Working Together for Women's Empowerment

Board Executive Committee

Christine Burns-Fazzi

Christine Burns-Fazzi

Founder and Board Chair

Raised on the coast of NC, Chris spent her business career working in the area of benefits and insurance. Over the last 25 years she and her business partner, Rich Brock, developed a national business. They decided to “pay it forward” by forming the BFB Foundation dedicated to helping developing communities by educating girls and women. In addition to her committed involvement with the Foundation, Chris travels a great deal and has recently started a mushroom farm business, with a long time friend. Their intent is to provide locally sourced mushrooms to western NC with 50% of profits going to the Foundation.
Thomas Farrell

Thomas Farrell

Vice Chair

Tom is currently an international higher education consultant to universities and governments. In 2017, he retired from the position of Vice Provost for Global Engagement at the University of Nebraska where he was responsible for coordinating the international engagement strategy for the four university campuses. Prior to joining the University, he served in the U.S. Department of State for 7 years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Tom previously worked at the Institute of International Education, America’s oldest and largest private, not for profit international education exchange agency. Tom also served in the US diplomatic corps as a Foreign Service Officer following work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in India. While a graduate student at the University of Michigan Tom was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Pakistan. He holds a BA from Providence College and an MA from Claremont Graduate University.

Anne Vari

Interim Secretary

Born and raised in Atlanta, Anne worked for many years in the trade show industry before moving to the research and records department of a fundraising consulting firm, Coxe & Associates. She has lived in Davidson, NC since 1998 and is currently a community volunteer, especially focused on literacy for people of all ages. Through her work leading a book club for incarcerated youth, tutoring adult learners at the Charlotte Rescue Mission, and many years of weekly volunteering in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and with the Charlotte Public Library, she has seen the real, life-changing value of education and literacy. Anne is a cum laude graduate of the University of Virginia.

Lynne Barr


Lynne is the Vice President of Client Service for Gallagher Executive Benefits where she manages the client service team as well as research and production services. She has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services and accounting industries. Lynne received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Wingate University. Originally from California she now resides in Charlotte North Carolina with husband, Mike, sons, Jake and Stephen, and her daughter in law Maggie.

Board Members

Linda Arntzen

Board Member

Linda is the Head of Business Development for CABB Jayhawk, based in Charlotte, NC. With nearly 25 years in the chemical industry, she thrives on developing and implementing comprehensive sales strategies, meanwhile optimizing internal processes allowing the team to focus on client-centric initiatives. She has managed, directed, and mentored global sales teams for over 13 years. In 2011, Linda brought to reality a lifelong dream of writing and communication services by establishing exSermo – her passion project of helping the world tell its stories. Her mission with exSermo is to bring a pulse to the ideas and stories that individuals and organizations wish to share.

Shelly Brock

Board Member

Shelly was born in St. Louis, Missouri and has worked in the healthcare industry as a registered nurse for over 30 years. Her interest in nursing began as a teenager on mission trips to Haiti, where she helped start a medical clinic in a rural location. She was educated at St. Louis University and received a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Her interests in community-based nursing have led her to a variety of settings and positions, including the Director of Nursing at the Charlotte Rescue Mission, where she worked with individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. She has also worked in home care and urgent care, and volunteers at the Free Medical Clinic at the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson. She currently works with students at Davidson College in the Center for Health and Well-Being. She enjoys spending time with her husband and children snow skiing, mountain biking, walking her dogs and playing tennis.

