Staff & Consultants
Brooke Couch Freeland, Board Advisor & Managing Director
Brooke is the Managing Director of The Couch Family Foundation. In her position at the Foundation, Brooke is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Foundation and for advising Trustees on their philanthropic giving.
Additionally, Brooke consults for the United Way for Greater Austin, providing guidance and leadership on early childhood education policy and advocacy. Brooke developed her interest in public policy working as the Legislative Director for former Massachusetts State Senator Robert O’Leary, where she focused on pre-k-16 education policy. More recently, Brooke worked as the Communications Director for Strategies for Children and the Early Education for All Campaign, an advocacy organization based in Boston. Brooke participates on the board of several nonprofits including Positive Tracks, Hypertherm HOPE Foundation, Generation Serve and Co-Chairs the Grants Committee for the Women's Fund of the Austin Community Foundation.
Brooke grew up in the Upper Valley region of NH. She holds a BA from Colgate University and a MPA from New York University. She currently resides in Austin, TX with her husband and two young daughters.
Jessica Ratey, Program Officer
Jessie is a program officer with Mott Philanthropic and provides consulting services to the Couch Family Foundation. Prior to working at Mott Philanthropic, Jessie worked with Philanthropic Advisors as a program associate. She previously served as executive director at English for Action, a nonprofit in Providence, Rhode Island, that provides community ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programs. She also worked in communications at Hunt Alternatives Fund, a family foundation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Jessie completed a BA in Literatures in English at Brown University and an MBA at the Heller School for Social Policy & Management at Brandeis University.
Michael G. Bennett, Program Officer
Michael spent the first decade of his career working as a historian in museums and the National Park Service before entering the education field. Since 2007, Michael has worked on issues of policy and practice in youth development and education across the continuum from early to higher education. He served as research director for the Build the Out-of-School Time Network, policy analyst for the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, and managing editor of a peer reviewed journal at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education before joining Mott Philanthropic in 2016. Michael received a BA in History and Sociology from West Virginia University, a MA in American Studies from Notre Dame University, and was a 2011 Massachusetts Education Policy Fellow of the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Education Policy Fellowship Program.
Paula Lentoni, Program Officer
Paula is the grants manager with Mott Philanthropic and provides consulting services to the Couch Family Foundation. Prior to working at Mott Philanthropic, Paula worked with Philanthropic Advisors as a grants administrator. She previously served as consultant to several family foundations around the Boston area. Paula recently served a term as the New England Chair for PEAK Grantmaking (formerly Grants Managers Network).
Paula completed her BA in Fashion and Business at Framingham State University.
Sara Kobylenski is a strategic consultant to the Couch Family Foundation, supporting efforts to foster greater cross-sector collaboration and coordination among community based organizations working with children and families in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont.
Prior to working with the Foundation, Sara served as Executive Director of the Upper Valley Haven for almost 10 years. Sara went to the Haven from her 4 year role as a Field Services Director for the Vermont Agency of Human Services. Before that she served for 20 years as the Vermont Division Director for Casey Family Services and 15 years as a supervisor and direct practice social worker with other child and family services organizations. Over the years Sara has worked in numerous collaborative initiatives for improved community outcomes.
Sara earned her BA from Simmons College, MSW from the University of Pennsylvania and certificate in Leadership from Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
Amy is an early childhood education consultant for the Couch Family Foundation supporting early educators in the Upper Valley. Prior to working with the Foundation, Amy taught third grade in a public school system, then opened and operated an NAEYC-accredited preschool and childcare center for 20 years in Colebrook, New Hampshire. During the last five years, Amy helped lead a regional effort to support quality improvement of child care and early education in Coos County, funded by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
Amy completed her BA in both elementary and early childhood education at Lyndon State College. She completed her masters of education in early childhood education at Champlain College.