About Us

Debbie Abels
President


Debbie's career was in the newspaper industry. She held several executive positions with The Charlotte Observer before becoming publisher of a McClatchy sister newspaper, The (Rock Hill, S.C.) Herald. While at The Observer, she and then-publisher Ann Caulkins co-founded The Summer Camp Fund. Now retired, Debbie serves on several community boards but has a special place in her heart for the work of SCF and the children it serves.
 
Neel Stallings
Vice President


Neel is a former teacher with a B.S. and an M.S. in early childhood education, as well as a retired human resources professional.  She is particularly suited for her role with The Summer Camp Fund because she loves being outdoors climbing mountains, hiking and riding bicycles all over the world. During her visits to camps funded by SCF, she has enjoyed interacting with the campers and joining them in their activities, especially zip lining and high ropes. As a two-time breast cancer survivor, she believes in living each day to the fullest.
 
Mark Jerrell
Secretary


County Commissioner Mark Jerrell, District 4, is serving his first term on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners but is no novice to the political process. Mark is a proud veteran, having served in the United States Army Reserve and the North Carolina Army National Guard. Professionally, he runs a speech therapy company with his sister and is very family-oriented. His wife Whitney and two daughters, whom he refers to as his "pride and joy," have been the primary source of inspiration behind his public service efforts. He believes The Summer Camp Fund provides a tremendous amount of value and opportunities to children and families of Mecklenburg County and the broader regions of North and South Carolina. Mark attended summer camp as a child and its impact has stayed with him his entire life. He wants others to have the same experience.
 
Chuck Cole
Treasurer


Chuck started his 30-year career as an advertising professional at the region's largest newspaper, The Charlotte Observer, where his performance elevated him through various positions and business divisions. Currently he's Executive Director for TreesCharlotte, a public/private collaboration to grow and diversify Charlotte's urban forest by planting 500,000 trees by 2050, promoting tree stewardship and educating how to plant and preserve trees. Chuck attended Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC for Advertising Design & Graphic Communications, and North Carolina State University for Process Management. He's a 3-time first place NCPA (North Carolina Press Association) Advertising Award winner and Knight Ridder, Inc. Excellence nominee.
 
Connie Kumpe Searke
Consultant

Connie is a retired human resource professional and current substitute teacher with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.  She has three grown children and is ecstatic to be welcoming her first grand baby in June.  Connie's interests include her love of children, animals, exercising, playing golf and being outdoors. She enjoys visiting the camps, joining in the numerous activities and meeting the campers and counselors.  Connie loves being a part of helping underprivileged children experience the joy of camp.


We were honored to win the 2019 Eleanor P. Eells Award for Excellence in Research in Practice from the American Camping Foundation.