Our History

In 2005, a group of small business owners, firefighters, union leaders, and elected officials took part in the inaugural Game of Hope basketball game. The idea for the event was to raise money to help improve the lives of local children who were battling chronic and/or terminal illnesses, as well as support the efforts of the Hole in the Wall Gang.

The event struck a chord with Anthony Spano, who sought to continue the tradition established by the Game of Hope, but on a wider scale. In 2007, Spano founded The Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, which works with volunteers, funding and sponsorship partners, and its dedicated board of trustees to improve the quality of life for our community’s chronically and terminally ill children and their families.

Our Board of Trustees

The Hope Foundation is governed by the dedicated members of our Board of Trustees, who are responsible for establishing the policies for grants or donations consistent with the stated purpose for which The Hope Foundation was established. The Grant Committee of the Board of Trustees considers requests for grants from all eligible individual/families and/or organizations committed to using the funds within The Hope Foundation’s mission.

Board Members (Term Expire)

Chair (2017)

Youngstown, Ohio (May 25, 2017)-This past April, the Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley approved and appoint Catherine Miller to another 3 year term through 2020 to the Board of Trustees.

Catherine Cercone Miller, married to Brad Miller, has two children, Bradley Jr (6) and Anthony (2).  Miller is the daughter of Doreen Cercone of Struthers and the late Sam Cercone and granddaughter of the late Anthony Stewart and Dorothy Stewart (Struthers) and the late Alberto and Angiolina Cercone (Poland)

Miller works full-time for the Struthers Municipal Court Prosecutor, Dominic Leone as his secretary and owns her own photography company, Sixty2. She also is the president for the Struthers Rotary Community Corp and on the Board of Directors for the Struthers School Foundation for Educational Excellence.

Miller graduated from Struthers in 2001 and also graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and art therapy. Catherine is also very dedicated to the Struthers Ladycat basketball team.

Co-chair (2017)

This past week, the Board of Trustees voted to approve the appointment of Gretchen McGarry to the Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley Board. The Hope Foundation raises money for chronically/terminally ill children in the Mahoning Valley throughout the year.

Gretchen McGarry, native to the area, attended and graduated from Colorado Tech University with a degree in Business.

Currently residing in Poland, Ohio, Gretchen has devoted herself and is extremely active in helping those with special needs. She educates others and helps raise awareness for rare genetic disorders. In addition, she has organized several fundraisers for organizations dedicated to helping those with genetic disorders and hopes that a cure can one day be discovered. Miss McGarry also volunteers her time enriching the lives of children with special needs by actively helping as a team parent for Miss Dana’s Diamonds Rockstar Squad.

“I feel that Gretchen brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the foundation. She has a great heart and knows what is necessary to help chronically/terminally ill children,” said Anthony Spano, executive director of the Hope Foundation.

She hopes to help others by being a voice for families in need and by helping to improve children’s lives in all aspects.

Secretary (2018)

FYE

Treasurer (2018)

Hill, Barth & King

Board Member (2019)

In May, the Board of Trustees voted to approve to appoint Deanna Fusillo of Canfield to serve a 3-year term, starting July 1 on the Board of Trustees for The Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. The Hope Foundation raises money for chronically and terminally ill children in the Mahoning Valley throughout the year.

Deanna Fusillo, a native of Canfield, has worked and volunteered in the Mahoning Valley all her life. She has shared her skills and experiences with a variety of businesses and nonprofit.

Ms. Fusillo is the founder of Sassy Girl Media, LLC, a digital marketing company that specializes in social media marketing, website design and email marketing. As an entrepreneur, she is also a resource that connects other entrepreneurs and supports them in catalyzing new ventures.

“Ms. Fusillo brings a wealth of knowledge that can help The Foundation go to the next level. She has a lot of experience and can help The Foundation in a vareity of ways,” Spano added.

She has served on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters Mahoning Valley and Diva Donations, as well as the Youngstown Business Incubator as a Social Media Fundraising Co-Chair in 2014. Deanna grew up in Canfield and has two sons. She received a BA from Youngstown State University in Psychology.

Board Member (2019)

The Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley reappointed Judge Diane Vettori for an additional 3-year term thru 2019. Judge Vettori was recently appointed back in 2012 to help advance The Foundation in its mission statement.

Judge Diane Vettori is currently serving her third term as a Mahoning County Court Judge. She has served as the Administrative and Presiding Judge for the Four county Courts located in Austintown, Boardman, Canfield, and Sebring. She graduated from The University of Akron School of Law in 1993 with her Juris Doctorate, completed her undergraduate education at Youngstown State University in 1990 and was Valedictorian of Canfield High School.

