The New Who’s-Who at ABC

New Deputy Director, Rachel Stallings, speaks at the dedication ceremony for the new turf athletic field at South Avondale Elementary School

Activities Beyond the Classroom (ABC) is outfitting its staff for its next growth phase and there are introductions to be made.

Brian Leshner, long-time Executive Director at ABC, has stepped down from his position and will become the new Director of Special Initiatives. In this position, he will be able to help ABC in a more project-based fashion. Meanwhile Sally Grimes, former Director of Advancement, stepped into the role of Executive Director on July 1. She will oversee and pilot the organization through this next phase of growth.

“This is a really exciting time to be a part of ABC,” Grimes shared as she stepped into her new position. “In his 17 years at the helm, Brian [Leshner] led the creation of a well-respected, impactful, and efficient organization. Thanks to these strong roots, we’re ready to expand our programming, our fundraising, and our partnerships so we can serve even more children in Cincinnati Public Schools.”

Former Executive Director, Brian Leshner, and current Executive Director, Sally Grimes, pose with members of the Cincinnati Bengals before a press conference

One of Grimes’ first priorities was developing a Leadership Team to steer the organization through rapid growth and expansion. This team includes leaders of each department within ABC who will guide executive level decision-making and ensure organizational strategies stay true to the mission and values of the organization. The Leadership Team includes:

  • Sally Grimes, Executive Director

Sally has worked at ABC for almost four years and in nonprofits her entire professional career, with roles in leadership, marketing, finance, communications, and fundraising. This is her third time in an Executive Director role. As a longtime CPS mom, a foster parent, and a volunteer at her children’s schools, she brings a multitude of valuable perspectives and experience to her new role at ABC.

  • Rachel Stallings, Deputy Director

Rachel joined ABC in 2015 as a site coordinator under the Ohio Department of Education 21st Century Grant and has managed programming for years since. As the new Deputy Director, Rachel directs extracurricular programs such as ABC Clubs, tennis, soccer, and ABC Safety Patrol for elementary students. Rachel is incredibly passionate about bettering the lives of children and prides herself on learning from and utilizing her experiences with students, families, and the community to provide quality programming to students attending Cincinnati Public Schools.

  • Carmen Lawrence-Billé, Director of Advancement

Carmen has spent her career working in fundraising, marketing, and executive leadership with nonprofits. She’s worked in theater companies, universities, museums, and more, all with the intent to be a force of positive change in the world. At ABC, she oversees fundraising, marketing, community outreach, organizational storytelling, and data management.

  • Sophia Scott, Director of Operations

Sophia brings with her a diversity of experiences from growing up in a single family home, being a first-generation college student, obtaining an advance degree in Integrative Studies concentration in Public Administration and Social Work, as well as a certificate in Non-Profit Management (NPM). Sophia is the mom of 3 and can be found enjoying life with her husband, also in non-profit community work. At ABC, she oversees human resources, accounting, and finance functions.

From left to right: Sophia Scott, Carmen Lawrence-Bille, Sally Grimes, Rachel Stallings

“This leadership team isn’t about making decisions in a vacuum,” said Carmen Lawrence- Billé. “It’s about having people that are incredibly close to the different programs and arms of this large nonprofit, so we have complete visibility to all the good we’re doing and all the things we can do better. It’s a team of listeners and learners.”

In addition to the many new employees that have been hired to support this enhanced structure at ABC, several familiar faces have accepted new positions within the organization. The team may look similar, but there’s a lot of change going on! “Our team here is great because we’re all ready and willing to do the hard work together,” said Sophia Scott, Director of Operations. “None of us will hesitate to get the job done, whether that job is done behind a desk or out in the field. There’s never a ‘wrong’ person to go to at ABC, and it’s such a close-knit group that if there’s someone more qualified to help, we can easily point you in that person’s direction.”

Visit the “Our Team” page of our website to get to know our entire team. If you’d like to get connected with one of our team members, reach out and we’ll direct you to the right person.