Shannon M. Mora, Founder & President
A native of Spokane, WA, Shannon attended the University of Washington in Seattle and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration; double concentrating in Finance and Marketing. Always present was her exposure to Special Olympics as she cheered her sister, Whittney, and her teammates on at local, regional and state games.
Throughout college, she worked for the specialty retailer Nordstrom and continued with the company after graduation. She relocated to San Diego and was promoted to Assistant Manager, Manager, Buyer, and then Lead Buyer for the San Diego region. With Nordstrom's philosophy of decentralization, the experience of managing and buying for her own department was invaluable.
Upon marrying coach Jim Mora, they made the move to New Orleans and Shannon became very involved with Special Olympics, CASA, Leukemia Society, the New Orleans Saints Women's Association and various shelters throughout the greater New Orleans area. She focused on volunteering her time and effort toward fundraising for these organizations. She served on the CASA Board of Directors for two years, and was president of the Saints Wives Charities, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose focus was helping women and children, and chaired the Special Olympics Award Banquet for several years, turning it into one of their strongest fundraisers.
From New Orleans, the Moras moved to Los Gatos, California, with their two young children. Shannon was busy with donating time to the school, church and especially, raising the brood of now, four children.
Upon moving to Atlanta, Shannon immersed herself in the city's philanthropic community. Shannon and Jim served as the Co-Grand Marshals for the 2004 and 2006 Special Olympics Summer Games. Shannon was President of the Atlanta Falcons Women's Association which focuses on giving back in the Atlanta community through a variety of ways---Can Drives, Toy Drives, special events and fundraisers, and working with the primary beneficiaries of the organizations. She and a few ladies worked with the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Children's Hospital system in creating and developing the Holiday Shops designed to allow young patients the opportunity to enjoy the holidays by being able to shop for their loved ones without leaving the hospital. Shannon also helped develop the Falcon’s Football 101, a fun-filled day aimed at educating women about the sport of football with in classroom and on field drills (a favorite among participants). As the event was always in October- breast cancer awareness month, all proceeds supported national and local breast cancer awareness organizations. Shannon also served on the Special Olympics of Georgia Board of Directors and the Eagle Ranch Board of Advisors.
While in Atlanta in 2005, Shannon and Jim founded the Jim Mora Count On Me Family Foundation as an avenue to give back to the community and focus on our most precious resource, our children. The Foundation’s humble beginnings, are still to this day, a grass roots effort whose mission to help children in need and at risk is achieved through fundraising and providing monetary grants to worthy children’s charities and organizations as well as through Count On Me’s own programs and community outreach. The Foundation is led by Shannon, powered by a huge team of fabulous volunteers, and is supported by generous sponsors, donors and supporters.
Upon their return to the Pacific Northwest, Jim and Shannon expanded the Foundation’s outreach. Shannon continued her philanthropic work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue and Special Olympics Washington, and explored many other children’s charities and organizations. She and Jim served as the Co-Grand Marshals for the 2009 Special Olympics Washington Summer Games. Shannon also served as President of the Seattle Seahawks Women’s Association and helped guide the organization’s community outreaches, including the Toys for Tots program, the Holiday Toy Drive, the annual Food Drive and Football 101, an event that gave women instruction on the game of football while raising funds for breast cancer research and support.
The move to Los Angeles allowed Shannon and Jim to expand their outreaches even further and they quickly immersed themselves in the communities around Los Angeles. They were honored to serve as the 2015 Special Olympic World Games Host City Co-Chairs and are involved in several children’s organizations. Shannon’s enthusiasm and passion has spurred national growth of the Count On Me Holiday Shops while establishing local programs for the youth in need across southern California.
In addition to serving as Vice President of the Count On Me Family Foundation and volunteering with her own children’s activities, Shannon has served on the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Georgia and Washington, the Board of Directors CASA, the Eagle Ranch Advisory Board, and President of the Saints Wives Charities, Inc as well as President of the Seattle Seahawks Women’s Association.
As Vice President of the Count on Me Family Foundation, she oversees the Foundation’s activities, orchestrates the Foundation’s annual fundraisers, events and outreaches. Not only does she thoroughly enjoy seeing the big smiles on each deserving child’s face, she also enjoys closely working with each partner, sponsor and donor.
Kara Rooney, Executive Director
Kara always knew her path would lead her to making a positive impact in kids’ lives.
As the daughter of a local high school football coach and athletic director, Kara witnessed from a young age the positive impact that one can have in a community. A Los Angeles native, she volunteered on and off the field, assisting with team events, fundraising and community programs. Meanwhile, a passion for helping children led her to pursue a career in education, earning her K-6 California Teaching Credential.
After working as a teacher for a period of time, she realized she would be able to affect more lives by supporting children on a larger scale and ventured into the business world. For several years, she served as a recruiter in the financial market, sourcing and vetting candidates for roles in Private Equity and Hedge Funds. During this time, she honed her communication, strategic planning, and marketing skills to best leverage her candidates and the company.