Gerrianne Winky Burks

Gerrianne “Winky” Burks

Programs Committee Chair

Winky retired from Northwest Federal Credit Union (NWFCU) in January 2013 after serving 41 years with NWFCU, the last 5 years serving as President/CEO. During her tenure at NWFCU, Winky was a staunch advocate for promoting education, financial literacy and making a difference in the lives of the membership and the communities NWFCU serves. She was instrumental in the development and formation of the Northwest Federal Credit Union’s Foundation as well as the Virginia Leagues Credit Union Care Foundation. Winky’s areas of expertise include governance, executive leadership/team building, management issues and an in-depth financial background. Winky has served on many boards including: Northwest Financial LLC, Potomac Business Services, Credit Union Executive Society (CUES), Northwest Federal Credit Union Foundation and Credit Union Care Foundation. In April 2017, Winky joined the board of NWFCU where she currently serves as Secretary. Winky has also been serving for three years as a Guardian ad Litem in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where it advocates for neglected and abused children in foster care.
Deb Foote

Deb Foote

Development Co-Chair (Fundraising Lead)

Deb currently works part time with her husband, supporting their business, which provides process-monitoring systems primarily to the textile industry. She previously had a career working with several homebuilders in the Charlotte area in design and sales. Before moving to North Carolina in 1999, she lived in Charleston, SC where she spent some time working on Kiawah Island for the community association. Deb has worked with several non-profits and charitable organizations including KidsRein (a therapeutic horseback riding non-profit) and The Make A Wish Foundation. She was the vice president of the Theater Arts Booster Club for William Amos Hough High School and has been a volunteer for the Triangle Beagle Rescue. Deb has served as the president of the board of directors for her HOA and the secretary for the board of directors for a commercial builder. Deb is married with two children and two rescue beagles.

Kathleen Greeson

Board Member

Kathleen has had a love of art and photography from an early age and graduated with a degree in journalism with an emphasis in photojournalism from the University of Georgia in 2000. After graduating, she moved to Chattanooga and worked as a staff photojournalist for the Times Free Press for seven years, winning numerous state and regional awards, as well as being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2002. In 2017 Kathleen traveled with Jennifer Jackson to Guatemala where she spent a week documenting the lives and living conditions of girls and women that BFB supports. In 2019 she hosted a very successful solo gallery show of her work from Guatemala as a benefit for the foundation.
Jen Jackson

Jennifer Jackson

Development Co-Chair (Donor Relations Lead)

Jennifer’s career has been focused on nonqualified executive benefits in the banking and credit union markets. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Jennifer has been involved with the Foundation since the beginning, sponsoring both elementary and university girls scholarships and has been on the Board since 2016. Originally from Georgia, she now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her puppy Winnie.
James Patterson

James Patterson

Bylaws and Policy Committee Chair

Jim is a partner with Sher­man & Patterson, a law firm focusing in the areas of tax, nonqualified deferred com­pensation (e.g., 409A and 457(f)) and employee benefits. Most of his deferred compensation clients are healthcare systems and credit unions. Jim holds a BA in Economics and Italian from Brigham Young Uni­ver­sity, and a Juris Doc­tor from J. Reuben Clark Law School.

Paulina Torrebiarte

Paulina Torrebiarte

Board Member

Born and raised in Guatemala City, Torrebiarte studied 2 years in Vancouver, Canada and completed her undergraduate degree in Finance and International Business at The University of Tampa. Currently living in Charlotte, NC, she worked as an insurance underwriter before joining BFB Gallagher as a Client Service Manager.

Marlene Schwartz

Board Advisor

Retired from the U.S. Department of State with more than 40 years of service. Served in a variety of leadership positions providing guidance to senior Department officials in support of foreign policy objectives. Areas of expertise include management issues and organization efficiencies with experience in both the public and private sectors. Currently serves as Chairman of the Board for both the State Department Federal Credit Union and the National Association of Credit Union Chairmen. Education includes a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University studies at Georgetown University School of International Studies.


Mishelle Rodriguez

Mishelle Rodriguez

Academic Advisor, based in Guatemala

Mishelle served as the BFB Foundation scholarships coordinator in Guatemala for four years before becoming Academic Advisor. Currently in University herself, Mishelle serves as a peer mentor for navigating the public university system and helps students identify pathways to employment in their native Guatemala.