EASTON — Mid-Shore Pro Bono, a non-profit organization providing free or reduced fee legal services to eligible community members, has announced the addition of four new board members, Ruth Thomas of Preston, Rebecca Burner of Grasonville, Samantha Bowers Welte of Easton and Doncella Wilson of Denton.

Previous treasurer Timothy Abeska has been named president of the board, a news release states.

“These new directors will provide strategic direction for the continued growth of our organization,” said Sandy Brown, executive director of Mid-Shore Pro Bono. “We are excited to channel their talents, expertise and energy into furthering our mission.”

Thomas has worked with attorneys for 20 years and has a deep understanding of the nonprofit sector, specifically related to fundraising, the release states. Her role as the USA vice president for finance and administration for SAT-7 North America in Maryland involves experience in forecasting, marketing, development and financial and personnel management.

She also trained in legacy giving methods and campaigns and has testified on the issue of charitable deductions.

“One of the top reasons people give to non-profits is financial accountability. They want to know their gifts are being used wisely. I am looking forward to working with the board to strengthen fiscal transparency to grow our donor base,” Thomas said.

Burner brings more than 35 years of government relations experience to the board through her work with the Maryland General Assembly. Her expertise lies in budgeting, finance and personnel administration.

She has worked for the Maryland Department of Budget and Management, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Her professional experience will become a critical part of successfully fulfilling Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s mission and achieving internal and external goals, the release states.

“Access to justice should be impartial and non-discriminatory. Yet there is an obvious gap when it comes to the availability of legal services to people from low socio-economic backgrounds. I am looking forward to helping close that gap and assuring that all people have access to representation when dealing with civil legal issues,” Burner said.

Welte’s experience working with English as a Second Language students in Talbot County Public Schools has exposed her to the reality of immigration issues which many local families are facing.

This is what attracted Welte to Mid-Shore Pro Bono.

“We have children disappear because they have been deported. I think Mid-Shore Pro Bono is providing an extremely valuable public service to all members of the community because the work they are doing helps stabilize these types of situations for all segments of society,” she said.

Her professional experience as an educator spans across many diverse areas including curriculum development, research, advocacy, evaluation and fundraising. Her expertise in the representation of diverse populations through her role as an educational advisor to Seattle Public Schools will provide insight to the way in which Mid-Shore Pro Bono represents community immigration challenges, according to the release.

As a licensed social worker, Wilson monitors programs for the Governor’s Office for Children to facilitate local care teams which include state agencies, community partners and families.

Her experience as an intake coordinator for Mentor Maryland provided her the opportunity to work with children and adolescents who are in foster care and clients with mental health diagnoses to identify placements, eligibility for community-based care and offers counsel to families on coping strategies.

This work has brought her close to the clinical, therapeutic and programmatic issues these families are exposed to on a regular basis.

As a Denton town council member, Wilson understands the importance of continued community support, compliance and efficiencies in the public sector, the release states.

The newly elected executive committee consists of: Abeska, president; Jim McComb, vice president; Mike Starling, treasurer; and Holland Brownley, secretary.

The 2021 board also includes Sarah Dahl, Tawes Harper, Stephanie A. Shipley and Judith Showalter.

Abeska, who has served on the board for several years, is the newly elected board president. His experience includes managing a 19-member litigation department, service on the management committee of what was then an Am Law 200 law firm — now an Am Law 100 firm, 35 years of managing a busy law practice and service on the board of directors of the Indiana Bar Foundation.

“I am looking forward to working with the board on expanding our outreach to the communities we serve so we can increase awareness and client referrals,” Abeska said. “I’m also excited to work on the development of a robust fundraising program to recruit and retain donors with the goal of providing unrestricted funding to better fulfill MSPB’s mission.”

For more information about Mid-Shore Pro Bono, visit midshoreprobono.org or call 410-690-8128.

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