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The Bee Mighty Executive Board is comprised of a team of doctors, nurses, business men and women, philanthropists, social workers and fellow micro-preemie parents who work together to provide for an underserved population of NICU graduates. 

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Candace Richter

Co-Founder

Candace Richter was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. After receiving her degree in Communications and International Business from the College of Charleston, she moved to France, before returning to the U.S. to work for Bank of America. From Miami to LA, DC to Dallas and finally San Francisco, Candace worked in Treasury Management with B of A.  After a few years, Candace moved back DC, this time to work in sales for the Discovery Channel. As fate would have it, the Discovery Channel relocated Candace back to her roots. It was in Charlotte she would meet her husband and welcome their first child, Nash. Fourteen months later, their son, Shaw, was born.

Candace’s life was forever changed when Shaw was born 13 weeks prematurely. Weighing less than two pounds, the Richter family found themselves fighting for the life of their newborn, while balancing having a toddler at home. Shaw endured a stroke a birth, resulting in multiple brain surgeries, 22 spinal taps and hydrocephalous. He has a permanent device in his brain to drain the cerebral fluid into his abdomen. He was intubated countless times, resulting in scar tissue on his airway, leading to many hospitalizations and additional surgeries on his airway. After 122 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the Richter family brought Shaw home.

 

Once home, Candace quickly learned the multitude of doctor appointments and therapies needed for their son to reach his potential, all of which were marginally covered by private insurance. The Richter family decided to create the Bee Mighty Foundation, named after their Mighty Shaw, to raise money for families with NICU graduates in need of therapy and medical equipment not covered by insurance. Their hope was to alleviate the financial pressure that accompanies unexpected medical expenses from having a preemie and directly impact the development of the child, giving them the best possible chance at their future.

 

Candace, along with her husband Michael and their children Nash and Shaw currently live in Denver, Colorado. Along with her involvement with Bee Mighty, she also works for the luxury, hospitality company, Inspirato. She maintains an active lifestyle and enjoys skiing, hiking, traveling and being with her boys.

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Lindsay Franks

Co-Founder

Lindsay Franks grew up in Greenville, SC. After graduating from Montreat College, Lindsay married Nikolas Franks and moved to Charlotte, NC. In 2011, the couple welcomed their first child, Pierce. Born at just 23 weeks, Pierce weighed only 1 lb 8 oz and spent 118 days in the NICU at Levine Children’s Hospital. He overcame staggering odds. It was through their struggles that the family founded Pierce’s Project, a non-profit fund that operated under Novant Foundation for ten years, serving local NICU families by providing support through resources such as counseling and care packages. In 2021, Pierce’s Project joined forces with Bee Mighty and Lindsay stepped into her new role as a Bee Mighty Board Member. Today Lindsay spends her time as a full-time homemaker and mom to three: Pierce, Audrey and Millie. 

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Heather Hucks

Chair

Heather became a Bee Mighty board member in 2013 after bringing home her son Tucker, who was born at 24 weeks, from the NICU. She works for Coca-Cola Bottling Co Consolidated as Sr Director of Brand Marketing. In addition to Bee Mighty, Heather is also a trustee of Speedway Children’s Charities and is involved with Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. Heather was born and raised in North Carolina where she lives with her husband, Darrin, and their kids, Tucker and Molly.

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Katie O’Connor 

Executive Director

Katie is originally from Frederick, Maryland and graduated from Texas Christian University with
a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing. She worked in sales and marketing across
various industries including software, supply chain and healthcare before taking time away to
focus on family during two cross country moves. Katie followed Bee Mighty’s origin and growth
from afar while supporting her friend and founder, Candace Richter on her NICU journey. Katie
and her husband Kelly moved back to Charlotte from the Bay Area of California in 2019 with
their three children, Declan, Ellis, and Finn. She joined Bee Mighty in 2021 as Program Manager
after the merger with Pierce’s Project and moved into the role of Executive Director in 2024. As
a mother, Katie is passionate about the important work Bee Mighty does to support babies and
families that have a challenging start, and she feels honored to carry out the mission.

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Joanna Kay

Finance Director

Joanna grew up in Hickory, North Carolina and received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Georgia. She joined Bee Mighty in 2018 as the Executive Director when the organization became an independent 501(c)3 non-profit. In 2024, Joanna stepped into a part-time role as our Finance Director after welcoming their third child. Prior to Bee Mighty, she worked in finance, consulting and banking for 10+ years. Throughout the years, she has served on the young alumni board for UGA Terry College of Business, committee chair for Girls on the Run, mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, active volunteer for Novant Health Hemby NICU, as well as being an active member at her church. Joanna experienced the NICU firsthand with her daughter Annie in late 2015 – she spent 8 weeks in the hospital between her bed rest and Annie’s own NICU stay. Her NICU experience and passion for helping NICU families led her to Bee Mighty. Joanna and her husband, Will, live in Charlotte with their three children: Annie, Austin and Taylor.

