Our Staff

Deirdre Longacher Smeltzer

Executive Director ED@hr.bridgeofhopeinc.org

Deirdre Longacher Smeltzer began as Executive Director of Bridge of Hope Harrisonburg/Rockingham in January 2024. Deirdre’s journey with Bridge of Hope began in 2020 when she was part of a Neighboring Volunteer group, and further evolved when she joined the board of directors governing the local affiliate in 2022. As Executive Director, Deirdre is able to bring her experience as an administrator and educator to furthering the work and mission of Bridge of Hope.

A mathematician by training, Deirdre worked for 20 years at Eastern Mennonite University as a faculty member, department chair, and academic dean. In 2019 and again in 2023, Deirdre spent six months as a visiting professor at the Oregon Extension in southern Oregon. Between those stints in Oregon, Deirdre served for three years as the Senior Director for Programs at the Mathematical Association of America, a professional association focused primarily on undergraduate mathematics education.

Deirdre loves living in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. When not working, Deirdre enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and engaging deeply with family, friends, and neighbors.

 

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Maria Rodriguez

Program Director nrs@hr.bridgeofhopeinc.org

Maria Rodriguez began working with Bridge of Hope in 2021. Maria’s undergraduate areas of focus were Psychology, Family Studies, and Sociology. After earning a MA in Counseling, Maria worked in local schools for 12 years as a School Counselor. Previous work experience included assisting adults with disabilities in their volunteer roles within the community and leading activities for youth at a residential program.

Maria loves the rich diversity of the Valley, the mountains to explore, and connecting with others to learn their stories. In her free time, Maria can be found biking with her family, reading in a hammock, organizing, or spending time outdoors.

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Carolyn Nutter

Neighborhood Resources Specialist carolyn@hr.bridgeofhopeinc.org
Carolyn Nutter comes to Bridge of Hope with 10 years of experience. Helping people navigate complex situations such as how to navigate benefits and disability at a time when there are many other factors such as a family or health crisis.  Carolyn has specialized in finding solutions and support for those in need. Coming from the UK Carolyn worked with a non-profit that supported statutory bodies such as the health services and social services. Giving people that needed it most a robust model of care and solutions that kept them independent and in their own home. Carolyn also implemented a model in local hospitals that has now been adopted nationally that helps to get people home in a timely manner.
Being passionate against poverty Carolyn also launched and ran a food program throughout the pandemic when many could not get out to stores.
Since moving to Harrisonburg Carolyn has been working with homeless individuals across a large part of Virginia.
Having settled in Harrisonburg Carolyn enjoys her family and pets, often walking the dog especially in the beautiful scenery around Harrisonburg. When time allows Carolyn likes to craft and bake.

Jeana Simmons

Administrative Assistant office@hr.bridgeofhopeinc.org

Jeana Simmons began working at Bridge of Hope in August of 2023. She and her husband, Jeff, both grew up in Rockingham County and they have enjoyed raising their three children in the valley. With two daughters in college now and a middle schooler, Jeana was ready to get more involved with community outreach. She is very excited to support Bridge of Hope in their quest to end homelessness.

Watching the community come together to help those in need is one of the things she loves most about her hometown. Jeana also loves working with children and families in her role as a preschool teacher. When she’s not making messy crafts and cooking with her students, she enjoys doing home improvement projects and snuggling with her pets.

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