Our Board

Jennifer Jordan McCall
President, Founder, and Chair of the Board

Jennifer Jordan McCall is a partner at the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP, based in Silicon Valley and New York, and she is the Chair of the Estates, Trusts & Tax Planning practice section. Pillsbury's Estates, Trusts & Tax Planning group ranked Tier 1 in US News/Best Lawyers for 2011. Pillsbury was named 2013 "Law Firm of the Year" for Trusts & Estates by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers. Ms. McCall has been named by Chambers Directory as a National Leader in the fields of Trusts and Estates for 2006-2011 and by PLC Which Lawyer? for 2009-2011. She was recently nominated as one of only nine women in the United States as Wealth Management Lawyer of the Year. Furthermore, Ms. McCall was recently admitted to the Florida Bar and opened a new Palm Beach office.

In addition to Ms. McCall's work with the Baker Institute, she serves as Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Ballet, is a member of the Planned Giving Committee of Princeton University, and serves as Trustee of several charitable foundations and charitable trusts.

Ms. McCall's daughter, Caroline Clark, was born with a hearing loss and uses two cochlear implants to listen and speak. Caroline is currently a successful spoken language communicator, and she is a 2011 Princeton University graduate. Because of Ms. McCall's experience with raising her daughter, she knows what it takes to help children with hearing loss succeed. She is passionate about helping other parents become empowered with the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to make this possible for their own children.

Nikolas H. Blevins, M.D.

Nikolas H. Blevins, M.D. is the Malcolmson Professor of Otolaryngology at Stanford and is Chief of the Division of Otology/ Neurotology. He has been the the director of the Stanford Cochlear Implant Center since 2003. He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University in biology before traveling to Boston to complete his medical training at Harvard. He then completed his residency in Otolaryngology at the University of California at San Francisco, and he remained at UCSF for additional fellowship training in otology/neurotology. Dr. Blevins joined the Otolaryngology Department at Tufts University in Boston as Chief of the Division of Otology and Neurotology. In 2003, he returned to California to join the Stanford Department of Otolaryngology. He specializes in disorders of the middle ear, inner ear, facial nerve, and skull base, and he is dedicated to the application of the most advanced technology to hearing restoration. Dr. Blevins has an active research interest in innovative surgical methods and the application of computer technology to surgical education and preoperative planning.

Gerald R. Popelka, PhD

Gerald Popelka is the chief of audiology and a professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Stanford University. He holds a PhD degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with an emphasis in neuroscience, and a two year post doctoral research fellowship in otolaryngology from UCLA. Prior to these he earned a masters degree in audiology from Kent State University. Dr. Popelka was a faculty member for 24 years at Washington University in St. Louis with appointments in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Medical School. During this period he also was the head of audiology at Central Institute for the Deaf, an affiliated internationally-recognized institution for oral deaf education and research on the auditory system. Dr. Popelka is a co-inventor of the world's first all digital hearing aid. The original patent was granted in 1985 and sold in 1996 to a consortium of all of the world's major hearing aid manufacturers. This patent formed the basis of all current programmable and digital hearing aids, or about 99% of all hearing aids currently sold worldwide. With over 125 research articles, many research presentations, two college textbooks, and various achievement awards, he has developed an international reputation for creating and using leading-edge technology that addresses both basic science and clinical applications for the auditory system. In 1996 he conceived and lead the development of JARO, the Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, now recognized as a premier, international auditory scientific research journal that was launched in 2000. Dr. Popelka is also an adamant supporter of oral deaf education.

Julie Cooper, MS, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT

Julie Cooper is the executive director of the Listen to Me! Summer Institute and the Baker Scholars Program. She was instrumental in the creation and development of Listen to Me! in 2009, and she has directed the program every year. Julie is a certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS Cert AVT) through the Alexander Graham Bell Association. She currently works at the Stanford Ear Institute, and she served as the speech-language pathologist on the cochlear implant team at Stanford Hospital from 2008 to 2013. Additionally, Julie has been a therapist at the Weingarten Children's Center since 2007. She earned a BA from Calvin College and an MS in speech-language pathology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to working with children with hearing loss, Julie has experience diagnosing and treating various childhood speech disorders including phonological disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, and auditory processing difficulties.