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Carly Welch

Program Manager

Carly Welch was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland. She received her bachelor’s degree in
advertising from the University of South Carolina. After college, she pursued her passion for
working with children and went on to earn a master’s degree from Liberty University in both
Elementary Education and Special Education. Carly has spent the last 11 years immersed in the
dynamic world of education, serving in various administrative and leadership roles. Carly and
her husband, Harrison, welcomed their daughter, Simmons, in February of 2023. Simmons
arrived six weeks early and spent time in the NICU at Levine Children’s Hospital. Simmons' NICU
journey sparked a passion in Carly to support other families navigating similar challenges. Carly
is excited to be a part of Bee Mighty and to have the opportunity to serve others as they
navigate their NICU journey.

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Sheri Albright

Outreach Chair

Sheri Albright was born and raised on St. Simons Island, Georgia. She earned bachelor’s degrees in communications, political science, and history from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. After college, Sheri pursued her passion for marketing and event planning, working for political non-profits in Washington D.C. There she met and married her husband, John. They relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2009, and now have three children, Jack, 12; Stuart, 10; and Annie, 6.  Their oldest son Jack was born prematurely at 32 weeks and spent 14 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at Novant Health. This life-changing experience was eye-opening for first-time parents and gave Sheri the desire to help others in similar situations. Sheri has been involved with Bee Mighty since the start; serving on the marketing and public relations committee and most recently as co-chair of the outreach committee. In her free time, Sheri enjoys playing tennis, volunteering at her children’s schools, and hiking in the mountains. 

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Jenn Godwin

Parent Mentor Committee Chair

Jenn Godwin became a Bee Mighty Board member through the Pierce’s Project merger. She is the parent of 3 kids, Harlowe (full term baby) and twin boys who were born at 29 weeks. While in the NICU, another mom came to the twins’ beside and simply offered some words of encouragement. It was that experience that led her to want to support families before, during or after a NICU stay. Jenn works a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and lives in Fort Mill, SC with her family. She is the co-chair of the peer-to-peer committee which offers peer support to families. 

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Michelle Moser

Marketing Committee Chair

Michelle Moser grew up in Shelby, North Carolina. She is a graduate of North Carolina State University and Baylor University. She has served as a marketing manager in the healthcare, education and non-profit sectors, as well as taught communication courses at Gardner-Webb University and Converse University. She and her husband Bruce are the proud parents of Avery and Annie Moser, who were born at 27 weeks and spent 156 days in Levine's NICU in 2017. Both girls had several complications during the NICU stay, but are thriving elementary school students today. Michelle knew she wanted to find a way to help the NICU community and other families who share similar experiences. She joined Bee Mighty in 2018 as the website manager and as a part of the Marketing Committee. She continues to support Bee Mighty with various communication needs. 

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Gary Fike

Care Package Service Co-Chair

Gary was raised in the Cleveland, OH area. He received his Undergraduate Degree in Communication Disorders from Bowling Green State University, his Graduate Degree in Audiology from Kent State University, and his Doctorate of Audiology from the University of Florida. Gary has been an Audiologist for over 20 years. Gary owns a private Audiology practice in Fort Mill, SC: Palmetto Family Hearing Center. Gary lives with his wife Jenny and two children, Noah and Adelie. Outside of helping patients hear their best, he enjoys traveling and spending time his family and friends. Gary has been a board member of Pierce’s Project, and now Bee Mighty for the past 10 years. He is actively involved in the community and enjoys being a mentor and volunteer at Children’s Attention Home in Rock Hill. Gary and Jenny’s son, Noah, spent 5 months in the NICU, and he is always eager to serve NICU families.

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Jenny Fike

Care Package Service Co-Chair

Jenny was raised in the greater Charlotte, NC area. She received her Bachelor of Accounting and Master of Accounting Degrees from Clemson University. Jenny has worked in the Accounting and Finance Industry for over 20 years, the past 16 years with Raytheon Technologies Corporation. She has served on various non-profit and endowment boards in the Charlotte area. Jenny has been a board member for Pierce’s Project, and now Bee Mighty, for 10 years. Jenny and her husband, Gary, have two living children, Noah and Adelie. Jenny and Gary got involved with Pierce’s Project in 2012 after spending over 6 months at Novant between bedrest and Noah’s 5-month NICU journey. Noah also received two Bee Mighty grants in his younger years. Jenny has a heart for serving and enjoys encouraging parents, NICU grads and siblings. 

