Ellen Smith serves as the Executive Director for Keeping Our Promise, Inc. She works on educating audiences about the SIV program, grant writing, housing, fund-raising, and in-kind donation management. She has assisted over 600 SIV refugees and their families since 2014, and her passion for helping these families started with assisting one Army captain in Syracuse, NY gather donations for his interpreters. The National Council of Jewish Women – Greater Rochester Section selected Ellen as the winner of the 2019 Hannah G. Solomon Humanitarian Award. and she was awarded the “Spirit of America” award by the Reserve Officers Assn. for starting this model program, and creating a welcoming community for those who served our country. Ellen was previously a credentialed journalist for 29 years, with 37 top journalism awards including awards from the National Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, the Investigative Reporters & Editors Inc., and the Edward R. Murrow Award.
Laurel Prothero serves as the Assistant Executive Director at Keeping Our Promise. Laurel is thrilled to be working alongside Ellen Smith, who has been leading the charge for the past seven years. Laurel is currently finishing her Master of Social Work degree at SUNY Brockport with a certificate in Gerontology. Laurel has maintained interest in international social work, which led her to attend a collaborative conference in Europe to address the special needs of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants (with a focus on children and minors). Laurel also has a double Bachelor of Psychology and International Studies degree with minors in Anthropology and Sociology from Rochester Institute of Technology. Laurel is joining us after working at the University of Rochester for the past nine years in the roles of Research Coordinator and Psych Specialist. Laurel is a devoted mother, citizen, and activist in our community. For fun, Laurel loves to spend time in nature, travel, and outfit people in vintage clothing at the Yards Collaborative in the Rochester Public Market.
Chandee Searcy began volunteering for Keeping Our Promise in 2019 and quickly became an indispensable member of our volunteer force. She is KOP’s liaison with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, frequently participates in greeting late night arrivals at the airport, helps maintain KOPs social media platform, and volunteers on the fundraising committee. In 2021, Chandee transitioned to a part-time position with KOP focusing on Community & Volunteer Engagement and Administrative Assistant work. Chandee enjoys finding new places in nature to explore with her husband and four children, sneaking away to her basement to throw on her pottery wheel, and serves on the board of directors at Family Promise of Greater Rochester. We are so fortunate to have her as part of our team.