Loryn Pinney (Director) Loryn grew up in Madison, CT. She graduated from Cazenovia College in 2006 with a BFA specializing in photography. After college, she began as a full time teacher at Madison Learning Center while shooting her photography on the side. In 2007, Loryn began to co-lead the high school youth group at The First Congregational Church of Madison. Loryn first became involved with the mission when she brought the youth group down as a construction crew for 2 trips. On her third trip down with the group, she stayed on as in-country staff. She spent her first year in the Dominican observing in a few public schools as well as teaching in 2 villages. Her second year in the Dominican, Loryn opened the doors to our school house in La Sabana and led our first class of 3 and 4 year old Dominican children. Her third year, she continued with teaching 2 classes in our school house along with administration work and helping the director in many ways. In her fourth year working with the mission, she was involved in teaching and overseeing 4 classes in 2 villages. She also assisted with starting work on our property, monthly expense reports, running camps in the summertime, and helping new staff become acclimated. In the summer of 2014, she moved back to Madison, CT where she is currently living. We welcomed Loryn as our new director in October 2015. She is so excited to continue working with The Village Mountain Mission family!
Bill Benson (Founder) graduated Glens Falls, NY, HS in 1959 and Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pa., in 1963 with a BA. Bill and his wife Donna have been together 48 years with four children. Bill left John Hancock as a field Agent in 1969 to join the Boy Scouts of America. While serving 28 years with the Boy Scouts, he worked as a District Executive, Inner City Executive, Exploring Director, District Director, Field Director, Scout Executive (Northeast Ohio Council, Cherokee Area Council, Chattanooga) and worked on National Staff as Director of Operation Florida Sea Base. While with the BSA, Bill taught at The National Camp School, National Training Center (Philmont, New Mexico) and served as SubCamp Administrator at the National Jamboree. Bill and Donna retired in 1997, sold the house, bought a schooner, sailed off and lived aboard for five years. In 2000, he was led to plan and begin The Village Mountain Mission.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Larry Bond (President) was the leader of the first youth group to travel to Luperón as part of “The Village” Mountain Mission Project. He is a long-time educator, having worked as an elementary and middle school teacher, an elementary school principal and is currently retired as data manager for the Pickerington, Ohio Local School District. Larry lives with his wife Teresa near Amanda, Ohio. He has two sons, Patrick and Michael, who have also been participants in VMM building crews. Larry has been a Boy Scout and Cub Scout leader, a youth league and high school soccer coach, and is active in his local church. He earned a BS in Elementary Education from the Ohio State University and a MEd in Educational Administration from Ohio University, and has served as the president of the VMM board since its inception.
Kristen Runyon (Secretary) resides in Fayette, OH, and has three adult children (whom she homeschooled from kindergarten through high school) and one grandson. She graduated in May 2019 with a degree in human services (social work) and is the sole-proprietor of a family-owned pizzeria for the past seven years. Prior to this, Kristen was a professional photographer and owned/operated a professional portrait studio for thirteen years. She is currently employed with The Center for Child & Family Advocacy, Family Justice Center, as a victim advocate (domestic violence, sexual assault, etc.). Previously, she has worked with Head Start as a home visit provider and is active in her church, Tedrow Mennonite, as a Sunday school teacher, Bible school teacher, and has participated in her church's after-school outreach program when her schedule allows. Kristen is also trained as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer in which she advocates for children involved in the court system due to abuse, neglect, etc. She has been involved in mission work including a trip to Ukraine and two trips to the DR with the Village Mountain Mission. She currently serves as secretary for VMM.
Jodi Bird (Treasurer) currently resides in Lancaster, Ohio with her husband and three children. She is a realtor and an active member of the community. She was recently chosen to serve on the Academy of Realtors in Fairfield County. Prior to real estate, Jodi ran a personal business for 15 years selling Usborne Books. This included scheduling, marketing, finance and grant writing along with assisting parents, teachers and librarians with their literacy material needs. She holds a degree in Elementary and Special Education. Jodi has led a group three of the four years that she has gone to the DR. Her oldest son and her daughter have also had the experience of going on a mission trip through the VMM.
Dr. Scott Anzalone (Medical Director) lives with his wife and three children outside of Logan, OH. With BA’s in Biology and Molecular Biology, Scott went on to get his Board Certification in Family Medicine after completing his studies at The Medical College of Ohio. In addition to running his own private medical practice, Scott teaches at the Ohio University School of Medicine. He was the Chief of Obstetrics and Pediatrics as well as the Chief of Staff at Hocking Valley Community Hospital. He attends the Church of the Nazarene where he has also held positions including Sunday school teacher, board member, and superintendent. He was the Board President of the Logan Christian School and serves on the Logan Hocking Board of Education. In addition to his trips to Luperón with the Village Mountain Mission, Dr. Scott has also led medical mission trips to Jamaica and Mexico. In his free time, Scott enjoys his horses, the theater, woodworking, and is currently building a sport car. He has been a Board Member since 2010.
Pamela Alva (Medical Coordinator) grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and attended La Salle University to receive her bachelor’s degree in nursing, which is where she first heard about the mission. She then went on to receive her master’s degree in nursing to become a pediatric nurse practitioner and currently is a post-master’s student. Pam has been on 10+ medical trips down to the Dominican, all as the medical coordinator for the trip. In her free time, Pam likes to run, do yoga, read, and travel.
John Hemmerly (Construction Consultant) lives with his wife Pam in Pickerington, Ohio. He has two grown children: Brad, a collegiate rowing coach, and Sarah, a math and science teacher. John graduated from The Ohio State University, BS ’74, MA ‘84, in Industrial Technology Education, and recently retired after 35-years teaching Industrial Technology, construction, and manufacturing. He remains self-employed with 40-years experience in fabrication, building construction, automotive, and construction equipment repair. John attends Brice United Methodist Church and is chairman of the trustees and serves on its finance committee. He is on the school board for the Brice Christian Academy. After completing a mission trip to Haiti in 2003, John was invited by a coworker to participate with first group to traveling to Luperon in 2004 and has made numerous additional trips since. He has written and continues to revise the Construction Guide as we learn to blend American and Dominican building methods.
Doug Stinson lives in Grand Island, FL with his wife and his two younger daughters Camdyn and Pyper. Doug has worked in real estate investing and commercial painting for the last 25 years. He also has another daughter, Sydney, who is the one who introduced him to the Village Mountain Mission. He has been on two trips down to the Dominican, both times on construction trips. On the second trip, he also hosted a baseball camp for the local youth. In his free time, he likes to golf, kayak, camp, and coach baseball.
Sydney Burns recently moved to Gnadenhutten, Ohio with her husband Michael. She works as an Agriscience Teacher at one of the local high schools. She grew up in Amanda, Ohio and received her bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University. She has been on four, week long trips to the Dominican, and she spent the summer of 2016 as summer staff. In her free time, she likes to craft, kayak, and bake.
Shianne Swinehart is from Lancaster, OH and graduated from Lancaster High School. She currently still lives in Lancaster with her son Colton. She also has her MBA from Ohio Dominican University, which she uses to run her business, Identify Designs. She is also a communications instructor at Ohio University Regional Campuses. . She was introduced to the mission from Jodi Bird, another board member, and has been down to the Dominican Republic on a construction trip. In her free time, Shianne likes to read, do crossfit, inspire others, and anything creative.
Please feel free to contact any of our staff with questions you may have!