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Sharlene Smith

CRM Committee Chair

Dr. Sharlene T. Smith, passionately referred to as Sydney’s Mom. Her daughter, Sydney, was born at 27-weeks and at 2 lbs at Levine’s Children’s Hospital. Sharlene is a certified change agent devoted to promoting Premature Birth Awareness and Autism Education and Crisis Intervention. Sharlene originates from Georgetown, SC. She holds her Ph.D. in Organization and Management with a specialization in Business. Sharlene is also an author of a children's book, training courses, and articles advocating for Autism Education and Crisis Intervention. 

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Alicia Semling

Finance Committee Chair

Alicia was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. She completed both her undergraduate and
master’s degrees in accounting at East Carolina University and has a vast background in the
Accounting and Finance field.  Alicia left the accounting field in 2022 to take over the family
business and is now a Media Buyer, placing and planning advertising for clients of all sizes.  
Alicia and her husband, Quinn, met at East Carolina University and moved back to Charlotte to
start their life together. Quinn and Alicia have a miracle of a daughter named Breanna “Bree”;
who was born 14 weeks early at 25 weeks gestation, weighing just 1lb 12oz. The birth of their
daughter introduced them to a 110-day NICU stay where they watched their daughter fight to
live and grow until she was strong enough to come home. The Semling family knows too well
that the therapies, struggles, fears, and trauma do not stop on discharge day and that many
families require therapies, counseling, equipment etc. to aid in the success of not only their
child but their family’s mental health for months and years to come. Alicia is passionate about
giving back to the NICU community, a community who supported her family during their
hardest days.

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Stefanie Mitchell

Grants Chair

Stefanie Mitchell grew up in Lilburn, Georgia and lives in Charlotte with her husband, Matt, and three sons.  She received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Risk Management & Insurance from the University of Georgia and received her law degree from Wake Forest University.  After practicing law in the commercial real estate area for 10 years, she decided to stay home with her (then) two children.  Her youngest son, Bo, was born shortly thereafter.  Due to complications in his digestive tract, Bo stayed in the NICU for 19 days after having the first of several surgeries he would need during his first year of life.  Stefanie first heard about Bee Mighty from a close friend and wanted to become involved, especially after seeing firsthand the expenses a family can incur after leaving the NICU.  Stefanie joined the Gala committee in 2020 and served on that committee until 2022.  She also enjoys tennis, traveling, music, watching the Georgia Bulldogs, and volunteering in her children’s schools and in her church.  

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Suzanne Alvarez

Gala Co-Chair

Suzanne was raised in Spartanburg, SC and has always been a passionate Clemson Tiger, which
is where she graduated from with a degree in Business. She moved directly to Atlanta to work
for Chick-fil-A corporate marketing, where she learned a lot about the importance of company
culture. After meeting her now husband, Mitchell, she moved to Birmingham AL to work in
sports marketing while he received his medical degree. Suzanne developed an interest in
helping expecting mothers and babies in need by volunteering at the Women’s Center at UAB
during this time. After moving to Charlotte, Suzanne and Mitchell had their first child. During
that time, Suzanne was looking for a way to give back to the community and help families with
babies in need, so she got involved with Bee Mighty as a member of the events committee. She
has served on the committee for the past 4 years, helping with the Gala as well as the inaugural
Golf Tournament. She also is involved with her church and children’s school and is serving on
Clemson’s National Campaign Committee. Suzanne and Mitchell have 2 children, Annie, and
Walker, and enjoy spending time traveling with family and friends, and of course watching
sporting events!

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Hillary Ash

Gala Co-Chair

Hillary was born and raised in Charlotte, NC until she moved to Tuscaloosa, AL in 2009 to attend
The University of Alabama. She graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public
Relations, and moved to Dallas, Texas with her future husband, also a Charlotte native. She
worked at Vinson & Elkins LLP, an international law firm, with roots in the energy industry.
Hillary worked in Talent Management for six years until she had her daughter, Anne Winston

("Annie"), who was born prematurely at 33 weeks. Annie spent three weeks in the Novant NICU and is now thankfully a healthy, active four-year-old. She became involved in Bee Mighty in
2019 after learning about the organization through Candace Richter. She had been looking for a
way to give back and knew this was the perfect fit. Hillary has served on the Gala Committee
since 2021 and is thrilled to work alongside her good friend Suzanne, as the two co-chair the
2024 Gala. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, John, and children
Annie and Reid, working out, and traveling.

The Bee Mighty Executive Board believes:

  • NICU Stay has a dramatic impact on the family unit.

  • Families deserve access to resources that dramatically improve their child’s development.​

    • Every child has unique needs for therapy and equipment. ​

    • Therapy & Equipment costs should not limit a child’s treatment or development.​

    •  In supporting traditional and non-traditional therapies​​

  • Families deserve access to resources that dramatically improve mental health during their NICU Journey. ​

  • In the good stewardship of funds allocated to our programs to serve NICU families: ​

    • Care Packages​

    • Counseling​

    • Developmental Therapy/Equipment​

    • NICU Support

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