Board of Directors
Patte Wood (Executive Director)
Holt Merchant (President)
Janet Lemmer (Vice President)
Janet and her family first came to Lexington while her husband served on the NROTC staff at VMI. After 3 years, the family moved to 29 Palms, California, but they continued to keep track of Lexington events through friends. When Greg retired from the Marine Corps, they returned to the area. Though considered newcomers to some, they’ve been Rockbridge County residents a total of 26 years. Janet has been involved in nonprofits and school settings for 30 years, either as staff or a volunteer. She looks forward to helping many community organizations in the area as a member of the UWR board.
Kelly Fujiwara (Secretary)
Kelly is a transplant from the west coast after growing up in Minnesota, but she has called Lexington home for the past 26 years. She has been involved in a wide array of community activities, many centered around her children as they were growing up. At this time, Kelly remains involved in the American Cancer Society as a founding member of the local Relay for Life and is on the Rockbridge County Special Education Council.
Debbie Pollard (Treasurer)
A Lexington native, Debbie recently returned to the area, having spent 36 years in the DC area. Employment during that time involved organizational management in the commercial real estate brokerage industry and the last 14 years at the Dept. of the Interior, Interior Business Center (IBC). Teleworking full time, Debbie is responsible for business development and customer outreach in the Financial Management Directorate at the IBC. In the past she has been a lead for the Combined Federal Campaign at the IBC, and regularly volunteers as an election official. She raised two daughters and was active with Scouting and a variety of school and community activities. Debbie is impressed with the number of organizations that support the Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County community and hopes to help United Way of Rockbridge have a greater impact with funding many of those organizations.
Malcolm grew up in Rockbridge Baths and moved back there in 2007 after 49 years away, most of them as a Presbyterian minister in Kentucky, Indonesia, Georgia, North Carolina, and West Virginia. In retirement, he is a gardener, a consultant in church revitalization and planning, and a volunteer in several community organizations including Rockbridge Area Master Gardeners, Rockbridge Area Community Services Board, Lexington Presbyterian Church, Brownsburg Ruritan Club and Stonewall Jackson House.
Lynwood M. Dent, Jr.
A native of Roanoke, Lynn graduated from The College of William and Mary, then married his college sweetheart, Carol, and they moved to Baton Rouge, LA. After receiving his Ph.D. in American History at Louisiana State University, they moved to Lexington, KY, where he completed a post-doctoral fellowship working on The Papers of Henry Clay at the University of Kentucky. He then joined the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer, serving both domestically in the Department and at overseas postings in Port of Spain, Frankfurt, Sofia, Canberra, London, and Berlin. He retired as a Senior Officer in 2006, and he and Carol moved to Lexington. He continued to work part-time for the Department for the next eleven years as the logistics management officer for major international meetings hosted by the President or the Secretary in the U.S. He is a member of Grace Episcopal Church, serving on the Vestry and as Chair of the Mission and Outreach Committee of the Gadsden Trust. He volunteers at the RARA food pantry, and is a member of the English Speaking Union in Lexington.
John F. X. Murphy
John F. X. Murphy is a transplant from the Philadelphia, PA area. Born and raised in New York City, John went to college at St. Bonaventure University and served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. After discharge, he went to work for Scott Paper Co. and then followed a management track of positions within commerce and industry. John and his family lived at various times in the Chicago area, Cedarburg, WI and Newtown, PA. His wife, Susan T. Bushnell, was a college professor for over 35 years, teaching at the community college levels in remedial studies. Currently, she manages the early childhood literacy at Rockbridge Regional Library. John & Susan have 5 children and 10 grandchildren. In 1986 John received an advanced degree in Clinical Psychology and worked at various agencies and also in private practice until retirement in the Rockbridge area. He and Susan love to travel and read and he is a voracious reader. Susan loves to hike and garden.
George Pryde studied mechanical engineering at the University of Wyoming (his native state) and spent his working career in an entirely different field — advertising. He worked for ad agencies in New York City, Tokyo, and Stamford, Connecticut. Since retiring to the Rockbridge area in 1997, he has served as board member, trustee, or president of a number of local nonprofit organizations including Stonewall Jackson Foundation, Lexington Sunrise Rotary, Rockbridge Historical Society, English Speaking Union, and Rockbridge Area Health Center. From 2011 to 2015, George was a member of Lexington City Council and Vice-Mayor of Lexington.
Dale moved to Rockbridge from Richmond in 2003 with his wife, Alysan, joining him in 2005. He earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maine and attended the Executive Program at the Darden School at the University of Virginia. Since moving to Rockbridge, Dale worked as a consultant with Bontex, founded his own home construction business his son, and joined VMI as an adjunct professor in Chemistry starting in 2005, where he currently continues teaching. In 2010, Alysan became the Executive Director and CEO of the Rockbridge Area YMCA with Dale becoming an active volunteer. Alysan has retired from the Y and they are both active at Manley Baptist Church where he currently serves as a Deacon.
Christian R. Worth
Christian came to Lexington in 1987 as a freshman at W&L from her hometown of Louisville, KY. Upon graduation, she and her husband Ben Worth moved to back to Kentucky where she studied law and established her law career. She served as a civil legal services attorney, public defender, and was on the local Pro Bono board for many years while in private practice. In her law practices, she worked often with agencies similar to those that UWR supports in cases, in particular, those involving families in what is called "dependency, neglect, and abuse" cases. She returned to Lexington in 2016 when her husband took a position at DSLCC. She is a member of the Virginia Bar.
In the early 90s, Barbara was Executive Director of our local United Way and has been an active United Way volunteer ever since. Other interests have included equine sports and volunteering at the Virginia Horse Center, and leading guided meditations and teaching contemplative practices for the community. She has worked as a college administrator at Southern Virginia, Hollins and currently W&L (since 2002). She’s raised three lovely daughters (Ruth, Lucy, and Fran) and her husband, Dick, teaches at VMI and is an avid birdwatcher and photographer. Barbara recently retired from the UWR Board after 3 years of service.
Michael Smitka has been in the community for almost 30 years and served on the UWR Board for 6 years including 2 years as president. In the past he has been active with Scouting and with several local churches; his wife Gloria has been active with healthcare issues. They are both teachers, Mike at Washington and Lee and Gloria at Dabney S Lancaster Community College. In addition, both their children went through Rockbridge County schools so they are deeply involved in education in our community.