Prior to her election as Judge, she served as an Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor, Law Director of the Village of Sebring, and City Solicitor and served as an Administrative Hearing Officer for the Child Support Enforcement Agency. Judge Vettori maintains a private Law Practice, is a licensed Realtor and a licensed auto salesperson and owns and operates D.A. Professional Services, Inc.,

Judge Vettori serves as adjunct faculty at Kent State University and teaches for a wide variety of disciplines, including the Supreme Court of Ohio, Academy of Continuing Legal Education, various Police Academies and ADAP refresher courses. She is also a part of the Faculty planning committee for the Ohio Supreme Court Continuing Education Programs. She serves on the Supreme Court of Ohio Criminal Law and Procedure Committee and currently serves on the Jail Advisory Board for the State of Ohio and was recently appointed to the Court technology committee of the Supreme Court of Ohio. She serves on the board of the Community Foundation and Hope Foundation and has served on both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America local boards.

Board Member (2018)

Window Designs & Interiors

Board Member (2018)

Northeast Behavioral Health, Inc.

Board Member (2017)

Austintown Township Trustee

Board Member (2019)

This past November, the Hope Foundation approved and appointed Krista White to the Board of Trustees to serve a three year term to help advocate and advance chronically/terminally ill children in the Mahoning Valley.

Krista White is a teaching fellow and doctoral candidate at Kent State University, where she is active with several department- and university-wide organizations. She currently teaches business writing courses at Kent and researches writing activity at nonprofit organizations. Prior to her teaching fellowship, Krista worked for 13 year in marketing at Armstrong, where she handled large community events, managed local marketing initiatives, and hosted a children’s television show.

Krista has spent her entire life in the Mahoning Valley and has worked to advocate for local causes. She has served on the board of the Youngstown Hearing and Speech Center and has served on several committees, including the Home Builders Association, the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, and the Regional Chamber Ambassadors Committee.

She was also a 40 Under 40 recipient during the award’s inaugural year. Krista lives in Poland with her husband, Matt, and daughters, Emma and Sara.

Board Member (2017)

Mercy Health

Board Member (2017)

Youngstown Area Jewish Federation

Board Member (2019)

This past week, The Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley reappointed Reynaldo Esparra for another 3-year term thru 2019. Recently appointed three years ago, Rey wants to continue to help expand and share The Foundation’s missions statement with the Mahoning Valley.

(Reyno as he is known by his family and friends) is a lifelong resident of Youngstown. Reyno is married to Nancy (Burgos) Esparra, his lovely wife of 34 years. Nancy and Reyno have 3 beautiful daughters; Maria, Cristina, and Veronica along with their sons-in-laws and 3 grandchildren, Aviana, Rey and Ryan. Reyno has stayed actively involved in serving the greater Youngstown community for over 35 years coaching (youth basketball, track and softball), serving on multiple boards for non-profit agencies and a member of the Finance committee, Parish Council and Youth Coordinator at his church.

Rey has a big heart with nothing but experience and a work ethic like no other, which he shares throughout the board, added Anthony Spano, Foundation Director.

He’s an active member of Christ the Good Shepard and currently serves as a Eucharistic Minister, Lector, and Choir member. He is employed by GBS Computers as the Director of Client Advocacy and recently celebrated 28 years of service. He’s a major sports enthusiast who enjoys working out, golf, softball and loves watching The Ohio State Buckeyes.

Board Member (2019)

The Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley appointed Dr. Robert Naples, Jr. this past month to serve his first full term on the Board of Trustees to end in 2019. His main functions will be to advise the Board on medical advances, diseases and treatments, as well as head the Doctor Advisory Board. Dr. Naples will also serve as the liaison between with the medical community and The Foundation.

Dr. Robert Naples Jr., a Family Physician in Cortland, has been a Board Member of The Hope Foundation for two years. He has spent most of his life in the Mahoning Valley where he was a graduate of YSU before attending Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. He returned home and was Chief Resident during his residency at St. Joe’s Hospital. In addition to his office practice, he serves as Medical Director at Kinsman Boyd’s Home and Senior Independence Hospice.

Dr. Naples believes in giving back to the community that has made such an impact on his life. He volunteers as Team Physician at Warren JFK for basketball and football, coaches youth sports, trains medical professionals, and has settled in Howland, Ohio, where he lives with his wife and three children. He is proud to continue serving on the Board of The Hope Foundation.

Board Member (2018)

Roth Bros., Inc.

Founder/Exe. Director

Youngstown State University

Anthony Spano’s leadership skills, passion for service and community engagement began to take shape during his early days as a student at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio where he received a B.S. in Business Administration and a Master Degree in Communication. It was during his undergraduate years as a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity that he led the organization’s philanthropic efforts to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Paul Newman’s “ The Hole in the Wall Gang” that benefits seriously ill children and their families.