Caroline Debevoise Clark
Vice President

Caroline is the daughter of Jennifer Jordan McCall and a bilateral cochlear implant user. She is currently working in technology in Silicon Valley. Previously, she was a consultant at Boston Consulting Group, advising Fortune 500 companies on corporate strategy. Caroline is an honors graduate of Princeton University.

Melinda B. Barker

Ms. Barker is a member of the Pillsbury's Estates, Trusts & Tax Planning group in the Silicon Valley office where she counsels mid- and high-net worth individuals and families on their wealth management and estate planning needs, balancing their personal goals with tax management techniques. Ms. Barker also represents individual and corporate fiduciaries in a variety of matters, including trust administration, probate and estate administration. Ms. Barker received her JD from Santa Clara University School of Law and her LL.M., Taxation, from Golden Gate University School of Law, with honors.

Jennifer Bell
Assistant Treasurer

Jennifer Bell is the Assistant Treasurer for the Baker Institute. She joined Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in 2013 as a paralegal. She is currently slated to attend Cal State San Bernardino with hopes to graduate in 2015 or early 2016 with a BS in Criminal Justice Studies. She volunteers time to her sister for her dance team at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

Hillary S. Clark

Hillary is a Futures Associate at Franklin Templeton Investments. As a graduate of the Great Class of 2013 at Princeton University, Hillary studied English literature and received certificates in Theatre and African American Studies. In addition to her courses, Hillary was elected by her peers to serve on the Princeton University English Department Undergraduate Advisory Committee. An avid lover of the arts, Hillary was elected as a board member of Princeton's student-run theatrical group Theatre Intime and wrote a full-length play, "Dysfunction: A Play in One Act," for her Senior Thesis. Growing up in New York City, she appeared in 52 performances of the New York City Ballet's Nutcracker in New York's Lincoln Center and has appeared in over 30 theater productions throughout her career. Hillary's charitable experiences at Princeton include serving as a tutor for imPACT Trenton, serving as a board member for Princeton Against Cancer Together, and serving on the executive board of Pi Beta Phi. Today, Hillary serves on the Auxiliary Board of Jumpstart, and is a member of the Young Professional's Board for the SF Dance Film Festival. Hillary is especially passionate about volunteering for the Listen to Me! Summer Institute and Baker Institute for Children with Hearing Loss.

Katherine A. Foster

Katie Foster is the owner and designer of Katie Foster Interior Design. Previously, she worked as the creative director at Hill and Knowlton in Boston and as the marketing coordinator/consultant at Booz Allen and Hamilton. Katie earned degrees from the American University Paris and Parsons School of Design, Paris, and she earned a diplômé from the University of Paris, Sorbonne. In addition to her work with the Baker Institute, Katie is a board member for the Gifted and Talented Education Program, San Mateo Union High School District, a member of the Hillsborough Beautification Foundation, and was past president of the Edgewood Auxiliary, serving the Edgewood Center for Children and families, San Francisco. Katie has a profound hearing loss, uses hearing aids to hear, and is a successful spoken language communicator. She joined our board because she is passionate about helping others learn to listen and speak, and she can relate to many of the struggles these families are facing.

Shelby M. Gans

Shelby Gans has worked actively in the performing and visual arts for more than 25 years. In the San Francisco Bay Area, she was a founding board member of Cal Performances at the University of California at Berkeley, and chaired numerous fundraising events honoring such artists as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Yo-Yo Ma, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, and Mark Morris Dance Group. Other board affiliations have included the California Shakespeare Festival, San Francisco's Museum of Performance & Design, and Oakland Museum of California. In addition to being one of our board members, Shelby presently serves on the boards of The San Francisco Ballet and the Council of the Friends of the Bancroft Library in Berkeley. In Washington DC, Shelby served as a Commissioner of the Smithsonian American Art Museum for 12 years, and has been an emeritus board member for an additional four years. She is a member of the Smithsonian American Art Forum. In 2007, she joined the Smithsonian's National Board. Since 2001, she has been a member of the John F. Kennedy Center's National Committee for the Performing Arts. In New York, Shelby has served on the board of Mark Morris Dance Group from 2001 to the present. She chaired the company's 25th and 30th year anniversary celebrations. Shelby is married to Frederick Gans, who is Chairman of Ironwood Capital Management in San Francisco, a firm that manages several hedge funds. Shelby and Frederick have one son, Jonathan, who is President of Ironwood, and a daughter-in-law, Abigail Turin, who works in architecture. Shelby received her bachelor of arts degree from Mills College.

