Reorganization Updates

Reorganization Update - March 2020

We are thrilled to announce that after a lengthy and thorough selection process, we have hired all staff for Region 5. The hiring process included representatives from the local program teams as well as athletes from our region.

Meet our new staff….

Coryna Barberis – Regional Administrative Manager

Coryna comes to SOPA with extensive experience in volunteer and database management, having worked with a volunteer database of approximately 5,000.  She also worked with a number of corporations in the area to recruit special event and leadership volunteers. Before moving to the Lehigh Valley, Coryna worked in development offices at Rutgers and the University of Massachusetts.

Start date: Monday, February 24


Phone:  Main number 610-850-0449 x 2

                Internal SOPA extension x 352

Greg Bott – Regional Development Director

For the past 10 years Greg has served as the Director of Development for the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living. There he successfully secured federal, state, local and foundation funding for programs to support persons with disabilities through grants, fundraising events, corporate sponsorships and individual gifts. In fact, Greg knows a number of our athletes. In addition to development work, Greg led the marketing and social media campaigns for the agency.

Start date: Wednesday, March 11


Phone: Main number 610-850-0449 x 3

                Internal SOPA extension x 353

Jason Merola – Regional Sports Director

Prior to joining SOPA, Jason’s career has been focused in event and tournament management and execution.  While at ArtsQuest, a Bethlehem-based nonprofit, Jason planned and executed 15 large-scale events annually, working with teams of volunteers to support the events. Previous to that, he worked as the Beach Sports Manager organizing a number of summer sporting events including a soccer tournament with 1,000 registered teams.

Start date: March 23


Phone: Main number 610-850-0449 x 4

                Internal SOPA extension x 354

My phone (Julie Benjamin):

                Main number 610-850-0449 x 1

                Internal SOPA extension x 351

Office Location

2158 Avenue C, Suite 201

Bethlehem, PA 18017

The office is conveniently located just off of Route 22 and as close as we could get to the geographic center of the region.

And we have an official name…

As part of our inclusive process for the development and naming of “Region 5,” an email voting survey was sent to athletes and Class A volunteers in the region soliciting votes to name the region. From the two name options with an opportunity to provide their own suggestion, the winner is: Greater Lehigh Valley & Pocono Region

Please join me in welcoming the new Greater Lehigh Valley & Pocono Region staff.  We will identify a future date for a staff visit to the new office.  In the meantime, everyone is welcome.


Julie Benjamin

Executive Director, Region 5

Special Olympics Pennsylvania

Cell 610.442.1580

Reorganization Update - December 2019

It is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Julie Benjamin as the Executive Director for our pilot region (Region 5)!  Julie comes to us from Artsquest in Bethlehem where she served as the VP of Community Partnerships and Executive Director for Levitt Pavilion, and most recently from the Allentown School District as their Director of Communications.  You can read more about Julie in our press release.

Julie’s first day was Monday, December 16th and she has really hit the ground running!  Julie had lunch with a small group of volunteer leaders from around Region 5, and more such opportunities will be planned in the near future so she can meet and get to know as many athletes, volunteers, family members, and other stakeholders as possible. 

Julie is working with other team members to finalize work already begun by our Transition Team and other priorities for launching our first region including:

  • Posting and hiring the remaining regional staff positions (Admin Manager, Sports Director, and Development Director).  Volunteers from the region will be including in the interview process.
  • Selecting and opening the regional office (multiple locations are currently under consideration).
  • Deploying and using the results from an Athlete Satisfaction Survey to give us baseline information and help set priorities (this will be going out statewide, but we will use regional results to help establish focus areas).
  • Developing a regional webpage
  • Supporting the upcoming Lehigh Valley Plunge.
  • Creating a “playbook” other regions can use in the future.

While it took longer than we had hoped to find an executive director (we initiated the hiring process in August and reviewed nearly 200 candidates), it was important to “get it right” and find the right leader for our first region.  I would like to thank the other members of our Hiring Team – Christine Rodrigues (Monroe), Ernie Roundtree (Monroe), Carol Erzen (Allegheny), Lynn Lopez (Lancaster), Susan Wyland, and Clare Walsh Miller.  They all invested an incredible amount of time and energy into this process, and we all are excited to work with Julie.

I also wanted to share some additional good news.  As we prepare to launch our first region and look at how we will best serve our athletes in the future, I am expanding the responsibilities of several of our existing staff.  I am excited to announce the following promotions in our program, marketing & development, and administrative teams respectively in recognition of their outstanding performance and the scope of their responsibilities:

  • Jordan Schubert, Manager Athlete Leadership & Young Athletes
  • Chelsea Drob, Director, Program Initiatives
  • Michelle Boone, VP, Sports
  • Clare Walsh Miller, Chief Program Officer
  • Nick Cammarota, Manager, Digital Marketing & Communications
  • Nicole Jones, VP, Marketing & Communications
  • Kraig Makohus, VP, Development
  • Susan Wyland, Chief Financial Officer

Please join me in welcoming Julie and congratulating all of these team members!

As we look ahead to our next 50 years, I am excited about all of the incredible possibilities we have to do “more and better” for our athletes.  I can’t wait to get started!

Thank you for all you do for our athletes…the best is yet to come!

Matthew B. Aaron

President & CEO

PS – I wanted to briefly address a question about funding that came up as these changes and promotions were being considered.  All of the new regional positions and the promotions announced above are included in the state budget for 2020.  That budget was reviewed and approved by our Board Finance Committee earlier this month (the full Board will review and approve the budget at their next meeting).  No local Program funds were utilized.  Sustainability has been a key focus for me and for our Board of Directors as we have developed and implemented our reorg plans to ensure the long-term financial health and strength of our organization.