His campus-wide achievements included spearheading a student initiative to erect a “9/11 Attack on America” memorial; assisting the American Red Cross in significantly increasing blood donations on campus; hosting two consecutive Student Leadership Summits; being selected as a “Who’s Who Among Students at American Colleges and Universities;” serving on the executive committee of Greek Campus Life; coordinating the local Great American Smokeout for the American Cancer Society; United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley’s Make a Difference Day; and the 10th Annual North Side Clean Up. From 2000-2004 Tony served as Coordinator of Student Programming.

In 2007, while employed by the YSU Parking/Vehicle Enforcement Department Tony founded The Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, a 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission to improve the quality of life for our community’s chronically and terminally ill children and their families through charitable support. He holds the position of executive director to this day while maintaining a full-time position at the university as purchasing coordinator. Over the last decade H.F.M.V. has raised over $300,000 in both donations and services.

Amazingly, he finds the time to serve on the board at Mahoning County Children Services.
Tony’s awards and recognitions include:

2009    YSU Distinguished Services Award
2010    North Eastern Ohio Education Association Positive Image Award
2010    Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley 40 Under 40 Award
2011    Certificate of Special Recognition from U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan
2011    Ohio Education Media Award for Public Service
2012    Ohio High School Athletic Association Meritorious Award
2012    Phi Kappa Fraternity President’s Citation
2013    Mahoning Valley Young Professionals 25 Under 35 Award
2013    Akron Children’s Hospital MV Children’s Advocate Award
2015    President’s Volunteer Service Award for Lifetime Achievement-Presented by President of the United States-Barack Obama

Doctors Advisory Board

Dr. Giorgio Vescera
Doctors Advisory Board

This week, the Board of Trustees of The Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley appointed Dr Giorgio Vescera to complete the Doctors Advisory Board, with Dr. John Cox and Chair, Dr. Robert Naples, Jr. His main functions will be to assist and advise the Board on medical advances, diseases and treatments for the  Doctor Advisory Board. Dr. Vescera will also serve as the liaison between the medical community and The Foundation.

Dr Giorgio Vescera is a practicing pediatrician in Warren, Ohio.  He has spent his entire life in the Mahoning Valley.  He graduated from Youngstown State University with a combined science degree and then received his medical doctorate from Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine.

He did his internship and residency at the former Tod’s Children’s Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio.  Dr. Vescera has been practicing pediatrics in Warren for last 12 years.  He is currently an active member of medical staff at Trumbull Memorial Hospital and St Joseph’s Hospital.

Dr. John Cox
Doctors Advisory Board

Youngstown-This past May, The Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley appointed Dr. John Cox of Canfield to its newly formed Doctors Advisory Board for this upcoming year. The Doctors Advisory Board will assist The Foundation in a variety of ways through its expertise and experience dealing with chronically/terminally ill children of the Mahoning Valley.

Dr. John Cox, a Pediatrician in Canfield, is a lifelong Valley resident. After graduating from YSU, he attended medical school at The University of Health Sciences in Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Cox then retuned home for his pediatric residency at Tod Children’s Hospital, where he also served as Chief Resident.

“Dr Cox brings a wealth of knowledge to the advisory board and The Foundation. We are very excited and are looking forward to having him on board,” Anthony Spano added.

Dr. Cox takes great pride in his community involvement, having served as Medical director of 4 our Kids, Board of Directors of Mahoning County Children’s Services and will be in coming Board President of The Youngstown Playhouse. He is honored to be part of The Hope Foundation.

Board Member (2019)

The Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley appointed Dr. Robert Naples, Jr. this past month to serve his first full term on the Board of Trustees to end in 2019. His main functions will be to advise the Board on medical advances, diseases and treatments, as well as head the Doctor Advisory Board. Dr. Naples will also serve as the liaison between with the medical community and The Foundation.

Dr. Robert Naples Jr., a Family Physician in Cortland, has been a Board Member of The Hope Foundation for two years. He has spent most of his life in the Mahoning Valley where he was a graduate of YSU before attending Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. He returned home and was Chief Resident during his residency at St. Joe’s Hospital. In addition to his office practice, he serves as Medical Director at Kinsman Boyd’s Home and Senior Independence Hospice.

Dr. Naples believes in giving back to the community that has made such an impact on his life. He volunteers as Team Physician at Warren JFK for basketball and football, coaches youth sports, trains medical professionals, and has settled in Howland, Ohio, where he lives with his wife and three children. He is proud to continue serving on the Board of The Hope Foundation.

Trustee Emeritus

  • Adam Tokash
  • Dr. Harold Yiannaki
  • Larry Ryan
  • Maria Constantino
  • Nick Graham
  • Scott Schulick
  • Sharon Schroeder