Biographies of Officers and Staff
Catherine Coggeshall – Executive Director
A native of Richmond, VA, Catherine Coggeshall spent the last eight years in the Midwest (specifically, Illinois and Indiana). She attended Saint Mary’s College for her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and Special Education, and taught special education in Chicago for two years. She returned to Saint Mary’s College to receive her Master of Autism Studies and then attended the University of Notre Dame to receive her Master of Nonprofit Administration.
W. Aubrey Hall – Founder and Executive Director Emeritus
Aubrey graduated from the University of Richmond with a BA degree in Education and began his career as a music coordinator and athletic coach in the Culpeper School system, later working as the a biology teacher and Athletic Director at Christchurch School in Christchurch, VA. After leaving Christchurch, he worked for seven years with Delmarva Properties as the Director of Marketing and Sales. In the late 1980’s, Aubrey went on a summer mission trip to the Eastern Shore. It was there – working with the children of migrant farm workers – that he recognized that bright, at-risk students were often overlooked by traditional gifted programs. In 1991, he started Jacob’s Ladder to provide gifted, at-risk students the opportunity to reach their full potential, and provide these students the support they would need year-round to excel.
Charlie Vaughters – Board Chair
Charlie grew up in Aiken, South Carolina and came to Virginia for high school to attend Woodberry Forest School, which is where he was first introduced to Jacob’s Ladder. After graduating from Woodberry Forest, Charlie matriculated to Rice University, where he received his B.A., and then the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia, where he earned his M.B.A. Charlie then spent almost a decade living in Houston, Texas where he worked as an oil and gas banker. After the birth of their two daughters, Elsie Jane and Lee, Charlie and his wife, Ann, decided to move back to Virginia, where Charlie has worked in various roles in investment banking, commercial banking, and independent consulting. He is now Managing Director and Head of Commercial Banking Development for Primis Bank in Richmond.
Charlie joined the Board of Jacob’s Ladder in 2017 and became Chair in 2022. In addition to serving Jacob’s Ladder, Charlie serves as a Board Member of Union Presbyterian Seminary and teaches financial literacy to incarcerated individuals through Resilience Education.
Joanne Ruffa – Middle School Advocate
Joanne grew up in Petersburg,Virginia, and after high school attended Madison College ( now JMU), then Virginia Commonwealth University for a graduate degree in counselor education. She worked for 30 years in Essex County as an elementary teacher, then a Visiting teacher (school social worker), a middle school counselor, and high school tennis coach. Joanne retired from public education and began working with Jacob’s Ladder. She has been with the program for 15 years, first as the counselor-in-residence and serving since 2013 as Summer Program Director.
When not working with JL, Joanne enjoys travel, gardening, most water sports, and the thrill of seeing Climbers grow and develop into kind, successful adults.
Palmer Castrodale – High School Advocate
Palmer grew up near Tappahannock, Virginia. She attended the University of Virginia for both her BA in History and French, and M.Ed. in School Counseling. Remaining in Charlottesville after her time at UVA, she worked as a school counselor in Buckingham County Public Schools for five years. Palmer began working with Jacob’s Ladder in 2006 as an RA, and in 2014 transitioned to Summer Activities Director. As High School Advocate, she works with all our graduate Climbers as they move through their high school years and transition to the college application process.
Teacher at Ascend Public Charter Schools
Activities Director/RA Director
Janet Kirby – Office Manager
Ms. Kirby has been with Jacob’s Ladder since 1999. Twenty years later, she continue to work part-time for the organization four days weekly. Among her many duties, she serves as assistant to the Executive Director as well as assistant secretary to the Board of Directors. Sending correspondence to patron donors, staff, Climbers, Climbers’ families, gifted teachers, prospective Climbers and their families, and maintaining the Climber information database are just some of the things that Janet does every day.
Watching the program grow and personally experiencing Climber enrichment has also enriched her life.
Jacob’s Ladder is fresh breath to my soul, and I am blessed to be a part of it.— Janet Kirby
Madge Vosteen – Grant Writer and Development
Mrs. Vosteen has a long association with Jacob’s Ladder. From the beginning of the program in 1991, she has taught swimming to Climbers, helped run activities at the Summer Enrichment Program, as well as the Spring Retreat, and has served as a volunteer for Golf Classics and Winter programs. Since 2010, she has been both writing and administering the grants program for Jacob’s Ladder – a job that includes both the writing of grants as well as submitting grant reports and corresponding with the grant organizations. Madge works for the Highland Chamber of Commerce.
Paul Vosteen – Media and Marketing
Paul started working with Jacob’s Ladder in the early 1990’s. Initially serving as a volunteer at fundraising events, he also started documenting the program through photo and video work. He maintains the Jacob’s Ladder website and provides media support for the events and activities of the program. He has a degree in Graphic Design from the Atlanta College of Art, has served on media teams both overseas and in the US, and is the Web and Graphic Designer for Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia.
Board of Directors & Affiliations
Mrs. Molly Bittner
Community Foundation of Richmond, Senior VP Philanthropic Services
Mr. Garry Clay
Davenport & Company LLC
Mrs. Hoppie Cockrell
Rappahannock General Hospital
Mr. Holly Crockett (Secretary)
Davenport & Company, Senior VP
Mrs. Laura Domalik
VCU, Richmond Teacher in Residence Curriculum Coordinator
Ms. Elizabeth (Liz) Fidler
FuturePlan/Ascensus, Senior Retirement Plan Consultant
Mr. Aubrey Hall
Jacob’s Ladder, Inc., Founder & Executive Director Emeritus
Mrs. Bruce Hemp
Mr. Torian J. Holt
Relias Learning, Product Manager (Jacob’s Ladder Climber Alumni)
Mrs. Beth Monroe
Mr. Diego J. Rayas
University of Richmond Police Department (Jacob’s Ladder Climber Alumni)
Mrs. Pat Robertson
Bon Secours Health System, Retired
Mr. Calvin Smith, Jr.
Sr. Director of Leadership Engagement & Experiential Development, Johns Hopkins University
(Jacob’s Ladder Climber Alumni)
Mrs. Gail Stone
TEKsystems Global Services, LLC, Regional Controller
Mr. Daniel C. Tucker
Depository Supervision, SCC; Ass’t Deputy Commissioner
Mr. Charlie Vaughters (Chair)
Primis Bank, Managing Director and Head of Commercial Banking Development