Kara's love for children, sports philanthropy, and fundraising for a good cause ultimately led her to the Count On Me Family Foundation. Prior to accepting the role of Executive Director, Kara served as the Program Director, overseeing all Count On Me programs including Bus 2 the Bowl, Youth Football Extravaganza, and Holiday Shops. She was also heavily involved in planning and securing sponsorship for fundraising events, including the Jim Mora Celebrity Golf Classic and Girls Night Out, as well as managing Count On Me's social media platforms and online giving campaigns.
In addition to her work for Count On Me, Kara has assisted several other nonprofits as a fundraising, education, and/or event consultant, including the Chris Long Foundation and the Sports Academy Foundation. She continues to collaborate with like-minded sports philanthropists across the country in hopes of continuing to spread the utilization of sports for social impact.
Kara holds a George Washington University Sports Philanthropy Executive Certificate, a CA K-6 Teaching Credential, and received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Irvine.
Shari Ammon Mills, Special Advisor
With her background in music, Sharí always expected she'd find a place in the creative world. A summer job at SeaWorld San Diego turned into two decades of living dreams while creating memories for millions. During her twenty one year tenure at SeaWorld, Sharí not only produced dozens of shows and events, she honed her skills as an agile leader, strategic planner and innovative product manager. As Director of Entertainment at SeaWorld San Diego for nearly ten years, Sharí thrived on the balance between the development and creation of new and innovative park product, shows and events with the daily operations of a large, multi-million dollar department with business-driven strategic and financial objectives.
In her final summer at SeaWorld San Diego, "Riptide", a nighttime spectacular developed, produced and directed by Sharí and her team received the honor of an International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) 2007 Big "E" Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the attractions industry.
Sharí's unique combination of talents proved beneficial when she moved to Colorado in 2007. She spent her time in Denver immersed in the nonprofit arts and culture world, providing leadership and influencing significant change in business operations while at The Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities and Ballet Nouveau Colorado.
Her time at The Arvada Center - which boasts three theaters, multiple art galleries and extensive art and education studios - was devoted to marketing, guest services and managing the box office. The diverse activities at the center provided Sharí significant insight into the operations of nonprofit arts and culture organizations.
As she moved on to Ballet Nouveau Colorado - a professional dance company and ballet school with comprehensive community outreach programs - Sharí focused on re-engineering the management, administration and financial structure of the organization to more closely align operations with artistic programming. While Executive Director at Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Sharí was recognized as the Industry Leader in Nonprofits & Foundations in the 2010 Denver Business Journal Power Book. (Ballet Nouveau Colorado now operates as two nonprofit organizations – Wonderbound A New American Dance Company and Colorado Conservatory of Dance.)
After a wonderful few years in Colorado, Brian and Sharí returned to San Diego in 2011 and Sharí quickly immersed herself back into Southern California as an entertainment and event producer. Highlights include UCLA's Grand Re-Opening of Pauley Pavilion (2012), Kareem Abdul Jabbar's Celebrity Roast (2012), more than a dozen waterfront public events (2012/2013 Port of San Diego) as well as a number of privately held events across the western United States.
Sharí is thrilled to be part of the Jim Mora Count On Me Family Foundation team, one of the most passionate, spirited and committed groups of supporters she's ever had the privilege to be around.
Gretchen Pingree, Special Advisor
Since 2008, Gretchen has contributed to the foundation on many levels. As a Business Manager her scope includes developing the foundation infrastructure, managing internal processes, financial reporting, bookkeeping & contact data management.
"As a Business Manager for the foundation my job is clear, to help things run more smoothly. That could mean almost anything on any particular day. As a team, we are all willing to roll up our sleeves and dig into any task, we are all here for the same reason, to help kids in need."
Gretchen's focus for nearly half the year is the Jim Mora Celebrity Golf Classic, our largest fundraising effort. Her primary job is to manage the silent and live auctions, a large team effort for an auction that averages 180 offerings and nets over $150K annually. While working with volunteers, procurement teams, donors, sponsors, vendors, celebrities, golfers and guests; Gretchen has helped to turn out a successful Golf Classic year after year. As the daughter of a PGA Golf Professional, Gretchen spent her young life working and playing around the golf course which is why she so enjoys being a part of the annual Golf Classic.
"Playing golf draws people together and creates a connection, and in this case we are gathering for a greater good. In the midst of a fun day of golf and a great after-party, everyone involved is giving their time, effort and money to help others. I'm very proud to be a part of this event."
Since the foundation headquarters has moved to Los Angeles Gretchen also now oversees the Seattle Holiday Shop, an outreach program offered annually to the Child Life Department Multi-Care Health System division at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma, WA.
A Minnetonka, Minnesota native with an Art History degree from the University of St. Thomas, Gretchen's career background includes corporate art sales and computer software training. After spending 10 years in San Diego working and starting a family, she moved back to her husband's home town of Seattle. She currently resides in Medina, WA with her husband David and three daughters.
FOUNDER & PRESIDENT
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Porter Payne, Jr.
Shari Ammon Mills
Tailgate Coordinator Atlanta