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

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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Michael Richter

Founder

Michael and his wife Candace gave birth to their second son in February of 2008. Avery Shaw Richter was born at 27 weeks after Candace spent two weeks in the hospital. Shaw was 2 pounds 7 ounces and spent 122 days in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (“NICU”). Like a lot of families, Michael and Candace were not overly familiar with the NICU and that changed quickly.

Our family had quite a number of challenges while Shaw was in the NICU as we had a 1 year old at home. Once we were out of the NICU we realized that our journey was not over. Shaw had 2-4 therapies a week and we quickly learned that our insurance would not cover all of our appointments and we did not qualify for any other support. At that point, we realized that we had to make a choice for our son and we found out that there were other families out there like ours.

 

Under Candace’s leadership, Michael and Candace started BeeMighty, a non-profit focused on providing medical equipment and therapy to premature babies with ongoing medical challenges. Michael is proud that BeeMighty is able to support other families like ours. Mr. Richter holds a BSBA in Business Administration from Western Carolina University and attended the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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Lindsay Franks

Pierce's Project 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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Joanna Kay

Executive 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 when the organization became an independent 501(c)3 non-profit in 2018. Prior to Bee Mighty, she worked in finance, consulting and banking for 10+ years. Joanna started her career as a Management Consultant for Accenture and then most recently worked for Bank of America. Throughout the years, she 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 first hand 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 daughter, Annie and son, Austin.

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Jenn Godwin

Peer to Peer Committee Co-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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Lindsey Deborde

Gala Co-chair

Lindsey grew up in Macon, Georgia, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia. Lindsey worked at Novant Health for over 10 years in the Patient Relations/Guest Services department where she implemented numerous guest services initiatives and helped patients and families navigate the healthcare system. After attending the gala for a couple of years, she was honored to join the gala committee as a sponsorship co-chair in 2019. Lindsey joined the board in 2020 and is serving as the 2020 Gala co-chair. She lives in Charlotte with her husband, Danny, and their two sons, Ayden and Bradley. Lindsey enjoys volunteering for various school and community activities and traveling.

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Lindsay Gildea

Gala Co-Chair

Lindsay was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. She received her Marketing degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and then went on to receive her MBA from Wake Forest University. Lindsay worked for TIAA as an Internal Investigator before staying home with her three children. She was introduced to Bee Mighty by her mother in law, Anne Gildea, and has been an active supporter since its inception. She joined the Gala committee in 2019 as a sponsorship co-chair and now serves as the Gala Co-Chair. Lindsay has served on various boards in the Charlotte community including the Salvation Army, was an active member in JLC, Women’s Impact Fund and Robinson’s Center for Civic Leadership. She currently volunteers at her church (Myers Park UMC) on the Children’s Ministry team after previously serving on the Grants Committee, and is actively involved in her kids' schools. In her free time she loves spending time with her husband, Patrick, and their three children (John Patrick, Addison, and Caroline), traveling, running, volunteering in the community, and being with friends.

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Ashley Crawford

Peer to Peer Committee Co-Chair

Ashley Crawford became a Bee Mighty board member during the merger of Pierce’s Project and Bee Mighty in 2021. Her daughter, Grace, was born at 34 weeks gestation and spent the first two months of her life in the NICU/NPCU, which led to Ashley wanting to advocate for families, especially mothers, who have an infant in the NICU. Ashley, her husband, Ollie, and Grace live in Charlotte.  

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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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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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Amy Marsh

Marketing Committee Chair

Amy is originally from Boca Raton, FL and spent nearly half of her childhood overseas in England. She earned her degree in Communications from North Carolina State University before moving to Charlotte, NC. Amy’s 15+ years of marketing and PR experience spans non-profit organizations, the healthcare industry, and financial services organizations. Amy currently serves as Vice President of Marketing Operations at Wells Fargo where she leads several teams focused on process improvements, risk mitigation and user experience. Amy joined the Bee Mighty gala committee in 2020 after attending the gala for several years and is excited about the opportunity to lend her professional expertise in marketing to an organization she is passionate about. When she is not working or spending time with her husband, Parker, or two sons (Parks-6, and Luke-3), Amy shares her talents with the PTAs at her sons’ schools as well as the 24 Foundation Marketing committee. Amy is also passionate about cooking, exercising and traveling. 

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Samantha Mullis

Outreach Committee Chair

Samantha Mullis was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. She is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in the NICU at Novant. She has worked in the NICU for almost 10 years and began working there as a nurse immediately after graduation serving as a charge nurse and transport team member. She later went to graduate school at East Carolina University and earned her MSN in Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. She continues to work in the NICU as a NNP and has volunteered with Bee Mighty in the past

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Katie O’Connor 

Program Manager

Katie is excited to join Bee Mighty in the role of Program Manager. 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 and her husband, Kelly moved back to Charlotte from the Bay Area of California in 2019 with their 3 children, Declan, Ellis and Finn. In addition to being with family, Katie enjoys being active outdoors, traveling, cooking and spending time with friends.

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Keith Sandman

Events Committee

Keith Sandman grew up in Naples, Florida and attended The University of Florida where he studied history. Moving to Charlotte in 2006, Keith has been involved in real estate and loves all that Charlotte and the surrounding areas offer for lifestyle, community and experiences. In 2014, Keith's twin girls were born 10 weeks premature, and this is where Keith began his advocacy for premature children. His first board of directors position was for March of Dimes, but wanting to help locally, joined the board of directors for Pierce's Project in 2017. After Pierce's Project joined forces with Bee Mighty in 2021, Keith helps with fundraising, the lifeblood of providing financial commitments to all that Bee Mighty is able to accomplish in the Charlotte community. He is helping lead our very first inaugural Golf Tournament to help raise funds in 2022 and is so glad to partner with Bee Mighty in continuing his advocacy in helping babies and their families with prematurity and its effects.  

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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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Kristy Ward

Finance Committee Chair

Kristy is originally from Wichita Falls, Texas.  She earned a degree in International Economics with a minor in Spanish from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  After graduating from Emory, Kristy spent a gap year in Buenos Aires, Argentina teaching English.  Upon returning to the U.S., she began working at Bank of America with roles in both Charlotte and New York.  In 2004, she accepted a position with Wachovia in Charlotte and is now a Director on the Latin American Loan Syndications team within the Financial Institutions Group at Wells Fargo.  She is fluent in Spanish. Kristy and her husband Jake have two children – Emerson and Jackson, both NICU graduates.  Jake and Kristy’s experience with having both of their children in the NICU led them to get involved with Bee Mighty.  Kristy has served on the Finance Committee since January 2018 and continues to be amazed at the resources Bee Mighty provides to NICU graduates in our community.  

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Caroline Wilhelm

Grants Chair

Caroline Wilhelm has been involved with Bee Mighty for several years serving on the Grants Committee and is a new Advisory Board Member as of 2019.  She has been in the financial services industry for over 20 years and is currently with Wells Fargo working in The Private Bank.  Caroline received her Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Finance from The University of South Carolina.  She is originally from Clover, South Carolina and now lives in Charlotte with her husband, Corey and daughter, Lauren.

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