We started in Fall 2010 as a result of several community members coming together to ask what was next for Hale Cook Elementary School. A beautiful building, the school had been closed in 2009 and neighbors expressed an interest to discuss what could be done. 

Interested in getting involved? Email us at friendsofhalecook@gmail.com today!

Friends of Hale Cook Board of Directors:
Ashley Z. Hand, Chair
Paul Bartel, Vice Chair
Sarah Darmitzel, Treasurer
Susan Stocking, Secretary
Natasha Bailey
Ryan Dowis
Julie Holland
Matthew Oates
Jeff Phillips
Sara Wiercinski
Carrie Zerillo

Ashley HandAshley Z. Hand, LEED AP BD+C, Assoc. AIA is the Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Kansas City, Missouri where she is working to facilitate internal process improvement and enhance community engagement. Originally from Hartford, CT, Ashley has lived across the continent and worked to promote effective change in post-disaster and otherwise depopulated urban centers through civic engagement, community-based planning, and outreach. Ashley has a Masters of Architecture from the Pratt Institute and a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) from McGill University. She lives in Armour Hills with her husband, Gunnar, and daughter, Genevieve.

Paul Bartel, with his wife Amanda and three boys—Micah, Silas, and Salem—moved to the Waldo neighborhood a block away from Hale Cook in 2009. Since that time, primarily through his volunteer work with Hartman Elementary, Paul has developed a deep passion for the KCMO public schools. Paul currently serves as pastor of Watershed Church in Waldo, volunteers with Southtown Council and various other organizations, and waits tables to help support all his non-profit ventures.

Sarah Darmitzel is a structural engineer in the Energy division at Burns & McDonnell. She has worked there since graduating from the University of Missouri – Columbia in May 2006 with a B.S. in civil engineering. She became a licensed professional engineer in Missouri in January 2011. She is a certificated Private Pilot since December 2010 and a member of the Greater Kansas City 99’s. She is a member of the board for the MU Engineering Alumni Organization. Sarah and her husband David have been homeowners in the Waldo neighborhood of Kansas City just two blocks from Hale Cook since June 2007. They are parents to Otto Darmitzel, born January 19, 2011 in their home.

Susan Stocking is a lifelong Kansas City resident. As a child she attended neighborhood public school Bryant Elementary, walking to school everyday, even when it snowed. Currently, Susan works as a social media writer and a caterer. She is passionate about cooking, traveling, and working in the vegetable garden with her young son. She has been a Waldo resident for more than 10 years and lives with her husband Garth Stocking and son Tucker Stocking.

Natasha Bailey joined the Waldo/Brookside community two years ago with her domestic partner Kyle, kindergartner Caleb, and was joined by baby Rosalind in December 2012. She is the Chief Executive Officer of her behavioral support and consultation company, Parsimony Behavior Solutions, LLC, and a doctoral candidate in special education at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Natasha is a board certified behavior analyst and certified special education teacher, and has a passion for improving teaching methodology through pedagogical trainings and classroom supports. She strives for professional collaboration and interdisciplinary team-building. Natasha and her family enjoy learning new skills, the arts, the outdoors, cookouts, and exploring historic sites.

Ryan Dowis and his partner Jeremy are 10+ year residents of the Brookside and Waldo areas and have a great amount of pride in these neighborhoods and Kansas City. Ryan has dedicated the last 18 years of his professional life to improving the lives of children, families and communities through his work in social, education and health service organizations. Currently he is the Chief Operating Officer for Cornerstones of Care, where he describes his role as “removing barriers to quality service delivery and creating innovative solutions to meet community needs”. He holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from UMKC. Ryan is an avid sports fan, watching many and still playing a few. You’ll hear him cheering loudest for the Missouri Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals.

Julie Holland and her husband Danny have lived in Waldo since 2006. They have two sons, Ben (b. 2011) and Sam (b. 2013). For six years, Julie was a grant manager at the Kauffman Foundation where she worked on efforts to improve math and science education for students in the KC Metro as well as efforts to improve academic achievement for students in high-poverty schools. She participated in the initial design of Ewing Marion Kauffman School and served as the school’s first talent recruiter. Recently, she and her family returned from a year living abroad in Seoul, South Korea. She has a Doctorate in Law and Policy from Northeastern University, an MPA from Syracuse University, and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Oklahoma State University.

Matthew Oates is an electrical engineer at Burns & McDonnell. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2008 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. Matthew spent his K-12 education in the Kansas City Missouri School District, graduating from Paseo Academy in 2003. He grew up in the Marlborough neighborhood and has resided in Waldo for the last 3 years. He is very active with programs to benefit inner-city youth including the RBI Baseball program through the Boys & Girls Club and tutoring math at the DuBois Learning Center.

Jeff Phillips is Sr. Vice President of Missouri Bank. An Oklahoma native, Jeff began his banking career in high school as a teller in his rural community bank and has since experienced many different aspects of the banking industry. His attraction to banking has been the opportunity to build strong relationships with interesting people and to play a small part in the success of many different families/ companies/ organizations. He and his family moved to Kansas City in 2003 and call the Waldo/Brookside area home. Jeff is actively involved in his church serving in several leadership roles, gladly gives of his time through Board positions for a select few non-profit organizations and enjoys supporting various civic organizations through Board and Committee engagements.  He and his wife Allison and daughter Eliza enjoy spending time outside, going to the movies, taking camping/ hiking trips and playing (or at least watching) sports.

Sara Wiercinski has been a Waldo resident for three years. She enjoys being in the center of such a vibrant, walkable community. Sara and her husband, Justin, live across the street from Hale Cook and are the proud parents of Luke, age 1 1/2. Sara is the marketing manager at the National Catholic Reporter, an independent Catholic newspaper headquartered in midtown Kansas City, and is a 2005 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Carrie Zerillo is a Realtor with Reece and Nichols.  A proud Kansas Citian for almost 20 years, she enjoys being involved in the community. Carrie lives in Waldo with her husband Mike, daughter Anna, and Golden Retriever June. She is a certified Missouri Master Naturalist and likes anything that involves being outdoors.