Management from the University of Central Florida in 2012. She has been immersed in the arts for over 20 years, having performed on stage around the country both professionally and as a hobby. She chose Sarasota for its amazing arts community and is a fixture with several local theater companies and the troupe Random Acts.
Prior to moving to Las Vegas, Nancy lived in the Philadelphia area and worked as the assistant to the President and CEO for the Foundation for New Jersey Public Broadcasting, where she worked on fundraising and development in support of New Jersey Network, New Jersey's public television, and radio station.
Nancy joined the Foundation in November of 2016 and provides concierge service to the Friends of the Foundation.
Cathleen Mai, Database Coordinator
Cathleen was born and raised in Germany, where she worked as an independent Financial Planner for 15 years. During several visits, she and her family fell in love with Florida and moved to Sarasota in 2010. Cathleen joined the Foundation in 2013. She loves spending time with her family, bike riding and playing classical guitar.