Virginia A. MacLean

Virginia MacLean is a native San Franciscan, and she is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She also attended Parsons School of Design in New York, studying interior architecture and design. After meeting Jenny McCall, Virginia was very touched to hear Caroline's story. This was the beginning of her interest and involvement in The Baker Institute. This interest has extended to Virginia's family; her grandson has volunteered at Listen to Me! Summer Institute for several years.

Runa L. Magowan

Ms. Magowan is a longtime San Francisco native, wife, and mother of two children. She has 17 years of experience in the photography industry and is a previous owner of Classic Kids Photography. Ms. Magowan co-managed the growth of Classic Kids Photography from a one shop studio in 1997 to its current 13 locations nationwide. She is driven by the love and passion for spending time and working with children to create treasured artwork for the client's homes.

Jennifer Parenti, M.A., Ed.

Jennifer Parenti is the Consumer Outreach Manager for Med-El, the hearing implant company. Through her work with Med-El, she is able to provide support and education to cochlear implant candidates, recipients, and the professionals who support them in the West. Jennifer was the educational consultant to the cochlear implant team at Stanford University School of Medicine from 2008-2014. During her time with Stanford, Jennifer was the director of the Baker Scholars Program for 5 years and since its inception. She was also a founding member of the development committee and a professional presenter for the Listen To Me! Summer Institute. Jennifer is a teacher of the deaf and has earned a BA in Audiology from the University of Northern Colorado, a Masters in Special Education from San Francisco State University, and a California Credential for Deaf/Hard of Hearing. Through the years Jennifer has taught in both total communication and auditory oral classrooms in the Bay Area, including Weingarten Children's Center, San Francisco Unified School District, and Oakley Union Elementary School. Jennifer has a passion to support individuals who receive cochlear implants through their journey to hearing.

Iara Peng

Iara Duarte Peng is committed to strengthening progressive infrastructure critical to building long-term social change. She is particularly interested in helping organizations move from ideas to action by improving their fundraising, management and organizational development systems. She is the founder of T21, Together in the 21st Century, a national project dedicated to empowering parents of children with Trisomy-21 by equipping them with information and resources necessary to provide their children with a high quality of life.

She designed and managed the executive leadership transition at Green For All in 2009 and supported the executive leadership transition at The Tides Foundation in 2008. From 2003-2008, she was the founding Director of Young People For, the premier youth leadership development program that identifies, engages and empowers the newest generation of progressive leaders to create lasting change in their communities.

She proudly serves as the Vice President of Business Development for the San Carlos Education Foundation (SCEF), a Board Member of the BOK Ranch and The Baker Institute for Children with Hearing Loss. Iara is the Founding Chair of the San Carlos School District Special Education District Advisory Council and is a Resource Parent for San Mateo County. She has served on the boards of Tides Foundation, Tides Center, The Beatitudes Society, Youth Justice Funding Collaborative and the Alliance for Nonprofit Management.

Though she remains focused on education and supporting families with children who have special needs, she also continues to serve as an Advisory Board member to several organizations and provides pro-bono strategic advice to countless leaders and nonprofit organizations around the country. Iara is the proud mother of three amazing children, Isaac (7), Joshua (5), and Kaia (3).

Elizabeth Franklin Sechrest

Elizabeth Franklin Sechrest is the CEO and Founder of The Franklin Report, an independently published guidebook and website that primarily rates home maintenance and renovation providers such as interior decorators, architects, and contractors. Prior to founding The Franklin Report in 1999, Ms. Sechrest was a Partner at the investment bank James D. Wolfensohn, Inc., where she specialized in mergers and acquisitions. Ms. Sechrest was also a vice president at Lehman Brothers. She graduated from Duke University with a BSE in mechanical engineering and an MBA in finance and marketing from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

N. Leigh Wasson

Ms. Wasson is currently a senior director for BNY Mellon Wealth Management. She has a BBA in finance from The University of Texas and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Women's Leadership Board, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Ms. Wasson serves on the Board of the International Museum of Women, the Advisory Board of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the signature publication of the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and on the Advisory Board of Astia. Ms. Wasson is a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula, where she facilitates "Money Matters," a financial literacy training program for teens. Ms. Wasson resides in Sausalito.