James R. Kirk, Chief Executive Officer
After helping Idlewood Center and Horizon Homes merge and become Mainstay Life Services in 1999, Jim stepped into the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
As CEO, Jim provides executive leadership and strategic direction in all aspects of operations – including finance, human resources, information technology, property management, agency communications and fundraising – to ensure Mainstay carries out its mission to the fullest extent. Additionally, he is responsible for the development, management, administration, supervision and evaluation of programs, policies and procedures, and staff.
Jim’s 40 years of progressive experience in human services spans disability and residential services, as well as leadership functions and contract analysis. Prior to joining Mainstay Life Services, Jim served as executive director of Horizon Homes, where he significantly grew revenue and greatly expanded the range of agency services to serve people with disabilities.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, Jim is a proud member of The Provider Alliance, Pennsylvania Association of Resources and Conference of Allegheny Providers.
Jim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from California University of Pennsylvania. He broadened his education at the Non Profit Management Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and the Leadership Institute at the Office of Developmental Programs in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Jodie Esper, Chief Financial Officer
Jodie joined Mainstay as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in 2017. As CFO, Jodie is tasked with implementing the infrastructure and systems needed to support Mainstay’s mission, operations, financial objectives and strategic initiatives.
In this role, she works with fellow members of the executive leadership team on a wide range of strategic planning and internal initiatives, ensuring proper stewardship and exercising fiduciary duty over all public and private resources.
Jodie arrived at Mainstay with over 15 years of finance and operations experience, including extensive senior management, accounting and finance knowledge in the non-profit sector. Prior to joining Mainstay, she previously worked as the Director of Finance at Life’sWork of Western PA, Inc. Most recently, Jodie served as CFO of Turtle Creek Valley Community Services.
Jodie received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting and Master of Science degree in accounting from Robert Morris University in Moon Township, PA.
Aaron Lucas, Administrative Director
Aaron joined Mainstay as Administrative Director in 2019. As Administrative Director, Aaron is tasked with overseeing operations of facility management, fleet management, strategic development and general administration.
In this role, his responsibilities include acquiring new homes and managing existing ones for Mainstay’s residential services and being actively involved with new business opportunities and program expansions.
Aaron brings an impressive skillset and extensive experience in project and budget management to Mainstay. He previously worked as a financial consultant at Geneva College, as well as an accounting analyst, financial analyst and project manager at BNY Mellon Corporation. He also brings with him valuable experience in the non-profit sector, having most recently held the position of project manager and senior budget analyst at Merakey (Allegheny Valley School), another non-profit organization that provides services to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Aaron received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Olivet Nazarene University and later went on to get his Master of Business Administration from Geneva College.
Kim Sonafelt, Chief Executive Officer
Kim joined Mainstay as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2018. In her role, Kim provides executive leadership and strategic direction in all aspects of operations – including finance, human resources, information technology, property management, agency communications and fundraising – to ensure Mainstay carries out its mission to the fullest extent. Additionally, she is responsible for the development, management, administration, supervision and evaluation of programs, policies and procedures, and staff.
Kim has worked in human services for 30 years and possesses extensive experience in the
intellectual and developmental disabilities field. Prior to joining Mainstay, Kim served Merakey – also a leading provider of integrated services to individuals and communities across the country – as their Regional Executive Director of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services.
In addition to her professional achievements, Kim is a proud member of the Mental Health America of Southwest PA Board of Directors, Westmoreland County Block Grant Advisory Committee, Conference of Allegheny Providers Executive Board, Saint Vincent DePaul Society and 100 Women Who Care Pittsburgh.
Kim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and Master of Science degree in psychology from California University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, Kim is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor within the state of Pennsylvania.
Dana Schutte, Chief Operating Officer
Dana joined Mainstay Life Services in 2001. After serving as the Associate Director of Program Operations and Director of Program Operations, she became the agency’s Chief Operating Officer in 2014.
In this role, Dana works closely with the senior leadership team in the development, implementation, evaluation and modification of agency policies and procedures, as well as program standards and content. She also oversees all service delivery, property development, and maintenance and management functions.
With nearly 30 years of experience in program and residential services, Dana has a strong background in staff supervision and program development and coordination. She began her career at Chartiers MH/MR, where she supported individuals with disabilities as a Resident Advisor and supervised staff as a Program Supervisor and Program Manager. Prior to joining Mainstay Life Services, Dana also worked as a Program Coordinator at Idlewood Center and Director of MR Residential Services at Mon Yough Community Services.
Dana earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Edinboro University and Master of Science in professional leadership and non-profit management from Carlow College (now Carlow University).
Alyssa O’Toole, Director of Development
Before coming to Mainstay, Alyssa held numerous positions with The Program for Female Offenders, Inc. She provided supportive services as a Resident Counselor, Case Manager and Day Program Coordinator before being named the Director of Community Services, where she managed program operations at the organization’s community center. After spending 11 years in program services, Alyssa took on the leadership role of Director of Development.
Alyssa received her Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and psychology from Duquesne University. A member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, she also holds advanced certification from the human resources in non-profits program at the Community College of Allegheny County.
Alexandra Calabrese, Director of Human Resources
Over the past 20 years, Alex has grown her experience in staff management and employee training. Alex worked as the Branch Manager at Volt Services Group, where she coached staff on human resources practices, policies and procedures, as well as developed employee training and recognition programs.
Alex holds a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from West Virginia University.